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Friday 19 June 2015


From Fr. Z.'s readers--I am shocked that so many Catholics do not understand the Church's teaching as seen in over a hundred years of encyclicals, including some by St. John Paul II and the Pope Emeritus.....I sincerely hope these numbers change. Of course, I voted on "I plan to read it all, because I believe the Pope's views....etc.
My plans for the encyclical 'Laudato si''
  • I don't have time for this foolishness, so I don't expect to read any of it. (28%, 263 Votes)
  • I don't regard all the Pope's views in these areas as morally compelling, but I plan to read it all for interest and information. (26%, 242 Votes)
  • I will probably read selected parts as time permits. (25%, 233 Votes)
  • I plan to read it all, because I believe the Pope's views in these areas require deference by all Catholics. (21%, 196 Votes)
Total Voters: 934

This could have been written by the Pope Emeritus....mostly. That is the tone and most of the content--from his notes.

This is serious that Catholics do not read or take this encyclical seriously

Very serious.


“This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.” (Lumen Gentium, #25) quoted by a rational commentator on Fr. Z.

OK Some Humor...

Another Good Article on The Encyclical

It is obvious to me that most radical comments against this document are by those who have not read the long series on this subject of good stewardship. I posted the long list of encyclicals, and parsed out years ago Caritas in veritate for my readers.

Someone on another blog objected to the word redistribution, as if Francis was the first to use this.

Not so and here is one example from the Pope Emeritus.

36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.

And a repeat link for an important list of encyclicals...

From The Encyclical

The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighbourhood square; going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves.

85. God has written a precious book, “whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe”.[54] The Canadian bishops rightly pointed out that no creature is excluded from this manifestation of God: “From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe. It is also a continuing revelation of the divine”.[55] The bishops of Japan, for their part, made a thought-provoking observation: “To sense each creature singing the hymn of its existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope”.[56] This contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since “for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice”.[57] We can say that “alongside revelation properly so-called, contained in sacred Scripture, there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night”.[58] Paying attention to this manifestation, we learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures: “I express myself in expressing the world; in my effort to decipher the sacredness of the world, I explore my own”.[59]

86. The universe as a whole, in all its manifold relationships, shows forth the inexhaustible riches of God. Saint Thomas Aquinas wisely noted that multiplicity and variety “come from the intention of the first agent” who willed that “what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another”,[60] inasmuch as God’s goodness “could not be represented fittingly by any one creature”.[61] Hence we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships.[62] We understand better the importance and meaning of each creature if we contemplate it within the entirety of God’s plan. As the Catechism teaches: “God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other”.[63]

Prayers for This Excellent Group


Myriam England (European representative), Helen Tabone, Denise Camilleri, Angela Galea Salomone, Bridget Tabone, Mariz Cassar and Marly Cassar. (Also members not in photo: Rita Petrocochino and Anette Cassar)
These are my good friends in Malta. I miss them terribly. Please pray for their ministries of prayer, retreat days, and counseling in Malta. These ladies form a strong Catholic community in Malta.

Great Article on The Benedict Option

Interesting, as last week I was discussing with someone the need to go back to the model of the monasteries.

In the Middle Ages, saints not only set up religious foundations, but viable lay communities, such as Fountains. The Jesuits did the same thing in the Americans with the missions.

Hundreds of  lay workers made Fountains one of the economically most successful wool industry in England. We know the missions and the Jesuits were suppressed because of success.

Benedict wanted people to work as a community. Prayer and work grow together.

If one was in the wool trade in England, one was against the government in many ways. Fountains was part of the local economy for centuries before the government got involved. The land supported the community, and the community benefitted.  Benedictine economics involved a spirituality.

More on that later...

Work and prayer, prayer and work....but remember the only real moral high ground according to Christ is poverty.

I highly approve of this effort to consider the BenOp.

Please read and consider this.

St. Benedict’s solution was revolutionary for its time because it recognized that neither the life of work nor the life of prayer can be pursued independently of the other. Giving credence to Benedict’s insight in our time demands radical efforts to develop new institutions where work and other mundane activities can serve as both a means of cultivating the virtues and as a preparation for the Gospel.

One of the reasons Henry VIII destroyed the monasteries was to plunder their wealth. But, he destroyed entire lay communities as well as the religious ones.

There will be a new series here coming up on Ignatian and Benedictine (including Cistercian) communities.

Watch this space.

Communities vary according to time and custom

No culture, no civilization lasts forever. Society on the earth is always temporal.

As Christianity is no longer a European preserve, one many have to look towards the East for Christian models which are new.

I shall be examining these points next week.

BTW, I disagree with both J. Bush and Santorum on their comments on this encyclical of Pope Francis. Have they actually read it? I am reading it right now and it is very long and very complex, and quotes the Pope Emeritus extensively. So far, it is quite Catholic. And, an echo of Tolkien's Mordor vs. The Shire---But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

I wish the Pope had mentioned elliptical cycles and solar cycles, instead of global warming.

One small line from it is very true...."Authentic human development has a moral character."

And another great paragraph....

Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.

And a reminder of Catholic social teaching, which we cannot ignore. I think some Catholics confuse political views with those of the Catholic Church.

And, wow, do I agree with the Pope's reference to food waste. One-third of the food is wasted. That is grossly sinful, and I see it here in the States. The notes were left from the Pope Emeritus, btw. And the two are spending two weeks together at Castle Gandolfo.

Good Blog, Good Summary of The Encyclical

The encyclical is very long, very serious and not a usual Francis--reflecting the Pope Emeritus, whom Francis quotes extensively.

It is worth reading in some prayerful detail.  I am disappointed in the American media trying to simplify this encyclical, instead of rejoicing in its complexity.

Why do we turn things into sound bites? Read the text.

Three snippets:

Global inequality: Environmental problems affect the most vulnerable people, the greater part of the world’s population and the solution is not reducing the birth rate but counteracting “an extreme and selective consumerism” 

Chapter 3 explores six of the deep root causes of these growing crises 
Technology: While it can bring progress towards sustainable development, without “a sound ethics”, it gives “those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources… an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity” 
The technocratic mentality: “the economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit……yet by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion” 
Anthropocentrism: we fail to understand our place in the world and our relationship with nature. Interpersonal relations and protection of human life must be set above technical reasoning so environmental concern “is also incompatible with the justification of abortion” 
Practical relativism: environmental degradation and social decay is the result of seeing “everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests” 
Employment: Integral ecology needs to take account of the value of labour so everyone must be able to have work and it’s “bad business for society” to stop investing in people to achieve short-term financial gains 
Biological technologies: GMOs are a “complex environmental issue” which have helped to resolve problems but bring difficulties such as concentrating land “in the hands of a few owners”, threatening small producers, biodiversity and ecosystems 

Nice ending to this summary.....Chapter 6 and the two concluding prayers show how faith in God can shape and inspire our care for the environment. The Sacraments, the Trinity, the model of the Holy Family and our hope for eternal life can teach, motivate and strengthen us to protect the natural world that God has given us.

For the record, I have been studying the economics and biology of GMOS since 2010 and have been against these totally. But, that is another blog posting...

On Tempting God

John 3:18 Douay-Rheims

18  He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

When the Three Angels of God visited Abraham, we know from Tradition, that these Angels, were manifestations of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit visited Abraham and Sarah.

Then, these Three Angels "split",but not really, as the Trinity never "splits" and even the Incarnated Christ remained in and with the Trinity--Three Persons in One God--when on earth 2,000 years after this event. At this point in history, about 2000 B.C., God the Father stayed with Abraham,  who entered into bargaining with the Father regarding the imminent destruction of the Five Cities , (only four were actually destroyed).

God the Son and God the Holy Spirit moved on to Sodom and Gomorrah and witnessed, while on earth in some mysterious way, the tremendous evil of those cities. That God the Son and God the Spirit were so beautiful meant that those evil homosexuals wanted to have relations with them, which Lot halted.

In the end, the cities were destroyed after the Angels told Lot and his family to leave NOW.

Meditating on this visit of the Trinity to Abraham and Sarah, I was reminded today of several things.

First, Abraham, as a man of faith, "walked with God". His relationship with God was a foreshadowing of our own possible intimate relationship with Him.

Second, Abraham could intercede, but the evil was so overwhelming, that the logical consequence had to overcome intercessory prayer. God was "fed up" with such evil.

Third, the Son of God judged the cities, while the Holy Spirit inspired Lot to leave, but these two Persons of the Trinity brought down the destruction of evil not only as punishment, but as judgment.

Four, this thought led me to ask, "Why Christ, and why the Holy Spirit?"

Answer, Christ is the Judge, the King of the Universe, the Holy God-Man, Who alone is given the power, authority and judgment over all inhabitants of the earth. He not only pleads for us, but also judges us.

The Holy Spirit is not only the Comforter, but the Counselor. Those in the four destroyed cities ignored His counsel.  Ignored graces result in judgment.

Sin is ultimate selfishness. Sin creates narcissism. Sin isolates one from the Family of God, the Chosen People. Sin denies responsibility for others. Sin kills charity.

The Holy Spirit could have been poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah, if the inhabitants were open; but they were not. They even tempted God,by wanting to be gods, following their own wills, having their own laws of lawlessness.

This is what is happening in our country. People who want to pass ssm are tempting God. He will not be tempted, and He will not be mocked.

Where are the noble voices calling us to courage and charity? Where are the noble voices calling us to fasting and prayer? The Holy Spirit desires all men and women to be saved and desires to pour out His gifts upon the world.

St. Teresa of Avila noted this lack of courage in her autobiography: "Alas, alas! No longer are there any who men account mad because they see them perform the deeds proper to true lovers of Christ."

Sodom said "No" and mocked God. Gomorrah said "No" and mocked God.  Admah said "No" and Zebolim said "No".

 Lot and His Daughters by Albrecht Durer

Zoar alone remained and to there, Lot went with his two daughters. Remember, Lot's wife turned back and was destroyed, and the two son-in-laws refused to follow Lot and were destroyed.

Within two weeks, America will agree to become Sodom and Gomorrah. Some people will be like Abraham with God the Father and bargain with God, interceding for the nation. Some people will be like Lot with God the Son, and protect Christ and His Church from harm. Some will listen, like the daughters of Lot, to the Holy Spirit, and follow the right path.

Most Catholics will not and many will perish, because they shall compromise in fear, or just deciding to not believe in the teachings of God, as clarified through His Church.

Do not tempt God.

See I Am God

from Julian of Norwich,,,

God is the still point at the centre. There is no doer but he. All this he showed me with great joy, saying, 'See, I am God. See I am in all things. See, I do all things. See, I never take my hands off my work, nor ever shall, through all eternity. See, I lead all things to the end I have prepared for them. I do this by the same wisdom and love and power through which I made them. How can anything be done that is not well done?  God wants us to know that he keeps us safe through good and ill. We shall see God face to face, simply and wholly.

Divisions in Cultures

An obvious problem of division between the American throw-away, selfish culture and the less affluent culture of Europe has been made clear by comments on the new encyclical.

Americans, for the most part, applaud the much-needed criticism of gross consumerism and materialism which is the main theme of the encyclical.

Remember, we have Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.

A sound discussion of good stewardship has been missing for a long time. Those in Europe may not understand just how wasteful Americans are, and Americans may not understand the definitely acceptance in Europe of a lower standard of living.

The American pro-life movement is active, very alive and well. The European pro-life movement is practically non-existent.

What Americans need to hear from this pope is not political solutions or hints on global government, but the reality of the sins of waste and the absolute non-consideration of our brothers and sisters in Third World countries.

Americans are about to receive a long-time coming punishment from God regarding the "throw-away" attitude, which includes abortion. Catholics here have been too influenced by the Protestant hatred of fasting and real sacrifice, instead, as I heard one lady say at church recently, desiring and embracing the false "gospel of prosperity." Why Catholics in the States have embraced abortion and contraception must be seen in the context of the false American Dream, which only addressed comfort in this world and not comfort in the next.

The European view rests on a much different basis. Socialism and communism have already undermined democracy through the Big Brother of Brussels, to the point where most Catholic Europeans do not see anything wrong with either "ism", and live in disobedience to the great encyclicals condemning those "isms'.

Those Catholics who are upset with this encyclical come from both the left and the right of the political spectrum. but both have problems with various parts of Catholic teaching.

One can see the great dangers of appealing to the UN, which has sold out to OWG ideas, and also wants to usurp, through our present president, democracy in America.

But, remember, Benedict also wanted more governance concerning the poor and needy, not less. This pope and Benedict both fall into categories of political solutions, which are not the same as those of St. John Paul II, a Polish pope, who suffered under an "ism".

Sadly, language does not mean the same thing to a person wanting unbridled capitalism, which has never been the position of the Catholic Church, and those who want more government control over resources and money.

In a continent which may see the total failure of both capitalism and socialism, Europe, on the edge of disaster because of the Greek default, and in a continent where complacency concerning capitalism blinds some people, discussions become almost impossible.

Any "ism" is not God's way, which is the Christian community working and aiding people out of love.

Hence, the problems, with popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and the laity in trying to grasp how to deal with real, serious problems of gross poverty, for which we are ALL responsible.

No government, no international organization can take the place of daily charity to our brothers and sisters.

Go back and read Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.

Here are a few quotations...first from EV:

Brother kills brother. Like the first fratricide, every murder is a violation of the"spiritual" kinship uniting mankind in one great family,11 in which all share the same fundamental good: equal personal dignity. Not infrequently the kinship "of flesh and blood" is also violated; for example when threats to life arise within the relationship between parents and children, such as happens in abortion or when, in the wider context of family or kinship, euthanasia is encouraged or practised.

In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today's social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a <veritable structure of sin>. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable "culture of death". This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of awar of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of "conspiracy against life" is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.

At another level, the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of "the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit.

It is precisely in this sense that Cain's answer to the Lord's question: "Where is Abel your brother?" can be interpreted: "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen4:9). Yes, every man is his "brother's keeper", because God entrusts us to one another. And it is also in view of this entrusting that God gives everyone freedom, a freedom which possesses an inherently relational dimension. This is a great gift of the Creator, placed as it is at the service of the person and of his fulfilment through the gift of self and openness to others; but when freedom is made absolute in an individualistic way, it is emptied of its original content, and its very meaning and dignity are contradicted.
There is an even more profound aspect which needs to be emphasized: freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.

from Humanae Vitae:

Union and Procreation

12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.
The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.

Faithfulness to God's Design

13. Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one's partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife. If they further reflect, they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. "Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact," Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. "From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God." (13)

Concern of the Church

18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." (22) She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.
Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.
In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men." (23)

Value of Self-Discipline

21. The right and lawful ordering of birth demands, first of all, that spouses fully recognize and value the true blessings of family life and that they acquire complete mastery over themselves and their emotions. For if with the aid of reason and of free will they are to control their natural drives, there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character. And if this self-discipline does demand that they persevere in their purpose and efforts, it has at the same time the salutary effect of enabling husband and wife to develop to their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquility and peace. It helps in solving difficulties of other kinds. It fosters in husband and wife thoughtfulness and loving consideration for one another. It helps them to repel inordinate self-love, which is the opposite of charity. It arouses in them a consciousness of their responsibilities. And finally, it confers upon parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children. As their children grow up, they develop a right sense of values and achieve a serene and harmonious use of their mental and physical powers.

to be continued....