Monday, May 30, 2005

A Prayer for Work

Morning Prayer from today's Liturgy of the Hours concludes with a prayer that, to me, exemplifies the straightforward simplicity and insight of the Latin Rite. It's a prayer any Catholic, and indeed any Christian, could well use as often as they take up any task, however exalted or apparently mundane:

Father,
may everything we do
begin with your inspiration
and continue with your saving help.
Let our work always find its origin in you
and through you reach completion.

A New Bishop for Richmond

Catholic Light links to a story about the new Bishop of Richmond, Virginia that might leave you wanting to stand and cheer.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Newly Ordained Dominican's Corpus Christi Homily

Last weekend, Father Philip Neri Powell was ordained a Priest in the Order of Preachers. Today, he preached a wonderful Corpus Christi homily which you can read at Bill Cork's ut unum sint under the heading, "A Corpus Christi Homily." Orthodox, articulate, accurately comparing Catholic teaching with Protestant, yet down to earth and delightful to read - I'll bet if you read it, it will lift your spirit with regard to our future as Catholics in the USA.

Pope Benedict: Healing Rift with Orthodox a "Fundamental Priority"

Excerpts from today's Washington Post (registration required):

"BARI, Italy -- Pope Benedict XVI visited this eastern Italian port on his first papal trip Sunday and pledged to make healing the 1,000-year-old rift with the Orthodox church a 'fundamental' commitment of his papacy.

"Benedict made the pledge in a city closely tied to the Orthodox church. Bari, on Italy's Adriatic coast, is considered a 'bridge' between East and West and is home to the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-Century saint who is one of the most popular in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches....

"'I want to repeat my willingness to assume as a fundamental commitment working to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ, with all my energy,' he said to applause from the estimated 200,000 people at the Mass.

"Words aren't enough, he said, adding that 'concrete gestures' were needed even from ordinary Catholics to reach out toward the Orthodox.

"'I also ask all of you to decisively take the path of spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer will open the door to the Holy Spirit who alone can create unity,' he said.

"Benedict has said previously that reaching out to the Orthodox and other Christians would be a priority of his papacy, and his call to ordinary Catholics to take the charge as well built on that agenda."

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Politically Correct Chesterton

I just came across this hilarious four-year-old sendup of the "spirit of Vatican II" by Mark Shea, by way of a link embedded in a comment on the Pontificator's blog. Pontificator has recently been posting thought-provoking selections from the writings of the original, unreconstructed G. K. Chesterton which are well worth a look.

Benedict XVI

A Beautiful "Ave Verum Corpus" for free download

The Virtual Byrd Choir offers some fine renaissance period sacred music for free download here. I am especially fond of their rendition of Byrd's "Ave Verum Corpus", which is the last piece listed on that page.

The choir itself is an interesting story: "Virtual Byrd Choir was established in 2001 in Tokyo as a male vocal ensemble that specializes in Tudor church music. So far, the group has privately recorded three masses by Byrd and motets by Byrd, Gibbons, Weelkes, Thomkins, Tallis, plus a few works by J.S. Bach."

Sheet music for this motet is also available online, here.

Nonagenarian Note

Pope Leo XIII led the Catholic Church for some twenty-five years before he died in 1903 at age 93. A few years before his death, Leo received a much younger American bishop on his ad limina visit to Rome. Shortly before he left, the bishop said to the nonagenarian Pope, “Holy Father, I expect this is the last time we will meet on this earth.” Leo reached over, took the American prelate by the hand, and said, “My dear man, you didn’t tell me you were feeling poorly.”

- George Weigel

A Fascinating Reflection on Corpus Christi

If you have time to read an in-depth reflection on this celebration of the gift of the Eucharist, look here, which came to my attention by way of the St. Peter's Helpers blog.

Just one excerpt as a teaser:

"The Eucharist is not a private business, carried on in a circle of friends, in a club of like-minded people, who seek out and get together with those who already suit them; but just as the Lord allowed himself to be crucified outside the city wall, before all the world, and stretches out his hands to everyone, thus the Eucharist is the public worship of all those whom the Lord calls, irrespective of their personal make-up. It is particularly characteristic of him, as he demonstrated in his earthly life, to have men of the most diverse groupings, social backgrounds, and personal views brought together in the greater whole of his word and his love. It was characteristic of the Eucharist, then, in the Mediterranean world in which Christianity first developed, for an aristocrat who had found his way into Christianity to sit there side by side with a Corinthian dock worker, a miserable slave, who under Roman law was not even regarded as a man but was treated as chattel. It was characteristic of the Eucharist for the philosopher to sit next to the illiterate man, the converted prostitute and the converted tax collector next to the religious ascetic who had found his way to Jesus Christ."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Corpus Christi in Rome

I just learned via The Curt Jester that Zadok the Roman has posted photos of the liturgy and procession of Corpus Christi with Pope Benedict in Rome. The photos are awesome, don't miss them!

A Beautiful Cathedral in an Unexpected Place


Surprisingly, one of the USA's most beautiful Catholic cathedrals is in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you ever visit Salt Lake, do not miss the opportunity to worship in, or at least visit, the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The exterior is unassuming, but the interior is wonderful in every detail, from the brilliant murals on the walls to the intricate woodwork encountered throughout. Although the photos don't really do it justice, you can get some idea of this cathedral's beauty by selecting the "Pictorial Tour" option on this page.

The history of its initial construction is fascinating. Although Salt Lake's 19'th and early 20'th century Catholic community was small, it included a disproportionate number of the owners and laborers in the many nearby mines, particularly in Park City, partly because Mormon leaders at the time discouraged mining in favor of pursuits like agriculture, viewing mining almost the way many Protestants of the day viewed gambling. Substantial wealth came to a number of German and Irish Catholics from those Park City mines, and that wealth helps to explain the extraordinary beauty of their cathedral relative to the small size of their community.

Best of Times, Worst of Times

"Historians tell of the widespread immorality of Rome of that time, the dissolute popes, almost all of them with children and grandchildren, the vice, the turpitude. But there was a paradox: in that same Rome of those years, which are described as a black time for the Church, we find exceptional saints: Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Philip Neri, Charles Borromeo and Camillo De Lellis (farther afield, in Spain for example, Teresa of Avila was born the very year Philip first saw the light in Florence). When one considers this stuff of sanctity one may well wonder whether it really was a black time for the Church.

"For Christians it is a sign that where sin is abundant grace is super-abundant. And it is astonishing to note that popes and cardinals so publicly given over to sin were so able to recognize saints and safeguard the depositum fidei."

from "Saint Philip Neri", by Antonio Socci

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Timely Thought

"All ask what they wish but do not always hear the answers they wish. Your best servant is he who is intent not so much on hearing his petitions answered, but rather on willing whatever he hears from you."

St. Augustine, *Confessions* (ca. 398 AD), from today's Office of Readings

Peggy Noonan in Hindsight

The kind of prose that you find in op-ed columns rarely continues to haunt and inspire a month after the reading. Yet I continue to find Peggy Noonan's columns from the time of Pope John Paul's death through Pope Benedict's election stirring and profound:

On Pope John Paul II:

And then it dawns on you: Maybe--maybe . . . Maybe people, being imperfect and human, live whatever lives they live but deep in their hearts--way down deep and much more than they know--they actually notice when somebody stands for truth. And they actually honor it. Maybe that's why in all the big modern democracies they'd burst into tears when John Paul came by, when he was visiting America and France and Germany. Maybe they knew they were not necessarily living right themselves but they were grateful--they were grateful on behalf of civilization!--that there was a man like him among us. They recognized him and honored him in their hearts. And then word came that he's dead and suddenly their hearts told their heads: Get on the train and go honor him. Because he adorned us. Because he was right. And we can't lose this from civilization, this beacon in the darkness.

On Pope Benedict XVI:

We want a spiritual father. We want someone who stands for what is difficult and right, what is impossible but true. Being human we don't always or necessarily want to live by the truth or be governed by it. But we are grateful when someone stands for it. We want him to be standing up there on the balcony. We want to aspire to it, reach to it, point to it and know that it is there.

Liturgical Quiz

Father Edward Sousa posted a fascinating liturgical quiz at his Persevere in Faith blog the other day - have a look! I don't have a URL for the specific entry so you'll have to scroll down a bit to find it.

Salmagundi

Father Bryce Sibley is discontinuing his A Saintly Salmagundi blog. There's still time to get a look if you've not seen it before, and to say goodbye if you have. Father will be missed.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Catholicism, Timeless Truth, and Intellectual Integrity in the Modern World

I am indebted to very different, thought-provoking posts at The Mighty Barrister and at Blosser's Homepage for helping me to think this through:

I can no more assent, in honest good faith, to "creationism" than I can assent to biblicist literalism - and Catholicism doesn't ask me to commit either form of intellectual suicide. Yet I can, with Benedict XVI, affirm that every human being is a result of a divine intention, and I can affirm, against a radical biblical criticism, that what the author of any given text in the Bible meant to affirm is really true - and it seems to me that, on these two issues, these are the essential affirmations we instinctively sense are threatened by developments in modern secular scholarship. To me, this is at the heart of the beauty of Catholicism - intellectual integrity which takes modern developments seriously, coupled with a union with what Christianity has been and believed through the ages, which has deep enough roots to prevent me from being blown about by every passing wind.

Curt Jester on a Roll

from The Curt Jester today:

'Faith community seems to be one of those annoying terms used when people are unable to say church. People with this defect will also substitute Presider for Priest. I have wondered if a progressive with Tourette Syndrome might embarrass themselves and others by having the impulse to say things like "hierarchy", "obedience", "dogma", etc. This would be quite embarrassing in progressive company.'

Pope Benedict on Love, Mystery and Reason

'This is the word that summarizes the whole of revelation: "God is love". And love is always a mystery, a reality that surpasses reason without contradicting it; what is more, it exalts its potentialities.'

from his Angelus remarks on May 22, 2005. Via ZENIT

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Catholic Encyclopedia on "Detraction"

Detraction

(From Latin detrahere, to take away).

Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer. An important difference between detraction and calumny is at once apparent. The calumniator says what he knows to be false, whilst the detractor narrates what he at least honestly thinks is true. Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice. It is obvious, however, that the subject-matter of the accusation may be so inconspicuous or, everything considered, so little capable of doing serious hurt that the guilt is not assumed to be more than venial. The same judgment is to be given when, as not unfrequently happens, there has been little or no advertence to the harm that is being done.

The determination of the degree of sinfulness of detraction is in general to be gathered from the consideration of the amount of harm the defamatory utterance is calculated to work. In order to adequately measure the seriousness of the damage wrought, due regard must be had not only to the imputation itself but also to the character of the person by whom and against whom the charge is made. That is, we must take into account not only the greater or lesser criminality of the thing alleged but also the more or less distinguished reputation of the detractor for trustworthiness, as well as the more or less notable dignity or estimation of the person whose good name has been assailed. Thus it is conceivable that a relatively small defect alleged against a person of eminent station, such as a bishop, might seriously tarnish his good name and be a mortal sin, whilst an offence of considerable magnitude attributed to an individual of a class in which such things frequently happen might constitute only a venial sin, such as, for instance, to say that a common sailor had been drunk. It is worthy of note that the manifestation of even inculpable defects may be a real defamation, such as to charge a person with gross ignorance, etc. When this is done in such circumstances as to bring upon the person so disparaged a more than ordinary measure of disgrace, or perhaps seriously prejudice him, the sin may even be a grievous one.

There are times, nevertheless, when one may lawfully make known the offense of another even though as a consequence the trust hitherto reposed in him be rudely shaken or shattered. If a person's misdoing is public in the sense that sentence has been passed by the competent legal tribunal or that it is already notorious, for instance, in a city, then in the first case it may licitly be referred to in any place; in the second, within the limits of the town, or even elsewhere, unless in either instance the offender in the lapse of time should have entirely reformed or his delinquency been quite forgotten. When, however, knowledge of the happening is possessed only by the members of a particular community or society, such as a college or monastery and the like, it would not be lawful to publish the fact to others than those belonging to such a body. Finally, even when the sin is in no sense public, it may still be divulged without contavening the virtues of justice or charity whenever such a course is for the common weal or is esteemed to make for the good of the narrator, of his listeners, or even of the culprit. The right which the latter has to an asumed good name is extinguished in the presence of the benefit which may be conferred in this way.

The employment of this teaching, however, is limited by a twofold restriction. (1) The damage which one may soberly apprehend as emerging from the failure to reveal another's sin or vicious propensity must be a notable one as contrasted with the evil of defamation. (2) No more in the way of exposure should be done than is required, and even a fraternal admonition ought rather to be substituted if it can be discerned to adequately meet the needs of the situation. Journalists are entirely within their rights in inveighing against the official shortcomings of public men. Likewise, they may lawfully present whatever information about the life or character of a candidate for public office is necessary to show his unfitness for the station he seeks. Historians have a still greater latitude in the performance of their task. This is not of course because the dead have lost their claim to have their good name respected. History must be something more than a mere calendar of dates and incidents; the causes and connection of events are a proper part of its province. This consideration, as well as that of the general utility in elevating and strengthening the public conscience, may justify the historian in telling many things hitherto unknown which are to the disgrace of those of whom they are related.

Those who abet another's defamation in a matter of moment by directly or indirectly inciting or encouraging the principal in the case are guilty of grievous injustice. When, however, one's attitude is simply a passive one, i.e. that of a mere listener, prescinding from any interior satisfaction at the blackening of another's good name, ordinarily the sin is not mortal unless one happens to be a superior. The reason is that private persons are seldom obliged to administer fraternal correction under pain of mortal sin (see CORRECTION, FRATERNAL). The detractor having violated an unimpeachable right of another is bound to restitution. He must do his best to put back the one whom he has thus outraged in possession of the fair fame which the latter hitherto enjoyed. He must likewise make good whatever other loss he in some measure foresaw his victim would sustain as a result of this unfair defamation, such as damage measurable in terms of money. The obligation in either instance is perfectly clear. The method of discharging this plain duty is not so obvious in the first case. In fact, since the thing alleged is assumed to be true, it cannot be formally taken back, and some of the suggestions of theologians as to the style of reparation are more ingenious than satisfactory. Generally the only thing that can be done is to bide one's time until an occasion presents itself for a favorable characterization of the person defamed. The obligation of the detractor to make compensation for pecuniary loss and the like is not only personal but becomes a burden on his heirs as well.

A Word from Pope Benedict

"Naturally, I am aware and we all know that many are not immediately able to identify themselves with, to understand, to assimilate all that the Church teaches. It seems to me important firstly to awaken this intention to believe with the Church, even if personally someone may not yet have assimilated many particulars. It is necessary to have this will to believe with the Church, to have trust that this Church -- the community not only of 2,000 years of pilgrimage of the people of God, but the community that embraces heaven and earth, the community where all the righteous of all times are therefore present -- that this Church enlivened by the Holy Spirit truly carries within the "compass" of the Spirit and therefore is the true subject of faith. ..."

via Ignatius Press's Insight Scoop and Zenit

Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Gem

From the blog Fiat Mihi:

"...life in common, under vows: in obedience – the refutation of the me-first World; in poverty – the answer to the sterility of materialism; and chastity – the great sign of Christ’s love for His Church."

A Fine Episcopal Homily for Trinity Sunday

I discovered a link to this at Bill Cork's excellent ut unum sint blog.

Trinity Sunday Homily by Revd. Dr. Peter Toon (all that follows is quoted, and is reproduced in its entirety):

The Church in the West was very wise, and no doubt led by then Holy Ghost, to call the Sunday after Whitsuntide, by the name of Trinity Sunday, in order that the focus of worship and devotion be most particularly on that day the Triune LORD God himself – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons One God, a Trinity in Unity and a Unity in Trinity.

The major festivals of the Christian Year before Trinity Sunday focus on (a) the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, his taking of our human nature and flesh as his own; (b) the sacrificial, atoning death of the Second Person for our sins and his rising again from the dead for our justification; (c) the ascending into heaven with his assumed and now glorified human nature of the Second Person to be the High Priest and King of his people; and (d) his sending, together with the Father, of the Holy Ghost to the Church in order for the Third Person of the Trinity to be the Paraclete of the Incarnate Son, a Counselor and Comforter to his sanctified people.

In the great work of divine revelation and redemption, salvation and sanctification, the Holy Trinity is wholly involved, as the Father sends the Son into the world where he assumed human nature by the presence of the Holy Ghost, and where the Holy Ghost acts in the Name of the Son. So it is most fitting and most appropriate that after the last of the great festivals -- Christmas & Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Whitsuntide – there should be another festival pointing to the identity of the Lord our God, the God of revelation and redemption, by Whom the divine reality of the great festivals is assured.

The Early Church gave a lot of time and effort to the stating in the best possible and available terms the doctrine of the Holy, Blessed and Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Ghost. That is, the rendering of the dynamic and diverse biblical teaching and insights into clear propositional terms, using particular words in specific ways. This teaching is found in the Nicene Creed (written originally in Greek and immediately translated into Latin) and in the Athanasian Creed or Quicunque Vult (written originally in Latin and later translated into Greek).

Key words are substance (ousia in Greek) and Person (hypostasis in Greek). And the church teaching is that there is one ousia (Divinity, Godhead) and that each of the Three Persons possesses in whole this one, unique ousia. This one substance, Godhead, is not, as it were, shared and split into three. The Father is wholly God; the Son is wholly God and the Holy Ghost is wholly God. Thus the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are homoousios (of the same, identical substance, essence & being) with each other.

The Three Persons differ from one another not in Godhead for each one is wholly God; rather they differ in terms of their relations (not relationships!) one with another. The first Person is the Father of the Only-Begotten Son; the Son is the only-begotten Son of the Father; and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. And, of course, in the divine work of creation, redemption, providence and judgment, each of the Three has a different but not an independent role.

It is this Mystery, God as the Holy Trinity, which Mother Church asks her members ( born from above by the Holy Ghost to be the adopted children of the Father) to adore, praise and magnify on Trinity Sunday, and to do so with special effort, concentration and devotion.

Then for the rest of the Christian Year, as each Sunday also bears the Name of the same Holy Trinity, Mother Church asks her members to hear and read the Gospel, the Epistle and the Old Testament as the words to the world and the church of the same Triune God, even as She worships the Undivided and Blessed Trinity, bowing before the Father in the Name of the Son and with the presence and illumination of the Holy Ghost.

Christians will probably begin to get their terminology concerning the Holy Trinity correct when their own worship, devotion and service is truly Trinitarian. When they worship the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ with the Holy Ghost, and as they offer their daily lives in the Spirit, and for the sake of the Lord Jesus, to the Father to glorify his name. It is only when we know God as the Triune Lord God experientially and mentally that we are aware of the need for careful terminology both to preserve sound doctrine and to honor God for who He is and what He has revealed unto us.

One common heresy uttered by people whose devotion is not truly Trinitarian is to treat God as One God who is One Person, which is Unitarianism. However, this is often given a kind of seemingly Trinitarian character by giving to this divine Person three primary Names (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). In this form the heresy is Modalism or Sabellianism, where the One Person of God is said to reveal himself in Three Modes of Being.

Amongst more liberal Christians, the most common heresy is to present the Trinity as if it were One Divine Community wherein there is perfect Diversity, and then to see human community (and even amongst Anglican to see the Anglican Communion of Churches!) in its unity and diversity called to reflect the divine model. This is an extreme form of the doctrine of the “social Trinity” and seems to be very popular in various forms in western churches as people aim to create community locally with “peace and justice” out of diverse human individual beings.

The traditional, orthodox, dogma of the Holy Trinity, upon which all orthodox Christian doctrine and practice is based and must harmonize, is well expressed in The Book of Common Prayer (1662, 1962 Canada and 1928 USA). Here for Trinity Sunday the Collect is unique in its address, for it is offered on this day and during the week following, to the Trinity as Trinity and as One God (not as usual to the Father through the Son and with the Spirit).

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee, that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

And let us add:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost ; As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end . Amen.

Blessed be the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; now and always, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon May 2005

Incisive

GOR in a comment on Bettnet: "We are called to repentance - not to self-affirmation."

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Pope, the Orthodox, and Aggressive Secularism

From AsiaNews (excerpt):

'Benedict XVI's main objective is to witness the Gospel together with the Orthodox in the fight against contemporary society's "aggressive secularism". This is what the Catholic Metropolitan of Moscow, Monsignor Tadeus Kondrusiewicz, said following a private audience with the Pope at the Vatican today. "The Pontiff takes to heart the situation of Catholics in Russia -- Kondrusiewicz said to various journalists -- and underlined the importance of Catholics and Orthodox witnessing together the Gospel and moral values in the fight against aggressive secularism," which abounds in our societies. '

Remarks of Archbishop Chaput at Today's National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

The full text is here.

Excerpts:

'Catholics spent the first 200 years of our nation's life trying to fit in and be accepted. Well, congratulations, we did it. We made it. We've arrived. But we should remember St. Paul's words: "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord" (2 Cor 10:17).

'Have we really examined the cost of our fitting in? Since the 1960s, many American Catholics have been acting like we're lucky just to be tolerated in the public square. In other words, we'd better not be too Catholic or somebody will be offended. That's a mistake....'

'What we really believe, we conform our lives to. And if we don't conform our lives to what we claim to believe, then we're living a lie. When public officials claim to be "Catholic" but then say they can't offer their beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things. They're either very confused, or they're very evasive. All law is the imposition of somebody's beliefs on somebody else. That's exactly the reason we have debates, and elections, and Congress - to turn the struggle of ideas and moral convictions into laws that guide our common life....'

'We need to understand that in the early Church, those words - "Jesus is Lord" - were a political statement. The emperor claimed to be Lord both in the private and public lives of the citizens of the empire. When Christians proclaimed Jesus as Lord, they were proclaiming the centrality of Jesus not only in their personal lives, but in their public lives and their decision-making as well. That took real courage. And it had huge consequences for their lives. Jesus was hung upon the cross because of his claim of Lordship. Christianity was illegal for the first 250 years of the Church's life because Christians proclaimed, "Jesus is Lord."'

'"God" need not be on our lips every minute of every day. But He should be in our hearts from the moment we wake, to the moment we sleep. Only Jesus is Lord. The Church belongs to Him; not to us, but to Him. And there's no way -- no way -- that we should ever allow ourselves to be driven from the public square by those who want someone else, or something else, to be Lord....'

'St Augustine, who had such a deep influence on the mind of our new Holy Father, once wrote that, "Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." Are we angry enough about what's wrong with the world -- the killing of millions of unborn children through abortion;
the neglect of the poor and the elderly; the mistreatment of immigrants in our midst; the abuse of science in embryonic stem cell research? Do we really have the courage of our convictions to change those things?

'The opposite of hope is cynicism, and cynicism also has two daughters. Their names are indifference and cowardice. In renewing ourselves in our faith, what Catholics need to change most urgently is the habit and rhetoric of cowardice we find in our own personal lives, in our national political life, and sometimes even within the Church herself...'

A Hearty Laugh

Hilary on The Pontificator's decision to leave the Episcopal Church USA and enter the Catholic church: "Welcome aboard. And in the words of the great Anne Muggeridge: Here's your bucket, now start bailing."

Orientale Lumen

via Heart, Mind and Strength:

Orientale Lumen Conferences: 'Started in 1997 in Washington, DC, these ecumenical conferences are a “grass roots” movement among lay persons and clergy to provide a forum for Christians to learn about the “light from the east.” They allow Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholics and Roman Catholics to meet and pray together, learn from each other's traditions, and become friends together searching for a common goal: “that they all may be one” in the One Church of Christ.'


Orthodox monastery at Meteora, Greece

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Appreciating the Good Things Here Below

Another gem discovered on the Catholic Light (not "Catholic Lite") blog - this, posted by John Schultz, I can't resist quoting in full (all that follows is quoted from that blog):

The more I hear about B16, the happier I am.

Pope Benedict Without His Beloved Piano as Movers Struggle to Fit It Into His New Quarters

"ROME — Pope Benedict XVI, a fan of Mozart and Bach, is still without his piano as movers have been unable to fit it through the windows of his papal apartment, it was reported Wednesday...

Ratzinger, who apparently uses the piano to relax at times of stress, reportedly used to irk his neighbours by playing Mozart, Bach and Palestrina a little too loudly, according to German weekly Der Spiegel."

That's what we need: a Pope who plays Palestrina a little too loudly.

On the Claim that the Church uses Guilt to Control People

In an interesting post on the "Be Not Afraid" blog, Mark Windsor notes (among many other things) that church critics are often heard to say "The Catholic Church wields its power through guilt. It makes people behave by making them feel bad."
Having heard this claim all too many times over the years, I've become convinced that it really means no more than this: "The Catholic Church insists that in order for 'conscience' to be worthy of the name, it must resist the all-too-human urge to put out of mind the ways our selfish acts harm others" - and that is a good though inconvenient thing, indeed an essential counterbalance to our culture's tendency to make a virtue of self-seeking.

"Pontifications" Blog

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Favorite Boticelli Madonna

A Little Papal Humor

"...Napolean once declared that he would destroy the Church. Whereupon one of the cardinals replied, 'Not even we have managed that!'"

- Benedict XVI, cited at Ignatius Press.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I Love This New Blog

On the Claim that the Church's Opposition to Condoms Causes the Spread of Disease

I'm giving a standing ovation to Oswald Sobrino at Catholic Analysis for putting this so clearly:

"Last night, I heard Dr. Janet E. Smith of Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary speak at a local parish-- a parish, by the way, whose pastor recently moved the tabernacle back to the center of the church. As many of you know, Dr. Smith is probably the leading defender of the Church's teaching against contraception, as contained in Humanae Vitae. In her talk, she also pointed out the causation fallacy at the heart of the slander that the Church is somehow reponsible for AIDS deaths in Africa and other places. She rightly asked, as I have done on this site, whether the fornicators, adulterers, and those engaging in homosexual acts would start using condoms if the Pope suddenly says it is OK to use them. We think not."

That's just one paragraph from his post. You can read it all at the link above.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Great Source of News

If you don't already know about the ZENIT news agency, have a look. You can subscribe to their service and receive the latest articles by e-mail, or you can read them online at that link. There is no charge, although they do solicit well-deserved donations.

Just for instance, tonight's newsfeed has an article about Russian pilgrims visiting John Paul II's tomb, and another about a joint Orthodox-Catholic comemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in which Greece's ambassador to the Holy See alludes to "the memory of the roots of our religious, cultural and ethnic identity" and mentions John Paul II, "first son of the great Slav nation clothed in the highest dignity of Roman Pontiff," and "his apostolic letter 'Egregiae Virtutis,' which he dedicated to the brothers of Salonika."

Am I the only one who thinks that....

...the image of "Mary, Exterminatrix of Heresies" on A Saintly Salmagundi would be the perfect logo for Shrine of the Holy Whapping?

Striking Image in Pentecost Homily

The first paragraph of Father John Sistare's Pentecost homily:

'On this Solemn Feast of Pentecost, I would like to share a great article by Fritz Wenisch from the religion section of the Providence Journal Sat. May 14, 2005. In the article, Mr. Wenisch invites us to imagine being one of the survivors of an airplane crash in the middle of the wilderness. He states, “The weather is predicted to turn cold in two or three days, and all of you will freeze to death unless they are rescued soon. Frantic efforts are made to contact someone -- anyone -- through a portable radio transmitter, to no avail. After the first night, however, two people claim to have reached an aviation tower at an airfield on a nearby island and received word that a three-hour walk into a northeasterly direction will lead to a shore point to which a rescue vessel has been dispatched. A caravan of people ensues. Two hours into the trek, however, following complaints about how difficult the path has become, the two guides assert that the original message recommended a northwesterly direction; the caravan changes course. Half an hour later, after new complaints, the leaders announce that the boat is to be reached in the southeast, and the procession makes a 180 degree turn. The zigzagging continues. How long will it take you to realize that the self-appointed guides likely never did receive a genuine message?”'

Read the rest here!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Sad Parting

As the Easter season draws to a close this Pentecost night I am finally, fully struck by the realization that we have said our final good-bye to John Paul the Great here below. Of all the many images I will carry forward from this season, the one I will treasure most is that enormous crowd in St. Peter's Square, breaking into spontaneous applause when the Pope's death was announced. Who has ever heard of such a thing? It should have been an outrage, you would think...and yet...everyone there, and everyone watching, knew exactly what it meant. "Truly," those in the square said with their hands, and we who watched said in our hearts, "this was a life well lived."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Go, Read:

Kevin Miller's "The Spirit of Unity and Peace" entry at the "Heart, Mind & Strength" blog. A timely meditation for Pentecost.

Two Blogs of First-Rate Homilies

Check out Father Ray's 'Other' Corner, and Padre's Pulpit. These two are truly putting this relatively new communications medium at the service of timeless truths.

Pride

It is not fitting for men to be proud. When God sends proud men humiliations he is offering them a loving gift, all the more graciously bestowed when he enables them to recognize his lovingkindness in the otherwise mortifying experience.

Incisive

"Saying that the child in its mother's womb is simply a part of her body is the same as saying that man is simply a part of the state: this opinion must likewise concede to the state the right to dispose of the men who are part of it."

- Romano Guardini, one of Benedict XVI's teachers, writing in 1949

via chisea

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Word from John Paul the Great...

...quoted by Archbishop Levada in a speech printed here:

"We need a new apologetic, geared to the needs of today...this new apologetic will need to breathe a spirit of humanity, that compassionate humility which understands people's anxieties and questions, and is not quick to presume in them ill will or bad faith."

More on Archbishop Levada's Appointment to CDF

This appraisal of today's news came to my attention at Amy Welborn's Open Book. It's from National Catholic Reporter's "Word From Rome" page, and is by John L. Allen Jr. All that follows is direct quotation from the article:

On May 13, as had long been rumored, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco as the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Why Levada?

First, he has a solid theological background. He wrote his doctoral thesis in theology at Rome's Gregorian University under the direction of Jesuit Fr. Francis Sullivan, widely regarded as one of the best minds in ecclesiology of the 20th century. The subject of Levada's dissertation was "The Infallible Church Magisterium and the Natural Moral Law," examining how the magisterium understands natural law, and especially its binding force. Levada reviewed a range of theological opinions and drew what one observer described as "balanced, judicious" conclusions. Given the way that moral questions, especially on sexual issues and biotechnology, are among the most contentious matters the doctrinal congregation handles, it's a background that would serve Levada well.

At the same time, because Levada has not spent his career as a professional theologian, he has not developed a deep specialization in any one area. A theologian in Rome described him as a very capable "general practitioner."

Jesuit Fr. Gerald O'Collins at the Gregorian, who remembers Levada as an industrious doctoral candidate, said that Levada now phones him to keep tabs on his own men.

"He keeps in touch," O'Collins said. "He says, 'How is he doing?'... I feel it kind of encourages the student to finish, because the archbishop needs him back."

O'Collins described Levada as "an extremely decent human being."

During a later stint in Rome, Levada also taught part-time at the Gregorian. He ran a seminar for third-year students, intended to produce a lengthy paper as a kind of synthesis of their work in the first cycle. Colleagues say that Levada was a very capable director, asking critical questions that stimulated thought rather than delivering lectures and controlling the discussion himself.

Second, Levada worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1976 to 1982, during the era that Croatian Cardinal Franjo Šeper was prefect under Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, and for the early months of Ratzinger's own term. Hence Levada understands the nature of the office and its role in the broader context of the Roman Curia. Since 2000, Levada has served as a member of the congregation, meaning that he would step into the role of prefect already up to speed on current business.

At the same time, however, Levada has been out of the Roman Curia since 1982, serving in the California Catholic Conference of Bishops and the archdiocese of Los Angeles prior to his appointment as the archbishop of Portland in 1986 and archbishop of San Francisco in 1995. He has risen to prominence through pastoral leadership in his home country, rather than on the back of a succession of curial appointments. That means Levada would re-enter the world of the Vatican relatively independent of the obligations and loyalties that moving up through the Vatican can engender, leaving him, at least in theory, free to make objective judgments -- a bit, observers note, like Ratzinger himself, who entered the Roman Curia in 1981 already as a cardinal.

Third, Levada has an ideal resume for a prefect of the doctrinal office. From 1986 to 1993 he served as the only American bishop on the editorial committee of the Vatican commission for a Catechism of the Catholic Church. He authored the catechism's glossary, which was published in the English-language second edition. Levada also served on a joint U.S.-Vatican mixed commission that finalized the American norms concerning priests accused of sexual abuse, as well as on a task force on the church's response to dissenting Catholic politicians. He is presently the chair of the U.S. bishops' committee on doctrine.

At the same time, however, Levada would not be bashful about questioning a bishops' conference if he felt a matter of the faith was at stake. In a 1999 interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Levada said he was sometimes grateful to the CDF for stepping in.

"I can think of one or two questions when I've been in the minority on votes in the American bishops, and I'm pleased that the Vatican has said, 'Hey, wait a minute. That doesn't seem like that's such a good thing to us.' Well, right on!" Levada said. "I think sometimes the American bishops take decisions in discussions that are too rushed, too agenda-driven. We don't give enough time to points of view. I'm not saying that's all the time, but it has happened."

Fourth, since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the juridical responsibility for handling cases of priests accused of sexual abuse, Levada's background as a member of the U.S. bishops' conference and the "mixed commission" that worked out the American norms means that he would bring an insider's understanding to those issues, and become a powerful voice in setting Vatican policy on the sexual abuse issue.

Fifth, Levada has the real-world pastoral experience of administering two complex archdioceses in Portland and San Francisco, so he would bring empathy for brother bishops facing their own pastoral difficulties. Moreover, both Portland and San Francisco are fairly liberal, post-modern environments where making the case for church teaching on many issues is a challenge, equipping Levada to play a special role in Pope Benedict's campaign to confront a "dictatorship of relativism" in the developed West.

Sixth, Levada has a reputation as someone with the capacity to find imaginative solutions to difficult problems. A leading case in point came in 1997, when the City of San Francisco threatened to withdraw funding from any social service agency that did not provide health benefits to domestic partners. I was in Los Angeles at the time and was assigned to cover the story, and it seemed for a brief period that the city and the church were at a stalemate. At the eleventh hour, however, Levada proposed allowing employees to designate anyone they wanted as a recipient of benefits on their health plans -- an aunt, a parent, a good friend, etc. In that sense, the church was making benefits more widely available, without endorsing same-sex relationships. One Catholic theologian at the time called the decision "Solomonic," though some critics still felt it fudged over the church's opposition to homosexuality.

None of this is to suggest that Levada lacks critics. On the left, some recall Levada's efforts to "water down" a proposed pastoral letter of American bishops on women, or his role in opposing some forms of "inclusive language" in the translation of liturgical texts; conservatives sometimes complain that he has not cracked down on what they see as a center of "dissent" at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, or that he has not been a more energetic participant in the "culture wars," given San Francisco's profile as a center of pro-gay activism. Sex abuse victims sometimes argue that Levada has not been sufficiently transparent or cooperative in responding to the crisis.

It would be difficult to imagine, however, anyone who could step into the job at the CDF utterly without "baggage." What Levada does seem to bring is intellectual preparation and life experience well suited for the challenge of heading the doctrinal office, plus a pre-existing relationship with the pope. Given that, it's little surprise he's was the Pope's choice.

Archbishop Levada and the Latin Mass

Father John Rizzo is the leader of Sacramento, California's Latin Mass community. He was asked about Archbishop Levada's position on the Latin Mass in this 1998 interview. Here is what Fr. Rizzo had to say:

"We met with Archbishop Levada. He said, much to our surprise, that he has not received much in the way of inquiries or support for those who are interested in the Latin Mass. He said that if he heard more of an interest then he would get something going. But he told us at this point, that he's heard no interest in this regard. So, I don't know-- if more people there were expressing an interest, then perhaps something could get off the ground."

Archbishop Levada

Here are a few links providing insight into the newly appointed head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Biography from the archdiocesan web site

Archbishop Levada's defense of a so-called "domestic partnership" benefits compromise

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Our Lady and Our Pope

This comes courtesy of the excellent "Heart Mind and Strength" weblog:

ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome


Code: ZE05051103

Date: 2005-05-11

Pope Points Faithful Toward Virgin of Fatima

VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).-
Benedict XVI encouraged believers to turn with confidence to Mary, reminding them that on May 13 the Church celebrates the feast of the Virgin of Fatima.

At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's square, attended by some 20,000 pilgrims, the Holy Father addressed a special message to "young people, the sick and newlyweds."

"Day after tomorrow, the liturgical memorial will be celebrated of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima. Beloved, I exhort you to turn incessantly and with confidence to the Virgin, entrusting to her each one of your needs."

Shortly after, the Pope personally greeted the sick who had arrived in the Vatican in wheelchairs. He also greeted the children present, and gave one of them his autograph.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope wrote the theological commentary regarding the publication of the third secret of Fatima, published June 26, 2000.

The Poverty of the "Religion of the Day"

Here's "Shlomo Sher's" reaction to the selection of Benedict XVI as Pope, from a secular blog I shall not name:

"Now, personally, I'd prefer a very liberal social-crusader who views religions as helpful stories that give us a shared vision of the world and help channel our spiritual feelings - but hey, that's me."

Would anyone actually take time out from a busy life of self-realization to attend or contribute to an institution led by a person with such beliefs? I suppose that if Oprah were the guest speaker....oh wait....there *are* still a few folks left in the pews at....

Great New Catholic Blog

In a Nutshell

This reflection on the concept of "development of doctrine" is especially lucid, at Diogene's "Off the Record":

"As Newman saw, a true doctrinal development is one 'which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds.' He saw that those who, on the contrary, proposed open-ended correction of one and the same dogma, though they flattered themselves as being champions of reason, were introducing logical confusions into the notion of doctrine from which it was impossible to escape."

Briefly

This comment was posted by Susan Murphy over at Amy's "Open Book":

God to Moses: "Confer with the chosen people and get back to me about their willingness to accept my ten commandments proposal."

Jesus to the people: "After consulting with my disciples we've reached a consensus. Love your neighbor as yourself."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Immigration

The US Bishop's Immigration Reform Campaign is launching a new website here. In an insightful comment to an item at Amy Welborn's "Open Book" blog, a poster named Neil had this to say (reprinted with his permission):

"What are our responsibilities to migrants?

"I'm running rather short on time, so let me quote a few paragraphs from an article by William O'Neill, SJ and William Spohn ("Rights of Passage: The Ethics of Immigration and Refugee Policy," Theological Studies 59 [1998]):

""In modern Catholic social teaching, the legitimate sovereignty of states in regulating immigration serves the global common good. This means that states are morally bound to respect and promote the basic human rights of both citizen and resident alien, especially the most vulnerable. Persons are entitled to be treated in accordance with their equal dignity. Such respect justifies preferential attention to those whose basic rights are most systemically imperilled, such as refugees, migrants, and of these, women and children in particular, who are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Pacem in Terris thus affirms not only the commonly recognized right to emigrate, but the right to immigrate as well: 'when there are just reasons for it,' every human being has 'the right to emigrate to other countries and to take up residence there.' The loss of citizenship 'does not detract in any way from [one's] membership in the human family as a whole, nor from [one's] citizenship in the world community.' (n25) ...

""In addition, the Catholic Church recognizes persons' right to change nationality for social and economic as well as political reasons. In view of the 'common purpose of created things [and the mutually implicatory character of basic positive and negative rights], where a state which suffers from poverty combined with great population cannot supply such use of goods to its inhabitants . . . people possess a right to emigrate, to select a new home in foreign lands and to seek conditions of life worthy' of their common humanity (Instruction on the Pastoral Care of People Who Migrate no. 14). Paul VI thus urgued acceptance of 'a charter which will assure [persons'] right to emigrate, favor their integration, facilitate their professional advancement, and give them access to decent housing where their families can join them.' (Octogesima adveniens no. 17) ..."

"We can say, then, that states must offer asylum to those whose political rights have been threatened, and also "to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin" (CCC 2241). Now, can one really say that the United States welcomes the foreigner to the extent that it is able, or are we grossly violating the "common purpose of created things"? Remember, St Thomas writes, "a rich man does not act unlawfully if he anticipates someone in taking possession of something which at first was common property, and gives others a share: but he sins if he excludes others indiscriminately" (ST II.II.q77a2).

"O'Neill and Spohn remind us that welcoming the stranger is a practice of great spiritual importance, "since Leviticus reminds us, 'The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God' (Lev 19:34). Loving the resident alien thus becomes the reenactment of the Exodus story and the revelation of Israel's identity. So too, the Christian follows Jesus' exodus to the Father by becoming neighbor to the anawim in the way (hodos) of discipleship (Luke 10:33)."

"I would like to end by quoting the late John Paul II (Annual Message for World Migration Day 1996), who spoke rather similarly:

""For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. 'What have you done to your brother?' (Cf. Gen 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity. ... Man, particularly if he is weak, defenseless, driven to the margins of society, is a sacrament of Christ's presence (cf. Mt 25:40, 45)."

"It would seem that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is acting in accordance with Catholic tradition. May God bless the Conference's efforts."

Well said, Neil.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Little Something Old-Fashioned...

...and suitable for frequent use:

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe all the truths that the Holy Catholic Church believes and teaches; I believe these truths, O Lord, because Thou, the infallible Truth, hast revealed them to her; in this faith I am resolved to live and die. Amen.

Monday, May 09, 2005

More on the Illinois Pharmacy Controversy

The Rainbow Sash Movement is lobbying to deny freedom of conscience to Catholic pharmacists in Illinois.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Something for Catholic Bloggers to Bear in Mind

Nunblog today points to a link we'd all, as Catholic bloggers, do well to read frequently. It's John Paul the Great's message for the 39'th [January 2005] World Communications Day, entitled "The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Among Peoples." Here's the link.

Here's the concluding paragraph - how delightful to hear once again that man's unmistakeable voice:

"My prayer on this year’s World Communications Day is that the men and women of the media will play their part in breaking down the dividing walls of hostility in our world, walls that separate peoples and nations from one another, feeding misunderstanding and mistrust. May they use the resources at their disposal to strengthen the bonds of friendship and love that clearly signal the onset of the Kingdom of God here on earth."


Excerpts from Pope Benedict's Homily Today at St. John Lateran

"The pope isn't an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and his word."

The Pope "must not proclaim his own ideas, but ever link himself and the church to obedience to the word of God when faced with all attempts of adaptation or of watering down, as with all opportunism."

quoted from the Washington Post. Full text not yet posted on Vatican web site.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

John Paul the Great's Legacy

Oswald Sobrino's Catholic Analysis blog today links to an outstanding, very substantial essay on the legacy of Pope John Paul the Great.

Apply as Necessary

It's not about what I want. To the extent that I succeed in making it about what I want apart from what God wills, ironically, I steer myself toward meaninglessness and frustration, the very outcomes I could never want. Further, although my feelings may be a reliable guide to what I want in the short run, they do not reliably inform me about God's beneficent will, which is the only reliable guide to attaining the state of happiness and human fulfillment which is my ultimate desire.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Obfuscation

A Copley News Service article notes that Chicago's Cardinal Archishop George has called on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich "to rescind his directive that pharmacists must sell contraceptives, including the morning-after pill, even if the sale goes against their personal beliefs."

The Governor, in an amazing non-sequitur, replied, "I believe that if you're a pharmacist and you've made a decision to sell birth control and contraceptives, once you've made that decision, then you're in no position to decide who might or might not be someone you sell it to."

The issue here is not that Catholic pharmacists wish to sell morning-after pills to some people, but not to others. The Governor completely mis-states the case, either through astonishing verbal and analytic ineptitude, or utter dishonesty.

Why One Non-Believer is Rooting for the Religious Right

Incisive 2

"How little can I get away with believing and still be considered a card-carrying Christian? This attitude might be described as the liberal Protestant disease." - from the blog "Pontifications"

Incisive

"Here and there, people would enquire after modernity, not after truth, and make what was contemporary the measure of all they did." - British Dominican Father Adrian Nichols, writing of Pope Benedict's concern about misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council as a young theologian.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Hilarious Real-Life Dialogue About the New Pope

Don't miss this from the "Be Not Afraid" weblog, link discovered courtesy of Amy Welborn's "Open Book" blog.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"Forgotten Teachings of the Council"

This excellent column by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin is especially timely given Pope Benedict's expressed committment to carrying out the mandates of the Second Vatican Council. I suspect that Bishop Tobin and the Pope are of one mind concerning these matters.

Cardinal Archbishop Francis George on "The Religion of the Day"

This address, from 1999, parallels many of the concerns expressed in the column about Cardinal Newman mentioned below.

An excerpt:

"Instead of understanding Vatican II as a limited accommodation to modernity for the sake of evangelizing the modern world, the liberal project seems often to interpret the council as a mandate to change whatever in the church clashes with modern society. To caricature somewhat, the project both for ecclesial renewal and for mission in the world takes its cues from the editorial page of the New York Times or, even worse, USA Today. The church provides motivation and troops to meet the world's agenda as defined by the world. This is a dead end, because the church's mission would then have nothing original to contribute to the world's self-understanding. This is not to say that many so-called "gospel values" or semina verbi are not to be found on the editorial pages of the New York Times, or even USA Today; it is to say that God's ways are not our ways and that the greatest contribution the church makes to the world is to preach gospel truths in ways that, inevitably, will both comfort and confront any society in which she takes up Christ's mission.

"Behind the crisis of visible authority or governance in a liberal church lies a crisis of truth. In a popular liberal society, freedom is the primary value and the government is not supposed to tell its citizens how to think. The cultural fault line lies in a willingness to sacrifice even the gospel truth in order to safeguard personal freedom construed as choice. Using sociology of knowledge and the hermeneutics of suspicion, modern liberals interpret dogmas which affront current cultural sensibilities as the creation of celibate males eager to keep a grasp on power rather than as the work of the Holy Spirit guiding the successors of the Apostles. The bishops become the successors of the Sanhedrin and the church, at best, is the body of John the Baptist, pointing to a Jesus not yet risen from the dead and, therefore, a role model or prophet but not a savior. Even Jesus' being both male and celibate is to be forgotten or denied once the risen Christ can be reworked into whomever or whatever the times demand. Personal experience becomes the criterion for deciding whether or not Jesus is my savior, a point where liberal Catholics and conservative Protestants seem to come to agreement, even if they disagree on what salvation really means. Liberal culture discovers victims more easily than it recognizes sinners; and victims don't need a savior so much as they need to claim their rights.

"All this is not only a dead end, it is a betrayal of the Lord, no matter the good intentions of those espousing these convictions. The call to personal conversion, which is at the heart of the gospel, has been smothered by a pillow of accommodation. The project for a liberal Catholic church is as unoriginal as the project for a liberal reinterpretation of the mission for the church. A church, all of whose ministries, construed only functionally, are open to any of the baptized; a church unwilling to say that all homosexual genital relations are morally wrong; a church which at least makes some allowance for abortion when necessary to assure a mother's freedom; a church accepting contraception as moral within marriage and prudent outside of marriage; a church willing to admit the sacramentally married to a second marriage in complete sacramental communion; a church whose teaching has to stand the acid test of modern criticism and personal acceptance in order to have not just credibility but legitimacy-there is nothing new in all this. It already exists, but outside the Catholic church."

John Henry Newman on "The Religion of the Day"

Here's a fine column by Fr. Bob Sprott, OFM. Thanks to nunblog for publishing the link.

A sample:

"As in previous ages, here in the modern world there turns out to be not much difference between what people would believe anyway, with no religious influence at all, and what they believe by adopting the religion of the day. In other words, the religion of the day takes what is quite “natural” by the dictates and demands of the prevailing culture and simply gives it a patina of religious sen-timent and a dash of religious vocabulary, and passes it off as the true heart of the gospel, what Christ would really be about if he were here now, and what Christians today would really be about if they could but free themselves from the dead hand of the past."