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Monday 30 April 2012

On the Doctrine of Laundry

One thing I cannot do in Europe is hang out clothes. I have helped my sisters in Christ hang out clothes in England, Ireland, France and London, which is not exactly England, and there are at least six ways of hanging out the same towels, shirts, sheets, and so on.

I do not offer anymore, and I decline, as the dear ones take everything down which I have hung up and start over, with many directions as to wind speed, direction of the wind, hours of sunlight, various levels of mist and even rain, and creasing. I give up. My mother and I hung out clothes together for over fifteen years and I can assure you that the Iowa way is just not done in the above countries. Of course, as it is 98 degree Fahrenheit in the shade most of the summer, the stuff dries in an hour without wind directions or speed taken into consideration.

Nuns doing laundry in the ocean?

The biggest contentions happen over shirts-does one put the pegs on the shoulder or on the bottom hem? Notice the two ways in the photos provided here by scientists studying laundry hanging habits, supported by a grant from PG, Proctor and Gamble, which is looking for "new innovations", a redundancy from the website.

Some of my friends live in neighborhoods where they are not allowed to hang out laundry. We lived in one like that for awhile and bought a phenomenal German washer-dryer, which I could time to go on the laundry cycle and then into the drying cycle while I slept. Cool.

In parts of Scotland, some friends of mine told me that the laundry froze on the line and the trousers were brought in and left by the fire to thaw out.

I do not mind lesson on wind and sunlight, but why do people feel so strongly about such things? I do not have strong opinions on hanging out laundry. If I were in the process and someone offered, I would just say "Great, thanks" and let them get on with it.

The Irish can be divided into two groups of laundry hanger-outers. The first is those who want to save on clothes pegs and want everything connected. The other group wants everything spread out and not touching. The first group places the open shirts to the outside of the line, and the second group places the opening of the shirts to the inside of the line. There are permutations on these themes. In addition, there are those Irish, a third category, like my friend Kathleen, who could care less and are just glad to get it out before the rain starts up again. She is a woman after my own heart.

In England, there are those who put out knickers and other items of underwear and those who do not. The do nots should take a walk in the neighborhoods of Rome to see centuries of underwear hanging techniques--all perfected in a Catholic environment. It is interesting, and be it far from me to criticize someone's sensibilities. In America, in the Midwest, we are not so squeamish, as our men do not notice anything on a line and prefer to ignore female chores in general, especially on Saturday, when hours of football, baseball, basketball, etc. take up all their attention. "Laundry, what laundry? Oh, you mean those six baskets on the steps. Sorry, it is tied in the ninth inning, it is the fourth down, it is the Final Four of the women's Iowa basketball championship, it is a tiebreak and ...."

Living in London, in West Kensington, I had the choice between an airing cupboard, or the dryer. Simple. Sigh. I give up and will just stick to writing, which can be done in as many ways as there are people. I wonder how the nuns in the Vatican hang up laundry. Maybe the Catholic community needs guidelines on washing lines. Does the Pope care if his cassocks are up, or down on the lines in the Vatican?

I have purposefully avoided the topic of hanging out laundry in the winter, another contentious subject.

On the life of the virtues-more in the series on perfection

I want to apologize to the blogging friends who wanted me to organize all the past postings on perfection. As I am fighting an old computer and off and on Internet, I hope you can wait until I have more peaceful access to both.

The old fashioned teaching which I grew up with and which was taught in the pre-Vatican II Church included the emphasis on the practice of the virtues, which I have mentioned here and do so again today. One of the great misunderstandings of Catholics in the pew is that the avoidance of mortal and venial sins are enough to gain heaven, with a few meritorious acts attached. Not so. The great teaching of the Church includes the idea that the life of the virtues and the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be part of the life of a Catholic in order to gain heaven. Purgatory is exactly that, purgation, and the end of the time in which to develop, practice the virtues. The gifts of the Spirit help us perfect the virtues. When was the last time you heard any teaching from the pulpit on the necessity of the virtuous life? Throughout the ages, many, many spiritual guides have helped us with these ideas, which are not new.

If I can oversimplify the process, it would be like this: first, the introduction of the soul into the life of sanctifying grace, which informs actual grace and gives us,  (happens at baptism), the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; second; the intellect and soul must cooperate with grace in the development of the virtues-the soul needs the intellect and the will to live in the life of sanctifying grace. Third, the virtues must become habits, not merely something we think of doing now and then. Without this practice of the virtues, there is a chance of losing our salvation. We develop a disposition to and in developing the virtues. A person who is in the natural order, without grace, may seem to be practicing natural virtues, but without grace, a person is not actually an heir of God, a co-heir of Christ, and therefore, going to heaven. This is one of the great heresies of our day, the idea that just being good gets one to heaven. Being good may be natural for some people, and the supernatural order of grace, that is directed to our final end, can be ignored. We are united to God by grace.

The development of the life of the virtues is the necessary step. The Indwelling of the Holy Trinity occurs in baptism and confirmation, and some theologians equate the phrase "the Kingdom of God is within" with that mystery the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts, which help us develop the virtues, and then exhibit the gifts of the Spirit. Grace introduces us into the life of the Trinity.

to be continued....

Abuses continue in the Church--update: including TODAY

In my travels in England, and I am writing a book, I can share that I have witnessed either liturgical abuses or abuses by the laity in every Ordinary Form Mass since I have returned. When in France, I only attended the EF, therefore I was not bombarded by these problems. If anyone in power in any parish, such as a PP or a Bishop, please correct these problems, which I see daily. I may have to write letters on some of these. And, I have only been back in England four weeks.

1) The continued use of elements of the now illegal NO translation, including the persistence of the old acclamations, old opening and closing prayers, old Gloria, and other such aberrations.

2) Repeated problems with Eucharistic Ministers giving blessings to the faithful at Communion time.

3) Priests not announcing at marriages or funerals that only Catholics can receive Holy Communion. This is a huge problem. Everyone, even those who have been away from the Church, and Protestants, go up for Communion.

4) Lack of following guidelines on catechesis in Confirmation preparation, as young people who are not practicing Catholics and do not attend Sunday Mass are put forward for the sacrament.

5) Laity abuses include immodesty, mostly in middle-age women, which is shocking. Women also wear blue jeans on the altar on Sundays, as well as during the week.

6) Laity abuses include talking loudly and consistently before and after Mass.

7) Lack of Confessions offered. In most places, one has to ask for the sacrament.

8) Now, I must state that these things seem to be worse in some dioceses and missing in others. That the bishop sets the tone is obvious.

I am to the point where I cannot go to a NO without wondering or worrying if it will be legal and reverent. I really need to move and find a place which has the regular Latin Mass, which is hard. Most places in England which have a Sunday Mass, do not necessarily have a daily TLM. Pray for me as I am now avoiding daily Mass in at least one local parish, as the problems are grating and not being addressed by the PPs.

By the way, there is a EF in Malta today, where there has not been a TLM since the first week of November. The Summorum Pontificum is still not followed in that nation.

PS The TLM scheduled for three weeks in Malta was cancelled today, or rather, changed to a NO in Latin because someone in the curia changed his mind and stopped it. I am not making this up. Abuse and the taking back of a permission which was granted and a firm stand against the Summorum Pontificum is the unofficial, but real, stand of the curia in Malta. 

Sunday 29 April 2012

On magical thinking and Catholics

I must write on the difference between magical thinking and belief in devotions. There are many Catholics, and sadly, many are Charismatics, who believe if someone does something, either with medals, cards, holy water or holy salt, that there will always be a one-one correspondence to a spiritual occurrence. Most of the time, these ideas are held by lay people, and not priests, who having been trained in sound thinking, realize the limitations of sacramentals, which are there to encourage the faithful in devotion.The idea behind magical thinking is that if one either does a certain activity, or if on repeats a certain ritualistic action, a certain good, or in the case of nasty people wanting to curse someone, an evil outcome will occur.

While not denying that certain actions do bring about grace, and these are called the Sacraments, which are efficacious, in that something happens when the material events occur. For example, Catholics know that when the water is poured over the person's head in baptism with the Trinitarian words given to us by Christ, that Original Sin is taken away, sanctifying grace enters the person, and that person becomes a child of God.

Magical thinking would make things or events into sacraments, that is, turn certain activities into efficacious events, when these are not.

If one is in mortal sin and wears a Miraculous Medal, if one does not repent, the medal will not stop one from going to hell. The idea that a medal, in and off itself, with keep one from hell is simply not true. For the believer, for the person who honors Mary in the heart, the medal represents an existing spiritual reality, that is, love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

How to separate real supernatural thinking from magical thinking is difficult, in that humans want to control their lives and the lives of others with things. This is a common problem, as we all want to play God and be in control.

Real religion tells us that we are not in control, and that our wills need to be conformed to the Will of God. No amount of magical thinking, wearing medals, novenas, and prayer meetings will necessarily save us, if our minds and hearts, and our souls are not conformed to Jesus through the Teachings of the Catholic Church. We can only be saved through Jesus Christ and the merits of the Catholic Church.

A sign of a false religion is frequently the reliance of exterior pity, or externals talismans. For example, if one believes that if they have a rabbit's foot, good luck will happen. Or, if one says a certain number of prayers, then one is holy, or if one faces in a certain direction for prayer, one gets more merit. Not so.. The only way to God is through Christ and His Church. Nothing external can make one holy, or even a place holy, unless this is determined by the Church. Shrines are merely superstition if not approved by the Church, or if there is not a long history of devotion attached to such, which usually means the Church has approved the place, the spring, the chapel, etc.

Our family always marked the top of the doorway on January 6th with the initials of the three Kings and the year's date. However, even though this pious custom invokes those three saints to bless people going in and out, it is not a given that burglars will not enter the house and steal things if I leave the door open by mistake, which happened. The natural act of leaving a door open led to theft, and that it was not worse could be attributed to the Three Kings, but such a cause and effect would be magical thinking.

The only efficacy we know for sure lies in those sacraments of the Church and the bona fide indulgences given and approved by the Church authorities, using bishops, sometimes the authorities in Rome. I caution Catholics not to fall into magical thinking. Be pious, use the sacramentals approved by the Church and stay away from spurious items and unapproved prayers. Make sure what you use has been approved by some bishop somewhere.

Just a reminder, there is no such thing as a good witch, as cute as Glinda was in the movie.

Saturday 28 April 2012

On trads and vocations

A commentator today on Father Z's blog drew attention to a report from Paix Liturgique, which, as I am moving back and forth between France and England for reasons of visiting, journalism and study, I am particularly interested in sharing. Here are some fascinating statistics highlighted in the study online,.

Two diocesan seminaries are always at the top of the list, ahead of many interdiocesan seminaries: those of Toulon and Paris, each at over 70 seminarians and both on the increase [2]. Naturally, this figure and increase are proportionately far more remarkable for the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon than for Paris. These results are undeniably due its bishop’s orientation: Bishop Rey, who comes from the Communauté de l’Emmanuel and is quite open both to the New Evangelization and to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. In Paris, the enrollment figures for Parisian seminarians had exceeded 100 at their peak under Cardinal Lustiger, fell to 54 in 2007, and are now undergoing a measurable upswing (74 in 2011, of which 62 are from Paris). It should be noted that the Parisian seminary now seems to be open to “all tendencies,” meaning to the most traditionalist among postulanIt must be noted that the current stability, after a slow increase, is less significant than the overall proportion: over 15% of French seminarians are generated by hardly 5% of practicing Catholics—those who have access to the traditional liturgy every Sunday. Yet for our part we believe that the number of young people intending themselves for the extraordinary form would likely increase if only the right means were provided. According to the good old principle that one loves only what one knows and practices, there is no doubt that the more the extraordinary form is offered at the parish level, the more young people who until then were ignorant of it will discover it and, should the case arise, be in a position to choose the extraordinary form when they go to seminary.
If more parishes were opened up to the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, if satisfaction were given to the desire of the faithful, and if this liturgical form were made more available for those who do not know it to discover it, then the number of “Summorum Pontificum” seminarians would undergo a considerable increase. This would have an immediate influence on the diocesan vocations curve. Why not do so?
And, I give the sensible result of the study first, so that you can put the rest of the letter in perspective.... And so, to finish, we express a wish that seems also to be common sense: that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite may find its rightful place in the celebrations of the Year of Faith that is about to begin.

[1] 20,000 seminarians in formation would be needed to make up for the dearth of priests. In this regard see Fr. Thierry-Dominique Humbrecht, L’avenir des vocations (Les Plans sur Bex, Switzerland: Parole et Silence, 2006).

[2] After these come interdiocesan seminaries totaling about 50 seminaries (Lyons and Toulouse), then those of Orleans or Issy-les-Moulineaux with about forty seminarians, then the many seminarians numbering about thirty candidates (Lille, the French seminary in Rome, the “Séminaire des Carmes” in Paris, Vénasque, etc.).

Note the connections....

Among the “smaller” dioceses, one cannot fail to point out the case of Vannes, which has about 30 seminarians, and Bayonne, which now boasts about fifteen seminarians, even though it had only two in 2009. It should be noted that in Vannes (Bishop Centène) as well as in Bayonne (Bishop Aillet, named late in 2008) the bishops may be considered to be fully in synch with Benedict XVI’s pontificate, and that this is not without some impact on the dynamism of local vocations. One may without exaggeration estimate the proportion of French diocesan seminarians who are directly sensitive to the Reform of the reform that Benedict XVI desires, including the motu proprio, at 30%. And to these diocesan seminarians must be added all those who choose to go the way of so-called traditionalist seminaries.

Thanks, to haribo, who drew this source to my attention. My comment included the fact that more NO women contracept than EF women, a statistic not scientifically proven, but learned from experience. Women talk about these things. And, family size, on average, is obviously larger among trad mums and homeschooling mums, both conservative groups giving vocations to the dioceses and religious orders, such as the FSSPs.

My other point is that the spirituality of the EF leads to a different, more God-centered life, which leads a young man to want to say the EF.

A best-seller update

An very interesting book is now number one in Islamic books in America. Here is a section from the author's interview. I taught Islamic sects in both classes on Comparative Religions and Islam at the college and university levels. I came to some of the same conclusions just by studying the Islamic texts and history, plus some really good historians, who are leading new developments in scholarship. I shall get the book this week and give my own views here on the blog. This book has to do with the historical existence of the religion's founder.

Islam is a faith rooted in history. It makes historical claims. Muhammad is supposed to have lived at a certain time and preached certain doctrines that he said God had delivered to him. The veracity of those claims is open, to a certain extent, to historical analysis. Whether Muhammad really received messages from the angel Gabriel may be a faith judgment, but whether he lived at all is a historical one. Islam is not unique in staking out its claims as a historical faith or in inviting historical investigation. But it is unique in not having undergone searching historical criticism on any significant scale. Both Judaism and Christianity have been the subject of widespread scholarly investigation for more than two centuries. Why should Islam be exempt from such examination? And is it still possible in our politically correct world even to raise such questions?

Amazon link for the book is here. Another book making waves for its comprehension and research is Islam: Critical Essays about a Political Religion.

Pray for France, The Eldest Daughter of the Faith

For those who do not pay much attention to Notre Dame, as I do to a point as an "alum", one may remember that in 2004, Tariq Ramadan, who was lecturing at ND, was refused a visa and had to return to Europe. Some of us never wanted him at the university in the first place, as he is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, son of a Muslim Brotherhood supporter kicked out of Egypt years ago, and a contentious Eurabian supporter. He lectures at Oxford and now allowed back in the States, because of the intervention of H.Clinton. Ramadan seems in the past to have wanted some sort of liberal interpretation of Islam, and an acceptance of Western law in countries in Europe, rather than the insistence on sharia law, but his views have changed, or at least can be studied for intense examination as to contradictions. That he is openly anti-Semitic is provable. Note this from the link just above. Prof. R. Scott Appleby, the man who did everything he could to bring Ramadan to South Bend, Ind., was hardly naïve about Ramadan’s European reputation. Over breakfast in New York recently, he told me: “He’s doing something extraordinarily difficult if not impossible, but it needs to be done. He is accused of being Janus-faced. Well, of course he presents different faces to different audiences. He is trying to bridge a divide and bring together people of diverse backgrounds and worldviews. He considers the opening he finds in his audience. Ramadan is in that sense a politician. He cultivates various publics in the Muslim world on a variety of issues; he wants to provide leadership and inspiration. The reason we wanted him is precisely because he’s got his ear to the ground of the Muslim world.” bold type.

The kerfuffle involving him now is whether he is supporting Hollande for the French elections coming up May 9th. France24 online has a rather amusing, if not confusing, article on the yes and no assertions of what Hollande and Sarkozy have said about the support of Ramadan. Here is the link and a quotation form the article.

Ramadan’s run-ins with Sarkozy date back to a nasty exchange on French television in 2003, when the current president was France's interior minister.
Sarkozy accused Ramadan of supporting the stoning of adulterers, and the Islamic scholar replied that he favoured “a moratorium” on such practices, refusing to condemn it outright. Sarkozy, like many French commentators, expressed outrage over Ramadan’s response.
For his part, Ramadan has maintained that he has never supported the stoning of women. “I have always opposed [stoning] by calling for a moratorium to stop this practice. My position is consistent with Amnesty International, which goes through a moratorium to prohibit certain practices, such as the death penalty,” he said.
Over the past five years, Ramadan has criticised of a number of Sarkozy’s policies regarding French Muslims, such as the banning of the burqa, a national identity debate that was widely criticized as being anti-Muslim and a controversy during the current campaign on halal food that was widely perceived as both anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant.
At the UOIF convention earlier this month, Ramadan did not specifically refer to the French president, but his message was clearly directed at him. “Instead of talking about halal meat, the burqa, national identity and dividing France, you should unite it,” he told a packed hall at the conference.

As I have said on this blog before, what happens in France will happen elsewhere in Europe. A few points from WND online: The Socialist Party candidate M. Hollande, however, is known for his desire to raise the top income tax rate in France to 75 percent, a stance that has worried investors and financial analysts as Europe continues to suffer economic difficulties.... and ...In many areas Muslim have established no-go areas where French police forces have little authority. Muslim activists are believed to support the Socialist Party candidate Hollande in an effort to halt attempts by the French right to confront Islamism in France.

I was born on the feast day of St. Genevieve, patroness of Paris, shepherdess and intrepid defender of France against Attila the Hun. I suggest a few prayers her way would be meritorious at this time.

Meditation for Priests

To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belong to none; to share all sufferings, penetrate all secrets, all all wound; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to being pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity, and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and pardon, console and bless always; O God, what a ministry; and it is yours, O priest of Jesus Christ.


In honor of all the good priests I know, I pray this day for Fathers Scotty L, David J., Bede R, Dominic R., Timothy F., David B., Cornelius, Stephen B., T., R., F. Hopkins, Anthony D., Terry M, Msgr, M, Monsignor H., and all blogging priests as well. I also pray for all bishops, especially Bishop Conry, Bishop Hollis, and Bishop Finn. I pray for all the priests I know who have died.

Friday 27 April 2012

The Helpers of God's Precious Infants Today

Today, I prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the parish of St. Francis in Maidstone, Kent, while my stalwart friends in the group of The Helpers of God's Precious Infants prayed outside the abortion clinic. A man tossed water from a bucket onto some of them, and one quipped that Bishop John Hines should have blessed the water before it was thrown. No one saw it coming, but the police have charged the water-man. Now, my friends in England are not used to being harassed, as we are in the States, even for prayer vigils. We used to have mini-training sessions in order to learn how to ignore, be calm, etc. in the face of anti-life yells, curses, etc.

Fr. Tim Finigan of blogging fame was there as well and I am sure he will not mind me passing on his comments, as he was there on the sidewalk, with the Bishop, as I was peacefully enjoying the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the Monstrance.

All this is for the most important cause-life itself. I prayed it would not rain, as it has bucketed down all week, but I did not anticipate having to pray for no buckets of water. The people in The Helpers of God's Precious Infants are fantastic. Please join them every Wednesday morning for the prayer vigil at Maidstone. Here is the great Fr. Tim Finigan's blog today after the event. And, the sky is still clear, as twilight sets in here.

Drenched, spat-on and sworn at (American Style?)

It has become fashionable for pro-abortion campaigners in Britain to refer to prayer vigils outside abortion clinics as "American-style protests." Why I am Pro-Life, a blog for young pro-lifers in Britain, had a post the other day:Yeehaw watch out for "American tactics and American money".

Now I know that some Americans read this blog: you may be baffled by this apparent racism on the part of the pro-abortionists. As the Yeehaw post points out, it is only a selective anti-Americanism. At the BPAS they are happy to appoint Americans and take American money - as long as it is from the right sort of Americans. With that in mind, I hope you won't mind a report on today's pro-life Vigil at Maidstone with allusions to the "American style" of the goings-on.

Bishop John Hine, auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Southwark with responsibility for the Kent area, joined the Helpers of God's Precious Infants today. He celebrated the 12.30pm Mass at Aylesford before we walked the short distance round the corner into Brewer Street to stand across the road from the Marie Stopes abortion clinic. As usual, we stood in a line on the edge of the pavement so as not to cause an obstruction to anyone. We said fifteen decades of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, interspersed with a few other prayers and some Marian chants - I always choose ones familiar from Lourdes and Fatima.

Two of the helpers offer leaflets to anyone passing by, including the men and women who are entering the clinic and will engage them in conversation if possible - quite a few just walk past.

If you grew up in England and have been away for a few years, one of the things you will notice is how much we now look like a police state. Half the adult population seems to have in their wardrobe a pair of black or dark blue serge trousers, some sort of military-style top, often with pouches hanging down the chest or tied round the waist, and a stab-vest. On the back is the rubric indicating the area of "enforcement" in which they have been trained. (There should be a new "I Spy" book for this.) Today the first arrivals were "Environmental Enforcement." They patrol to stop people dropping chewing gum, cigarette ends or, presumably, American-Style McDonalds wrappers - and to warn of the £110 fine if you put your rubbish out too early.

Unfortunately they seemed powerless to act against our littering the pavement with Rosary-saying pro-lifers, though they spent some time in conversation with an agitated young man who was wearing American-Style three-quarter length trousers and swearing quite a lot. He warned some of the rather gentle ladies at the end of our line that they should tell us all to leave in five minutes or else. (It was a bit like a scene in an American Film.) The "or else" was that he brought out a bucket of water and threw it over some completely passive and peaceful people who continued saying the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.

Enter, five minutes later, the real McCoy of uniforms: Her Majesty's Constabulary. I understand that this is now properly called the "Police Service." They did their job with admirable coolness and diplomacy. The young chap, who had gone back into his house, had a visit and unfortunately the police service will just have prosecute him, on account of the fact that most of London and the South East is now monitored by CCTV and he will have a hard time arguing that "I never done nothing."

While the Police were still around, a traffic warden - sorry "Parking Enforcement Officer" - came along and pecked into her portable electronic parking fine issuer and carefully positioned a ticket on a vehicle that had transgressed the Council's permission for siting a stationary vehicle, probably having exceeded the length of time permitted in the serial-numbered bay provided. She was joined by a fellow enforcement officer. The Environmental Enforcement were still walking up and down, so that there were now six uniformed personnel from three different faculties.

Unfortunately they had all gone by the time an angry chap, randomly walking in the middle of the road (or should I say "jaywalking" American-Style) summoned up the courage to stop, spit ferociously at the quiet, rosary-saying pro-lifers and shout "F***ing - <something>" (I didn't catch the second part of the imprecation.) To complete the vigil, a gentleman walking with his wife (he was probably too old to have a "partner") came up to me and berated me in polite but forceful language about how disgraceful we all were. I did offer to talk to him away from the prayers but he declined the invitation.

All in all, a fairly normal hour or so of pro-life vigilling in Maidstone. In fact, it is an intensely prayerful time for all those who attend. The effort to concentrate on the mysteries while on the street makes for a better Rosary than usual. The intentions offered up cover many areas of pro-life prayer, including unborn children, mothers in difficulty, medical personnel, people who work in abortion clinics, legislators, and Church leaders.

The BPAS and others prate on about intimidation and "American-Style" protests in an attempt to convince the public that we are about to blow something up or shoot someone. In fact, the experience of the peaceful, prayerful, non-confrontational, pro-life people who make these vigils is that they face abuse, intimidation, spittle and assault. And then get cast as the bad guys. Modern Britain is certainly changing. I wonder how long it will be before we have to go and say the Rosary outside euthanasia clinics.

Back at the Church I asked around to see who had the most water thrown over them. The group were pretty sanguine about it all and had already offered it up as a sacrifice for pro-life intentions. God bless them all for turning out week after week in such circumstances. And God bless Bishop Hine for being there today to support them. If there are any young readers in reach of Maidstone (and lets face it, there are trains from central London that take an hour to Maidstone East which is right next to the Church) do try to be there from time to time.

Socialists and Abortion

Question for thought on this cold April day. Why is it that socialist governments push abortion and contraception? For those who have not noticed, this is usually the case, in Europe and in America. A few reasons off the top of my head are here. One, socialism is materialistic, does not believe or value the spiritual life; two, socialism is pragmatic and utilitarian-that is, the person, the individual lives for the State, not the State for the person and therefore, the weak are disposed of as not useful to the State ; three, socialism separates the Church from all life of the State.

Pondering Language of Church-State Relations

Some commentators are stating that the religious freedom argument in the Church was radically changed in the Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae, in so far as the idea of full freedom of conscience for all peoples means now that anyone can believe anything without impunity. Yes and no. Also, the other change may be seen in the idea that it is the duty of the State to protect the one, true Catholic Church, but not necessarily false religion or false religious institutions. These are tricky nuances and the protection of freedom of speech has meant, especially in the West, that the Church no longer prosecutes blasphemy or sacrilegious behaviour, according to civil law.

Two points: that the Church should be protected by the State does not seem to be abrogated by the newer document. What is clear is that people should be allowed to pursue religious truth, a phrase from DH and the implication that if people pursue the truth this journey will lead them into the Catholic Church. The days of religious persecution would seem over. Here is the section to which I refer:

We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men. Thus He spoke to the Apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you" (Matt. 28: 19-20). On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.
This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.
Religious freedom, in turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfil their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.

Notice the last line. This is crucial and means, indeed, that the previous documents with regard to the State protecting the Church and the superiority of the Catholic Faith over others stands as Catholic Teaching. The difference is that there would be no civil persecution of non-Catholics. However, this does beg the question as to what duties the State has specifically in relation to the Church, if there is an immunity from coercion. Does this allow for total freedom of speech, such as blasphemy, or dramas, or tirades on the radio, for which we have plenty of examples of late? One of the common criticisms of this and other Vatican II documents is vagueness.

More: This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.
It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.

This is a document right out of the Cold War era. The assumptions underlining these texts is that communism is persecuting Christianity, and specifically, the Catholic Faith. The assumption is that a Christian nation would not persecute Catholics. The assumption is that Western Civilization defends Christianity. But, what if the State is so secular as to no longer value any religion whatsoever, such as in modern Europe and America is fast becoming?

No one would argue that faith can be externally coerced, but what of the discussion of a completely secularized culture which, unlike communism, has internal, rather than external coercion? Internal coercion would be the kulturkampf, the peer pressure, the tolerance of sin, and other secular or modernist heretical positions which internally have been absorbed by the populace? Did not the Vatican II Fathers see this coming? Were they involved in utopian thinking to the point of not seeing the rot under their own eyes? Was there an ignoring of the movement of the Holy Spirit against relativism and indifference, and the disturbing corruption of the education systems by 1965? The document seems naive and almost over spiritual, ignoring the realities of the day.

We would agree with the following:

The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind.(3) The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury therefore is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society, provided just public order is observed.

Not quite as strong as previous papal documents, but not contradictory, and here is another bit.

The religious acts whereby men, in private and in public and out of a sense of personal conviction, direct their lives to God transcend by their very nature the order of terrestrial and temporal affairs. Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favor, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious.
4. The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself

Phrases like "take account" and "show it favor" could be and need to be stronger. The common welfare needs to be protected in so far as the Catholic Church needs to be protected. We, in 2012, see the language of this document as needing to be much stronger and more clear, as were the earlier ones. We see how such phrases as "personal conviction" have been co-opted by the relativists and agnostics. The dignity of the human is only fully protected in the truth of the Catholic Church. However, what follows is a bit more questionable, even in view of a pastoral application.

If, in view of peculiar circumstances obtaining among peoples, special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional order of society, it is at the same time imperative that the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom should be recognized and made effective in practice.

This, in my studies, is a blatant departure from previous papal documents. The Catholic Church is not necessarily being given a superior status in these words. I am not purposefully looking for difficulties, but again, the criticism could be made, and has been, that the wording is simply too vague, or at worst, presupposes another point of view. What if that one religious community is, like in Mali today, the Muslims persecuting the Christians, or as in Sudan, now split into two, or in Egypt, religious groupings with the potential of sharia law, which obviously would only not allow religious freedom but outwardly persecute other religions? That the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church is the one and true institution seems to be undermined here. Or, am I reading too much (or too little) into the language? It would be imperative for
Catholics to fight against those constitutions, to actively seek protection for the Catholic Church. To appeal for tolerance from tyrants, even tyrants of liberalism, is simply not enough. Previous documents condemned tyrannies by name and false religions by labels. I think a false ecumenism undermines stronger language which could and should have been implemented in 1965 for the benefit of those in 2012. Why did the Fathers not be more specific? We had over one-hundred years of documents on modernists heresies and on Church-State relations, which were strong and specific. What happened? The appeal is to society and not to the Catholic Church.  Society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection

I would add, not society, but the Catholic Church. And, oh dear, how the following could be misconstrued. Therefore, a harmony exists between the freedom of the Church and the religious freedom which is to be recognized as the right of all men and communities and sanctioned by constitutional law.

This is just not specific enough.

And, did not the Fathers of the Council see modern Europe in the making? A mere few years after the writing of this document, Britain passed the abortion law. What happened? This was written in 1965, and the abortion act passed in 1968. Did the Fathers not see the entrenchment of secularism, which was seen by Pius IX, X, XI and XII, as well as Leo XIII? What is being said is not wrong, but it is not aimed at the real enemies of religion.

The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Indeed, religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents.(38) The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life very difficult and dangerous for religious communities

I invite comments.

Thursday 26 April 2012

America and Great Britain need to stand up for women in Egypt

Sometimes, information is too disgusting to even print. I thought long and hard months ago before posting a photo of an aborted baby. This information from the great Spencer is in the same category. Please click on the link here and read, pray and do something in your political sphere. Anyone who states that Christianity is just like other religions is wrong, wrong, wrong....

What I cannot understand are women not wanting to have the dignity God created them to have, from the law, from their families, from their husbands, from their sons. Catholicism gives dignity and status to women. One only has to look at the life of Christ for the beginning of the change. His own Mother, the Theotokos, is our example, guide, queen. Mary, on this day of the ancient feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.

Open note to all on the recent LCWR reactions and the virtue of obedience

Considering the problems in the States and in some parts of Europe concerning disobedient nuns and sisters (and priests and a few bishops and cardinals regarding civil unions), I thought a little journey into the virtue of obedience, in my perfection series, would be timely. I am grateful for the book Spiritual Theology, by Fr. Jordan Aumann OP,, who quotes a letter from St. Ignatius of Loyola, on obedience. The letter was written on March 16, 1553 in Rome to the brothers and priests in the Jesuits in Portugal. Here are the main points of the letter: obedience is the compendium of all the virtues, notes Fr. Aumann. "He states as the fundamental principle of obedience that one should see Chirst in the superior, without thinking of the superior as an individual person."  As I read these, I am thinking of the list of disobedient activities and statements Fr. Z. listed on his blog this week.

Two: obedience may be listed in grades, with the lowest of execution, and the second of the will; " which possesses the intrinsic value of the sacrifice of obedience, so that it is of great merit and it perfects man's free will." Sacrifice of the will is the key idea here. Willfulness is a huge sign of disobedience. One must recall that the recalcitrant nuns and sisters willing took vows. And, willingly, they should follow those vows.

Three: obedience of the intellect is the next level up. Aumann notes "it is possible because the will can control the intellect; it is just because it is reasonable to control one's judgment and to conform one's will to God's; it is necessary for the attainment of perfect subordination, for safeguarding oneself against the illusions of self-love, for preserving one's tranquility in obedience, and for preserving union with God; and it is perfect obedience, because in this grade of obedience a man immolates that which is most excellent, which implies a marvelous victory over self."

This type of obedience is totally missing in some of the main leaders of religious orders in the States, and elsewhere, who have willingly departed from the teaching of the Catholic Church in matters of Faith and Morals, thus not only disobeying the Church, but their ultimate authorities in their orders. If the heads of the orders are in disobedience with regards to the intellect, they have led many others astray.

Four: meekness and humility allow for the growth and maintenance of obedience. Blind obedience includes a docility to superiors, implying an indifference to suggestions and a humility in trusting one's superiors.

Five: Aumann notes that St. Ignatius "says that the prosperity of religious institutes depends on obedience because of the principle of subordination" that applies to religious institutions.

Lastly, Aumann writes that obedience must be supernatural, in motives, underpinned by faith, conformity with the Will of God, love for God, promptness, spontaneity, simplicity, magnanimity, perseverance and to me, the most important, universality, that is obeying in all things great or small.

The supernatural element is key, as the sister or nun must see God in the superior, always believing because of her vows, that God is indeed working in and with that superior. One does not see the person, but God.

A thought on the priesthood for my son...

Priesthood is not a convenient, historically conditioned form of Church organisation, but is rooted in the Incarnation, in the priesthood and mission of Christ himself. 

Arthur Middleton

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Why can't this happen in England? And Vigil on Friday in Maidstone including Father Tim Finigan

From LifeSiteNews, this photo and article: my question is why can't this happen in England as well, where the pro-life movement is particularly anemic? There is a vigil this Friday in Maidstone, marking the 44th anniversary of the abortion act in GB.

The vigil at Marie Stopes abortion facility, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RV, 
will be held on FRIDAY 27 APRIL 2012 
Directions:  By Train: Connex South East runs a direct line from Victoria to Maidstone East Station, which is directly opposite St. Francis Church.
By Road:  The M20 – come off at Junction 6.  Follow signs to Town Centre then to Maidstone East Station.  There is a car park at the station and also 2 car parks in Brewer Street and 1 in Wheeler Street, both of which are accessed by Lower Boxley Well Road.  

See LifeSiteNews online for details and photographer--details above on link

The Purity of God

Dante Seeing Beatrice for the First Time: Holiday
I hear so many people today say that they do not believe in Hell, because "a good God would not send anyone to such a place." Love without Justice is sentiment, not Love. I try to explain to such ladies and gentlemen that God is so Perfect, that one small indiscretion on our part is an affront to Purity Himself.

God is Just, not as a human judge, but because He is All-Good and All-Loving. In the Face of Perfect Love, one sees one's limitations, failings imperfections, sins.

Last year, I know a person who had such an experience of the Purity of God. In one purgatorial moment, in December of 2011, he experienced being in the Presence of Pure Goodness, Pure Innocence, and how the smallest transgression was like the worst sin in the proximity of God. This he experienced, and wept for his sin, for failing God. This was very much like the particular judgement, except that he did not die, and that he knew that if he said yes to suffering, he was saying yes to life, to love. And, yet, experiencing Love, Who is God, had been through an other, his beloved friend, whom he wanted to marry, whom he had hurt rather inadvertently, which caused this moment of grace. This person said that his small imperfection, which many would think is not even a sin, caused him such grief in the Face of the Living Purity Who is God, that he sobbed for two and one-half hours. He felt two things and he knew two things: that God is all Just and that God is all Love. And, that if God did move the heart of his loved one to love him, it would be grace and not anything he deserved. He was, metaphorically, stripped naked in the Sight of God. All of his life and history was in the Will of God. He also understood that his one small imperfection merited hell, not merely purgatory, and that the Passion of Christ had taken away his own punishment. I do not know the end of the story. But, I am sure the man was changed forever. He does not mind that I share this with you. He thought, perhaps, that his moment of a glimpse of the particular judgement would help others understand the magnitude of the Love and Purity of God.

This story, which is true, is amazing. That a man could see his imperfection, and in Love, in the Presence of God, still know that he could have been damned showed me that God's Justice is actually God's Love. Any other understanding is pure sentimentality and far from the teaching of the Church.

Dante meeting Beatrice in Heaven: Rossetti

Mary the Second Eve and Perfection

In order to believe in the Second Eve, one must believe in the First Eve. If one does not believe in Original Sin, or original innocence, how does one believe in the Incarnation, the Passion and Resurrection of Christ?

I am still working on my series on perfection and have been thinking about one of the dangers of the theory of evolution, which, as all thinking people know, is a theory.

In Catholic doctrine, we must believe that we have descended from one man and one woman. We conveniently and because of tradition, call these first two parents Adam and Eve. We cannot believe in group creation, which is a clear departure from the idea that all humans come from one set of special male and female parents.

We also believe that these parents were perfect, in the sense that they had no concept of sin or evil. That had what the Church describes as "preternatural gifts", including health and immortality, the lack of decay and disease, a will and emotional life which were not inclined to sin (integrity), a clear and keen intellect including infused knowledge, and communion with God in His grace. God created man and woman in His own Image and Likeness, which would reflect the Beauty of God. Man and woman are, as we are reminded in the CCC, "the summit of the Creator's work". Man is the only creature who is "able to know and love his creator". In the same section in the CCC, we read that " He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons." The CCC insists on the common origin of the human race. Many references in the CCC should be studied, including Humani generis, which I have quoted before on this blog.

There was a happiness and a holiness which belonged to our first parents which was lost by sin.

The trouble with evolution, which we are allowed to believe in as Catholics, as long as we believe in only two parents of the entire human race, and the creation of the soul and body by God, is that it denies the original perfection of the human race and believes in the false, and heretical idea of progressiveness, which means that people are getting more and more holy and perfect through-out history. This is a modernist heresy condemned by the Church, and those documents may be seen on the side of this blog.

The common ideas of early humans indicates that they seem less than perfect, and atheistic interpretations of creation want those images to be burned into our memories. If Adam and Eve were created in a perfect state of humanity, albeit, a state which would indicate the seriousness of Original Sin; that is, that they should have "known better",  just as Lucifer should have foreseen his fallen state, then the common ideas of man and woman as ugly and even deformed according our ideas of beauty.

As the CCC quotes, from Romans, death enter into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve.
This sin brought disease, decay, the clouding of the intellect, concupiscence, the weakening of the will. These were NOT present in the first parents. So, one can see the problem with the views of evolution which deny an original perfection.

In other words, we are less perfect, without grace and purification, than our first parents. It is only in Jesus Christ and through the sacramental life of the Church that we regain states of holiness and perfection. Baptism takes away Original Sin and makes us Children Of God. The Gifts of the Spirit, given in Confirmation, restore us to a state of progress in the Holy Spirit, which does not happen otherwise. Conforming to the Mind of Christ is conformity to the teachings of the Church and the spiritual journey to perfection, without which, no one sees God. 

If man and woman are seen as not being perfect, that leads to a denial of the seriousness or even existence of Original Sin. If one does not believe in Original Sin, then there is no need for the Incarnation, the Passion and the Resurrection, the Church, the Sacraments, especially Baptism, and the entire life of grace given through the Sacraments of the Church.

The most common sin of the modern day is the denial of sin and the subsequent denial of hell. The heresy of universal salvation is believed even by some Catholics, including priests, one who teaches this from the pulpit not too far from where I am at this moment. How many people are going to hell because of this denial of the Justice of God, the Purity of God? (*see my post above on the Perfection of God).

One reason why it is so hard to be a saint in today's society for many people is that they simply do not believe in original goodness, a perfection which can be restored through Christ and His Church.

Mary is called by the Church, (and I recommend an excellent little book by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Neman on this—Tan Books re-issued it years ago) the New Eve or the Second Eve. That Mary was born without Original Sin, in fact conceived without Original Sin, makes her the new Eve. She is perfect as Eve was before the Fall, with all the graces and perfections of Eve before the Fall.

Mary is the Immaculate Conception. Eve was created without sin. But, Eve's fall caused all her children to live in sin, whereas Mary's perfection brought God into the world.

Here is a section from Newman's book: And so of the great Mother of God, as far as a creature can be like the Creator; her ineffable purity and utter freredom from any shadow of sin, her Immaculate Conception, her ever-virginity—these her prerogatives (in spite of her extreme youth at the time when Gabriel came to her) are such as to lead us to exclaim in the prophetic words of Scripture, both with awe and with exultation, “Thou art the glory of Jerusalem and the joy of Israel; thou art the honour of our people; therefore hat the hand of the Lord strenghtened thee, and therefore art thou blessed for ever.

Evolution, if believed by a Catholic, must include a belief in the original perfection and beauty of our first parents. Without this basic belief in the first parents and their state of grace, the rest of the History of Salvation, makes no sense.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

For my readers, the Church is not subject to the State, but superior to it and complete separation of Church and State is not the Catholic be continued.

This is a four-post day, as the Internet is so unrealiable at this time, I shall take advantage of the connection. And, I shall try and encapsulate the Church's teaching on Church-State relations, concentrating on the Vatican stand, not the stand of various bishops' conferences, which is another question entirely.

There are documents and events which have created the current teaching of the Church, several of which I have mentioned on this blog in the past several months. For example, one can start with the Vatican II document, or the definitions of the individual and society, as discussed below in the past three or four weeks.

However, today, I want to start with the Encyclical Immortale Dei, of Leo XIII. I am not going through the entire document today, but here are some key passages for consideration. First, all power comes from God and it is natural for people to live in society under some type of law.

Man's natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties. Hence, it is divinely ordained that he should lead his life-be it family, or civil-with his fellow men, amongst whom alone his several wants can be adequately supplied. But, as no society can hold together unless some one be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God. For God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world. Everything, without exception, must be subject to Him, and must serve him, so that whosoever holds the right to govern holds it from one sole and single source, namely, God, the sovereign Ruler of all. "There is no power but from God."(1)

A second point is more applicable to the debate in America and Europe today.

The right to rule is not necessarily, however, bound up with any special mode of government. It may take this or that form, provided only that it be of a nature of the government, rulers must ever bear in mind that God is the paramount ruler of the world, and must set Him before themselves as their exemplar and law in the administration of the State. For, in things visible God has fashioned secondary causes, in which His divine action can in some wise be discerned, leading up to the end to which the course of the world is ever tending. In like manner, in civil society, God has always willed that there should be a ruling authority, and that they who are invested with it should reflect the divine power and providence in some measure over the human race.

This means that democracies or monarchies are viable in the eyes of the Church. And, that anarchy, or the proverbial "classless society" of the communists, are not viable, as God is the Prime Ruler, not the people, and that there must be law. One cannot be an anarchist, and a Catholic, for example.

"Let every soul be subject to higher powers."(3) To despise legitimate authority, in whomsoever vested, is unlawful, as a rebellion against the divine will, and whoever resists that, rushes willfully to destruction. "He that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation."(4) To cast aside obedience, and by popular violence to incite to revolt, is therefore treason, not against man only, but against God.

Third, and here is the BIGGIE-the State must acknowledge God. is a public crime to act as though there were no God. So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, would hold in honour the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favour religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. This is the bounden duty of rulers to the people over whom they rule. For one and all are we destined by our birth and adoption to enjoy, when this frail and fleeting life is ended, a supreme and final good in heaven, and to the attainment of this every endeavour should be directed. Since, then, upon this depends the full and perfect happiness of mankind, the securing of this end should be of all imaginable interests the most urgent. Hence, civil society, established for the common welfare, should not only safeguard the well-being of the community, but have also at heart the interests of its individual members, in such mode as not in any way to hinder, but in every manner to render as easy as may be, the possession of that highest and unchangeable good for which all should seek. Wherefore, for this purpose, care must especially be taken to preserve unharmed and unimpeded the religion whereof the practice is the link connecting man with God.

Remember that this document came after the Concordat regarding the restriction and boundaries of the Vatican State, after Risorgimento. The next point is that  the Church is an Institution founded by Christ for a presence on earth, and not, as many Protestant view, and sadly, some bad Catholics, an "invisible Church". The Church has its sphere and power on earth.

For the only-begotten Son of God established on earth a society which is called the Church, and to it He handed over the exalted and divine office which He had received from His Father, to be continued through the ages to come. "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you."' "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."(6) Consequently, as Jesus Christ came into the world that men "might have life and have it more abundantly,"(7) so also has the Church for its aim and end the eternal salvation of souls, and hence it is so constituted as to open wide its arms to all mankind, unhampered by any limit of either time or place. "Preach ye the Gospel to every creature."(8)
9. Over this mighty multitude God has Himself set rulers with power to govern, and He has willed that one should be the head of all, and the chief and unerring teacher of truth, to whom He has given "the keys of the kingdom of heaven."(9) "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep."(10) "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not."(11)

Next, and the shocker for both some Americans and all Marxists, is that the Church is superior to the State as an institution. And just as the end at which the Church aims is by far the noblest of ends, so is its authority the most exalted of all authority, nor can it be looked upon as inferior to the civil power, or in any manner dependent upon it.

(Please Pope Benedict, canonize this man!)

And, coming up to my favorite parts, the Church has unrestrained authority in spiritual and moral matters. Also, the Church's physical power protects it from the unwarranted authority and meddling of the State.

11. In very truth, Jesus Christ gave to His Apostles unrestrained authority in regard to things sacred, together with the genuine and most true power of making laws, as also with the twofold right of judging and of punishing, which flow from that power. "All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth: going therefore teach all nations... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."(12) And in another place: "If he will not hear them, tell the Church."(13) And again: "In readiness to revenge all disobedience."(14) And once more: "That... I may not deal more severely according to the power which the Lord bath given me, unto edification and not unto destruction."(15) Hence, it is the Church, and not the State, that is to be man's guide to heaven. It is to the Church that God has assigned the charge of seeing to, and legislating for, all that concerns religion; of  teaching all nations; of spreading the Christian faith as widely as possible; in short, of administering freely and without hindrance, in accordance with her own judgment, all matters that fall within its competence.
12. Now, this authority, perfect in itself, and plainly meant to be unfettered, so long assailed by a philosophy that truckles to the State, the Church, has never ceased to claim for herself and openly to exercise. The Apostles themselves were the first to uphold it, when, being forbidden by the rulers of the synagogue to preach the Gospel, they courageously answered: "We must obey God rather than men."(16) This same authority the holy Fathers of the Church were always careful to maintain by weighty arguments, according as occasion arose, and the Roman Pontiffs have never shrunk from defending it with unbending constancy. Nay, more, princes and all invested with power to rule have themselves approved it, in theory alike and in practice. It cannot be called in question that in the making of treaties, in the transaction of business matters, in the sending and receiving ambassadors, and in the interchange of other kinds of official dealings they have been wont to treat with the Church as with a supreme and legitimate power. And, assuredly, all ought to hold that it was not without a singular disposition of God's providence that this power of the Church was provided with a civil sovereignty as the surest safeguard of her independence.

Leo is building up to a great deal of specificity in Church-State relations here-

13. The Almighty, therefore, has given the charge of the human race to two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil, the one being set over divine, and the other over human, things. Each in its kind is supreme, each has fixed limits within which it is contained, limits which are defined by the nature and special object of the province of each, so that there is, we may say, an orbit traced out within which the action of each is brought into play by its own native right. But, inasmuch as each of these two powers has authority over the same subjects, and as it might come to pass that one and the same thing-related differently, but still remaining one and the same thing-might belong to the jurisdiction and determination of both, therefore God, who foresees all things, and who is the author of these two powers, has marked out the course of each in right correlation to the other. "For the powers that are, are ordained of God."!(17) Were this not so, deplorable contentions and conflicts would often arise, and, not infrequently, men, like travellers at the meeting of two roads, would hesitate in anxiety and doubt, not knowing what course to follow. Two powers would be commanding contrary things, and it would be a dereliction of duty to disobey either of the two.
14. But it would be most repugnant to them to think thus of the wisdom and goodness of God. Even in physical things, albeit of a lower order, the Almighty has so combined the forces and springs of nature with tempered action and wondrous harmony that no one of them clashes with any other, and all of them most fitly and aptly work together for the great purpose of the universe. There must, accordingly, exist between these two powers a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man. The nature and scope of that connection can be determined only, as We have laid down, by having regard to the nature of each power, and by taking account of the relative excellence and nobleness of their purpose. One of the two has for its proximate and chief object the well-being of this mortal life; the other, the everlasting joys of heaven. Whatever, therefore in things human is of a sacred character, whatever belongs either of its own nature or by reason of the end to which it is referred, to the salvation of souls, or to the worship of God, is subject to the power and judgment of the Church. Whatever is to be ranged under the civil and political order is rightly subject to the civil authority. Jesus Christ has Himself given command that what is Caesar's is to be rendered to Caesar, and that what belongs to God is to be rendered to God.

And, here is the subsidiarity bit, so loved by so many bloggers:

that it may be said in sober truth: "The condition of the commonwealth depends on the religion with which God is worshipped; and between one and the other there exists an intimate and abiding connection."(18)
20. Admirably, according to his wont, does St. Augustine, in many passages, enlarge upon the nature of these advantages; but nowhere more markedly and to the point than when he addresses the Catholic Church in the following words: "Thou dost teach and train children with much tenderness, young men with much vigour, old men with much gentleness; as the age not of the body alone, but of the mind of each requires. Women thou dost subject to their husbands in chaste and faithful obedience, not for the gratifying of their lust, but for bringing forth children, and for having a share in the family concerns. Thou dost set husbands over their wives, not that they may play false to the weaker sex, but according to the requirements of sincere affection. Thou dost subject children to their parents in a kind of free service, and dost establish parents over their children with a benign rule. . . Thou joinest together, not in society only, but in a sort of brotherhood, citizen with citizen, nation with nation, and the whole race of men, by reminding them of their common parentage. Thou teachest kings to look to the interests of their people, and dost admonish the people to be submissive to their kings. With all care dost thou teach all to whom honour is due, and affection, and reverence, and fear, consolation, and admonition and exhortation, and discipline, and reproach, and punishment. Thou showest that all these are not equally incumbent on all, but that charity is owing to all, and wrongdoing to none."(19) And in another place, blaming the false wisdom of certain time-serving philosophers, he observes: "Let those who say that the teaching of Christ is hurtful to the State produce such armies as the maxims of Jesus have enjoined soldiers to bring into being; such governors of provinces; such husbands and wives; such parents and children; such masters and servants; such kings; such judges, and such payers and collectors of tribute, as the Christian teaching instructs them to become, and then let them dare to say that such teaching is hurtful to the State. Nay, rather will they hesitate to own that this discipline, if duly acted up to, is the very mainstay of the commonwealth."(20)

And, of course, a nod to the Enlightenment, which caused the real separation of Church and State, as did the Protestant revolt, helps understand the current condition, to which Leo addressed his work, and in which we must see our own historical situation...

25. The authority of God is passed over in silence, just as if there were no God; or as if He cared nothing for human society; or as if men, whether in their individual capacity or bound together in social relations, owed nothing to God; or as if there could be a government of which the whole origin and power and authority did not reside in God Himself. Thus, as is evident, a State becomes nothing but a multitude which is its own master and ruler. And since the people is declared to contain within itself the spring-head of all rights and of all power, it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God. Moreover, it believes that it is not obliged to make public profession of any religion; or to inquire which of the very many religions is the only one true; or to prefer one religion to all the rest; or to show to any form of religion special favour; but, on the contrary, is bound to grant equal rights to every creed, so that public order may not be disturbed by any particular form of religious belief.
26. And it is a part of this theory that all questions that concern religion are to be referred to private judgment; that every one is to be free to follow whatever religion he prefers, or none at all if he disapprove of all. From this the following consequences logically flow: that the judgment of each one's conscience is independent of all law; that the most unrestrained opinions may be openly expressed as to the practice or omission of divine worship; and that every one has unbounded license to think whatever he chooses and to publish abroad whatever he thinks.
27. Now, when the State rests on foundations like those just named - and for the time being they are greatly in favor - it readily appears into what and how unrightful a position the Church is driven. For, when the management of public business is in harmony with doctrines of such a kind, the Catholic religion is allowed a standing in civil society equal only, or inferior, to societies alien from it; no regard is paid to the laws of the Church, and she who, by the order and commission of Jesus Christ, has the duty of teaching all nations, finds herself forbidden to take any p. art in the instruction of the people. With reference to matters that are of twofold jurisdiction, they who administer the civil power lay down the law at their own will, and in matters that appertain to religion defiantly put aside the most sacred decrees of the Church. They claim jurisdiction over the marriages of Catholics, even over the bond as well as the unity and the indissolubility of matrimony. They lay hands on the goods of the clergy, contending that the Church cannot possess property. Lastly, they treat the Church with such arrogance that, rejecting entirely her title to the nature and rights of a perfect society, they hold that she differs in no respect from other societies in the State, and for this reason possesses no right nor any legal power of action, save that which she holds by the concession and favor of the government. If in any State the Church retains her own agreement publicly entered into by the two powers, men forthwith begin to cry out that matters affecting the Church must be separated from those of the State.

No to communisim, materialism, atheism, anarchy, and the ignoring of natural law (see some of our own judges in the States), and we are gaining an understanding of the role of the Church in civil matters.

Accordingly, it has become the practice and determination under this condition of public polity (now so much admired by many) either to forbid the action of the Church altogether, or to keep her in check and bondage to the State. Public enactments are in great measure framed with this design. The drawing up of laws, the administration of State affairs, the godless education of youth, the spoliation and suppression of religious orders, the overthrow of the temporal power of the Roman Pontiff, all alike aim to this one end-to paralyse the action of Christian institutions, to cramp to the utmost the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to curtail her ever single prerogative.
30. Now, natural reason itself proves convincingly that such concepts of the government of a State are wholly at variance with the truth. Nature itself bears witness that all power, of every kind, has its origin from God, who is its chief and most august source.
31. The sovereignty of the people, however, and this without any reference to God, is held to reside in the multitude; which is doubtless a doctrine exceedingly well calculated to flatter and to inflame many passions, but which lacks all reasonable proof, and all power of insuring public safety and preserving order. Indeed, from the prevalence of this teaching, things have come to such a pass that may hold as an axiom of civil jurisprudence that seditions may be rightfully fostered. For the opinion prevails that princes are nothing more than delegates chosen to carry out the will of the people; whence it necessarily follows that all things are as changeable as the will of the people, so that risk of public disturbance is ever hanging over our heads. To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God.

And, for my impatient readers, who want to scroll down to here for the best part, a complete separation of Church and State is a no-no. Also, the Catholic Church is to be recognize as the one, true Church, and the Faith, the one, true, faith. We shall have to look at other documents since then, specifically one I quoted earlier last week, from Vatican II.

To wish the Church to be subject to the civil power in the exercise of her duty is a great folly and a sheer injustice. Whenever this is the case, order is disturbed, for things natural are put above things supernatural; the many benefits which the Church, if free to act, would confer on society are either prevented or at least lessened in number; and a way is prepared for enmities and contentions between the two powers, with how evil result to both the issue of events has taught us only too frequently.
34. Doctrines such as these, which cannot be approved by human reason, and most seriously affect the whole civil order, Our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs (well aware of what their apostolic office required of them) have never allowed to pass uncondemned. Thus, Gregory XVI in his encyclical letter Mirari Vos, dated August 15, 1832, inveighed with weighty words against the sophisms which even at his time were being publicly inculcated-namely, that no preference should be shown for any particular form of worship; that it is right for individuals to form their own personal judgments about religion; that each man's conscience is his sole and all-sufficing guide; and that it is lawful for every man to publish his own views, whatever they may be, and even to conspire against the State. On the question of the separation of Church and State the same Pontiff writes as follows: "Nor can We hope for happier results eitherIt is clear that these men, who yearn for a shameless liberty, live in dread of an agreement which has always been fraught with good, and advantageous alike to sacred and civil interests." To the like effect, also, as occasion presented itself, did Pius IX brand publicly many false opinions which were gaining ground, and afterwards ordered them to be condensed in summary form in order that in this sea of error Catholics might have a light which they might safely follow.(22)
35. From these pronouncements of the Popes it is evident that the origin of public power is to be sought for in God Himself, and not in the multitude, and that it is repugnant to reason to allow free scope for sedition. Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favour different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favour and support. In like manner it is to be understood that the Church no less than the State itself is a society perfect in its own nature and its own right, and that those who exercise sovereignty ought not so to act as to compel the Church to become subservient or subject to them, or to hamper her liberty in the management of her own affairs, or to despoil her in any way of the other privileges conferred upon her by Jesus Christ. In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them.
36. This, then, is the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the constitution and government of the State. By the words and decrees just cited, if judged dispassionately, no one of the several forms of government is in itself condemned, inasmuch as none of them contains anything contrary to Catholic doctrine, and all of them are capable, if wisely and justly managed, to insure the welfare of the State. Neither is it blameworthy in itself, in any manner, for the people to have a share greater or less, in the government: for at certain times, and under certain laws, such participation may not only be of benefit to the citizens, but may even be of obligation. Nor is there any reason why any one should accuse the Church of being wanting in gentleness of action or largeness of view, or of being opposed to real and lawful liberty. The Church, indeed, deems it unlawful to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion, but does not, on that account, condemn those rulers who, for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil, allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion having its place in the State. And, in fact, the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, "Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own will."

There is more great ideas in the encyclical. Here are a few more paragraphs to be discussed.

46. In these Our days it is well to revive these examples of Our forefathers. First and foremost, it is the duty of all Catholics worthy of the name and wishful to be known as most loving children of the Church, to reject without swerving whatever is inconsistent with so fair a title; to make use of popular institutions, so far as can honestly be done, for the advancement of truth and righteousness; to strive that liberty of action shall not transgress the bounds marked out by nature and the law of God; to endeavour to bring back all civil society to the pattern and form of Christianity which We have described. It is barely possible to lay down any fixed method by which such purposes are to be attained, because the means adopted must suit places and times widely differing from one another. Nevertheless, above all things, unity of aim must be preserved, and similarity must be sought after in all plans of action. Both these objects will be carried into effect without fail if all will follow the guidance of the apostolic see as their rule of life and obey the bishops whom the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God.(27) The defense of Catholicism, indeed, necessarily demands that in the profession of doctrines taught by the Church all shall be of one mind and all steadfast in believing; and care must be taken never to connive, in any way, at false opinions, never to withstand them less strenuously than truth allows. In mere matters of opinion it is permissible to discuss things with moderation, with a desire of searching into the truth, without unjust suspicion or angry recriminations.
47. Hence, lest concord be broken by rash charges, let this be understood by all, that the integrity of Catholic faith cannot be reconciled with opinions verging on naturalism or rationalism, the essence of which is utterly to do away with Christian institutions and to install in society the supremacy of man to the exclusion of God. Further, it is unlawful to follow one line of conduct in private life and another in public, respecting privately the authority of the Church, but publicly rejecting it; for this would amount to joining together good and evil, and to putting man in conflict with himself; whereas he ought always to be consistent, and never in the least point nor in any condition of life to swerve from Christian virtue.

This is just a little taste of the many documents, some quoted below, on Church-State relations. I do not believe these ideas have been abrogated, and especially re-stated as against the heresy of Americanism. To be continued....