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Friday, May 29, 2015


The Holy Father recently tweeted that Christians are witnesses, not to a theory, but to a person, Jesus Christ, the risen savior of all. It struck me that this incarnate nature is necessarily shared by his body, the Church. Her members must participate in the life, the mundane and ordinary days and nights of that bodily community.

Jesus Christ is not a theory. He is a man. His Church is not a vague grouping of Christians with shared ideals. It is the Body of Christ, a household, a family, and we are its members, and we have a mission.

Catholics, wake up!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Always rejoice in the Lord

The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God’s enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Monday, May 25, 2015

It doesn’t work anyway, so you can have it

What lies ahead for marriage in Ireland? Michael Cook nails it. Marriage was broken decades ago, and this generation probably doesn't know that it wasn't always so, nor that it doesn't have to be.

Who am I to judge?

Psalm 81 says: How long will you judge unjustly and favour the cause of the wicked? Do justice for the weak and the orphan, defend the afflicted and the needy. Rescue the weak and the poor; set them free from the hand of the wicked.

How does one accomplish the above without judgment? Who is wicked, who is needy? Who is weak or poor?

While judgment of persons is God's province, since he alone sees into our intentions, we must all practice judgment of actions, both ours and those of others. Sometimes we must examine the acts of others and decide to emulate or oppose, to advocate or to question, to affirm or to caution. We cannot judge what we cannot see, such as the intentions behind the actions, unless they were self-confessed, for example. But we can see actions, and likely or certain consequences, and these, we can judge.  In certain cases, to withhold judgment can be irresponsible. And perhaps that had been happening far to much for far too long, to the destruction of many, many lives, generation after generation.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is it important for Christians to be visibly and truly united?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 17:20-26.

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."

You betcha.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sensus Fidei

From the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council - The mission of the Holy Spirit in the church:

"When the Son completed the work with which the Father had entrusted him on earth, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost to sanctify the Church unceasingly, and thus enable believers to have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit. He is the Spirit of life, the fountain of water welling up to give eternal life. Through him the Father gives life to men, dead because of sin, until he raises up their mortal bodies in Christ. The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple. He prays in them and bears witness in them to their adoption as sons. He leads the Church into all truth and gives it unity in communion and in service. He endows it with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts, directs it by their means, and enriches it with his fruits. By the power of the Gospel he enables the Church to grow young, perpetually renews it, and leads it to complete union with its Bridegroom. For the Spirit and the Bride say to the Lord Jesus: “Come!” In this way the Church reveals itself as a people whose unity has its source in the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The whole company of the faithful, who have an anointing by the Holy Spirit, cannot err in faith. They manifest this distinctive characteristic of theirs in the supernatural instinct of faith (‘sensus fidei’) of the whole people when, from the bishops to the most ordinary lay person among the faithful, they display a universal agreement on matters of faith and morals. This instinct of faith is awakened and kept in being by the Spirit of truth. Through it the people of God hold indefectibly to the faith once delivered to the saints, penetrate it more deeply by means of right judgement, and apply it more perfectly in their lives. They do all this under the guidance of the sacred teaching office: by faithful obedience to it they receive, not the word of men but in truth the word of God."

People sometimes use sensus fidei to justify heterodox doctrines that contradict orthodox teaching, missing the entirety of the point as emphasized above, that it applies when all are in agreement from the bishops down to the lay people. The whole people spans the centuries all the way back to the Apostles, and to the bishops that taught and clarified after them. Another crucial point is that the Spirit who reveals all this is the same Spirit of communion and unity, thereby making contradictions impossible. Blessed John Henry Newman made the case for the organic growth of doctrine that explains how doctrines can be applied to new settings without any rupture in Truth. A new doctrine is therefore suspicious when it contradicts orthodox teaching and the magisterium.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The silence of Christ as he was being accused

That silence caught the attention of Pilate, because it spoke volumes. The thought occurred to me that, while Pilate marveled at this, for it is natural to defend oneself given the stakes, silence must have been logical for Jesus. There wasn't much point because the accusers don't really care about the truth anyway. Furthermore, Jesus wasn't concerned so much about saving his life, since his accusers wouldn't allow it in the first place. For him it was about his mission.

I keep going back to the idea of mission these days. I've been realizing with growing clarity that the world is sinking into a huge mess right now because, to a great extent, the Christian mission to the nations is being badly compromised. One, Christian unity as a sign to the nations was practically rejected in the Schism and the Protestant Reformation. That echoes on in today's heterodoxy within the Church, and that goes back to the rebellion after Vatican II. Some sign that ends up being, and the parties don't seem to even see that! They nod their heads and sagely state the obvious, but where is the effort? And those are the few who would be prevailed upon to see unity as a good thing! Two, the world has become so beholden to relativism that one has to construct a basis for truthful discourse from the ground up, even with otherwise intelligent people.

So does the Church stay silent when accused of so many things by truth-agnostic accusers? As against wrangling and trying to look good, maybe so. Perhaps we have no recourse but to focus on the mission after all. Perhaps St. Josemaria Escriva was right: ignore the dogs barking at you as you walk the Way. Just keep to the mission. Evangelize from the rooftops, ignore the catcalls from the disinterested. Works of mercy and the gospel. Chances are that querulous attempts to defend oneself according to the world's standards will be no more than entertainment for the mobs, and there is plenty of that already. What we need, as always, is light.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Cross, abandoned

How do today's Christians react when they read such Scripture as "take up your cross daily and follow me" or "we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the Kingdom" and similar passages? Most, I think, can relate because they do experience poverty, injustice, oppression, and persecution. What of the rich who live comfortable lives? What of those in rich, safe countries in the West? Can they relate at all? Do we turn to imagining our slight discomforts as suffering? Do we invent problems and crises for ourselves? I have and lapse into this from time to time.

I imagine that one of the reasons why life might be oddly too quiet, particularly for many Catholics in the West, is that we lost the urgency of evangelization as a shared mission, and the rigorous challenge of holy living, set apart from the rest of the world. If life is too easy and quiet, perhaps one has quit the field while the battle rages yet. Worse, if one cannot even see that there are battles to be fought out there, then one has sadly lost the plot.