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Friday 22 March 2013

From Zenit on USCCB's Statement on Obamacare

Why is it that Catholics in England and Ireland do not know the USCCB's stand? Catholics are amazed when I tell them things like this...
Bishops: Contraception Mandate an Unprecedented Violation of Liberty
Point Out Continuing Problems With Regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2013 ( - The general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the current proposed revisions of the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate are “an unprecedented … violation of religious liberty by the federal government” and must be changed. 
The statement is in comments filed Wednesday regarding the mandate, which requires most health plans in the United States to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and related education and counseling.
The comments, made on the USCCB’s behalf by Anthony R. Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael F. Moses, associate general counsel, note a number of continuing problems with the regulations, which had been the subject of earlier rule making and comment by the USCCB. The comments state:
First, like earlier iterations of the regulation, the latest proposal requires coverage of items and procedures that, unlike other mandated “preventive services,” do not prevent disease. Instead, they are associated with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes, including conditions that other “preventive services” are designed to prevent.

Second, no exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not. 

Third, although the definition of an exempt “religious employer” has been revised to eliminate some of the intrusive and constitutionally improper government inquiries into religious teaching and beliefs that were inherent in an earlier definition, the current proposal continues to define “religious employer” in a way that, by the government’s own admission, excludes (and therefore subjects to the mandate) a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious. Generally the nonprofit religious organizations that fall on the “non-exempt” side of this religious gerrymander include those organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services. 

Fourth, the Administration has offered what it calls an “accommodation” for nonprofit religious organizations that fall outside its narrow definition of “religious employer.” The “accommodation” is based on a number of questionable factual assumptions. Even if all of those assumptions were sound, the “accommodation” still requires the objecting religious organization to fund or otherwise facilitate the morally objectionable coverage. 

 Fifth, the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government. As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
“We are willing, now as always, to work with the Administration to reach a just and lawful resolution of these issues. In the meantime, along with others, we will continue to look for resolution of these issues in Congress and in the courts,” Picarello and Moses write.
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How can this happen? Pray, please

Well, it is inevitable being in the EU

Can't blame them...

A talk with Pope Francis would be a good idea for Biden...doncha' think?

That is more money than what I made in my entire working far!

Part of my mission statement revisited.

I am a cultural warrior and have been for a very long time. When I was 16, when most of your parents were toddlers, my dad took one of my three brothers aside, with me, and said to us that to be Catholic was counter-cultural.

That was in 1965, so you can figure out how old I am.

My age is not the point, but to be counter-cultural is.

If you as younger Catholics do not know the long history of Catholic culture and civilization, that is, Western Civilization, created by the Greco-Roman-Catholic traditions, then you must learn it.

What we have now in the world is a shadow, a fading shadow of what was once Christendom

To be counter-cultural means you have to learn to think and act like a Catholic and not like the majority.

This has been and still is one of the reasons for this blog. Notice the markings for important monasteries on this map very early on.

Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe--but no more...

On Infallibility: please review and think

A reminder of the Teaching of the Church on infallibility...and a few other things

Part Four--grace and salvation for "all" and the importance of reason

We differ greatly from the Protestants, as we believe that Christ wants all to be saved. Grace is available to all men and women, but God gives as He wills, not as we will...We also believe that reason is an important faculty in the acceptance, and even perception, of grace.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The universality of grace is a necessary consequence of the will to save all men. For adults this will transforms itself into the concrete Divine will to distribute "sufficient" graces; it evidently involves no obligation on God to bestow only "efficacious" graces. If it can be established, therefore, that God grants to the three classes of the just, sinners, and infidels truly sufficient graces for their eternal salvation, the proof of the universality of grace will have been furnished. Without prejudice to this universality, God may either await the moment of its actual necessity before bestowing grace, or He may, even in time of need (e.g. in vehement temptation), grant immediately only the grace of prayer (gratia orationis sive remote sufficiens). But in the latter case he must be ever ready to confer immediate grace for action (gr. operationis s. proxime sufficiens), if the adult has made a faithful use of the grace of prayer.

Our religion is one of witnessing, of evangelizing. We are called by our baptism to go out an make disciples of all nations. This is no small statement from God, but a command. External preaching is essential. Grace builds on hearing the Word of God. Catholics greatly differ from the Protestants on this point. They do not believe that humans are really redeemed, that is, truly justified. Therefore, grace is more of a once and for all experience.

As to growing in holiness, yes, some Protestants do believe in that, but the universality of grace does not demand continual repentance and renewal, merely a recognition of one's personal salvation. We know it is presumptuous to rest and not keep striving after the goal.

 God will not refrain in extraordinary cases from miraculous intervention in order to save a noble-minded heathen who conscientiously observes the natural moral law. He may either, in a miraculous manner, depute a missionary to him (Acts, i, 1 sqq.), or teach him the revealed truth through an angel (Cardinal Toletus), or he may come to his assistance by an interior private revelation. It is clear, nevertheless, that these different ways cannot be considered as everyday ordinary means. For the multitude of heathen this assistance must be found in a universal means of salvation equally independent of wonderful events and of the preaching of Christian missionaries. Some modern theologians discover it in the circumstance that the two dogmas mentioned above were already contained in the primitive supernatural revelation made in Paradise for all mankind. These truths were subsequently spread over the whole world, survive, as a meagre remnant, in the traditions of the pagan nations, and are orally transmitted from generation to generation as supernatural truths of salvation. The knowableness of these dogmas by unaided reason does not constitute an objection, for they are simultaneously natural and revealed truths. Once the condition of external preaching (cf. Rom., x, 17: "fides ex auditu") has thus been fulfilled, it only remains for God to hasten to mans assistance with his supernatural illuminating and strengthening grace and to initiate with the faith in God and retribution (which implicitly includes all else necessary for salvation) the process of justification. In this manner the attainment of the state of grace and of eternal glory becomes possible for the heathen who faithfully co-operates with the grace of vocation. However all this may be, one thing is certain: every heathen who incurs eternal damnation will be forced on the last day to the honest confession: "It is not for want of grace, but through my own fault that I am lost."

This last sentence would be denied by psychologists and social scientists  who daily blame circumstances or nuture for people's sins, denying the fact that nature has been redeemed. 

Later today, I shall look at efficacious grace. 

Grace, Part Three--Merit and Holiness

The CCC is clear on merit and grace and this is like a summary of the perfection series! I do not think a commentary is necessary here. These selections from the CCC have been repeated in the Doctors of the Church series again and again. We see that the call to perfection demands a response on our part to graces freely given and earned by Christ. Do we say yes, or no?

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then meritfor ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.
After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63
2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified."64
2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity."65 All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."66
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ's gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.67
2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called "mystical" because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - "the holy mysteries" - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69

How wonderful that we are all called to this life, and not merely a few.
2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.70Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."71

On Sufficient Grace--Part Two

Both actual and sanctifying grace are sufficient graces. This is a snippet on the first of two grace types in general; sufficient and efficacious ...........from

Grace: Commentary on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas, Chapter Six
Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. found here

The division of sufficient grace

Sufficient grace is manifold and involves the following.
1. External helps, such as external revelation, the preaching of the faith, exhortation, example, miracles, salutary trials, benefits, and indeed a certain disposition of events ordained by a special providence toward salvation.

2. Internal helps, which are either permanent (such as infused habits, for instance, sanctifying grace, the virtues and gifts) or transient (such as supernatural movements which excite in us indeliberate acts, pious thoughts and aspirations). Actual and sanctifying grace....

These helps are infallibly efficacious for producing those indeliberate acts, and sufficient for the de-liberate act for which they give the proximate power. These various helps are extremely useful; it is obvious that they render our powers noble and elevated; they are truly sufficient in their order, just as the intellectual faculty is for understanding; and they really confer the proximate power. But they are called merely sufficient with respect to salutary acts which, on account of man’s culpable resistance, are not performed. Indeed, as has been said, grace which is termed sufficient with respect to a perfect act, for example, contrition, is infallibly efficacious with respect to an imperfect act, such as attrition.9  
Sufficient help is divided into remote and proximate. Proximate help is that by which a person can immediately perform a good work, such as the infused habits with respect to their acts, and with still greater reason indeliberate devout thoughts and aspirations inspired by God and inclining toward consent to the good. Remote sufficient help is that by which a person is not yet capable of the act, but can do something easier, for instance, pray, which, if he does it well, will enable him to act, for example, to overcome temptation. The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. II) indicates this difference drawn from St. Augustine: “God does not command the impossible, but by commanding He teaches thee to do what thou canst (proximately suffcient help) and to ask for what thou canst not (remotely sufficient help.)”

The great lie of our time is that people cannot help doing bad things. Either they are mentally ill, in need of healing or simply weak. Free will is denied.

Thankfully, we have a clear teaching on the overlap of  free will and God's gift of divine life-which is grace.

Furthermore, sufficient help is divided into conferred help and offered sufficient help, which we would certainly receive were there not an obstacle. Sufficient help is also either immediate and personal or mediate, for instance, conferred upon the parents for their children who are incapable of receiving personal sufficient help; thus the parents might receive from God the pious thought of the necessity of having their children baptized and not do so. Hence truly and merely sufficient help does not consist in some one, indivisible, definite thing, but in many helps, whether external or internal, permanent or transitory, whereby a man has the proximate power of doing good or at least of praying, and nevertheless resists it.

All of this is commonly taught by Thomists; but in addition reference should be made to the opinion of Gonzalez de Albeda, O.P., in his Commentary on Ia, q. 19, a. 8, disp. 58, sect. 2, Naples, 1637, 11, 85. Gonzalez holds that sufficient grace gives the ultimate completion to the power, or proximate power in readiness to consent when God calls (in fact, it impels toward second act, although it does not remove the impediments to this act); on the contrary, efficacious grace simultaneously moves toward second act and removes all impediments, and hence it is not resisted.

One has a disposition from efficacious grace--whereas sufficient grace moves us, for example, to conversion and further holiness.

Thus Gonzalez still preserves a real distinction between sufficient grace, impelling toward second act, and efficacious grace, surmounting obstacles; and he explains this distinction, not as residing in our free will, but before our consent, on the part of God Himself assisting us. He says (ibid.): “I consider that it ought to be held without doubt that the created will, only sufficiently helped by God, possesses the ultimate fullness of active power and the prevenient concurrence of God. . . . It is otherwise, however, with the created will efficaciously assisted; for the ultimate fullness in this latter case (efficaciously assisted) establishing it finally in first act is more particular and extrinsically efficacious with greater power to incline the will to consent here and now.”
Other texts of Father Gonzalez in the same connection should be consulted. We have examined this theory at length in another work.10 Gonzalez, then, maintains the principle of predilection, namely, no one would be better than another if he were not better loved by God.  Cf. below, § 4, for the value of this opinion; and the excursus on efficacious grace, chap. I.

And, with apologies, the post on efficacious grace will appear later today, as I have come down ill with something--sorry.

A short treatise on grace, moving towards perfection....

When talking with Protestants, I have become aware more and more that there is a problem with the word "grace".

When talking with Catholics, I have become aware more and more that there is a problem with the word "grace".

Unless one clarifies definitions in a discussion, many problems can arise.

Here is a quick summary of Catholic vs. Protestant ideas of grace. I hope this helps those who evangelize. This is Part One out of Five, and by no means is exhaustive. Quite the contrary--this is a toe in the water.

First, the Protestants broke away from the Catholic ideas of grace in order to separate grace from nature and grace from the sacraments.

Second, the definitions reveal a different relationship between the person and God.

Therefore, I am going to start with the Catholic definitions of grace and then move on to the Protestant ones.

Catholics believe in actual grace, prevenient grace and sanctifying grace.

Actual grace is, simply, grace given for a particular action.

Prevenient grace is described well in the Council of Trent as

 ....Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace. 

And in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this grace is here described and defined as God's favor--

 1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

This is prevenient grace--the initial call to conversion and new life. Justification is a dual response of the will of the person to whom this grace is given and the call of God. Free will answers the call. It is also defined in 2001 below.

Sanctifying grace is that which is actually a sharing of God's Life. It is given in baptism and the other sacraments and becomes a habit of living. We cooperate, again, with sanctifying grace.

The third type is actual grace, which is grace given her and there to help us on our way. It is not habitual grace. The name tells us what it does-help us in an action. It is called a "help of God for salutary acts",

and, importantly, it solely comes from the merits of Christ Himself, as does all grace, but is passing. On the other hand, one lives in sanctifying grace.

Now, the Catholic Church teaches that actual grace illumines the mind and builds on nature. We are empowered by grace.

This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia...on Augustine and grace: this is the grace which makes the will strong-as against the problem of the weakened will, an inheritance of Original Sin.

The celebrated Provincial Council of Carthage (A.D. 418) confirmed his teaching when it declared that grace does not simply consist in the manifestation of the Divine precepts whereby we may know our positive and negative duties, but it also confers upon us the power to love and accomplish whatever we have recognized as righteous in things pertaining to salvation (cf. Denzinger, "Enchiridion", 10th ed., n. 104, Freiburg, 1908)

And again from the CE: the functions of the grace of the will may be systematically focussed in love; hence the concise declaration of the above-mentioned Synod of Carthage (1. c.): "Cum sit utrumque donum Dei, et scire Quid facere debeamus et diligere ut faciamus" (Since both are gifts of God -- the knowing what we ought to do, and the desire to do it). But care must be taken not to understand immediately, by this "love", perfect love of God, which comes only at the end of the process of justification as the crowning-stone of the edifice, even though Augustine (De Trinit., VIII, 10, and frequently) honours with the name caritas the mere love for good and any good motion of the will whatsoever. Berti (De theol. discipl., XIV, 7)...

And from the CCC:

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.
1998 This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.47
1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:48Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.49

2000 Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God's call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God's interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"50

Indeed, we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.51

Now, a huge distinction between the Protestants and Catholics is the idea of the intellect and therefore, reason being able to bring one to God and the Truths of the Church.

We also believe that good works can come from reason, and not just grace: here is the CE again:

 (The Catholic Church believes)...that natural man is capable of performing some naturally good works without actual grace, and particularly without the grace of faith, and that not all the deeds of infidels and pagans are sins. This is evidenced by the condemnation of two propositions of Baius by Pope Pius V in the year 1567: "Liberum arbitrium sine gratiae Dei adjutorio nonnisi ad peccandum valet" ("Free will without the aid of God's grace avails for nothing but sin." -- Prop. xxvii), and again: "Omnia opera infidelium sunt peccata et philosophorum virtutes sunt vitia " ("All the acts of infidels are sins, and their virtues are vices." -- Prop. 25). The history of paganism and everyday experience condemn, moreover, with equal emphasis these extravagant exaggerations of Baius. Among the duties of the natural moral law some -- as love for parents or children, abstention from theft and drunkenness -- are of such an elementary character that it is impossible to perceive why they could not be fulfilled without grace and faith at least by judicious, cultured, and noble-minded pagans. Did not the Saviour himself recognize as something good natural human love and fraternal greeting, such as they exist also among publicans and pagans? He denied to them only a supernatural reward (mercedem, Matt., v, 46 sq.). And Paul has explicitly stated that "the Gentiles, who have not the [Mosaic] law, do by nature [naturaliter, physei] those things that are of the law" (Rom., ii, 14). The Fathers of the Church did not judge differently.

And, yet, the pagans do not merit heaven by those good acts, as all merit is in and through Christ.

One more look at initial or prevenient grace in the CCC:

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63

However, only sanctifying grace, as the name notes, can make one holy and persist in holiness. 

Now, there is another division in grace which I shall look at in the next post...