So the Pope made a change in the Holy Thursday rite of Washing of Feet and both Progressive and Traditionalist Catholics tend to see it as a harbinger of change in the Church. They only disagree over whether it is a good or a bad thing. I think the assumption that this signifies change to areas of doctrine is false. I think that people are forgetting a few things, and forgetting these things lead to bad conclusions.
The point I would make is that when Our Lord acts, there is a great deal of depth to His actions. It would be foolish of us to limit the meaning of His actions to only one aspect. So the Church can decide to emphasize one aspect of this depth of meaning at one time in her history and another aspect at a different time. In doing this, the Church is not contradicting the other aspects of meaning.
From Saul to Saint Paul
Saint Paul, whose Feast Day is celebrated today, serves as the perfect example of a person who turned away from sin and turned toward God. Before his astounding conversion, Saint Paul was known as Saul. As Saul, he participated in the stoning (and killing) of Saint Stephen, our first Martyr of the Christian faith. Saint Paul is well known as originally starting out as a persecutor of the early Christians, as he was a zealot for the Jewish faith.
In his efforts to remain true to the Jewish faith, Saul departed Jerusalem for Damascus, in search of men and women who had sworn allegiance to Jesus. Saul wanted to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains (Acts 9:1). However, Jesus had other designs… Read more…
I saw my grandfather forty years after he died. I loved him with all my heart, not because he gave me toys, bought me ice creams or took me to the Fun Fair, but because he loved me so much. I was only eight years old when he died of a heart attack and I cried myself to sleep. The next day my mother told me that he loved me very especially, so much so that he made special plans for me and so I should always pray for him each day when I said my morning prayers. That’s why I felt so guilty when I saw him again forty years later. read on
With the first primaries yet to be held, I’m seeing Catholics debating the worst case scenarios and what should be the best response if certain candidates get nominated. I try not to use this blog for discussion on the merits of candidates, so I don’t plan to discuss why I favor candidate X or deplore candidate Y. That kind of approach tends to turn a discussion into a partisan debate that obscures the Catholic teaching itself. Also, since some people come to this blog to seek an explanation of what the Church holds, I don’t want to give someone the impression that my personal views on what candidate is best/worst is Church teaching.
The reason I write this is that I am seeing three views thrown around where those who promote them give the impression that their view is the only one compatible with Catholic teaching. Now it is not wrong that people who sincerely seek to follow Church teaching reach different views on what is the best (or least odious) way to vote given the candidate choices. The problem that I see is that some of these arguments seem to overlook the consequences of their decision. What I hope this article will do is to encourage people to consider the consequences of their choice in seeking to make the best decision out of those available, by pointing out some of the pitfalls of each decision that one needs to consider.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – A Man of Peace
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace, receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent efforts to bring racial equality to the forefront of American society. He organized peaceful protests, as in the case of Rosa Parks, where he was known to have said:
“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”1
Martin Luther King Jr.’s rhetorical skills, calm demeanor, and peace loving nature, combined with his theological training,… Read more…
Life is Precious
During the Christmas holiday, I was listening to an old Bishop Fulton Sheen episode that was on television, while working around the house. I heard him make a comment that shot directly to my brain: “All life is worth living.” He made this comment decades ago, as if a foretelling of something that we would need to focus on today. He made this prophetic comment well before abortion became legal, or euthanasia became popular; or before the death penalty became the preferred means for seeking justice. I began reflecting on his comment. I began by asking myself some questions:
This isn’t a book review of the Pope’s new book The Name of God Is Mercy. Rather it is a reflection on some of the points that really struck home with me and the ideas they raised in me, leading me to say, “This is amazing!” Admittedly, a large portion of the book does fall under that description, so if I wanted to quote all the excerpts that impressed me, I’d probably be posting the entire text.
Let’s just say right off that many people have wronged Pope Francis. Both those who hope he will “decriminalize” their favorite sin and those who fear he will abandon Church teaching have wronged him. The reason I say this is because the book recognizes a link that the Church has long taught: To receive mercy requires us to be sorry for our sins. That is a theme running through the book. Once a person understands this basic concept, it becomes clear that the panic within the Church over the Pope’s words and actions are wildly inaccurate. He’s not looking for ways to bring people who are at odds with the Church to Communion without a need to repent. He’s looking for ways to encourage such people to get right with God through the Church. In other words, people have spent the past 3 years rejoicing or panicking over something he never intended and missed the point of what he was calling people to.
Give of yourself during this Year of Mercy
Every time that you do give of your time, talent and/or treasure, you give mercy to another individual in need. Think about it: When you give your time at a food bank or homeless shelter, your mere presence tells those in need that someone cares about them. When you give of your talent, for example, in tutoring children, you give mercy, because you believe that the tutored child should have a brighter future. When you give of your treasure, you give mercy because you believe that no one should go hungry or without shelter and clothing. Your money goes to meet someone else’s need.
In this Year of Mercy we are given… Read more…
In modern times, Christianity has a problem with people who choose not to follow the people who are the appointed leaders. They believe that when the Church differs with them, the personal preference is to be heeded, not the Church. Such an attitude is understandable when we deal with Non-Catholics who do not believe that the Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ, or non-Christians and non-religious people denying Christianity altogether. The point of Christianity is that it professes to have revelation from God, and that people who have been entrusted with the authority of applying that revelation have their teaching backed by this revelation. So a person who does not believe Christianity possesses any such revelation, it stands to reason that they won’t follow the teachings of that Church.
However, when it comes to Christianity, which professes to believe in the God of the Old Testament and believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, this faith necessarily presupposes that God has given us realization—through the Law, the Prophets and finally through His Son. When the Christian falls afoul of the commandments in some way, the fact is he or she is behaving in a way which God has revealed to us to be counter to the way He wants us to live. Furthermore, when God has revealed that authority has been given to certain human beings to bind and to loose (Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18) for the purpose of bring the message of salvation and teaching His commandments so that people may live as He commands (Matthew 28:19-20 and Revelation 22:11), then obedience to that human authority is a part of being faithful to that revelation of God.
Regular readers of mine probably know my favorite quotation of Aristotle, his definition of truth by heart, but it’s time to cite it again:
To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false.
Aristotle, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vols.17, 18, Translated by Hugh Tredennick. (Medford, MA: Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1933, 1989).
What brings up this citation this time is my seeing a growing number of people on the internet willing to impute motives to people based on their own interpretation of the quoted words, without concern as to whether the author intends those interpretations or not. It’s an important thing to keep in mind. If we want to speak truthfully about a person, we must make sure that our interpretation of his or her words are what the author intends before we praise or criticize the author/speaker in question. If we don’t do this, then we speak falsely about the person and our criticism is either wrong or, if it’s right, it’s only right by coincidence.