Saturday: Holy Week–a Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

Friends,

“Viewing the mutilated body of the beloved is the most grief-ridden experience of human existence. It is incontrovertible evidence that evil rules. It is an unambiguous testament that in the end it is not the gentle, the nonviolent and the meek who inherit the earth but the cruel, the violent and the tough. Death and the dark side of reality are always the final victors.

The dead body of Christ lying wide-eyed and open-mouthed upon the ground seems to be not only incontestable testimony that all this is true, but also the most conclusive evidence that the cross of nonviolent love does not save—that the Sermon on the Mount is at best clearly wrong, and at worst, a socially irresponsible misleading of people into paths of total destruction.

It is all over! Period. The person is placed in the grave never to be seen nor to see again, never to speak nor to be spoken to again, never to love nor to be loved again. Never! Never! Never! He or she won’t be back. In the end those who choose the way of the of nonviolent suffering love end up like all others—food for worms. Their molecules randomly are irretrievably spread throughout an infinite and indifferent ocean of time and space. Hope of being again is pointless. Personal existence is lost forever.

One last moment. One last touch. One final kiss. A whispered, “I love you— Good-bye forever,” and then the rock is placed over the tomb. Nonviolent Love, like hedonism, Aristotelianism, stoicism and all other philosophies, is ultimately an illusion without real power to save, a faith without any eternal potential or possibilities.

An occupied sepulcher is no more a symbol of hope than a Nazi crematory. The dead body of Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth, is a stark and irrefutable statement and memory of what violence and enmity do to a life, and that a life of Nonviolent Love is not the Way to overcome violence and enmity, evil and death. There is no more to be said and no more that can be done. There is only memory and unbearable suffering to be endured.

(Excerpt from The Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love)

The following video, viewer discretion is advised, contains disturbing and graphic images of real casualties of war.

Friday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

Friends,

With what magnitude of overwhelming certainty must the truth—that the will of the Father was to nonviolently love (agape) all human beings always—have been in the mind and heart of Jesus on that first Good Friday, that He would choose to be tortured and murdered rather than live some other truth. It was a truth of the Father’s will, which was so beyond doubt that He would choose to die living it rather than to live by abandoning it. 

And yet, almost universally the institutional Churches of Christianity, their leaders and most Christians are indifferent towards that same truth of the Father and Jesus. They are breezily dismissive of it, or superficially critical of it, or mindlessly mocking of it, or aggressively hostile to it.

For popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, pastors and Christians, who follow the Christian custom of rejecting this teaching of Jesus and raising up as a moral equivalent a contradictory teaching, e.g., a Christian justified violence moral theory, Friday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory, if permitted to be remembered fully and accurately. But, it is not as dangerous to soul and body, to self and humanity as forgetting this truth that the Word of God Incarnate explicitly and concretely revealed for all to see that Friday for their redemption—revealed at such great cost in the currency of nonviolent suffering love. Take Jesus’ nonviolent love of all, friends and enemies, out of Good Friday, and replace it with one of the customary Christian substitutes justifying violence and enmity that Church leaders and Christians now hold and teach as an equivalent way of faithfully following Jesus, and Good Friday and all that it reveals of God, His power and His wisdom does not exist.

One would think that something so irremovable and essential for a phenomenon to exist would be equally irremovable and essential whenever the phenomenon and its consequences are referred to or remembered. But, again, almost universally such is not the case in the Churches of Christianity, in the teachings of their leaders or in the minds and hearts of most Christians. Yet, what Jesus knew with certainty was the will of the Father and therefore essential for Him to live on Good Friday in 33 AD, what was equally essential for the Evangelists to record in the Gospels, and what was essential for Good Friday to even exists, is a non-thought in the minds of  95% of Christians today, regardless of their Church or the place they hold in their Church.

Dangerous indeed is the memory of Good Friday for any institution, religious or secular, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits that they release into that institution. Even more dangerous is the memory of Good Friday for any human life, Christian or non-Christian, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits they release into the mind and heart of that human life. Dangerous but potentially salvific. For in obliterating all hope that there is any such spiritual reality as redemptive violence, it unambiguously reveals wherein the hope for redemption lies—the nonviolent love of all, in trusting communion with and in trusting imitation of God Incarnate.
 

Traditional Catholic Teaching on Sacred Scripture

By CatholicScout

It’s hard to find a single website which lists the pre-Vatican II teachings on Sacred Scripture. But, contrary to certain popular beliefs, the Second Vatican Council and it’s Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum is not the source and summit of Catholic teaching on the subject!

A long time ago someone commented that the position put forward on this blog (that Christ taught a Way of non-violent love of friends and enemies, and bound His Church and followers to practice such Way) was not consistent with Sacred Scripture. That I was essentially putting God the Father vs Jesus. Which of course is nonsense in lots of ways.

So I am dedicating this post to the question:

Is Gospel Non-violence consistent with Sacred Scripture?

The short answer is yes, of course it is. I’m not making this stuff up, you can read the words of the Divine Lawgiver right here – Mt 5:21-25.

So the question is really, how does a Catholic reconcile Christs teaching of non-violent love of friends and enemies, with the God of the Old Testament.

There are a lot of references, which to an uneducated mind, point towards a homicidal God. A war-approving God. Here’s a few: Gn 6:8; 19:4-5,26; 38:7,9-10. Ex 12:29; 14:28. Lv 10:1-3. Nm 11:1-3,4-35; 14:36-38; 16:27-32,35,49; 21:4-9; 25:9. Js 10:10-11. Ez 16:46-47, 49-50. 1Sm 6:19; 25:38. 2Sm 6:6-7; 12:14-18; 24:13. 1Kn 13:1-24; 14:10-18; 20:35-36; 22:51. 2Kn 1:9-12; 2:23-24; 17:25-26; 19:35. 2Ch 13:20; 21:14-19.

The problem of course, is that the Gospels are conspicuously different. In the Gospels, God is not a perpetrator of violent torture and murder. He is the victim of it. In fact, God in the Gospels expressly forbids it.

So what, did God change His mind? No, God cannot change His mind. He always Was, always Is and always will Be the same. He is the Eternal Constant.

So Sacred Scripture is wrong? No, Sacred Scripture is not wrong. The Prophets of Old were not mistaken in what they wrote. To say that Sacred Scripture can err is one of the manifestations of the heresy of Modernism. It was Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus, who beautifully and comprehensively explained the role of Sacred Scripture – please have a read!

As St Augustine explained in his letter to St Jerome, where there is an inconsistency with Sacred Scripture. It is not God at fault. It is not the inspired author at fault. It is the reader. I am misunderstanding Scripture.

For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

St Augustine also points out that the Gospels are the primary revelatory documents of the Church in his work “On the Catechising of the Uninstructed“.

So, for you Traditional Catholics trying to reconcile the Old Testament with the New. Stop. Read Leo XIII, read St Augustine, and relax. The Gospels are the Gospels. Christ is God. His teachings are Gods teachings.

Please, please please listen to this audio file from Fr Emmanuel McCarthy – “Question and Answers on Gospel Non-Violence – What about violence in the Old Testament?” which so eloquently answers this particular (apparent) conundrum:

I will leave you with this quote on interpretation of Scripture from Leo XIII, which is a gem.

The authority of other Catholic [newer] interpreters is not so great; but the study of Scripture has always continued to advance in the Church, and, therefore, these commentaries also have their own honourable place, and are serviceable in many ways for the refutation of assailants and the explanation of difficulties. But it is most unbecoming to pass by, in ignorance or contempt, the excellent work which Catholics have left in abundance, and to have recourse to the works of non-Catholics – and to seek in them, to the detriment of sound doctrine and often to the peril of faith, the explanation of passages on which Catholics long ago have successfully employed their talent and their labour. For although the studies of non-Catholics, used with prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic student, he should, nevertheless, bear well in mind-as the Fathers also teach in numerous passages(41) – that the sense of Holy Scripture can nowhere be found incorrupt outside of the Church, and cannot be expected to be found in writers who, being without the true faith, only gnaw the bark of the Sacred Scripture, and never attain its pith.

41. Cfr. Clem. Alex. Strom. vii., 16; Orig. de princ. iv., 8; in Levit. hom. 4, 8; Tertull.de praescr. 15, seqq.; S. Hilar. Pict. in Matth. 13, I.

So as a last note to you Traditional Catholics, the Second Vatican Council does not have all the answers regarding Sacred Scripture.

Yes, You have to scrape around for the teachings and traditions regarding our traditional teachings on Sacred Scripture, but they are there!

We can much more effectively argue the Inerrancy of Scripture, the Primacy of the Gospels, and many other points, without ever having recourse to Dei Verbum – Thanks be to God!

Monday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

An accurate remembrance of Jesus’ torture and murder during Holy Week and of His response of nonviolent love to the violence directed against Him is a very dangerous memory.
It is dangerous first of all because it is a memory that ends in Jesus’ told destruction, with His friends betraying Him, running away and hiding in fear for their lives. All hope that Jesus, the incarnational paragon of nonviolence and nonviolent love was going to bring about significant social, political or religious change in things as they are and as they always have been was—as of three o’clock in the afternoon on  Friday of Holy Week—as dead as Jesus. Jesus was dead wrong, the meek never have and never will possess the earth. The violent rule. The default option of all ruling power comes from the barrel of a gun. The violent may tolerate the likes of the nonviolent Jesus for a while but can and will do-him-in if ever they feel the need to do so. As of Saturday of Holy Week, Jesus changed nothing socially, politically or religiously in Israel or in the world. That is a dangerous memory for any Christian who espouses any species of Constantinian Christianity—conservative, liberal or radical.

Holy Week: The Triumph of the Spirit of Cain

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Milan Kundera

For Christians, Holy Week is the most meaningful and most significant week of the liturgical year—most meaningful and significant because the events of that week actually took place some two thousand years ago, and most meaningful and significant because they are every year somewhat liturgically remembered. But for the vast majority of people alive during that week two thousand years ago—or, indeed, for most living during any Holy Week since then—it is just another week, no different from any week before or after: Just another week filled with births and deaths, joys and tears, hopes and fears, loves and hates, mercy and violence, quiet and not so quite desperation, empathy and enmity.

The primal spiritual encounter of Holy Week—between Satan and God, evil and good, the lie and the truth, death and life, total destruction and total salvation—takes place on the historical plane as an encounter between violence and nonviolence, violent hate and nonviolent love, violent justice and nonviolent righteousness, violent retribution and nonviolent forgiveness, violent mercilessness and non violent mercy, violent wounding and nonviolent healing, violent power and the power of nonviolence, violent holy men and a nonviolent Holy Man, violent people and a nonviolent person, the violence of the secular and the religious kingdoms of this world and the nonviolence of the Kingdom of God, the violent Prince of this world and the nonviolent Prince of Peace, violent monotheism and nonviolent monotheism, the violent Cain and the nonviolent Christ, the violent sword and the nonviolent cross. Jesus does not suffer and die quietly, in bed, from medical problems associated with old age—and there must be a reason in the Redemptive Plan of God through Jesus Christ for this.

Holy Week is situated and saturated in a life-and-death battle between violence and nonviolence. Take the violence of humanly planned and executed torture and murder out of Holy Week, and there is no Holy Week. Take Jesus’ Nonviolent Love of all, of enemies and of friends, of His torturers and of His murderers, out of Holy Week and there is no Holy Week. If we do not choose to accept His Word as He communicates it, then we have no access to authentic revelation, which means we have no access to its power and wisdom.

So why do bishops, priests, ministers, and pastors refuse—almost universally, and almost universally in the spirit of willful obstinacy—to talk about, much less focus on, nonviolence, or its derivatives, e.g., nonviolent love, in their sermons about Holy Week during Holy Week? Is it for the same reason that they have reduced the torture and murder of Jesus to the mere words “suffered and died” in their Eucharistic Prayers? The same reason that they selectively forget to include Jesus’ response of Nonviolent Love towards His torturers and murderers in those same prayers?

Is it for the same reason that the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are employed as the two fundamental public creeds of their Churches—two restatements of individual and communal beliefs that fail utterly to mention Christ’s Way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies? Why is it that these Creeds jump, non-stop, from the cradle to the crucifixion, ignoring the crucial revelation and teaching of the nonviolent love of all—always—which is the will of the Father done in heaven that Jesus comes to proclaim, by word and deed, must be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 5:38-48; Lk 6 27-36; Mt 6:10; Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2822). “[B]orn of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried,” reads the Apostles’ Creed. “He came down from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried,” reads the Nicene Creed. Is it a matter of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ in order to leave unquestioned and unquestionable the status quo which is already in view and in the mind?

Nowhere did the authors of these Creeds deem it necessary or worthy of mention that Jesus did not just die. He was murdered. An act of violence was responsible for His death—that’s what the word murder communicates. Murdered means someone is intentionally killed by another person or persons. In this case, Jesus was intentionally killed by the violent religious and political rulers of His time and place, and by people who accepted to live in their spirit and according to their direction. Jesus is a victim of religious and state violence. More precisely, He is a victim of those human beings—whether they be a Pilate or a Caiaphas, a soldier or an armed servant— who buy into the violence and enmity justifying myths of a religion and/or of a state. Jesus came to free every human being and all humanity from being enslaved by the hypnotic spell of these mythical, non-existent, idolatrous, hideous and hellish gods of violence and enmity made in the image and likeness of fallen man. He accomplished this Divine Task by revealing in His words, and deeds, life and death, the true image of God, namely, God as Father of all, God as Nonviolent Love (Agape) of all —always.

Is it even rational to believe that the manner of Jesus’ death and the Spirit in which He dies are irrelevant to the salvific truth and saving grace that God desires to communicate about Himself, His Will and His Way to humanity through Jesus? Is it possible to honestly hold that Jesus’ steadfast response to violence—nonviolent love, and nothing else—demonstrated throughout His entire ordeal during Holy Week, is not essentially significant? That it does not reveal to humanity the knowledge of the power that saves from every form of evil and death, including, most pointedly, all species of violence and enmity?

As of Saturday of Holy Week, the spirit that seduced and possessed Cain has triumphed, as it has triumphed throughout all of human history. As of Saturday, Holy Week is just another week glutted, at every point of longitude and latitude on this planet, with anonymous, countless victims of violence, largely forgotten, except in the hearts of those who loved them, where the memories often become the motivation for perpetuating that same violence. As of Saturday of Holy Week, violence rules.

As of Saturday of Holy Week, nonviolence and the nonviolent love of all, even lethal enemies, are again incontestably verified by the world as an express ticket to the grave and to doormat status in history. Nonviolence can speak the truth with love—as Jesus did—to those who live by the power of violence, and those who live by the power of violence can snuff that word out like a bug—as Jesus was— if that is what they want to do.

There is nothing in the torture and murder of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels during Holy Week to suggest that He intended harm, in the short, medium or long-term, to anyone, including His lethal enemies. His steadfast nonviolent love toward both betraying friends and murderous enemies has no motive other than the intention to do the Will of the Father in heaven, to which Jesus wholeheartedly desires to be faithful. He knows that the Will of the Father is that all human beings be saved, and He knows the means by which they will be saved. On earth Jesus loves (agapé) as He knows the Father in heaven loves (agapé), because He knows this love (agapé) is the Will of the Father that must be faithfully and ceaselessly incarnated on earth in order to release the power—the only power—that can save each and all. He knows this love must be made visible by living it, so that each and all can imitate it (His new commandment), not only because it is the Way to Eternal Life but also because that Way—the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the Way to participate in the Eternal Life of God “who is love” (agapé), here and now.

If ever there was a moment when we could see what the Love of God looks like, if ever there was a moment when we could see the Way of “God who is love” in action in the flesh, if ever there was a moment to clarify and solidify for ourselves what the imitation of Christ entails, what Jesus’ new commandment—Love one another as I have loved you—means and calls for, prescribes and proscribes, Holy Week is that moment par excellence.

But, if we do not remember Holy Week accurately, if we do not remember the torture and murder of Jesus accurately, if we do not remember that the historical battle two thousand years ago was the battle between the evil of violence and the Nonviolent Love of all, at all times and under all circumstances, then to that extent we will be unable to follow Him properly, ‘to love one another as He loves us’ correctly. A fuzzy, euphemistic by omission, emaciated, watered-down, poorly articulated remembrance, whether during Holy Week or during the anamnesis narrative of the Eucharistic Prayer recited every week, results in the loss of grace otherwise available to a person, to a Christian community, and to all humanity through Jesus’ sacrifice of self —an act of self-sacrifice that made the invisible love (agapé) of God supremely visible to human beings trapped in the impenetrable spiritual darkness of disordered desires and passions.

Jesus is indeed a sacrificial victim, but not of some blood thirsty God who demands His ounce of blood down to the very last drop to avenge a wrong done to him, before he will forgive. He is a victim of violence, of humanity’s uninterrupted history of, and nurturing in, violence. He is a victim of individual human beings living in and out of the spirit of violence. But He is a victim of that violence precisely because He refuses it: He knows it and calls it what it is: lie, sin, the means and method of Satan, never an activity of God. He refuses to stop loving the violent ones as their Father in heaven loves them. He refuses the option of violence and chooses instead the option of Nonviolent Love because He knows that only choosing the Way of God—agapé—can impart to those murdering Him, and to all humanity, the gift of the very Life of God—that same Divine Nonviolent Agape—that can save them, and everyone, from falling forever into an eternally inescapable black hole.

Jesus is a sacrificial victim to human violence and for human beings because He chooses nonviolent love of all—even lethal enemies—as His option to confront violence, in order to reveal to humanity the only Way out of the wickedness and snares of otherwise unconquerable evil. The sacrifice of Jesus is a sacrifice of Love.

But as of Saturday of Holy Week, the book on Jesus’ life has been closed by the victorious violent ones. It is now entombed, seemingly forever, in the bowels of the earth, together with all the books on all the lives of all the billions of victims of violence—never to be read by anyone. And as far as His opening the gateway to salvation for all humanity, well, He couldn’t even save Himself, could He? His unrealistic, impractical, foolish, idealistic Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies was powerless before the power of violence. Wasn’t it? It bit the dust and, as of Saturday of Holy Week, was returning to dust. As of Saturday of Holy Week, the power that Cain released into the human condition continued to reign in human existence—with no way out even imaginable. The law of violence and its seed—fear—and its most destructive fruit—also fear—simply continue to rule human life, as they have done from time beyond recorded memory.

Station XII: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Consummatum est. The death rattles, the open eyes, the limp, heavy, breathless body, this is how it ends, on a small piece of dirt on a small planet in a small solar system, which is only one of a hundred billion solar systems in a small galaxy, which is only one of billions of galaxies in the known universe. On this little space, life, personality, and possibility expire.
Hydrogen continues to turn into helium on the sun; people in China and Finland and Angola go about their business; microscopic life eats microscopic life in a drop of water; politicians and their moneyed friends continue to connive as usual; fear seizes the hearts of millions; romance fills the hearts of millions of others; boredom and fatigue empty the hearts of billions; meals are cooked and eaten; dreams are dreamt; revenge is planned; games are played and tens of thousands are buried each day. All this and more continues to happen oblivious to the fact that a person has just freely chosen to give up His life on the cross of nonviolent love. Does anyone know? Does anyone care? Was it worth it? Was it really the right course? What difference does it make?” (Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love)

So ends Holy Week. Another in the succession of unending unholy weeks of violence has concluded. A life of Nonviolent Love, the life of a human being who believed that through living this Way He was being unreservedly faithful to the will of God and serving humanity has also to an end. The results: another week of total triumph for the spirit of Cain.

Palm Sunday Entrance of the Nonviolent Jesus into Jerusalem

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The warrior’s bow shall be banished,
And he shall proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion shall be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.”

-Zachariah 9: 9

“Although Mark does not mention the text, the entrance into Jerusalem (MK 11:1-11) is such a clear echo of Zechariah 9:9 that hardly any interpreter doubts that a reenactment was deliberately intended. The Messiah king appears as meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, without the trappings of royalty and the panoply of war; he is the very antithesis of the conquering political and military hero.”
Light on the Gospels: A Reader’s Guide, Fr. John L. McKenzie p. 95

CatholicScout Ponders: Remedies to Recusant mindset, Elitism and Over-focus on the Mass

This post marks the end of this line of pondering. I have considered three reasons that contribute to the fact that Mass attendance at Traditional Masses has plateaued in England and Wales. Recusant Mindset. Elitism. And Over-focus on the Mass.

How to break out of the Recusant Mindset

As I mentioned, the Recusant mindset is both an instinctual reaction and an ingrained historical memory for English and Welsh Catholics. It is a coping mechanism. So really the way to break out of that is to apply some of the tools of modern psychology. The first hurdle is to identify that the problem exists. Once that is identified and held consciously in mind, Grace can start working in ways it could not before.

The cause of the threat is the “Catholic news” – information. Too much “bad news” creates a panic response. So perhaps a program of recovery around Catholic news obsession would be in order. Seeking a Spiritual Director would be optimal, as he would be able to advise how to carry out that recovery in practice.

I would suspect a Spiritual Director would suggest abstinence from viewing and/or gossiping about “Catholic news”, as a start. A period of voluntary abstinence from all internet media, or something like that.

With all that spare time, one could use it fruitfully in improving one’s personal relationship with God (ideally under guidance of a Spiritual Director). Clearing out any Grace-blocking items from one’s conscience, by careful examination and Confession.

In a way, it is about living life here and now, having Faith, being Holy.

poster saying "keep calm and be holy"How to break out of institutionalised recusancy, for instance in the cases of close-knit Traditional Communities. Maybe situations where the Priest (and therefore Spiritual Director) is also party to this mindset. Well, the recovery of the whole, starts with the recovery of the individual. But if Pastors were able to request their flock to commence a period of abstinence from Internet Media and News, that would be a great start.

Then I hear the clamour “but if we were to abstain from Internet Media and News, how would we hear the good news and advice from CatholicScout?!” – well, just how many bloggers do you hear of suggesting people should abstain from reading Internet Media and News? Not many. I don’t write this blog to get “hits” or “followers”, I write it to bear witness to truths which I have learnt.

I found voluntary abstinence very helpful, so I don’t read Internet media and News before 8.00am or after 6.00pm. I also freely choose not to read Internet media and News from time to time. Instead spending the time doing something fruitful, such as praying a Rosary. Most of all I keep very close to my heart the maxim written above. Keep calm, and be Holy. It works. Remember, ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” Would Jesus be spending His day on Facebook, or surfing for the latest gossip from Rome? No. He would be about doing His Father’s will, and as a result, be Holy.


 

Elitism

In my post on Elitism, I dealt with three manifestations, there are more, but these three are prominent enough that most people will identify them.

The Remedy for Young Fogeyism

Humility. Docility to the Spirit, which whispers to you, when you read the Lord’s Words:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?

[…]

And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.

But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.

And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?

Matthew 6:24-29

Do not be solicitous. It doesn’t mean “wear a potato sack”. But if you find this level of abandonment a little to challenging, don’t just shirk away without asking for God to help you to fulfil His counsels. He will help.

After having asked for God’s help in fulfilling His counsels, and having confessed your lack of faith, and infidelity to His counsels. You can always take the path of modesty.

Be modest. Modesty is an off-shoot of humility. The two go together. Modesty seeks not to be noticed, think of it as Catholic Camouflage. How can I not attract attention?

Bright pink socks or black socks? My best gold and green waistcoat or not?

There is nothing sinful about wearing beautiful clothing. There is something very sinful about vanity. If it is for show, or to participate in a show, then it is vanity. Public show of vanity, is really an occasion of public scandal. For here, a sin is being expressed in the public.

So what is the remedy for Vanity? Well, again it is abstinence first, then the practising of it’s opposing virtue humility. Does that mean wandering into Mass in tattered jeans and a t-shirt? Or flagellating oneself publicly while wearing sack-cloth and ashes? No.

Firstly, abstinence. If there is an occasion of sin, one should avoid it. If there is a Mass where there is a public show of vanity, one should probably look to go to Mass elsewhere (if you have such an option!).

Correction of self. The sin that needs to be corrected is within ourselves. I can only cooperate with God’s grace to save my soul. I can’t save anyone elses. So my job is not to police them out there. It is to regulate myself, by cooperating with God’s Grace. The first thing that I can recommend is getting a Spiritual Director (you will see that “get a Spiritual Director” is a running theme…) who is not part of that vain scene.

It should be someone who understands that we want people to be watching Jesus, not looking around in the pews comparing. Shift your focus off you, and others, and on to the Eucharistic Lord. Modesty is the key.

This is Who should be drawing people’s attention, not you.

The Remedy for Traditional Catholic Supremacists

Humility. I think it will be hard for Traditional Catholic Supremacists to let go. So much energy in protecting their Mass. So many years, so much effort. But let go they must.

Humility to adopt new perspectives, to accept new criticisms. Humility to try new things and new approaches. An email correspondence of mine, pointed out that this problem is very similar to a psychological phenomenon he has witnessed. He said it may be recommended if these Supremacists are in groups to humbly and honestly inform themselves of the psychological phenomenon of GroupThink and to practice the precautions regardless. Thank you for that pointer.

Lastly, and this ties to the next Elitist group, transparency! No more secrecy!

The Remedy for Misers and Old Money Catholics

Humility. This out of all three, I think will be the hardest group to remedy. Detachment from money is very, very tough.

Voluntary transparency would be a good manifestation of the humility required to remedy these problems. I know very few people who would voluntarily make their accounts public, but it could be done. It could also be given as a penance by astute pastors…

Of course the Miser or Old Money Catholic could be dishonest in publishing his accounts, but that would be more coals heaped upon their head.

Lastly, I think the people who find Old Money Catholic odious (which I may add, I am included), is the perception that they do not labour for their earnings (ref: 2 Thes & Gen 3). A remedy for such a person would be for them to earn a living, which pays for their bread (not relying on the fat). Transparency of accounts also would go miles to correct it.

What to do with the Old Money itself though? Well I think Rerum Novarum is the way… voluntarily spread it out. Imagine if all the Misers and Old Money Catholics shook off their bonds and pooled the money to set up a Traditional Catholic Building Society, helping Traditional Catholics own property close to other Traditional Catholics?


Over-focus on the Mass

The remedy for the over-focus on the Mass, is a larger problem than the one than the others. The others, with good will, can be self-corrected. Sure sound preaching against these problems will be needed. But the over-focus on the Mass is out of the hands of ordinary people.

There are organisations such as FIUV, who may have the clout to express these issues, but ultimately the response lies in the Church authorities. Pope Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum, but the Bishops ignored it. What can you do when Bishops ignore the Pope?

Pope Francis celebrating the Traditional Mass? well we can dream…

If His Holiness Pope Francis, had a sudden blinding conversion to the Traditional Mass, and by some bizarre misdirection was reading this article, I would recommend an addendum to Summorum Pontificum.

Something along the lines of:

It is binding that every Diocesan Bishop shall set up at least one Church per major population centre (over 100,000 inhabitants) that is to be exclusively dedicated in perpetuity to offering the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. These Churches are to be in locations that are easily accessible to the majority of the population, close to the centre and near good public transport terminals. The Diocesan Bishop is free to invite a community to take care of the Church, otherwise he is bound to diligently provide Sacred Ministers for the exclusive celebration of the Vetus Ordo.

So aside from sheer fantasy, I believe that the remedy for this problem is:

For Traditional Priests to educate (and preach) on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Traditional Priests to preach and practice more of the Traditional Devotions (Sunday Rosary, Sermon and Benediction, Procession on the Third Sunday of the Month, Weekly Thursday Holy Hour, October Devotions, Processions, public Novenas etcetera).

For laity to educate themselves on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Laity to practice more of the Traditional Devotionals at home and in public. For them to ask Priests to lead these Devotions.

For photographers, to turn around and photograph the Nave, not too much of the Sanctuary!!


Lastly, of course, in all of these, we will be battling apathy.

Evil reigns when good men do nothing.

Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

Recently I made this response to the LMS Chairman’s “we’re not facing a heretical Pope”:

Dear Dr Shaw,
Thank you for your post.

I feel that you have omitted something important:

For the Church to say “sorry everyone it seems we’ve been wrong all along” it may also entail saying “sorry everyone it seems that Jesus has been wrong all along”.

This is particularly the case with the Indissolubility of Marriage, since it is not something that the Church has defined using her Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterial Authority (such as in the case of the Assumption, or the Immaculate Conception).

An attack on Indissolubility of Marriage is an attack on the Person of Jesus Christ, and the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

Of course if the Church has permitted a perversion or betrayal to the teachings of her Divine Lawgiver (as given in the Gospels), then the Church, should, and must repent.

In the case of the sin of Sodomy, the present attack, is not so much on the Person of the Divine Lawgiver, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor is it so much an attack on the Inerrancy of Scripture. It is more an attack on the Tradition of the Church.

The law regarding the sin of Sodom comes from the Old Testament, and unlike certain other Old Testament Laws, the Divine Lawgiver did not give any further clarification (such as in the case with Indissolubility of Marriage), so it remained as is.

That which remains, such as that which is passed down through oral tradition, is in the custody of Sacred Tradition.

I think that these are important points to weigh in on your considerations.

Yours respectfully,
CatholicScout

To which Dr Shaw added:

The teaching on sodomy is reiterated by St Paul. Rom 1:27

The problem is that with marriage a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation, not denial, of Scripture. The reason Catholics are more secure in how we understand Our Lord’s words on divorce is because we have an authoritative interpretation through Tradition.

These subjects have brought to my attention the issue of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Saints.

Dr Shaw is correct, St Paul does condemn sodomy in Romans 1:27, thus showing that the law regarding the sin of Sodom is continued in the Church (and for all time).

Dr Shaw rightly points out the issue of “a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation“. In researching my response to this, I came across an excellent article titled “Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921” – posted on catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com which I copy here in its entirety for your convenience:


Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921

The Catholic attitude on marriage is not debatable for anyone who is really willing to live by the doctrine of the Scriptures. Here are some of the Biblical references to marriage: “Whilst her husband liveth she shall be called an adulteress if she be with another man” (Romans vii, 3). “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her” (Mark x, 11). “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder” (Matt. xix, 6). “Everyone that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke xvi, 18). “To them that are married, not I, but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband: and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife (I Cor. vii, 10-11). “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will: only in the Lord” (I Cor. vii, 39).

The reason why Christian marriage is monogamous is because Jesus has made it a figure of the union of Christ with His Church. The union of the Master with the Church is extraordinarily close. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, to use the striking words of St. Paul in Ephesians. The Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage is defined in the Scriptures in this fashion: “A man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh” (Genesis ii, 24). Christ merely restored marriage to the pristine condition God intended it to have from the very beginning. Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, God permitted divorce to the Jews; but there is absolutely nothing in all the Christian dispensation that gives the Church permission to grant any divorce in Christian marriage with the right to remarry.

All the loose legislation on divorce in the dissenting denominations rests upon the assumption that it is impossible to live a happy or decent single life. Separation has to come in some marriages. If a man is always abusive, a drunkard, or a libertine; or if a woman is an adulteress or a spendthrift who cannot manage a home; or if there are other grave reasons, a divorce without the right to remarry is permissible. But it is possible for these people to live both happily and virtuously without remarrying. The Catholic Church knows; she has had plenty of experience with celibates, far more than any other organization. God never commands what He does not give the strength to accomplish; there is no question about the fact that He has definitely commanded the Catholic legislation on Matrimony.

Many arguments can be brought forward to show that, from a social welfare standpoint, the Catholic legislation is ideal. But the reason why we obey it is not particularly for these reasons, but because Christ commanded it. Our chief concern is to save souls. We are not running after mere earthly goals. We are not conducting a Church simply as a sociological experiment. We are glad, indeed, that Catholicity in action turns out to be the best sociology; but that is incidental.

We obey Christ because we deem Him to be God. We are here for a brief space on probation, and then we are to be judged. Our happiness or sorrow throughout eternity depends on the way we now obey Him. Hence the argument that we hold before the man or woman struggling with the question of obedience or disobedience to the Christian law of marriage comes down simply to this: Are you willing to jeopardize eternal happiness for a few brief years of tarnished happiness in this world? That, after all, is the only question that must be answered.

Those who oppose our marriage legislation try to make out that the Church has no right to interfere in such delicate and purely personal matters. Inasmuch as Christ is God, and Christ said that she has, we side with Christ. Modern man did not make the world; God made it; God made the laws, natural and supernatural, by which we will be judged. Christ taught that we should center our attention on the next world, not on this. He did not make Christianity a worldly religion in any sense; He often declared that it is wholly opposed to the spirit of the world. He compared the living of a Christian life with His carrying of the Cross to Calvary. We do not promise easy salvation to anybody. It is far easier to damn one’s soul than to save it; but, nevertheless, a sincere attempt to save one’s soul brings such peace that Christ was able to call the yoke sweet and the burden light.

Matrimony is the sacrament that unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage. God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden (Gen. ii, 24) and Christ raised the contract among baptized people to the dignity of a sacrament. The primary object of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the second purpose is mutual assistance and the remedy for concupiscence. Large numbers of people outside the Catholic Church put the secondary purpose above the first, and this explains why marriage is falling more and more into contempt among them. The essential qualities of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage receive their peculiar firmness by reason of the sacrament.

St. Paul in Ephesians v tells what a Christian marriage should be like. “So also,” he says, “ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever hateth his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.’ This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband.”

Jesus Christ Himself said, when asked (Matt. xix) whether divorce was to be permitted by Him (it had been allowed by Moses because of the hardness of the Jews’ hearts), “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” When His questioners argued with Him, He went on to say that anybody who put away his wife and married another committed adultery, and whoever married her that was put away committed adultery. In Matt. v, Jesus also warned that whoever put away his wife, except for good reasons, was to be held equally guilty of whatever adultery she might commit. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.”

The Catholic Church holds that a married couple can separate when grave spiritual or temporal good of either party demands it. Christ mentions only fornication in the instance above, because it is the chief reason for which this separation is permitted. But remarriage of either before the other’s death is not allowed.

Owing to the exceptions made by Christ in regard to fornication, in Matt. xix and v, many non-Catholics hold that absolute divorce with remarriage is permitted to the innocent party in a case where adultery has occurred. But this has never been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Other texts in the Bible prove that Christ did not intend the permission of absolute divorce in any consummated Christian marriage. The Council of Trent has settled this matter for Catholics. Christ was referring to simple separation, not to absolute divorce, when speaking of fornication.

If the texts are to be used in justifying remarriage of the innocent party in divorce cases growing out of fornication, remarriage of the guilty person would also have to be legalized. But this is so foreign to all other texts about divorce in the New Testament, and to the spirit of Christianity in general, that the question is not debatable. Furthermore, the saving phrase in the text “excepting for the cause of fornication,” refers only to the first clause, not to the second.

Jesus, in Mark x, 11, 12, made the unqualified statement that absolute divorce is not allowable. “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Again in Luke xvi, 18, Jesus is quoted as absolutely forbidding divorce with remarriage. “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put from her husband committeth adultery.”

St. Paul in I Cor. vii, 10-11, also makes it clear that divorce of Christians with remarriage is forbidden. No exception whatever is made. “But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.”

Again, in verse 39, St. Paul declares the same truth, making no exception whatever: “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will; only in the Lord.” In Romans vii, 2, 3, St. Paul again explicitly states that a woman who is fulfilling marital relations with another man while her husband is living is an adulteress, but a wife is free to marry again when her husband dies.


Separation of Married Couples

Married persons are obliged to live together in conjugal relations, unless a just cause frees them from this obligation. If one of the two commits adultery, it is reason for the other to live apart, unless the party that wishes to leave consented to the crime, or was the cause of it, or committed the same crime himself or herself. Tacit condoning of the crime means living in marital relations with the guilty person, without bringing legal accusation or leaving the person within six months.

Other reasons that justify separation are: If one party joins a non-Catholic sect; educates the offspring as non-Catholics; leads a criminal and despicable life; creates great bodily or spiritual danger to the other party; or if through cruelties he or she makes living together too difficult; and for other such reasons, which are to the innocent party so many legal causes to leave the guilty party by authority of the Bishop, or also by private authority, if the guilt of the other party is certain beyond doubt, and there is danger in delay.

Except in case of adultery, the common life must be restored when the reason for the separation ceases. But, if the Bishop pronounced the separation for a certain time or indefinitely, the innocent party is not obliged to return during this allotted period or until the Bishop orders it. In case of adultery, the innocent party is not under compulsion ever to readmit the sinner. The innocent one, however, has the right to take back the sinner, and even compel him or her to return, unless the sinner in the meantime has, with the consent of the innocent party, embraced a state of life contrary to marriage, like going into a religious community.



Catholic Sources in Defense of the Indissolubility of Marriage

“The union of husband and wife has from the very beginning had stamped and impressed on it two peculiarly striking characteristics in order that it might more adequately correspond with the wise counsels of God; these are unity and perpetuity. . . . This we see declared and patently confirmed in the Gospel by the Divine authority of Jesus Christ Who testified to the Jews and to the Apostles that Matrimony, even from the time of its institution, ought to be only between two, a man and a woman, that of those two were made one flesh, and that the marriage bond was by God’s will so intimately and closely knit that it can be neither dissolved nor broken by any man: ‘A man . . . shall cleave to his wife and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two but one flesh’ (Mt. xix, 5-6).

“Christ restored marriage to its state of primitive excellence when He condemned the morals of the Hebrews who had many wives and who misused the permission to put away their wives; for He sternly forbade anyone to dare dissolve what God had bound by a perpetual bond of union. When He had solved the difficulties alleged from the decisions given by Moses, He, in the Person of the Supreme Lawgiver, laid down this law for married people: ‘And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. (Mt. xix, 9).

“A Christian marriage which has been consummated is complete in every respect, and should therefore possess more firmness and more stability than any other. If God had so willed, it could have been made dissoluble by adultery, as the Greeks and Protestants claim it is. But the Catholic Church has always maintained that there is no evidence of any such divine disposition, and consequently the principle holds good: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

“The Church is the best interpreter of the law of Christ and when she teaches that a ratified and consummated marriage, and this alone, is absolutely beyond human power to dissolve, it is a certainty. The ultimate reason must be sought in the Divine Will. Its sacramental character alone would not give it this firmness, but in addition the contract must be consummated. The Church has defended this doctrine always even against powerful princes and in the face of serious temptation.”

(Excerpts from Leo XIII, Arcanum divinae Sapientiae, Feb. 10, 1880).


St. Augustine, De Adulterinis conjugiis, i, 9:

“If, then, we were to say: “Whosoever marries a woman put away by her husband for any other cause than fornication commits adultery, we should certainly be saying what was true; yet it does not therefore follow that we can pronounce him innocent who marries a woman who has been put away because of her fornication; we have not the remotest doubt but that they are both of them adulterers. And in the same way we pronounce him an adulterer, who for some other cause than fornication, puts away his wife and marries another; yet we do not on that ground pronounce innocent of adultery a man who puts away his wife because of her fornication, and then marries another. We regard both of them as adulterers, although the sin of one is graver than that of the other.” (P.L., xl, 456.)

St. Augustine, De Nuptiis et Concupiscentiis, i,10:

“Now since not only fecundity, whose fruit is offspring, nor chastity, whose safeguard is fidelity, but also a certain nuptial Sacrament is set before the married members of the faithful, for the Apostle says: ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church’ (Ephes. v, 25), it follows that the ‘thing’ of this Sacrament consists in husband and wife remaining inseparable for the rest of their lives once they have been joined in wedlock, and in the unlawfulness of separation between partners except it be because of fornication (Mt. v, 32). But if a man has done so (taken another wife during the lifetime of his former partner) then by the Gospel law he is guilty of adultery, as also is the wife if she marries another (Mt. xix, 8-9), though not so by the law of this world whereby, owing to divorce, marriage can be added to marriage and no legal crime incurred; in fact, as the Lord Himself testifies, even holy Moses conceded this to the people of Israel owing to the hardness of their hearts. Between married people, then, there remains, so long as they live, a certain conjugal bond which neither separation nor subsequent union with another can remove. But this bond then remains, not as a bond of fidelity, but as the penalty of a crime; just as the soul of an apostate who withdraws from Christ’s espousals, even though his faith has gone, does not lose the Sacrament of faith which he received in ‘the laver of regeneration.'” (P.L., xliv, 420.)

“No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce’; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another.” (St. Ambrose–A.D.387)”Do not tell me about the violence of the ravisher, about the persuasiveness of a mother, about the authority of a father, about the influence of relatives, about the intrigues and insolence of servants, or about household financial losses. So long as a husband lives, be he adulterer, be he sodomite, be he addicted to every kind of vice, if she left him on account of his crimes he is still her husband still and she may not take another.” (St. Jerome–A.D. 396)

“The practice is observed by all of regarding as an adulteress a woman who marries a second time while her husband yet lives, and permission to do penance is not granted her until one of them is dead.” (Pope Innocent I.– A.D. 408)

“Just as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seem to be married to a man, while a former husband yet lives, so also the man who seems to marry her who has been divorced does not marry her, but, according to the declaration of our Saviour, he commits adultery with her.” (Matthew 14:24–Origen A.D. 248)

“That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union, is expressly contained in the law: ‘You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality.’ And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. ‘Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery,’ it says; for ‘if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her’; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband.” (Clement of Alexandria–A.D. 208)


Trent, Sess. xxiv, De Sacramento Matrimonii:

“Can. v.     If any one shall say that the bond of matrimony can be dissolved for the cause of heresy, or of injury due to cohabitation, or of willful desertion; let him be anathema.”

“Can. vii.     If any one shall say that the Church errors when she has taught, and now teaches, that according to the doctrine of the Gospels and of the Apostles the bond of Matrimony cannot be dissolved owing to the adultery of one of the partners, and that neither party, not even the innocent party who has not by committing adultery given any ground (for separation), is free to contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other partner, and that he who after putting away his adulterous wife marries another, commits adultery, or the wife who after putting away an adulterous husband marries another, let him be anathema.”

Pius IX, The Syllabus, Condemns the following assertion:

“The marriage bond is not indissoluble by the law of nature, and in various cases divorce strictly so-called can be sanctioned by the civil authorities.”–Condemned

(Acta Pii IX, I, iii, 703)

Explanation of Canon 1069 of the 1917 Code of Cannon Law:

Persons who attempt marriage while bound by the impediment of the bond of previous marriage are declared to be infamous by the Code; after due warning they are to be punished by the ordinary with excommunication or personal interdict.(30) By a decree of the III Plenary Council of Baltimore,(31) automatic excommunication is visited upon those who dare to attempt marriage after a civil divorce. One guilty of this offense is also suspected of heresy as if denying the dogma defined by the Council of Trent regarding the unity of marriage.(32) If he actually thought he was free to enter the second marriage and contumaciously affirmed this, he would be a heretic and subject to the penalties visited upon heretics in canon 2314. Such a criminal is also irregular.(33) Unless his action is occult, he is also a public sinner, to be denied admission to the sacraments(34) and to associations of the laity,(35) as well as Christian burial.(36) Outside the case of urgent necessity the delinquent cannot be given absolution merely on the promise to put away the person with whom he is living in adultery; actual reform and cessation of concubinage is required.

30. Cf. can. 2356.
31. Acta, no. 124. Cf. II Plen. Council of Baltimore, Ada, nos. 326-27.
32. Gasparri, op. cit., no. 559; ct. Conc. Trident., sess. XXIV, de matrimonio, can. 2;
Schroeder, Council of Trent, p. 181.
33. Cf, commentary on can. 985, 3.
34. Cf. commentary on can. 855.
35. Ct. commentary on can. 693, 1.
36. Ct. commentary on can. 1240, 1, 6.

Prayer in an Unhappy Marriage

O God, Lord and Director of my life, You have placed me in the state of marriage. In it I hoped for joy and happiness, but alas! I experience only tribulation upon tribulation. But this is Your will. O Heavenly Father, may Your will be done! You place before my eyes Your only, Your well-beloved Son, Whose whole life here below was the hard way of the cross. You call upon me to follow Him. I will do, 0 Lord, what You demand of me. I thank You from my heart for Your love in treating me as You treated Your well-beloved Son, eternal with Yourself, and equal to You in essence. But behold my weakness! Have pity on my cowardice! I know that, without Your special grace, I shall be unable to bear my cross as I should. Give me what You demand of me, and then ask what You will. Give me Your most amiable Son, as You gave Him to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, that He may be always with me, to counsel and assist me, to preserve and daily confirm me in Your love. Place me in the open wound of His Heart. Fill me with His meekness and humility.

Grant me a share in His fortitude, and I shall be able to endure all things. Lord, send me sufferings, trials, and tribulations as numerous and as heavy as seems good to You; but, at the same time, increase my patience and resignation. Teach me, after the example of my sweet Savior, to repay evil with good, angry words with silence or gentle replies; to merit Your favor by a strict fulfillment of duty, and, by ready obedience and constant, faithful love, gain my husband’s (wife’s) heart for You. Preserve us, Almighty God, from the deceits of the evil spirits and from the malicious, or perhaps well-meant, though foolish language and counsels of silly people. Grant us peace and harmony, true affection and forbearance, devout sentiments and holy fear, that we may cheerfully labor, pray, and suffer with and for each other. May we tread together the way of Your holy Commandments and together reap the reward of our good works for an endless eternity! Grant us this, Heavenly Father, for the love of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as also of all the saints who, in the married state, sanctified themselves and attained eternal life. Amen.


Other related links to the Sacrament of Matrimony from catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com

RORATE CÆLI: “Dear Father”: Answers for Troubled Times II – In these times, can I be critical or sceptical of hierarchy pronouncements?

An excellent article via RORATE CÆLI: “Dear Father”: Answers for Troubled Times II – In these times, can I be critical or sceptical of hierarchy pronouncements?.

“Dear Father”: Answers for Troubled Times II – In these times, can I be critical or sceptical of hierarchy pronouncements?

“Dear Father,Can I be a good Catholic and still be sceptical or even critical of certain things said or done by bishops and popes that appear to contradict all the Tradition of the Church?

Thank you,

Confused in Ontario”

Dear Confused in Ontario,

This is a question that I am asked many times. It is, of course, the result of disquiet over what is said by Church authorities mainly in Rome but elsewhere as well. So many “off-the-cuff” pronouncements by members of the hierarchy and the reappearance of theologies that we thought were dead because they lead to dead ends have had this disquieting effect on many of the faithful.

I fear that I will not be able to answer your question in a way in which you will be satisfied. For a clear answer would have to be part of a serious theological task that so far no one has undertaken and that involves a serious rethinking of the role of the Pope and of the bishops in the Church in the light of Tradition. Tradition, we must always remember, is something living and therefore is integrally connected with the past and open to the future, all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It bothers me that those Catholics who are labeled as Traditionalists are seen to be somehow locked in the past. While it is absolutely true that the teaching of the Church in the past is necessary for true development of the Church’s teaching in the present and future, one must always be one’s guard against antiquarianism (which in part gave us the Novus Ordo ) and against nostalgia for a perfect time that never really was.

One of the greatest problems in the Church for the past hundred years has been a creeping Ultramontanism that seeks to almost identify the Church with the Pope. We see this happening all through the 20th century, but especially during the last quarter of that century. The era of instant communication afforded by the Internet and the all-pervasive presence of the media has contributed greatly to this situation. But it is also because of a series of Popes who traveled widely in the world in the name of evangelization. Those Masses in football stadiums with thousands and thousands of people, the World Youth Day celebrations, all followed by the media everywhere as they would follow “rock stars”, further contributed to this phenomenon.

Perhaps this was inevitable given the world in which we live. But it has had a bad effect on the understanding of the Papacy and its role both in the world and in the Church herself. We seem to have gone from an understanding of the role of the Pope as Supreme Pastor, Defender of the Faith and Guardian of the Liturgy, the Supreme Teacher who when guided by the Holy Spirit can define in a solemn way what the Church has always believed: from this understanding of the Papacy that reaches (one thought) its dogmatic zenith at the First Vatican Council with its careful definition of Papal Infallibility to the current understanding of the Papacy that sees him as the very embodiment of the Church with apparently no boundaries to his power and authority. It still boggles my mind to think that a Pope claims the power to suppress the Roman Rite of the Mass and impose a rite upon the Latin Church that many would insist is not continuous with the Roman Rite but is something new entirely.

The irony of all of this is that we find ourselves in the grip of reactionary forces that are pushing liberal (as Blessed John Henry Newman understood
that word) causes in the Church. That Newman foresaw this in his Biglietto Speech over one hundred years ago is no comfort to us who are going through this time of tribulation.

Having said all of this, I will answer your question in a qualified way. My answer is as follows. Yes, you are free as a Catholic to question the decisions of the bishops of the Church, including the Bishop of Rome, when they seem to you to depart from the Tradition, the teaching of the Church for the past two thousand years, in its roots in Scripture and in the organic growth of the Tradition. But one must differentiate here between criticizing and questioning. It really does no good to criticize specific words or acts of the Bishop of Rome or of any bishop in an uncharitable and carping way. It is often an offense against charity and leads to hardness of heart.

But it is surely the duty of the laity to question pronouncements (including press conferences and sermons) and decisions of the hierarchy when they seem to depart from the teaching of the Church, from the Tradition. Newman believed so strongly in the importance of an educated laity, educated both in the secular sense and in the ecclesial sense! And in this way it is the duty of the educated and faithful laity to question decisions of the hierarchy on the basis of the Tradition of the Church. And questioning here means to ask the bishops (with no animosity) how a specific pronouncement, whether official or unofficial, of a bishop squares with the Tradition. In this way, for instance, it is perfectly fine to ask how the image of the Church as a “field hospital” is consonant with the self-understanding of the Church within her Tradition.

I am sure, dear Confused in Ontario, that my response is not crystal clear nor does it help to assuage your genuine concerns about the state of the Church. But a priest is neither a medicine man nor a magician. He is called to faith in the same way as every Catholic is called to faith. And he sees, like we all do, “through a glass darkly”. But even through that partially de-silvered mirror that is the Catholic Church here on earth, we see the glory of the Truth in the face of the One who is our only hope, our only source of truth, our only source of real life, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Father Richard G. Cipolla


Fantastic, spot on.

CatholicScout Responds – Approach to Catholic Fashion 3: clothes and ideology

The LMS Chairman Blog occasionally gets my comments, which I repeat here. In the latest series, a guest blogger Queen of Puddings, has been submitting a series on Approach to Catholic Fashion. They are very well written, however I have finally got round to taking Queen of Puddings to task. I wanted to do this from the first post that she did, but I have been busy – apologies.

You can read the original post here: http://www.lmschairman.org/2014/07/approach-to-catholic-fashion-3-clothes.html

Please not that I didn’t add emphases in the original, any emphases have been added subsquently

Approach to Catholic Fashion 3: clothes and ideology

Many Catholics, some visible in the combox in other posts in this series, take modesty in clothing seriously to the point that they no longer think anything else worthy of consideration in choosing clothes: one commenter, in particular, said there was no reason why a Catholic should not wear the Muslim hijab in one of the pictures. I doubt, however, that any Catholic would ever do so, and I think that the reason would be an instinctive fear of appropriating not only the clothes but their ideological underpinning as well. This post will discuss the way in which clothes express the ideology of the person wearing them (or at any rate that of the designer), and in doing so, I hope, demonstrate the paramount importance of making informed choices about what we as Catholics wear…[continues]

My response:

“Thank you Queen of Puddings, for your thoughts.

The Divine Redeemer, however, said that “You cannot serve God and mammon.” In the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6:24-34), the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity explicitly said “be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?”. He equates such considerations as being the service of mammon (ref: Mt 6:24).

The Incarnate Word goes on to rebuke those that are solicitous about raiment, calling them “of little faith“, and further “Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek.”

But seeing that the Messiah, the Son of the living God, is well not really “with it”, let’s just ignore what he said.

So let’s turn to Tradition. In the first four centuries, Christians adopted the local custom of clothing, as long as it was chaste. Hebrew Catholics (Jews that convert to the Catholic Faith), can still wear traditional ritual clothing like kippot, tallitot, tefillin, in accordance with the Law. Exactly the same as an Orthodox Jew. All Catholics in the beginning would have adopted the Jewish custom of clothing, which was later poached by Islam.

One should be very careful in saying that Islam has the monopoly on chaste clothing, that wearing a hijab equates with professing that Mohammed is the Great Prophet. It is highly incorrect and probably highly offensive, especially to the Iraqi Catholics, who are dying in droves at the moment.

The hijab, like many traditional items of clothing are far more ancient than any erroneous beliefs that have claimed them for their own.

The Catholic Faith has always in her Tradition held that local customs, such as dress, should continue in the lay faithful. Examples exist throughout the Catholic history, such as in Japan, China, India, Africa and on and on.

21st Century Britain is a melting pot of people and cultures. In a truly multi-cultural society such as Britian, surely a Catholic is free to not be solicitous in choice of clothing, even if it was a hijab or a kimono? It would be perfectly within their right to wear such clothing if they wished, and to be well respected.

I think there is a real risk of a “reverse dictatorship of fashion”. We all know that modern clothing is dictated by the media and it’s indentured slave – the Fashion Houses. Well, let’s not get trapped into reacting the exact opposite and reimposing Canon 68 of the 4th Lateran council – imposing a difference between “us” and “them”. There is a third path; Do not be solicitous. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven.”


My comment provoked a response from Dr Shaw:

Catholic Scout: you place an interpretation of the notion of being over-solicitous which is incompatible with scripture, tradition, and common sense. Our Lord had a seamless garment. Tradition tells us this was woven for Him by Our Lady. Whoever made it, it must have taken many hours of loving work. Is this an example of being ‘solicitous’? Shouldn’t he have just worn a bit of sacking roughly stitched together? Why go to the trouble of making a garment whose value was recognised even by the Roman soldiers deputed to kill Him, if clothing is just something of no importance?

The point of this post is that what we wear communicates something to the people who see us; many types of clothing express clear, anti-Catholic ideologies. I see you have nothing to say about the detailed points. If you have no counter-arguments, then I suggest you do a bit more thinking on this topic before criticising others.

To which I responded (anything in square brackets is subsequent corrections):

“Dr Shaw, thank you for your response.

My comments are never intended as “ad hominem”.

In this case, I was addressing an important point, that thus far (as far as I can tell) was not present in any of the considerations of the Queen of Puddings. So far in three articles, nothing has been mentioned of what the Incarnate Divine Logos actually said.

Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, gave explicit and forceful teachings regarding this subject. Since He is the Divine Lawgiver, surely what He instructs is of paramount importance to His followers? “He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:[19][given at] the end of the Sermon on the mount, where He gives instructions regarding clothing.

I am at a loss to see any “interpretation” of scripture in what I said, since, I am just quoting directly from it. I cannot, for the life of me, find any thing in Sacred Scripture or Tradition that contradicts what I said. I can only find confirmation. I appreciate critical analysis of my comments, but I would be most grateful if you can spare a moment to back it up with something more than brow-beating.

Your argument concerning the garment, that Tradition rightly says was made by the Blessed Virgin Mary, does not hold as being evidence against Christ’s own teaching (that would make Him a hypocrite). It was a gift from His Blessed Mother, He didn’t make it for Himself, or go buy it. Sacred Scripture actually points to something quite the opposite.
Holy Gospel according to Luke 7:24 – “But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are in costly apparel and live delicately, are in the houses of kings”.

As to your questions
“Is [many hours of loving work] an example of being ‘solicitous’?” – no.

“Shouldn’t he have just worn a bit of sacking roughly stitched together?” – I doubt that the Son of God would spurn a gift from His Blessed Mother. Plus a seamless garment was necessary for the fulfilment of Sacred Scripture “They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots” – Ps 21:19.

“Why go to the trouble of making a garment whose value was recognised even by the Roman soldiers deputed to kill Him, if clothing is just something of no importance?” – I think that here there is an interpretation of the Calvary that is not supported by Sacred Scripture, nor Tradition, I am not aware of anything that supports the view that the Roman soldiers disputed over the garment because they recognised it’s [implied – *great*] value. It does, however, figure that the garment was made for the fulfilment of Scripture. That’s all. It’s not a fashion statement. The Divine Redeemer didn’t go to Calvary with a “BVM-exclusive label” in the seamless work – God forbid.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the Seamless robe of Jesus, which supports my points, rather than yours. Especially pointing out that the robe was worn underneath outer garments (hence hidden from view).

I was hoping that everything which I have said, precisely relates to the detailed points. We battle the world, the devil and self. But we can’t fight it with it’s own weapons. Christ showed us the way. It doesn’t mean we walk around in sack-cloth (ad ignominiam). It just means what it says “be not solicitous about what you shall wear”.

I feel that the main objection against my comment is one that was lodged directly to Christ in His own time – “Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” Jn 6:61. It’s not easy to follow what Christ said, but that is what we as Catholics must do and preach it [too], as love knows how [ref: Hymn, Faith of our Fathers].

Respectfully,
Catholic Scout.”


Dr Shaw responded –

Catholic Scout. I have addressed your Scriptural argument. Since it would indeed be absurd to say Our Lord is a hypocrite, it is obviously your interpretation of His words which is problematic.

On what you have said now, it would appear that Our Lady was at fault in making the seamless garment.

The making of this garment would have taken, as I said, many hours. It was a thing of value. My point is that – obviously – making and giving and wearing this garment does not represent what Our Lord meant by being ‘solicitous’.

Indeed, since he said we should not be solicitous about what we are to eat or where we are to live, your interpretation has created a wider problem. Does this mean we can’t take out insurance? Should we not exercise prudence? No, it does not mean that.

As you know, our philosophy of clothing in these posts can be summarised as the exercise of prudence about clothing. Our Lord did not condemn that.

To which I responded:

Dear Dr Shaw,
From the Commentary of St John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 6, Mt 6:28-29

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Having spoken of our necessary food, and having signified that not even for this should we take thought, He passes on in what follows to that which is more easy. For raiment is not so necessary as food.

Why then did He not make use here also of the same example, that of the birds, neither mention to us the peacock, and the swan, and the sheep? For surely there were many such examples to take from thence. Because He would point out how very far the argument may be carried both ways: both from the vileness of the things that partake of such elegance, and from the munificence vouchsafed to the lilies, in respect of their adorning. For this cause, when He has decked them out, He does not so much as call them lilies any more, but “grass of the field”.

And He is not satisfied even with this name, but again adds another circumstance of vileness, saying, “which today is”. And He said not, “and tomorrow is not”, but what is much baser yet, “is cast into the oven”. And He said not, “clothe”, but “so clothe”.

Do you see everywhere how He abounds in amplifications and intensities? And this He does, that He may touch them home: and therefore He has also added, “shall He not much more clothe you?” For this too has much emphasis: the force of the word, “you”, being no other than to indicate covertly the great value set upon our race, and the concern shown for it; as though He had said, “you, to whom He gave a soul, for whom He fashioned a body, for whose sake He made all the things that are seen, for whose sake He sent prophets, and gave the law, and wrought those innumerable good works; for whose sake He gave up His only begotten Son.”

And not till He has made His proof clear, does He proceed also to rebuke them, saying, “O you of little faith”. For this is the quality of an adviser: He does not admonish only, but reproves also, that He may awaken men the more to the persuasive power of His words.”

The commentary goes on with wondrous clarity and charity, I do recommend it to you and all your readers.

The Catena Aurea on Matthew (chapter 6) lists quite a few Fathers, who comment on the particular words of the Divine Redeemer that I refer to, please refer me to one that disagrees with my position (which apparently you “have addressed” – I missed that, were you meaning the glib remark that my “interpretation of His words is problematic”? – please remember what I said about John 6:61).

I do not dispute for a moment that the Divine Redeemer requires prudence of us. But here the Fathers say that the Incarnate Word of God “teaches us not only to take no thought, but not even to be dazzled at the costliness of men’s apparel”.

My point is that the arguments put forth by the Queen of Puddings are not entirely in agreement with the teachings of the Founder of our religion, nor the traditional interpretations of the records of His teaching.

I take offense at being accused of finding fault with Our Lady. As St John Chrysostom points out “And as in saying, they sow not, it was not the sowing that He did away with, but the anxious thought; so in saying, they toil not, neither do they spin, He put an end not to the work, but to the care.”

The Immaculate Conception was *never* mired by “fault”. She freely and perfectly obeyed *all* of the Lords commands. It is not a base and redundant thing to fulfil Scripture. After all, fulfilment of Scripture brought about the Salvation of the human race, which I pray will one day include you and I (please God)!

St John Chrysostom continues “After this He instructs us, not to aim at all at such ornament. See at least the end thereof; after its triumph “it is cast into the oven”: and if of things mean, and worthless, and of no great use, God has displayed so great care, how shall He give up you, of all living creatures the most important?

Wherefore then did He make them so beautiful? That He might display His own wisdom and the excellency of His power; that from everything we might learn His glory. For not “the Heavens only declare the glory of God”, but the earth too; and this David declared when he said, “Praise the Lord, you fruitful trees, and all cedars”. For some by their fruits, some by their greatness, some by their beauty, send up praise to Him who made them: this too being a sign of great excellency of wisdom, when even upon things that are very vile (and what can be viler than that which today is, and tomorrow is not?) He pours out such great beauty. If then to the grass He has given that which it needs not (for what does the beauty thereof help to the feeding of the fire?) how shall He not give unto you that which you need? If that which is the vilest of all things, He has lavishly adorned, and that as doing it not for need, but for munificence, how much more will He honour you, the most honourable of all things, in matters which are of necessity.

Now when, as you see, He had demonstrated the greatness of God’s providential care, and they were in what follows to be rebuked also, even in this He was sparing, laying to their charge not want, but poverty, of faith. Thus, “if God”, says He, “so clothe the grass of the field, much more you, O you of little faith”.”

We’re not perfect, Dr Shaw, and while we cooperate with God to receive the Supernatural Grace and Theological virtue of Faith in “the greatness of God’s providential care”, then, of course, the natural and cardinal virtue of Prudence will be the least that we could do. But what we must teach and preach, is the Gospel Truth and not only to preach the lowest common denominator.

Respectfully,
CatholicScout


To which he responded

Please note that you lessen the chance of anyone reading your comments if you make them at absurd length.

If you don’t want to think about it, fine. I’d rather you didn’t refuse to think about it at such length on my blog.

It comes down to what Our Lord and the Fathers meant by ‘solicitous’. You are wrong to attribute an absurd and extreme meaning to that term, for the reasons I have already set out. Now go away.

The argument is closed all the same, I shan’t pursue it any further, bless him.