When the “Reformers” Abandoned the Eucharist REV. …JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J.

 

When the “Reformers” Abandoned the Eucharist

REV. JAMES V. SCHALL, S.J.

The first lines of Belloc’s 1936 book, The Characters of the Reformation, are these: “The break-up of united western Christendom with the coming of the Reformation was by far the most important thing in history since the formation of the Catholic Church fifteen hundred years before.” We live in a time when the Reformation is looked on with friendly eyes. The Reformation was said to be a very good thing, the beginning of modern “freedom” and “individualism.”

Yet, is there any validity in Belloc’s observation about the significance of the Reformation? What exactly was his point? He called it precisely “the most important thing in history” since the Incarnation. By implication, it was more related to the elimination of Christianity than to any return to its origins.

Most of the mainline Protestant churches of the original Reformation, from the Anglicans and the Lutherans to the Congregationalists, are in serious decline. The break-up is on-going. The phrase—“Ecclesia semper reformanda”—sometimes was attributed to Luther, but it may have come from Karl Barth via something in St. Augustine. Its spirit had a much greater reach than anyone probably intended at the time. We see statistics telling us that some twenty thousand Protestant sects exist. Not a few think that the Catholic Church itself looks more and more “Protestant” every day in the way it “reforms” itself. Luther is no longer reviled but praised.

 

Many others do not think that the Reformation began with the 95 Theses and the other problems of Martin Luther. The origins go back to the German mystics of the Middle Ages, as to the voluntarism and nominalism of Duns Scotus and William of Occam. These pre-Reformation reformers held in common that man had some direct relation to God that in principle bypassed any need of a Church. One could reach God by mystical experience.

The Church provided nothing but an outside series of demands that kept the soul from directly communicating with God. Basically, there was just “me and God.” That relationship was the only one that mattered in the spiritual life, which, in essence, was simple and earnest. The invention of a complex set of laws and rites was an accretion, a deviation from Christ’s intention.

In the Catholic tradition, why was the Church itself especially necessary? It seemed to set up a second level community that claimed allegiance of both a visible presence in this world and a membership in the City of God that transcended this world. Following Aristotle, man was a social and political being even in his redemption. His perfection fostered friendship with others, including God. The Church was founded by Christ in his lifetime. It was set up with authority and charged to go forth to the nations and to worship God following Christ’s guidance during his time on Earth.

The Church was designed as the mediator between man and God. It was based on the metaphysical notion that secondary causes really existed. God did not do everything but empower rational creatures especially to participate in his creative and redemptive actions. The sacraments were to be administered through the Church’s authority, itself assigned to it by Christ, the Son of God. “All nations” were to be baptized. God’s graces came through the sacraments.

Ecclesial authority was not the result of human agency. It was not modeled on political societies, on a social contract. The Church did recognize the state’s competence, in the “things that are Caesar’s.” Man was required to do things, things that revealed his soul and character, lightsome things and serious things.

One thing incumbent on redeemed man was to worship God after the manner that Christ established at the Last Supper. The other was to live a life worthy of this relation to the Father through Christ. “Unless you eat this bread and drink this cup, you shall not have everlasting life in you” (John 6:53).

It is not that there was no personal relation to God in faith. This direct relation was often stressed by Paul. Sacraments in fact were part of this direct relation. But what counted was an obedient relationship that looked to what was revealed and not just to what man concocted by his own feelings or desires. The moral life and the liturgical life were seen to stem from the same source and required each other. They were to exist in harmony. The current controversy over Amoris Laetitia actually involves the question of whether one’s subjective understanding can overrule the norms explicitly set forth by Christ. If one’s subjective conscience alone is what matters, there would be no need of a Church or a priesthood within it.

II.

What Belloc saw in the Reformation was not a revitalization of the Church but the premises, if they continued in their own logic, of its eventual demise. It could be reformed out of existence. This view would not necessarily imply the disappearance of Christianity contrary to Christ’s promise to be with it to the end. But it would indicate a picture of an end-time in which few believers remained (Luke 18:8). Joseph Pieper’s 1980 book, The End of Time, spelled out this inner-terrestrial consequence.

 

Eric Voegelin once remarked, in his 1968 book, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, that modernity was largely the result of Christian men losing their faith in the transcendent order. They shifted their allegiance almost exclusively to the enterprises of this world. The separation of faith and works left works with an autonomy of their own, instead of, as in the Catholic tradition, seeing the transcendent end directing the things of this world to their own natural order.

 

Catholicism saw the natural world itself as indicating a relation of order to God.

But with Luther’s anti-Aristotelian views, the world was evaporated of any connection between mind and God. The examination of the world led not to transcendence but to atheism. It turns out that Aristotle and what he stood for, namely the integrity of reason’s capacity to know reality, was necessary for the integrity of faith itself. Faith was not so blind that it could see nothing in reason when it encountered the order of things.

III.

Separating faith from action in this world affected the sacramental function of the Church. Step by step it disappeared from theology and culture. We might say that faith was saved but what Christ told us to do was lost. The real problem was not God, but the literal fact of the Incarnation, of the presence of the Second Person, the Son, in this actual world.

In his insightful essay, “Phenomenology and the Eucharist,” Msgr. Robert Sokolowski wrote: “One could say perhaps that the controversies about the Eucharist—and hence about the Church … were the way in which the resistance to the Incarnation was carried out throughout the second millennium of the Church’s history.” The most difficult thing to believe, to repeat, is not the existence of God but his Incarnation in the Person of Christ.

Thus, the Jews never accepted the Christ or the Trinity from which it proceeds. In Muslim thought, Christ is not divine, but just a good man, a prophet. Belief in the Incarnation and Trinity are blasphemous. This trend of post Reformation thought was in the same direction to which Benedict XVI pointed in his “dehellenization” steps in “The Regensburg Lecture.” Scripture became an object of purely scientific methodology. It a priori disallowed any evidence not open to this method that always presupposed quantity. Christ again became just a good man (#32 ff.). As a result, none of the divine claims associated with him had any objective standing.

The crux of the matter is the real presence and how it is maintained. The Mass presupposed the same Sacrifice that Christ endured. There is only one Mass in the history of the world. It is conceived on an altar. It requires priests authorized to make the Sacrifice present to the congregation. All, priests and people, face the same direction historically. The heart of the Church’s presence in the world is the Eucharist and the other sacraments.

If Christ is not really present in the Eucharist, the Mass soon becomes a meal, not a sacrifice. The altar is changed into a table. The priest is not an alter Christus but a leader of the congregation. The bread and wine are memorials that remind us of the Last Supper. The leader is gradually not a bishop or a priest or a leader, the congregation itself rules and selects its officers and beliefs.

We soon reach the Unitarians who see no need for any Trinity or Incarnation even in faith. There is no need of any mediation between God and man. Indeed, there may not be any need of a God. All transcendent notions have become re-subsumed back into a project in this world. Issues of preparing for death and judgment, for resurrection are long forgotten.

“A loss of faith in the Eucharist—a loss of faith in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, and a loss of faith in the identity of the Eucharistic sacrifice and that of Calvary—leads,” Sokolowski observed,

to a loss of faith in the Resurrection, which leads to a loss of faith in the Incarnation, which leads to a loss of belief in the Holy Trinity? If you deny the truth of the Eucharist, you begin the drift to Unitarianism. I wonder also if the trace to iconoclasm in the Church in recent decades—the removal of statues and pictures, the movement towards abstraction in architecture and decoration … does not also raise difficulties in regards to faith in the Incarnation. The human mind seems persistently unwilling to accept the intense nearness of God incarnate, which affirms Creation and makes everything real.

If we return to Belloc’s remarks after following this sequence, it becomes quite clear that the Reformation did not end with the Reformation. It is only ending in our time when we see the existential logic of denial carried out step by step over time.

If we read these reflections with care, it seems clear that our political controversies are, at bottom, really theological. Imbedded in our politics is not only an increasingly vigorous and even violent denial of its very existence, but an even more stubborn refusal to accept any natural order as if it contained some order of its own that cause us to be the sort of beings we are. Not only do we not recognize Christ in the Eucharist, but we do not recognize man in his own nature. The relation of reason to faith is meaningless if both faith and reason are empty of content.

We are left with a humanism that lacks any notion of what is there to believe in and a faith with nothing objectively to affirm. This result is what we mean by “freedom.” The premises of the Creator-God from the beginning were to leave man free to accept both the Creation and the Incarnation that sought to redirect him to his true transcendent end. Every indication exists that this result was anticipated. Even the Church at times seems confused. To conform to the “modern world” now ends by insisting that we conform to an empty world that began by losing its faith in the real presence at the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is the monument of Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany. It was designed by J.G. Schadow in 1821.END QUOTES

 

Tagged as AtheismHilaire BellocHoly EucharistProtestant Reformation

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By 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 book is Catholicism and Intelligence (Emmaus Road, 2017).

 

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“Mary Did you Know & the Immaculate Conception” Reblogged from TCT

By: Alan L. Anderson

“Mary, Did You Know?” and the Immaculate Conception

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2017

Note: Don’t forget that Fr. Gerald Murray and I will be in EWTN’s “The World Over,” tonight with Raymond Arroyo. And also, please remember that we are trying to finish up our end of year fundraising drive. We still need you to click the button and help, at whatever level you are able. – Robert Royal

 We live in a time when Truth is often sacrificed in the service of cheap sentimentality. Such is the case with the now-ubiquitous Christmas carol, “Mary, Did You Know?” as opposed to the very real Truth of the Immaculate Conception. “Mary, Did You Know?” is a beautiful song. The melody – so gentle, with just a hint of hope fused with sadness – mixes with lyrics that draw us into one of the most relatable and beautiful moments of the human experience, a mother contemplating her newborn child. The song has become so popular that it is not unusual to hear it played in Catholic churches during both the Advent and Christmas seasons. The problem is that it’s both unbiblical and heretical and, thus, offers us a false image of Mary. which masks the true beauty of her whole story.

The specific questions the song asks us to consider about the Blessed Mother break down into two categories. The first category asks if Mary knew who Jesus was– e.g. that He would “save our sons and daughters,” “would one day rule the nations,” etc. The second category of questions asks if Mary knew what Jesus would do – e.g. “walk on water,” “give sight to the blind,” etc.

With respect to the first set of questions, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes, she knew who her son was.” The Angel Gabriel tells her so in Luke 1: “you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” “Jesus,” is the anglicized version of the Hebrew, “Yeshua,” which means “God saves.” Similarly, Gabriel goes on to tell her in the next two verses: “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Throw in such biblical evidence as Elizabeth calling Mary, “Mother of my Lord,” and Mary’s observation that all generations would “call her blessed” and it’s pretty obvious she knew her baby boy had come to “save our sons and daughters,” etc. – an archangel had told her as much.

With respect to the second set of questions, did she know what her son would do, the answer is a bit more speculative: “Well, maybe not exactly, but she could have guessed much of it.” Mary certainly had at least a basic understanding of her Hebrew faith and would have known the coming of the Messiah would be occasioned by a variety of miracles such as the blind seeing, the lame walking, etc. Every Hebrew would have known this; the Old Testament predicted that what the Messiah did would prove who he was. To take just one example: In Matthew 11, when John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus asking if he is the Messiah, Jesus responds (v. 4) by telling them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk” His acts proved who he was.

Most troubling in strictly dogmatic terms, though, is the last line of the first stanza which states, “This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” This is not a question but a statement which specifically contradicts the dogma of The Immaculate Conception in that it assumes Mary is not yet “saved.”

Here, the very troubling, unbiblical questions of the rest of the song give way to an asserted heresy, which serve to blind, to mislead, the listener from just who Mary was and is. Pope Pius IX in his 1854 bull, Ineffabilis Deus, infallibly declared her to be who she confirmed herself to be four years later when she appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous – the Immaculate Conception. The sentimentality dulls the spiritual palate just as a candy cane would spoil the rich, textured flavor of the Christmas prime rib. It throws a gauzy haze over the true beauty of the Christmas story and prevents us from entering into the authentic mysteries of the whole event.

In the Annunciation, for instance, we see not some clueless teen questioning just what’s going on. Instead, we see Innocence, itself, personified. An angel appears to the Blessed Mother and she’s bothered by it not one wit. The same angel appears to Zechariah, and he’s fearful. Gabriel appears to the Blessed Mother and she’s troubled only by the greeting, “Hail, full of grace,” as if speaking with an angel were the most natural thing in the world. The same angel tells Zechariah he’s going to have a son, but Zechariah demands proof. Gabriel tells Mary she’s going to have a son and, in the humility with a purity of a soul seeking only God’s will, and she asks simply, “How?”

Again, at the Nativity we see not some puzzled figure trying to understand what her role in this all might be. Despite the title of the song: Mary knew. So in the Biblical account, we’re invited to ponder, to meditate on, the almost unfathomable mystery of God’s Son choosing to enter the world in a stable – and we’re invited to see this through the eyes of an Immaculate Heart, in its complete purity and innocence, that knew exactly what it was witnessing.

It is our call – our challenge, really – to enter into these mysteries, to see their beauty and to aspire, with God’s grace, to such holiness and knowledge. We shouldn’t be distracted by anything – song, story, or otherwise – that invites us to opt for what’s warm and fuzzy instead of the full beauty of truth. END QUOTES

 

© 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

“CALM YOUR MIND TONIGHT” re -blogged from MY FRIEND: {I CAN FLY}

This post is evidence of FAITH sought & received [PJM]

CALM YOUR MIND TONIGHT

Humbly, I’m not the greatest writer but I’m a great writer, and I have an anointing. I want you to know that it is going to be okay. God has got it. God has got a plan for your life.

If you are angry at your storms, you are missing out on blessings. You are going through what you are going through because the enemy knows what is inside of you, and the enemy is trying to defeat you. If you weren’t being fought, you wouldn’t be a threat. The enemy wouldn’t even be scared of you. Thieves don’t rob empty vaults. You talk about your devastation, hurt, the horrible season you’re in, and how you feel like God is blessing everyone else but you. You’re always talking about those things and that’s why you’re staying in those things because the Bible says that life and death are in the power of your words.

You may say, “I’m tired of falling apart.” Well, then stop falling apart. It’s that easy. You may say, “Well, it’s not that easy. You don’t understand.” I do understand because for most of my life, I was a basket case. I was angry, and I was ruled by my emotions. I finally got to a place where I did not allow my emotions to rule me. I got to a place where when my emotions got crazy, I would stop and lay hands on myself. I would say, “Tatiana, stop it. You are not falling apart. As long as you have a pulse, God has a plan. You are coming together. You are going to break through.” I started prophesying over myself.

I used to lay in bed at night and it felt like my heart was palpitating. It felt like I was losing my mind and little bitty mole hills were mountains. I allowed my mind to go crazy that it took my sleep. I was so tired the next day because I allowed something that I couldn’t even change to keep me awake. The enemy couldn’t take me out so he was trying to wear me out. How was he doing that? The enemy was trying to wear me out with my mind, my emotions, repeating painful memories, and repeating painful words in my mind. I used to believe I was always going to feel stuck to my emotions.

It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. I moved forward a step at a time with faith and confidence in the future. God will not forsake me. One thing that I’ve discovered in my life is that it always works out. I quit saying that I was waiting for God when God told me He was waiting for me. God is waiting on you. God is waiting on you to stop magnifying the things in your life that have gone to hell in a hand basket. Learn to trust the God in you. Learn to lay hands on yourself and began to pray victory over yourself.

We will seek therapists, prayer lines, pastors, and want them to give us a word when you need to spend alone time with God and get a word for yourself, because God will talk to you just like He talks to the people you’re seeking a word from. The difference between someone who gets answers easily from God as to someone who doesn’t get answers easily from God is that they spend lots of time with God. You may think, “Well, I don’t have that kind of time.” I said the same exact thing and I was broker than a joke. I was miserable. I was hateful. I was bitter, until I got to that place where I knew that I needed to be different. I knew I needed to change my thinking, my perception, and most importantly I needed a heart change.

Mistakes and setbacks are a form of practice. When God gave me that word today, I wanted to run around and play. If the road is easy and free of bumps, you are likely going the wrong way. The bumps in the road teach you what you need to know to progress down a path that is all your own. Sometimes, things have to go wrong in order for them to go right. Sometimes, you need to change a flat tire or two to move on. To never struggle is to never grow. There is never a perfectly smooth road to any place worth going to.

Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect. Whatever it is that you are seeking, will rarely ever come in the form you are expecting. Don’t miss the silver lining because you were expecting gold. Expectation is the root of all evil because we began to have this expectation of the way things are supposed to be. This is where the enemy creeps in. It’s because we have this expectation of what we thought it was supposed to be, what we thought it was supposed to look like, or how we thought this relationship was going to happen. When it didn’t, we end up getting so disgruntled and defeated that we lay in a pit of depression, anger, and resentment to God and everybody else because of our expectation when in Ephesians 3:20, it says God is going to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever ask or think, so your expectation may be a little box of your small thinking because all you could go off of was what that person did. At some point, you’ve got to believe in yourself enough to began to prophesy to yourself and stop waiting for other people to do it.

Months ago, I had a transition in my life. When the transition happened, it happened so quickly. I was still dealing with some hurt on the inside of me. I never thought I would get free from it, ever. I thought I would hurt for forever. I felt like I deserved to hurt because of the hurt I caused others. When the transition happened in not even twenty four hours, it was a complete shift. No more hurt. Poof! Gone. My emotions of hurt was such a stability for me because that’s what I allowed to stabilize me for years. I had felt like a part of me had died and then God started showing me things that I hadn’t seen. He started taking blinders off of me and He said, “Now, do you trust Me?” All of a sudden, I wiped my tears and I laid hands on myself and began prophesying. Two weeks later, I was living in a whole new world of freedom. I can’t believe how we will try to stabilize what God is shaking us free from.

Open up to someone you trust. Let someone in with you when you are in a dark place. You know who this person is. Don’t expect them to solve your problems but allow them to face your problems with you. I understand how it can be difficult to trust people, especially if you’ve been hurt a lot. Above all is to remember you are not alone. No matter how bizarre or pathetic you feel about your own situation. There is someone in your life who has dealt with similar emotions and wants to help you.

Never let your troubles from your past make you think you have a bad life now. Just because yesterday was painful doesn’t mean today will be as well. Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful parts of us. You have that chance to explore those parts of yourself, and give yourself time to explore and heal. We often go around being so busy in life that we don’t just take time to reflect. I encourage you to take time to reflect, explore your heart, and began prophesying over yourself.

My prayer for you:

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for each person who has come across this blog post. I thank You that You are opening doors that no man can shut. I thank You that they are going to have the greatest sleep that they’ve ever had in their lives tonight. Lord, I break off insomnia, worry, and fear. In fact, we tell that worry and fear committee that meets in our head to hush up and that we will not be moved off our place of peace. God, we are trusting You. We are trusting You God that You are turning circumstances around right now in our favor. I prophesy that you are breaking generational curses, breaking strongholds, fear, and doubt. In Jesus name, Amen.

Was Christimas Actually on December 25th? … By: Father Kerper

Was Christ Born on Christmas? And What Does Santa Have to Do With It 

Dear Father Kerper: Someone told me that December 25 is definitely not the birthday of Jesus Christ. Was Christ born on Christmas or not? If not, why has the Church always claimed that Jesus was born on December 25? And how could people get so mixed up about something so important?

Before answering your question, we need to consider our contemporary understanding of birthdays and how it differs from that of the early Church. In our culture, we heavily emphasize “marking” the precise anniversary of everyone’s birthdate. By doing this we remember and rejoice over the entire life of the person, not just his or her actual birth. For example, when we celebrate the birthday of Washington, Lincoln, or some other heroic person, we ponder his whole life, not just his or her actual birth.

Early Christians had a very different approach. Indeed, they did not like birthdays at all because such festivals were intertwined with the “old religions,” which dabbled in astrology and the occult.

To distance themselves from old pagan practices, early Christians tended to celebrate the day of a person’s death as his or her true birthday. This reflected the Christian belief that a person’s physical birth mattered very little unless it culminated in eternal life, which begins at death. A holy death — not mere birth — deserves great celebration.

In keeping with this approach, Christians began to link the feasts of saints with the anniversaries of their deaths, never with their birthday, except for Mary, the Mother of the Lord (September 8) and Saint John the Baptist (June 24).

This brings us to your question: Is December 25 the real birthday of Christ? Yes, if you mean the day on which Christians have celebrated the Lord’s birth almost universally from the earliest times. However, the Church has never definitively taught that Jesus was born on December 25; there is no conclusive documentary evidence, and Sacred Scripture mentions no date whatsoever.

This lack of evidence should not surprise us in the least. While we place great value on keeping precise records of births, deaths, and marriages, ancient people did not, especially among common people such as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Most people in Palestine probably had no idea of their exact birthdates, and illiterate parents had no way of keeping track of their children’s birthdays. While they may have remembered the season of the child’s birth, they probably forgot the day and even the year.

As to Christ, we must always remember that the Gospels were “written in reverse” — they begin with the final events of Christ’s life: His Passion, death, and Resurrection. The familiar Christmas texts of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke were all written after the Passion accounts. Moreover, if these Christmas stories, which we love so much, had never been written or had been lost, nothing of our faith in Christ would change. After all, the Gospels of Saint Mark and Saint John say nothing at all about the birth of Jesus. For sure, the Christmas texts deepen our understanding of Christ and provide wonderful color to the story, but they are not essential. Hence, we do not really need to know the date of Christ’s birth.

Now, let us turn to long-established belief that December 25 is indeed the birthday of Christ. The choice of this date was no mere accident or whim. It has a strong theological basis.

By about AD 360 (or even earlier), Roman Christians had begun to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25. However, Christians in other regions had fixed his birthday on January 6 (in conjunction with the Epiphany). Others had it on April 20 and May 15. Gradually, however, December 25 became almost universal. If Jesus has no birth certificate, why pick December 25? Because of its proximity to the winter solstice, nature’s turning point between light and darkness.

Some ancient theologians believed that the events of Christ’s life were mysteriously synchronized with the movements of nature. The following text from Saint Augustine is a good example of such thought:

Let us rejoice, my brothers! A happy day it is for us as well as for the nations of the world!

This particular day [December 25] has been made special not by the sun we see but by its Creator, whom we can’t see. When did this happen? When a Virgin Mother poured forth from her fertility, without the aid of her genitalia, Him whom we could see. All that was made possible by her Creator, whom we can’t see.

Later, Saint Augustine says:

It’s as good a day as any. The Winter Solstice. Fall changing into winter. The shortest day. With each succeeding day, the light becomes longer—Couldn’t this signify the work of Christ?

Saint Augustine and other Doctors of the Church derived the exact birthday of Jesus through classical theological reflection, not through Sacred Scripture. While the speculations of holy theologians such as Saint Augustine are certainly worthy of belief, they are not definitive.

Finally, there is another reason for December 25: The “old” Roman religion also proposed a relationship between nature and its own gods. Hence, Romans celebrated a feast called Natalis Solis Invincti, which rejoiced over the “rebirth” of the sun at the winter solstice. Many scholars have asserted that Christians simply baptized this old pagan festival, replacing the sun with the Son of God.

In terms of worship and prayer, Christmas Day — December 25 — is the only universal focal point of Christians as they rejoice in the birth of Christ, the One who would suffer, die, and rise again. By celebrating the Lord’s birthday on December 25, we unite our­selves with hundreds of believing generations spread over many cen­turies. Surely, the Lord must now regard December 25 as His only true birthday, for on that day alone millions say, “Happy Birthday!”

The True Story of Saint Nicholas

Many people learn fairy tales and Bible stories simultaneously during early childhood. As a result, when the fairy tales dissolve as a child matures, the stories about Jesus can also lose their credibility. Amid this jumble of childhood stories, one must distinguish between fanciful fabrications and truths rooted in history.

Let’s begin with Santa Claus. We know for certain that a man named Nicholas was born in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), served as bishop of Myra, died around 350, and soon became honored as a great saint. Although we lack precise historical docu­mentation, it’s highly probable that he assisted the poor, healed the sick, and interceded with God for people in need. Over time, stories about the kindness and generosity of Nicholas spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world.

Gradually, Nicholas of Myra evolved into the figure now known as Santa Claus, a name derived from the Latin word sancta (saint) and the last part of the name Nicholas. Strictly speaking, then, Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas did indeed exist. He is not at all like the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny.

In a sense, Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas acts in the world today whenever people imitate, even unconsciously, his goodness and generosity by giving gifts to others, especially children. After all, every loving deed somehow originates in God, who is love, and when someone like Saint Nicholas inspires gift giving, we can say that he somehow truly shares in the act.

Now we come to the Christmas story, which you learned as a child alongside the Santa Claus story. At first glance it seems to be the same thing: a story with a genuine historical root but overlaid with untrue and fanciful details. But the Christmas story, at least the parts recounted in Sacred Scripture, differs fundamentally from fairy tales such as the full-blown Santa story.

First, Christmas commemorates a true historical fact: the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the one acclaimed by many as Messiah and Son of God. Today, there’s no serious historian — whether believer or unbeliever — who would challenge His existence. The documentation, although sparse, is persuasive.

In addition to reporting the birth of Jesus, the Gospel writers included many secondary details, such as the star of Bethlehem, shepherds, magi, angels, and so forth. These well-known elements go far beyond “raw history” by asserting truths of faith about Jesus, such as His true familial link with King David, His life and death as ultimate fulfillment of Israelite prophecy, and His mission to the Gentiles.

These elements of the biblical Christmas story differ from the fanciful stories about Santa Claus. Consider the famous poem “The Night before Christmas,” written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1822. Moore wrote his poem to entertain and delight young children. His charming description of Santa’s nocturnal visits on Christmas Eve is entirely fictional and unrelated to the historical Saint Nicholas. By contrast, the biblical Christmas story is not entertainment for children, but an essential part of Sacred Scrip­ture that expresses basic truths about Christ’s origin and identity.

I hasten to add that much traditional imagery associated with the Christmas story goes far beyond what the Gospels state. Figures in nativity scenes such as the little drummer boy, talking mice, and the kneeling Santa are all innovations, not part of the biblical account. Although cute, they can confuse children by mixing the fanciful with the biblical.

As the Christmas season approaches I hope this explanation will help you to rediscover the essential truth we celebrate: that God, who is love, sent His Son to us, and that everyone who is joined to Him — including Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas, your parents, and you — can extend divine love into the world END QUOTES

Sola Scriptura: A Catholic Defense against it… by Patrick Miron

“Thanks, Patrick. I read the attached first lesson. Looking forward to more. So, how would I state in simple terms why Sola Scriptura is not biblical, in a way a Protestant would understand? ”

Thank you,

MY REPLY:

 

Here is what I have used in the past; I call it the 3 strikes and you’re Out defense

  1. It not logical
  2. .It’s not biblical
  3. It’s not provable

#1 SECULAR history proves that the only recognized Christians for about the first 500 years of “Christianity” were CATHOLIC-Christian, and remained the only recognized “Christian Faith” until 1054 AD when the Great Eastern Schism took place.

So the bible is a Catholic birthed book assembled by [the OT], and fully authored by men known today to have been CATHOLIC early Church Fathers [NT]. The Bible then was verifiably birthed by Catholics and exclusively for Catholics, as none of the Early RCC Fathers could have foreseen the Eastern Schism, about a thousand years later; nor the Protestant revolution, termed the Reformation, 1,500 years later

God in order to BE GOD, has to be “Good.-Perfectly”. So we ask are being fair and just “good things?”…. Of COURSE they are; so then we CAN know that God HAS TO BE both fair and just. [GOD IS ALL GOOD THINGS PERFECTED]]

# 2 John 20:  [29] Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed[30] Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.”

John 21: [24] This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. [25] But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written.

2 Thess. 2:13-14[13] Whereunto also he hath called you by our gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. [14] Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.

As history shows the bile was not fully AUTHORED until the end of the 1st Century; and thee Church was so severely persecuted that it was literally DRIVEN underground [the catacombs of Rome], so there was an EXTENDED period when the Church was without ANY bible. Though it is possible that a few bible instructions did filter through; and yet the Church grew in large numbers.

Acts 2: 42-47 [42] And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.[43] And fear came upon every soul: many wonders also and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all. [44] And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. [45] Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need. [46] And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart; [47]Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be save

#3 So that is OUR EVIDENCE; what is your’s?

And that ought to end that debate.

Thanks for asking,

Continued Blessings

Patrick

“Monolog or Dialog” re-blogged

 

Note: As Nicholas Senz makes clear today, there are many institutions within the Church herself that are both confusing the faithful – by engaging in “dialogue” with people who want nothing more than to destroy Catholic influence – and by failing to take opportunities to affirm the Good News when they are supposed to be reaching out. Here at The Catholic Thing, we’re aware of both problems and are committed to speaking truth, in season and out. We need one last push now to finish off our end-of-year fundraising – I hope before the end of this week. I treat readers like adults here, which means I don’t harangue, but also rely on your sense of responsibility to support work that is vital to the health of the Church and the world. Many very generous people have already responded. Will you join them? I need a last wave of you to carry us over the finish line. Just click and follow the instructions.– Robert Royal

 The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome will be hosting a year-long series of lectures on the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae. The featured speakers are not known to be great proponents of the encyclical, while noted scholars on the subject of the consequences of ignoring the prohibition against contraception, such as Mary Eberstadt, are conspicuous by their absence. The series is, of course, billed as an “interdisciplinary study,” a form of “dialogue” among differing views – yet the preponderance of views represented leans in a certain, predictable direction.

This seems to be a recurring phenomenon when the call to “dialogue” arises – even inside the Catholic Church. When the University of Notre Dame announced it would invite newly elected President Barack Obama to deliver its 2009 commencement address and present him with a doctorate honoris causa, many objected to the nation’s premier Catholic university bestowing such honors on a politician as radically pro-abortion as Obama. He had, for instance, voted against a bill in the Illinois state legislature that would have protected children who survived abortion. (Most are currently killed or left to die post-birth. Others claimed that Notre Dame had extended such invitations to virtually every newly elected president for decades, and that the invitation was a chance for Notre Dame to express its concerns about his agenda – in other words, a chance for “dialogue.”

At that time, a friend and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the debate. I asked my friend, hypothetically: if the radical segregationist George Wallace had somehow managed to win the 1968 presidential election, would Father Ted Hesburgh, the great civil rights champion famously pictured holding hands with Martin Luther King, Jr. during a protest, have invited President Wallace to give the university’s commencement address and granted him an honorary doctorate? My friend argued that Father Hesburgh indeed would have, as “there would have been something going on in the country that merited discussion.” Fat chance, I thought.

My skepticism was deepened when Notre Dame declined to extend the same, supposedly routine invitation to President Donald Trump, citing a desire to not let controversy detract from what should be a joyous day for the university’s graduates. (One wonders where such desires were when dozens of the nation’s bishops wrote in protest of the invitation to Obama, including the bishop of Notre Dame’s own diocese.) Why would the university not want to share its concerns with President Trump as it did with President Obama? The university did invite Vice President Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana and a significantly less polarizing figure, though some graduates walked out during his speech.

Strange bedfellows                                                                                                                Harper’s Weekly, 1864

When certain sectors of the Church press for “dialogue” with elements of the secular culture or those who stand opposed to the Church’s teaching, it is evident that the dialogue only moves in one direction. Just last month a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Life on end-of-life questions featured proponents of euthanasia. And in January, a conference sponsored by two pontifical academies on “how to save the natural world” featured Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, who has advocated extreme policies from “sex-selective abortion to mass forced sterilization.”

Again, many Catholics protested, asking why the Vatican would give a platform to people with views so antithetical to the truths the Church professes. “Dialogue,” we are told. Yet not every Vatican conference or Catholic university seminar features people with viewpoints that oppose those of the Church. Earlier this year, a Vatican-sponsored conference on economic inequality was held in Modesto, CA that denounced racism, but that conference did not invite white supremacists in order to “enter into dialogue” with them or gain a new perspective. And one is unlikely to find any advocates for an aggressive foreign policy among the fellows at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. But why not, if the goal is dialogue with diverse viewpoints?

Some might respond, “Because such views are repugnant, and are simply to be rejected.” But the same could be said of abortion and euthanasia. What is the difference, then?

One line of defense might be that the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia are much more common in the West than are racism or military adventurism, and thus the Church must engage with such ideas to better understand them. But it is precisely because such ideas are so common they are already well known. What pro-life proponent could not give the arguments from the other side? These ideas are not mysterious to us.

If the goal is to bring in representatives of these ideas not only to listen to them but to present to them the Church’s vision – that is, to have a true dialogue – then surely these conferences would do well to invite more defenders of the Church’s beliefs, and to engage in debates or feature response panels to controversial speakers? Yet for the most part, that is not what we see.

Instead, the “dialogue” turns into a monologue, with those opposing the Church’s beliefs being given a platform by the Church itself with very little pushback. It is curious – and distressing. These are opportunities for evangelization that, instead, are squandered.

Is it any wonder now that many Catholics have grown soft on quite serious moral questions and rather skeptical of the hardier truths the Church is supposed to teach? END QUOTES

“Confessions of a Convert” by Casey Chalk

Confessions of a Convert

Casey Chalk

Note: Our columnist today describes what is gained – and lost – moving from a tight-knit Protestant community to our often casual territorial parishes. There’s an enormous need for outreach to people already in the pews and those outside who would want to enter, if they knew more. And being aware of this whole situation is going to be one of the main things the Church needs to focus on in coming years, when the pressure to join the mainstream culture will become even more intense. At The Catholic Thing, we plan on helping respond to that pressure and to keeping people in the church – and inviting more in. We need your help in that as with so many pressing tasks. Our end-of-year funding drive is quickly coming to a close. Please, become a part of the future of authentic Catholicism. Make your contribution to TCT. Today– Robert Royal

 

This year called forth multiple reflections on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For me, 2017 has also been a year of personal commemoration: it’s seven years since I returned to Catholicism. An evening conversation with a Dominican priest turned into a somewhat impulsive dive into the sacrament of penance (I hadn’t confessed since I was seven). But just as remembering the Reformation has been cause for both self-examination and mourning, so has the anniversary of my reversion. Loss and Gain, the title of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman’s philosophical novel about an Oxford student’s conversion to Catholicism, describes what I felt.

The vast majority of Catholic conversion testimonials focus on everything one gains in entering the Church founded by Jesus. That is right and good – the Church is not only something He established millennia ago, it is where He continues to reside. Moreover, since it is truly universal, it encompasses all that is good, true, and beautiful. All the same, it may be helpful to other potential converts, as well as those who will encounter them, to describe what is lost as well.

            Community: I was part of a small Christian community aligned with the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). My PCA congregation had about 150 worshippers on any given Sunday. I knew practically every family, and they knew me. We talked, sometimes for hours, after church. I had been to many of their homes. When a family welcomed a new child into the world, it was announced at church, and the deacons had little trouble securing meals to help the family with the transition. Two long Sunday services, Bible studies, and various weekday/weekend social functions . . . your life intimately revolved around a small group of people. This was a real blessing, involving openness to others, sacrifice, and deep love. It’s hard to hide your faults and failures in such a community; when you are loved even when those sins are known, the Gospel comes to life.

By contrast, at my first Mass after returning to the Church, there was no invitation to any post-Mass social function. No announcement regarding a young adult group or Bible study. No one at the parish knew that I was a first-time attendee. I was anonymous. Though I slowly did find various Catholic social groups, Sunday Mass typically remained one hour a week sitting alone, left alone. The Catholic parish I attended for the first years after my conversion was just a quarter-mile from the fire station where my Presbyterian congregation held services. Isolated in my new parish, it was tempting not to drive back up the road.

            A Shared Culture: As a Reformed Christian, I was part of a small, parochial world. There were only about 330,000 other members of the denomination across the United States – and maybe a few million more across the country who would label themselves “Reformed” or “Calvinist.” Paradoxically, this had the effect of deepening bonds in our little Calvinist “ghetto.” We read the same books, sang the same hymns, and spoke the same language. We also shared a common theological heritage with our “saints,” men largely unknown outside our little world – J. Gresham Machen, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, Robert Lewis Dabney. We took deep pride in our Reformed culture. Indeed, we needed to. A Christian community that small requires a deep pool of shared cultural wealth to survive.

Communion of the Apostles by J.J. Tissot, c. 1890 [Brooklyn Museum]

When I left Presbyterianism, I left nearly all of that behind. Catholic parishes didn’t sing the hymns I knew, didn’t read the books that had so deeply formed me, and were uninterested in what, if any, my little world of Christianity had to offer. To be clear: I knew most of my theological training was inaccurate or incomplete, and that the Reformed “saints” dimmed in comparison to the holiness or brilliance of a St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, or St. Therese of Lisieux.

Yet in many respects I had to start all over again, learning to sing Salve Regina in Latin, developing a knowledge and appreciation for the different cultural, liturgical, and theological strands that existed within the Church, and finding something in Catholicism I could call my own. Seven years later, I most certainly have, and undoubtedly have more pride and loyalty to the Catholic Church and its wonderfully diverse cultural manifestations than I ever did to Calvinism. But I had to do all this almost wholly on my own.

            People: I left behind the couple hundred fellow Presbyterians with whom I had developed a deep spiritual relationship. Months after I converted, a Calvinist girl I had once seriously dated – and had hoped to marry – told me that if I returned, she would marry me. Talk about spiritual warfare! I said no (after a few sleepless nights!). Many of my other, non-romantic relationships with former co-religionists thankfully persist. Yet those friendships are sadly incomplete now, we are separated by an inability to commune through the most universal elements of Catholic Christianity: the Eucharist and union with the Apostolic episcopate.

These wounds are real and are why I ultimately write here what I have. We will soon be celebrating Christmas and I already know what’s on the top of my wish list: the reunion of all Christians, especially my separated Calvinist brethren. When I entered the Catholic Church, I gained Christ, and everything He has graciously bequeathed to His mystical body. Yet I lost the communion of some of my deepest friends, ones I hope and pray will someday join me in Rome.

Their separation (and that of all Protestants), is indeed a loss and should invigorate all of us to help them find not only the true Apostolic heritage but also in the source and summit of everything they themselves yearn for: communion with Christ in the Eucharist. It is there that we may find what He so earnestly prayed for in John 17: that we may all be one – a good thing for us too to pray for in this Advent season. END QUOTES

 

© 2017 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Cardinal Burke: Confusion in the Church indicates we may have arrived at the End Times by Lisa Bourne

Lisa BourneFollow Lisa

November 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Confusion and error in the Catholic Church regarding its fundamental teaching on marriage and family are so serious that the End Times may have come upon us, Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview.

When the foundation of the moral law is questioned within the Church, the cardinal said, “then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered.”

“So there is a feeling that in today’s world that is based on secularism with a completely anthropocentric approach,” Cardinal Burke continued, “by which we think we can create our own meaning of life and meaning of the family and so on, the Church itself seems to be confused.”

“In that sense, one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord,” he stated. “Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times.”

Cardinal Burke confirmed in an interview with Catholic Herald contributing editor Paolo Gambi published today that “very serious questions” remain regarding the dubia submitted to Pope Francis last year on his exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

But he persisted in that the specifics of how to proceed on a formal correction of the pope have yet to be determined.

Cardinal Burke has been long known for his defense of Church orthodoxy, and many regard his resoluteness to that end in the face of seemingly political demotions and derision as an example of courage and fidelity to the faith.

Burke further confirmed in the Catholic Herald interview that although he remains cardinal patron for the Order of Malta, he currently has no function within the Order and thus receives no communication from either the organization itself or from Pope Francis.

He reaffirmed in the interview as well that priests are free to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, saying that both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy are considered normal in the Church.

Gambi asked the cardinal to expound on recent comments he made about the present time being “realistically apocalyptic” due to “confusion, division and error” within the Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels.

Cardinal Burke explained that allowing access to sacraments for individuals living in sinful unions is “a violation of the truth” for both the indissolubility of marriage and the sanctity of the Eucharist.

“In the present moment, there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church,” said Cardinal Burke, “for example with regard to marriage and the family. For instance, the idea that people who are living in an irregular union could receive the sacraments is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the Eucharist.”

Citing St. Paul, he said “we eat our condemnation” if we receive the Eucharist in an unworthy way.

“Now the confusion in the Church is going even further than that,” Burke added, “because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law,” imperiling the order of the Church and human life.

Asked his thoughts on Italian Episcopal Conference Secretary-general Bishop Nunzio Galantino’s recent claim that the Protestant Reformation was an “event of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal Burke responded, “Well, I don’t see how you can say that the division of the Church was an act of the Holy Spirit. It simply does not make sense.”

He also dismissed talk of a common Eucharistic celebration with Lutherans as “not possible” because of the differences on the doctrine of transubstantiation.

“For Catholics to engage in some kind of ecumenical Eucharist would be abandoning the Catholic Faith,” stated Cardinal Burke. “This is a profoundly false ecumenism which would do grave harm to the Faith and to souls.”

His response to Gambi asking what his first act would be if elected pope was that “the first thing any pope should do is simply to make the profession of faith together with the whole Church, as Vicar of Christ on Earth.”

“Most popes did that,” Cardinal Burke added, offering Pope St Pius X’s encyclical E Supremi as example.

“Also Pope St John Paul II’s Redemptor Hominis is a sort of profession of faith,” the cardinal noted, “calling to mind again that the Church is the Body of Christ, the Church belongs to Christ and that we are all obedient in his service END QUOTES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa BourneFollow Lisa

November 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Confusion and error in the Catholic Church regarding its fundamental teaching on marriage and family are so serious that the End Times may have come upon us, Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview.

When the foundation of the moral law is questioned within the Church, the cardinal said, “then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered.”

“So there is a feeling that in today’s world that is based on secularism with a completely anthropocentric approach,” Cardinal Burke continued, “by which we think we can create our own meaning of life and meaning of the family and so on, the Church itself seems to be confused.”

“In that sense, one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord,” he stated. “Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times.”

Cardinal Burke confirmed in an interview with Catholic Herald contributing editor Paolo Gambi published today that “very serious questions” remain regarding the dubia submitted to Pope Francis last year on his exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

But he persisted in that the specifics of how to proceed on a formal correction of the pope have yet to be determined.

Cardinal Burke has been long known for his defense of Church orthodoxy, and many regard his resoluteness to that end in the face of seemingly political demotions and derision as an example of courage and fidelity to the faith.

Burke further confirmed in the Catholic Herald interview that although he remains cardinal patron for the Order of Malta, he currently has no function within the Order and thus receives no communication from either the organization itself or from Pope Francis.

He reaffirmed in the interview as well that priests are free to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, saying that both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy are considered normal in the Church.

Gambi asked the cardinal to expound on recent comments he made about the present time being “realistically apocalyptic” due to “confusion, division and error” within the Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels.

Cardinal Burke explained that allowing access to sacraments for individuals living in sinful unions is “a violation of the truth” for both the indissolubility of marriage and the sanctity of the Eucharist.

“In the present moment, there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church,” said Cardinal Burke, “for example with regard to marriage and the family. For instance, the idea that people who are living in an irregular union could receive the sacraments is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the Eucharist.”

Citing St. Paul, he said “we eat our condemnation” if we receive the Eucharist in an unworthy way.

“Now the confusion in the Church is going even further than that,” Burke added, “because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law,” imperiling the order of the Church and human life.

Asked his thoughts on Italian Episcopal Conference Secretary-general Bishop Nunzio Galantino’s recent claim that the Protestant Reformation was an “event of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal Burke responded, “Well, I don’t see how you can say that the division of the Church was an act of the Holy Spirit. It simply does not make sense.”

He also dismissed talk of a common Eucharistic celebration with Lutherans as “not possible” because of the differences on the doctrine of transubstantiation.

“For Catholics to engage in some kind of ecumenical Eucharist would be abandoning the Catholic Faith,” stated Cardinal Burke. “This is a profoundly false ecumenism which would do grave harm to the Faith and to souls.”

His response to Gambi asking what his first act would be if elected pope was that “the first thing any pope should do is simply to make the profession of faith together with the whole Church, as Vicar of Christ on Earth.”

“Most popes did that,” Cardinal Burke added, offering Pope St Pius X’s encyclical E Supremi as example.

“Also Pope St John Paul II’s Redemptor Hominis is a sort of profession of faith,” the cardinal noted, “calling to mind again that the Church is the Body of Christ, the Church belongs to Christ and that we are all obedient in his service END QUOTES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa BourneFollow Lisa

November 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Confusion and error in the Catholic Church regarding its fundamental teaching on marriage and family are so serious that the End Times may have come upon us, Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview.

When the foundation of the moral law is questioned within the Church, the cardinal said, “then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered.”

“So there is a feeling that in today’s world that is based on secularism with a completely anthropocentric approach,” Cardinal Burke continued, “by which we think we can create our own meaning of life and meaning of the family and so on, the Church itself seems to be confused.”

“In that sense, one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord,” he stated. “Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times.”

Cardinal Burke confirmed in an interview with Catholic Herald contributing editor Paolo Gambi published today that “very serious questions” remain regarding the dubia submitted to Pope Francis last year on his exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

But he persisted in that the specifics of how to proceed on a formal correction of the pope have yet to be determined.

Cardinal Burke has been long known for his defense of Church orthodoxy, and many regard his resoluteness to that end in the face of seemingly political demotions and derision as an example of courage and fidelity to the faith.

Burke further confirmed in the Catholic Herald interview that although he remains cardinal patron for the Order of Malta, he currently has no function within the Order and thus receives no communication from either the organization itself or from Pope Francis.

He reaffirmed in the interview as well that priests are free to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, saying that both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy are considered normal in the Church.

Gambi asked the cardinal to expound on recent comments he made about the present time being “realistically apocalyptic” due to “confusion, division and error” within the Church coming from “shepherds” even at the highest levels.

Cardinal Burke explained that allowing access to sacraments for individuals living in sinful unions is “a violation of the truth” for both the indissolubility of marriage and the sanctity of the Eucharist.

“In the present moment, there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church,” said Cardinal Burke, “for example with regard to marriage and the family. For instance, the idea that people who are living in an irregular union could receive the sacraments is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the Eucharist.”

Citing St. Paul, he said “we eat our condemnation” if we receive the Eucharist in an unworthy way.

“Now the confusion in the Church is going even further than that,” Burke added, “because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law,” imperiling the order of the Church and human life.

Asked his thoughts on Italian Episcopal Conference Secretary-general Bishop Nunzio Galantino’s recent claim that the Protestant Reformation was an “event of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal Burke responded, “Well, I don’t see how you can say that the division of the Church was an act of the Holy Spirit. It simply does not make sense.”

He also dismissed talk of a common Eucharistic celebration with Lutherans as “not possible” because of the differences on the doctrine of transubstantiation.

“For Catholics to engage in some kind of ecumenical Eucharist would be abandoning the Catholic Faith,” stated Cardinal Burke. “This is a profoundly false ecumenism which would do grave harm to the Faith and to souls.”

His response to Gambi asking what his first act would be if elected pope was that “the first thing any pope should do is simply to make the profession of faith together with the whole Church, as Vicar of Christ on Earth.”

“Most popes did that,” Cardinal Burke added, offering Pope St Pius X’s encyclical E Supremi as example.

“Also Pope St John Paul II’s Redemptor Hominis is a sort of profession of faith,” the cardinal noted, “calling to mind again that the Church is the Body of Christ, the Church belongs to Christ and that we are all obedient in his service END QUOTES

“Why Catholics Are So Bad at Evangelizing—And What Has to Change ” by Peter Kwasniewski

Why Catholics Are So Bad at Evangelizing—And What Has to Change

Peter Kwasniewski

Two good friends, fellow parishioners, are having coffee and donuts after High Mass one Sunday. 

Maximilian: I really enjoyed Father’s homily today. His explanation of the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast in the dough hit the nail on the head.

Roberto: I thought so, too. It was neat when he said it’s not just the kingdom of God that can be compared to a seed or yeast, but Christ Himself, who came into our world as a tiny baby in a manger, grew up in the middle of nowhere, and died as a convicted criminal—in the world’s eyes, this is all contemptibly small. His way of gathering disciplines, His itinerant preaching, it was all like that seed, seemingly insignificant but now grown over the ages into a tree that stretches across the world.

Max: He had that quote from Ratzinger, too—that Jesus not only preaches, inaugurates, and rules the kingdom of God, but He is the Kingdom, “in person.” And when we receive Him in Holy Communion, then His own words are perfectly fulfilled: “The kingdom of God is within you.” 

 Berto: And then he said the same is true for individual Catholics: we should be those seeds that mature into great bushes to give protection and rest to others who are weary and searching. We should be like a yeast rolled into the dough of our society, lifting it up to God.

Max: Right around that spot, he said something terribly important. Let me see if I can remember how he put it. “You know, modern Catholics are not very good at spreading the Faith. In centuries past, we had missionaries who went from one end of the earth to the other, planting the standard of the Cross, preaching the Gospel, suffering and dying for it, bringing countless souls into the Church. Why are we so timid, so unwilling to stick our necks out? Why do we hide our light under a bushel, content to keep our faith a private affair? Jesus said the kingdom begins like a mustard seed, but it’s not supposed to remain there. It should grow, branch out, and get huge, changing the lives of many. The dough is supposed to rise and become delicious, nourishing bread.”

Berto: And he went on to say that this doesn’t seem to be happening much anymore. The Church is missionary by nature, but many live as though it’s enough to be a believer, and never think of speaking a word of invitation to anyone else around them who isn’t already going to church. In this way we are not growing and leavening as we should. Why aren’t RCIA classes packed, standing room only? Why isn’t the Easter Vigil everywhere full of baptisms, confirmations, and first communions?”

Max: This is something I’ve been puzzling over for many years.

Berto: Have you gotten anywhere in your thinking? Why is evangelization practically non-existent among Catholics?

Max: Well, I’m sure there are many reasons, but I can think of at least three major ones. The first is maybe the most obvious. We—I’m speaking of people in the modern West—we have completely bought into the error of the Enlightenment that religion is a private affair and that we should not “bother” anyone else about their faith or lack of faith in God. It’s “between a man and his Maker.” It’s just a matter of individual conscience. This comes from the fundamental error of thinking that man is not a social animal, as if his happiness, even his salvation, is purely individualistic. We’re all atoms floating in the void, and besides, we can’t know for sure if anything we’re thinking is objectively true. So we keep our big ideas to ourselves and muddle along as best we can, acting selfishly or altruistically depending on what seems to suit the need of the hour. It’s a depressing picture of human beings and their life together. It certainly doesn’t recognize that man is inherently relational and religious, and that he must find his fulfillment in communal worship of the true God.

Berto: If religion is just a private affair and you can’t even know for sure whether you’re right or not, why would you go out of your way to talk it up with neighbors, acquaintances, coworkers? You might “offend their sensibilities,” as people say

.Max: A second issue is this. Thanks to the unholy “spirit of Vatican II,” we have drunk the Kool Aid of universalism: everyone, or nearly everyone, will be saved. God is so merciful that He either sends no one to hell, or you have to work really hard to send yourself to hell—you’ve got to want it badly. So, basically, there’s no urgency to spread the Faith, because we just assume that most people are good willed and heading in the right direction.

Berto: Your point is proved by the auto-canonization that occurs at practically every Novus Ordo funeral. Looking back on my youth, I can’t think of a funeral I went to where we didn’t just hear about how great the deceased person was and how “he’s now in a better place” and “we’ll all get to see him again in heaven,” etc. The Vatican doesn’t need to simplify the process of canonization any further; all you need to do is die and you’re in!

Max: Right. It was the same where I grew up. I can’t recall a single funeral where we focused our attention on praying for the repose of the soul of the departed. That was what struck me most about the traditional Requiem Mass when I first attended it. For all intents and purposes, it ignores the faithful who are there, so intense is its focus on the fate of the departed soul.

 Berto: What you’re saying is perfectly summed up in the “Dies irae.”

Max: Now that’s a prayer that makes you want to get on your knees and stay there a while! But let’s get back to universalism. For the Church Fathers, the default assumption is that man is lost without faith in Christ, without His grace.

Berto: You don’t have to wait until the Church Fathers. It’s already all there in St. Paul, clear as day. Did you catch that last line of today’s Epistle? Something about “turning from idols to serve the living and true God, and waiting for His Son from heaven, Jesus, Who hath delivered us from the wrath to come”?

Max: Whereas in recent decades, the default assumption is that man is automatically saved unless he massively blows it. 

Berto: In fact, if we start to “disturb” people about Christ and His Church and their need for faith, grace, the sacraments, and so on, we risk unsettling them and diverting them from the path on which God was already leading them home.

Max: Our intervention might even cause them to lose their salvation by explicitly rejecting Christ, whereas before they were “implicitly” accepting Him! We can’t do that, right?

Berto: Have you noticed how this mentality goes hand in hand with forgetting about the rights of God and His just claims on us?

Max: Not to mention His ire towards those who do not respond to His call! The Bible—in both Testaments—is full of talk about divine wrath upon sinners. The old liturgy is the same way. To judge from the Novus Ordo and from typical Catholic homilies, and especially funerals, you’d never know anything about this stuff.

Berto: As if God had just decided to give up some of His attributes as too old-fashioned— 

Max: —or more to the point, as if some of His spokesmen made the decision for Him. It’s bad PR to be talking about vengeance, retribution, punishment, eternal death, hellfire, and so forth. As we were just saying a moment ago, no one really deserves these things, which makes several hundred verses of Scripture superfluous verbiage. 

Berto: It’s hard to believe that people who claim to be Christians, let alone Catholics, can fall for such lunacy. I suppose it comes of no longer believing in original sin and actual sin.

Max: What do you mean?

Berto: I only mean that if human beings are born in sin and prone to sin, “children of wrath” who are bound to be displeasing to God, then we urgently need God’s help to turn our lives around and start living for Him, as we were created to do. We have to be rescued, and Christ is the only Savior. If we don’t have all the marvelous aids the Church provides, especially the sacraments, we are goners.

Max: That’s exactly what all the old catechisms said. That’s what the old liturgy conveys, too. In the past few years I’ve come to see more and more how the Catholic Faith—in its consoling truths and its hard truths—is deeply woven into every aspect of the traditional Roman rite, and how it’s as if the new liturgy is embarrassed or ashamed or scared to tell the truth, and suppresses it, glosses it over, handles it with kid gloves, or whatever. You just don’t get the same doctrine, and it makes a huge difference in one’s spiritual life.

Berto: We are so fortunate to have the traditional liturgy here at our parish! I tell you, it has pounded into me the reality of God’s holiness, the gravity of sin, and the real priorities of life.

Max: I know what you’re talking about. As a Catholic growing up in a typical parish, I never even dreamed of wanting to become a “saint.” That kind of talk would have made me laugh, if anyone had ever said it. Now, I get it. I see that this is it, the whole adventure of life, the meaning of it all.

Berto: And, as the pastor has introduced over the years Sunday Vespers, Confession in the old rite, Nuptial Masses and Requiem Masses, all of it, I found myself falling in love with my faith. Can you imagine? It used to be going through the motions, or more focused on seeing my friends—I like seeing my friends, don’t get me wrong—but God is really at the center of everything. Traditional Catholicism makes you feel it, see it, hear it. 

Max: You even smell it when those acolytes get going with the incense!

Berto: But we are getting a bit sidetracked. You spoke about three reasons for the lameness of Catholic evangelization. What’s the third?

Max: It’s simply this. There has been and still is so much doctrinal and moral confusion in the post-conciliar Church that it is becoming more and more difficult for people, whether on the inside or on the outside, to know what the Church actually teaches and how we are supposed to live it day to day. How can you preach a Gospel when you doubt or downplay or quarrel over half of what it says? How can you preach a consistent message if you’re constantly tinkering with your catechism or your liturgy?

Berto: Sadly, you’re right. Ask a sampling of Catholics about the Real Presence or whether the Mass is a sacrifice. Ask them if contraception’s okay, or abortion. You’ll get all sorts of incoherent, contradictory answers.

Max: How can anyone with half a brain take Catholicism seriously when it permits today what it outlawed yesterday, or vice versa? When it denigrates today what it proudly hailed in the past, and promotes ideas and practices that would have churned the stomachs of countless saints? When it now treats as intolerable the pious beliefs and customs that Catholics used to follow, sometimes for a thousand years or more?

Berto: I hear what you’re saying, but we have to recognize, don’t we, that all this stuff is not Catholicism—it is only the mental fever and fog of the people running the show, and that’s not the same thing at all.

Max: No, of course not, but I’m talking about the popular perception of confusion—of a Church running around in circles to play catch-up with the contemporary world. Think of all the feminism, the environmental­ism and globalism and what not. The advocacy of the United Nations. The Vatican’s invitations to pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia speakers. It goes on and on. No wonder even those who want to be faithful Catholics are getting totally confused. At the end of the day, it looks increasingly as if you can believe anything you want and still call yourself a Catholic.

Berto: That’s not entirely true. You’re not allowed to be traditional—that’s beyond the pale. But everything else is fair game.

Max: Ah, well, such is life in the Church today. But anyway, regardless of whose fault the confusion is, how far back we trace it, how much the Council is responsible, etc., the practical effect is clear. As St. Paul said: “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” No one rallies to a confused army, no one marches to an irregular drummer. It’s as if Catholicism is a “process,” morphing with the world around it, instead of a firm foundation we can build on.

Berto: I’d agree with that. (pauses) But I wonder…

Max: About what?

Berto: Your three reasons are very much to the point, but I think we need to bring in a fourth one as well.

Max: Which is…?

Berto: Let’s say we do convince someone to listen to us, and we get them to see that Catholicism is a consistent belief system that gives meaning to life. What are we inviting them to, once they decided to check us out? We are spoiled at this parish with the High Mass, the beautiful sacred music, the orthodox preaching, the altar server guild, and so on, but frankly, this is one in a thousand, a diamond in a heap of coals.

Max: You’re saying, if we overcome the other factors, there’s still all the byproducts of the liturgical revolution to deal with—the abuses and novelties in the Mass, the banality of the music, the ugliness of so many churches…

Berto: Right. And these are a formidable obstacle to people searching for the one true religion. Surely this religion, above all, should be characterized by the beauty and splendor of its worship, an atmosphere of mystery and prayer, an intense conviction of supernatural realities. This is why the traditional worship of the Church used to be the cause of so many conversions. It was the living and breathing animal, compared to which all other religions were like shadows or cartoon sketches.

Max: Indeed, though it pains me to say it, the new Catholic worship itself is like a shadow or a cartoon of the old.

Berto: At least the old worship is still attracting converts in a place like this.

Max: Thanks be to God for that.

Berto: But you know how it is: the entire infrastructure is against us. We can’t help looking like extremists to the outside world, and to our fellow Catholics, because everyone else is so far gone in the other direction. They call us “rigid fundamentalists” and things like that…

Max: And I think one could connect a related point to yours: there is almost nothing demanding about being a Catholic nowadays. Fasting is mostly gone; abstinence is no longer required; the precepts of the Church are unknown or ignored; sexual discipline is passed over glibly. How is anyone looking for a tried-and-true way of life—the “people of good will” we are supposed to be spreading the Faith to—supposed to buy into this charade? Almost all of the false religions demand more. Catholicism used to demand of us everything—and it promised us everything. It gave meaning to one’s entire life. It permeated the day, the week, the month, the year, with signs of the sacred. It asked us to sacrifice good things for even better things. It offered us a narrow path to holiness and heaven, in the company of Our Lord, Our Lady, and a host of saints. Where is all that now?

Berto: Sure, we try to live it among ourselves as best we can, and we know it’s the truth, but it is not the institutional norm any more—indeed, the all-too-human institution largely rejects it.

Max: No wonder Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West. It takes God and religion seriously.

Berto: And we will have to do that too, if we ever expect to be mustard seeds or leaven again. It goes back to what we heard Father preach about on the last Sunday of October: we have to make Christ King of everything—our hearts, souls, and minds, our families, our cities and nations.

Max: Dare I say, of our Church, too?

Berto: That goes without saying.

Parishioner A (after a pause): We’ve made quite a big circuit in this conversation, haven’t we?

Berto: Shall we try to sum it up so we can remember it better?

Max: Sure. The Church, and individual Catholics in it, are supposed to be mustard seeds and leaven in this world. Or, as some prefer to say, “salt and light.” We have a missionary imperative from Christ to convert the world. But there are at least five serious obstacles to evangelizing today, any one of which would already deal a serious blow to the endeavor. First, the privatization of religion. Second, the rejection of original sin and the assumption of universal salvation. Third, the widespread doctrinal and moral confusion in the Church. Fourth, the banality and irreverence of mainstream Catholic worship. Fifth, the utter lack of ascetical demands. When you put all these together, you get Catholics who don’t think they should bother other people about religion, who assume that most people are already fine, who are not even quite sure they know what they believe, have nothing especially attractive to invite people to, and are not living and promoting a way of life that would respond to the needs of any serious searcher.

Berto: So, let me guess at a grand conclusion. You’re saying that all this “New Evangelization” rhetoric is pretty much hot air? And that it can’t possibly work?

Max: Yes, that’s right. It’s premised on the assumption that basically “all is well” inside the Church, and we just need to “invite” and “welcome” people to “share” the love feast with us. As Ratzinger once said, it’s the dead burying the dead and calling it renewal.

Berto: Or to put it more sharply: where there is novelty, there is disease and death; where there is tradition, there is health and new life.

Max: What we actually need is—

Berto: —let me guess again: Old Evangelization

Max: Spot on. The stuff the saints used to do. The reason they converted the entire world to the Faith once upon a time. That’s what we have to do today: real worship, real doctrine, real morals, real demands. Then the Lord will give us real results. We can’t expect any knights in shining armor to ride in to our aid. We’ve got to do the Lord’s work or no one will. And there’s no time to waste…

Berto: Oh my, look at the time! I have to get going—we’ve got company coming over for dinner and I promised my wife that I’d prepare all the dishes, to give her a break. She’s cooking all week long, and homeschooling all our kids on top of it…

Max: You and your wife are doing the Lord’s work, that’s for sure! God bless you both. Thanks for the good conversation.

Berto: I’ll give you a call later in the week. Pray for me.

Max: Absolutely. And you for me. See you soon. END QUOTES

5 Quotes from St. Therese of Lisieux for a fruitful Advent Philip Kosloski

5 Quotes from St. Therese of Lisieux for a fruitful Advent

 Philip Kosloski

 

The Little Flower’s devotion to the Child Jesus makes her writings a perfect way to prepare for Christmas.

St. Therese of Lisieux, commonly known as the “Little Flower,” is well known for her beautiful and simple life as a Carmelite nun. In particular, her profound autobiography, Story of a Soul, continues to capture the hearts of those who read it.

Embedded in her spirituality is a strong devotion to the Child Jesus. Her principal “title” in religious life was “Sister Therese of the Child Jesus” and it formed everything that she did.

Below are a few selections from her writings that can help us in our own spiritual preparations for Christmas, recognizing our own littleness and constant need of Jesus’ gentle mercy.

My First Communion will always be a perfect memory, … [a] wonderful little book … was set out so beautifully and prepared me surely step by step; even though I had been thinking for so long about my First Communion, I had to renew my ardor and fill my heart with freshly gathered flowers. So every day, I made many sacrifices and acts of love, which were transformed into flowers; some were violets and roses, others cornflowers and daisies or forget-me-nots. I wanted all the flowers on earth to cradle Jesus in my heart.

For some time now, I had been offering myself to the Child Jesus as His little plaything, telling Him not to treat me as the sort of expensive toy that children only look at, without daring to touch. I wanted Him to treat me like a little ball, so valueless that it can be thrown on the ground, kicked about, pierced and left lying in a corner, or pressed close to His heart if He wants. In other words, I wished only to amuse the Child Jesus and let Him do with me exactly as He liked.

I can only offer very little things to God. These little sacrifices bring great peace of soul, but I often let the chance of making them slip by. However, it does not discourage me. I put up with having a little less peace, and try to be more careful the next time.

[M]ost of all, I follow the example of Mary Magdalene, my heart captivated by her astonishing, or rather loving audacity, which so won the heart of Jesus. It is not because I have been preserved from mortal sin that I fly to Jesus with such confidence and love; even if I had all the crimes possible on my conscience, I am sure I should lose none of my confidence. Heartbroken with repentance, I would simply throw myself into my Savior’s arms, for I know how much He loves the Prodigal Son.

Your arms, My Jesus, are the elevator which will take me up to Heaven. There is no need for me to grow up; on the contrary, I must stay little, and become more and more so. END QUOTES