Friday, February 24, 2012

The Best Form of Government?

[16] Having set forth these preliminary points we must now inquire what is better for a province or a city: whether to be ruled by one man or by many.

[17] This question may be considered first from the viewpoint of the purpose of government. The aim of any ruler should be directed towards securing the welfare of that which he undertakes to rule. The duty of the pilot, for instance, is to preserve his ship amidst the perils of the sea. and to bring it unharmed to the port of safety. Now the welfare and safety of a multitude formed into a society lies in the preservation of its unity, which is called peace. If this is removed, the benefit of social life is lost and, moreover, the multitude in its disagreement becomes a burden to itself. The chief concern of the ruler of a multitude, therefore, is to procure the unity of peace. It is not even legitimate for him to deliberate whether he shall establish peace in the multitude subject to him, just as a physician does not deliberate whether he shall heal the sick man encharged to him, for no one should deliberate about an end which he is obliged to seek, but only about the means to attain that end. Wherefore the Apostle, having commended the unity of the faithful people, says: “Be ye careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Thus, the more efficacious a. government is in keeping the unity of peace, the more useful it will be. For we call that more useful which leads more directly to the end. Now it is manifest that what is itself one can more efficaciously bring about unity than several—just as the most efficacious cause of heat is that which is by its nature hot. Therefore the rule of one man is more useful than the rule of many.
[18] Furthermore, it is evident that several persons could by no means preserve the stability of the community if they totally disagreed. For union is necessary among them if they are to rule at all: several men, for instance, could not pull a ship in one direction unless joined together in some fashion. Now several are said to be united according as they come closer to being one. So one man rules better than several who come near being one.
[19] Again, whatever is in accord with nature is best, for in all things nature does what is best. Now, every natural governance is governance by one. In the multitude of bodily members there is one which is the principal mover, namely, the heart; and among the powers of the soul one power presides as chief, namely, the reason. Among bees there is one king bee’ and in the whole universe there is One God, Maker and Ruler of all things. And there is a reason for this. Every multitude is derived from unity. Wherefore, if artificial things are an imitation of natural things’ and a work of art is better according as it attains a closer likeness to what is in nature, it follows that it is best for a human multitude to be ruled by one person.
[20] This is also evident from experience. For provinces or cities which are not ruled by one person are torn with dissensions and tossed about without peace, so that the complaint seems to be fulfilled which the Lord uttered through the Prophet [Jer 12:10]: “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard.” On the other hand, provinces and cities which are ruled under one king enjoy peace, flourish in justice, and delight in prosperity. Hence, the Lord by His prophets promises to His people as a great reward that He will give them one head and that “one Prince will be in the midst of them” [Ez 34:24, Jer 30:21]. (Chapter 3- On Kingship To The King Of Cyprus-St. Thomas Aquinas)

translated by
Gerald B. Phelan,
revised by
I. Th. Eschmann, O.P.

Toronto: The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1949

Re-edited and chapter numbers aligned with Latin, by Joseph Kenny, O.P.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New BBC Series on Catholics

You may be interested in watching the new three part series on BBC which is about Catholics in British society. Here is a link to an interview with the director of the film. The series starts tonight on BBC 4.

What Will Pope Benedict XVI Do With The SSPX?

It looks like all the discussions with the SSPX has come to an end. Pope Benedict XVI is apparently looking over the latest response by the SSPX to the doctrinal preamble that was given to them to either accept or reject. I had long suspected that whatever was in that doctrinal preamble was going to be ambiguous, so I was not surprised to see the SSPX ask for further clarification on the document. The CDF apparently responded to the SSPX's clarification retort negatively. That is really no surprise since the head of the CDF, Cardinal Leveda, is in my opinion no true friend to the Latin Mass or most anything on the traditional side of Catholicism. If you remember, when approached to allow the indult for Latin Mass years ago when he was archbishop of San Francisco, he disallowed it. He is also known for his interfaith "worship services" which he had at his own Cathedral. No need to go any further there. That being said,  it appears that now everything regarding the future of the SSPX is in the hands of the Holy Father. It is reported that he will reach a conclusion by summer. What will he decide?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Satan’s Siege: Now Playing In a Theater Near You

Satan’s Siege: Now Playing In a Theater Near You
Matthew J. Bellisario 2012

There could certainly be a major motion picture made on the Catholic Church in today’s world. The spectacle would contain all of the great intrigue that makes up a grand silver screen epic. We have the cloak and dagger scenes that go on behind closed doors where the villains wring their hands as they plot the overthrow of the King. There are heroes who withstand the beady eyed villains to their faces, while at the same time the menacing forces outside the walls begin to lay siege to the mighty fortress. We have all of the characters that make up an epic film, like the tragic figures of Hamlet from Shakespeare, the traitors like Grima Wormtongue from 'Lord of the Rings', the outright evil men who wield too much power such as Commodus from 'Gladiator', and we have the great heroes who oppose them such as Maximus and Aragorn. This would be an epic of grand proportions, a movie script to end all scripts. In reality, we don’t have to make a Hollywood movie, because this epic is one of reality. We are all truly living within this most extreme of all reality television, and what makes this motion picture so unique, is that it is not written or directed by the Hollywood celebrities. It is written and directed by the Divine Master Himself, God Almighty!

As we enter the story, it surely seems that the villains now vastly outnumber our band of heroes. I guess this always makes for a more thrilling and triumphant story, no? The more the odds are stacked against the heroes, the greater the victory will certainly be. We already have the movie script written for us. Yet, the movie reel has been rolling for quite some time now, and we all love to watch the previous episodes over, just like we love watching a good movie or favorite television episode over again. Yes, we love to harken back to the great episodes of the lives of the Saints, and how Christ, the Church and His heroes have triumphed over many evil villains throughout history. We see the heretics throughout the ages take their beatings by the great men and women of the Church. The great Saints suffer and yet mystically triumph over the evil that assails them. There are so many great Saints episodes that there are too many to name here. What makes our place in history so interesting is that we now find ourselves placed in a unique place in this movie epic, where the odds seem to be stacked against us as never before. We all have our part in the movie, but most of us seem to be only extras on the movie set, acting out our parts as those in the background walking down the street, those killed in the crossfire of the battle, or those running for their lives. There are a good many in fact that have no idea that there is a great story being played out before our eyes.

The camera zooms in from afar over the fields and forests to a giant fortress. The Church in our age is like this giant fortress standing tall on the hill, surrounded by legions of men outside her walls. Many go about their lives indifferently and pay little attention to her,  since there is little that comes out of her walls these days that truly influences their lives. There are others however who know her potential to influence their lives and their culture, and therefore actively seek to oppose her in any way possible. Her walls appear battered from the outside by years of siege, and now there are known spies within her walls who aid those enemies on the outside. But, before we get to those men and women who oppose the Church, we must introduce the longstanding grand villain who has been orchestrating this overthrow for ages. We see him in his foul burning fire pit crafting his most diabolical plan as he forms his invisible ranks of demons to help carry out his work. Yes, it is Satan that is our arch-enemy in this epic masterpiece. He is the most sinister, crafty and cold villain that anyone could ever write into a script. This sinister monster is pulling the strings of evil men, much like Sauron is portrayed in Lord of the Rings. Although Satan has spent the last 2000 years opposing Christ and His Church, he has recently made drastic moves to finally topple the fortress once and for all. It was not an overnight plan however. Over the past 500 years he has been amassing a huge and diverse army that now poses the most serious threat the Church has ever faced. It has been a patient, deliberate and well thought out plan, which has many components to it, which only a few I can cover here.

First the assault had to begin by division. If you cut your opposing army in half, you can increase your chances of success and shorten the time it takes to overtake your enemy. Divide and conquer was the first part of the plan, and up until he duped the first rebels into dividing Christendom, he was unable to mount a serious frontal assault on the Church. Society up until the time of the great Protestant revolt was far from perfect, but it certainly had been built upon the moral compass of the Church. Satan knew he needed tools to help him in this quest, so he searched for the most prideful, arrogant, and unstable men he could find in the Church. We now enter the tragic pawns of Satan, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII who on account of their pride and arrogance, divided the ranks of the Church. We refer to this band of rebels as the “Pretended Reformers.” For their was no real reform made by any of these henchmen of Satan. This rebellion initiated a split which effectively reduced the army of God’s Church by drastic numbers. On top of that, their heresy effectively sent Europe into moral decay. The influence of Christ and his Church was now much less effective in society. Sexual sin began to an accepted way of life after the great rebellion. Under Luther, Calvin, Henry, and their hordes of hellions, no more would one’s actions be of the same consequence, after all, we are all sinners, what else can be expected of us? The Protestant rebels created a new counterfeit version of Christianity where morals were now of little consequence. As a result, the Protestants over the course of 500 years have effectively ate away at the moral conscience of a large part of what used to be known as Christendom.

After Satan duped these mountebanks into dividing the ranks of Christendom, and thereby also watering down Christianity, he then assembled a large military division, which we will call ‘the Godless Scourge.’ The French Revolution would attack the Church with reckless abandon. Churches were ransacked, clergy murdered, the faith outlawed, and the Catholic Church was almost toppled by these evil forces. The effects of this campaign spread across the western world like wildfire. These godless men brought with them their own secular philosophies, and militant atheists began to recruit members to fill in the ranks of their regiments by brainwashing them, or appealing to their already weak immoral tendencies, which had been previously introduced by the Pretended Reformers. Universities then fell into the hands of the godless atheists. This was and continues to be an important weapon for them. History could now be rewritten to fool the rest of society into hating the Church. They could also remove God from the school curriculum. Political offices were also over run by these godless men, so that every thought of God could be exterminated from society. As a result of all of these factors, the moral decay of society was drastically compounded, and now the ranks of Satan’s soldiers are so large that one cannot count them all. Think back to that breathtaking scene in the Lord of the Rings where that huge menacing, thundering army of Sauron marches across the mountains and through the valleys towards Helms Deep. There are evil hordes as far as they can see!

Satan however knew that the fortress could not be toppled by an outside army alone, no matter how large it may be. The walls of the Church are just too thick to be razed from without even with all of the years of battering she has taken. So the next move was to enlist a group of men who could infiltrate and corrupt the Church from the inside. He enlisted the Freemasons as one of the elite special forces units to help do the job. Many in the Church were soon corrupted by this cult. As a result, the institutions where the Catholic faith was taught, in order to form more soldiers for Christ, the seminaries, were soon infiltrated by these insidious traitors. Now not only was the faith watered down on the outside, but on the inside as well. Many in the fortress are now sworn enemies of Christ the King, and are actively looking for ways to weaken His Church further so that the armies outside the walls can finish off His remaining loyal subjects. The heresy of modernism has also been a lethal tool of Satan to neutralize the Church’s ability oppose evil, evangelize and live the gospel. Evangelization is now bogged down in the mud of indifferentism. The Church is unable to recruit many new members to fight in her army. Those in authority, the Church hierarchy, are now split between men of faith and apostate traitors. Even some of those who have sought to retain the true faith are often duped and fooled into drinking the poison of modernism. Many know neither their right from their left, nor up from down. As a result, they too have become ineffective to lead the Church militant. Now with most on the inside neutralized, the gates to the fortress are thrown wide open with little to no resistance. As we pan the camera, we see the armies of doom moving in to lay waste to what remains of the mighty fortress and her inhabitants.

This is where we find ourselves in the story. Many of us inside the walls are grasping for whatever we can get our hands on to survive. Many are simply stunned into inaction. Others wander along clueless to the danger. Many others abandoned the fortress in the dead of night as deserters often do. Still there are many malevolent traitors who boldly walk among us. Those who have the power to oppose them most often do nothing, and so the moral of those few soldiers who are willing to fight soon falls into despair. Yet, there are a few men and women who refuse to give up the fight, despite the odds that are stacked against them. They will oppose the evil forces who assault their Lord’s kingdom to the bitter end. They stand tall defending the Kings’s keep with every ounce of strength they have left. They know the casualties are going to be high, yet they will not yield, for they know how this grand epic ends. It is written that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ, His Church and the heroes who gladly serve Him. Yet, we must ask ourselves these important questions. Who will now be the heroes? Who will be the cowards? Who will be the traitors? Who will be the clueless caught in the crossfire? Who are the enemies that continue to make up the vast assaulting army of Satan? The difference between this story and a Hollywood movie set is that this epic is a reality. We are all called by God to play our part on this silver screen. Without getting into the mystery of predilection and man’s freewill, it is true that we all must choose what character we will play. Hero, villain, henchman, coward, or an extra? Smile, because whether you like it or not, you are on the big screen! Which part you choose to play, and how you choose to live your life is going to be recorded for eternity. I guess you could say that this spectacular grand epic masterpiece is going to be recorded forever on the big blu-ray in the sky!

Monday, February 20, 2012

'Mother Of God' or 'Mother of Christ?'

'Mother of God' or 'Mother of Christ?' 

There are tons of great writings from the Church Fathers available on the internet. One of them is Saint John Damascene's 'Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.' In Book III Saint John discusses why the Church of his time used the title 'Mother of God.' Perhaps we as Catholics take this for granted today, because I have seen many use the term 'Mother of Christ' instead of 'Mother of God.' In fact there are even Catholic parishes now named, 'Mother of Christ.' While there is no doubt that the Blessed Mother of God was the mother of Christ, the title 'Mother of God' is certainly a more appropriate title to use, because it tells us who Christ truly is, that is God incarnate. Although The Blessed Mother of God has been given many titles over the history of the Church, I know of no other formal dogmatic declarations by the Church demanding a specific title in regard to Mary's motherhood other than what Canon 1 of the Council of Ephesus demanded, "If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema."

While certainly other titles also clearly convey central theological truths of our faith, such as 'Mother of the Savior,' Mother of the Redeemer,' etc, none strike as clear of a picture as to who Mary is the mother of, as the 'The Mother of God' does. When we use titles like 'Mother of God,' Mother of the Savior,' or Mother of the Redeemer, a clear message is conveyed as to the who the person of Christ is as a divine person, while when using the term 'Mother of Christ' we loose the divine nature of who it is that Mary is the mother of. Was she just the mother of Christ, a mere man from Nazareth, or was He God incarnate, born in Bethlehem, who has come upon us to save and redeem us? Saint John understood well the implications of using the title 'Mother of God', and how important it was to maintain its use. This title has always been held in high esteem in the Church, both the East and the West. With all of the efforts made today to dismiss Christ as just another "guru" among others, we should do well to continue to use the title to exalt Christ as God Incarnate. Of course I am not saying that using other titles such as 'The Blessed Virgin Mary,' 'The Queen of Heaven,' 'Our Lady of Sorrows,' etc, etc, should not be used. I am merely pointing out the fact that many today are using the title 'Mother of Christ' as a substitute for 'Mother of God' and it can have serious implications as to how the world views the divine person of Jesus Christ. Below is small excerpt from the chapter concerning the title, 'Mother of God.'

Hence it is with justice and truth that we call the holy Mary the Mother of God. For this name embraces the whole mystery of the dispensation. For if she who bore Him is the Mother of God, assuredly He Who was born of her is God and likewise also man. For how could God, Who was before the ages, have been born of a woman unless He had become man? For the son of man must clearly be man himself. But if He Who was born of a woman is Himself God, man He Who was born of God the Father in accordance with the laws of an essence that is divine and knows no beginning, and He Who was in the last days born of the Virgin in accordance with the laws of an essence that has beginning and is subject to time, that is, an essence which is human, must be one and the same. The name in truth signifies the one subsistence and the two natures and the two generations Of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But we never say that the holy Virgin is the Mother of Christ because it was in order to do away with the title Mother of God, and to bring dishonour on the Mother of God, who alone is in truth worthy of honour above all creation, that the impure and abominable Judaizing Nestorius, that vessel of dishonour, invented this name for an insult. For David the king, and Aaron, the high priest, are also called Christ, for it is customary to make kings and priests by anointing: and besides every God-inspired man may be called Christ. but yet be is not by nature God: yea, the accursed Nestorius insulted Him Who was born of the Virgin by calling Him God-bearer. May it be far from us to speak of or think of Him as God-bearer only, Who is in truth God incarnate. For the Word Himself became flesh, having been in truth conceived of the Virgin, but coming forth as God with the assumed nature which, as soon as He was brought forth into being, was deified by Him, so that these three things took place simultaneously, the assumption of our nature, the coming into being, and the deification of the assumed nature by the Word. And thus it is that the holy Virgin is thought of and spoken of as the Mother of God, not only because of the nature of the Word, but also because of the deification of man's nature, the miracles of conception and of existence being wrought together, to wit, the conception the Word, and the existence of the flesh in the Word Himself. For the very Mother of God in some marvellous manner was the means of fashioning the Framer of all things and of bestowing manhood on the God and Creator of all, Who deified the nature that He assumed, while the union preserved those things that wesaint re united just as they were united, that is to say, not only the divine nature of Christ but also His human nature, not only that which is above us but that which is of us. For He was not first made like us and only later became higher than us, but ever from His first coating into being He existed with the double nature, because He existed in the Word Himself from the beginning of the conception. Wherefore He is human in His own nature, but also, in some marvellous manner, of God and divine. Moreover He has the properties of the living flesh: for by reason of the dispensation the Word received these which are, according to the order of natural motion, truly natural.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are We Saved By Charity?

Are We Saved By Charity?
Matthew J Bellisario 2012

“Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity. By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him.” (1 John 4:7-9)

    It is often an accusation made against the Catholic faith, that we are trying to “work” our way into heaven. Those outside the true Christian faith, who make up the many Protestant sects, often pit faith against works, as if the two are ever separated. When we as Catholics speak of works however, we are not talking about the work of man on his own under the Old Law, but man infused with the grace of God. It is true that man generally speaking can never find heaven by working as if man’s works in and of themselves are able to attain salvation. Works however, infused by the charity of the Holy Spirit, work in man in order to bring about his salvation. This work is not divorced from the faith that inspires it, which is given to us only by the grace of God, as a free gift, unearned and therefore are not works to be boasted upon aside from the work of Our Lord in us. Why then does the Protester bewail the fact that the true Christian desires to see God’s work in their lives? Why do they neglect the work that is rooted in charity, which also brings about man's salvation?

    From the beginning of the Protestant Revolt, the pretended “Reformers” adopted a false notion of faith, one that largely excused them from sinful actions. Not that they really embrace sin as a good thing per se, but that they view it as an inevitable state of man. This attitude was fostered by the cowardly rebel named Martin Luther. After spending some time in a monastery, which he apparently never really wanted to be in the first place, he realized that he did not have the faith to truly live a pious life. He often exhibited anxiety over his sinful inclinations, and finally he found an excuse to dismiss all of the pious living demanded by the Christ and His Gospel. He found that the easiest way to excuse his own faults was to point out the faults of others. So he nailed his demands to the church in Wittenberg, and proceeded to create his own gospel. It was a gospel that selectively quoted passages of Scripture that apparently aligned with his new “faith alone” doctrine. The other passages that he could not reconcile he either reinterpreted to his own liking, or ignored them altogether. For example, he did not give as much authority to the Epistle of James as he did to Epistle to the Romans. Yet he misinterpreted many passages such as Romans 4, doing away with the distinction of works under the old law divorced from faith, and works in charity which are just and righteous in Christ Jesus.

    Luther in effect did away with the active charity portion of Christianity. He now relied only what he considered to be “faith,” while dismissing the fruits that faith was supposed to bring about in the life of a Christian. This made it easy for Luther to excuse his own sinful desires and actions. For example, he broke his vows that he made to God in his monastic profession, and then encouraged others to do the same, even if they had to lie in the process. He gloated in the fact that he married a nun who also broke her vows. Since in Luther’s view, God only covered the sinner by atonement, he largely disregarded the deification of man, made possible only by God’s grace and work in man. The theology of the cross was lost, is not only the perfect sacrifice for our sins, but it is rooted in God’s charity. If we examine this further we can begin to see the underlying repulsion that Protestants have for the crucifix. Their man-made theology has no room for Christ on the cross. Luther’s theology, although often contradicting itself, rested largely on the fact that man was a sinner, and no good works could change that fact. If you read through his many theological works, his madcap theology changes from one to the other. For example in his Commentary on Romans he seems to understand that faith and works cannot be separated. Yet when we read his Commentary on the Parable of the Sower he seemed to miss this point. He also seems to change his definition of faith from one writing to another. Did he forget the good work of Christ on the cross which now also works in us? His theology often left little room for God to change anyone, and that was probably largely due to the fact that he saw little change in himself. As we all know, it often takes time for God to change us, and of course, when we are infused with God’s grace, we try as best as we can to try and cooperate with His grace, in love. As the great Saint John of the Ladder once wrote, “Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience.” It was this patience and courage, held in light of God, that Luther lacked, and it destroyed his outlook on Christ's salvific work in man.

    Some have falsely claimed that this notion of co-operating with God’s grace is a type of semi-Pelagianism. This is not the case, since Semi-Pelagianism teaches that man and his freewill was the origin of God’s grace, and not a gratuitous unearned gift which God first bestowes upon man. The true Christian faith has always maintained that the gift of faith is not earned, and it is only the free gift of God to man. How grace operates in man once he has been given true faith is out of the realm of Semi-Pelgianism. The true Christian teaching is that once man has received, by the grace of God, the gift of faith, then man also in some capacity has the ability to live and act within that faith to produce good works, yet these works are not his own per se, but inspired and guided by faith, which is in reality, the love of God, or charity working in man. It is by this charity that man is also saved.

    How can we say that charity saves man? First, if it were not for the love of God, all of us would be damned. Christ’s incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection is the par excellence of charity. Likewise when God works in man, it is the love of God working in man that saves him. It is not some symbolic covering up of man’s sins, nor is merely an ignoring of man’s sins. It is the new man that God bestows upon us, and it id God who works in us in charity that creates this “new man.” Can man boast of these works? Saint Paul says no, yet we hear Saint Paul tell his listeners to yet strive to enter the gates of heaven. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1) We see that St. Paul does not view that man is just covered up by the atonement of Christ on the cross, he is transformed by it. He is now a new creation, one who’s acts are in harmony with God, one that prefects them, and saves them. “If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.” (2 Cor 5:16) Justification in St. Paul’s eyes is not a one time event, made by a person’s one time claim to faith in Christ. “If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31) It is an ongoing process, which man is made pure to stand before God at judgement. Before we go further let us look to the words of Jesus, which also confirms that He works in charity through man. “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven....For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:16,20)

    Clearly Jesus never separates faith and works, nor does he excuse those who sin. In fact he tells Mary Magdalene not to just go in faith and not worry about her future actions, no, Jesus says, “Go, and now sin no more... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:11-12) Jesus does not imply a passing personal faith which consists of no works. In fact, just the command given by Jesus to act, in following and walking with Him, clearly shows that one must act in charity to have eternal life. Throughout the New Testament we see that works apart from Christ, are not works rooted in true charity. That is why charity is a critical factor in how God works in us for our salvation. Jesus also gives all of His followers the most important of all commandments, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:36-39) If there is any passage of Scripture that clearly demonstrates that charity is at the heart of the gospel, this would be on the top of the list. When man receives the gift of faith, then he also receives the love of God, and that charity then works towards the love of others. Do we remember the words of Jesus when he said, “If you love me, keep my commandments?” (John 14:15) This can be done only in the action of God working in man, and therefore again charity is an essential in man’s salvation.

    The demands made by Christ upon His disciples becomes even more clear in the Gospel of St. John, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and do abide in his love.” (John 15:7-10) First, Jesus cannot command the impossible, and He clearly commands that His disciples abide in Him. That means that they must do something, they must act. They must listen to Him, abide in everything He says, and then keep all of the commandments and teachings that he gave them. We can see that this verse does not pertain to only a purification after one is “saved” in faith, but it pertains to one’s salvation. Verse 6 tells us, “If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth.” So it is clear that work rooted in charity is required for man’s salvation. It is bound to true faith in Christ. If one does not do the required asked of Him by Christ, he will not be saved. If one does not abide and follow the commandments, then one is cast into eternal fire. If one does not strive one is not saved. We see the same teaching in St. Paul taken to the extreme, “But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” (1 Cor 9:27) Saint Paul sees the need to act in order to bring his body into subjection to the will of God, which can only be done in charity. Yet it is clear that man does work in order to obtain, “So run that you may obtain.” What does he work to obtain? “And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one.” (1 Cor 9:24-25) They strive for heaven, which is the incorruptible crown.

    If we proceed to look at how the early Christians lived the Gospel, we will find that it corresponds to this leitmotif of faith and charity, working in man for his salvation. Saint Benedict gives us a gem to contemplate the fact that man somehow works in charity with God. “We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place." But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear" and again, "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to Thee." Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.” Does man assist in the work of God? Yes, and of course this work always intends the desired end of man, which is his salvation. As man “works” in charity through God’s grace, that charity not only works towards the salvation of the man “doing” these works, but also toward the salvation of others around him. Saint Clement of Rome states, “Let us then strive to be found among the number of those that wait, that we may receive a share of the promised gifts.” If we look to the great Saint Antony of the Desert we come to understand the ways in which God works in us, “Always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember Him who grants death and life. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate all peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, that you may be alive to God. Remember that which you have promised God, for it will be required of you on the day of judgment. Suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness; be watchful and sorrowful; weep, and moan in your heart; test yourselves, to see if you are worthy of God; despise the flesh, so that you may preserve your souls.” This striving also mirrors that striving that St. Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 9 and again in Colossians 3, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols.” We see that St. Paul tells us likewise to strive to rid ourselves of these vices, for they cannot remain long where true faith is found. Charity again works in man for his salvation. We can see that Saint Antony of the Desert likewise adopted the teaching of Saint Paul in this manner. This notion is for the most part, completely absent in the Protestant mindset. When was the last time you have seen a Protestant preach about fasting, suffering, or testing yourselves to preserve your soul? Why are there no Protestant monastics?

If we look further to the early Church and Saint Antony the Great, a story illustrates again how faith operates within works and charity. Even the gift of prayer is a work in charity, and we know that man cannot be saved without prayer. "When the holy Abba Antony lived in the desert he was attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, "Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?" A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Antony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, "Do this and you will be saved." At these words, Antony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved." So man is not saved by Luther’s often conflicting view of “faith alone.” Charity is at the core of faith and works, by which man will not and cannot be saved. Why does the Catholic faith embrace the “corporal” and “spiritual works of mercy?” Those works are rooted in charity, and are therefore not an optional part of the Gospel. We see that the Catholic faith puts an emphasis on spiritual reading, and other devotionals, which again, all work in charity. “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” (St. Athanasius)

All of he great Saints who loved God understood the value of works in charity. "Love God, serve God: everything is in that." (St. Clare) "The devil strains every nerve to secure the souls which belong to Christ. We should not grudge our toil in wresting them from Satan and giving them back to God." (St. Sebastian) "The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist." (St. Gregory the Great) Likewise we look to the greatest of all theologians, Saint Thomas Aquinas to gain a deeper understanding of how charity works in man, "God is effectively the life both of the soul by charity, and of the body by the soul: but formally charity is the life of the soul, even as the soul is the life of the body. Consequently we may conclude from this that just as the soul is immediately united to the body, so is charity to the soul.... Charity works formally. Now the efficacy of a form depends on the power of the agent, who instills the form, wherefore it is evident that charity is not vanity. But because it produces an infinite effect, since, by justifying the soul, it unites it to God, this proves the infinity of the Divine power, which is the author of charity."(Summa Theologica, Secunda Secundae, Q23)

Finally we will sum up our brief examination of the importance of charity in regard to salvation with Sacred Scripture. There are two passages which pierce the heart of those who mock the centrality of charity in God’s plan of salvation. The first is from 1 Corinthians, “And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2) It is clear here that even a faith strong enough to move mountains is worth nothing. With no charity, there is no salvation, no authentic good works, and no Christian faith. The final passage I want to quote is from the Gospel of Saint Matthew. If there is any doubt that works in charity are central in regard to man’s salvation, this passage leaves little room for those who hold to the “faith alone” heresy.

“And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.”
(Matthew 25:31-46)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pray Tell Watch: Fr. Anthony Ruff On The Natural Law

Here is the latest from Father Anthony Ruff over at his blog, 'Pray Tell.' If you go to the combox for this post, you will see the following statement quoted below by Father Ruff. I will not offer any response to his statement. The fallacious foundation his argument is built upon to advocate rejecting irreformable Church teaching is readily apparent to most properly educated Catholics. I mean truly, the old slavery argument? Is he serious? If you want to clearly see how the heresy of modernism looks  in action, look no further than Fr. Ruff. One has to wonder if Fr. Ruff understands anything whatsoever regarding the natural law. Check this out.

First, on obedience: Obedience is required in the Bible – but it is above all to God. Unless you can predict the future, you don’t know what the Catholic Church will believe to be God’s will, and what the Catholic Church will teach 100 years from now about women’s ordination or same-sex unions or all the other issues. Neither do I. But we both know that Church teaching has changed on other issues. To name one example, Pope Pius IX taught that the right to hold, sell, and buy slaves is based on natural law. If you had been there in the 19th century, would you have claimed that obedience required everyone to accept the pope’s teaching, which we now know was faulty? Or would it have been true obedience to God to disagree with the Pope?...

The Catholic Church, particularly the papacy, has a wretched history on thinking that secular culture should be resisted – think of the papacy’s rejection of freedom of conscience, right to worship, right of free speech, freedom of the press, democratic governments, separation of church and state… All these have been rejected by popes are part of an evil secular culture. Some popes rejected electric street lights and railroads as too modern, for Pete’s sake. (Comments made by Father Anthony Ruff OSB-Pray Tell Blog- Post Titled 'Petition: Belgian priests and laity call for reforms.'

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Father Michael Pfleger, New Duties?

Its seems that Cardinal George has granted more responsibility to Fr. Pfleger of St. Sabina's in Chicago.

“Effective immediately, Fr. Pfleger has been named the temporary administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish,” a written statement from the archdiocese said. “Additionally, Fr. Pfleger has agreed to take on a new responsibility in serving as the archdiocesan representative for newly developing anti-violence initiatives that will include a particular focus on issues surrounding gun violence.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How About Excommunicating the Legion of Doom?

  Three heretics and Dr. Doom.
“First of all, I am going to stick with my fellow Catholics in supporting the Administration on this. I think it was a very courageous decision that they made, and I support it,” the minority leader responded. 

I wonder what fellow "Catholics" Pelosi is referring to? Maybe Biden and Sebelius perhaps? How about excommunicating them all? Lets back up all of this talk with some action. These three are public heretics, and they have the ability to mislead Catholics.They all withstand Holy Mother Church to the face, how about doing something about it?

So be it!

I should note that you can find the real Rite of Excommunication here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Finally, Its War!

“Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,” said Catholic League head Bill Donohue. You may have seen this article on Drudge, if not, here it is!

Also, check out this video...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

“New Theologians”: Trying to Baptize Satan.

“New Theologians": Trying to Baptize Satan.

Nobody can “baptize” the devil; nobody need try to baptize doctrines inspired by him, thereby repudiating truths directly inspired by God.” 
(The Theological Virtues- On Faith: R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.)

I was reading through my new copy of Fr. Garrigou Lagrange’s ‘The Theological Virtues’  today and I enjoyed his comments on wether or not modern philosophical systems were of any use to the virtue of faith. We have all heard the dubious claims that just as St. Thomas “baptized” Aristotelian philosophy, the new theologians have likewise done the same with the likes of Hegel and Kant. Many “New Theologians” such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Karl Rahner hailed themselves as being pioneers in the realm of using modernist philosophical systems to further understand the Church’s teachings. As we all know, this experiment has been a huge failure, just as the six popes, Pius IX through Pius XII told us it would be. Likewise, the brilliant and unshakable theologian Father Garrigou Lagrange expounded upon this madness in his commentary work on the Summa. In his commentary concerning the question of unbelief, he gives a striking description of how ludicrous it is to try and “baptize” these modern, subjective philosophical systems of thought. It is really nothing short of trying to overthrow what God has given us in His creation, the natural law.

“Positive unbelief originates in pride. It is the disaster of those who will not bend their minds to carry out or to comply with the rules of faith, or to profit by the intelligence of the Fathers. St. Gregory calls it “vainglory rich in presumptuousness through the fascination for novelties.” The position or condition is a vice of many degrees ranging from unmixed pertinacity down to dwindling, colorless mental levity. The crumbling facade is masked with boastful airs of being wedded to scientific progress. Books are decorated with “new opinions,” so alleged but they are baseless. They are presented today and cast aside tomorrow, according as awakening applause and surprising popularity are presumed to be calling for new and enlarged editions thoroughly revised. Certain writers have no qualms in ignoring what ought to be a first principle, namely, to work expressly toward the truth and to stick to it in all circumstances. Their exclusive aim is progress-up or down hill makes no difference. If opinions are new, their patrons are convinced they must be an improvement. Hegelianism reasons that way. The door is flung wide open for absolute optimism, which is logically inseparable from pantheistic evolutionism.

No wonder that sheer dupes of this progeny conceive the idea of baptizing all systems. Through utter blindness to error as error, they seek to star with Aquinas, who “baptized Aristotelianism,” by themselves baptizing positivism, Kantism, and even Hegalianism. No need for them to consider that the principles of Aristotelianism are intrinsically conformable to natural reason; whereas the permanent anchorage of principles based on natural reason directly, with the objective firmness they possess, are degraded to naught by the arbitrary rulings of positivism, Kantism and Hegelianism. Believe it or not, the proper reply to these fantastic philosophers should be: Nobody can “baptize” the devil; nobody need try to baptize doctrines inspired by him, thereby repudiating truths directly inspired by God.” (The Theological Virtues- On Faith: R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Christ, the Church, and the Wisdom of the Theotokos

Christ, the Church, and the Wisdom of the Theotokos
Matthew J. Bellisario 2012

    The veneration and intercession of the Blessed Mother of God is often made an issue by those who cling to the heretical Protestant thought of the pretended “Reformers” of the 16th century. Although they maintain that their arguments are based upon Scripture, nothing can be further from the truth. It is only their shallow, narrow and heretical interpretations of Scripture that lead them to reject all of the authentic teachings of Christ. There are many Protestant apologists today who conjure up the same old arguments which have been refuted for centuries now regarding the Theotokos. For example the anti-Catholic e-apologist who has given himself the name of ‘Turretin Fan’ posts up an attack on the Catholic Church at least once a week, misinterpreting Sacred Scripture and making false accusations regarding the Church’s teaching on Mary. The posts are often drive-by scatter-gun type cheap shots made at the Church, with little to no substance, yet it is amazing that people will stop by to support such material. But as they say, on the web anything is possible. Instead of proposing the same old arguments made ad-nauseum on the internet, I thought I would approach the role of Mary from a different point of view, one that is not often spoken of in the common apologetics circles.

    The Blessed Mother of God is central to Christian theology. God made her part in the salvation history of mankind of central importance. Just as Adam and Eve played a large role in the fall of man, Jesus Christ, the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, saved man from this fall. The incarnation of Our Lord could have been accomplished in many ways, but God chose only one way, and that was to take on flesh from 'The Blessed Theotokos', 'The Ever Virgin Mary.' To downplay her role in the incarnation is to question the sovereignty of God; for who chose to make her the Mother of Christ, who is God incarnate? It was God Himself who chose her to play this critical role. So yes, as is often done, we can begin with the incarnation of Christ to base the veneration of Mary upon. Is that however the best starting place to begin one's study of the Mary's role in Christianity? According to the Thomistic scholar, Charles De Koninck, although the incarnation is central to understanding Mary’s role in Christianity, this may not be the best place to start in explaining the role of the Mother of God. We must take even a step back further to grasp an even more important point, that which proceeds the incarnation, her sapiential wisdom. If you have not read Charles De Konick’s work on the ‘Wisdom that is Mary” then you are going to be in for a real treat here, for I am going to try and summarize his amazing work, which sheds a bright light on Mary’s role in Christianity. I must also point out that my summary does not do his work justice. I am just trying to wet your appetite for the real deal.

    The starting place in viewing the Mother of God is in the wisdom given to her by God Himself. This wisdom is a one that is properly ordered in nature. The highest order of reason lies in wisdom. It is the perfection of nature. Mary is not only the Mother of God in a symbolic sense, she is properly the genetrix of God, for in His incarnation He is generated through her. It is important to understand that she is not the creator of God, nor is God ultimately dependent on her for His incarnation, she is however chosen by God to provide His incarnation, thereby making her an active participant in the assimilation of the God-Man, and therefore by proper definition, she is a genetrix. She provides the hypostatic union, and hence she is truly the Mother of God; for she is the Mother of the entire person, Jesus Christ. Insofar as God’s plan of the redemption of man through the incarnate God-Man Jesus Christ, the first cause of His origin in His incarnation must be properly understood as the causa Dei et origo Dei. That is, she is properly speaking, by divine mandate, the cause and origin of God. In this origin however lies a wisdom which is rooted in the grace given to her by God, and therefore her intellect was raised to a unique level of wisdom, even before the incarnation.

    Charles De Koninck writes, “Being the cause of the cause of all things, the mother of God is consequently the mother of all things. “She is the mother of all things,” say St. Albert, “and God the Father is the origin of all things: but whatever is per se the origin and cause of the cause is per se origin and cause of all things: therefore she is per se the mother of all things.” Hence we see that she also takes on a unique God given “Wisdom” which is rooted in her role as the substantial first principle of God incarnate. De Koninck continues, “...she fulfills by her divine maternity an essential condition of the appellation “Wisdom” she is the mother of Wisdom engendered entitatively both of the eternal Father and the temporal mother.” If Jesus of course is the eternal Word, “Wisdom” made incarnate, and He is made incarnate within her and by her, then she is “the Wisdom which engenders and incarnate.” (Lapide) This wisdom also engenders a mediation, since Jesus’ origin is a consequence of this grace filled wisdom. Again, it must be noted that this highest grace was given to her before the incarnation.

    In order to further explain this wisdom, we must look to the intellect of the Mother of God. What are the words of wisdom that Sacred Scripture records of Mary? “...may it be done according to thy word.” This is her fiat yes, but what is the deeper understanding of her fiat? It is rooted in creation, and it is rooted in the creation narrative of Genesis. De Koninck illustrates this point, “The fiat of Mary is the echo of the Fiat of Genesis, the word whence proceeds the new order to which the ancient has been ordered.” DeKoninck the pulls from the wisdom of St. Augustine to further demonstrate this new order of origin that takes place from Mary, “Mary, full of faith and conceiving Christ in spirit before conceiving Him in her womb.” So we see that Christ who is the creator of all things, is now brought into God’s creation formally through Mary and her fiat, and everything now depends on this new order. So this wisdom of Mary is not one that is per chance, her being at the right place at the right time, it is by divine mandate. Her fiat is not just mere words of accent to the will of God, they are words of the highest wisdom. This wisdom penetrates into the very action of creation. If she is the Mother of God, she is certainly also the mother of the first cause of all things as well. This is based on God’s divine mandate, and she is therefore also the first of those predestined in the light of Christ, “She came from God in the beginning,...because from all eternity she was predestined to become the mother of the Son of God.” (St. Albert quoted by De Koninck.)

    So we have Mary “as principle that she proceeds from the Principle: her procession of this same Principle, and she envelops the Principle in her procession from Him, she is held by Him in His procession from her.” (De Koninck) There is a unique circle of procession here between God and Mary. We see therefore that she is part of that Wisdom of God given to her as the Mother of God. This is something that time cannot contain. It is important to recognize that she is certainly intimately tied to Christ in His entire person, in his incarnation, and in the hypostatic union, and thus wisdom is a consequence of this very fact. She is by the order of nature also the origin of God, since birth lends itself to the entire person, and the entire person of Christ was born into the world through Mary. There is no one on the face of the earth who has ever received such as grace as she had, and as Scripture proclaims, she is, “full of grace.” So we can see that her connection to God goes much further than mere maternity, she is infused by great grace, which takes any notion away that she was a mere conduit or instrument used for one purpose, maternity, and then discarded. She holds the love of God, and God’s wisdom in her heart. Although a created being, she is able to participate in a way that functions in eternal wisdom. We hear the words of Saint Ambrose elaborating on her great wisdom, "The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?” So a true Christian recognizes the fact that Mary was “full of grace” even before her consent to maternity, and this grace is intimately tied to the wisdom of God. This wisdom is of a higher nature than all other created beings. We also now understand why Christians who have been praying the ancient liturgy of St. Chrysostom for centuries proclaim her as being, "more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim."

    If we proceed further, we see that all of the works of God, made possible through the incarnation of Christ, were made by God to be dependent on Mary’s grace, and her fiat to become the Mother of God. She is not only the Mother of God, but also the mother of everything that comes with this motherhood of God, which is also being the mother of divine wisdom. Mary is the ark of the Trinity, for where one person of the Holy Trinity resides, so the other two reside. De Koninck writes, “This image was the sapiential exemplar that God followed in the composition of all things.” She is together with Christ the “root of the universal order.” She is at the core of God’s divine will to save man from sin. She participates in man’s salvation in a way that is higher in order than any other created being. Since she is of such a high order in God’s plan of salvation we honor and venerate her, not by her merits alone, but by her role in God’s universe and in His plan of eternal salvation. To reject this point is to separate oneself from Christianity. In short, by venerating and honoring her, we also recognize God’s work in and through her. We see His grace, His wisdom, and subsequently in order of time we see His incarnation made possible through her. Thus she has been granted higher privileges than any other, and her wisdom also surpasses that of any other men. Certainly then, based on these facts, Mary is the most amazing of all of God’s created creatures, and she is therefore worthy of our praise and veneration.

Charles De Koninck’s work, ‘Ego Sapientia: The Wisdom that is Mary’ was the primary source of this article. It is contained in volume II of his work, 'The Writings of Charles De Koninck'. Buy the book, its worth every penny.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fr. Anthony Ruff and 'Future Church'

It seems that Fr. Anthony Ruff O.S.B. has now teamed up with the blatantly heretical group that call themselves 'Future Church.' He has one of his lectures on their website now. Look at the statements given by the group on the side bar concerning women's ordination as well as other topics concerning the Church. For example, a question is asked, "FutureChurch advocates for opening ordination to all the baptized. Didn't Jesus ordain only men?... In fact, Jesus did not ordain anyone. Ordination was a practice that started to occur decades later in church history. Jesus had both male and female disciples." They also drafted a statement concerning women's ordination and excommunication. This group has been banned by many bishops from meeting in their churches. Not only has he now presented himself as supporting this group, in his lecture he says that he has supported and given lectures for 'Call to Action,' another heretical group that has been expelled by many bishops. How far will Fr. Ruff go? It is apparent that he has gone off the reservation. Although I am often critical of Fr. Ruff, I must offer prayer for him, and I urge you also to pray for this priest.