We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Bishop Lopes: A Pledged Troth. A pastoral letter on Amoris Laetitia.

Friday, December 23, 2016

How the West was one. A Christmas battle anthem.

It is said that, with regards to the Gospel, the bad news always precedes the good. A doctor must inform his patient that he has a tumour so that work can begin to battle it. If caught in time, and the treatments are sustained and sufficient, and the patient cooperates, the patient is more likely to recover than if he were to live in denial and refuse the news which more likely would have allowed him to act in a timely manner to cooperate in the defeat of the threat to his health. Of course, some diseases work so fast on the system there is little one can do to defeat them. The body may die, but the soul need not.

Sin is a disease, a condition far worse than any physical ailment. The bad news is that the West suffers from a host of ailments which, if the West was a human being, he would already be long dead. But, there is hope; sin has a cure. The effects of sin may linger after treatment has begun, but ultimately sin can and will be defeated if treatment is entered into posthaste.
Romans 5: 17-21
If, because of one man’s (Adam's) trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If the Annunciation and Incarnation of Emmanuel is the beginning of the war on sin, Christmas is Operation Overlord in the war to reclaim man from sin. Sin is defeated when each person, like Mary, says 'yes' to God, a total yes that allows Jesus to be born into each person's heart. With that total cooperation, Jesus enters into our sinful lives and transforms us, sometimes radically and very often gradually, incrementally with our cooperation, our daily 'yeses'. Our struggle to overcome the addiction of sin, i.e., our addictive behaviour, requires a daily confrontation. God has given us the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) to help us recover. Jesus, the Divine Physician, pours His grace through the hands of his priest, his human assistant, to enable our recovery in the battle to overcome sin.

No sin is too difficult to overcome with the grace that Jesus provides. The wounds of sin may run deep, perhaps clouding our judgement, but deeper still the life-giving grace that God provides to the penitent sinner restores man to his likeness to God.


God stormed the beaches of Satan's hold on man. Christmas is God's assault on sin in the most unlikely way one could imagine, but to God the most beautiful and loving way. God became vulnerable as an infant, remained vulnerable and eventually died vulnerable to rise again and defeat death. Jesus entered our world to defeat sin and bring us into loving communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit.

The West's war on terrorism will not succeed unless we in the West recover from our pagan brethren, i.e., those who collaborate with sin and death, our societies' bearing or orientation to Jesus Christ. The struggle against nazism and communism and socialism pales in comparison to the real struggle, the struggle against sin in man's heart.
Ephesians 6:12
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
How was the West one? It was won for Christ. How was the West one?
  1. It was united by a common Judeo-Christian ethos, e.g., respect for the natural law, and the primacy of inalienable rights founded upon the dignity of man created in the image and likeness of God.
  2. It was united by a jurisprudence founded upon and imbued with the Gospel. The common law served the common good because the common law embodied the the moral law.
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a1.htm
Because of its orientation to the Gospel, the West became the summit of civilization. The West became the civilized world. However, our "civilized world" has been challenged many times during the last millennium: wars; communism and socialism and their illegitimate offspring atheistic secularism; fascism; the culture of death. So goes the Litany of Despair.

Some would argue that the West has only been able to thrive because of exploitative colonialism that has sucked resources from other countries. That would be the unredeemed West. The redeemed West has contributed much to the development of all peoples, but there is no denying that many people have suffered as a result of (unredeemed) colonial pressure on indigenous cultures, pressures that have resulted in, for example, a loss of language leading to disorientation and poverty.

We, in the West, are witnessing the effects of a loss of the Christian voice at the heart of society. If the West should reject entirely its Christian "soul", the West will return to its barbaric past and so reunite with peoples who have become accustomed to perpetrating a most vicious violence against their fellow man. World Wars I and II were merely reminders—and catastrophic reminders at that, given the magnitude of the evil perpetrated against innocent people, and the innumerable deaths—of what awaits Westerners if civilization collapses. Do the peoples of "the West"—Europe and North America—really want to descend into a chaos of a kind such as we are witnessing in the Middle East?

Of course, a brief read of the daily news confirms man's steady descent into debauchery and the West's decay. Again, that's the bad news. The good news is that a remnant of hope and true faith persists and is infiltrating culture to undermine Satan's last ditch attempt to hold man in his diabolical clutches.

What is the "common good"?
[...] John XXIII describes it as ‘the sum total of conditions of social living, whereby persons are enabled more fully and readily to achieve their own perfection.’ Mater et Magistra – “Mother and Teacher” (1961), paragraph 65
The idea therefore differs from that of pursuing the ‘greatest good for the greatest number,’ with which it is sometimes confused, because the pursuit of the common good entrusts, both to the government and the Church, care for the greatest good of all persons, not just the greatest possible number. No individual is excluded from the common good. It is also therefore linked to the ideas of human dignity and authentic and integral human development, making them central aims of all societies.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales describe the notion in terms of interdependency: ‘Because we are interdependent, the common good is more like a multiplication sum, where if any one number is zero then the total is always zero. If anyone is left out and deprived of what is essential, then the common good has been betrayed.’ Choosing the Common Good, paragraph 8.
The common good also provides a balance against too strong an individualism by emphasizing the social aspect of the human person. Authentic development is possible only if an individual interacts with and grows within a society. Thus each of us is required to work for the common good which includes all others within society. Even property of its nature also has a social aspect which is based on the law of the common purpose of goods. Gaudium et Spes – “The Joys and Hopes” (1965), paragraph 7
http://www.catholicsocialteaching.org.uk/principles/glossary/#Common
 Additional thoughts on the common good.
Pope John XXIII defined the common good as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily" (Pacem in Terris 55). This good is common because only together as a community, and not simply as isolated individuals, is it possible to enjoy, achieve, and spread this good. All people are obligated to work towards making the common good a greater and greater reality.
Sometimes the common good is misunderstood to mean simply the common desires or interests of the multitude. But the common good, as Pope John Paul II noted, "is not simply the sum total of particular interests; rather it involves an assessment and integration of those interests on the basis of a balanced hierarchy of values; ultimately, it demands a correct understanding of the dignity and the rights of the person" (Centesimus Annus 47). The common good, in other words, is not simply what people happen to want, but what would be authentically good for people, the social conditions that enable human flourishing.
Human flourishing is multifaceted because the human being as such has many dimensions. Human fulfillment includes a physical dimension of health and psychological well being. If a country does not have sufficient pure drinking water, nourishing food, and a relatively toxin-free environment, human beings will not be able to achieve their full potential. Moreover, human flourishing has an intellectual dimension that can be helped or hampered by educational opportunities or the lack thereof. Finally, each of us bears an ethical or moral dimension that will be frustrated without the avoidance of vice and the cultivation of virtue. The common good includes all these elements, the loss of any one of which can hinder our seeking of fulfillment.
However, the common good, as important as it is, is not the greatest good. The ultimate fulfillment of every human person can be found only in God, but the common good helps groups and individuals to reach this ultimate good. So, if social conditions are such that people are inhibited or deterred from being able to love God and neighbor, then the common good has not been realized.
Participation and solidarity are two other fundamental principles of Catholic social thought. Participation is defined by the recent Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church as when each
(c)itizen, either as an individual or in association with others, whether directly or through representation, contributes to the cultural, economic, political and social life of the civil community to which he belongs. Participation is a duty to be fulfilled consciously by all, with responsibility and with a view to the common good. (189)
Solidarity, a frequent theme especially in the writings of Pope John Paul II, is more than a
(f)eeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good. That is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 38)
http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/seven-principles-of-catholic-social-teaching
What is the "natural law"?
According to St. Thomas, the natural law is "nothing else than the rational creature's participation in the eternal law" (I-II.94). The eternal law is God's wisdom, inasmuch as it is the directive norm of all movement and action. When God willed to give existence to creatures, He willed to ordain and direct them to an end. In the case of inanimate things, this Divine direction is provided for in the nature which God has given to each; in them determinism reigns. Like all the rest of creation, man is destined by God to an end, and receives from Him a direction towards this end. This ordination is of a character in harmony with his free intelligent nature. In virtue of his intelligence and free will, man is master of his conduct. Unlike the things of the mere material world he can vary his action, act, or abstain from action, as he pleases. Yet he is not a lawless being in an ordered universe. In the very constitution of his nature, he too has a law laid down for him, reflecting that ordination and direction of all things, which is the eternal law. The rule, then, which God has prescribed for our conduct, is found in our nature itself. Those actions which conform with its tendencies, lead to our destined end, and are thereby constituted right and morally good; those at variance with our nature are wrong and immoral.Catholic Encyclopedia
How will the West be lost?
  1. Relativism and hedonism triumph. The 'rule of law' will become the 'rule of the lawless'. Governments and courts become completely compromised by "special privileges" granted to agents of corrupt social policies. Inalienable rights will be (is being) eroded by a narrow political and social provincialism that elevates individualism above the common good.
  2. Massive disparity between the rich and the poor which fuels despair and revolution.
  3. Divisive political partisanship and judicial usurpation of politics.
  4. Crushing debt that drains societies' ability to sustain the health of their citizens and other fundamental social institutions.
  5. The loss of the heart of the West—Christianity—if pulled entirely from its chest, will see societies and cultures implode. If the bishops of the Church do not clarify the Message, and continue to obscure the face of Christ by ruining the celebration of the Mass, a darkness longer than any winter will descend and remain for decades, if not centuries. We can only hope that the monastics and cloistered types will again rescue us from ourselves, if it should come to that.
The above "signs", together with the innumerable barbaric acts associated with the culture of death—e.g., tens of millions of aborted babies who have paid the price of man's inhumanity—are real signs with effects that are swallowing not only the West but the entire world.

How will the West be won? Through unconditional surrender of men's hearts to Jesus Christ. Laudetur Iesus Christus and Merry Christmas!

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