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Tuesday 17 March 2015

From Voice of The Family

Polish Bishops’ Conference rejects Holy Communion for divorced and “remarried”

The Polish Bishops’ Conference has issued a communiqué firmly rejecting the proposals that divorced and “remarried” Catholics should be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life.
The communiqué, published on 12th March, includes the following statement:
“In view of the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome, the bishops have undertaken a reflection on marriage and family. This reflection demonstrated the importance of the family from the perspective of philosophical, theological and legal issues.
“Identified once again was the indispensable importance of the sacrament of marriage, and the family for the growth of Christian life within the Church.
“Emphasized was the need to promote the pastoral care of families, to strengthen the faithful in understanding and the implementation of sacramental marriage, as understood as a sacred and indissoluble union between a woman and a man.
“The teaching and the tradition of the Church shows that people living in non-sacramental union deprive themselves of the possibility of receiving Holy Communion.*
“Pastoral care must be provided for those living in such unions so that they may be able to keep the faith and continue in the community of the Church. Pastoral care of those in non-sacramental unions should also take account of children, who have the right to participate fully in the life and mission of the Church.”

Repost for Sems

On Perfection Part One of Old Series; Part iii of Re-posts

Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection. 

(Dedicated to my seminarian friends, who in some places, are being taught to be mediocre.)

This is one of the promises given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque for those who keep the Nine First Fridays of Masses. On June 11, 1899, Pope St. Leo the XIII dedicated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the connection between the pursuit of perfection and the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What is this seeking of perfection called for by Christ Himself?  In Matthew 5:48, Christ states, Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

In this Age of Mediocrity, I have heard very weak and mealy-mouthed sermons on this passage,to the point that the priests have deconstructed the text so that it no longer means what Christ intended. We are called to perfection. We are not called to second-best, or "good enough", or "getting by". Some preachers have compare "wholeness" to "holiness". This is not so. That is a New Age confusion of terms. We are called to be like the Father, Our Father, in whom we were made in His Image and Likeness. St. Bernard of Clairvaux has said that we have kept the Image,but lost the Likeness and that Likeness is living in the life of Sanctifying Grace.

In this age of the dumbing down of everything-politics, education, entertainment, culture-we have lost the sense of perfection. I hear good Catholics state, "I shall be happy if I get to Purgatory." That is not even good enough and it is false humility. To seek perfection is to want to bring Heaven down to Earth now, to be a saint now, in the messy world of secularism and sin. Christ always calls us to the hard and narrow way. If we aim at the wide way, we shall miss the mark.

My dad taught me archery. He also taught me how to shoot. He always said, "Aim at the center." If one concentrates on the bulls-eye, one will learn the technique and train the eye. No discipline, no success. I loved learning such skills, and I had to listen, be patient, practice over and over. Like all sports, one aims at perfection. I loved hitting the mark, the bulls-eye. Those who aim at the mediocre will never be great at anything.

This is not about competition, unless one is competing with one's self. Nor is it about pride. The fake humility in the world of the West, which discourages excellence and praise mediocrity,  the point of the drama,Amadeus, creates an atmosphere of envy. Evil hates good and mediocrity hates excellence. 

So why do priests in sermons give in to this Age of Mediocrity, not merely by ignoring the call to perfection, but by undermining God's Own Words in the Scriptures? Because they disagree with God, these priests at the pulpit lower their own standards and insult the laity by not calling them to perfection.

Why do I mean by this? The priests who teach mediocrity have lost the vision of holiness themselves and no longer believe that the laity can be holy. They have fallen into a trap of modern psychological interpretation which separates doctrinal teaching from pastoral teaching. There is no such separation. Pastoral theology is the application of doctrine, not the deviation from doctrine.

How to be perfect is simple. Put on the mind of Christ, writes St. Paul in many places in his epistles. One reference is from Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.

Thinking like Christ brings us into relationship with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Indwelling of the Trinity, given to us at Baptism and Confirmation, leads us to this perfection, if we cooperate. 

There can be no compromises, no watering down of the message. Bonhoeffer reminded us of this in his discussion of Cheap Grace and Costly Grace, in his The Cost of Discipleship, a book which changed my life when I read it at 23. One chooses either the less or the more. At about the same time, I read Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind. I was also "into" C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams at the time. There are excellent reads for young minds. The earlier that one realizes that the pursuit of excellence is the Way of Christ's Call to us, the better. Disciplining the mind and the heart are easier is one pursues Christ's Mind and Christ's Heart at a early age. Perfection of the mind is a theme in Thomas Aquinas, as I have written on this blog before. The intellect must be perfected in order to live the life of virtue.

However, it is never too late. God, who is Infinite and does not merely see us as we are at one moment in time, but as we are in our entire life, can do in months, even weeks, what we have not done in years. We only need to be convinced that the call to perfection is His Call. Ignore those mediocre priests, pray for them, call them to a higher vision. 

This is what St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Pope St. Leo XIII did for the Church-give us a higher vision. The heart of Christ becomes our heart, in the world, wherever we find ourselves, and gives us confidence and grace to live His Will in the world. The next time I cover this topic, I shall look into what perfection looks like. By the way, martyrs are not suddenly "made". These men, women and children have lived perfection before being able to die for Christ.  Another Margaret, St. Margaret Clitherow, lived in a time when mediocrity was rewarded. She lived in the perfection of grace which led her to martyrdom. This is our call.

I do not have my works of St. Bernard of Clairvaux with me, but I can paraphrase one of his sayings: There is rejoicing in heaven when a bad man becomes good, but how much more rejoicing is there when a good man becomes perfect.

More reposts for Cyril's Day Tomorrow

Post 102. Cyril of Jerusalem and Perfection: DoC series.

What a striking image this is from Cyril. That Christ was free among the dead. This refers to the harrowing of hell, the release of the just from what some theologians called limbo, not the same one as spoken in recent times.

Think on how Christ has raised you from the dead. Perfection begins in the realization that we are dead without Christ and His grace. "He who was free among the dead".

Now, therefore, the Dead is risen, He who was free among the dead, and the deliverer of the dead.  He who in dishonour wore patiently the crown of thorns, even He arose, and crowned Himself with the diadem of His victory over death.

Part 101: Doctors of the Church and Perfection-Cyril of Jerusalem

The soul is immortal, and all souls are alike both of men and women; for only the members of the body are distinguished716.  There is not a class of souls sinning by nature, and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature717:  but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only, and alike in all.  

Sin is not inbred; sin is not a result of nature but free choice. We are not born doomed to die in sin. On the contrary, this entire Holy Week is about Christ's Salvific Action of saving us and allowing us to be restored as children of God and heirs of heaven.

But, this means that God's immutable laws are to be respected, not changed.

I know, however, that I am talking much, and that the time is already long:  but what is more precious than salvation?  Art thou not willing to take trouble in getting provisions for the way against the heretics? And wilt thou not learn the bye-paths of the road, lest from ignorance thou fall down a precipice?  If thy teachers think it no small gain for thee to learn these things, shouldest not thou the learner gladly receive the multitude of things told thee?

Perfection demands a mental, intellectual involvement in one's faith life. Ignorance is not an excuse.

21.  The soul is self-governed:  and though the devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will.  

Satan cannot make you do anything against your will. This is key. However, you and I must strengthen our wills. Weakness of will is a result of original sin and it is part of our duty to learn how to resist evil and choose perfection, day after day. Hell is not a necessary choice. This is so important to understand.

One chooses heaven or hell; imperfection or perfection.

He pictures to thee the thought of fornication:  if thou wilt, thou acceptest it; if thou wilt not, thou rejectest.  For if thou wert a fornicator by necessity, then for what cause did God prepare hell?  If thou were a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory?  The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness:  since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.

One cannot excuse one's self concerning sin.

To be continued....

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Doctors of the Church Series Update

After Cyril of Jerusalem, I shall continue with perfection series with John Chrysostom and Peter Chrysologus, the two with the golden names. Chrysostom means "golden-mouthed" and Chrysologus means "golden-worded". Such orators and preachers are rare!

Thanks, Wiki-John Chrysostom

Part 100: Doctors of the Church and Perfection-Cyril of Jerusalem

I am looking at this Doctor's copious works on catechesis and the mystagogia. One of the things which stands out in his writing is, thankfully, he insistence on seeking a life of perfection, but only after purification.

Cyril warns us of the dangers of this journey, as he knows that vice can look like virtue. He also, like all the Doctors so far, emphasizes orthodoxy, which must be accepted by those wanting to enter the Kingdom of God.

Here is a snippet and my comments are in blue"

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, &c.
1.  Vice mimics virtue, and the tares strive to be thought wheat, growing like the wheat in appearance, but being detected by good judges from the taste.  The devil also transfigures himself into an angel of light639; not that he may reascend to where he was, for having made his heart hard as an anvil640, he has henceforth a will that cannot repent; but in order that he may envelope those who are living an Angelic life in a mist of blindness, and a pestilent condition of unbelief.  
The devil is not obvious in his deceit. He is more than cunning, he is brilliant intellectually and watches us for weaknesses. But, what does Cyril mean when he states that vice mimics virtue? We see this daily in the false use of the words "love", "committment", "care" and so on with regard to abortion, contraception, euthenasia and same-sex unions. Language is twisted to seem virtuous when the ideals depart from Revelation and natural law.
Many wolves are going about in sheeps’ clothing641, their clothing being that of sheep, not so their claws and teeth:  but clad in their soft skin, and deceiving the innocent by their appearance, they shed upon them from their fangs the destructive poison of ungodliness.  We have need therefore of divine grace, and of a sober mind, and of eyes that see, lest from eating tares as wheat we suffer harm from ignorance, and lest from taking the wolf to be a sheep we become his prey, and from supposing the destroying Devil to be a beneficent Angel we be devoured:  for, as the Scripture saith, he goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour642.  This is the cause of the Church’s admonitions, the cause of the present instructions, and of the lessons which are read.
Grace, as defined and described in the mini-series of the last few days, is absolutely necessary. And, grace is connected to the acceptance and belief in the doctrines of the Church.

2.  For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice:  and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines.  For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet to be a vile fornicator?  And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer?  A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines:  also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit643.  

Sadly, in this day of television and Internet evangelization, there are too many false prophets. Men and women who claim to know God but support contraception or same-sex unions. 

One must be always looking at preachers of all kinds with the eyes of Christ. If one is in a prayer group which is not upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church and yet claims to be spirit-filled, beware.

The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey droppeth from a harlot’s lips644:  whereas they of the Circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the Divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to old age645, and growing old in ignorance.  But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent646, disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows647 of their impious doctrines:  concerning all of whom together the Lord saith, Take heed lest any man mislead you648.  This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.

The road to perfection begins with the Creed.

To be continued....

Reposts on Cyril

Saturday, 23 March 2013

DoC and Perfection: Cyril of Jerusalem: Part 99

I usually do not think it necessary to relate any of the biographical details of the Doctors of the Church in this series, but here are some fascinating details from here. Another interesting detail in Cyril's life was that he was made a deacon at the age of twenty.  I am sorry that I did not get to him for the celebration of his feast day on March 18th, but world events and the grace series took up my be continued.

That Cyril, whether a native of Jerusalem or not, had passed a portion of his childhood there, is rendered probable by his allusions to the condition of the Holy Places before they were cleared and adorned by Constantine and Helena.  He seems to speak as an eye-witness of their former state, when he says that a few years before the place of the Nativity at Bethlehem had been wooded2, that the place where Christ was crucified and buried was a garden, of which traces were still remaining3, that the wood of the Cross had been distributed to all nations4, and that before the decoration of the Holy Sepulchre by Constantine, there was a cleft or cave before the door of the Sepulchre, hewn out of the 
rock itself, but now no longer to be seen, because the outer cave had been cut away for the sake of the recent adornments5.
This work was undertaken by Constantine after the year 326 a.d.6; and if Cyril spoke from remembrance of what he had himself seen, he could hardly have been less than ten or twelve years old, and so must have been born not later, perhaps a few years earlier, than 315 a.d.


Taking a day off...

Today, I am not blogging until much later, as I need a day to pray for some very special intentions, including some of my own.

A day off the computer totally....sigh, a great need.

See you all later.

Moving Into Low Gear

I think the time is now for real Catholics to become more and more "invisible". This does not mean stopping evangelizing, but it does mean becoming less obvious.

I believe the time for the splashy Catholic presence is over. What is needed are prayerful, solid and mature Catholics bringing people to God in a new and deep holiness.

Low gear is not inactivity, but a balance between prayer, meditation and action.

One should start being a saint at home.

Then, in the workplace.

Parishes are crawling with busy people who have only superficial spiritual lives. How can a deeply spiritual Catholic person tell me that all Christian religions are the same and all Christians get to heaven, as I heard this past weekend after Mass? has just received the Body and Blood of Christ and one does not understand Christ's own words.

John 6:53New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

One evangelizes the open. One walks away from the very closed. One prays for all.
Low gear is used for more torque, for pulling great burdens or going through snow. 
Low gear is used for going up mountains or steep hills.
Think of where we are in Church history.
Mountains, hills, great burdens...more prayer, less action, or rather, less showy, useless action.

Boston St. Pat's Parade--No Knights...


Remnant Thinking

Years ago, I told some seminarians that they were looking to politics to do what only religion could do--save souls.

To be saying this while teaching in a seminary was a wake-up call to me that too many Catholics still run to politicians and the government for what should be learned in the heart, the mind and the soul.

I am sad to say that the political posts of mine are read more, 3-1 than the spiritual ones.

Politics in or out of the Church are not the main purpose of this blog.

This is a traditional Catholic blog written and maintained for the teaching of doctrine, the unpacking of difficult ideas and authors which and who are Catholic, and for the applictation of Catholicity to current events.

The most important posts have been on the lives of the saints, the key doctrines of the Church, and the way to perfection.

Meditations on Scripture come next.

All the links to Catholic news or political news may be found by readers themselves.

The series on the retreat last week, with information not usually found on the Net, not result in high numbers of readers.

Perhaps, the day of the trad blog is over. It seems that people want what can be found on many other sites. Few sites offer real Catholic teaching. Of course, Michael Voris' paid series are superb. This blog has been free, but I do not have to pay a staff.

One young person told me yesterday that her generation no longer listens to old priests and that such articles as the one from SPUC yesterday no longer matter, as the Millennials know where to go for the good stuff. Anyone over 70 is suspected of heresy and, therefore, disregarded. These kids know how to turn off nonsense.

The younger ones go to primary sources, Augustine, Ambrose, Aquinas, and look for commentary on the greats. They seek out holy people.

Catholic gossip simply does not interest them, as they see the world as mostly corrupt and do not expect anything else. They have grown up without being "shocked".

They have accepted living in a global pagan culture and have decided to do the best they can in their worlds to bring people to the Truth.

In other words, they are already thinking like the remnant.

What is remnant thinking?

What did the recusants of England think of when they were scattered over a hostile environment of persecution?

I have thought of this today, as I believe the Millennials have come to two realizations many older Catholics have not yet realized, which is shaping the way they approach religion.

First is the fact that that the vast majority of people will not listen to God at this time, and that the global culture is, indeed, reverting quickly to the worst excesses of the pagan past.  Many older Catholics still do not accept this. Millennials see things more in black and white than their parents or grandparents, and this is good. They also choose black or white. Choose.

They tolerate the pagans in order to live peacefully to a certain extent, but do not trust them. This is a remnant attitude. One has to have psychological boundaries to be a member of the remnant. Remnant members are "wise as serpents, guileless as doves".

Second is the fact that religion must be personal in order for any culture to change No longer do the young ones rely on community, but on their own small groups of friends. They do not relate to the larger communities as they can see the rot clearly. They do not look to the parish for friendship, as they have to know whom they can trust. They know most Catholics in the pew are not truly practicing and are compromising. They watched this happen.

Remnant mentality, indeed.

Under this attitude lies another one which is the clear knowledge that they can only do so much to pass on the Faith to the next generation and that by strenghtening Catholics and those who want the Truth.

Remnant mentality sees the potential for conversion, but also realizes that the Faith must be preserved intact. These young ones have no time for heresies and simply, are not interested in the same dicsussions older Catholics may be entering into with vigor. They know the enemy.

Remnant mentality is realistic and tough. Remnant mentality starts with the striving for person holiness.

To be a saint is the foremost goal.

Truly, only saints can convert others through the activity of the Holy Spirit.

I think us older ones can learn a lot from those who already are living in the remnant mentality.

This is a sign of the times, and a good sign that God is preparing His Church for persecution.

One Millennial told me that he is prepared, when ordained soon, to be a hiding priest, or martyred.

He expects it.

This is remnant mentality.

The remnant clergy will not be "careerists" nor will they have a middle-class lifestyle.

They know this.

In only diocese with which I am familiar, there are now 80 priests for 120,000 Catholics. Less are coming up the pipeline--many less. Now, that makes one priest for 1,500 Catholics, and the ratio will be much worse in five-ten years.

These men do not have time for Catholic "issues". only constant pastoral work with some time for study of the basics and the tried and true authors. They have to choose their battles.

They must pray, and they do. They desire Christ, and go to Adoration. They have only known three popes, two who are saints, one already canonized.

They know who they can trust and who they cannot.

They are less emotional and not inclined to "religious experience".

Remnant thinking.

Interesting Article on This Blog