A CASE FOR PRIESTLY CELIBACY by Bishop Robert Barron: re-blogged



by Bishop Robert Barron


There is a very bad argument for celibacy which has reared its head throughout the tradition and which is, even today, defended by some. It runs something like this: married life is morally and spiritually suspect; priests, as religious leaders, should be spiritual athletes above reproach; therefore, priests shouldn’t be married. I love Augustine, but it is hard to deny that this kind of argumentation finds support in some of Augustine’s more unfortunate reflections on sexuality (original sin as a sexually transmitted disease; sex even within marriage is venially sinful; the birth of a baby associated with excretion, etc.). I once ran across a book in which the author presented a version of this justification, appealing to the purity codes in the book of Leviticus. His implication was that any sort of sexual contact, even within marriage, would render a minister at the altar impure. This approach to the question is, in my judgment, not just silly but dangerous, for it rests on assumptions that are repugnant to good Christian metaphysics.

The doctrine of creation ex nihilo necessarily implies the essential integrity of the world and everything in it. Genesis tells us that God found each thing he had made good and that he found the ensemble of creatures very good. Expressing the same idea with typical scholastic understatement, Thomas Aquinas commented that “being” and “good” are convertible terms. Catholic theology, at its best, has always been resolutely anti-Manichaean, anti-gnostic, anti-dualist—and this means that matter, the body, and sexual activity are never, in themselves, to be despised. In his book A People Adrift, Peter Steinfels correctly suggests that the post-conciliar reaffirmation of this aspect of the tradition effectively undermined the dualist justification for celibacy that I sketched above.

But there is more to the doctrine of creation than an affirmation of the goodness of the world. To say that the finite realm in its entirety is created is to imply that nothing in the universe is God. All aspects of created reality reflect God, point to God, and bear traces of the divine goodness (just as every detail of a building gives evidence of the mind of the architect), but no creature and no collectivity of creatures is divine (just as no part of a structure is the architect). This essential distinction between God and the world is the ground for the anti-idolatry principle that is reiterated from beginning to end of the Bible: do not turn something which is less than God into God. Isaiah the prophet put it thus: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my thoughts above your thoughts and my ways above your ways, says the Lord.” And it is at the heart of the first commandment: “I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods besides me.” The Bible thus holds off all forms of pantheism, immanentism, and nature mysticism—all the attempts of human beings to divinize or render ultimate some worldly reality. The doctrine of creation, in a word, involves both a great “yes” and a great “no” to the universe.

Now there is a behavioral concomitant to the anti-idolatry principle: it is the detachment which is urged throughout the Bible and by practically every figure in the great tradition from Irenaeus and Chrysostom to Bernard, John of the Cross, and Thérèse of Lisieux. Detachment is the refusal to make anything less than God the organizing principle or center of one’s life. Anthony de Mello looked at it from the other side and said that “an attachment is anything in this world—including your own life—that you are convinced you cannot live without.” Even as we reverence everything that God has made, we must let go of everything that God has made, precisely for the sake of God. Augustine saw to the bottom of this truth, commenting that creatures are loved better, more authentically, precisely when they are loved in God. This is why, as G.K. Chesterton noted, there is an odd, tensive, and bi-polar quality to Christian life. In accord with its affirmation of the world, the Church loves color, pagaentry, music, and rich decoration (as in the liturgy and papal ceremonials), even as, in accord with its detachment from the world, it loves the poverty of St. Francis and the simplicity of Mother Teresa. The same tensiveness governs its attitude toward sex and family. Again in Chesterton’s language, the Church is “fiercely for having children” (through marriage) even as it remains “fiercely against having them” (in religious celibacy). Everything in this world—including sex and intimate friendship—is good, but impermanently so; all finite reality is beautiful, but its beauty, if I can put it in explicitly Catholic terms, is sacramental and not ultimate.

According to the Biblical narratives, when God wanted to make a certain truth vividly known to his people, he would occasionally choose a prophet and command him to act out that truth, to embody it concretely. Hence, he told Hosea to marry the unfaithful Gomer in order to sacramentalize God’s fidelity to wavering Israel. In Grammar of Assent, John Henry Newman reminded us that truth is brought home to the mind, becoming convincing and persuasive, when it is represented, not through abstractions, but through something particular, colorful, and imaginable. We might be intrigued by the formula of Chalcedon, but we are moved to tears and to action by the narrative of Christ’s appearance on the road to Emmaus. Thus, the truth of the non-ultimacy of sex, family, and worldly relationships can and should be proclaimed through words, but it will be believed only when people can see it. This is why, the Church is convinced, God chooses certain people to be celibate: in order to witness to a transcendent form of love, the way that we will love in heaven. In God’s realm, we will experience a communion (bodily as well as spiritual) compared to which even the intensest forms of communion here below pale into insignificance, and celibates make this truth viscerally real for us now. Just as belief in the real presence in the Eucharist fades (as we have seen) when unaccompanied by devotional practice, so the belief in the impermanence of created love becomes attenuated in the absence of living embodiments of it. Though one can present practical reasons for it, I believe that celibacy only finally makes sense in this eschatological context.

I realize that my reader might be following the argument to this point and still feel compelled to ask, “Yes, granted that celibacy is a good thing for the Church, but why must all priests be celibate?” The medievals distinguished between arguments from necessity and arguments from “fittingness.” I can offer only the latter kind of argument, for even its most ardent defenders admit that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood. After all, married priests have been, at various times and for various reasons, accepted from the beginning of the Church to the present day. The appropriateness of linking priesthood and celibacy comes, I think, from the priest’s identity as a Eucharistic person. All that a priest is radiates outward from his unique capacity, acting in the person of Christ, to transform the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Jesus. As the center of a rose window anchors and orders all of the other elements in the design, so the Eucharistic act of the priest grounds and animates everything else that he does, rendering qualitatively distinctive his way of leading, sanctifying, and teaching. But the Eucharist is the eschatological act par excellence, for as Paul says, “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” To proclaim the Paschal Mystery through the Eucharist is to make present that event by which the new world is opened up to us. It is to make vividly real the transcendent dimension which effectively relativizes (without denying) all of the goods of this passing world. And it is therefore fitting that the one who is so intimately conditioned by and related to the Eucharist should be in his form of life an eschatological person.

For years, Andrew Greeley argued—quite rightly in my view—that the priest is fascinating, and that a large part of the fascination comes from celibacy. The compelling quality of the priest is not a matter of superficial celebrity or charm; that gets us precisely nowhere. It is something much stranger, deeper, and more mystical: the fascination for another world, for that mysterious dimension of existence hinted at sacramentally by the universe here below and revealed to us, however tantalyzingly, in the breaking of the bread. I for one am glad that such eschatologically fascinating persons are not simply in monasteries, cloistered convents, and hermits cells, but in parishes, on the streets, and in the pulpits, moving visibly among the people of God.

There are, I realize, a couple of major problems with offering arguments for celibacy. First, it can make everything seem so pat, rational, and resolved. I’ve been a priest now for over thirty years, and I can assure you that the living of celibacy has been anything but that. As I’ve gone through different seasons of my life as a priest, I’ve struggled mightily with celibacy, precisely because the tension between the goodness and ephemerality of creation of which I spoke of earlier is no abstraction, bur rather runs right through my body. The second problem is that reason only goes so far. As Thomas More said in that wonderful scene from A Man for All Seasons, as he was trying to make his daughter understand why he was being so stubborn: “Finally, Meg, it’s not a matter of reason; finally, it’s a matter of love.” People in love do strange things: they pledge eternal fidelity; they write poetry and songs; they defy their families and change their life plans; sometimes they go to their deaths. They tend to be over-the-top, irrational, and confounding to the reasonable people around them. Though we can make a case for it—as I have tried to do—celibacy is finally inexplicable, unnatural, and fascinating, for it is a form of life adopted by people in love with Jesus Christ. END QUOTES

The Roots and Historical Consequences of Modernism Roberto De Mattei: re-blogged

The Roots and Historical Consequences of Modernism

Roberto De Mattei


Translator’s Note: Roberto de Mattei’s paper, presented today in Rome, is entitled “The roots and historical consequences of Modernism”.


It provides a detailed study of the origin of the present theological confusion in the Church in the ideas embraced at the time of the so-called “Modernist crisis” of the early 20th century. The teaching of Maurice Blondel that experience is the criteria of truth spread to influential theologians such as Alfred Loisy, George Tyrrell, and Ernesto Buonaiuti, who all affirmed in various ways that truth is not immutable, rather it evolves as man evolves. These writers in turn influenced Teilhard de Chardin, Henri de Lubac, and Karl Rahner, all of whom were extremely influential on the work and teaching of the Second Vatican Council. This “Neo-Modernism” subtly tried to influence the Church without revealing its agenda of dismantling the philosophical foundation of the immutable nature of Truth and the theological foundation of the unchanging character of Divine Revelation. Through a “revolution of language,” one of the key principles of Marxism, those who seek to foment revolution in the Church have used words such as “renewal,” “aggiornamento,” and “accompaniment” to radically change the Church’s praxis, falsely setting up a separation between doctrine and praxis. The writings and statements of contemporary churchmen such as Walter Kasper, Bruno Forte, and Jorge Bergoglio are imbued with this same thinking. Bergoglio is clearly a disciple of Blondel. The only effective way to combat the present culmination of the “Modernist crisis” is to embrace the immutable Tradition of the Church.

The roots and historical consequences of Modernism

Prof. Roberto de Mattei


 Conference on the occasion of the Study Day on

“Old and new Modernism: The Roots of the Church’ s Crisis”

Rome – June 23, 2018



            The origin of the term “Modernism”


It seems that the term “Modernism” was coined by the Belgian Catholic economist Charles Périn in his volume dedicated to Le modernisme dans l’Eglise[1] to indicate, under this name, a complex of errors which were penetrating the Church through the liberal Catholicism of Lamennais. In 1883 Padre Matteo Liberatore developed this theme with a series of articles in “Civiltà Cattolica[2].


The one, however, who gave the word “Modernism” its historical significance in the sense in which we still use it was Saint Pius X, who first used the term in the decree Lamentabili[3] of 3 July 1907 and in the encyclical Pascendi[4] of 8 September 1907. With this name Pius X wanted to define the united nature of the theological, philosophical and exegetical errors which had been spreading within the Catholic Church during the decades prior to his pontificate.

When he published Pascendi, Pius X had been reigning for only four years, whereas Modernism had had a long period of incubation. In order to trace its origins one must trace a genealogy of errors which took root above all within German philosophy in the 19th century. In fact, Modernism is derived from two lines of thought stemming from Lutheranism: the rationalism of Kant and Hegel, which reduced religion to philosophy, and the irrationalism of the “philosophers of feeling,” Jacobi and Schleiermacher, who identified religion with a feeling (sentiment) of the divine.


But Modernism is more than a doctrine: it is a new psychological attitude in the face of the modern world which can be linked to Americanism, a complex of new theories proposed by Fr. Isaac Hecker (1819-1888), a Protestant convert who became the founder of the Paulist congregation, who proposed the idea of a general evolution of faith and an accommodation of the Church to the exigencies of modernity.

This change of mentality developed above all during the pontificate of Leo XIII. On the philosophical level, the thought of Leo XIII was categorically opposed to modernity. In this sense, the encyclical Aeterni Patris of 4 August 1879 was a true manifesto against the errors of modern philosophy, in which the Pope affirmed that the great way for recovering lost truth was a return to to the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was no coincidence that Pius X, in an Apostolic Letter written to the Roman Accademia of St. Thomas, affirmed that one of the principal titles of glory of Leo XIII was having sought “first and foremost and with all his strength to restore the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas.”[5]


On the political and pastoral level, however, Leo XIII sought to reconcile with the modern world which he fought on the philosophical level. This spirit of compromise was principally expressed in the idea of ralliement[6], or in the politics of rapprochement with the masonic and secularist Third Republic in France as endorsed by the encyclical Au milieu des sollicitudes[7] of 16 February 1892.


Modernism presented itself, purely arbitrarily, as the transposition ofralliement from the political to the theological and philsophical level. Ralliement actually encouraged numerous members of the clergy (not only in France) to extend an openness to the modern world beyond the political level to include the theological level. Leo XIII, it was said, had opened the way to a more modern and scientific teaching in which exegesis and history ought to accompany theological and philosophical research.[8] The Institut Catholique of Paris showed itself to be a “laboratory” of new tendencies. It was here that Msgr. Louis Duchesne (1843-1922) taught Church History and, under his guidance, Alfred Loisy (1857-1940) was formed as a docent of exegesis. It was Loisy who carried the “historical-critical” method of his teacher to extreme consequences. A third personality, Abbé Marcel Hébert (1851-1916), translated the ideas of Loisy and Duchesne into the philosophical realm. According to Abbé Barbier, these three priests, two of whom ended up in apostasy, exercised a decisive influence on the orientation of young clergy and young lay Catholics during the years 1880-1893.[9]  


This “Neo-Christianity” also spread rapidly outside the walls of the Institut Catholique. On 7 June 1893, the young Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), defended his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne entitled L’Action: Essai d’une critique de la vie et d’une science de la pratique.[10] In this work which was destined to be widely acclaimed, he proposed that the human spirit is led by an internal dynamism to seek God in the immanence of action. Blondel’s new “philosophy of immanence” sought to substitute “intellectualism” with the aspirations of the heart and the exigencies of life, seeking the roots of the supernatural within man’s own nature. Based on this premise of immanentism, modern thought derived the idea that man, by following his desire for the infinite, can participate in the divine infinity in his identity. What united the philosophical method of Blondel to the scientific method of the new historians and exegetes was the primacy of place given to experience as the ultimate criteria of all certainty and truth.


Leo XIII began to take account of the danger represented by these new exegetical and philosophical doctrines. After the Apostolic Letter Testem Benevolentiæ[11] against Americanism on 22 January 1889, he published on 8 September 1899 his letter to the clergy of France Depuis le jour,[12] with which he reaffirmed the urgency of returning to the philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas. But the new philosophical and exegetical tendencies were still spreading.


St. Pius X and Modernism


        The spark that would set off the Modernist controversy was the polemic initiated by the appearance in 1902 of the essay by Abbé Alfred Loisy L’Evangile et l’Eglise,[13] written in response to the interpretation of Christianity which had been given by the Protestant exegete Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) in his lectures at the University of Berlin. Loisy, applying the new “historical-critical” method to the exegetical field, denied or nullified the revealed nature of the Old and New Testament, the divinity of Christ, the institution of the Church, the hierarchy, and the sacraments. In a retrospective analysis of his work, he declared that he had wanted “an essential reform of Biblical exegesis, of all of theology, and finally of Catholicism in general.”[14]

The debate was further extended to the philosophical field by the Oratorian Lucien Laberthonnière (1862-1932), director of the “Annales de philosophie chrétienne,” in which he laid out the argument for the necessity of separating Christianity from Thomistic Aristotelianism, and also by Edouard Le Roy (1870-1954), the successor of Bergson at the College de France, for whom dogmatic truth was only an element giving orientation to praxis and which could not be demonstrated to be true in itself, but rather could only be translated into ethical action.


The two principal theologians of the movement were two priests, George Tyrrell of Ireland (1861-1909) and Ernesto Buonaiuti of Italy (1881-1946). Tyrrell converted from Calvinism to Anglicanism and then to Catholicism (1879) and then entered the Society of Jesus, identifying Revelation with “religious experience,” which is accomplished in each individual conscience, through which the lex orandi dictates the norms of the lex credendi, and not vice-versa. In fact, this Revelation-experience, “cannot come to us from outside; the teaching can be the occasion, not the cause.”[15]


Buonaiuti was professor of Church history at the Seminario dell’Apollinare and the author of Programma dei modernisti, which appeared anonymously in Rome in October 1907. This work constituted an attempt to make an organic response to Pascendi and was praised by the chief propoents of the Modernist movement like Tyrrell, who translated it into English.


Modernism finally found, according to the expression of Loisy, an important “agent of connection” in the figure of Baron Friedrich von Hügel (1852-1925). The son of an Austrian father and a Scottish mother, by means of his social prestige and his cosmopolitan status, von Hügel was “the intermediate link between German-English and Italian society, between the ideas of the philosophy of action and those of historical immanence.”[16] Paul Sabatier (1858-1928), defined von Hügel as the “lay bishop of the Modernists,”[17] but Tyrrell presented him to Abbé Henri Brémond (1865-1933) as their “lay Pope.” Our program, he wrote with sarcasm, “is a religion made perfectly acceptable and which will be received with open arms by the major part of the Anglican and Protestant confessions; and when the papacy will be completely confounded and discredited, we will march on the Vatican and we will install the Baron [von Hügel] on the Chair of Peter as the first lay Pope.”[18]


Faced with this aggressive and underground movement, Pius X reacted with the publication of a prophetic document, the encyclical Pascendi.


The nucleus of Modernism for St. Pius X did not consist only in opposition to one or another of the revealed truths, but in the radical transformation of the whole notion of “truth” itself, through the acceptance of the “principle of immanence” which is at the foundation of modern thought, as is summed up in proposition 58 condemned by the Decree Lamentabili: “The truth is no more immutable than man himself, for it evolves with him and for him.”


Immanence is a philosophical conception which assumes experience as an absolute and excludes all transcendent reality. For the modernists, it is born from a religious feeling, which by not placing itself on any rational foundation is in reality fideism. Faith is thus not an adhesion of the intelligence to a truth revealed by God, but a religious exigency which springs from the obscure foundation (the subconscience) of the human soul. The representations of the divine realities are reduced to “symbols,” whose “intellectual formula” changes according to the “interior experience” of the believer. The formulas of dogma, for the Modernists, do not contain absolute truths; they are images of the truth which ought to adapt themselves to religious feeling.


In the final analysis religious truth resolves itself in the self-conscience of the individual faced with the individual problems of faith. In this sense there is a return to the tendency of Gnosticism to embrace all truths by means of one principle, the subjectivity of the truth and the relativity of all of its formulas.[19] For St. Pius X, “in fact the immanence of the Modernists desires and admits that each phenomenon of conscience is born from man in each man. Therefore as a legitimate consequence we may deduce that God and man are the same thing: it is therefore pantheism.[20]


Pascendi may be considered to be a fundamental document of the Magisterium of the Church, and among all the acts of Pius X it remains, as Padre Cornelio Fabro wrote, “the most distinguished monument of his pontificate.”[21] In turn the historian Emile Poulat emphasizes that Pascendi is the logical outcome of the direction affirmed by Pius IX a half-century earlier in the Syllabus of Errors(1864): “Pius IX denounced errors ad extra (outside the Church) which were running through the world; Pius X, in contrast, condemned a phenomenon ad intra (inside the Church), condeming these same errors which were infiltrating the Church, where they had taken form and root.”[22]


From Modernism to Nouvelle théologie


Saint Pius understood that he was dealing not with a philosophical school but with a [political] party, and in the Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum[23] of 1 September 1910 with which he imposed the anti-Modernist oath, he also advanced the hypothesis that Modernism formed a true and real “secret society” within the Church.[24] A witness from “within” the movement like Albert Houtin describing the level of Modernism foresaw that the innovators would not leave the Church, not even even if they would lose their faith, but that rather they would remain within the Church as long as possible so as to propagate their ideas.[25] “Up until now,” explained Buonaiuti, “they wanted to reform Rome without Rome, or perhaps against Rome. There is a need to reform Rome with Rome; to make the reform pass through the hands of those who need to be reformed. Behold, this is the true and infallible method; but it is difficult. Hic opus, hic labor.”[26] Modernism proposed, in this perspective, to transform Catholicism from within, leaving intact, as far as possible, the external trappings of the Church.


How is it possible to imagine that such a vast and complex movement would have surrendered after being condemned? In the years following the death of Pius X, the strategy of the Modernists was to declare Modernism inexistent and to strongly condemn the anti-Modernist movement. The tendencies of the innovators in the Biblical, liturgical, theological, and ecumenical fields continued to develop within the Church in an apparently spontaneous manner without any order or direction, as had already taken place under Leo XIII. In reality Modernism was circulating, not only in books, but throughout the entire body of the Church, poisoning every aspect. This allowed the “nouvelle théologie” which was just emerging to present itself as a “living” theology and philosophy, linked to history, in opposition to the bookish abstraction of the Neo-Scholastic school.


In Belgium, at Tournai, stood the Dominican convent of Le Saulchoir, where, beginning in 1932, Pere Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990) was “regent of studies.” In 1937 there appeared his wise proto-manuscript, entitled Une école de théologie, Le Saulchoir,[27] which wanted to be a “methodological” program for the formation of Dominican students. Chenu criticized anti-Modernist theology in the name of a “Christ of faith” who can be known (as the Modernists wanted) in the “Christ of history.” In the measure in which historicity is the condition of the faith and of the Church, the theologians ought to be able to read “the signs of the times,” or the manifestation of faith in history.


The “manifesto” of the French Dominican was placed on the Index by a decree of the Holy Office on 4 February 1942, and Chenu was removed from his position. But his disciples, like Pere Yves Congar (1904-1995), were more convinced than ever that their generation ought to “recover and transfer into the patrimony of the Church any element of value which could emerge from embracing Modernism.”[28]


What the school of Le Saulchoir was for the Dominicans, the university institute of Fourvière near Lyon was for the Jesuits. This school was influenced above all by the teaching of Pere Auguste Valensin (1879-1953), a disciple of Blondel and close friend of another leading personality, the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), who was suspended from his teaching position in 1926 and condemned by the Holy Office in 1939. The most direct continuer of the work of Blondel and Teilhard was Pere Henri de Lubac (1896-1991), who had known Teilhard at the beginning of the 1920s, and was profoundly influenced by him.

Corresponding to the “nouvelle théologie” was the idea of a “nouvelle chrétienté” elaborated in the same years by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). His work Humanisme intégral[29](1936) exercised an influence no less than that of Blondel’s Action, above all on the laity[30]. Despite Maritain’s declared adherence to the principles of Thomism, his philosophy of history and his sociology converged with the Neo-Modernism which was flourishing among the young religious of the Jesuit and Dominican orders.


In 1946 there appeared an important article by Pere Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange (1877-1964), one of the most acute theological minds of his time, on the theme La Nouvelle Théologie où va-t-elle?[31]. The Dominican theologian affirmed that the nouvelle théologiecomes from Modernism and leads to complete Apostasy. “In place of the philosophy of being or ontology there is substituted the philosophy of action, which defines the Truth as a function, not of being, but of action. Thus one returns to the Modernist position: ‘The truth is not any more immutable than man, because it evolves with him, in him, and through him’ (Denz. 2058). For this reason Saint Pius X said of the Modernists: ‘They pervert the eternal notion of truth’ (Denz. 2080).”


The Nouvelle Thélogie was thus condemned by Pius XII on 12 August 1950, with the encyclical Humani Generis.[32] The Pope denounced the “poisonous fruits” produced by “novelties in almost every field of theology” and condemned, without naming them, those who made their own the language and mentality of modern philosophy and who attempted “to be able to explain dogmas with the categories of contemporary philosophy, whether of immanentism, idealism, existentialism, or whatever other system.”[33] The principal error condemned by the encyclical was relativism, according to which human knowledge never has a real and immutable value, but only a relative value.


The encyclical Humani generis did not succeed in stopping the advance of the Nouvelle Théologie, which in the final years of the pontificate of Pius XII extended itself to the field of moral theology. The primary subverters of traditional morality were the German Jesuit Josef Fuchs (1912–2005), the Italian Redemptorist Domenico Capone (1907-1998), and above all the German Redemptorist Bernard Häring (1912-1998). The Nouvelle Thèologie, daughter of Modernism, supported the principle of the evolution of dogmas. The new moralists extended this principle to the moral realm, substituting in place of the absolute and immutable natural law a new moral law which was affective, personal, and existential. The individual conscience became the sovereign norm of morality.


The anthropological shift of Vatican II 


Writing to Cardinal Ottaviani on 9 May 1961, Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini (1888-1967) expressed himself without using half-measures: “I have said it other times and I repeat it: Modernism, condemned by St. Pius X, today has become freely spread in aspects even more serious and deleterious than it was then!”[34] The same Cardinal Ruffini, together with Cardinal Ottaviani, had suggested to John XXIII, who succeeded Pius XII in 1958, to convoke an ecumenical Council, thinking that such a council would have condemned the errors of the time in a definitive manner. But John XXIII, in his allocution which opened Vatican II on 11 October 1962, explained that the Council had been launched not to condemn errors or formulate new dogmas, but rather to propose, with language adapted to new times, the perennial teaching of the Church.[35] What actually happened was that the primacy attributed to the pastoral dimension effected a revolution in language and in mentality. It was this new mode of expressing itself which, according to the Jesuit historian Father John W. O”Malley, “signaled a definitive rupture with the preceding Councils.”[36]


The Council Fathers were surrounded by “experts,” or “periti,” charged with revising and re-elaborating the schemas and, often, preparing the interventions of the Council Fathers. Many of these theologians had been suspected of heterodoxy during the pontificate of Pius XII. The first objective they achieved was that of rejecting the conciliar schemas written by the preparatory commissions. The rejection of these schemas which, according to council regulations, were supposed to form the basis for the discussion, signaled a capital turning point in the history of the Second Vatican Council.[37]


An Italian bishop, Msgr. Luigi Borromeo (1893-1975), even in the very first session of the Council, wrote in his diary, “We are in full Modernism. Not the naive, open, aggressive and combative Modernism of the time of Pius X, no. The Modernism of today is more subtle, more camouflaged, more penetrating, and more hypocritical. It does not want to stir up another tempest; it desires that the entire Church will find that it has become Modernist without noticing it. (…) Thus the Modernism of today saves all of Christianity, its dogmas and its organization, but it empties it completely and overturns it. It is no longer a religion which comes from God, but a religion which comes directly from man and indirectly from the divine which is within man.”[38]


Msgr. Borromeo intuited the “anthropological shift” of the Second Vatican Council which translated Modernism’s philosophical principle of immanence to the theological level. The major interpreter of this shift was the Jesuit Karl Rahner (1904-1984) [39],  the theologian who exercised the greatest influence on the Second Vatican Council and on the post-conciliar period. The conservative Council Fathers had a clear awareness of the errors which snaked their way into the heart of the Church, but they overestimated their own strength and underestimated the strength of their adversaries. The Nouvelle théologie was not only a theological school, but an organized party, with a precise objective and strategy. The voice of Msgr. Antonino Romeo (1902-1979), who at the beginning of January 1960 had launched in the journal “Divinitas” a deep attack against the Biblical Institute,[40] denouncing the existence of an articulated conspiracy on the part of the neo-Modernists who were working within the Church, remained an isolated one.[41]


The epoch of the Council was also the epoch of the greatest diffusion of communism, the principal error of the twentieth century, which Vatican II ignored. It is not difficult to see in the “primacy of the pastoral,” which made great strides in those years, the theological transposition of the “primacy of praxis” enunciated by Marx in his Thesis on Feuerbach, with these words: “It is in praxis that man ought to demonstrate the truth, that is, reality and power, the coming down to earth [mondano] of his thought,”[42] and “the philosophers have only interpreted the world in diverse ways; now however they try to change it.”[43]


The liberation theology of Latin America, in its different versions, was the point of confluence between progressive theology and the Marxist thought of the twentieth century[44]. The encounter betweeen these two currents was precisely in the affirmation of the primacy of praxis, that is, in the idea that what is more important than the truth is the experience that is drawn from action. Thus a communist theorist of the 1980s, Lucio Lombardo Radice (1916-1992)wrote that the essence of liberation theology is in “a reversal of the theology-praxis relationship. Not a praxis of theology, but rather a theology taken from a praxis of faith.”[45]

In accord with this perspective, Giuseppe Alberigo, who wanted to make the school of Bologna the continuation of that of Le Saulchoir, entrusts to the field of history the task of the “ecclesiological reform” advocated by the “nouvelle théologie” and, before that, by Modernism.


In the post-conciliar period, historical praxis became a “locus theologicus.”[46] The truth-history relationship was reformulated following the thought of Cardinal Kasper, in the form of a “critical theory of Christian and ecclesial praxis.”[47] “The theology which developed in the reception of Vatican II is thus characterized by its peculiar historicity,”[48] wrote Msgr. Bruno Forte, echoing the “manifesto” of Le Soulchoir. It is in this perspective that it is necessary to place key words of the conciliar epoch such as “pastoral,” “aggiornamento,” “signs of the times,” which in recent years have effected a true and proper cultural revolution by means of language.[49]


Neo-Modernism in the Church today 


How extensive is the presence of Neo-Modernism in the Church today? It is difficult to find a seminary or a Catholic university that is immune from it. The question ought to be turned around: Which seminary or Catholic university is faithful to the Magisterium of the Church? Unfortunately, it is not difficult to answer this question. Modernism pervades the Church, even if few explicitly claim it. Among those who do is Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who in an article which appeared in the newspaper Sole-24 Ore affirmed that the intuition at the foundation of modernism “was linked to the necessity of a cultural and systematic ‘aggiornamento’ of the analysis and communication of the Christian message” and that “in itself this undertaking was not only legitimate but necessary.” In Ravasi’s interpretation, Loisy, Tyrrell, and Buonaiuti were “theologians of great intellectual quality who were attacked by the anti-Modernist repression of the Church.”[50]


Furthermore, Cardinal Ravasi, affixed his preface to La vita di Antonio Fogazzaro[51], a book by Tommaso Gallarati Scotti (1878-1940) which was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books (9 December 1920), for its apologia of an author who had been repeatedly placed on the Index, the Vicenzan author Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911). The names of Fogazzaro and Gallarati Scotti accompany each other in the pages of Cardinal Ravasi along with other Modernists, such as Tyrrell, Loisy, Murri, Buonaiuti, all of whom were excommunicated and all of whom are remembered by Ravasi as interpreters “of the ferment that was then developing in society and culture.”[52]

Cardinal Kasper does not claim Modernism as explicitly as Ravasi does, but his philosophical and theological vision is imbued with the same errors. His teachers are Schelling and Hegel, Heidegger and Rahner. From these authors he takes up the idea of a “renewal of the theological method” in which becoming prevails over being, time over space, history over nature, Scripture over Tradition, praxis over doctrine, life over truth.


In the presentation with which Cardinal Kasper opened the the work of the Extraordinary Consistory on the family on 20 February 2014, Christianity is transformed into life without truth, or better still into life which produces the truth in the “becoming” of experience. Praxis becomes the measure of value, and since the life of many Christians today is immersed in sin to the point that they no longer consider it to be sin, the Church ought to adapt her doctrine to these lived convictions, negating the very concept of sin itself, deprived of any ontological significance. The ultimate criteria of truth becomes sociological reality.

The good rapport between Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper is well-known, but despite the fact that Padre Bergoglio spent a period of study in Germany, it is difficult to imagine that he had the intellectual tools to understand the most cryptic passages of Rahnerian-Kasperian theology. The culture of Bergoglio, more than it is indebted to his Jesuit brother Rahner, is indebted to another Jesuit brother, Father de Lubac, and through de Lubac, it is linked to Blondel, as many exegetes of Bergoglian thought assure us.

Among those who would attempt to exonerate Pope Francis from every stain of heterodoxy is Professor Massimo Borghesi; however, he contradicts himself when he assures us that Pope Francis is Blondelian, through father Gaston Fessard (1897-1978).[53] Maurice Blondel was in fact a Modernist because he created his philosophical method out of the principle of immanence, as Fathers Tonquédec[54], Réginald Garrigou Lagrange[55] and  Cornelio Fabro[56] have demonstrated in numerous writings. In 1924 the Holy Office condemned twelve propositions taken from the philosophy of Blondel, among which was the one concerning his notion of truth as “conformity of mind and life” and no longer as rational conformity of the intellect with the thing being inverstigated (adaequatio rei et intellectus).


The relationship of Blondel with Papa Bergoglio was brought to light by another one of his Argentine Jesuit brothers, Padre Juan Carlos Scannone, who in his volume François philosophe[57] dedicates many pages to the parallel between Bergoglian philosophy and “la dialectique blondélienne de l’action.”[58]

Francis and Blondel are united in their anti-intellectual conception of knowledge and in the reduction of truth to method or language. The formula, “God is not an equation”[59] expresses this conception, which Professor Gian Enrico Rusconi defines as “narrative theology.”[60] Rusconi recognizes that Pope Francis claims to change the paradigm of Catholic theology, from systematic theology to narrative theology, from argumentation to narration, in the attempt to redefine the very identity of Catholicism with new mythical or metaphorical semantic codes.

Pope Francis affirms in “Evangelii gaudium” (nn. 231-233) and in “Laudato si’” (n. 201) that “the reality is more important than the idea.” Padre Scalese has observed that the postulate “the reality is more important than the idea” has nothing to do with the ‘adaequatio intellectus ad rem.’ “Rather, it means we must accept reality as it is, without attempting to change it based on absolute principles, for example moral principles, which are only abstract ‘ideas,’ which most of the time risk becoming ideologies.”[61]


Papa Bergoglio is neither a theologian nor a philosopher, but the phrase which says that the reality counts more than the idea is a philosophical affirmation which overturns the primacy of being and contemplation which is the basis for all of Western and Christian philosophy. The contraposition between the theologian pope and the pastor pope signifies the end of dogmatic and moral theology as norms of action for the Christian person. Pastoral ministry, without theology, loses the absolute references of metaphysics and of morality and offers us instead an ethics of “day by day and case by case.” Human action is reduced to the choice of the individual conscience, based not in the objectivity of the divine and natural law, but in the “becoming” of history. But because every idea has consequences in reality, we must also resort to history to demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of these errors.

Just as it would be wrong to combat the symptoms of a revolution without addressing the ideological causes, it would also be erroneous to attempt to abstractly refute errors without considering their concrete consequences. Today we are facing a revolutionary process which ought to be evaluated at the level of thought, of action, and of deeper tendencies. This is one of the teachings which I owe to Professor Plinio Correa de Oliveira, author of a book which appeared in 1943, Em defesa de Ação Catolica,[62] which constitutes one of the first wide-ranging refutations of the modernist deviations within Catholic Action in Brazil and in the world.


The problem which we are confronting is not an abstract question, but rather it touches concretely the way in which we live our faith at an historic moment described by Benedict XVI on the eve of his renunciation of the papacy in these words: “As we know, in large areas of the world the faith is in danger of being extinguished like a flame which no longer has any fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith , a loss of the religious sense, which constitutes the greatest challenge for the Church of today.[63]


I believe that at the roots of the abdication of Pope Benedict there may be also the awareness of having lost this challenge as a result of the inadequacy of the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a theological approach which makes the very same error which it wants to combat. It is necessary to oppose neo-Modernism, which presents itself as a changeable and subjective interpretation of Catholic doctrine, not with a contrary hermeneutic, but rather with the fullness of Catholic doctrine, which coincides with Tradition, maintained and transmitted not only by the Magisterium but by all the faithful, “from the bishops to the last layperson,” as expressed by the celebrated formula of Saint Augustine.[64] The sensus fidei impels us to refute every hermeneutical deformation of the truth, supported by the immutable Tradition of the Church[65].


At any rate, it is not enough to limit oneself to affirming that the doctrine of the Faith is immutable, it is also necessary to add to this that the Faith is not impractical and it does not admit of exceptions on the level of praxis. It is necessary to reintegrate the disassociation which the neo-Modernists have created between doctrine and praxis, restoring to Truth and to Life the inseparable unity expressed in those words of Jesus Christ which show us the only possible Way in the darkness of the present moment (Gv 14, 6).


Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino



[1] Charles Périn, Le modernisme dans l’Eglise. D’après des lettres inédites de Lamennais, Victor Lecoffre, Paris, 1881.

[2] Matteo  Liberatore, S. J., Il naturalismo politico, introduction and editing by Giovanni Turco, Rispostes, Giffoni Valle Piana 2016.

[3] Decr. S. Officii Lamentabili, 3 July 1907 in AAS, vol. 40 (1907), p. 470-478; Denz-H, nn. 3401-3466.

[4] Pius X, Enciclica Pascendi dominici gregis, 8 September 1907 in AAS, vol. 40 (1907), p. 596-628; Denz-H, nn. 3475-3500.

[5] S. Pius X, Lett. Apost. In praecipuis laudibus, 3 January 1904, in AAS, 36 (1903-1904), p. 67.

[6] Roberto de Mattei, Il Ralliement di Leone XIII. Il fallimento di un progetto pastorale, Le Lettere, Firenze 2015.

[7] Leo XIII, Enc. Au Milieu des sollicitudes, 16 February 1892, in AAS 24 (1891-1892), pp. 519-529.

[8] Cfr. F. Laplanche, La crise de l’origine. La science catholique des Evangiles et l’histoire du XXème siècle, Albin Michel, Paris 2006; id., La Bible en France entre mythe et critique, XVI-XIX siècles, Albin Michel, Paris 1994.

[9] Emmanuel Barbier, Histoire du catholicisme libéral et social en France du Concile du Vatican à l’avènement de SS. Benoit XV (1870-1914), Cadoret, Paris 1923-1924, vol.  III, p. 199.

[10] Maurice Blondel (1861-1949), L’Action. Essai d’une critique de vie et d’une science de pratique, Alcan, Paris 1893. This work was reprinted on the occasion of its centenary by Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1993.

[11] Letter Testem benevolentiae de americanismo, 22 January 1899, in ASS, 31 (1898-99), pp. 470-479.

[12] Leone XIII, Depuis le jour, to the Archbishops, Bishops, and Clergy of France, 8 September 1899, in AAS, 32 (1899-1900), pp. 193-213.

[13] This essay, published by the editor Picard on 17 January 1903, was placed on 23 December 1903 on the Index of Forbidden Bookstogether with four other works of Loisy, who was personally excommunicated on 7 March 1908.

[14] Alfred Loisy, Choses passées, Nourry, Paris 1913, p. 246.

[15] George Tyrrell, Through Scylla and Charydbis, London, Green and Co. 1907, pp. 305-306.

[16] Giuseppe Prezzolini, Cos’è  il modernismo, Treves, Milano 1908, p. 75.

[17] Paul Sabatier, Les modernistes, Fischbacher, Paris 1909, p. LI.

[18] Lettres de Georges Tyrrell à Henri Bremond, Aubier-Montaigne, Paris 1971, p. 280.

[19] Cornelio Fabro, Modernismo, in Enciclopedia Cattolica, vol. VIII, col 1191.

[20] S. Pius X, Pascendi, n. 228.

[21] C. Fabro, Modernismo, col. 1190.

[22] Emile Poulat, Modernistica. Horizons, Physionomies Débats, Nouvelles Editions Latines, Paris 1982, p. 25.

[23] Motu proprio Sacrorum antistitum of 1 September 1910, in AAS, 2 (1910), p. 669-672 ; Denz-H, nn. 3537-3550.

[24] Pius X, Motu proprio Sacrorum Antistitum, p. 655.

[25] A. Houtin, Histoire du Modernisme catholique, published by the author, Paris 1913., pp. 116-117.

[26] Ernesto Buonaiuti, Il modernismo cattolico Guanda, Modena 1943. p. 128.

[27] Marie-Dominique Chenu, Le Saulchoir. Una scuola di teologia, preceduto da una nota introduttiva di G. Alberigo, Marietti, Casale Monferrato 1982.

[28] Aidan Nichols, Yves Congar, San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo 1991, p. 12.

[29] Cfr. Jacques Maritain, Humanisme intégral. Problèmes temporels et spirituels d’une nouvelle chrétienté, Aubier-Montaigne, Parigi 1936, now in Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Oeuvres complètes, Editions Universitaires, Fribourg 1984, vol. VI, pp. 293-642.

[30] Cfr. Jean-Hugues Soret, Philosophes de l’Action catholique: Blondel-Maritain, Cerf, Parigi 2007.

[31] Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., La nouvelle théologie où va-t-elle?, in “Angelicum”, n. 23 (1946), pp. 126-145.

[32] Pius XII, Enciclica Humani Generis del 12 agosto 1950, in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XII, pp. 493-510.

[33] Ibid., p. 499.

[34] Letter of Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini to Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani of 9 May 1961, in Francesco Michele Stabile, Il Cardinale Ruffini e il Vaticano II. Lettere di un “intransigente”, in “Cristianesimo nella Storia”, n. 11 (1990), p. 115.

[35] John XXIII, Allocution Gaudet Mater Ecclesiae of 11 October 1962, in AAS, 54 (1962), p. 792.

[36] John W. O’Malley, Che cosa è successo nel Vaticano II, Italian translation, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 2010, p. 47; cfr. Enrico Maria Radaelli, Il domani-terribile o radioso? – del dogma, Milano 2013.

[37] Michael Davies, Pope John’s Council, Augustine Publishing Company, Chawleigh, Chulmleigh (Devon) 1972; Roberto de Mattei, Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta, Lindau, Torino 2011; Paolo Pasqualucci, Il Concilio parallelo. L’inizio anomalo del Vaticano II, Fede e Cultura, Verona 2014.

[38] Il Concilio Vaticano II attraverso le pagine del diario di Luigi Carlo Borromeo, vescovo di Pesaro, in “Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia”, 52 (1998), 3 December 1962.

[39] On Rahner cfr. The critical studies of C. Fabro, La svolta antropologica di Karl Rahner, Editrice del Verbo Incarnato, Segni 2011; Karl Rahner: un’analisi critica. La figura, l’opera e la recezione teologica di Karl Rahner (1904-1984), edited by P. Serafino M. Lanzetta; Giovanni Cavalcoli o.p., Karl Rahner: il Concilio tradito, Fede e Cultura, Verona 2009; Fra Tomas Tyn, OP (1950-1990), Saggio sull’etica esistenziale formale di Karl Rahner, Fede e Cultura, Verona 2011; Jaime Mercant Simó, Los fundamentos filosoficos de la teologia trascendental de Karl Rahner, Leonardo da Vinci, Roma 2017.

[40] Cfr. Antonino Romeo, L’Enciclica “Divino Afflante Spiritu” e le “opiniones novae”, in “Divinitas”, n. 4 (1960), pp. 385-456.

[41] A documented reconstruction of the polemic in Anthony Dupont e Karim Schelkens, Katholische Exegese vor dem Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil (1960-1961), in “Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie”, n. 1 (2010), pp. 1-24.

[42] Karl Marx, Tesi su Feuerbach (1845), in Feuerbach-Marx-Engels, Materialismo dialettico e materialismo storico, a cura di Cornelio Fabro, Editrice La Scuola, Brescia 1962, pp. 81-84, II Tesi, p. 82.

[43] Ivi, XI Tesi, p. 84.

[44] Cfr. Julio Loredo, Teologia della liberazione. Un salvagente di piombo per i poveri, Cantagalli, Siena 2015.

[45] Lucio Lombardo Radice, Cristianesimo e liberazione. Il caso dell’America latina in “Critica marxista” n. 5 (sett.-ott. 1981), p. 97.

[46] See, among others, Il Concilio vent’anni dopo. L’ingresso della categoria “storia”, edited by Enrico Cattaneo, Ave, Roma 1985, pp. 419-429.

[47] Walter Kasper, La funzione della teologia della Chiesa, in Avvenire della Chiesa. Il libro del Congresso di Bruxelles, Queriniana, Brescia 1970, p. 72.

[48] Bruno Forte, Le prospettive della ricerca teologica, in Il Concilio Vaticano II. Recezione e attualità alla luce del Giubileo, edited by Rino Fisichella, San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo 2000. p. 424.

[49] Guido Vignelli, Una rivoluzione pastorale. Sei parole talismaniche nel dibattito sinodale sulla famiglia, with a preface by His Excellency Msgr. Athanasius Schneider, Tradizione, Famiglia, Proprietà, Roma 2016.

[50] Gianfranco Ravasi,  Sguardo moderno sul Modernismo, in Il Sole 24 Ore, 22 February 2015.

[51] Tommaso Gallarati Scotti, La vita di Antonio Fogazzaro , Morcelliana, Brescia 2011).

[52] Card. G. Ravasi, preface to T. Gallarati Scotti cited, p. 6.

[53] Massimo Borghesi, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Una biografia intellettuale, Jaca Book, 2017.

[54] Joseph de Tonquédec, Immanence. Essai critique sur la doctrine de Maurice Blondel, Beauchesne, paris 1913.

[55] R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Vérité et option selon M: Maurice Blondel, in “Acta Pontificiae Academiae Romanae S. Tomae Aquinatis, Marietti, Roma 1936, pp. 146-149.

[56] C. Fabro, Dall’essere all’esistente, Morcelliana, Brescia 1957, pp. 425-489.

[57] Juan Carlos Scannone, La philosophie blondélienne de l’action et l’action du papa Francois, in E. Falque, L. Solignac (under the direction of), François philosophe, Salvator, Paris 2017. The volume gathers the contributions of seven Catholic intelectuals at the symposium  “Philosophie du papa François” held 18 October 2016 through the initiative of the Institut Catholique of Paris. Cfr. the recension made by Don Samuele Cecotti, La praxis-philosophie bergoglienne. Sources et portée, in “Catholica” 138 (2018), pp. 13-24.

[58] François philosophe, pp. 41-65.

[59] Papa Francesco, Discourse at Santa Marta of 21 May 2016.

[60] Gian Enrico Rusconi, La teologia narrativa di papa Francesco, Laterza, Bari-Roma 2017.

[61]Giovanni Scalese, I quattro chiodi a cui Bergoglio appende il suo pensiero, in http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351301.html

[62] Plinio Correa de Oliveira, Em defesa de Ação Catolica, with the preface of the Nuncio Benedetto Aloisi Masella, Ave Maria, São Paulo 1943.

[63] Benedict XVI, Discorso ai partecipanti alla plenaria della Congregazione per la Dottrina della fede, January 27, 2012.

[64] S. Augustine, De Praedestinatione sanctorum, 14, 27, in PL, 44, col. 980.

[65] Cfr. R. de Mattei, Apologia della Tradizione, Lindau, Torino 2011. END QUOTES




A Good Deed: A Small Mustard Seed with a Fruitful Harvest MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN: re-blogged

A Good Deed: A Small Mustard Seed with a Fruitful Harvest


Hans Christian Andersen’s children’s story “Something” especially reveals the mysterious, fruitful nature of goodness in its purest form — a simple act of kindness, a humble good deed, a small favor for a poor old woman with no motive of recognition or reward, and a work of mercy.  In the story four of the five brothers all have worldly ambitions to leave behind a legacy of fame and distinction as evidence of their prosperous rise to success and honor that will distinguish them as “Something” rather than a Nobody. In their rivalry to exceed each other’s accomplishments and gain prestigious recognition for their expertise, wealth, and social status, the four enterprising, aspiring younger brothers who strive for greatness assume airs of prideful superiority that mock their oldest brother’s humble work of brick maker.

The second brother scorns the oldest brother’s honest manual labor as beneath his own dignity: “Something very little, though,” he replies sarcastically. “Why it is as good as nothing! Better be a mason, as I intend to be.” In the second brother’s eyes, a mason’s expertise surpasses the manual labor of his older brother and improves his social and economic position.  The third brother, contemptuous of the lowly rank of a mason, boasts that he will claim a higher profession and gain the title of an architect. He strives to rise higher in life than his two older brothers and congratulates himself for his distinguished career and respectable profession that put to shame the lowly work of the older brothers.

The fourth son, also fiercely competitive and not to be outdone by his older brothers, announces he will be the greatest of artists, a renowned genius, and a recognized innovator and inventor, thus separating the distance between his towering greatness and their meager lowliness. The fifth son, determined to be the most accomplished of the brothers and at the pinnacle of fashionable society, makes invidious comparisons between his esteemed rank and the unimpressive achievement of all his mediocre brothers. In his position of an astute critic without peer in his expertise, he will reach perfection and expose the failures and shortcomings of his brothers’ crafts as he boasts “that will be something.”  The idea of “Something,” then, is to compete, succeed, and win the first prize and bask in the glory of worldly success while depreciating the skill, profession, knowledge, wealth, fame, or accomplishments of other laborers and reduce them to virtually nothing.

During his lifetime the humble brick maker lived a simple life and earned a modest living, never competing to win the first prize of “Something.” Generously donating several bricks and many broken ones to Mother Margaret, a poor and lonely old woman, he helps her maintain a lowly dwelling of a home. The common brick maker dies as an obscure man without a great reputation or noteworthy acclaim, soon followed to the grave by the second, third, and fourth brother who all glorify their worldly ambitions of mason, architect, inventor, and genius. After the youngest brother, the critic, dies, he finds himself at the gates of heaven next to Mother Margaret. “And how did you leave the world?” the critic inquires, hoping to boast of his great name.

The old woman did not depart from this life as a famous celebrity or an image of success. Mother Margaret recalls the moment of her death when she narrates the episode of an ice skating party where the entire village was on the lake enjoying their winter sport. Noticing in the sky the approach of an impending storm threatening to melt the ice, Margaret yells to warn the skaters, but no one hears her saving words.  In a state of desperate panic and fear Mother Margaret thinks of another plan to get their attention: “I could set fire to my bed. Better let my house be burned to the ground than that so many should miserably perish.” Alerting the skaters by setting fire to her straw, Margaret saves them from falling in the ice and drowning in the lake. Dying herself from the fire, Margaret is welcomed into heaven, and the blade of straw from her bed is converted into dazzling gold—the treasure and splendor of her good deed.

The angel asks the critic what he brought with him to heaven, reprimanding the fifth brother: “Truly, I know that thou hast done nothing, not even made bricks.” As the angel denies the critic admission into heaven, Mother Margaret pleads for him, arguing that the critic’s oldest brother’s kindness extended her long life and preserved her long enough to save all who would have perished when the ice cracked. Her shelter, made from the fragments of bricks, blessed her with a ripe old age. Her long life, in turn, allowed her to save the townspeople. Therefore, her eternal gratitude to the brick maker moves her to ask for mercy for the critic who did nothing. The oldest son’s generosity to the old woman–his love of goodness for its own sake–gave long life to Margaret, who in turn saved the whole town from drowning and who won heaven for the youngest brother who brings no brick or no straw with him after death. No good deeds follow the critic to justify his entrance into heavenly life. The charitable heart of the brick maker who appeared to be useless and seemed “nothing” to his brothers and his kindness that went unrecognized by the world prove themselves invaluable spiritual treasure, truly “something.”

The kindness of the oldest brother who offered bricks to Mother Margaret diffused, disseminated, and communicated goodness to many others through the old woman’s warning to the skaters. Mother Margaret’s burning of her bed that lured the skaters off the breaking ice saved countless lives. In both cases the goodness of the brick maker and the old woman proceeded from the love of virtue for its own sake which then proliferated, reproduced, and overflowed into many other lives. Their goodness was practical, beneficial, and useful beyond limit—an incalculable gift, blessing, and treasure. The effects and aftereffects of goodness—no matter how small, hidden, or humble– can never be underestimated or foreseen. They transcend measurement and quantification and all worldly standards.

A Cardinal Newman writes in The Idea of a University , the good is always useful and powerfully prolific: “Good is not only good, but reproductive of good; this is one of its attributes; nothing is excellent, beautiful, perfect, desirable for its own sake, but it overflows, and spreads the likeness of itself all around it.”  END QUOTES

MICHELLE WOLF AND THE THROWAWAY CULTURE by Bishop Robert Barron: re-blogged


by Bishop Robert Barron


The other night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Michelle Wolf, who I’m told is a comedian, regaled the black-tie and sequin-gowned crowd with her “jokes.” Almost all were in extremely bad taste and/or wildly offensive, but one has become accustomed to that sort of coarseness in the comedy clubs and even on mainstream television. However, she crossed over into the territory of the morally appalling when she indulged in this bit of witticism regarding Vice President Mike Pence: “He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And when you do try it, really knock it, you know. You gotta get that baby out of there.” One is just at a loss for words.  I mean, even some in the severely left-leaning crowd in Washington groaned a bit at that remark.

It might be helpful to remind ourselves what Ms. Wolf is referencing when she speaks of “knocking that baby out of there.” She means the evisceration, dismemberment, and vivisection of a child. And lest one think that we are just talking about “bundles of cells,” it is strict liberal orthodoxy that a baby can be aborted at any stage of its prenatal development, even while it rests in the birth canal moments before birth. Indeed, a child, who somehow miraculously survives the butchery of an abortion, should, according to that same orthodoxy, be left to die or actively killed. Sure sounds like fun to me; hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

I realize that these attitudes have been enshrined in American law for some time, but what particularly struck me about the Correspondents’ Dinner was how they were being bandied about so shamelessly for the entertainment of the cultural elite. Let’s face it, the people in that room—politicians, judges, writers, broadcasters, government officials—are the top of the food chain, among the most influential and powerful people in our society. And while the killing of children was being joked about—especially, mind you, the children of the poor, who are disproportionately represented among the victims of abortion—most in this wealthy, overwhelmingly white, elite audience guffawed and applauded.

And this put me in mind of Friedrich Nietzsche. I’ve spoken and written often of the influence of this nineteenth-century thinker, whose musings have trickled their way down through the universities and institutions of the high culture into the general consciousness of many if not most people today. Nietzsche held that the traditional moral values have been exposed as ungrounded and that humanity is summoned to move, accordingly, into a previously unexplored space “beyond good and evil.” In such a morally unmoored universe, the Ubermensch (superman or over-man) emerges to assert his power and impose his rule on those around him. Nietzsche had a special contempt for the Christian values of sympathy, compassion, and love of enemies, characterizing them as the ideals of a “slave morality,” repugnant to the noble aspirations of the Ubermensch. Through his many avatars in the twentieth-century—Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, Ayn Rand, etc.—Nietzsche, as I said, has exerted an extraordinary influence on contemporary thought. Whenever a young person today speaks of traditional ethics as a disguised play of power or of her right to determine the meaning of her own life through an exercise of sovereign freedom, we can hear the overtones of Friedrich Nietzsche.

All of which brings me back to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. When we live in the space beyond good and evil, when morality is construed as entirely the invention of personal freedom, when nothing counts as intrinsically wicked, when any claim to moral authority is automatically shouted-down—in other words, when we live in the world that Nietzsche made possible—then the will of the most powerful necessarily holds sway. And when something or someone gets in the way of what the powerful want, well then, they just “gotta knock it out of there.” Michelle Wolf’s comment was not just a bad joke; it was a brazen display of power, designed to appeal precisely to those who have reached the top of the greasy pole.

One of the extraordinary but often overlooked qualities of a system of objective morality is that it is a check on the powerful and a protection of the most vulnerable. If good and evil are objective states of affairs, then they hem in and control the tendency of cultural elites to dominate others. When objective moral values evanesce, armies of the expendable emerge, and what Pope Francis aptly calls a cultura del descarte (a throwaway culture) obtains. One of the indicators that this has happened is lots of people in tuxedos and formal gowns, sipping from wine glasses, and laughing while someone jokes about the murder of children. END QUOTES



By Bishop Barron

Last month, America magazine published a fascinating survey regarding the attitudes of women in the Church. They were kind enough to publish a few of my reactions to the study, but I would like, in this article, to offer a fuller response to their findings.

One of the most disturbing conclusions from the survey is that women are increasingly disengaging from the life of the Church. The America editors themselves observed that this does not bode well for evangelization, for women have traditionally played a crucial role in the passing on of the faith. I couldn’t agree more. Hans Urs von Balthasar famously opined that Jesus’ own faith and sense of identity (at the level of his human nature) was awakened by the smile of his mother and by her relaying of the story of Israel. I have always taken this as emblematic of the indispensable contribution of mothers to the religious formation of their children. That said, I am equally concerned about the massive attrition of men from the practice of the faith, for study after study have indicated that the fidelity of fathers and grandfathers has a disproportionately significant impact on the faith-development of children, both male and female.

A second finding of the study is that women feel the Church should do more to welcome unmarried parents, the divorced, the widowed, and singles. Once again, I strongly concur. I’m a great devotee of the Catholic Action model that was so prevalent in the period prior to Vatican II but which has largely fallen into desuetude in the last forty or fifty years. In line with Catholic Action instincts, we ought to gather people of similar backgrounds, experiences, and formation and teach them the method of “see, judge, and act.” So yes, parishes could bring together single mothers, widows, etc., and invite them to look at their lives in light of the Gospel and to determine, on that basis, what ought to be done. It is indeed true that, too often, parish life revolves almost exclusively around the concerns and interests of married people and their families. This can and should change.

A third conclusion of the survey I will admit I find a bit puzzling. Only 18% of the women questioned feel that they are “very much involved in decision-making.” Now I fully understand that, given the hierarchical structure of the Church, the final call in most matters belongs to the pastor or the bishop; nevertheless, in my experience in two major Archdioceses, Chicago and Los Angeles, women are rather massively involved in the process of decision-making. Parish staffs and leadership teams are predominantly female, and increasingly, chancery offices and pastoral centers have ample female representation. And this is not simply my subjective impression. I distinctly recall a study by the theologian Catharine LaCugna, which appeared twenty-five years ago in the pages of America. She reported that 80% of religious education instructors and sponsors for the catechumenate are women; that 75% of Bible study leaders and participants are female; that 80% of those who join prayer groups are women; and that 70% of those who are active in parish renewal programs are female. I can’t help but speculate that those numbers have only increased in the last quarter century. And mind you, I enthusiastically applaud this development, which has only enriched the life of the Church.

An intriguing finding of the survey is that most Catholic women consider the care for the poor and the Eucharist as the two most essential elements of Catholic life. Well, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church has three essential tasks: it worships God, it evangelizes, and it cares for the poor. So my first response to this statistical finding is, “two out of three ain’t bad.” The Eucharist is indeed the central act of worship, the “source and summit of the Christian life,” and serving the poor is the moral commitment that flows most directly from rightly ordered worship. However, I must say that I do worry that the women surveyed didn’t seem to put evangelization on an equal footing, especially now when so many are drifting into the ranks of the “nones.” I also remark a certain cognitive dissonance. On the one hand large numbers of women say that the Eucharist is central to one’s identity as a Catholic, and yet 75% of women stay away from the Mass on a regular basis. The Fathers of Vatican II wanted “full, conscious, and active” participation in the liturgy. This survey confirms what a thousand other surveys over the past five decades have indicated, namely, that we are a long, long way from realizing that conciliar aspiration.

I must say that what both surprised and heartened me the most was the discovery that fully 90% of the women surveyed say that they have not experienced sexism in the Catholic Church. Obviously, any type of sexism at any time is bad, but I wonder whether any other organization could put up numbers as good as these. Would 90% of women in the corporate world, in Hollywood, in government, or in education say that they never experienced sexism? I sincerely doubt it. I think that these numbers indicate that, though we still have a lot to do to address the problems of sexism and misogyny in the Church, we have indeed made a good deal of progress. END QUOTES

JOHN THE BAPTIST’S   by Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Dr. Italy) : re-blogged

JOHN THE BAPTIST’S   by Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Dr. Italy)

John the Baptist Birthday; Cause for celebration

On June 24, the Church observes a solemn feast in honor of the birth or nativity of John the Baptist.  No other saint’s birthday is celebrated with such solemnity.  The unique role of the Forerunner, the Voice crying out in the Wilderness, in the history of salvation is part of the reason.  But also the Church wants to draw our attention to the witness of John’s character.  It teaches us much about the path to holiness and the Kingdom of God.

On December the 25th, we celebrate the big one—the birthday of Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. The Church actually does not celebrate the birthday of the saints, except that of Jesus’ mother. Generally, their special day in the calendar is the date of their death, their entry into eternal life. But there is one notable exception. Since we celebrate the birthday of the Word, we also celebrate the birthday of the Voice. We’re referring to Jesus’ cousin of course, John the Baptist, the Voice crying out in the wilderness.


John plays a unique role in the history of salvation. We call him the Baptist. Eastern Christians call him the Forerunner. Only Luke’s gospel tells us of the marvelous circumstances surrounding his birth. But each of the four gospels tells us of his essential work in preparing the way for Jesus.

They also tell us something further—that John was a model of the key virtue of humility extolled by the first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount—Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.

Let’s examine the record. Crowds were coming to hear John from all over Israel before anyone even heard a peep out of the carpenter from Nazareth. In fact, John even baptized his cousin.  This launched Jesus’ public ministry, leading to the demise of John’s career.


Most of us would not appreciate the competition. The Pharisees and Sadducees certainly did not. They felt threatened by Jesus popularity.

But John actually encouraged his disciples to leave him and follow the Lamb of God. When people came, ready to honor John as messiah, he set them straight. He was not the star of the show, only the best supporting actor. Jesus, he said, was the one to watch. John may have been center-stage for a while, but now that the star had shown up, the Baptist realized that it was time for him to slip quietly behind the curtain.


Or to use John’s own example, he was like the best man at a wedding (John 3:29). It certainly is an honor to be chosen as “best man.” But the best man does not get the bride. According to Jewish custom at the time of Jesus, the best man’s role was to bring the bride to the bridegroom, and then make a tactful exit. And John found joy in this. “My joy is now full. He must increase and I must decrease.”

The Baptist was joyful because he was humble. In fact, he shows us the true nature of this virtue. Humility is not beating up on yourself, denying that you have any gifts, talents, or importance. John knew he had an important role which he played aggressively, with authority and confidence. The humble man does not sheepishly look down on himself. Actually, he does not look at himself much at all. He looks away from himself to the Lord.

At one time or another, every human being battles a nagging sense of inadequacy. Pride is sin’s approach to dealing with this. Proud people are preoccupied with self, seeing all others as competitors. The proud exalt themselves over others in hopes that this will provide a sense of worth and inner peace. Of course, it doesn’t. Human history has proven that time and time again. Even the pagan Greek storytellers knew that hubris or pride was the precursor of tragedy. Pride always comes before the fall, as it did in the Garden of Eden.


Humility brings freedom from this frantic bondage. Trying at every turn to affirm, exalt, and protect oneself is an exhausting enterprise. Receiving one’s dignity and self-worth as a gift from God relieves us from this stressful burden. Freed from the blinding compulsion to dominate, we can feel a sense of satisfaction when others recognize that God is God and honor him as such. We can even be free to recognize God in someone else and rejoice when others notice and honor God’s goodness this person.

There is another aspect of John’s character to reflect upon as we celebrate his birthday. Repeatedly, the gospels associate the Baptist with spiritual joy. At the presence of Jesus and Mary, he leapt for joy in his mothers womb (Luke 1:44). And it says that he rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29-30).

But how do we reconcile this joy with John’s stark call to repent?

Because repentance is all about humility and humility is all about freedom. And freedom leads to inner peace and joy, joy in the presence of the Bridegroom.

This post on the birth of John the Baptist or Forerunner is offered as a reflection on the readings for the Solemnity (Feast) of the birthday or Nativity of John the Baptist (Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 139; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80). END Quotes

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

From a colorful and varied background as a professor of theology, a father of five, business owner, and professional performer Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) crafts talks, blog posts, books, and videos that are always fascinating, practical, and easy to understand.  He is a popular speaker, TV and radio personality, New York Times best-selling author, and pilgrimage host who has been leading people on a journey of discovery for over thirty years.  For a fuller bio and video, visit the Dr. Italy page. For a full Curriculum Vitae (CV) of Dr. Italy, click here.

The Feathers of Gossip: How our Words can Build Up or Tear Down: by Edward Sri….Re-bogged

The Feathers of Gossip: How our Words can Build Up or Tear Down

By: Edward Sri

The story is often told of the most unusual penance St. Philip Neri assigned to a woman for her sin of spreading gossip. The sixteenth-century saint instructed her to take a feather pillow to the top of the church bell tower, rip it open, and let the wind blow all the feathers away. This probably was not the kind of penance this woman, or any of us, would have been used to!

But the penance didn’t end there. Philip Neri gave her a second and more difficult task. He told her to come down from the bell tower and collect all the feathers that had been scattered throughout the town. The poor lady, of course, could not do it-and that was the point Philip Neri was trying to make in order to underscore the destructive nature of gossip. When we detract from others in our speech, our malicious words are scattered abroad and cannot be gathered back. They continue to dishonor and divide many days, months, and years after we speak them as they linger in people’s minds and pass from one tale-bearer to the next.

The Power of Our Words

We often do not realize the power of our words. Our words can be used to buildup or to tear down. We can have a positive impact on other people’s lives when we use our words for good. Consider how much we appreciate it when someone takes time to express words of gratitude, honor, or praise; or how enriched we are when someone takes a genuine interest in our lives. Conversation that focuses on what is good and honorable can edify other people’s lives and help strengthen the community.

Very often, however, our speech is used in a destructive way. St. James states “the tongue is a fire,” and he describes how easy it is to fall into sinful speech: “No human being can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men” (Jas.3:6, 8-9). St. Paul exhorts us: “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). Yet many people fall into negative humor, constantly pointing out others’ faults, albeit in a joking fashion.  Young people today, instead of outdoing one another in showing honor, often imitate characters on popular TV shows and YouTube videos and try to outdo one another with a witty quip that pokes fun at another person.

We tear down others when we point out their weak points, criticize them, or complain about them when they are not present. We may, for example, start off speaking positively about someone, yet add a “but” in the middle of our sentence that precedes our mentioning a certain fault or annoying point we think that person possesses. “He’s a great guy, but sometimes he talks too much.” “I love mom, but sometimes she can get on my nerves.” Such detraction is not necessary and diminishes the honor that is due to the other person.

This article was featured on my Podcast last week: All Things Catholic with Edward Sri — listen here!

Christian Happiness by RAYMOND LA GRANGE, O.P.: re-blogged

Christian Happiness


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains the radical moral vision of Christianity. Quite striking is the way in which he begins this explanation. He does not commence his sermon with an abstract exposition of morality. Nor does he offer a basic description of the initial stages of the spiritual life. Instead, he begins at the end, describing the eight characteristics of the truly happy Christian. These eight characteristics are knowns as the beatitudes. In this way, Jesus orders the whole of the moral life toward happiness.

It is easy to see the beatitudes as praising mere misfortune, as if poverty and persecution lead directly to happiness. But this is not the case. The beatitudes are in fact an expression of perfection. They are grouped in three categories: the first three concern the flight from sin, the next two the active life, and the last three the contemplative life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, who are not slaves to material goods. Blessed are those who mourn, knowing the emptiness of transitory goods and the gravity of sin. Blessed are the meek, who, knowing that we are all children of God, do not trouble themselves with petty disputes. The Christian is thus freed from sin.

When sin is subjected, the happy Christian is able to seek the good in his action. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness—not those with simply a natural indignation at injustice, but a true thirst for righteousness. At the same time, blessed are the merciful. This union of justice and mercy mirrors the union of these attributes in God. This divine harmony avoids the all-too-human excesses of both ungoverned indignation and inert well-wishing.

With his action in harmony with the divine ideal, the Christian rises to the contemplative life. Blessed are the clean of heart, whose hearts are not troubled by worldly corruption but have room for God alone. Blessed are the peacemakers who, seeing the beauty of God’s providential plan and possessing the peace that follows therefrom, are able to pass that peace on to others. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Since God is enough, even suffering is no obstacle to happiness.

Jesus thus sketches here, in a few brief statements, the portrait of the happy Christian. The Christian moral life is not about following a list of rules; rather, it is  about detaching oneself from sin, seeking the good, and, as much as possible in this life, possessing God himself. This perfection was so great that the suffering of the martyrs was nothing compared to the happiness which they attained. This is a happiness which God still wishes to bestow upon all of us. END QUOTES

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




By Br. Raymond La Grange, O.P.

Br. Raymond La Grange entered the order of preachers in 2016. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta, where he studied chemistry and physics.

Why Be (or Continue to Be) Catholic? by REV. JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J.:Reblogged

Why Be (or Continue to Be) Catholic?

On a recent book review TV interview program called Q/A, Ross Douthat, author of To Change the Church, was asked about his own beliefs. He responded quite frankly that he was a Catholic. When asked why, Douthat replied that, as far as he could see, a divine intervention did take place in this world around the time and appearance of Christ. He added that the essence of this intervention has been best preserved down the subsequent ages by the Catholic Church. This sensible view is one that many Catholics would also accept as valid. Indeed, probably the best way to see the divine intervention spelled out step by step is in Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth. After reviewing most of the scholarly literature on this topic, Benedict concluded that the evidence seems to show that Christ was “who He said He was.”

But few are much concerned with an intellectual understanding of the facts of the matter. Something else is going on today. Not many really seem to worry about the truth of these issues, though that is where the real drama lies. Freely to assent to truth is the heart of what it means to be civilized. In a way, however, our culture is beyond truth. We make up our own universe; the Supreme Court tells us this is our “right.” Such a development, wherein we impose our ideas on reality rather than let reality instruct us about what it is, usually means to opt for one or other current fantasy or ideology that is custom-designed to explain away things that we choose not to accept, no matter what the evidence.

Many millions of words have now been written about the meaning of the Irish abortion vote, one foreshadowed by a similar change in Quebec decades ago. In both cases, areas that had been proudly Catholic for centuries, suddenly decided to ditch its tradition in order to join the secular world, with its principles and practices. A radical change in these cultures had already taken place, as Plato would say, in the souls of the citizens of these areas. From this viewpoint, the change was not so surprising. Human order is built on fidelity to tradition and principle. It is not immune to change as if it were a material object. Indeed, reasonable change is part of its stability.

Likewise, many Catholic churches, orphanages, hospitals, and schools in Europe and America have closed. Muslims are willing to move into these edifices if allowed to do so. Many famous churches have long been national monuments or museums under government support. I read somewhere that, regarding the visiting of churches in Dublin, that the only people there were American tourists, often looking for their ancestors. While there are signs of life in various areas of the Church, a survey of the whole, to be frank, is rather bleak. Whether Scripture or tradition gives us many grounds for expecting anything too different is doubtful. Christ himself asked the disciples whether, on his return, they thought there would be faith on earth (Luke 18, 7-8). This passage is always a testimonial to the powers that are in constant opposition to what Christ put into the world.

In the past several years, I have perceived a noticeable loss of intellectual acumen that the Church had gained with John Paul II and Benedict. Many are upset by this lack of depth, especially more recent converts who came into the Church with the help of the vigorous thinking we still see from these two popes. But the main reason for the decline of Church membership is the desire to be like the rest of modern society. Many want Catholic teaching to be viewed and interpreted through a modern lens.

We no longer speak of “heretics” today. Instead, everybody is nice, with a “right” to his own opinion. Nothing is held as definite, precisely so that nothing binds. This freedom of opinion leads to everyone having mostly the same opinions, increasingly enforced by authority. Things that once seemed unchangeable are now changed or expected to change in the near future. The clergy and the bishops are not much help, as they seem—to many at least—to betray the same symptoms.


In the light of these comments, and in spite of scandals and confusion in Rome, we still need to ask: “Why should we continue to be Catholic?” Much of the controversy that swirls around the Holy Father has, at its origin, the feeling that certain basic—once thought non-negotiable—principles and practices have been revoked or at least implicitly allowed to pass away. Under the aegis of finely-tuned “mercy” and “discernment,” a method has been developed that was hoped would justify this accommodation of the Church to that modernity and those of its principles that everyone seems eager to embrace.

Recent remarks and decisions, often coming from Archbishop Luis Ladaria, the current Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, however, have been more careful. We have seen a firm statement that women cannot be priests. The German formula for interfaith communion at a wedding is set aside. A renewed interest in the centrality of doctrine appears in CDF documents. These are welcome signs. However, the dubia are still not answered. Good Catholics are still seen as rigid. The papacy often appears to act in the public eye like a political party of the left. Christianity is seen mainly as a force to lead sundry crusades over ecology, poverty, and immigration, yet such initiatives are difficult to square with good economics, science, and politics.

Not a few have also pointed out that an indirect papal input in the various pro-abortion and gay marriage votes in Ireland and Portugal occurred with Catholics being advised to deal with more “important” things. Their enemies, to give them credit, do not think these issues are among the lesser important things. Many wonder whether the Church does not now see itself as simply a socio-political movement instrumental primarily in curing our temporal ills. The irony is that the methods recommended in these areas have almost invariably, when tried, made things worse. We do find considerable talk of sanctity and holiness, but again, this is often of an activist kind. The contemplative life, the life that is needed to keep our souls in touch with the transcendent, seems to be minimized.


Let us ask again: “Why be, or continue to be, Catholic today?” The only sensible reason is that what the Church teaches is true to its immediate origin in divinity itself. Has the Church on any major issue contradicted its own mandate? This is a delicate point, as only the Church believes that it is the sole depository of this mandate.

In thinking about these things, I again take my cue from the “heretics” who refuse to leave the Church but stay in it to transform it, as they say, into their image of modernity. In the end, they can find no place else to go. They are already wrapped within modernity’s orbit. The effort from within to transform Christianity into modernity, to align its basic premises with those of the modern world, may seem like a plausible, shrewd tactic, and many have already made this transition.

Catholics who remain in the Church and see the Church no longer consistent with its founding purpose often find themselves perplexed. Practically no one is excommunicated for holding any position associated with modernity. They see people, in apparent good standing, in the Church, who accept and practice most of the aberrations of modern social living. Indeed, it seems like we have two Churches holding contradictory views within the same Church. The usual division between liberal and conservative is practically useless as a way to understand the difference. The issue is a matter of truth, not interpretation.

To many, both inside and outside the Church, there seems to be much ecclesiastical confusion. Upsetting new interpretations constantly appear. Previously, many considered the Church wrong, but no one thought it did not hold or articulate what it affirmed on basic points of practice and doctrine. The primary argument that the Church teaches the same things over time does not seem valid for many any longer. The same things are no longer being taught and affirmed in all dioceses, schools, seminaries, and institutions. Various attempts have been made to explain how the Church can be both loyal to its tradition and, without contradiction, accept the basic premises of modernity.

For instance, Jesus was said to look at current events and see what needed to be changed, and so he changed things according to what was needed at the time. “Loyalty” to tradition thus means doing the same for our time. First we do what needs to be done; then we develop a theory to justify it. The word “discernment” has come to mean the ability to read almost directly into temporary things or situations the action of the Holy Spirit. On the basis of what we think we discern, we can act with confidence that we are not following our own wills but that of the Holy Spirit.

Or we can say that we do not know exactly what Jesus said or did, and that he really did not lay down basic principles that needed to be maintained over time to protect the authenticity of his teaching and revelation. He was merciful and compassionate, and the best we can do is to read the “signs of the times” and accommodate ourselves to where the Spirit, in mercy and compassion, is leading us. This approach would allow us to put aside our “absolutes” and embrace the pastoral changes that the culture has already put into place.

However plausible these positions may seem, if indeed they do seem plausible, they clearly avoid facing the central issue of whether a definite revelation in Christ was to be maintained for the good of man down the ages in spite of persecution, disagreement, and other cultural conditions in other eras.

Can we continue to be Catholic today? Only if one thing remains true and upheld. Only if the same teachings and practices that were handed down and guaranteed down the ages remain the foundation of the Church. This revelation in all its ramifications is what best explains human meaning and destiny. If the substance of this revelation is not upheld, the question is no longer a merely human problem of whether or not to be loyal to a tradition. It is the breakdown of revelation itself since it is no longer credible on its own terms. The guarantee of Christ is to be with us till the end, with the central teachings and practices of his life at the center. If this content and sequence is not maintained in a living way, i.e., in a thoroughly nuanced but plain way, we have no reason still to be Catholic.

What is unusual about our time is not its opposition to or rejection of the truth of this revelation. Adversaries have been found in every era. What is new is the worry that radical changes have been made in an official way that would cause us to doubt the integrity of the original revelation. At least some of us can still affirm with Douthat that a divine intervention did take place in Christ and that it is best preserved in the Catholic Church. The same intervention also gives us the criterion for judging when the latter is not credible—namely when the Church, as guardian of revelation, clearly changes its own truths instead of uphold them before the nations down the ages. This is why contemporary writers like Douthat carefully watch for changes that take place in Rome.

(Photo credit: CNA / L’Osservatore Romano)

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.


Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., taught political science at Georgetown University for many years. He is the author of The Mind That Is Catholicfrom Catholic University of America Press; Remembering Belloc from St. Augustine Press; and Reasonable Pleasures from Ignatius Press. His newest books include A Line Through the Human Heart: On Sinning and Being Forgiven (2016) and On the Principles of Taxing Beer and Other Brief Philosophical Essays (2017). His most recent books are Catholicism and Intelligence (Emmaus Road, 2017) and The Universe We Think In (CUA Press, 2018).

There are 8 kinds of love which one are you in? by  Christina Kleehammer : reblogged

There are 8 kinds of love which one are you in?

 Christina Kleehammer |



Psychologist Robert Sternberg developed a theory that helps explain the many ways we experience love.

Some years ago, I was dating a guy who took his time telling me he loved me. He told me he didn’t want to say it until he knew he wanted to say it forever. I was okay with that because I knew I wouldn’t say it back unless I felt the same. So when he finally whispered it in my ear on that warm September night by the river, I knew what it meant, and after whispering it back, I asked, “Does this mean I’ll be Mrs. Kleehammer someday?”

He said it did. And 15 years later, I’m still Mrs. Kleehammer.

There’s nothing like hearing those three magic words— I love you — to send waves of fuzzy warmth radiating throughout your entire body. But have you ever been in a relationship where those words were exchanged — but you found yourself wondering if you both meant the same thing?

We tend to use the word love to describe our positive feelings for everyone and everything — from our parents, friends, pets, and romantic love interests to our favorite dessert recipe. Psychologist Robert Sternberg has developed a theory that can help us begin to understand the various ways we experience love. He calls it the “Triangular Theory of Love” — triangular because love consists of three components in combination: intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Intimacy is a sense of closeness, friendship, having a bond. Passion is the sensual, sexual attraction, and commitment is the decision and plan to remain committed to the relationship.

We experience different types of love based on the presence and absence of each of these three components.


Non-love is the absence of intimacy, passion and commitment. It’s what we feel for new acquaintances (at least those that we don’t fall in love with at first sight). Most of the time, non-love is not even considered an actual type of love at all — for obvious reasons — but I would argue that there can still be love at this level. After all, Jesus wanted everyone to love one another, right? It’s not that he was saying we all need to be intimately and passionately committed to people we’ve never met, but that we are supposed to foster love in the form of good will toward our fellow humans because we all brothers and sisters.


Liking is a level of intimacy without passion or commitment. This is the type of love we feel for our buddy who loves to bike with us, or pal who hosts game night every week. It’s even the kind of love we feel for our college bestie, who has been better at keeping in touch and arranging get-togethers than we ever expected. Great conversations, companionship, mutual interests — these are the things that gradually lead to solid friendships. Liking, even though it doesn’t come with passion or commitment, can nurture a close bond. Play cards and share a pizza enough times with the same person, confide a few things in one another, and they’ll inevitably become a major part of your life. Liking is kind of the foundation-like layer of love in your life.


Infatuation is passion without intimacy or commitment. This is the crush that you can’t stop thinking about, or the guy you’ve had a few dates with and are crazy about. It’s the moment when your new guy walks in the room and your heart nearly leaps out of your chest. Many would argue that infatuation should be considered a form of lust rather than love, but those who experience it often do consider themselves “in love.” Sadly, though fun at times, this state is fleeting — it either fades away or progresses into a more substantial form of love. And thank goodness, because who could sustain that amount of sheer heart-thumping craziness for more than a few months? You’d never get anything done, because infatuated people can’t focus on anything besides the object of their attraction. Dishes go unwashed, the car oil stays unchanged, the LinkedIn profile stays un-updated. But it’s sweet while it lasts, right?

Romantic love

Romantic love is intimacy and passion without commitment, describing a state that most serious dating relationships go through before any kind of real plans for the future are involved. This is the heavenly “falling in love” moment — but still the stage when you’re hesitant to mention your sister’s wedding in the fall for fear he’ll think you’re inviting him. Many are content to stay here for a while, and simply enjoy the journey together, but others find themselves in the classic situation of “wondering where the relationship is going.” When this happens, intimacy leads to heartfelt conversations that clarify each other’s feelings. Hopefully, you’re both headed in the same direction.

Conjugal love

Conjugal love is intimacy and commitment without passion. This is the kind of love that many married couples find themselves in after several years. Some begin to feel they want to rekindle the passion — hence those “spice it up” articles that come through your newsfeed — while others find they are perfectly content with this type of love. Even some unmarried couples see conjugal love as a strong enough bond to get married. I recently spoke with a woman who was once engaged to a man she was intimate with, but wasn’t passionate about. It didn’t bother her, because she figured that passion would fade eventually anyway. However, when she realized that marrying him would mean she would never experience that passion, with anyone, she couldn’t go through with it — it seemed like “settling.” Eventually, she did meet and marry a man she was very passionate about, and while their relationship has developed into a more conjugal type of love at this point, she says the passion was important in forming the initial strength of their marriage bond. She’s thankful she didn’t rob herself of that experience by marrying someone for whom she didn’t feel any passion.

Fatuous love

Fatuous love — in contrast to conjugal love — is passion and commitment without intimacy. It’s the serious relationship where the couple is sexually on fire, but does not have a lot of common ground for companionship. These are couples who have a lot of “drama” in their lives, and seem to get a charge out of either fighting or being physically intimate. Since intimacy tends to be the element that carries a relationship through difficult times, couples who experience fatuous love can strengthen their commitment by being more intentional about developing their friendship, practicing empathy, and discovering mutual interests to bond over.

Empty love

Empty love describes a relationship that has commitment without passion or intimacy. Now, no one hopes to find themselves in this kind of marriage, but it’s not uncommon — people do grow apart even when they’ve taken vows. But note that passion and intimacy are both very fluid, and they can flow just as easily as they can ebb. A few years ago, my husband and I went through a difficult season in our marriage where we would both admit that our passion and intimacy suffered greatly. But we did not give up on each other, and as we grew over time, we were eventually able to re-cultivate both. Now, our passion and intimacy are stronger than ever, as is our commitment. So as long as there is still commitment, and a willingness to grow, there is still hope for the rest.

Consumate love

Consummate love is the Grand Poobah of all loves. This one is ultimately what we’re all hoping for in our “forever” love — the combination of intimacy, passion and commitment. Sternberg refers to it as the “ultimate, all-consuming love.”

Reaching this level of love means allowing the relationship to evolve over time, often passing through other kinds of love along the way. And many times, both members of the relationship may be experiencing different types of love in the same relationship. Perhaps the defining moment for a couple is not necessarily the moment they say those three magic words, but the moment they come to a mutual understanding of what those words mean in the relationship. In the early days of a relationship, it’s unlikely both players are ready for consummate love — that’s totally normal. But if the complete version is what we want, it’s important to know that about ourselves, so we won’t settle, or sell ourselves short. We have to take the time to understand where we’re at in love — and whether or not where we’re at is where we really want to be. END QUOTES