Tuesday, January 31, 2012

St. Maximus the Confessor and the Church: Helping James Swan Do Research

  St. Maximus the Confessor and the Church: Helping James Swan Do Research

In reading a post by the Protestant anti-Catholic blogger James Swan over at 'Beggars All' concerning St. Maxumus the Confessor, I have decided to write up a concise retort. Swan has quoted the Catholic Saint to try and draw an argument against the authority of the Catholic Church, essentially pitting the authority of the Church against the authority of Sacred Scripture. This is the classic modus operandi of many Protestants, which is to take any quote from any Church Father who references Scripture as an authority, and then claim that this proves that they did not believe the Church had an equal or similar authority. So, it is easy for them to look for quotes from Church Fathers that reference Sacred Scripture, and then make a claim that the Fathers held to some form of Sola Scriptura. The Reformed Protester who calls himself Turretin Fan tried this with Saint Thomas Aquinas for example, and I amply demonstrated that he was in error in making such an outrageous claim as to Saint Thomas believing anything remotely close to the heretical teaching of Sola Scriptura. Today James Swan has again tried to pull this tactic with St. Maximus the Confessor. He has taken a quote where the great Catholic Saint references Galations 1:8 when he was asked what he would say if a representative sent from Rome should preach another Gospel contrary to that which had been preached by Jesus.

It is no surprise that the Saint says that he would not believe the representatives if they did teach error. Swan for some reason however believes this somehow upsets the authority of the Catholic Church. He seems to miss the point that legates sent from Rome are not the Pope himself. A legate sent from Rome of course is not protected under the gift of infallibility. There are many today who speak in the name of the Vatican who have taught heresy, yet this fact does not challenge the fact that Church in Rome headed by the Pope still formally teaches orthodoxy. What is so amazing here is that it is apparent that Swann has never read much of anything else from the Saint, otherwise he would never have posted such a weak swipe at the Catholic Church. Granted, Swan has never been known to have been a person who has put much effort into actually learning what the Catholic Church teaches before opening his mouth to attack it. Nor does it appear that he has ever made any serious effort to read the Church Fathers in their proper context. I remember well the time he tried to take a cheap jab at the Catholic Church on the subject of Baptism and exorcism. I pointed out his error, and his weak blog post was shown to be seriously deficient in sound research or reasoning. He has repeated these types of cheap shenanigans many times on his blog over the years. It is readily apparent that Swan will do most anything, no matter how cheap, dishonest or misleading he has to be, to accomplish his task of tearing down all things that may lead a human being to the Catholic Church. That being said, one more post like his new one is not too surprising.

Swann quotes St. Maximus,

7. They said to him, "And what will you do if the Romans unite with the Byzantines? For behold, yesterday there came legates of Rome and tomorrow on Sunday they will take communion with the patriarch; it will become evident to all that it was you who turned the Romans away. Doubtless with you removed, there will then be an easy union." And he said to them, "Those who are coming cannot in any way prejudice the see of Rome, even if they should take communion because they have not brought a letter to the patriarch. And I am not at all convinced that the Romans will unite with them unless they confess that our Lord and God by nature both wills and works our salvation according to each of the natures from which he is, in which he is, as well as which he is." And they said, "And if the Romans should come to terms with them at this time, what will you do?" He replied, "The Holy Spirit, according to the Apostle, condemns even angels who sanction anything against what has been preached" [Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings (Paulist Press, 1985), p 23].

Swan then adds the following brief commentary, "Notice at the end Maximus quotes Galatians 1:8, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" I'm not saying Maximus was a proto-Protestant, but he certainly had the right idea here about what the ultimate authority truly is."
My response, 

What Swan would have discovered if he had taken the time to read a bit more of Saint Maximus is that he would have noticed that the Saint totally acknowledged the fact the the Church held the same authority as the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, St. Maximus never viewed the Church, Oral Tradition and Holy Writ as being separated in any fashion akin to how the Protesters of the 16th century did. The Church Fathers must be read in the context of their time, and trying to make comparisons to the pretended "Reformers" who trampled upon the Church almost 1000 years later is not possible here. Saint Maximus was a Byzantine saint who was born around 580 in Constantinople. He had no idea that a weak, insecure charlatan like Martin Luther would have a nervous breakdown and then attempt to overthrow the entire Church. Not only would Saint Maximus find Luther's teaching of Sola Scriptura foreign, he would have found his teaching of "Sola Fide" equally foreign, and I might add, heretical. Luther's view of liturgy would have been viewed as an abomination to Saint Maximus, since Maximus taught that the Church instituted a priesthood which stood at the center of the liturgical sacrifice held in all churches at altars all over the known world. He also viewed the sacrifice as being only made possible by the priest's words of consecration at the altar. If Swan was to be honest, he may notice that the teachings that St. Maximus proclaimed in many of his writings are identical to what the Catholic Church teaches, and that they are contrary to what he and his fellow Protesters believe today. I offer just a couple of texts below to illustrate my point.

"All the ends of the inhabited world, and those who anywhere on earth confess the Lord with a pure and orthodox faith, look directly to the most holy Church of the Romans and her confession and faith as to a sun of eternal light, receiving from her the radiant beam of the patristic and holy doctrines, just as the holy six synods,  inspired and sacred, purely and with all devotion set them forth, uttering most clearly the symbol of faith. For, from the time of the descent to us of the incarnate Word of God, all the Churches of the Christians everywhere have held and possess this most great Church as the sole base and foundation, since, according to the very promise of the Saviour, it will never be overpowered by the gates of hell, but rather has the keys of the orthodox faith and confession in him, and to those who approach it with reverence it opens the genuine and unique piety, but shuts and stops every heretical mouth that speaks utter wickedness. For that which the creator of everything himself, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, established and built up - together with his disciples and apostles, and the Holy Fathers and teachers and martyrs who came after - have been consecrated by their own works and words, by their sufferings and sweat, by their labours and blood, and finally by their remarkable deaths for the sake of the Catholic and Apostolic Church of us who believe in him, they, through two words, uttered without pain or death - O the long-suffering and forbearance of God! - are eager to dissolve and to set at naught the great, all-illumining and all-praised mystery of the orthodox worship of the Christians."

"I don't have a teaching of my own, but the common one of the Catholic Church. I mean that I haven't initiated any expression at all that could be called my own teaching."

"No, he (The emperor is not a priest) isn't, because he neither stands beside the altar, and after the consecration of the bread elevates it with the words. Holy things for the holy, nor does he baptize, nor perform the rite of anointing, nor does he ordain and make bishops and presbyters and deacons; nor does he anoint churches, nor does he bear the symbols of the priesthood, the omophorion and the Gospel book, [as he bears the symbols] of imperial office, the crown and the purple."
(Saint Maximus the Confessor- The opuscula fragments)

Here are a few core points to take note of from Saint Maximus. First, Saint Maximus clearly attributed the confession of faith and the authority tied to that faith as having come forth first from the Church at Rome. Secondly it is readily apparent that he viewed the Church as having inspired authority within her synods, not just in Sacred Scripture. The symbol of faith he referred to was most likely referring to the creed the Church had set forth in the prior ecumenical councils, which he also viewed as having a part in the authority of the teaching the faith. The Saint also provides proof for a recognition from the East as to having some type of recognition for a primacy of Rome, although I will admit there would be a debate between Catholics and Orthodox as to the nature of this primacy. That matters little in the context of this post however. Thirdly, the great Saint mentions the he maintains the teaching of one apostolic Church, not many churches, nor just that of Sacred Scripture. When one reads the history surrounding the Fathers of the Church, it is readily apparent that they did not see any difference between the authority of Christ, His Church, and the oral and written Revelation that flowed from them. Finally, we can also deduce that the unity of the Church was most readily visible in Saint Maximus' eyes in the Divine Liturgy. The way in which the Church worshiped was critical in the mind of St Maximus. In fact, when the many in the East had adopted heresy and separated themselves from Rome at the time, he refused to recognize their liturgies or the mysteries contained in them, "What mysteries I ask, do they celebrate, who have condemned themselves and have been condemned by the Romans and by the (Lateran) synod, and stripped of their sacerdotal dignity?" When reading the Saint, we can see that the liturgy was intimately tied to the authority of the bishops. The Church hierarchy is readily visible in the Saint's written accounts. He writes of the authority of bishops for example, in Rome, and those priests who served them, and who offered the sacrifice of the Divine Liturgy. There is much more that can be written on Saint Maximus, yet all of these facts should demonstrate that Swan's quote was taken out of context, and in no way calls into question the authority of the Church in Rome.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Companion to the Summa: Modernity and the Problem

One set of books worth owning is Walter Farrell O.P.'s work titled 'A Companion to the Summa.' If you do not want to invest in a hard copy, it is available online for free. If you want an entertaining introduction and explanation of the Aquinas' Summa Theologica, then you will not be disappointed. I was reading through Vol I, and the entry addressing question 84 of the Summa caught my attention. The question deals with man's intellect, man's knowledge, and how man comes to know and understand things. Here Farrell addresses some of the gravest errors of modern philosophy, and how they oppose reality. What I found interesting was that Farrell singles out the philosopher Henri Bergson. If you read my critical book review of Hans Urs von Balthasar's book, 'Razing the Bastions' you may remember that Balthasar quoted Bergson as one his mentors. He explained his new view of "truth" as being rooted in modern philosophy.  “This exclusively modern experience- that the different realms of truth demand a change of one’s intellectual standpoint (an experience given clear expression by Hegel’s dialectics, Bergson’s and Dilthey’s intellectual philosophy of life and of understanding, and Husserl’s phenomenology)- reinforces in an exceptional manner the necessity of truth in intellectual matters.” Balthasar clearly painted himself as an intellectual now enlightened by the thought and principles invented by Hegel and elaborated and developed further by Bergson. It was a philosophy rooted in man's supposed development, his action and an alleged ever changing intellectual viewpoint concerning reality. Farrell however recognized the danger of this philosophy, which were also many times condemned by many popes. He described Bergson's error quite clearly, "Coming down closer to our own day, Bergson made a polite gesture towards intellect as he stabbed it in the back by his contention that the intellect was not an instrument of valid knowledge and reality was so fluid a thing that it could not be known without being stopped in its flow and so falsified."  Below is an excerpt from the 'Companion to the Summa' which explains some of the main errors of the philosophy that so many modern theologians embrace today.

Modernity and the problem:
History of the modern view

It is not strange that the philosophy of our day has lost no share of the universal interest in the problem of knowledge. What is surprising is that the activity of modern philosophy should be centered chiefly in denying the humanity of man's knowledge rather than in trying to explain it. But the fact is plain. This opposition to the humanity of man's knowledge is one of the chief grounds for the rejection of the scholastic answer to the problem -- the so-called naive notion of the scholastics that the knowledge of man exceeds the content of sense knowledge yet takes its rise from the senses and the sensible world. The moderns have rejected one or the other of these two elements or the conjunction of the two. one school will insist that the world of sense is a world of illusions, it is the mind that we are projecting and playing with when we play the game of knowing the world about us; the other completely disregards intellectual activity, or tries to, reducing such activity to the world of the sensible, automatic, blind, instinctive forces. In this way the heights and the depths, the mystery and speed and all the rest are done away with by the simple expedient of blowing up the sensible world or of strangling the mind of men; quite a high price to pay for the comfort of level territory.

Position of the moderns
The technique of escape from the problem of knowledge is by no means new. It was tried when philosophy was young and many a time since; still the world goes on and the minds of men go on. But a man who is trying to run away is not to be discouraged by previous failures; inevitably the technique would be tried again. The modern attempt can trace its intellectual roots to the beginning of the modern era when Descartes assumed his artificial chasm between the mind and the world of reality, an assumption that forced him to build the fantastic bridge of totally unwarranted parallelism. 

A fantastic bridge to span an assumed chasm seems fair enough; but men took it seriously. Kant gave this assumption a philosophical flavor by apparently justifying it, when, with typical modern clumsiness, he rushed to the "rescue" of the humanity of man's knowledge against the positivistic attacks of Locke, Berkely and Hume. The rescue was effected by murdering the victim. Kant proceeded by assuming that what is not given formally in experience comes wholly from the mind; such an unqualified statement as "sugar is sweet" is obviously not given formally in experience for all sugar cannot be experientially tested for its sweetness, so the statement must take its rise wholly from the mind. Both of these elements of Kant's original assumption were then developed independently to their logical conclusion of naturalism and idealism. The problem of knowledge was escaped again by the same technique of denying or disregarding one or the other of its constituent elements, the world or the mind. Still there were the stubborn facts remaining unexplained: both the world and the mind refused to be snubbed.

Coming down closer to our own day, Bergson made a polite gesture towards intellect as he stabbed it in the back by his contention that the intellect was not an instrument of valid knowledge and reality was so fluid a thing that it could not be known without being stopped in its flow and so falsified. The result was that we had neither a worth-while mind nor a world with which we could come into contact. The intellect of man was not a valid investigator of the world of reality; it was a falsifier, a maker of useful (not true) concepts whose whole purpose was action. William James accepted the Bergsonian gesture with open arms, developed his Pragmatism (or disregard of truth in favor of utility), thus turning a valid scientific method of inquiry into an immensely popular and thoroughly worthless system of philosophy.

Today we reap the fruits of this wild sowing. For it is our age that has come sharply up against the express attempt at a thorough invalidation of the intellect and its activity or even a downright denial of the existence of the intellect. That means that we are heed with a denial of human knowledge, with all the consequences of such a denial for philosophy, science, human activity and human life. We are the victims of a modern "rescue" of men by modern "champions" of man's humanity.

Below is a brief explanation of Bergson's idea of "reality."

Bergson agrees with William James that truth is a dynamic relation between an idea and an existing reality. Truth is not a static property inherent in an idea or judgment. Truth is something which happens to an idea, and which has practical consequences for action. The truth of an idea can tell us how to respond to events, and how to develop plans for action. Truth is not a static relation of correspondence to an unchanging, preexistent state of being. Truth is an active relation between an idea and events that may change according to the flow of reality.

To summarize some of the principles of Bergson’s philosophy, as outlined in The Creative Mind:
1) ultimate reality is changing, rather than unchanging; 2) ultimate reality is knowable by direct intuition; 3) intellect and intuition provide two different kinds of knowledge, which can be integrated to produce a unified knowledge of reality; 4) intellectual knowledge is relative knowledge, intuitive knowledge is absolute knowledge; 5) intuition is a direct perception and experience of the continuous flow of reality, without the use of any intellectual concepts; 6) the flow of time as real duration can be experienced only by intuition; 6) the intellect may falsify the perception of reality by substituting stability for mobility, and by substituting discontinuity for continuity; 7) many philosophical problems are caused by the use of conceptual instead of intuitive thinking, and are resolved by the use of intuition as a philosophical method.

Online Source. Henri Bergson’s The Creative Mind

Friday, January 27, 2012

Save Saint Thomas, Save the Church

Save Saint Thomas, Save the Church

By Matthew Bellisario 2012

Pope John XXII in 1323, only 49 years after Aquinas’ earthly passing, proclaimed St. Thomas a Saint. He wrote, "We believe that Brother Thomas is glorious in heaven, because his life was holy, and his doctrine alone is a miracle." This Saturday , Jan 28th (in the new calendar, March 7th in the old. I celebrate them both!) is the feast day of the greatest theologian the Church has ever produced, Saint Thomas Aquinas. In 1567 Pope Pius V declared him a Doctor of the Church. He was however given an even higher title by the Church, that of the Angelic Doctor, or The Universal Doctor. These are titles that have yet to be given to anyone other than him. It is no secret that Saint Thomas’ works have been used by the Church to help explain and defend the truth of Christ to the world. In fact, his work was referred to in great depth during the great ecumenical council of Trent, and his line of thinking was used to formally further explain and define dogmatic truths of the faith which included the Eucharist, the Mass, the Sacraments and the unity of the Church. He was a sure safeguard against the errors of Protestantism, and men such a Luther despised him because his knack for getting at the truth of things, which often made a folly of Luther’s bloated ego and the heretical theological positions he held. The Church in fact survived the Protestant Revolt and came away all the stronger because of the Church’s use of St. Thomas’ thought. The method of St. Thomas became time tested as the Church made its way through history, refuting the errors of the world effectively. Looking to modern times, six popes in a row, from Pius IX to Pius XII all hailed him and his thought as an indispensable asset to aiding the human intellect in understanding the Catholic faith.

It was August of 1879 when Pope Leo XIII launched his monumental encyclical ‘Aeternis Patris’, which was directly aimed at combating modernism in the Church. The document sought to ensure that all of the clergy in the Church be firmly rooted in the mind of St. Thomas. "Let, then, teachers carefully chosen by you do their best to instill the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas into the minds of their hearers; and let them clearly point out its solidity and excellence above all other teaching. Let this doctrine be the light of all places of learning, which you may have already opened, or may hereafter open. Let it be used for the refutation of errors that are gaining ground." Pope Leo XIII clearly understood that the very foundations of the Church were being shaken by new philosophical systems which were not rooted in objective truth. He warned of the grave situation that the Church found itself in, “...both by reason of the gravity of the subject and the condition of the time, we are again compelled to speak to you on the mode of taking up the study of philosophy which shall respond most fitly to the excellence of faith, and at the same time be consonant with the dignity of human science.”

Pope Pius X then followed suit with an even more extreme response to the modernist crisis. He wrote five hard hitting documents all attacking the danger of modernism, as well as proposing St. Thomas as the antidote. The first was ‘Acerbo Nimis’ (April 14, 1905) which stressed the importance of proper catechetical formation. In the document Pope Pius X referred to the Council of Trent to illustrate his point. Next on July 3rd of 1907 he launched ‘Lamentabili Sane’, which was also referred to as a Syllabus of Errors. In it he listed 65 of the most noxious errors plaguing the Church. He followed that in September of the same year with the groundbreaking Encyclical ‘Pascendi Domenici Gregis.’ In this document Pope Pius X did is best to clarify the gravity of the situation, and also proposed a clear course of action to stop the modernist incursion. “In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences...And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further let Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment.” We see here that it is very clear that the actual survival of the Church’s effectiveness in proclaiming the Gospel is rooted in the perennial wisdom of Thomism.

On September 1st of 1910 Pope Pius followed through on his end of the deal when he made all clergy throughout the Church subject to his newly crafted ‘Oath Against Modernism.’ In the document, he not only made the clergy swear to adhere to all of the formal teachings of the Church, but he also bound them to his two documents, ‘Lamentabili Sane’ as well as ‘Pascendi’ which obviously included the clergy’s command to put the teaching of the Angelic Doctor at the heart of their study. Part of the Oath included, “Furthermore, with due reverence, I submit and adhere with my whole heart to the condemnations, declarations, and all the prescripts contained in the encyclical Pascendi and in the decree Lamentabili...” The line in the sand had been drawn and this lethal defense of Saint Thomas would deal a hard hitting blow to the new arch-heresy of modernism. Under Pius X’s watch modernism was for the most part kept firmly in check. Keeping with the leitmotif of his papacy, the Saint ended his Papacy with yet another parting dose of Aquinas is his Motu Proprio, ‘Doctoris Angelici.’ In it he wrote these sobering words of wisdom, "The chief doctrines of St. Thomas' philosophy cannot be regarded as mere opinions—which anyone might discuss pro and con, but rather as a foundation on which all science of both natural and divine things rests. If they are taken away, or perverted in any way, then this necessarily follows: that the students of sacred studies will not perceive even the meaning of those words whereby the divinely revealed dogmas are uttered by the teaching of the Church." Unfortunately Pope Pius X’s warning would come true many years later after the very commands he gave during his entire papacy were later ignored by many in the Church.

Pope Benedict XV followed Saint Pius X and also hailed St. Thomas and his work as indispensable to the Church for all ages. “...the eminent commendations of Thomas Aquinas by the Holy See no longer permit a Catholic to doubt that he was divinely raised up that the Church might have a master whose doctrine should be followed in a special way at all times.” Likewise his successor on June 29th, 1923, Pope Pius XI rolled out his Encyclical ‘Studiorum Ducem’ which again held St. Thomas in the highest esteem. The document opened with, “In a recent apostolic letter confirming the statutes of Canon Law, We declared that the guide to be followed in the higher studies by young men training for the priesthood was Thomas Aquinas. The approaching anniversary of the day when he was duly enrolled, six hundred years ago, in the calendar of the Saints, offers Us an admirable opportunity of inculcating this more and more firmly in the minds of Our students and explaining to them what advantage they may most usefully derive from the teaching of so illustrious a Doctor.” The document again explained why the Church’s effectiveness in the world remained largely on the clergy’s adherence to the teaching methodology of St. Thomas Aquinas. “...a combination of doctrine and piety, of erudition and virtue, of truth and charity, is to be found in an eminent degree in the angelic Doctor and it is not without reason that he has been given the sun for a device; for he both brings the light of learning into the minds of men and fires their hearts and wills with the virtues.”

Not only was Aquinas to be the illuminating light for the clergy, but for the entire Church. Pope Pius XI continued, “We propose to comment briefly in this Letter on the sanctity and doctrine of Thomas Aquinas and to show what profitable instruction may be derived therefrom by priests, by seminarians especially, and, not least, by all Christian people.” The document made it clear that there was no substitute for Aquinas, “in the first place, who has provided a better explanation than he of the nature and character of philosophy, its various divisions and the relative importance of each?...His teaching with regard to the power or value of the human mind is irrefragable...Such a doctrine goes to the root of the errors and opinions of those modern philosophers...The metaphysical philosophy of St. Thomas, although exposed to this day to the bitter onslaughts of prejudiced critics, yet still retains, like gold which no acid can dissolve, its full force and splendor unimpaired...There can be no doubt that Aquinas raised Theology to the highest eminence...Thomas is therefore considered the Prince of teachers...For in the first place he established apologetics on a sound and genuine basis by defining exactly the difference between the province of reason and the province of faith and carefully distinguishing the natural and the supernatural orders...The other branch of Theology, which is concerned with the interpretation of dogmas, also found in St. Thomas by far the richest of all commentators.” In these brief yet telling soundbites I have quoted from the document, we begin to see a common opinion among all of these popes; there was to be no substitute for the Angelic Doctor, period.

After just over 17 years, Pope Pius XI’s papacy came to an end, and his successor, Pope Pius XII, likewise spared no expense in promoting St. Thomas Aquinas as the remedy for the modernist assault on the Church. Not only did he publish documents to combat the new wave of modernist theologians, he also shut many of them down. For example, under his papacy In 1954 the Master General of the Dominican Order in Rome, Emanuel Suarez, was sent to Paris by the command of the Holy See. Three Jesuit Provincials from Paris, Lyons and Toulouse were removed from office including the four new theologians, Boisselet, Feret, Chenu and Congar, who were expelled from Paris, France. Likewise in 1954, Pope Pius XII condemned what the German theologian Karl Rahner had written in his 1949 article titled “The many Masses and the one Sacrifice.” Pope Pius XII did his best to keep many of these "new" theologians away from the faithful by trying to stop the publication of their modernist heresies. These actions were preceded by his well oriented Encyclical, ‘Humanis Genris.’ The document, although similar to those penned by his predecessors, also took aim at modernist philosophy, and hence also the theological ideas of individual theologians such as the wily French Jesuit, Henri de Lubac. De Lubac, was also an avid defender of the condemned ideas of Pierre Telhard de Chardin, who also promoted a deficient philosophical line of thinking which stood truth on its head. As a result, de Lubac held to an improper view of nature and grace, which was rooted in his modernist philosophical method of thought.

It is worth quoting paragraph 32 of the encyclical ‘Humanis Generis’ at full length to appreciate the condemnation of his line of thought. “How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church, is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy, then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.”

Pope Pius XII like his predecessors had held firm to the merits of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Never has there been more praise from the Church for any theologian as there has been for Saint Thomas. Even as great as Saint Augustine was, by God’s grace, Saint Thomas enhanced and surpassed the wisdom of St. Augustine. Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical ‘Aeternis Patris“Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because “he most venerated the ancient doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all...The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith.” We must realize that the Church has never relied on anyone in the Church to the extent that it has on Saint Thomas. Entire ecumenical councils have used his thought to further define and guide the Church’s doctrine. The Church has used his methods to further develop moral theology and give answer to critical moral questions. So we honor the happy feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. On March 7th, I will again honor the Feast of St. Thomas. Perhaps he should just be given two feast days! We can do no harm in honoring this great Saint every chance we get. We should invest our energies into reading and studying the work and methods of this unique and splendid Saint. His work has had the ability to recognize and convey the truths of the Catholic faith like no one else’s ever has. We should likewise imitate him in his holiness, and in the way he integrated study and prayer, not viewing them as separate works, but one flowing from the other. Many today have adopted the errors of modernism in the Church. The reason this has happened is that many have long ignored the great Angelic Doctor. It is plain to see according to the successors of St. Peter, from whom I have extensively quoted here, there is to be no substitute for Saint Thomas Aquinas and the principles of reality that he so beautifully brought to light. There has been no more important time in history to awaken those in the Church to the life, thought and work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. There has been a motto going around the internet, “Save the liturgy, save the Church.” I think it is more appropriate to say, “Save Saint Thomas, save the Church.” Happy Feast of Saint Thomas!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Faith and Facts I: Changing Luther’s Doctrine of Sola Fide.

I am reading an interesting book I purchased on the internet. The title is ‘Catholic Moral Teaching and Its Antagonists’ by Joseph Mausbach, D.D. It was printed in 1914 and presents and defends Catholic moral teaching against many Protestant arguments. I found some information that the book presented on Lutheranism, and how the view of justification, and the doctrine of sola fide, or faith alone, has changed over the years. Most of the “average Joe” Lutheran church goers probably have no idea how the Lutheran sect has changed its teaching over on this doctrine. Most probably do not even understand what Luther taught concerning the heretical doctrine. As a whole, Lutheranism does not present what their founder Martin Luther taught concerning “faith alone.” For example, Luther’s famous “faith alone” doctrine has been shifted back towards the Catholic view, which is not really “faith alone,” but faith working and charity. This is one of the reasons why their have been recent attempts to try and reconcile the modern Lutheran doctrine and Catholic doctrine on the matter, although what they are now trying to reconcile is not really the Catholic doctrine of faith and works, and the classic Lutheran doctrine of faith alone. There is no way possible to reconcile the two, the error must be either condemned or simply changed. These changes however are presented not as changes, but that what has been taught before was only misunderstood.

The books offers a nice explanation of what was going on back in the early 1900s concerning this issue. Lutheran’s had began to shift away from Luther’s radical heresy of sola fide, because they realized that it could not stand up to Biblical scrutiny. Yet, as they changed it, they still insisted that it was “Lutheran.” This has continued on to this day. Below is a quote from the text on pages 25 and 27 of this book, which gives a good explanation of what happened in this new redefining of what the Lutherans now wanted to be accepted as their new doctrine of Sola Fide. Of course, this does not apply to all “Lutherans” since there are many different sects of them. You still have the occasional "trad-Lutherans" who attempt to adhere to the radical, confused and ultimately contradicting doctrine that Luther himself presented. Otherwise, it seems that many “Lutherans” have just decided to reformulate what they wanted Luther to have taught, rather than what he really taught.

There have always been Protestant theologians who boasted of preserving their inheritance from Luther with scrupulous fidelity. They have watched with distrust every attempt to attach more importance to the necessity of a moral life. Ever since the time of the Majoristic controversy "the aversion to any interpretation or expression which brought obedience on the part of man, or his good works, into relation with eternal life grew year by year stronger and more general among German Protestants,” and theological works with a strongly marked moral tendency incurred at once the suspicion of heresy.

Apart from the veneration of Luther's person by Protestants, there is something else which makes it difficult for them to assign the true historical meaning to his definitive teaching, and this is the fact that, in the course of time, Protestant preachers and theologians have stripped Luther's doctrine of justification of its contradiction and, as we have seen in the case of Tschackert, have changed sola fides into "faith and charity."

This is the so-called silent reformation which Krogh-Tonning describes as a "reaction in the heart of Protestantism in favour of Catholicism." It is at the same time a very decided "condemnation of the essential point in Luther's teaching." In consequence of this gradual transformation, as this Norwegian convert points out, the relation of faith to good works is now a doctrine upon which Catholics and Protestants are practically agreed. Protestant theology has abandoned those of Luther's tenets that are unchristian and subversive of morality, and so it now teaches a form of Lutheranism that is not historical, for "it has given up the principles antagonistic to the Church, and by means of a silent reformation has again taken up the moral point, endeavouring all the while to assert its Lutheran origin, even in matters that are irreconcilable with the thoughts and the teaching of the Reformation."...

Hamack admits that many Protestants still refuse to agree to the proposition that faith only is valuable which reveals itself in love of God and of one's neighbour, and that their refusal to agree to it becomes more obstinate when they engage in religious controversy with Catholics. This is due not to any interior, ethical, or even biblical difficulty involved in the proposition, but to a consciousness that it contradicts Luther's doctrine of justification, which they are unwilling to surrender. Moreover, if the antithesis "faith alone," and "faith and love" is defined as Hamack defines it, the former receives a meaning which forbids us to say that Luther asserted the correct doctrine in the sharpest terms. A Catholic is certainly not led to consider the delicate question whether value is to be attached to faith or love, because he abides by the principle of faith and love, — faith as the root, love as the blossom and fruit of justification. On the other hand, with the principle "faith alone," the question is already settled in a most fatal and incorrect manner. That faith is absolutely inseparable from love is true of that view of faith mentioned by St Paid in Galatians v. 6, which scholasticism describes as "faith inspired by love," and which Luther also occasionally has depicted very nicely. But elsewhere he emphatically combats this fides caritate formata of the scholastics and denies that love bears any relation to justification; he represents justifying faith as compatible with sin even so emphatically, that it is impossible to say that his conception of faith necessarily includes charity.

‘Catholic Moral Teaching and Its Antagonists’ by Joseph Mausbach, D.D.

Here we can see what the new Lutheran teaching is concerning "faith alone."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pray Tell Watch: Fr Anthony Ruff On Luther

I recently posted about Fr. Anthony Ruff's recent critique of some of what was written by Fr. Barron concerning a video put out by an evangelical. I think it is relevant to look at the rest of his response, which concerns the arch-heretic Martin Luther.  This is really amazing stuff. First, below is what Fr. Barron wrote,
"What the young man in the video is presenting is a simplistic and radical form of evangelicalism whose intellectual roots are in the thought of Martin Luther. Luther famously held that justification (or salvation) takes place through grace alone accepted in faith, and not from good works of any kind...
To rely on liturgy or sacraments or moral effort for salvation, Luther thought, amounted to a pathetic “works righteousness,” which he sharply contrasted to the “alien righteousness” that comes, not from us, but from Christ. This basic theological perspective led Luther (at least in some texts) to demonize many elements of ecclesial life as distractions from the grace offered through Jesus, and this is why we find, even to this day in many evangelical Protestant churches, a muting of the liturgical, the sacramental, the institutional, etc."
Next we have Fr. Ruff's response. 

"Also unfortunate is Barron’s caricature of Luther. Pro Ecclesia and recent Luther studies, anyone? The New Finnish School, anyone? Barron rightly critiques the video for driving a wedge between Christ and the Church. What a shame that in doing so, Barron drives a wedge between Luther and the Catholic Church. So much for ecumenism."
First of all, how can Fr. Barron drive any larger wedge between Luther and the Catholic Church than that which Luther himself drove? How is what was presented a caricature? What about the "New Finish School?" Anyone? Anyone care? How about being honest? Look at historical documents and read what the arch-heretic Luther actually wrote and taught, and then ask yourself who drove the "wedge". Luther in many respects was in complete opposition to the Catholic faith. Putting your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and then pretending that it never happened is not going to improve Catholic-Lutheran relations. The only way to improve that relation is to clearly demonstrate where Luther erred, and why Lutherans today should reject his errors and return to the one true Christian faith. Ecumenism does not come at the expense of truth.

How about this for a wedge? Anyone? Anyone?

Below is an excerpt from Luther's reply to Pope Leo X and his Bull of excommunication. Luther was so out his mind that he couldn't even decide who he thought wrote the Bull. He sounds like a raving lunatic. But even despite that fact, he made it clear that whoever it was, whether it be Pope Leo, Eck, or anyone else, that they were surely the "anti-Christ." We all know who approved of the Bull don't we? Pope Leo X. There was no wedge there! How dare Fr. Barron recount Luther's teaching and drive a huge wedge between Luther and the Catholic Church!

But whoever wrote this bull, he is Antichrist. I protest before God, our Lord Jesus, his sacred angels, and the whole world that with my whole heart I dissent from the damnation of this bull, that I curse and execrate it as sacrilege and blasphemy of Christ, God's Son and our Lord. This be my recantation, Oh bull, thou daughter of bulls...Of the cross of Christ, that all men should resist them. You then, Leo X, you cardinals and the rest of you at Rome, I tell you to your faces: "If this bull has come out in your name, then I will use the power which has been given me in baptism whereby I became a son of God and co-heir with Christ, established upon the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I call upon you to renounce your diabolical blasphemy and audacious impiety, and, if you will not, we shall all hold your seat as possessed and oppressed by Satan, the damned seat of Antichrist; in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you persecute.
Move along people..nothing to see here...no wedge here folks....Luther calling the Pope the anti-Christ, along with the rest of his rants drove no real wedge...no wedge here folks......nothing to see.....move along....

Where is the New Theology Leading Us?

If there is one article worth putting on your read list this week, this would be it. It is titled, 'Where is the New Theology Leading Us?' It was originally written by the great theologian and opponent of modernism, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. in 1946. The article clearly demonstrates why it is so important to follow the principles of perennial philosophy, which ultimately effects how one views dogmatic and moral theology. If you are wondering why we have all of the turmoil in the Church today, it is because many of the bishops and clergy have adopted modernist principles in some shape or form, which has been long condemned by the Church. If you read many of the theologians who are hailed today as being such great theologians, such as Hans Urs van Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and Karl Rahner among others, you will observe how readily they bought into much of the modernist line of thinking. I wrote a review on Hans Urs von Balthasar's work, 'Razing the Bastions' recently, and it is plain to see that he bought into many of the philosophical ideas which were explicitly rejected by the Church.

Excerpt from Lagrange's article:
"The truth is no longer the conformity of judgment to intuitive reality and its immutable laws, but the conformity of judgment to the exigencies of action, and of human life which continues to evolve. The philosophy of being or ontology is substituted by the philosophy of action which defines truth as no longer a function of being but of action."

Thus is modernism reprised: “Truth is no more immutable than man himself, inasmuch as it is evolved with him, in him and through him. As well, Pius X said of the modernists, “they pervert the eternal concept of truth.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mark Wahlberg: One of the Few Decent Men In Hollywood

There are not many men in Hollywood today that people can look up to. It seems that Mark Wahlberg has his head on straight. It is great to see a fellow Catholic in his particular state in life trying to live his faith in today's culture.

Pray Tell Watch: Father Anthony Ruff- Did Jesus Found The Church?

                         Pray Tell Watch: Father Anthony Ruff- Did Jesus Found A Church?

    I keep an eye on the foolishness that is espoused over at the ‘Pray Tell’ blog. Recently I ran across a post in which Fr. Anthony Ruff challenges the notion that Jesus founded the Church. Father Anthony Ruff recently stated the following in critiquing what Fr. Longnecker and Fr. Barron had to say about the recent video that came out last week by a dimwitted evangelical, which ridiculed religion, while claiming to promote the love of Jesus. Fr. Barron made the following comment, “What [Jesus] affected was a transfiguration of the best of that classical Israelite religion—Temple, law, priesthood, sacrifice, covenant, etc.—into the institutions, sacraments, practices and structures of his Mystical Body, the Church.” Father Ruff responded “I find Fr. Longecker’s defense of organized religion, though perhaps a bit overstated, more persuasive than Fr. Barron’s. Both point out the communal nature of following Jesus, but Longecker does so without Barron’s triumphalistic, preconciliar-sounding claims about how Jesus founded the Church.” Pre-conciliar sounding? Triumphalism? To disagree with the fact that Jesus founded a Church is heresy, period.

    It is clear here in this statement that we have a priest, who is part of the Benedictine order at St. John’s Abbey, espousing heresy in a public forum. That is right, I am claiming that the words he wrote here are blatantly heretical. Any allusion to the fact that Jesus did not found the Church is against the Catholic faith. Yet, according to Fr. Ruff, Fr. Barron was wrong to claim that Jesus ever founded a Church. The claim that Jesus founded the Catholic Church is defined by Fr. Ruff as being old triumphalism, and apparently such claims are to be condemned as “preconciliar-sounding” nonsense. This is not the first time Fr. Ruff has made wild-eyed claims regarding the Church. If we look back to August 25th of 2010 we read, “I’ve become increasingly interested in the issue of what Jesus’s radical message really was (to the extent that we can ever get at least a bit closer to it), and in what ways the tradition of the Church both conveys and betrays his message.” (http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/08/25/summer-what-weve-been-reading-wednesday/) We also remember his comments in one the com-boxes on the Pray Tell blog awhile back concerning the Church's apostolic succession, "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." So we see that Fr. Ruff is no stranger to questioning or ridiculing the Church's teaching concerning the Church.

    Let us now see what Christ Himself taught about the Church. Let us also investigate the words of those who followed Him throughout the centuries and handed on the faith throughout the world, concerning the foundation of the Church. Finally we will look at what the Popes and the Church Magisterium has consistently and officially taught about Jesus founding the Church. This material will include what has been claimed not only from the pre-Vatican II sources and documents, but also what came from the Second Vatican Council, as well as what came after it. We will find plainly that this renegade priest is misleading people on a public forum, and as usual, no one in the hierarchy will do anything about it. You wanna know why? Its because most of them also buy into this same modernist heretical nonsense that Fr. Ruff buys into. So Fr. Ruff can espouse anything he likes in a public forum, where thousands, or perhaps millions of men and women can be mislead by his writings, without any opposition whatsoever.

The facts concerning this teaching.

1. Jesus said He founded the Church; "You are Rock and on this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 18) So here we have Jesus Himself telling his followers that He was going to found a Church. The only problem here is that Fr. Ruff has often claimed that he does not believe that the words in the Bible are the actual words that He spoke. Fr. Ruff once wrote, “Saint Benedict Press prints the words of Our Lord are in red! Just like the Protestant fundamentalists. Just what you need if you think everything attributed to Jesus in the canonical Gospels was said by him...” (http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2011/04/08/what%E2%80%99s-up-with-the-nabre/) So, if you don’t believe the Scriptures are inspired, and that Jesus’ words were passed on to us through the Church and her Scriptures, then what other evidence is going to compel you? Probably not much of anything, but I will continue anyways.

2. The immediate followers of Jesus said He founded the Church; “Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it:...” (Ephesians 5:24-25) Here we see Saint Paul telling us that Christ delivered Himself up for the Church, and that the Church is subject to Him. Of course Fr. Ruff probably doesn’t believe that St. Paul said this either.

3. The early Church Fathers said Jesus founded the Church; “Peter upon which rock the Lord promised that he would build his church.” (Saint Basil the Great) “For from the coming down of the Incarnate Word among us, all the churches in every part of the world have possessed that greatest church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell do never prevail against it, that it possesses the Keys of right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the Most High.” ( Saint Maximus the Confessor) Unfortunately those in the Church hierarchy have grown soft as roasted marshmallows since the days of the great St. Maximus, and they will not shut the heretical mouths of those who espouse heresy today.

4. The Popes have said that those who claimed that Jesus did not found the Church are heretics. The following statement was proclaimed to be heresy according to Pius X. “It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries.” (Lamentabili Sane, 1907)

5. The Magisterium before Vatican II said Jesus founded the Church; “We teach and declare that according to the gospel evidence, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church of God was immediately and directly promised to the blessed apostle Peter and conferred on him by Christ the lord...if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole church militant; or that it was a primacy of honour only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema.” (Decrees of the First Vatican Council) So here we have the Magisterium proclaiming that anyone who would deny that Christ immediately founded the Church, with Peter as its head, to be anathema.

6. The documents of Vatican II said Jesus founded the Church; “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” (Unitatis Redintegratio) “Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all.” (Lumen Gentium) So here we have two Vatican II documents telling us the same thing, that Jesus founded the Church. So I think we should ask Fr. Ruff how he deems this teaching to be “pre-conciliar-sounding". Explain that one to us please.

7. The Church documents of today tell us that Jesus founded the Church, and that Catholics are required by faith to assent to this teaching; “The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15).” (Domius Iesus, CDF) I guess Fr. Ruff does not have to comply with this requirement? It seems that he does not, otherwise his superiors and the bishop of which his abbey resides under, would be publicly apologizing to everyone for these statements. In addition, they would then need to jerk this mountebank off the internet to do penance on an island far, far away from any computer connected to the internet.

So I have proven here that Fr. Ruff’s claim that Jesus founding a Church, as being nothing more than old triumphalism, and pre-conciliar in nature, to be a false heretical claim. Oh sure, if he is ever pressed on this issue he will find a way to slither out from what he said. All modernists are good at the word games. I however would put his feet to the fire and make him answer a simple question. "Do you believe that Jesus Christ founded His one and only Church, the Catholic Church, on Peter and His successors?  Was this foundation a historical one, and do you believe what the Church in her documents, and in and her Sacred Scriptures attest to regarding this teaching? Yes or No?" It is a fact, when this teaching is denied or in any way questioned, it should be recognized as being heretical in nature, and it should be halted. It does not matter in what manner the teaching is questioned, for any speech that could cause one to doubt this teaching should never be tolerated. This teaching is a core tenet of the Catholic faith which must be believed in order for one to be of the Catholic faith. Will we see Fr. Ruff put under interdict for this heretical statement made in the public sphere? Don’t hold your breath. If we had real men like Saint Maximus the Confessor in the Church today, we would see the likes of this heretical speech shut down. For now we will have to relish in the words that the great Saint left behind for us, and pray that some day this heretical speech will not be tolerated in open forums by the very men who swore to protect the flock from the wolves who seek to devour them. Instead we have these men leading the sheep right into the wolves den, where they then stand with delight, wringing their hands with broad smiles on their faces as they watch the wolves devour them.

“The extremities of the earth, and all in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord look directly towards the most holy Roman Church and its confession and faith, as it were to a sun of unfailing light, awaiting from it the bright radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers according to what the six inspired and holy councils have purely and piously decreed, declaring most expressly the symbol of faith. For from the coming down of the incarnate Word amongst us, all the Churches in every part of the world have held that greatest Church alone as their base and foundation, seeing that according to the promise of Christ our Saviour, the gates of hell do never prevail against it, that it has the keys of a right confession and faith in Him, that it opens the true and only religion to such as approach with piety, and shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks injustice against the Most High.” (Saint Maximus the Confessor)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Intelletual Life: Read This Book!

There are some books that have the ability to change the way you look at things, and this is one of them. Written originally back in 1921, 'The Intellectual Life' by A.G. Sertillanges O.P. is a manual for those interested in the intellectual life of study. But is is much more than that, it is a manual on how to live. The book is based upon a Thomistic framework, explaining first what the intellectual life is and why one would engage in such work. The author makes it clear that there can be no real intellectual work without virtue, being regularly engaged in prayer, and of course being in the state of grace. Discipline of the body is also expressed. One who cannot control their appetite for example makes a poor intellectual. It is extremely important to have a regular schedule in life, having the same time each day to pray, to exercise, to study, and of course fulfill your regular obligations of work and family, etc. The author even touches upon getting proper sleep, not too much, yet not too little, and even gives advice on how to make your sleep productive.

The second half of the book explains how to actually engage in study. He talks about always using the methods of Saint Thomas to form one's intellectual foundation, starting first learning the basic principles of philosophy and logic. The book teaches you how to read and how to properly research the subjects you want to study. He teaches you how to take notes and how to write well. How you spend your time with others and how you engage with them is also talked about. In short, the author teaches you not really how to study or how to write as a separate work, but he teaches you what it actually means to be an intellectual in the true sense of the word. It is not something that you do, but something that you become. He teaches you how to integrate your daily work, your family life, your spiritual life and your study so that you can always be active in living "the intellectual life." If there is one book you should read before you read any others, this is it. It has changed the way I think about life, and it is rare that a book has this effect. It has made me think about what is important in life. I am now on a mission to remove any obstacles that will keep me from achieving a well ordered life towards God, and towards my studies.

The author also has another great book available titled, 'Thomas Aquinas, Scholar, Poet, Mystic, Saint'. It is an introductory book on Saint Thomas which gives a basic sketch of his life, his thought, his spirituality and his work. It is only 140 pages, but it is a great book to read along with 'The Intellectual Life.' I find it always rewarding to go back and read introductory works on Saint Thomas. There is always something to be learned from them. If you implement what these two books teach, then I believe that you will be made a better person in doing so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Contradictions? You Decide...

Proposal #1

Pope Pius X wrote: "The chief doctrines of St. Thomas' philosophy cannot be regarded as mere opinionswhich anyone might discuss pro and con, but rather as a foundation on which all science of both natural and divine things rests. If they are taken away, or perverted in any way, then this necessarily follows: that the students of sacred studies will not perceive even the meaning of those words whereby the divinely revealed dogmas are uttered by the teaching of the Church."

Doctoris Angelici
Pope Pius X
29 June 1914

Pope Leo XIII wrote, "Let, then, teachers carefully chosen by you do their best to instill the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas into the minds of their hearers; and let them clearly point out its solidity and excellence above all other teaching. Let this doctrine be the light of all places of learning, which you may have already opened, or may hereafter open. Let it be used for the refutation of errors that are gaining ground."
Aeterni Patris
Pope Leo XIII 
4 August 1879

Pope Pius XII wrote, "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.

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. 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.

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.

Humani Generis 
Pope Pius XII
12 August 1950

Proposal #2

The then Father Ratzinger wrote, "I want to emphasize again that I decidedly agree with Küng when he makes a clear distinction between Roman theology (taught in the schools of Rome) and the Catholic Faith. To free itself from the constraining fetters of Roman Scholastic Theology represents a duty upon which, in my humble opinion, the possibility of the survival of Catholicism seems to depend."

  Zum Problem Unfehlbarkeit -
"The Problem of Infallibility"
 a series of essays edited by Karl Rahner.
Fr. Joseph Ratzinger,  1971

The then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, "In a certain sense, the theology of the first half of the [20th] century was more balanced, but also more closed within itself. Much of that theology lived inside the box of Neo-Scholasticism. It had greater certainty and logical lucidity than today's theology, but it was far removed from the real world. The adventure that began in the Council took theology out of that box and exposed it to the fresh air of today's life."
  "Consequently this exposed it to the risk of new unbalances, since it was subject to divergent tendencies without the protection of a system. This caused theology to look for new balances in the context of an open and lively dialogue with today's reality.

"This step seems to me not only justified, but also necessary, because theology should serve faith and evangelization, and, for this reason, must face reality as it is today .... Therefore, it was a just and necessary step, although also a risky one .... But risk is part of a necessary adventure."

Interview from 1994 from
the Portuguese edition of 30 Giorni-
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  

 (30 Dias, April 1994, p. 62)

The then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, "As a result of this struggle [between faith and reason], a new philosophical category – the concept of “person” – was fashioned, a concept that has become for us the fundamental concept of the analogy between God and man, the very center of philosophical thought….The meaning of an already existing category, that of “relation”, was fundamentally changed. In the Aristotelian table of categories, relation belongs to the group of accidents that point to substance and are dependent on it; in God, therefore, there are no accidents. Through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, relation moves out of the substance-accident framework. Now God himself is described as a Trinitarian set of relations, as relation subsistens. When we say that man is the image of God, it means that he is a being designed for relationship; it means that, in and through all his relationships, he seeks that relation which is the ground of his existence. In this context, covenant would be the response to man’s imaging of God; it would show us who we are and who God is. And for God, since he is entirely relationship, covenant would not be something external in history, apart from his being, but the manifestation of his self, the “radiance of his countenance.” (P. 76-77). 

'Many Religions – One Covenant' 
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Warning to Those Who Oppose Saint Thomas and Scholasticism

I think these two paragraphs are a good rule of thumb to use when seeking out your Catholic reading material. Long live the happy memory of Pope Saint Pius X! We should hope that all today would hear and obey his words.

45. In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, or which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations (Leo XIII. Enc. Aeterni Patris). And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us, and We, therefore, declare that all the ordinances of Our Predecessor on this subject continue fully in force, and, as far as may be necessary, We do decree anew, and confirm, and ordain that they be by all strictly observed. In seminaries where they may have been neglected let the Bishops impose them and require their observance, and let this apply also to the Superiors of religious institutions. Further let Professors remember that they cannot set St. Thomas aside, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave detriment.

46. On this philosophical foundation the theological edifice is to be solidly raised. Promote the study of theology, Venerable Brethren, by all means in your power, so that your clerics on leaving the seminaries may admire and love it, and always find their delight in it. For in the vast and varied abundance of studies opening before the mind desirous of truth, everybody knows how the old maxim describes theology as so far in front of all others that every science and art should serve it and be to it as handmaidens (Leo XIII., Lett. ap. In Magna, Dec. 10, 1889). We will add that We deem worthy of praise those who with full respect for tradition, the Holy Fathers, and the ecclesiastical magisterium, undertake, with well-balanced judgment and guided by Catholic principles (which is not always the case), seek to illustrate positive theology by throwing the light of true history upon it. Certainly more attention must be paid to positive theology than in the past, but this must be done without detriment to scholastic theology, and those are to be disapproved as of Modernist tendencies who exalt positive theology in such a way as to seem to despise the scholastic.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Critique on Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Work ‘Razing the Bastions’

 A Critique on Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Work ‘Razing the Bastions’
(The ‘Anti-Humani Generis)
By Matthew J Bellisario 2012

 A Critique on Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Work ‘Razing the Bastions’
(The ‘Anti-Humani Generis)
By Matthew J Bellisario 2012


    Hans Urs von Balthasar is routinely hailed as being one of the most prolific and brilliant theologians of the modern Church. He is often lauded by popular priests today. For example, Fr. Joesph Fessio promotes his work and has published many of his works at Ignatius Press, Fr. Robert Barron routinely quotes him at his ‘Word on Fire’ website, often times using von Balthasar’s opinion over that of even Saint Thomas Aquinas. Even our current Pope as well as John Paul II often cite his work. It would seem then based on popular opinion that this theologian is the golden boy of theologians, no? Well, based on my reading and study of this particular work ‘Raising the Bastions’, as compared to what past Popes have taught us, I tend to disagree.

    I am going to look at this work in particular and give you a few reasons why I do not care for his theological opinions. I have attempted to reference the page numbers that I quoted from so that you the reader can easily cross reference my claims if you have the book. I urge you to read it for yourself as well. Again, as I often state here, this is my opinion, nothing more. Feel free to agree or disagree with me, it is of little difference to me. I am offering you my observations of topics that may interest readers, if that interests you then great, if not that is fine as well. I took the time to study the 100 plus page work that was republished by Ignatius Press in 1993. Originally the work was penned in 1953 in German. It is often referred to as a prototype for the new mentality of the modern Church. The modern publication contains an introduction by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who is also not on the top of my list of reputable theologians, nor can he be  trusted in his liturgical theology. Just watch this video to see what kind of liturgical buffoonery he has been responsible for in the past.

    In his introduction Schonborn praises the work as being one calling for the Church to interpret the “signs of the age” “from the bed of historical sleep for the deed of today.” These quotes were taken directly from the work itself. Schonborn kind of summarizes Balthasar’s anti-middles ages attitude which pervades the work. He writes, “Certainly the medieval congruence of the world with the inner room of the Church is shattered. The Church stands as one body among many others.” The Cardinal then, like the author of the work, speaks of the Church’s alleged failures of the past including the Baroque period, as well as the attempted restoration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In short, it seems that the Cardinal shares the views of the author which, makes the bold claim that the Catholic Church in the past has been a huge failure, and that it must essentially change and adapt to the modern age, or die. Although there may be some truth in the claim that the Church must be mindful of the age it finds itself in, the battle lines must be drawn as to how the Church should preach and communicate the life saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Anything short of proclaiming and defending this truth boldly is no solution at all. Unfortunately, as we will see, I believe the bastions that have been razed recently concerning the Church,  are part of the reason why the Church is no longer relevant to the world today. In other words, these bastions that Balthasar tells us needed to be shattered, were in large part necessary to proclaiming the Gospel effectively.


    Balthasar starts his book with a chapter titled, ‘Departure.” Here he proposes a “restoration” of the Church, which is in his eyes caught in a crisis. Remember, this is 1953 when he is writing this, so keep this in mind. The author talks about a unity of humanity on the planet, and he further implicates the past actions of the Church as being insufficient in relation to the true unity of humanity. In fact, he tells his readers that the Church must accept the world and its expansions and new horizons, “The Church cannot avoid joining humanity in ascertaining this cosmic situation and task, and in accepting it.” He then scolds the Church, “Perhaps she continued too long after the Reformation to hand on the old intellectual framework of the middle ages...” This arrogant distaste for anything “middle ages” riddles this entire work. The author then lauds nineteenth century discoveries in the world, “and above all the immense wealth of Asia’s modes of thought”, and calls for those those in the Church to abandon their own tradition in favor of these newly discovered ones. (pages 18 and 19)

    He then turns to tradition, and the way in which the clergy and the laity understand, or fail to understand it. Although the work largely praises the involvement of laity in the Church, he throws them all under the bus when it comes to understanding “tradition.” He writes, “...since the theological determination of what may have been entrusted to the Church as revelation, outside of Scripture, is complicated, disputed and difficult to grasp (especially for laypeople), the laity will always be inclined to equate or confuse the theological principle of tradition with a more general Catholic preference for handing on what already exists. This confusion affects all the forms- spiritual and worldly, liturgical, political and social- that have been carried along in the great river of history as its detritus...” He continues on to declare everything from late antiquity, Greek Philosophy, classical and medieval education as part of this detritus. (In case you are wondering what detritus is, it is usually understood to be dead organic material, or waste) He makes the claim that these ideas that were given in these times only belong in the past and “can no longer make any straightforward claim of belonging to the future.”  This kind of thinking is why so many in the Church today have discarded anything beautiful the Church has passed on from these past times in history. It also why they have rejected the realist tradition of Aquinas. They arrogantly regard all of this to be mere waste floating down the river of time.

    The next move the author makes is to exploit the Church as being a failure in keeping Christianity united. As if the Church ever loses its unity when heretics break off from it? This idea is absurd, yet he claims, “Christianity has dissolved in the course of the centuries like a crumbling rock into ever more churches...” Von Balthasar views the Church during the period of Constantine and the French Revolution as being closed off, and then proposes that since that time, it has been almost irrelevant and in need for a renewal. He defines two forms of renewal, one being “violent” from the outside, and the other being “intellectual” coming from within. The second is the first choice for the author, claiming the need for transcendence from within. He will pick this idea back up later.

    The call to holiness is the next line of infantry that the author brings forth to set up his justification for this massive internal shift. Of course no one can argue against the need for holiness in the Church. But, he almost implies that no one before this modern age was capable of this holiness. In fact, he accuses a tradition closed in upon itself as the primary reason for a lack of holiness. This is a clever trojan horse that the author uses to further castigate that what has been handed on to us from those pesky middle ages. I find his further claim that the Church must accept “new messengers of God”, as being absurd. As if we now must accept him as one of the new prophets of the modern age. He quite clearly makes the implication that if you are not on board with his new ideas, than you are akin to those who opposed the apostles! (pages 24 and 25) In fact he writes, “Through its opposition we see that tradition is continually in danger of becoming “Old Testament” and pharisaic...” I find his insistence that those who are not on board with his proposed renewal to be void of holiness to be vain and arrogant. He spends the next few pages ranting on holiness and how a true holiness only falls within what he perceives to be a renewal, and a large rejection of that which had been preserved and handed on from the middle ages. He depicts what was presented in that age as only a mere sketch of the true faith, and not a fully executed painting of it, which is not to be completed until we all get on board with his modern proposal.

    Next on his target list is dogmatic theology, and its stagnation in the Church. I also found this to be extremely appalling, and again crudely arrogant. He basically tells the reader that the Trinitarian theology and Christology of the Church that had been passed on until his time, to be dry and void of any progress whatsoever! “...what a dryness there is in the doctrine about Christ, which likewise has made scarcely any progress since Chalcedon, where an abstract formula has to answer for the central mystery.” This is arrogance on an unprecedented level. He continues, “A theological interpretation of the whole Gospel in the terms of Christology has never been made, however.” He then blames a lack of understanding Scripture and the Church Fathers as a primary reason for this “dry” theological understanding. Yet, he fails to see the great Saint Thomas Aquinas, coming 800 years before him, as being well versed in Scripture or the Fathers. I would venture to say that Saint Thomas would have had more profound thoughts over a 5 minute cup of coffee in the morning than Balthasar had in his entire life. Yet, we should believe the self proclaimed “New Theologian” that Christology has never been understood properly? He then also blames the closed in middle ages as having an underdeveloped ecclesiology, one which he says could not possess the solidarity needed to bond with the Jews, heretics, schismatics, etc. (pages 30 and 31) What kind bond would that be?

    Balthasar then continues his assault upon the ancient Church, and its irrelevance for us today. Next he tries a clever maneuver to disarm anyone who would possibly be attached to these “useless” traditions.. He does so by making a reasonable claim, “...every formula that is discovered must be transparent to the event both of then and of today; it is to be made use of to the extend that it permits what was then to become reality today, and left unused to the extent that it impedes this. In the many complicated systems of thought, perhaps only one thing remains vital today: namely, that in them we can discover what other ages knew about encountering the mystery of God. Where this can no longer be discerned, the systems quite deserve to be utterly forgotten.” What systems he is referring to here is never really identified. This sets up a clever rule however to discard whatever the author sees fit to dispose of, under a noble banner indeed. Anything he deems to be non-vital he can dispose of under this clever rule. But what von Balthasar does tip his hand to is a need for truths to be updated, and thought of in new ways. This is precisely what Pope Pius IX, Pius X, and Pius XII warned about, which was an insistence on having to update the truth, or be creative with truth. Yet the author states, “A truth that is merely handed on, without being thought anew from its very foundations, has lost its vital power.” He then again makes another noble, yet unproven theory on is part. He tells the reader that everything must be renewed in Christ. Again, this in itself is a reasonable claim. Who would not want to be renewed in Christ? Yet what he is proposing is that his ideas are the ones we should accept as being rooted in Christ, and therefore if you reject his new ideology, then you obviously reject the renewal in Christ. This obviously begs the question. (Pages 33 and 34)
    He continues, “...in thoughts and points of view, themes and ideas, where people are content to understand tradition as the handing-on of ready made results. Boredom manifests itself at once, and the neatest systematics fail to convince, remains of little consequence.” So we can see here that perennial wisdom, which is rooted in the natural law, and the unmovable proclamation of Divine Revelation, are in his view, boring and outdated. The system which concerns reality and the natural law would then be a mere boring handing on of truth for him. He even says that a mere handing on of truth becomes esoteric or foreign to the world. We can see his position now developing here as he tries to convince the reader that no longer will it suffice to just proclaim the truth of the Gospel plainly. It must now be updated and creatively conformed to the changing world. What a burden it must be for such an enlightened mind such as his, to be bound to this boredom. Yet I hear Pope Pius XII’s words echo, “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...” (Humani Genris, para 17)

    Von Balthasar then moves to his ecclesiological view, and what he thinks the Church should now resemble. He balks at the medieval view of the Church as having been closed in and rooted in a Constantinian-Carolingian spirit, which must be overhauled by the laity. He writes, “There is no doubt that the hour of the laity is sounding in the Church.” But he never really tells us exactly what that role is explicitly. He makes references to the laity in spreading the Gospel, but never explains this new view of the hierarchy of which he speaks until the third chapter, where he invents a Marian analogy based on the philosophy of Hegel. Even then it is cryptic in nature. He then moves on to drop a liturgical bomb which essentially mocks the beautiful churches that were built in the earlier ages of the Church. He states, “The church buildings of that time (such a heavy burden for our acts of worship today, since it is impossible or very difficult to realize the liturgy in them as a community celebration) at best allowed only the lay elite into the most sacred precincts, while the people had to remain at the back.” Here we can see where much of the liturgical damage that was done after the council came from. No longer is worship primarily a vertical experience of worshipping God, it is now primarily a horizontal community experience. We also can see where the idea of letting anyone into the sanctuary of the Church came from. Balthasar essentially tears down the bastions between the sacred sanctuary and that of the rest of the Church. Balthasar sees this distinction of the Holy of Holies, where the sanctuary remains the center of focus since Our Lord is sacrificed on the altar, as being an obstacle to be torn down. Little more is said about the liturgy in this work, but his opinions are clearly observed in this brief comment on church architecture, where he views the churches of old as being such a “heavy burden.” This of course is an opinion which I personally find revolting, as well as being quite arrogant and insulting to those Catholics who built these most beautiful structures to worship Our Lord. (Pages 38 and 39)

    The first chapter closes with the continued assault on the middle ages, as well a call to overhaul the hierarchy with the laity. Von Balthasar looks again at the present Church as being in a unique situation compared to that of the past ages. Again, he is partly correct, but again makes huge conclusions he never backs up. For example, he writes, “The intellectual situation of the Church has perhaps never been so open, so full of promise and pregnant with the future at any time since the first three centuries.” So in his mind the Church has been at a standstill since Constantine. I find this to be a preposterous claim, one again made with no substantial backing. In fact, in my opinion, the intellectual situation has been at an all time low since the likes of him and his new theologians corrupted the Church. Another broad claim is made that the world has been maturing since the middle ages. He does not tell us exactly what that maturing is, but it becomes clear as I progressed through the book that his Hegelian ideas had to be partly responsible for his ideas. Sure we could say the we have matured technologically, but that has little or no bearing on our maturity regarding theology, morality, philosophy or how the human mind perceives truth. It could easily be argued that we have significantly declined in morality since the middle ages, for example. He closes out the chapter with a parting shot at anything historical that he thinks should be disposed of. “What must at all costs be shattered is the historical consciousness of Christians, a conscious which has become senile because the pulse that beats in it is a pulse of insufficient faith.” So again the arrogant author implicates that is you are not on board with his new ideology, that you are also at odds with true “faith”. In short, anything he considers to be a non-essential must be discarded. 


    The next chapter titled ‘Descent’ opens with a proposed new definition for what “truth” really is. Balthasar proposes that truth cannot stand like a stone, but must present itself anew, being influenced by the world, and it must adapt itself to the altered relationships in the world. “Or should one say that the truth, even the truth that endures, ought not at all to be compared to rigid stone, but itself possesses a fullness of interior life that can present itself ever anew without denying the past? The truth of the Church is always the same, but the onward march of the world’s hour puts it into a new light, into altered relationships that allow something new, something altered, to become visible in the truth itself. The tension and drama of its existence in the world and of its relationship to the world around it increase with each century.” The author elaborates further by describing two great changes which have caused this tension in this relationship. The first being what he calls the Western division of the Church, and the second being an altered awareness of the non-Christian world. He complains that the Church of the past was closed in upon itself and was weak because of this. Then he moves on to explain how all of that had to change, and did so by the hands of the Reformation. Apparently, this great schism amply demonstrated the Church’s failure to obey the commandments of Christ. In fact he tells his readers that this division was ample evidence to the Jews Muslims and pagans that the civitas Dei, or “the City of God”, had failed. “For it could not be denied that the division of the Western Church was evident proof for the former outsiders-Jews, Muslims and pagans-of decisive defeat, the fatal weakening of the alleged civitas Dei: and this was not merely in the superficial sense that it would be easy to strike a foe who is busy attacking himself, but in the deeper sense that Christianity denied its own obedience of faith t the commandment of Christ, abandoning this obedience.” So, we can clearly see what Balthasar’s view of the Church really was. He viewed it as a complete failure, and in fact blamed the entire Church of that time as being guilty of not having any faith in Christ whatsoever. He cannot see that it was disobedient individuals who caused the Protestant revolt, and that the Church herself had never failed in communicating the truth. He plainly confuses those who were actually obedient to the Church and remained with her, to those who left her and were disobedient. Then he follows this nonsense with an even more bold claim. “Through the division of faith, Christianity had refuted itself...The Catholic Church, until then the crown on a pyramid of orders and kingdoms all oriented toward herself, thus saw herself being doubly deposed: the collapse of the outer walls had brought her into a horizontal (and no longer a hierarchical) solidarity with the whole of humanity; the collapse within herself had rendered her, to all appearances, one church among other churches.” Again this type of view fails to see the Church in her proper perspective.  Seeing her no longer as a united Church containing everything needed for the world and its salvation would be a gross error. Yes, political and social climates would change and it would affect the Church. But I fail to see these changes as deposing and stripping it of its hierarchal nature.

    The next point of attack will be the Counter-Reformation. Not only did the Church fail in unity, according to our dear author, but it also failed in its medieval order during the Counter-Reformation period. The solution he proposes, remains in the “intellectual domain.” What the author writes next should be a dead giveaway to the modernist agenda that he is pushing in this work. He proposes that truth cannot be proposed as being absolute. “The way ahead must lie in the intellectual domain: a path defined negatively by two solutions neither of which can be followed. The first is the solution of an absolutism of the truth, which does not understand the new situation of solidarity, but wishes to deal with the people of our time on the same level of consciousness that characterized medieval absolutism.” We see here the author’s true colors. For him the culture and society changes, and therefore we cannot present the truth as absolute any longer. This is modernism at its core. Balthasar wants to redefine truth as being beyond the absolute. Yes, Balthasar does also reject in this writing what he calls the relativism of the Enlightenment. Instead however, he gets creative and wants to create a new third way, one which, “now understands all forms of religion as meaningful, justified and complementary to one another on various levels of relationship to a total truth.” (Pages 51 and 52) This proposal is preposterous. First of all, no religion outside of the one true Catholic faith can ever be viewed as being “justified” in the Catholic Church’s eyes. He fails to understand that the total truth is only found in the Catholic faith. Balthasar denies one of the core principles of truth, which is the law of non-contradiction. This should come as no surprise since he rejects anything coming even close to realism.

    He has abandoned the sure norm of Thomism, or perennial philosophy, in favor of something that is not even comprehensible to the human mind. Should he have recalled to mind Pope Pius XII’s words concerning theology and philosophy?  “But reason can perform these functions safely and well only when properly trained, that is, when imbued with that sound philosophy which has long been, as it were, a patrimony handed down by earlier Christian ages, and which moreover possesses an authority of an even higher order, since the Teaching Authority of the Church, in the light of divine revelation itself, has weighed its fundamental tenets, which have been elaborated and defined little by little by men of great genius. For this philosophy, acknowledged and accepted by the Church, safeguards the genuine validity of human knowledge, the unshakable metaphysical principles of sufficient reason, causality, and finality, and finally the mind's ability to attain certain and unchangeable truth.” (Humani Generis par 29) It appears that he rejected this idea wholesale. In fact, in order to get his readers to buy into his ridiculous scheme, he must write a disclaimer just after he pitches his harebrained proposal, “One must not be surprised that this new Catholic attitude is difficult to understand for the unbelieving world (and often too for the Christian who has not yet adapted to it); and that indeed contains a mysterious audacity and an apparent paradox, in keeping with the lateness of the hour; and that ultimately it cannot be explained in a perfectly rational manner at all,...” This truly tells the tale. Balthasar has invented a new explanation of truth, one that cannot be explained in any rational manner at all. It must be something to be so brilliant, so enlightened, that you can claim to have invented a new type of truth, one that cannot be understood in any rational manner. (To understand further what is going on here, read Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Genris-para 13-17) This game of his is looking more and more like a game of Three-card monte.

    In the following pages Bathasar continues his assault on the poor medieval Church, one that according to him had its bowels ripped out by the Reformation. Thats, correct, the Church essentially had its guts torn out by the Reformers. And we see further how these types of modernists justify not converting those outside the Catholic faith. “Something of the innermost bowels of the Church had been torn out of the Church by the Reformers, something of her heart continued to beat outside her heart, in a transposition for which we have no metaphor.” Well we have a metaphor for such a foolish statement, “Chaos is a friend of mine.” He continues on to say that Luther had stolen something from the Church, and the lunacy goes on. (pages 55-57)

    Next he ties this idea in with his view of the bastions as having been toppled by the Reformation. Under the claim that the medieval Christians were naive, and that the bastions had now fallen, we apparently have no choice but to embrace a new age, one where for the first time, we see humanity united, and not just a Church united. Now that these “barriers” have been pulled down, something was truly awakened in the Church. No longer would we be tied down by St. Augustine’s view of Romans for example, in which we trembled at God’s sovereignty in predestination. The medievals were too naive to see past that. (pages 59 and 60) Balthasar then makes another bold claim in telling his readers that what he proposes in this new truth and new consciousness, had been there from the beginning, but had now remained hidden for a long time. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Only he has the key to unlock what was truly present at the beginning, and everyone who disagrees with him is now rejecting Christ and His apostles you see. “This deepening of the Christian consciousness in the modern era can be demonstrably traced to the earliest Christian sources; this deepening penetrates through to authentic matters that become evident in the Gospel only now...” Again, we must be like the emperor with his new clothes. Can’t you see that gorgeous new robe you have on? You don’t need to see it, just believe it. Don’t ask Balthasar to explain all of this, because he can’t as he has already admitted. You will just have to take his word for all of it.

    The Church is further depicted by our pitiful author as almost bleeding out and in need of renewal. He claims that the Church has lost its integrity. He uses a most peculiar analogy of Christ having the power go out from him (Luke 6:19) to compare to the loss of power in the Church. Then he makes it seem as if we need to go out into the world to try and find ad embrace this lost power, which now resides all over the place in all religions and peoples, etc. (pages 64-68) A new age has dawned, one that can never look backward. In his eyes there is now a new form of truth, one that will now forever replace the old. “The blossom that has opened in the Church will not close again. If we look back to the middle ages, we will see it still closed. Some things were possible then that are no longer possible now.” Poor Dante now is his next target. He is only one of the most brilliant Catholic poets to grace the Church, but this is of little consequence for our brilliant theologian. He refers to Dante’s description of passing through hell in his Divine Comedy, and those of his age who contemplated the tortures of hell, or telling life stories of tragedy and triumph, as not being acceptable to any Christian today! In fact this is what he says, “What a Christian of that era could justify, cannot be accepted today; otherwise, he would reveal himself to be an utter un-Christian.” This is quite alarming to read, but yet again it is quite telling of this radical’s twisted, modernist philosophical and theological approach to the Catholic faith. This type of rhetoric in my opinion should not be taken lightly. This man has demonstrated in this work, that what passed for the Catholic faith in Dante’s time could never pass for the same faith now. It is clear, Balthasar wanted to invent a new truth, a new Catholic faith, one that would never be recognized by any of the Saints of old. The chapter ends with a fitting command, to further disarm anyone who would attempt to see through this charade, “Let us therefore not cling tightly to structures of thought, but let us plunge into the primal demands of the Gospel...” (page 70) As if those who held to a sound structure of thought such as Thomism are incapable of plunging into the Gospel? I think a lot of Saints of the Church would be to differ with him, no?


    “The new position of the Church vis-a-vis the world augers an ever deeper and more serious incarnation.” This is how the third chapter begins to now tie in Jesus’ incarnation with this new type of Church, which up until now had never been able to reproduce or engage it. Here we can see how faulty the Christology of Balthasar was. “But when she enters into the world and becomes for the world one religion among others, one community among others, one doctrine and truth among others- just as Christ became one man among others, outwardly indistinguishable from them- her truth comes into a communism with all the forms of worldly truth: with the experiential truth of all branches of knowledge, and with the wisdom-systems of the world which attempt conclusive statements about the being of the world and its truth.” This again points to why most of the bishops and clergy, who have bought into this mentality, act the way they do when it comes to false ecumenism. It is good to be one among others.
    One does not have to read too much further to see how he comes up with all of this nonsense. “This exclusively modern experience- that the different realms of truth demand a change of one’s intellectual standpoint (an experience given clear expression by Hegel’s dialectics, Bergson’s and Dilthey’s intellectual philosophy of life and of understanding, and Husserl’s phenomenology)- reinforces in an exceptional manner the necessity of truth in intellectual matters.” If you are not familiar with the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, then you may not notice his pattern of thinking being displayed through Balthasar’s entire work. Hegel, a follower of Kant, was insistent upon a historically changing type of thought which was elevated higher and higher as man’s function and experience progressed through time. So we see why Balthasar had this warped view of truth having to change as time progresses. In my mind this must surely be one reason for his new line of thinking concerning truth and the Church. We can see now why the Popes like Pius IX, Pius X and Pius XII warned the Church not to adopt non-realist philosophies or thought rooted in historicism. “There is also a certain historicism, which attributing value only to the events of man's life, overthrows the foundation of all truth and absolute law, both on the level of philosophical speculations and especially to Christian dogmas.” (Humanis Generis- Pope Pius XII) Again, everything that Pope Pius XII warned about is being proposed here in Balthasar’s work. The remaining pages of the chapter deal with the maturation process of the Christian, and how he must now relate the world on a different level. He insists that anyone who remains locked into this old way of thinking is not breathing in the greater space of God and of Christ. (page 76 and 77) “As he matures in his specialty he will become convinced of this.” Another giveaway as to his embracement of modernity lies in the fact that he sees no division now between the “City of God” and the “City of Man”. Instead, he insists on a new solidarity between the two. (page 84)


    This mangled work ends with a small chapter titled “Contact.” He opens it up with the following line, again an insistence that the Church has now essentially changed in her thinking. “If all this is true, then sentire cum Ecclesia, “thinking with the Church”, has likewise changed.” Now the Church has been liberated from its “splendid isolation.” He proposes that the laity should assume more responsibility, which as we have seen in many parishes today, that they control and run them. On pages 95 through 98 Balthasar comes up with an elaborate Marian scheme based on the philosophy of Hegel, some of which makes sense and some of which seems to get fuzzy at times. The idea he expresses is that obedience is found in Mary, which sounds good, but then he comes to a conclusion that it has “perhaps then passed beyond hierarchal obedience into a zone or a Joachimite epoch of ecclesial maturity and self awareness.” In brief, the short final chapter proposes a new type of hierarchy. One that makes it seem as if he is all in favor of it, while at the same time completely overhauling it, all by using the Blessed Mother of God as a vehicle to do so. All of this arrives at an erroneous conclusion, which is the Church now coming into new contact with the world. “She, the “closed garden”, the “sealed up spring”, the veiled bride of the thousand monasteries, has been opened up by force and almost ravaged, now that the feet of the nameless multitudes tamp heavily through her soul.” After reading and studying this work, it is hard to see how this theologian became such a household name for so many prominent Catholics. Maybe he changed his mind on this entire proposal later in his life? Perhaps, but I have to find any retractions where he proclaims this work a huge mistake. He ends the book, “Tumbling walls can bury much that seemed alive as long as they protected it; but the contact with the space that then comes into being is something greater.” What that greater being is one can only guess.

    In summary, I think it is important to recognize how this kind of thinking has pervaded much of the Church today. We wonder why the liturgy is celebrated so poorly across the world in so many Catholic churches. We wonder why iconoclasm has wreaked havoc upon church architecture. We wonder why so many embrace false ecumenism, and why so many seem to think that it matters little wether one embraces Christ and the one truth faith today. We wonder why the natural law is disregarded and why the realist philosophical system of Thomism has been discarded. In my opinion, those who wrote books like this, and those who promoted them and their ideas, are largely responsible for all of these atrocities. Why has everyone ignored the warning given by Pope Pius IX,Pius X and Pope Pius XII? Why did they not listen when Pope Pius XII wrote, “If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy "according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor," since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas is singularly preeminent both of teaching students and for bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with Divine Revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress. How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church, is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy, then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is...” (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, para 31 and 32.) It is my opinion that this book titled ‘Razing the Bastions’ by Hans Urs von Balthasar, can be retitled as the "anti-Humani Generis." For it embraces all the faulty ideas that Humani Generis condemned.

Recommended reading 
Pope Pius IX- Syllabus of Errors
Pope Pius X - Lamentabili Sane
Pope Pius X - Pascendi Dominici Gregis
Pope Pius X - The Oath Against Modernism 
Pope Pius XII- Humani Generis