Friday, December 31, 2010

Fr. Barron Comments on the Wise Words of Pope Benedict

There are those outside forces in our society which are consistently attacking our moral absolutes and trying to change the norms within society.  Three examples of this are: sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, and gay "marriage".  Neither Gay "marriage", homosexuality, or sexual promiscuity follow the natural law.  Homosexuality and the sexual revolution played a big part in the priest sex abuse scandal. We must continue to fight against these evil forces in our society.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas! - Messages from Pope Benedict & Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Here is Pope Benedict's Christmas message: 

Dear brothers and sisters listening to me here in Rome and throughout the world, I joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus.
This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope.
First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognised in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth (cf. Jn 1:14).
“The Word became flesh”. Before this revelation we once more wonder: how can this be? The Word and the flesh are mutually opposed realities; how can the eternal and almighty Word become a frail and mortal man? There is only one answer: Love. Those who love desire to share with the beloved, they want to be one with the beloved, and Sacred Scripture shows us the great love story of God for his people which culminated in Jesus Christ.
God in fact does not change: he is faithful to himself. He who created the world is the same one who called Abraham and revealed his name to Moses: “I am who I am … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (cf. Ex 3:14-15; 34:6). God does not change; he is Love, ever and always. In himself he is communion, unity in Trinity, and all his words and works are directed to communion. The Incarnation is the culmination of creation. When Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, was formed in the womb of Mary by the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit, creation reached its high point. The ordering principle of the universe, the Logos, began to exist in the world, in a certain time and space. CONTINUED

Here is Archbishop Fulton Sheen discussing the true meaning of Christmas: 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Catholic Culture Clash Links 12-23-10

Fr. Rafic Greische, an Egyptian priest, told Vatican Radio that he believes that radical Muslims are trying to rid the Middle East of Christians.  There is certainly a lot of evidence to back up his claim. One such incident which we can look at where radical Muslims targeted Christians was the massacre in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq during a Mass.  It is clear that these radical Muslims have no respect for other places of worship or other religions. He says that Christians in the Middle East face private and public discrimination.  This I do not doubt for one second.  These Muslims want to create another Caliphate, where they rule the world.  The Pope, in a recent address, even called Christians the most persecuted of religious groups. 

Now, my Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik has been accused by an advocacy group of ordering the destruction of records detailing pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse by priests while he worked in Green Bay, Wis.   Bishop Zubik is denies that he destroyed documents or had any part in a cover up and says to the the contrary, that the diocesan practice in Green bay was not to destroy documents in priest files if there was litigation involved.  I tend to believe Bishop Zubik because he is conservative and as much as 99% (if not all) of the cases of sexual abuse and cover ups were committed by liberal priests and/or bishops.  U.S. Catholic posted a response from the Diocese of Green Bay: 

"In order to be in compliance with the Federal Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996, the diocese cannot, and does not, retain psychological reports on priests, deacons and employees in personnel files. After civil litigation was commenced against the diocese in January 2008, at no time were documents pertinent to the lawsuit disposed of."

The Diocese of Green Bay has had a record retention policy and schedule since 2006, noted the statement. The policy "applies to all documents created or received by all departments within the diocese. The purpose of the policy and schedules is to ensure that there is a comprehensive and timely review of documents that should be maintained and preserved for specific periods of time and for documents that can be disposed of."

What it looks like is that the Diocese of Green Bay is not allowed to hold onto health insurance records because of the privacy law known as HIPPA. 

The Heresy Hunter has an excellent post on the climate and conditions of  the region in which the Holy Family crossed over to Bethlehem. 

Social Network Christmas - What if Mary & Joseph were on Facebook?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pope Benedict: Unsparing in Analysis of Sex Abuse Scandal

Let us continue to pray for the healing of all the innocent children who were abused by priests. 


Pope Benedict in his address stated:
"We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again." 

He said that the prevailing attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s broke down the moral consensus against sexual exploitation.

Pope Benedict recalled that “to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”

He quoted from a mystical vision of St. Hildegard of Bingen, who said:
For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Advent Address by Pope John Paul II

I was searching the internet for Advent prayers or quotations and I found this website called which has a compilation of prayers on it from various well-known philosphers or theologians such as Pope John Paul II.  I am posting an address of his from 2002.

"The liturgy of Advent…helps us to understand fully the value and meaning of the mystery of Christmas. It is not just about commemorating the historical event, which occurred some 2,000 years ago in a little village of Judea. Instead, it is necessary to understand that the whole of our life must be an ‘advent,’ a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ. To predispose our mind to welcome the Lord who, as we say in the Creed, one day will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize him as present in the events of daily life. Therefore, Advent is, so to speak, an intense training that directs us decisively toward him who already came, who will come, and who comes continuously."

Digital Nativity Story

H/T CreativeMinorityReport

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bishop Olmsted, St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Thomas Aquinas & The Doctrine of Double-effect

This is a continuation of an earlier post in which I discussed Bishop Olmsted, his threat to take away the Catholic hospital's Catholic status if they fail to meet certain criteria which includes being in compliance with Church teaching, and the complicated issues surrounding the health of the mother. USA Today notes that St. Joseph’s Hospital has stated this in defense of authorizing and performing the abortion: 

“St. Joseph's has since argued that the case was more akin to removing a pregnant woman's cancerous uterus, which is permissible under church doctrine, than to a standard abortion.”

As a justification for the hospital authorizing and performing the abortion the hospital is trying to apply the principle of double effect to this case. But, doctrine of double-effect does not apply in this case. In simple as simple terms as possible I am going to explain the principle of double-effect.

First, I would ask you to think about whether this abortion killed the unborn baby directly or indirectly? Was the unborn child dying a consequence of a procedure or medicine?

Thomas Aquinas is one of those philosophers who pretty much covered all the topics. Did you know that the Church got the doctrine of double effect originates with Thomas Aquinas? Yes, indeed the principle of double effect traces all the way back to Aquinas. Aquinas’ treatment of homicidal self-defense is the basis for the Doctrine of double-effect. He uses this principle to defend soldiers at war who kill their enemy. Here is the passage ( IIa-IIae Q. 64, art. 7 ) from the Summa Theologica:

“It is written (Exodus 22:2): "If a thief be found breaking into a house or undermining it, and be wounded so as to die; he that slew him shall not be guilty of blood." Now it is much more lawful to defend one's life than one's house. Therefore neither is a man guilty of murder if he kill another in defense of his own life.

“Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above (43, 3; I-II, 12, 1). Accordingly the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one's life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one's intention is to save one's own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in "being," as far as possible. And yet, though proceeding from a good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful, if it be out of proportion to the end. Wherefore if a man, in self-defense, uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repel force with moderation his defense will be lawful, because according to the jurists [Cap. Significasti, De Homicid. volunt. vel casual.], "it is lawful to repel force by force, provided one does not exceed the limits of a blameless defense." Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense in order to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's. But as it is unlawful to take a man's life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (Article 3), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity. “
There is a distinction between intent and foresight. This can apply in cases found in military ethics, medical ethics, and social ethics. If the hospital staff had removed a tumor and the unborn baby had unfortunately been affected and died that would fall under the Doctrine of Double-effect since the intention was to remove the cancerous tumor and not to kill the unborn child. A person can have foresight of what the outcome will be as a result of removing the tumor but the intention is NOT to kill the baby but rather is to save the mother’s life by removing the tumor. But, the hospital staff directly killed the unborn child in order to save the mother’s life. This does not fall under the Doctrine of double-effect.

Here are the four conditions which must be satisfied before an act is morally permissible:

The nature-of-the-act condition. The action must be either morally good or indifferent.

The means-end condition. The bad effect must not be the means by which one achieves the good effect.

The right-intention condition. The intention must be the achieving of only the good effect, with the bad effect being only an unintended side effect.

The proportionality condition The good effect must be at least equivalent in importance to the bad effect. [Wkipedia]

Derived from these general principles are the specific criteria for double effect. You will notice there is a great deal of overlap between the above and what follows:

1. The nature of the act is itself good, or at least morally neutral;

2. The agent intends the good effect and not the bad either as a means to the good or as an end itself;

3. The good effect outweighs the bad effect in circumstances sufficiently grave to justify causing the bad effect and the agent exercises due diligence to minimize the harm. [Wikipedia]

You can see that abortion, the direct killing of the unborn child, does not, even in the hard case of the mother with pulmonary hypertension, does not meet these criteria and cannot be considered justified according to the principle of double effect. Bishop Olmsted is correct in both his assessment and to ensure that a Catholic hospital adheres to the teachings of the Church.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Debate: Does God Exist?

This is a pretty interesting debate.  Fr. Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest, debates Michael Sherber who is an atheist on the question of whether God exists or not.  Of course I believe that God exists. God is love. God is all around us. If you look around you, there is so much evidence that God exists.  God is the Creator. God is so good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bishop Olmsted, Church Teaching and a Complicated Situation

Perhaps you remember last spring when there was controversy when Bishop Olmsted rebuked Sister Margaret McBride who served as the administrator of St. Joseph hospital, and on the hospital’s ethics committee, which authorized an abortion to save the mother’s life. It was an extremely complicated situation. The patient, a pregnant woman, had pulmonary hypertension which threatened her life. Unfortunately her pregnancy aggravated her illness and heightened her probability of dying from it. An abortion was procured at St. Joseph Hospital by the approval of Sister McBride. St. Joseph’s was (and as of today still is) a Catholic hospital, obliged to adhere to Catholic doctrine regarding abortion. Bishop Olmsted caught flack because people thought that he excommunicated Sr. McBride when that wasn’t the case at all. According to Canon Law Sr. McBride by her very actions excommunicated herself (latae sententia) from the Church by her action (Canons 1329 and 1398). She facilitated the direct killing of a human being. She may have saved the woman’s life, but that noble end does not justify the intrinsically evil means. Now Bishop Olmsted has said that he will strip St. Joseph’s hospital of its Catholic status if the hospital refuses to guarantee compliance with Church teachings. My praises go out to Bishop Olmsted for standing up for the Catholic faith and Church teaching and ensuring that a Catholic hospital abide by Church teaching.

From USA Today:
Two months of discussions followed but, according to Olmsted, did not resolve the question of whether the procedure was allowable. In the November letter, Olmsted said that he did not believe CHW intended to change its policies.

Olmsted's three demands were contained in a Nov. 22 letter sent to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West. The bishop wants the hospital to give him more oversight of its practices to ensure it complies with Catholic health-care rules, provide education on those rules to medical staff and acknowledge that the bishop is correct in a dispute over a procedure the diocese says was an abortion.

"There cannot be a tie in this debate," Olmsted wrote. "Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question."
"Because of this, I must act now," he wrote, to ensure "no further such violations" take place at the hospital and to "repair the grave scandal to the Christian faithful that has resulted from the procedure."

The hospital personnel are using the principle of double effect to justify their actions but that does not apply in this case.  In my next post I will cover the principle of double effect.

What a Shoppers Delight! Hallelujah!

H/T ByzantineRanmblings

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Spurious Accusation of Judicial Activism

Morning's Minion over at Vox Nova believes that a Virginia judge’s decision to strike down one provision, the primary provision which forces all consumers to buy a product is judicial activism. If the judge in the case had thrown out the entire health care law and not just one provision he would have been correct but Morning's Minion is wrong.  I will ask Morning's Minion one question: Where in the Constitution does it give the Federal government the authority or the right to force a citizen to buy a commodity?

  Morning's Minion claims that the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore was judicial activism when the truth is to the contrary.  Gore and his political team participated in political chicanery when they tried to force the vote counters to participate in some form of mental telepathy to figure out the impossible - a voter’s intent on a hanging chad and insure his victory.  Gore kept on losing, coming in second in districts, and he is the one who was the obstructionist and avoiding the reality that he had lost the presidential election.  But, after Gore gave his concession speech, changed his mind, he was in fact the person who initiated the courts into the mix and advocated for judicial activism.  If it wasn’t for Gore avoiding reality the courts would have never been involved in the first place.  George Will points out that the “U.S. high court reminded Florida's court to respect the real "states' rights" at issue - the rights of state legislatures: The Constitution gives them plenary power to establish procedures for presidential elections. Florida's Supreme Court felt emancipated from law.”

In fact Gore requested that the number of days to recount ballots be extended and the Supreme Court ended up rewriting the law to extend the deadline for certification and the court stated: "The will of the people, not a hyper-technical reliance upon statutory provisions, should be our guiding principle." But under representative government, the will of the people is expressed in statutes. Adherence to statutes - even adherence stigmatized as "hyper-technical" - is known as the rule of law.

“In the end, seven of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices (and three of the seven Florida justices) agreed on this: The standardless recount ordered by the Florida court - different rules in different counties regarding different kinds of chads and different ways of discerning voter intent - violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.”

Circumventing the Constitution and rule of law in the United States -- as with the immigration debate the religious Left has proven that they disregard the rule of law.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fr. Barron Comments on Leaving The Church

H/T WordonFire

Fr. Benedict Groeschel & Father Michael Scanlan Discussing Franciscan University

Both Father Scanlan and Father Groeschel are wonderful spiritual leaders.  I always enjoyed talking to Fr. Michael whenever I would run into him on campus.  Fr. Michael was very instrumental in healing me spiritually in a very special way, through the Holy Spirit.  I will always remember and thank him for that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Dr. Miravalle Speaks on the Comings of Christ & 5th Dogma

Catholic Culture Clash Links - 12-12-10

 LifeSiteNews has reported on a survey of 13 to 16 year olds in the UK which shows that teens prefer to have information on being a parent and the responsibilities which go along with that rather than information on safe sex, sexual intercourse, contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This may be a hopeful sign.  It could also be a signal that these teens don't want to hear any advice on sexual matters.  Perhaps this is a kind of rebelious streak coming out on the part of teens but the fact that they want information on the responsibilities of parenthood may be a be a positive indicator that these teenagers will think with their brains about the consequences of their actions before they act to please their hormones.  What is your opinion on this?

According to an article by the Christian Telegraph if the legislation Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed or changed to allow gays to openly serve in the military this would have devastating affects on our millitary, especially on those serving overseas - more than 250, 000 troops may leave the military.  The Left claims that it isn't fair that gays can't openly serve in the military.   But are homosexuals forced to enter into the military or is it their choice?   Should the military be perverted and bend over backwards to accommodate gay soldiers?  Our troops don't want Don't Ask Don't Tell changed so why cause tensions and do damage and possibly irreparable harm to the United States military?  More than 60 chaplains sent a letter to Obama fearing that repealing this could harm religious liberty.  Thank goodness the bill which would repeal this was defeated by Congress this week but we must continue the good fight because the Left will not stop in their efforts to get this repealed.  I am so sick of the term fair and the way this word has been and continues to be distorted by the Left to promote gay rights or taxes when it is self evident that what they really want constitutes much more than fairness, but things they feel they are entitled when life unfortunately doesn't go the way that they would like.  They are whining like a bunch of crybabies acting out until they get what they want.  The liberal politicians enable their irresponsible behavior and stand by cheerleading them on, encouraging the perverted thought that they somehow have a "right" to the wealthy person's money, when they haven't done a darn thing to earn that money and the wealthy person has.  Liberals discourage and penalize success and reward failure.  This has simply got to stop!  While it is just for the wealthy to be paying more in taxes than those who are financially challenged it is unjust and unchristian for them to be excessively taxed.  Excessive taxation is theft. 

In a recent address Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone stated that Christians are the most persecuted and discriminated against group and called on the International community to fight against this discrimination of Christians with the same zeal that they show in opposing discrimination of other groups.  He is so right!!  Christians are under attack by Satan and all his little devils everyday.  We must continue to fight the battles today and ask St. Michael the Archangel to defend us in battle as we face the evil attacks on Christianity in our society each day. Secular society today specifically wants to break the bonds of Christian Truths as to promote a relativistic world without truth and morals.  As Christians we must speak truth and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Worthy is The Lamb

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fr. Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn Discuss Apologetics & the New Atheism

Sodomites Cooperating With Grace and Morally Superior Rapists - How NOT to Debate The Pope's Recent Controversial Comments Concerning Condoms (how's that for alliteration?)

Steve Kellmeyer of The Fifth Column has written a post called Condom Use Is Moral? But he misses the mark in his rebuttal of an Opus Dei priest’s article. Kellmeyer thinks that any use of a condom constitutes prevention of procreation, even when two males engage in sexual acts. Really? So there is some possibility of a man conceiving a child with another man if they don’t use a condom to prevent it? He misinterprets the Pope’s condom comments and makes the claim that Pope Benedict stated that a “good” was occurring when the Pope said "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.” I would love to know what kind of magic telekinesis punditry he uses to get condom use is “good” out of the Holy Father’s comments? Then, he does a major twist, reverses course, contradicts himself and responds to my comment:

"Does a "first step in the direction of moralization" really constitute a "good"? Does recognition of a moral responsibility really mean that a person is cooperating in a "good act"?

“In both cases the actor is cooperating with grace.”

Here is the whole exchange below:

7:49 AM, December 09, 2010

Teresa said...

Since the Holy Father didn't say that the "use" of the condom was a "good" but rather that it was a lesser evil and a recognition of a moral responsibility to prevent another individual from getting HIV I don't see how that departs from previous Church Teachings. It's not like two homosexuals can procreate so by using the condoms they wouldn't be preventing procreation. I am not saying either act or the use of condoms is good but rather that the condom would be preventing a greater evil from occurring.

Okay, what about when a "contraceptive pill" is used for a disease such as endometriosis? Since the "pill" is normally used as a contraceptive wouldn't that be a similar scenario as the Pope's condom scenario?

5:54 PM, December 09, 2010

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The Holy Father did indeed say the use of a condom was a good, in the sense that, if the user had the right intent, it moved the user towards the good.

The use of the pill for endometriosis is a different situation since there it is not necessarily the case that the woman using it is having sex at all. However, in order for the condom to be effective for reducing disease transmission, it must be used during the sexual encounter.
Thus, the use of a condom necessarily entails a sexual aspect that the use of the pill for endometriosis does not necessarily entail.

6:34 PM, December 09, 2010

Teresa said...

The Pope said: "There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Pope Benedict says “may” and not “is”. Then, Pope Benedict goes on to reiterate that “it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

Where did Pope Benedict say that the condom use is a good?

6:50 PM, December 09, 2010

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"Good" equals "this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility."

If you don't agree that these things are good, then you're right, he didn't. But if you do, then he did.

6:53 PM, December 09, 2010

Teresa said...

Does a "first step in the direction of moralization" really constitute a "good"? Does recognition of a moral responsibility really mean that a person is cooperating in a "good act"? This is not stating that the person has come full circle and is taking part in a moral or a "good" act but rather is accepting some responsibility for his bad actions which may lead the person to form a better conscience and make a good decision in the future to avoid engaging in sex altogether.

Two homosexuals engaging in sex without the use of condoms is an immoral act. Two homosexuals engaging in sex while using condoms is an immoral act. Two homosexuals engaging in sex when one has HIV is an immoral act. Two homosexuals engaging in sex when one person has HIV and uses a condom is an immoral act but the preventative measure used so that the other partner doesn't get HIV is better than not using a condom.

Better does not mean "good".

7:27 PM, December 09, 2010

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"Does a "first step in the direction of moralization" really constitute a "good"? Does recognition of a moral responsibility really mean that a person is cooperating in a "good act"

In both cases the actor is cooperating with grace.

Again, if you think cooperation with grace is not a good, then you're right about what the Pope said.

On the other hand, if you DO think cooperation with grace is a good, then you're wrong about what the Pope said.

7:31 PM, December 09, 2010

Teresa said...

How could two people committing sodomy be cooperating with grace?

The Pope never said that the use of the condom in this instance involved the cooperation with grace.

So if Mr. Kellmeyer’s interpretation of the what the pope said is sound, that would mean that the pope believes that the male prostitute who commits sodomy with a condom on in order to lessen the risk of HIV transmission is “cooperating with grace”. Is that a fair, let alone charitable, reading the pope’s remarks?

That’s not the only off the wall thing he said in the comment section of his blog post. He also said that “rape is morally superior to sodomy”. In all fairness, the context of the remark makes a charitable reading of it possible: he might not be making a general statement about rape, but referring to a specific instance. He says this right on the heels of an analogy between a rapist intentionally trying to beget a child on a woman by force and a sodomite using a condom on a willing partner to prevent disease. He may not be passing that bizarre judgement on all rape. But even when exercising the sort of charitable judgement on Steve’s words that Steve so rarely exercises in his evaluation of others’ words (even those of the Pope!), the statement about the specific case still seems quite outrageous.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catholicism 101 Series: The Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast day of The Immaculate Conception. Contrary to a popular error the Immaculate Conception must not be confused with the Incarnation of Jesus, the conception of our Lord. As Catholics we hold the belief that Mary was free from any hereditary (original) or personal sin. We believe that Mary was conceived without original sin. Unlike Mary we were all conceived with original sin, the sin of Adam. Why would perfect Holiness condescend to be contained in a sinful vessel? How could that be? In Genesis 3:15 God tells the serpent that "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed". What is implied in the above passage is that Mary was always the enemy of Satan and she was never under his power - always his enemy unconquered. And, eventually through her son she conquered him.

Luke 1:28 - And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

The phrase “full of grace”, or, in its other traditional rendering, “highly favored,” is a translation of the Greek κεχαριτωμένη (kecharitomene).

Dave Armstrong argues the biblical case for the Immaculate Conception very well. He also references some fair-minded Protestant perspectives on the matter.

Dave says:

The great Baptist Greek scholar A.T. Robertson exhibits a Protestant perspective, but is objective and fair-minded, in commenting on this verse as follows:

"Highly favoured" (kecharitomene). Perfect passive participle of charitoo and means endowed with grace (charis), enriched with grace as in Ephesians. 1:6, . . . The Vulgate gratiae plena "is right, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast received'; wrong, if it means 'full of grace which thou hast to bestow'" (Plummer).

(Robertson, II, 13)
Kecharitomene has to do with God’s grace, as it is derived from the Greek root, charis (literally, "grace"). Thus, in the KJV, charis is translated "grace" 129 out of the 150 times that it appears. Greek scholar Marvin Vincent noted that even Wycliffe and Tyndale (no enthusiastic supporters of the Catholic Church) both rendered kecharitomene in Luke 1:28 as "full of grace" and that the literal meaning was "endued with grace" (Vincent, I, 259).

Likewise, well-known Protestant linguist W.E. Vine, defines it as "to endue with Divine favour or grace" (Vine, II, 171). All these men (except Wycliffe, who probably would have been, had he lived in the 16th century or after it) are Protestants, and so cannot be accused of Catholic translation bias. Even a severe critic of Catholicism like James White can’t avoid the fact that kecharitomene (however translated) cannot be divorced from the notion of grace, and stated that the term referred to "divine favor, that is, God’s grace" (White, 201).

The Catholic argument hinges upon the meaning of kecharitomene. For Mary this signifies a state granted to her, in which she enjoys an extraordinary fullness of grace. Charis often refers to a power or ability which God grants in order to overcome sin (and this is how we interpret Luke 1:28). This sense is a biblical one, as Greek scholar Gerhard Kittel points out:

Grace is the basis of justification and is also manifested in it ([Rom.] 5:20-21). Hence grace is in some sense a state (5:2), although one is always called into it (Gal. 1:6), and it is always a gift on which one has no claim. Grace is sufficient (1 Cor. 1:29) . . . The work of grace in overcoming sin displays its power (Rom. 5:20-21) . . .

               (Kittel, 1304-1305)

Protestant linguist W.E. Vine concurs that charis can mean "a state of grace, e.g., Rom. 5:2; 1 Pet. 5:12; 2 Pet. 3:18" (Vine, II, 170). One can construct a strong biblical argument from analogy, for Mary's sinlessness. For St. Paul, grace (charis) is the antithesis and "conqueror" of sin (emphases added in the following verses):

Romans 6:14: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." (cf. Rom 5:17,20-21, 2 Cor 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:9)
We are saved by grace, and grace alone:

Ephesians 2:8-10: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (cf. Acts 15:11, Rom 3:24, 11:5, Eph 2:5, Titus 2:11, 3:7, 1 Pet 1:10)
Thus, the biblical argument outlined above proceeds as follows:

1. Grace saves us.
          2. Grace gives us the power to be holy and righteous and without sin.

Therefore, for a person to be full of grace is both to be saved and to be completely, exceptionally holy. It's a "zero-sum game": the more grace one has, the less sin. One might look at grace as water, and sin as the air in an empty glass (us). When you pour in the water (grace), the sin (air) is displaced. A full glass of water, therefore, contains no air (see also, similar zero-sum game concepts in 1 John 1:7,9; 3:6,9; 5:18). To be full of grace is to be devoid of sin. Thus we might re-apply the above two propositions:

1. To be full of the grace that saves is surely to be saved.

2. To be full of the grace that gives us the power to be holy, righteous, and without sin is to be fully without sin, by that same grace.
A deductive, biblical argument for the Immaculate Conception, with premises derived directly from Scripture, might look like this:

1. The Bible teaches that we are saved by God's grace.
          2. To be "full of" God's grace, then, is to be saved.

3. Therefore, Mary is saved (Luke 1:28).
          4. The Bible teaches that we need God's grace to live a holy life, free from sin.

5. To be "full of" God's grace is thus to be so holy that one is sinless.
          6. Therefore, Mary is holy and sinless.

7. The essence of the Immaculate Conception is sinlessness.
          8. Therefore, the Immaculate Conception, in its essence, can be directly deduced from Scripture.

The only way out of the logic would be to deny one of the two premises, and hold either that grace does not save or that grace is not that power which enables one to be sinless and holy. It is highly unlikely that any Evangelical Protestant would take such a position, so the argument is a very strong one, because it proceeds upon their own premises.

Then, Dave Armstrong answers this charge by Eric Svendsen:

. . . charitoo . . . occurs in the same participial form in Sir. 18:17 with no theological significance. It also occurs in Eph. 1:6 where it is applied to all believers . . . Are we to conclude on this basis that all believers are without original sin?

          (Svendsen, 129)

Ephesians 1:5-6 reads, "He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."

Svendsen thinks this defeats the Catholic exegesis at Luke 1:28, but the variant of charitoo (grace) here is different (echaritosen). According to Marvin Vincent, a well-known Protestant linguist and expert on biblical Greek, the meaning is:

. . . not "endued us with grace," nor "made us worthy of love," but, as "grace - which he freely bestowed."

           (Vincent, III, 365)

Vincent indicates different meanings for the word grace in Luke 1:28 and Ephesians 1:6. He holds to "endued with grace" as the meaning in Luke 1:28, so he expressly contrasts the meaning here with that passage. A.T. Robertson also defines the word in the same fashion, as "he freely bestowed" (Robertson, IV, 518).

As for the grace bestowed here on all believers being parallel to the fullness of grace bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, this simply cannot logically be the case, once proper exegesis is undertaken. Apart from the different meanings of the specific word used, as shown, grace is possessed in different measure by different believers, as seen elsewhere in Scripture:

2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."

Ephesians 4:7: "But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." (cf. Acts 4:33, Rom 5:20, 6:1, James 4:6, 1 Pet 5:5, 2 Peter 1:2)
The "freely bestowed" grace of Ephesians 1:6, then, cannot possibly be considered the equivalent of that "fullness of grace" applied to Mary in Luke 1:28 because it refers to a huge group of people, with different gifts and various levels of grace bestowed, as the verses just cited show. Svendsen's argument is as fallacious as the following analogy:

Suppose a group of Christian baseball players - some of the greatest and the least talented alike - prayed to God before a game:

"He destined us in love to be his ballplayers through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious gift of athletic ability and talents which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."

Obviously, God granted the talents and abilities of each ballplayer, in the sense of being Creator and source of all good things. But are these talents given in equal measure? Of course not (see especially Ephesians 4:7). Likewise, grace is given in different measure to believers. Therefore, Svendsen's argument that Ephesians 1:6 is a direct parallel to Luke 1:28 collapses. The mass of Christian believers as a whole possess neither the same degree of grace nor of sanctity, and everyone knows this, from experience and revelation alike.

But Mary (as an individual person) was addressed in an extraordinary fashion by a title that, biblically, means the one so addressed is particularly exemplified by the characteristics of the title. Mary was "full of grace"; kecharitomene here takes on the significance of a noun. No attempt to downplay or diminish the significance of this will succeed. The meaning is all too clear.

So, from Dave Armstrong’s excellent biblical arguments we can conclude that there is both solid logical reasoning and an exegetical basis for belief in Mary’s sinlessness, in her Immaculate Conception.

Here is a lovely instrumental piece by Loreena McKennit which uses the word kecharitomene as a title:

Here is a chant from the Greek liturgy:

Crossposted at Teresamerica

Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catholicism 101 Series: The Blessed Trinity

For awhile I have been thinking of starting a series of posts in which I write on the basic beliefs of Catholicism and evangelizing to people of other faiths and nonbelievers. My Catholicism 101 Basics of Catholicism will cover but will not be limited to : the Sacraments, Tradition, Saints, the Trinity, Papal infallibility, Incarnation, Mary, the Mass, Popes, encyclicals, heresies, misconceptions about faith and science being at odds, the development of Doctrine, moral teachings, as well as other issues, controversies, and topics in relation to the Church. I will be posting this on both Teresamerica and Tu Ne Cede Malis Contra Audentior Ito.

Catholics believe in the Trinity - God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is three persons which is the Triune God, or God is three persons in one God, or one God in three persons. Here is a portion of the Athanasian Creed which will help to explain the Trinity:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.

God is all-loving, omnipotent, and omniscient. God is agape. God is pure unselfish love.   Therefore, since God has always been unselfish love, there must always have been more than one self in God.

Biblical case for trinity doctrine

The Bible makes these truths clear -

- The unity of God - there is only one God, one Divine Being, uniquely and supremely possessing one absolute Divine Nature or substance. There are not two or three Gods.

- The full divinity of God the Father of Jesus Christ.

- The full divinity of Christ the eternally begotten Son of God.

- The distinction between the Father and the Son (they are not the same Person).

- The Son is eternally equal to the Father in nature.

- The Son is in submission and obedience to the Father in love (this statement of truth is not in conflict with the one just above it AT ALL!).

- The full divinity of the Holy Spirit.

- The Personhood of the Holy Spirit (The Holy Spirit is not a mere impersonal divine force).

- The distinction between the Holy Spirit and both the Father and the Son (The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son).

Proof texts --

- The unity of God is expressed very clearly in the opening of the ancient traditional Hebraic hymn, the Shema Y'Israel: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord" - Deuteronomy 6:4

- The full divinity of God the Father: Matthew 3:16 - "And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

"There is one [hen] body and one [hen] Spirit, one [hen] hope, one [hen] Lord, one [hen] faith, one [hen] baptism, one [hen] God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)

- The full divinity of Christ as the only Begotten Son of God the Father: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth... And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ...the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father...Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world...this is the Son of God." (John 1:1-3, 14,16-17, 29, 34)

"I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

John 8:58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” ["I Am" (Ex. 3:14)].

- The distinction between the Father and the Son: “The Lord [the Father] says to my Lord [the Son]: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” Psalm 110:1

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:1-5

- The Son is eternally equal to the Father: "Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness." (Phillipians 2:5-7 - the Greek word translated here as "grasped" is ἁρπαγμός harpagmos. In the King James Bible, that part of the verse renders that word by declaring that our Lord "thought it not robbery to be equal with God". The Greek word refers to siezing, as in robbery, but it can also signify clutching, clasping, cleaving to - i.e, retaining with vigorous security that which is already in one's possession. The implication is that the Son of God, prior to the incarnation, already properly enjoyed "equality with God", the state of being "equal with God". This also affirms full divinity, for only God can be equal with God. Combine that with the fact that there is only one God, and you have an affirmation that the Father and the Son are one in Being or substance.

- The Son is in submission to the Father in love: John 6:38 - "because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me."

"Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work." (John 14:10)

- The full divinity of the Holy Spirit: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 27:19)

2 Cor. 3:16-18, "but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

- The Personhood of the Holy Spirit: "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:16-17)

- The distinction between the Holy Spirit and both the Father and the Son: "But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me." (John 15:26-27) "But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celtic Thunder - Hallelujah

Great music! Enjoy!

H/T Da Mihi Animas

Letter Shows that Pope Benedict Tried to Remove Abusers as Early as 1988

I know there are some people out there who think that Pope Benedict XVI is part of the reason for the slow reaction and action taken during the priest sex abuse scandals but those people are wrong or mistaken in their conclusion.  A letter has surfaced which is further evidence that Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, did pretty much everything he could to speed up the process of removing the priests who committed abuse.  Before Cardinal Ratzinger was Pope, he sought as early as 1988 to find quicker ways to permanently remove those priests who raped and molested children but was snubbed.  He wanted to remove pedophile priests but was stonewalled by Canon Law (Church Law). 

From WTOP: "The documentation was included in an article in L'Osservatore Romano explaining an upcoming revision of church law, which was last updated in 1983."  The entire correspondence can be read here.

"The Feb. 19, 1988 letter shows he sought changes far earlier given that his office was already hearing from bishops who were having troubledealing with pedophiles."

"Ratzinger at the time was following laws and rules introduced by his predecessor Pope John Paul II, which largely left punishing such priests in the hands of local bishops, who often decided against conducting church trials because they found them too cumbersome."

"John Paul had also made it tougher to leave the priesthood, hoping to stem the tide of thousands of priests who left in the 1970s to marry.A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal arose in the U.S., bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for so-called laicization."

"Ratzinger's request for faster procedures was rejected by Cardinal Jose Rosalio Castillo Lara, who headed the Vatican commission responsible for implementing the 1983 code."

"In a March 10, 1988 letter to Ratzinger, Castillo Lara said simplifying the procedures "would endanger the fundamental right of defense" of the priest while straying from the church's legal-based system, according to the letter reprinted in L'Osservatore."

The Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Pontifical Holy Cross University, said the 1983 code was problematic both in that it left it largely up to bishops to decide whether to intervene and at the same time discouraged them from taking tough action against abusers.

"What they want to do now is to make a penal law that is applied seriously, that will be more concrete and obligatory" for bishops, he said.

I will continue to keep those who were abused at the hands of priests in my thoughts and prayers.  May God's healing touch come upon them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Catholic Culture Clash Links -- 12-2-10

Jonah Goldberg at NRO says This Pope Plays It Right. Jonah stated that before his father's passing,  his father stated “We need more rocks in the river” and explained that his father meant that we need more people like Pope Benedict XVI, and things that stand up to the torrent which offer respite from the current.  Goldberg talks about how the media misreported the Pope's condom comments, and badly.  While he is not in full agreement with the Vatican on matters of sexuality Jonah respects the Church's position.  There is a distinction made by the Pope between the bad and the less bad in his comments on the use of condoms.  But, Pope Benedict never states that condoms are acceptable, or good.  Jonah Goldberg explains this distinction, also.

Remember those Andy Griffith propaganda commercials which aired promoting Obamacare before election day?  Well, Andy Griffith has either been duped or he is misleading fellow senior citizens.  Do you want to take a stab at how much taxpayer money was used to air those commercials?  The Obama administration spent a whopping  $3,184,000 of taxpayer money to air those propaganda commercials which has even been found by groups like to be untruthful.  The Examiner shows us what the documents released to Judicial Watch revealed:

“Mr. Griffith is featured in three Medicare television ads and provided his services to the government at no charge pursuant to a gratuitous services agreement. These three spots, ‘1965,’ ‘Music to My Ears,’ and ‘Cozy Chair,’ [were only aired] in September and October 2010. The production for the three advertisements cost $404,000; the total amount budgeted for the national media placement is $2.78 million, which breaks down per ad to $754,000 (‘1965’), $1,112,000 (‘Music to My Ears’), and $1,390,000 (‘Cozy Chair’).”

In press statements touting the new Griffith advertising program the Obama White House described its purpose: “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] will strengthen the health care system for all Americans, but senior citizens in particular stand to benefit from the new law. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting a little help delivering the good news from a well-known TV star: Andy Griffith.” says that the advertisements intentionally misinform. In addition, states that the health care law will in fact result in medicare cuts, and will specifically affect those seniors who have Medicare Advantage Plans.  Besides this law being a total debacle which will result in mega-rationing, this law is now costing the American taxpayers way too much money, and all for lies.

Pope Benedict reaffirms the Church's position on women's ordination. 'In his new book, the Pope states: "The church has 'no authority' to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying we don't want to, but that we can't," he said. This requires obedience by Catholics today, he added.

"This obedience may be arduous in today's situation, but it is important precisely for the church to show that we are not a regime based on arbitrary rule. We cannot do what we want," the pope said.'

The Pope responds to his critics who argued that ordination was restricted to men only because priestesses would have been unthinkable 2,000 years ago by saying: "That is nonsense, since the world was full of priestesses at the time," the pope answered. "All religions had their priestesses, and the astonishing thing was actually that they were absent from the community of Jesus Christ."  He is spot on!! The only  priestesses in existence in those times were pagan.

The Pope is right in stating in his book, that the Church does not discriminate against women.  Just look at how many positions women hold within the Church Today.  'The Pope stated "Women have so eminent a significance that in many respects they shape the image of the church more than men do," he said, noting famous religious figures such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.' 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

RealCatholicTV presents Theo-Psychology

Theology and psychology go hand-in-hand.  Psychology, rightly understood, does not conflict with the Catholic Faith.