The Mask of Relativism – by Edward Sri
Edward Sri <email@example.com>
The Mask of Relativism – by Edward Sri
Edward Sri <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Note: My learned EWTN “Papal Posse” colleague, Fr. Murray, dissects today a phenomenon all too common in the Church just now – Churchmen who, on the basis of no one knows what, casually change Catholic teaching and practice. He directs us back to the saving and safe reality of truth. This is something that, in one way or another, we try to do every day at The Catholic Thing. Our fund drive is doing well so far and thanks again to all of you who have made generous contributions to this work. Let me remind the rest of you that we rely on reader support for a lot of what we’re able to bring you every day. If you can’t make a serious donation right now, you could certainly set up a monthly gift of $5, $10, $25, $50, or more. In some ways that helps us even more since it allows us to plan in light of the resources we’ll have during the rest of the year. It’s not brain surgery or rocket science. Please, click the Donate button and add your support to the defense and preservation of Catholic truth. – Robert Royal
Does reality matter? Is it the decisive and necessary reference point for discovering what is and what is not, what is true and what is false? Or is reality subject to revision based one’s preferences, desires, or some other factor? These questions come to mind when we consider the astounding report concerning remarks made by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio on the question of the validity of Anglican orders. According to Christopher Lamb in The Tablet, Coccopalmerio characterized the Church’s teaching on the question of Anglican orders as follows: “We have had, and we still have a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context’.”
The Cardinal speculates on the doctrinal implications of past papal gestures of friendship and respect, stating: “What does it mean when Pope Paul VI gave a chalice to the Archbishop of Canterbury? If it was to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, it was meant to be done validly, no?” He continues: “This is stronger than the pectoral cross, because a chalice is used not just for drinking but for celebrating the Eucharist. With these gestures, the Catholic Church already intuits, recognizes a reality.”
These remarks are published in a new book, whose title is not given by Lamb, presenting the contents of a meeting of the Malines Conversation Group held near Rome in April of this year. Vatican Radio covered the meeting, noting the participation of Cardinal Coccopalmerio. The Vatican Radio story included comments by Fr. Tony Currer of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Regarding Anglican orders he comments: “I think it’s true to say we don’t use the language of ‘null and void’ any more,” as that’s “clearly not what is spoken by the gestures, generosity, and warmth which we see time and time again.”
Validity is another word for reality when speaking about the sacraments. The Church teaches clearly what is necessary for the valid – that is, true and real – celebration of the sacraments. By invoking the pejorative buzzword “rigid understanding” regarding validity and invalidity, Coccopalmerio reduces the Church’s determination of what counts as a valid sacrament to the expression of a psychologically unhealthy attitude rooted in ignorance or irrational fear.
The question of validity is simple: Does the Church consider an Anglican ordination to be a valid administration of the sacrament of Holy Orders? The answer is no, as determined authoritatively by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Apostolicae Curae. Anglican ordination does not make a man into a Catholic priest. That determination is objective, grounded in a careful and reasoned study of the history, doctrines and practice of both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
Coccopalmerio also states: “When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’.” The choice presented in this statement is that at an Anglican ordination either a man is validly ordained a priest, or that nothing happened. But there is a third possibility: Anglican ordination results in someone becoming an Anglican priest, not a Catholic priest.
The Church teaches that such an ordination is not a valid Catholic ordination. The man ordained in an Anglican ceremony does not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. The sacrament of Holy Orders is not administered. (I leave aside the question of Anglicans ordained by bishops who themselves received valid episcopal consecration by Orthodox or Old Catholic bishops.)
Coccopalmerio and Currer apparently resist this truth. The Cardinal claims that the Papal gift of a chalice to the Archbishop of Canterbury means that Pope Paul VI considered the Anglican Communion Service to be a valid celebration of Mass because “it was meant to be done validly.” But Pope Paul never said what Coccopalmerio infers. A gesture does not equal a doctrinal pronouncement.
Fr. Currer claims that “we don’t use the language of ‘null and void’ anymore.” If by “we” he means the Catholic Church, he is wrong. Pope Leo XIII’s determination has never been rejected by any of his successors. The fact that Fr. Currer and others are unhappy that Anglican orders were found to be null and void is evident. Currer’s dissatisfaction with this exercise of the papal magisterium does not, however, mean that the Church no longer upholds the invalidity of Anglican orders.
Coccopalmerio seeks to dismiss the objective truth of what constitutes sacramental validity in the Catholic Church by making it changeable according to a “context.” Is this not relativism plain and simple? The Cardinal does not claim here that the criteria for determining the validity or invalidity of the administration of Holy Orders were misapplied by Leo XIII when he examined Anglican orders. (Perhaps he addresses this question elsewhere in his published remarks.) He simply says that those criteria should not apply because they are “rigid.” Pope Leo XIII’s determination that Anglican orders are invalid is maligned as rigid when one does not like the particular truth in question. One man’s rigidity is another man’s solidity. Is the Church stubborn or steadfast in this matter? I would say She is both. That is what the truth requires regardless of any context. If She made a huge mistake here, what else will be put on the chopping block?
Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote in his essay The Dethronement of Truth: “Disrespect for truth – when not merely a theoretical thesis, but a lived attitude – patently destroys all morality, even all reasonability and all community life. All objective norms are dissolved by this attitude of indifference toward truth; so also is the possibility of resolving any discussion or controversy objectively. Peace among individuals or nations and all trust in other persons are impossible as well. The very basis of a really human life is subverted.”
Truth is cast aside at our great peril. END QUOTES
God or Nothing
If you had a choice between God and nothing, which would it be? The answer is obvious. But given the option “God or something,” many of us will choose something besides God. This is really a senseless choice, though, because in comparison with God even the greatest thing is nothing. This is the ultimatum that Robert Cardinal Sarah presents to us in his book God or Nothing.
You may not have heard of Cardinal Sarah (pronounced Sa-RAH), but he is head of one of the major dicasteries in Rome. He’s an outspoken advocate for the family and a man of prayer and simplicity. I had the honor of hearing him speak recently at the 2016 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which was attended by about 1,000 Catholics from the DC area. Cardinal Sarah closed his keynote address with the phrase “God or nothing,” referencing his book and putting our cultural struggles in perspective. In the end, all that matters is that we choose God and give other people the opportunity to do the same.
By putting this point front and center, Cardinal Sarah reinforced what House Speaker Paul Ryan said in an address at the same event: the purpose of our society, culture, work, family life, and religious freedom is to allow us to choose God. Mr. Ryan, much to the pleasure of the Dominicans in attendance, opened with a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas: “It should be known that all right-thinking men make contemplation of God the end of human life” (from the opening of the commentary on Lombard’s Sentences). What seems useless in the march of everyday family and work activities, viz. praying to God, is actually the reason that we do those other things. It’s not that work, family, and other activities are bad, but that we should choose them for the sake of God, so that in Heaven we can contemplate God together with all the saints. God is the one thing that can make us happy, because He is not a “thing” that is part of creation, but the infinite Creator who both exists outside creation and sustains it at every moment. If you want to read more about the types of happiness people strive for, St. Thomas gives an overview in the Summa Theologiae (I-II q. 2). His conclusion is that only God can satisfy the human heart (see article eight of the Summa link).
By pointing to God as the purpose of all things, Cardinal Sarah and Mr. Ryan gave a fresh perspective on religious freedom. Threats to the exercise of religion and its influence in the public square not only attack Catholics as Catholics, but limit our ability to share the Gospel and provide the conditions of happiness for everyone. Our belief that God is the end of all human activity and the one thing that can make us happy means that outside of the Catholic faith, perfect happiness is simply not possible. If we cannot spread the good news that Jesus Christ has opened the way to God for us, then we cannot share the only real possibility for happiness.
Cardinal Sarah reminded us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare with the forces of darkness. He called gender ideology “demonic,” a term that seems too strong for many. How do we understand this? Sarah had written in his book:
Why this frenzied desire to impose gender theory? An anthropological vision that was unknown a few years ago, the product of the strange thought of a few sociologists and writers like Michel Foucault, should suddenly become the world’s new El Dorado? It is impossible to remain complacent in the presence of such an immoral and demonic deception. . . . The chief enemies of homosexual persons are the LGBT lobbies. It is a serious error to reduce an individual to his behavior, especially sexual behavior.
Such an ideology wants to remove faith from people’s lives and propose alternative paths to happiness. Similarly, in his breakfast talk, Cardinal Sarah said that this gender ideology is demonic because the demons are envious that humans have the chance to reach Heaven, and want to keep us away from God. By helping promote cultural ideologies that make faith irrelevant or characterize it as discriminatory, the demons are trying to shut us out of Heaven. This means that when we stand up for the truth, we should start in prayer and rely on God’s help against these foes. By trusting in Jesus’ victory over all His adversaries, we can have the courage to face our human opponents and pray for their conversion. After all, we want them to be able to obtain happiness in God alongside us!
In prayer, we can see the struggles and frustrations of American political and cultural life from God’s perspective. With the gifts of faith and understanding, we will be able to see that nothing compares to the greatness of God. Any time we are tempted to choose a way of life without reference to God, or to let our neighbor do so with only a shrug of our shoulders, we can remember Cardinal Sarah’s wisdom: it is not a choice between God and something, but between God and nothing.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Dominicana, the Dominican student blog of the Province of St. Joseph, and is reprinted here with kind permission. END QUOTES
Br. Norbert Keliher entered the Order of Preachers in 2012. He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he studied Latin and Greek. Before entering the order, he spent a year teaching in New York City and a year studying theology at Notre Dame.
Rebuilding Catholic Culture. Restoring Catholic Tradition.
Catholic: What It Means, Past, Present, Future
What does “Catholic” really mean?
In order to answer that question, to the benefit of Catholic and non-Catholic alike, I’d like to examine the core distinguishing elements of catholicity. I hope to reveal the inner logic of the word, which is the unity of the people of God in all eras, in every place, in dogma and worship, and in life and death.
Apart from Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9, which uses a similar phrase, “Catholic” is first used to describe the Church by St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the apostles Peter, Paul, and John, who died a martyr in Rome around A.D. 107.
Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
Since St. Ignatius presents the term without explanation, it is reasonable to take this title or mark of the Church as apostolic. From this point on, the Church is called Catholic by many early Church Fathers, including Irenaeus, Cyprian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine of Hippo, and many others, in a variety of different contexts. Augustine speaks of the Catholic community in each city being so notoriously unique that everyone knew who they were, though by this time many heretical sects claimed the title of Christian.
Grammatically, the Greek word καθολικός means “according to the whole,” or more popularly, “universal.” With the transition in the European and west African regions from Greek to Latin in the third century, the Latin equivalent catholicus began to be used as a proper name for that papal, episcopal, clerical, monastic, and lay society present in every city and region and organized around the city of Rome.
The most important reference to the catholicity of the Church is in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, in which belief in the Church and her identity is made an article of faith equally important to and dependent on the divinity and activity of the Holy Spirit. From the original Greek:
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
The simplest and most enduring sense in which the Church is Catholic is hierarchically. The whole and complete Church, the Church that is truly universal, is the one ruled by the pope and governed in every city by bishops in communion with him, because she stands united under a single authority and listens to one voice: that of Christ, far above the din of political schemes, cultural and national quarrels, and ecclesiastical disagreements. This is the sense best understood today, and in this respect, being Catholic means embracing the pope’s communion; being subject to his lawful commands; listening to and obeying that bishop who rules in union with him; and most importantly, believing all that has formally issued from the Chair of Peter in every century.
The Church is also Catholic in the unity of its parts within the whole. As a society spread throughout the world, she holds one and the same faith in every place. She worships with one voice and makes one solemn sacrifice, though in many rites, and she listens to one teaching authority. Despite the fact the Church adapts herself to every nation and culture, she first baptizes them and then infuses them with one wisdom: Christ. Because of this, one region and another must exhibit visible unity in prayer, sacraments, and doctrine. The Latin rite cannot appear substantially different from the Greek rite, nor can Greek doctrine differ substantially from Roman. Each rite and tradition challenges the others to remain faithful to the Holy Spirit, the invisible soul of the visible Church. This principle emphatically excludes the practice of offering the sacrifice of the Mass in whatever style or liturgical orientation one pleases and casts doubt on the wisdom of reforming the text and especially the ars celebrandi of the Mass, not to mention the divine office and the other six sacraments. No less does it exclude the habit of some Greek rite Catholics and nearly all Greek Orthodox of pretending that disunity in dogmatic theology is legitimate diversity.
Is this all that it is to be Catholic? Far from it! On the contrary, the most important aspects of catholicity are invisible. Catholic unity at its heart is the unity of the Holy Trinity. It is the unity of the Son of God with His human nature, which He received by the gracious fiat of Mary, mother of God and of us all. It is the unity of the whole Church, the Body of Christ, with its head, Jesus.
Lastly, it is the unity of all His members in every time, both living and dead, so that “God may be all in all” and that we “may be one” as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are, and that “neither death nor life will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28, John 17:21, Rom. 8:38-39). Moreover, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
In the final analysis, Christ is the Church, and the Church is Christ, and the Church embraces as her members all the righteous patriarchs and prophets of the Old Covenant freed from limbo by Christ’s harrowing of Hades. One Holy Spirit speaks of one holy God in one holy Church from Adam to today. In the words of St. Ignatius:
[Christ] is the door of the Father, by which enter in Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the Church. All these have for their object the attaining to the unity of God. But the gospel possesses something transcendent: the appearance of our Lord, Jesus Christ, His passion and resurrection. For the beloved prophets announced Him, but the gospel is the perfection of immortality. All these things are good together, if you believe in love.
These principles mean that the Church militant, the Church triumphant, and the Church suffering all constitute one body whose members enjoy one communion of saints. This is why we invoke the names of our departed over the consecrated gifts at the Mass and seek the prayers of the martyrs and saints in heaven, confident that we can both help and be helped by those who no longer sojourn with us.
Moreover, because the one Church is as old as humanity, and because one Spirit “has spoken through the prophets in one apostolic Church,” the ritual of the sacrifice of the Mass, the celebration of the sacraments, and the hierarchical constitution of the Church militant are foreshadowed in the Levitical ordinances imposed on the Hebrews by Christ through Moses. With the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem forty years after our God’s resurrection and thirty years before the death of his apostle John, Christ’s sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist displaces and fulfills all the Levitical sacrifices and is that worship that infallibly pleases God and is offered to his name by every nation.
According to the prophet Malachi:
From the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof my name has been glorified among the gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the gentiles, saith the Lord Almighty.
With this broad vision, and knowing we worship the God of the prophets, Jesus Christ our Lord, the necessity of liturgical continuity with the past becomes blindingly evident. If the Catholic Church is prophesied by and foreshadowed in the Hebrew people, our worship is temple worship and should exceed the glory of the Levitical cult in Solomon’s temple, inasmuch as “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). The mystical liturgical cult of our Church is foreshadowed in temple, tabernacle, and ultimately the garden of Eden, and brought to its fulfillment on that sacred night when Christ our Lord took the sacrifices of Melchizedek, gave thanks to His Father through them, transubstantiated them into Himself, and offered Himself under those signs in anticipation of his crucifixion and resurrection.
In conclusion, then, I’ll leave you with the fulfillment of Malachi’s words in Christ’s covenant, in the words of the Roman canon, which dates to the first century after Nicaea:
Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed passion, the resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy bread of eternal life and the chalice of everlasting salvation. Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim. End Quotes
Pope Francis in Fatima: “If we want to be Christian, we must be Marian”
On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, the pope addresses thousands of pilgrims gathered in Fatima
FATIMA — “If we want to be Christian, we must be Marian,” Pope Francis told thousands of clergy, religious and lay pilgrims on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearance to three children in Fatima.
Addressing pilgrims at the Chapel of the Apparitions, the pope said being Marian means “we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him.”
Silence and prayer pervaded the Marian shrine, as thousands of clergy, religious and lay faithful gathered for a blessing of candles and the pope’s address, followed by the recitation of the Holy Rosary in various languages, including Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish, Ukrainian, Italian, Korean, English, French, German and Polish.
The Chapel of the Apparitions is a small chapel located in Cova da Iria that was constructed in the 1920s to mark the exact location where the the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children.
It was built in response to the request of Our Lady to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco: “I want you to make a chapel here in my honor.”
On Saturday, May 13, Pope Francis will canonize two of the Fatima visionaries, brother and sister Francisco and Jacinta Marto, on the 100th anniversary of the first apparition in 1917.
Here below is the official English text of Pope Francis’ first address in Fatima.
Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis
Vigil at the Chapel of the Apparitions
May 12, 2017
Dear Pilgrims to Mary and with Mary!
Thank you for your welcome and for joining me on this pilgrimage of hope and peace. Even now, I want to assure all of you who are united with me, here or elsewhere, that you have a special place in my heart. I feel that Jesus has entrusted you to me (cf. Jn 21:15-17), and I embrace all of you and commend you to Jesus, “especially those most in need” – as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July, 1917). May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord’s blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26).
This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary. With Christ and Mary, we abide in God. Indeed, “if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him” (PAUL VI, Address at the Shine of Our Lady of Bonaria, Cagliari, 24 April 1970). Each time we recite the rosary, in this holy place or anywhere else, the Gospel enters anew into the life of individuals, families, peoples and the entire world.
Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the “narrow way” of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady “unapproachable” and impossible to imitate? A woman “blessed because she believed” always and everywhere in God’s words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a “plaster statue” from whom we beg favors at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?
Great injustice is done to God’s grace whenever we say that sins are punished by his judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by his mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy. Obviously, God’s mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment. He did not deny sin, but redeemed it on the cross. Hence, in the faith that unites us to the cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn 4:18). “Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her, we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong, who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves… This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization” (Ap. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 288). With Mary, may each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything.
Hand in hand with the Virgin Mother, and under her watchful gaze, may we come to sing with joy the mercies of the Lord, and cry out: “My soul sings to you, Lord!” The mercy you have shown to all your saints and all your faithful people, you have also shown to me. Out of the pride of my heart, I went astray, following my own ambitions and interests, without gaining any crown of glory! My one hope of glory, Lord, is this: that your Mother will take me in her arms, shelter me beneath her mantle, and set me close to your heart. Amen. END QUOTES
A Czech Philosopher Comes to the Defense of Truth
In contrast to lie or error, truth is usually understood as an idea that corresponds to reality (or the quality of such an idea), and the existence and accessibility of truth is taken for granted. But the gap between common sense and “critical thinking” concerning truth is very wide. Modern philosophers have explored the obstacles that prevent us from achieving certain, objective, and universal knowledge of reality and concluded that the assumptions of common sense are highly questionable. So is truth done away with? Not at all—but one has to be extremely careful to avoid the traps.
To express ideas, we need words, and the meaning of words is far from static. Every language conveys a certain perception of the world and historical experiences of a community that cannot be perfectly expressed in another language; the understanding of words can change over time and vary with individual speakers. If we cast a critical eye on reality itself, we find that it is not as “real” as one might expect. One just needs to look around to see that things (including ourselves) are always changing. This observation has led to the ancient/modern idea that the unchanging essence of things is an illusion. We are told that nothing is a given, not even human nature—modern man substantially differs from the ancient or medieval man. If reality is not fixed, it cannot be described by unchanging truths; on the contrary, it would mean that all “truths” necessarily evolve.
The most serious problem relates to correspondence. How can ideas correspond to reality? Influential modern philosophers say there is an abyss between our minds and the world (if it exists at all). We perceive the world through our senses, without any guarantee that we are not deceived, and reason probably distorts reality by applying templates to it. Even if we know with certainty that man can think, man’s thinking may be completely subjective. These philosophers say that all we have are subjective images and experiences or some constructions of our reason; moreover, reason (the ability to attain true knowledge) and freedom (which is a necessary condition for achieving true knowledge) cannot be proven. This would mean that cognizance is based on faith: since first axioms are uncertain, rational knowledge is an illusion.
All these objections against truth have led to relativism: the view that the validity of all ideas is limited. We do not know reality as it is, only as it appears to us through our senses. Every era, culture or individual sees the world from different perspectives, there is no universal standard to compare them, and nothing is certain. To claim otherwise would be a sign of pride and intolerance. It would be absurd to say that some beliefs are wrong or that a certain religion is closer to truth than others. However, relativism obviously contradicts itself. It states that there are no certain, objective and unchanging truths while claiming certainty, objectivity, and universal validity for itself. Is there a solution to this embarrassing situation?
The contemporary Czech philosopher Jiří Fuchs offers a solution called “noetics” that he discusses at length in his book Illusions of Sceptics (2016). He claims it is a mistake to ask “how” before knowing “if.”Modern philosophers have asked how cognizance works and concluded that achieving objective, certain, and universally valid knowledge that corresponds to reality is impossible. But the appropriate starting point is to ask, “Does truth exist at all?” In other words, is true knowledge accessible to us? A negative answer leads to contradictions. If there is no true knowledge, it is impossible to present the statement, “There is no true knowledge,” as true. If one says that there is no truth, they explicitly deny what they implicitly claim. But why do contradictions pose a problem? Fuchs explains that the principle of non-contradiction is not an arbitrary law, but rather an inevitable condition of thinking. A contradiction paralyses thinking, introduces ambiguity (something is and is not at the same time), and therefore annihilates itself. Attempts have been made to bypass the law of non-contradiction by suggesting that on a higher level, contrary statements can create a synthesis. However widely accepted these apologies of contradiction may be, they are a failure. They inevitably claim what they deny. In order to present a statement as true, it is necessary to avoid ambiguity and to claim objectivity, certainty, and universality, regardless of the “level of thinking.” A contradictory statement simply cannot be thought.
If a negative answer is impossible, we are left with a positive one—truth exists. But this is not yet a victory of truth, but rather the beginning of a battle. It is necessary to refute objections which seem fatal. One of them is aimed at the essence of truth, i.e., correspondence between thinking and reality. Fuchs admits that the “exteriorizing” concept of correspondence which seeks to align a statement and the part of reality that it describes actually uncovers an unsurpassable gap between them. In order to decide if a statement is true (it corresponds to reality), we would have to express its relationship (correspondence) to reality by another statement, whose relationship to reality would be described by another statement, etc. We would be left with an unlimited number of statements whose truth would disappear into an infinite distance. Therefore, truth must be sought elsewhere: within a statement itself. Correspondence in this sense means that the predicate adequately describes the subject, or “corresponds” to it. The subject of a statement represents an object (reality), and the predicate represents what is known about it (thinking).
This view of correspondence is in conflict with the nominalist approach to concepts, which states that concepts are just names that do not and cannot really grasp the objects that they are used for. But Fuchs points out that this would lead us back to contradiction and annihilation. If concepts or general terms do not correctly identify their objects, it is impossible to present the nominalist statement (or any statement) as true. Nominalists use general terms and inevitably assume that they identify their objects (“thinking,” “knowledge,” “names”) correctly. The only acceptable solution is realism, which does not necessarily mean that general terms really exist in a world of their own, but rather that they do convey substantial characteristics of objects. Even if we do not know how this is possible.
Another objection states that trying to prove truth as a value of thinking is circular reasoning. The instrument and object (i.e., reason) are identical. Fuchs admits that this is the greatest danger in the discussion on truth. It is indeed necessary to presume that true knowledge is possible, from the first moment of any argument. So are we critical enough if we cannot set this assumption aside? To clarify this, it is necessary to define what circular reasoning is and why it disqualifies as a proof. To prove something means bringing it to evidence using premises that have been previously confirmed. If the conclusion is one of the premises, nothing has been proven. However, in Fuchs’ argument, the existence of truth is not used as one of the premises. The basic requirement of critical thinking is to call everything into question. It would be a mistake to say that critical thinking requires that we set aside everything that has not been proven, in other words to regard everything uncertain as false. The appropriate approach to this delicate problem of truth is to keep in mind that nothing is certain at the beginning, including the law of non-contradiction and the existence of truth. So one can use truth “as an instrument” from the beginning and verify its existence later in the procedure without violating the requirements of critical thinking.
To conclude, thinking is only possible if the following is true: the principle of non-contradiction is valid, things have a fixed essence, and concepts convey the characteristics of objects correctly. The understanding of truth as correspondence between thinking and reality cannot be avoided, and relativism that denies the possibility of universal, certain and objective knowledge must be rejected. In short, if we stay on the level of rational thinking, truth cannot be denied. This finding is indispensable for discerning fundamental errors which are prevalent in contemporary philosophy and theology. The simple rule that what contradicts itself cannot be true is a great aid for avoiding error and confirming the truth. END QUOTES
10 Ways to Increase Holiness in the Eucharist Father ED BROOM, OMV
All of us were created to make it to Heaven; and all of us should have an ardent desire to arrive there safely. In this essay we would like to present the short-cut, or if you like, the easiest way to make it to Heaven.
Making frequent and heroic sacrifices, trying and finishing novenas, making long and arduous pilgrimages, fasting Fridays and even on Wednesdays, giving up sweets, cookies and even our favorite television program—all of the above are most noble practices and are to be encouraged as steps in the right direction in our ardent pursuit of holiness and desire for Heaven.
However, despite these most noble efforts on our part, there is still something lacking that could pave our path smoothly on the highway to holiness. This is the key and the shortcut to holiness, to true happiness, and to heavenly bliss: fervently receiving Holy Communion!
By far, the greatest gesture that a human person can do is to receive Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. However, there are many ways that we can receive Jesus in Holy Communion, such as poorly, distracted, with little love and fervor, without any preparation and without thanksgiving, in a mediocre and lukewarm fashion, or worse yet, sacrilegiously, which means entering in a state of mortal sin.
The purpose of this essay is to avoid all of the above dispositions of heart in receiving our Eucharistic Lord in Holy Communion. On the contrary, every time we receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion we should desire to receive Him better and better until we make it to heaven.
Therefore, we will offer ten practical suggestions on how we can improve our reception of Holy Communion so as to make huge strides in our pursuit of holiness and eventually arrive at our eternal destiny: Heaven!
First and foremost, we must strengthen our faith in the reality of Jesus truly present in the most Holy Eucharist. If we do not cultivate our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host that we call the Eucharist, then it is possible to eventually lose our faith altogether. If we do not use our faith, we will lose it. Therefore, we should make this Biblical prayer, our prayer—Lord, strengthen our faith.
Our soul can be compared to a window pane. How easy it is for a window pane to become sullied from the dirt? It is even easier for our soul to become sullied due to sin. A good confession cleanses our souls and makes us more worthy and better disposed to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Receiving important guests is preceded by house-cleaning; likewise, before receiving Jesus—the Guest of our soul—we should apply ourselves to spiritual house cleaning, which means a good confession.
It might appear to be obvious, but arriving late for Mass can greatly damage the efficacy of our reception of Jesus, the Eucharistic Lord. For movies, sports events, graduation ceremonies, even restaurants and dining engagements, we all make an effort to arrive at least a few minutes early. Yet, when we are dealing with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we encounter Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, we can be most flippant and nonchalant, arriving late without any qualms of conscience. Let us be disciplined and arrive at least ten minutes early for Mass. Athletes arrive early before sports events to warm up; we should arrive early for Mass to shake the dust from our minds and hearts so as to enter into the spiritual milieu, and assume a contemplative mode.
It has to be said, due to an onslaught of paganism, that at all times we should dress according to the dignity of who we really are, sons and daughters of God and ambassadors of Christ. However, most especially this should be the case upon entering God’s sanctuary, drawing close to our three times holy God in the Tabernacle! Our dress is indicative of who we are, who we represent, and who we are to receive in Holy Mass.
In most Parish Masses there is a specific intention for whom the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. However, this does not negate the fact that we can offer our own personal intentions and these intentions can be countless. What could be some of the intentions we might offer? We will suggest three.
We can never go wrong in offering prayers, fasting, sacrifices, alms, but most especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the souls in Purgatory, especially the abandoned souls in Purgatory. These souls are saved, but must be purified of the sins that they did not do sufficient penance, prayer, and almsgiving to expiate in this life. In the Divine economy of salvation, God utilizes our prayers, Mass intentions and Holy Communions to help the souls in Purgatory arrive at total perfection of love and so arrive safely home in Heaven.
One of the most urgent desires of Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes was that we offer up prayers and sacrifices for the conversion and salvation of sinners. By far there is no greater sacrifice that we can offer than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our Holy Communions for the conversion of sinners and their eternal salvation!
The first person on our list of sinners should be ourselves! All of us are in dire need of conversion. In a certain sense, every time we receive Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ—we can really receive a HEART TRANSPLANT. In every Holy Communion we receive the total Christ, and that of course includes His Most Sacred Heart. May every reception of Holy Communion transform our hearts into the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
The way we receive Holy Communion is of paramount importance. Our exterior comportment should be of the greatest reverence: our hands should be folded and receiving Holy Communion should be preceded by some act of reverence. However, another key secret to receiving most fervent and fruitful Holy Communions is to beg Our Lady to give us her Immaculate Heart so as to receive her Son Jesus with great faith, love, fervor and devotion. Nobody ever received Jesus with greater love than His Mother, Mary most holy!
Last but not least, a word on the importance of thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion. The minutes after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion are the most important minutes in our lives! That is the time in which we have the Creator of the entire universe within the very depths of our heart, mind and soul! We should spend some quality time in thanksgiving after we receive the Eucharistic Lord.
We can simply close our eyes and tell Jesus that we love Him. We can pour out our hearts in thanksgiving. Or if we like, we can become like a beggar and implore the Lord for all that we need or what others might need. At times, we might even like to tell the Lord that we’re sorry for the times we have failed Him in the past. Finally, we might simply tell the Lord what is on our mind: our fears and insecurities, our plans and projects, and beg the Lord for His help and blessing. Blessed Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, stated that an excellent way to express thanksgiving after Mass could be the recitation of the most Holy Rosary.
And so we conclude our humble invitation to all to pursue holiness using a shortcut by means of striving with all the energy of our heart, mind and soul to receive Jesus in Holy Communion with fervor, devotion and love through the Heart of Mary.
“Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.”
One hundred years ago at a field in Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Virgin Mary spoke those words to three shepherd children. One thousand miles away, in the bloodstained fields of France, Europe’s proud empires counted hundreds of thousands of their youth killed and wounded in another battle vainly promised as the way to end the “war to end all wars.”
The great guns of World War I have fallen silent, but these words of Our Lady of the Rosary have endured. In this centenary year of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, as nations continue to teeter toward war and strife, Catholics have been making a stronger effort to spread the devotion of the Rosary as a powerful way for men and women to draw close to Jesus Christ and convert the world.
“The message of Fatima is more relevant today than in 1917,” David Carollo, executive director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, also known as the “Blue Army,” told the Register. While the world no longer faces the prospect of Soviet communism, Carollo said many nations throughout the world are succumbing to spiritual annihilation through atheistic secularism.
The Blue Army has many different activities worldwide in 2017 to spread the Rosary devotion and awareness of Our Lady’s message at Fatima — which began on May 13, 1917 — that people turn away from their sins, do penance and draw close to Jesus. It has produced a Fatima documentary as well as a 13-part miniseries with EWTN (the Register’s parent company), called Fatima: Hope for the World, as well as another one-hour documentary with EWTN. (See Fatima-related coverage in “TV Picks” on page B3.)
The Blue Army also has a campaign to bring the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue to 100 dioceses in the U.S. to commemorate the 100 years of Our Lady’s apparition. It intends to extend the campaign into 2018, so all 195 U.S. dioceses and eparchies can participate.
“We want Our Lady to regain her dominion over this country and turn things around,” he said. “That’s really what it is all about.”
‘So Many Blessings’
The America Needs Fatima campaign of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has also planned 5,000 Rosary rallies for May 13, to commemorate the start of the Marian apparition, and another 20,000 Rosary rallies nationwide for Oct. 14, the day following the 100th anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima. The organization aims to distribute two million rosaries to commemorate the Fatima events and spread the Marian devotion.
Our Lady of Fatima parish in Lakewood, Colorado, spearheaded a major campaign in May 2015 to invite Catholics to pray one million Rosaries by Oct. 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the final Fatima apparition. The campaign has drawn participants from across the nation and around the world and surpassed its goal March 31.
Its “Fatima Centennial” site has a Rosary counter that shows how many Rosaries have been offered as part of the campaign. The new goal is to have two million Rosaries prayed by the October centenary, according to Mary Herzogenrath, the parish’s volunteer coordinator.
“We’re just stunned since we made the campaign,” she told the Register, of the response.
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Herzogenrath added, has greatly supported the parish’s efforts to spread the message of Fatima about the Rosary. The archbishop, she said, obtained permission from the Vatican to declare a “Fatima Pilgrimage Year” and consecrate a holy door at Our Lady of Fatima parish. Pilgrims who visit the parish and enter through the holy door, carved by a local Catholic craftsman, can obtain a special plenary indulgence. The pilgrimage year ends Oct. 29, when the archbishop will close the holy door. Almost 300 groups have come on pilgrimage so far, and as many as 700 groups are already registered to come to the church as pilgrims. “There are so many blessings coming out of this,” Herzogenrath said.
History of the Rosary
The practice of the Rosary in the Catholic Church has had both “ups and downs” over the past 100 years since the Fatima apparitions, according to Father Donald Calloway, a Marian of the Immaculate Conception and author of Champions of the Rosary, a comprehensive history of the devotion from the 12th century to the present day.
“We’re in a good period of the Rosary being promoted and prayed,” he told the Register. The Rosary devotion had suffered in the 1960s and ’70s, he said, but in seminaries today, it is highly common to see young men pray it faithfully.
Father Calloway explained the Rosary is a private devotion that serves as “a supplement” to the higher public prayer prayed by the Church’s members: the Divine Liturgy — the Mass — and the Liturgy of the Hours, such as matins and vespers. “It comes from the liturgy and leads us back to the liturgy,” he said. The Rosary began as a way for Catholics to join themselves spiritually to the monks chanting the Psalms and was known in St. Dominic’s time as “Mary’s Psalter”: The 15 decades of Hail Marys, with each decade separated by an Our Father, represented the 150 Psalms.
All the mysteries of the Rosary, Father Calloway explained, put the New Testament on “a set of beads” and help a person make a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where they can contemplate the life of Jesus Christ and how to imitate him.
“What the Rosary does is reconnect us to Our Lord. And it is a sacramental which leads us to a changed way of life,” he said.
One of his favorite examples of the Rosary’s power to produce real change of heart is Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926), a fallen-away Catholic who became a Satanic priest before he came back to the Church.
Blessed Bartolo later founded a pontifical basilica dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii and was dubbed the “Apostle of the Rosary” by St. John Paul II.
A Heavenly Peace Plan
The 2017 Fatima centenary shares some historical parallels with 1917 that underline the renewed urgency of Our Lady of the Rosary’s message at Fatima.
When Our Lady appeared to Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Servant of God Lucia dos Santos, it took place on the eighth day of Benedict XV’s novena to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, after the Holy Father’s pleas for conversion, reconciliation and peace were rejected by the world.
Pope Francis, who daily practices the 15-decade Rosary and calls it “the prayer of simple people and saints,” has declared repeatedly World War III is being fought “piecemeal” with conflicts all over the globe, particularly in the Middle East. The Fatima centenary follows the Jubilee Year of Mercy, in which the Holy Father also proclaimed an “invitation to conversion.”
Carollo expected that Pope Francis’ canonization of Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco in May would spur renewed attention to the Blessed Mother’s call for conversion and penitence through the Rosary as the path to peace.
But he pointed out the Church in the past has been slow to embrace Our Lady’s message: World War I was followed by World War II, and Russia spread atheistic communism all over the globe, making it necessary for St. John Paul II to consecrate the entire world to the Immaculate Heart in 1984.
But Carollo said he has no doubt that the Rosary has helped prevent “worse things from happening.”
Five years after St. John Paul II’s consecration of the world, the Soviet Union fell. Carollo said the world needs to embrace Our Lady’s “peace plan from heaven.”
“When enough people truly understand it, we’ll attain that era of peace that was promised and bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.” END QUOTES
Called, Chosen & Blessed
A reflection by Patrick Miron
Sometimes in a private and reflective moment I ponder the disparity; the poverty of right-understanding, so evident in the Protestant camps when compared to Catholicism; fully understood and practiced..
The Bible, which as we know, or could know, is a Catholic Book. It was the early Catholic Fathers that guided by the Holy Spirit, selected the Old Testament text to be included, and it was in the age of Jesus’ visitation that the entire New Testament was authored, again inspired by Catholics through the Holy Spirit. So it ought not from a purely logical perspective, be a surprise that it is the Roman Catholic Church alone who is enabled, guided and protected in Her translations of it.
The evidence of this ought to be self-evident in the fact that after 2,000 years, those Churches identified with the RCC, still have but one single set of faith beliefs. While the more recent 500 year old; Reformation birthed churches; each identified by its own freely chosen set of “faith beliefs, have an ever growing number of churches in their multiplicity & diversity of “faith–beliefs.” And in doing so are factually denying “TRUTH”, which can be nothing other than singular per defined issue, leading them to ignore even basic logic. For even God cannot hold more than a single set of faith beliefs. So, asking again, what I have often posed: …. IF the RCC is not the One True Church and Faith of Jesus Christ, which one among the late-comers is? And based on what evidence?
The Bible is an abundant garden of clear; even precise teachings that are so often disguarded, ignored, misused and reinvented, leaving the many competing Christian Churches, starving for the very TRUTHS that they choose to deny or give NEW-and different birth too. Pope Benedicts XVI’s admonition that “there CAN”T be your truth and my truth, or there would be NO truths” shines dimly, if at all, in the cellar-minds of prideful men, who insist that the Almighty God accept what THEY have ordained and invented as there “truths”, solely because it suits them and their blocked understanding. …. And can’t, it would seem even grasp that they in doing so, place themselves in direct and personal opposition to God Almighty Himself.
Perhaps I have been a bit misleading thus far?
The message of this reflection is not primarily the privation of Protestant teachings, rather it is the seer generosity of our God towards the One true faith and Church that He founded, guides and protects; and even more so the Blessings He makes available to and through Her.
There are many advantages to being an Informed and fully practicing Roman Catholic. And it is a certainty of Divine Justice that being such is the surest path to merit one’s salvation.
We have been called; we ARE the Chosen people of Almighty God; to whom He bestows His Church, His Faith, His Love and His Mercy, and special Blessings to a degree found nowhere else on earth.
The questions each of must ask is: Are we aware of this? Do we know it? So we see it? Do we advantage it? Do we acknowledge it? Do we teach it and share it?
Grace for the most part is a mysterious free gift initiated by our God, which can be accepted or denied. It can be fully or partially applied and rightly or wrongly so.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about grace is that God by instituting the Seven Sacraments has made possible by invitation man’s ability to initiate; to start the free gift offer by and to the degree that we are aware, and then to the degree that we fully and actively participate in the actual grace flowing from and through the Sacraments. …. The amount of grace depends on the disposition of the minister of the Sacrament as well as our own dispositions.
God’s promise of the graces that the Sacraments generate is mostly dependent upon us; the minister and ME. [“Us”]….. When contemplated this is a unique and powerful manifestation of God’s love for us and His incredible faith in us, His Catholic Chosen People.
It is this faith, this love, this mercy that makes being an informed and fully practicing Catholic such a special and powerful Gift, making us beneficiaries of His overwhelmingly advantageous graces, and solidifying the unique association with our God. ….The known forgiveness of our sins and the opportunity to foresee; and even to foretaste heaven while here on earth in Catholic Holy Communion; Christ HIMSELF in person is too great, to sublime to profound to be taken casually.
Yes! We are called
Yes we are chosen!
Yes we are TRULY Blessed!
Do we know it? Do we acknowledge it? Do we live its reality?
Our God has more than done His part. Are we doing ours?