TEMPUS Adventus | Year B | Gospel of St. Mark | Cycle I

Transform Culture

“The first Christians required courage to overcome and transform a vast, pagan world whose ideas about marriage and sexual morality were not unlike those which prevail in our own culture. Today we need this same, supernatural courage to live and give witness to all the Church believes and teaches about marriage, the family and human sexuality.”—Bishop Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, England.

A.I.M. ANALYSIS. INKLINGS. METACOMMENTARY.

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2015 Year B at-a-glance

Ash Wednesday February 18; Easter April 5; Pentecost May 24; Advent Nov. 29

Holy Obedience

“We become Catholics not actually knowing a great deal about the Faith and keep finding ourselves suddenly realizing, ‘Oh, that’s it. That’s why the Church teaches this.’ Acceptance comes first, then practice, then understanding.”—David Mills.

H/T Church Pop—The Holy Eucharist

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Arming up in the culture war: "Engaging persuasion rather than culture war combativeness."

There is a war, a culture war, whether we care to acknowledge it or not. Some contend, and reasonably so, that our approach to waging this war requires a kind of tact that facilitates engagement without surrendering the truth of our position. Fr. Raymond de Souza, a nationally ranked and eloquent commentator on faith and community, edits Convivium, a journal of religion and public life. The point he makes regarding engagement merits careful consideration:
North American life hums with the assumption that every private concern is now fit material for public debate and social action—every concern, that is, except for religious faith. National columnist Fr. Raymond de Souza, as editor of Convivium, pushes back on this marginalization of religion, though from a posture of engaging persuasion rather than culture war combativeness.
No one should seek to be merely combative for the sake of winning arguments. Yes, we should try to win arguments. We should do so by:
  • modelling Christ;
  • respecting the dignity of our opponents;
  • insisting on freedom of speech and freedom of religion and conscience;
  • appealing to fairness and justice rooted in the natural law;
  • inviting others to join us in the search for deeper understanding;
  • identifying, evaluating and correcting error by presenting facts, i.e., proposing alternatives that are true and convincing;
  • choosing language which is engaging, accurate and fair;
  • creating additional opportunities for follow up discussions.
The above is predicated on us knowing our own story. That is, the Catholic story. Without knowledge and diligent practice of who and what we are and why we believe what we (should) believe, no one will take our proposals seriously. Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium are the most effective witnesses to the Catholic legacy. Foremost, we must invite and allow the Holy Spirit to inform everything we do in service to our fellow men and women. We can do nothing without God.
NOVEMBER 18, 2014
Why Culture War is UnavoidableJAMES KALB (excerpt from Crisis Magazine)

Every culture has an orientation determined by basic commitments and views on what is most important and therefore sacred. A society needs to hold such things in common if it is to survive and remain functional in times of stress. They differ from society to society: Soviet culture was based on the sacredness of the Party, Catholic culture on that of Christ and the Church, and revolutionary French culture on that of the Nation and the Rights of Man.

The need for a sacred focus that all members of a society are expected to accept and defer to makes culture war inevitable when there are enough people who disagree strongly on what that focus should be. Examples of such situations include the struggle between prophets and polytheists in ancient Israel, and the struggles between Christians and pagans in the Roman Empire and early medieval Europe. (The Catholic struggle against atheistic secularism is a struggle of biblical scale.)

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There is outright use of force: the Roman persecutions, the Muslim invasions, the various crusades (defensive wars waged ineffectively against invaders who persecuted Christian minorities), the military phases of the Protestant revolt, and the persecutions and martyrdoms of this century and the last. And that leads us to concerns raised by the very concept of a culture war. Wars of religion have a bad name. They are fought over the most basic issues, so they easily take on an unlimited quality and destroy the goods they intend to advance. Even so, there is nothing odd about a struggle over what basic conception of man and the world should orient our life together. Such struggles, however dangerous, can’t be abolished without abolishing man. (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.)

Liberalism claimed it could do so by separating politics from religion. We could all follow our own opinions and engage in mutual persuasion while joining together in support of a political system that put ultimate issues aside and concentrated on practical matters on which all could agree. The claim hasn’t panned out, since ultimate issues matter practically. Liberal societies, like others, have a conception of the sacred that they promote through official catechesis and propaganda on the one hand and suppression of dissident views on the other. The forms of suppression are mild, in line with the general mildness of modern social disciplines, but they make up for that with a comprehensiveness of application made possible by modern social organization. (Liberalism, in the 21st Century sense, is a religion of man, a false religion.) So instead of laws against blasphemy and religious tests for office we have laws against what is called hate speech and politically correct demands such as compulsory “celebration of diversity.” (Pakistan and Canada are not so very different, eh?) The purpose and effect are the same.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Archbishop Cupich and the Strained Line

During the interview, Archbishop Cupich was asked, “when you say we cannot politicize the communion rail, you would give communion to politicians, for instance, who support abortion rights.” 
Cupich’s response was: 
I would not use the Eucharist or as they call it the communion rail as the place to have those discussions or weigh in which people would be either excluded from the life of the church. The Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion. It’s also a time of forgiveness of sins. So my hope would be that that grace would be instrumental in bringing people to the truth.
The Strained Line

Sophistry! Reasoning which permits obstinate sinners to receive Holy Communion strains credibility and strains patience. Has the Archbishop forgotten it is his duty to defend the Sacraments from any and all abuse? Someone who is a manifest sinner, e.g., a public figure who has made his or her sins entirely public and remains unrepentant, merits censure in the very forum he flaunts his misbehaviour. That is, a public forum. Unless someone is given to believing the Catholic Faith is merely a private matter, not personal and public as it surely is, or one holds to the Calvinist heresy of "once saved, always saved" which permits indifference, i.e., 'a live and let live approach' to relationships, then the "communion rail" is such a forum. When circumstances permitted no other option, our ancestors for centuries did not hesitate to publicly reprimand obstinate sinners. To be sure, there were abuses due to rigourism. Today, however, the opposite is occurring. Liberalism has led to laxity and permissiveness.

Excuses, excuses.

The reluctance of bishops and priests to enforce the canons (e.g., 915) which prohibit reception of Holy Communion by manifestly unrepentant sinners is indefensible.
"How can we deny someone the Sacrament? We have no way of knowing if a person has gone to confession?"
—Response: Irrelevant. Public sinners—e.g., i) politicians who are on record for supporting legislation that no Catholic should support and who have no intention of retracting their support for said legislation; or ii) a celebrity who has contracted a second marriage without benefit of a decree of nullity and still insists on receiving Holy Communion—require no consideration. Their unrepentant stance is enough to disqualify any reluctance to prohibit them from receiving communion. They have made their choice. To deny them communion simply respects their choice while protecting the Sacrament and the faithful brethren from scandal.
"But, she is trying to change her life. By receiving Holy Communion she disposes herself to the grace that comes with the Sacrament."
—Response: Baloney. Poppycock. If she really wants to change, she will stop the behaviour which casts her immortal soul into a state of mortal sin. Allowing obstinate sinners to receive Holy Communion sends the message that the Church condones sin. There is simply no logic to any statement which misuses the principle of graduality to wean sinners off their addiction to sin.
"No one is beyond the grace of God. Even an obstinate sinner can receive God's grace."
—Response: Fine. Then exclude the obstinate sinner from receiving Holy Communion in order that they may confront the consequences of their own decision—i.e., to receive Holy Communion while dissenting from Church teaching—which has made them unworthy to receive communion. Give the errant child a timeout. Speak the truth in love. In the words of St. Paul: 
1 Corinthians 11:29-30
For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
There is no need to ascertain whether or not the offending individual has been to confession. His or her obstinacy, i.e., his or her continued public manifestation of grave sin, is evidence enough to deny him/her communion.

Lest anyone be confused and think this position too harsh, this post is not saying that all sinners should be refused Holy Communion. Obviously, no one is perfect in this life and therefore no one should demand access to Holy Communion:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
The reforming sinner.

To be authentically Catholic, however, is to be a reforming sinner. People can and do fall. The Lord knows this. That's why we have the wonderful Sacrament of Penance given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue us from sin after baptism. It is one thing to bless the sinner, and quite another to bless the sin. By failing to restrict Holy Communion to reforming sinners only, i.e., sinners who are honestly striving to live God's commands and who confess their sins, and by opening the Sacrament to abuse by sinners who couldn't care less about the sinfulness of their actions, bishops and clergy expose everyone to scandal. The faithful are scandalized, indeed, when they witness people living in gravely sinful situations approach the sanctuary for Holy Communion. Clergy simply need to privately instruct the public sinner to cross their arms over their chest as they approach the Holy Eucharist and receive a blessing instead of the Holy Eucharist. Or, instruct them to make an act of spiritual communion in the pew. While the first approach is less than ideal, the second counsel accords with historical Catholic practice.
Given the potential for confusion which accompanies the custom of crossing one's arms to indicate a request for a blessing, the practice of coming forward in the Communion line and crossing one's arms should be reserved for children who, in the company of a parent who would be ill advised to leave a child unattended in a pew, have yet to receive First Communion. If a blessing is what adults want, they should then wait until the end of Mass and the Final Blessing which all receive at that time. As it is, when adults come forward in the communion line, they are saying by their action (of crossing their arms) that they are in a situation that prevents them from receiving Holy Communion. True, there are some legitimate nuances that need to be appreciated. E.g., a non-Catholic spouse who comes to Mass and wants to participate with his family (If that is the case, why hasn't he become Catholic?). Again, that non-Catholic spouse should be informed that a blessing is offered to all at the end of Mass during the Final Blessing.
There is no authentic argument that can defend the unfortunate custom of an adult coming forward, arms crossed, who is Catholic and is living in sin and has no intention of repenting of the sin which excludes him or her from communion. That such a custom has become entrenched in the Liturgy is yet another sign of false mercy, a liturgical abuse which has infiltrated the Church. It is a false mercy because it obscures the otherwise clear teaching of Scripture (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:29-30) and has everyone pretend that the sinner does not have to repent. Despite what some people might think, the Church excludes obstinate sinners from communion because they, themselves, have placed themselves outside the Church. 
Cheap mercy is no mercy at all.

When will clergy stop pussyfooting around the issue? Bishops need to get a spine and protect the Eucharist from abuse. To deny someone Holy Communion is to protect them from themselves. Furthermore, confronting a public figure at the foot of the cross should leave a person with no doubt that their actions are harmful to himself and to those who are scandalized by an unrepentant sinner receiving Holy Communion. There is no mercy whatsoever in allowing someone who openly denies Catholic faith and practice to receive Holy Communion. In fact, a failure to challenge an individual, first in private and subsequently, when no sign of change is forthcoming, in public, is a failure to defend the integrity of the Holy Eucharist and the public nature of the Faith. Because fraternal correction has been avoided, that failure to communicate has the potential consequence of damning someone to hell. By not defending the Eucharist from abusive reception, one is, in effect, saying to someone in a state of mortal sin that the state of his or her soul does not matter to the Lord or to His Church. The whole "politicizing the communion rail" line confirms certain bishops and priests are simply too timid to confront serious offenders for the good of those sinners' souls.

Influenza Influential Bishops

Given that Archbishop Blase Cupich is one of the alternate delegates to the Synod on the Family and might have some influence on pastoral strategies, perhaps a second and third look at his creed or background might be warranted to determine what that influence might be.
SPOKANE, Washington, September 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-life leaders in Washington state are expressing bewilderment after their Catholic bishop apparently urged diocesan priests and seminarians in a September meeting not to pray outside abortion clinics.

John Weingarten of 40 Days for Life Spokane told LifeSiteNews.com that the instruction from Bishop Blase J. Cupich was potentially devastating for the local group, now only two weeks from launching this year’s fall campaign, as it is composed almost totally of Catholics and normally enjoys the support of local pro-life priests.
Various news columns have identified the new Archbishop of Chicago as a man who seeks to engage and avoid confrontation and alienation. Intelligent, rational and civil dialogue is laudable. No one should enjoy confrontation or seek it merely for the thrill of attack. However, when an injustice as hideous as abortion is being perpetrated in a diocese, then the troops had better be marshalling against the forces of darkness and use every reasonable and peaceful means at their disposal—prayer, fasting, provocative signage and onsite mobile medical support—to protect women and their babies while convincing the enemy (e.g., Planned Parenthood) to drop its weapons. Otherwise, the gates of hell will prevail against that diocese.

Faithful witness + honest and charitable engagement + firm conviction = New Evangelization

Faithful witnessing to the truth at abortion clinics combined with pro-life legislation shuts down abortion mills. Polite (politically-lite) chit-chat by limp bishops has done little to stop babies from being murdered. Laity, priests and bold bishops conducting frontline conversations with abortion industry workers has led to numerous conversions among clinic employees and owners and the rescue of countless unborn children who have been brought to term and have become elegant witnesses in the struggle to overcome the evil of abortion.

A Catholic's blood should boil when bishops hide behind a façade of civility and blather all day about engagement but simply fail to engage hearts and minds where intervention matters most. Failure to stand up for the weakest humans where those same babies are being put to death is inexcusable. Anything less than active participation—the much heralded buzzwords of the progressive Catholic who impose themselves on the Liturgy—in public rallies of one kind or another is to shirk one's Catholic duty to defend life.

Sheepish

Archbishop Cupich has been painted as a "Franciscan bishop". I.e., his inclinations match those of the Holy Father, or so we are told by the media.
AP 9/19/14—In a 2012 essay in the Jesuit magazine America, Cupich said the U.S. bishops "rightly objected" to the original narrow religious exemption in President Barack Obama's requirement that employers provide health insurance that covers contraception. But Cupich called for a "return to civility" in conversations about religious liberty and society.

"While the outrage to the (government) decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact," Cupich said. "We should never stop talking to one another." (Sort of like Chamberlain talking with Hitler. Yeah, that worked. Reagan and Pope St. John Paul might have a different take on overcoming evil in the world. Their witness—girded by Reagan's military and economic strength combined with the moral authority of Pope St. John Paul II—led to the downfall of communism.)

Cupich has also defended Francis' views on the economy and emphasis on fighting poverty, which some Catholics and others have criticized as naive and against capitalism.

"Instead of approaching life from the 30-thousand-feet level of ideas, he challenges policy makers and elected officials — indeed all of us — to experience the life of everyday and real people," Cupich said at a conference last June on the Catholic case against libertarianism. "Much like he told religious leaders, Francis is saying that politicians and policy makers need to know the smell of the sheep."
And if the smell of the sheep reeks of public witness for the unborn outside abortion clinics, sheep who pray for the babies and their mothers, the clinic workers and their overseers who commit atrocities in the name of hedonism, freedom from responsibility and greed, what then? In order to smell more like his flock, will Archbishop Cupich stoop to the level of the faithful sheep who risk their personal safety and well being in defence of the unborn, elderly and handicapped?

The Cross of Christ

Christ evangelized the good thief from His cross. Even in His own agony, Jesus reached out to the repentant criminal. Yes, the conversation with our enemies should never stop. At some point, however, we will more likely than not have to put ourselves on the frontline in the war for souls and be nailed to a cross for defending our pre-born and elderly, disabled and mentally challenged brothers and sisters.

One wonders, given Archbishop Cupich's comments past and present, whether or not His Grace has the guts to hang out with faithful members of his flock. Until he proves otherwise, there can be only on conclusion: Archbishop Cupich just doesn't get it. "It" being the defence of the Faith and a firm opposition to dissent. Mollycoddling dissenters has certainly proven effective, eh? Not!

+ + +

If readers want to learn how to defend the Faith and treat obstinate (public) sinners with dignity, a dignity that requires the truth spoken in love, read the story of Eric Hess and Cardinal Burke at LifeSiteNews.

“Priests need to stop people-pleasing. They need to speak the truth in love. If people pack-up and go away, well, so be it. When their lives get broken, they’ll be back. And they’ll be back at a place that truly is a hospital, where people can find true comfort and healing. (...) If God can heal me, God can heal anybody.”Robin Teresa Beck, 59, former lesbian, convert to Catholicism.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Heschmeyer on the Early Papacy

Mr. Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery blog has an interesting follow up article to an earlier piece he wrote on the early papacy and authority in the Church.

The article begins:
In October, I wrote about a fascinating conflict in the first-century church of Corinth. When a dispute broke out within their church, they wrote to Rome. Pope Clement wrote back, issued some orders, and resolved the dispute. Under any circumstances, this would be interesting, because it shows the way that papal authority worked in the primitive Church. But this is all the more telling in that all of this happened while the Apostle John was still alive.
The article continues:
Today, I want to share an epilogue, of sorts, to that story. About a century after Clement intervened in Corinth, we find the papacy once again involved in Asia Minor. The pope was St. Victor, who reigned from 189-99. The controversy was primarily a liturgical one. The various parts of the early Church had different liturgical calendars for Easter, and different Lenten periods of fasting prior to Easter.

At the heart of the dispute was this: in Asia Minor, in those churches dating back to the Apostle John, Easter was celebrated on the 14th of Nisan, the date of the Jewish Passover. Most of the Church rejected this Passover Easter practice, since it meant Easter was frequently on a weekday. They always celebrated Easter on the Lord's Day, Sunday, even if it meant it didn't sync up with the Jewish calendar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New website: Faith In The Public Square

http://faithinthepublicsquare.com/
Hosted by:
Prof. Josephine Lombardi, Professor of Pastoral & Systematic Theology, St. Augustine's Seminary. 
from the website [About]
Thought provoking exchanges between field experts and honest commentary on the future of faith in the public square.

Q&A
Pose your tough questions to our speakers and hear them dazzle you with their insight.

The Faith in the Public Square series is about addressing the challenging and contentious questions that pervade our society today. Whether at our places of worship, our offices, or even a coffee-shop, we are constantly having to balance competing rights claims in our complex multicultural society. For many, finding expression of one’s faith in the public square can seem a bewildering prospect, but as our speakers are often quick to remind us it is by no means an impossible task.

To contribute to this discussion, the Archdiocese of Toronto and St. Augustine’s Seminary organized a special colloquium on the subject of Faith in the Public Square. This event is part of a series of celebrations marking the 100th Anniversary of St. Augustine’s Seminary. To contribute to this discussion, the Archdiocese of Toronto and St. Augustine’s Seminary organized a special colloquium on the subject of Faith in the Public Square. This event is part of a series of celebrations marking the 100th Anniversary of St. Augustine’s Seminary.