Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
A fossilized foot inside of a non-fossilized boot. I didn't know they had boots 60 million years ago!
"Since the Second World War, the dating of archaeological sites has been revolutionized by the invention of absolute dating techniques. These make it possible to go beyond labeling things "Early Neolithic" or "Late Bronze Age" and give them instead an accurate age expressed in calendar years [okay, so he has just asserted that these new dating techniques are "accurate." Keep that in mind.]
The most famous of these new dating methods is radiocarbon dating, based on the decay of the radiocarbon isotope carbon-14. Any material that contains carbon, such as wood, bone or charcoal, can be dated by this means. Since its invention in the late 1940's, the method has undergone a series of refinements. One of them takes account of the discovery that the amount of naturally occuring carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies from time to time in response to fluctuations in solar radiation [in other words, it throws off their calculations]. This means that "crude" radiocarbon dates have to be "corrected" in order to arrive at accurate calendar ages [wait a minute, if you are carbon dating in order to find the age, how can you "correct" your findings when you don't yet know the age of the object in question? And what will you base your correction on, since if carbon amounts "fluctuate" throughout time, how will you know how much was in the atmosphere in, say, 10,000 BC? If you do not know that, how can you "correct" your findings?] All the radiocarbon dates quoted in this book have been corrected in that way, except those relating to the Paleolithic (over 10,000 years ago), for which no correction has yet been devised [so, for anything over 10,000 years, there is "no correction" for the admitted fluctuations in carbon-14 dating. Remember this].
A second problem is precision. Corrected radiocarbon dates are generally accurate-they point to the right place on the right timescale-but they are by nature imprecise-they don't give an individual year date, but a time bracket. Some of the early radiocarbon dates had ranges extending over hundreds of years, but most recent dates are precise to within a century or so. It still happens, however, that radiocarbon dates for events that are known to be successive can overlap, owing to their imprecision. The imprecision becomes greater the further back in time we go, until around 40,000 years ago when radiocarbon dating reaches its upper limit ["reaches its upper limit?" "40,000 years ago"? So, essentially you cannot date anything older than 40,000 years with any sort of accuracy, and even past 10,000 years there is "no correction" for the inaccuracies of the method. From whence comes these dates saying that man evolved a million years ago, that dinosaurs died 65 million years ago, and so on? If anything over 40,000 years is past carbon dating's "upper limit", then what the heck are scientists doing trying to offer dates for stuff before that?]."
This, however, does not stop this professor from in the very next chapter going on to talk about the Paleolithic settlements at Terra Amata, France, which he dates at 380,000 years old. Later in the book, on his chapter on the rock carvings of Coa, Portugal, he says this about attempts to date the rock:
"The first set of carbon dates showed the engravings might well be Paleolithic, and were certainly over two-thousand years old, while the second set suggested they were under two-thousand years old! Studies of erosion gave an age of up to 6,500 years, and measures of chlorine-36 (produced by the action of cosmic rays on the exposed rock) showed that the rock surface had been exposed for over 100,000 years. In sum, the whole exercise was a failure, and none of the methods provided a clear and reliable date. But there is certainly nothing about them to make us abandon the generally held view that many Coa engravings are Upper Paleolithic"(pg. 54).
Amazing! He did say that other methods besides carbon-14 were used, but admitted that they were all contradictory, that "the whole exercise was a failure, and none of the methods provided a clear and reliable date." But then he just throws out all of the evidence and says that we should not take it into consideration when assuming that it is Upper Paleolithic (ie, older than 10,000 years). Basically, he is asserting that (1) the scientists came to the site with a pre-conceived notion that it was older than 10,000 years, (2) they tested just to confirm their preexisting notion, (3) the testing failed to confirm their notion that it was definitely older than 10,000 years, (4) so they chucked out the testing and held to their assumption anyway. Now, is that proper scientific method?
Remember this next time some scientist is claiming that stuff they have dated is so many "millions" of years old. They have no clue; by this author's admission, nothing older than 40,000 years is accurate anyway, and none of the other types of dating tests can provide a reliable date. This should demonstrate to you that the supposed "evidence" for evolution is not as strong as it first seems.
"But Boniface," you will say, "isn't it true that in the old Mass, the priest's back was to the people?" As is quite often the case, one can get the facts straight but miss the point entirely. Yes, the back of the priest did face the people. Now, first of all, what do we mean by that liturgical action, and secondly, what type of ecclesiology do we evidence when we make reference to the priest's "back to the people"?
First of all, when celebrating ad orientam (the proper liturgical phrase for "back to the people"), the intent has nothing to do with shunning the people or trying to exclude them from the sacred mysteries. Rather, the emphasis is on the mystery itself: the true presence of Christ in the sacrament and the sacramental offering of Christ to the Father as our sacrifice for sins. This is why the emphasis is on the altar and not on the people.
Secondly, when we say a priest celebrates "back to the people", we betray a flawed understanding of liturgy and ecclesiology. Unless there is some specific reason why a person should turn their back to something, we always automatically refer to what they are facing, not what they are facing away from. For example, when a person goes to a stadium to watch a baseball game, you do not say, "Look at all those people with their backs to the stands!" We recognize that in such an event there is a focal point, and that everybody is primarily facing the focal point; only in a secondary and remote sense could you refer to them as facing away from the stands and the other spectators. Furthermore, knowing that everybody is there to withness the game, would it not be silly if the spectators had their backs to the game and instead of participated in watching the game and cheering on the players decided to simply turn their backs on them and narrate the game to the rest of the crowd? Would anybody be content with that?
Likewise, when we say "back to the people", we are making the people the focal point of the Mass. The priest's location becomes defined in reference to where the people happen to be. But since when did the people become the center of the Mass? Oh wait, I know! Around 1965-1969. But the people are most certainly not the center of the Mass.
The Church has a maxim, lex orandi, lex crededni. I think we should adopt a corrolary: via orationis, via cogitationis: The way we speak will be the way we think. Remember Orwell's 1984; to alter people's minds it was necessary only to alter the vocabulary that they used, and that was enough to hedge in people's mental faculties. In the Orwellian sense, I guess you could say that referring to ad orientam as "back to the people" is double-ungood. Actually celebrating the Mass this way is double-plus-ungood.
Therefore, I am going to inaugurate a change in our vocabulary to help put us back on the right track. From this day forward, I am going to refer to versus populum ("facing the people") Masses as Masses said with the priest's "back to God." Perhaps if this picks up, it will help bring home where the true emphasis ought to lay, and why saying "back to the people" is so double-plus-ungood.
Monday, August 27, 2007
What they see are Catholic home schooling families regularly receiving the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance, saying the daily Rosary, revolving their family life around the feasts of the liturgical year. They see Catholic home schooling families active in pro-life activities. Catholic home schooling is not superficial to the life of the family, Catholic home schooling is not superficial to the life of the Church, it is not superficial to the life of the nation. It is central. Catholic home schooling is a principal cause for hope to overcome the secular values of our society. Catholic home schooling is an important key to authentic Catholic renewal.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Interview With Author of "The New Fundamentalists"
ROME, AUG. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Aggressive relativism is the newest form of fundamentalism, according to author Deacon Daniel Brandenburg, and Catholics are called to stand up and do something about it.In this interview with ZENIT, Deacon Brandenburg, who will be ordained a priest of the Legionaries of Christ this December, comments on his book "The New Fundamentalists: Beyond Tolerance," recently published by Circle Press.
Q: In a nutshell, what is the new fundamentalism that you address in your book?
Deacon Brandenburg: When we hear fundamentalism, what normally comes to mind is religious narrow-mindedness, perhaps with an irrational or even fanatical bent, like that displayed by some Muslim followers after Benedict XVI's Regensburg address.The "new" fundamentalism that I describe in my book often displays the same intolerance, irrationality and extremism. The key difference, however, is that the new fundamentalists profess to be secular followers of no religion.
Yet closer examination shows that the relativistic dogma underlying their worldview excites more religious fervor than do many tenets of the great world religions.John Paul II's experience with Nazism and Communism -- two completely secular ideological systems -- led him to write in "Centesimus annus": "When people think they possess the secret of a perfect social organization which makes evil impossible, they also think that they can use any means, including violence and deceit, in order to bring that organization into being. Politics then becomes a 'secular religion' which operates under the illusion of creating paradise in this world."I would say that what Nazism and Communism were in the past, relativism is today in our times. The methods are different -- softer and more subtle, working from the inside out -- but the effects on people and social structures and relationships do bear some comparison.Secular religion did not die with those defunct systems.
During an address last June 11, Benedict XVI touched upon the difficulties of passing on the faith "in a society, in a culture, which all too often makes relativism its creed. … [I]n such a society the light of truth is missing; indeed, it is considered dangerous and 'authoritarian' to speak of truth."We face a new fundamentalism -- a new secular religion -- that assumes there is implicit arrogance in any statement of truth, especially if it implies a value judgment about morality or the merits of one religion or worldview in comparison to others. The relativism of our time admits no rivals and is aggressively intolerant.In the end, when truth is taken away or ignored, might makes right. That applies for any brand of secular religion.
Q: Your book opens with a case study of a college student named Jeff who is virtually blackballed on campus for standing up for his faith, even though he did so in a reasonable and respectful way. What is the urgency of combating secular fundamentalism on college campuses?
Deacon Brandenburg: Jeff's case is one of countless true stories, all of which call us to an essential point: It's not enough to understand the nature and dangers of this new fundamentalism. We also have to equip ourselves and others to oppose it, using the tools of logical argumentation and reasonable dialogue.This is of the highest urgency, since relativism has a corrosive effect on almost every area of human life, from religion to morality to the organization of social and political life. The battle is not limited to college campuses, but extends to all levels of education, the media, politics and social life.
Q: What specific solutions do you propose as an antidote to the influence of relativism?
Deacon Brandenburg: Since this new fundamentalism is both a human and a religious malady, the medicine I prescribe at the end of my book has a human and a religious ingredient.On the human level, I urge mutual respect, dialogue and honesty. This last point of honesty is vitally important, since it entails a constant attitude of openness to truth.Sometimes it is uncomfortable to be continually challenged by truth. It might seem easier to dig our heels into what we already know and just settle into a familiar landscape of facts and opinions that we feel we have mastered.But truth is not something we can possess and put in our pocket. It is something that masters us, possesses us, and constantly challenges us to grow. To avoid that challenge would be to run away from growing into our full stature as human beings ... and as children of God, who is truth.On the religious level, I believe the remedy is authentic religion: a faith rooted in the personal encounter with a God who transcends and loves us, leading to deep attitudes that build on the best of human virtues and surpass them.
For example, authentic religion builds on the principle of mutual respect and elevates it to the virtue of charity. In a similar way, faith takes dialogue to a higher level of impact by opening man to the fullness of his spiritual nature. And honesty is brought to its full wingspan when man reaches after objective truth with all his strength.Relativism and agnosticism clip man's wings by discouraging him from inquiring after the great questions and actively seeking the answers to his most profound longings. The liberation of faith is that it brings back that wide horizon of ultimate questions and sets man free to search for the answers.
Q: Your book occasionally cites insights from Alexis de Tocqueville, the early 19th-century Frenchman who wrote "Democracy in America." What do you think De Tocqueville would say if he could see the impact of relativism in America today?
Deacon Brandenburg: I think De Tocqueville saw the potential danger from the beginning. He was one of the first to say that a democracy is worth only as much as its people are, and that the character of a nation is dependent on the moral character of its individual citizens.One of the points I argue in the body of the book is that the doctrine of tolerance is having a clear and measurable impact on marriage, family and the quality of social relationships as a whole; it is weakening the people who made our nation strong.
Q: What do you think are the key concepts that help us to engage effectively in debate and action?
Deacon Brandenburg: Many people might argue that tolerance is the key to interpersonal relations, but I would venture to say that charity and truth are much more important.If I really care about a person -- charity -- I will seek the truth for them. A doctor does his ailing patient a disservice to tell him he has nothing wrong, just as a parent destroys his child's future by tolerating self-destructive activity like engaging in premarital sex or taking drugs. We need to go beyond tolerance and pursue truth; hence the subtitle of my book.We can't be afraid to say that truth exists. The relativistic ethos of our society tends to frown upon statements of objective truth because it assumes that growth in intellectual maturity runs on par with growth in skepticism.
For the modern mind, intellectual sophistication seems to require systematic doubt, an ability to see all sides without committing to any one point of view.Of course, there is no doubt that there is a legitimate complexity to many things in life and answers are not easy to find. Yet this will never legitimate the lack of absolute answers to anything.Maturity means moving from doubt to renewed conviction about what is good and true. Truth, in this context, is not just a soap box to stand on, or a state of intellectual stagnation to sit in. On the contrary, seeking after truth is dynamic, active, growing, and yes, critical and discerning, because it requires going beyond skepticism to a deepened and perhaps purified grasp of reality in all its dimensions. Again, it's a matter of allowing reality to challenge and change us.We can respect people and tolerate their right to hold their own ideas while still affirming that some ideas are true, and others are just plain out of touch with reality. Part of dialogue entails this respect for the person and the willingness to engage in debate based on the objective merit of the ideas.That's what this book is intended to drive forward: to provide the tools and means for committed Catholics -- like Jeff -- to engage in reasoned dialogue with the secular world without losing confidence in the truth they have received.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Now, there certainly are ways in which we are called to be sensitive and non judgmental. When we are commanded not to judge, it means that we are not to presume to know the state of a persons' soul, nor are we to judge what their standing is before God. When we are commanded to be sensitive (actually we are never commanded to be sensitive, only charitable), it means, as St. Paul says, "rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep"; ie, empathy. These are the biblical ways to be sensitive and non-judgmental.
What are the false, modernist interpretations of these two terms? Modernism tends to see any firm position taken on an issue as judgmentalism. For example, if I say that religious ought to wear their habits instead of dressing like regular people, someone might say, "How can you judge them? You don't know their soul!" Of course I don't know their soul, but I am not judging their soul. A soul cannot be judged, but actions can; as Christ says, a tree is known by its fruits. So if I say that a religious ought to wear a habit, I am not judging the religious who doesn't, but I am judging the practice of not wearing a habit.
Modernism also tends to see any criticism of anything at all as judgmentalism. "How can you be against Marty Haugen songs? There are a lot of people who get a lot out of them!" Very true. I am not denying that people "get a lot" out of them. But I am free to judge the music itself (and its effects on worship) without condemning the people. This is basic Christianity: distinguishing between the child of God and the actions that child of God may commit. Modernism is offended that a Christian be against anything at all. As Chesterton once said, "These are the days when a Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."
And what of sensitivity? The temptation with sensitivity is (as often happens with the concept of unity) to make it an ultimate good instead of a relative good. It is insinuated that a Catholic must be sensitive above all things, so that nobody may have their feelings hurt. Hurting feelings are sometimes seen to be an absolute evil, while preserving harmonious relations between people is seen to be the absolute good. Thus, if Jews are offended by a Catholic asserting that they ought to convert, then we must not say that! If Protestants are upset that the CDF says their communities are deficient and not true churches, then we must deplore this kind of language; and if liberal Catholics are upset by being called heretics, then we certainly must not upset them!
True Catholic sensitivity means being aware and cognizant of the place a person is spiritually and intellectually, and meeting them where they are; becoming "all things to all men, that by all means I might save some" as St. Paul says. It absolutely does not mean confirming people in error. That would actually be a sin. We ought to never let sensitivity override bold proclamation of the truth. After all, don't you think the Pharisees were offeneded or had their feelings hurt when Jesus called them a brood of vipers? Did the money changers like it when Jesus beat them out of the Temple with a whip? Of course not; but Jesus did not place sensitivity before truth and justice. When truth was at stake, he did and said what needed to be done and did not give notice to sensitivity.
One more thing: even if we are the one having our feelings hurt, if we are the ones who are insulted or jilted, for no matter what reason, we do not need to join the fray by crying out "Insensitive!" Just take it like a man. Of course you are going to have your feelings hurt in this world; Christ promised that and much more to those who try to live faithfully. Whether you have your feelings hurt rightfully or wrongfully, forgive and offer it up to God as penance for your many sins; God knows we all need penance! But please do not add your voice to the din of those accusing each other of judgmentalism and insensitivity.
Sensitivity and non-judgmentalism are simply the product of excessive political correctness on Catholic thought; another example of how the modern Church is letting the world define it instead of vice versa. But let's not be intimidated by the modernist-sensitive Thought Police. Let's boldly proclaim the truth in the spirit of St. Louis IX.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Bangalore (AsiaNews) –Christians in the Southern Karnataka state “must immediately abandon Indian territory, or return to the mother religion which is Hinduism”. If they do not “they will be killed by all good Indians, who by doing so will show their virility and their love of the country”.
These threats are contained in leaflets given out yesterday by the thousands in Chitradurga district. Written in the local kanada dialect, the text lists” the “crimes” the Christians commit: Treating everyone with love and showing compassion to the helpless, helping the poor and converting them, educating the orphans and converting them, promoting freedom to marry, organising free medical care and ignoring the cast system”.
The letter is signed by Hindu radical groups, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagrutika Samiti of Chitradurga district Karnataka. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told AsiaNews: “These handbills are being widely circulated, but it is only the last in a series of anti Christian acts that have long plagued the State”.
In fact, the activist continues, “Regularly pastors are being beaten up and prayer meetings being disrupted and our scared books are burned. Certainly this most recent act is cause for deeper concern because it incites people to murder us”.
This is why he concludes, “all right-thinking persons, the media and the government must cry a halt to the violent hate-mongering being engaged in the name of religion”.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The evidence for this theory is that the Ark was the holiest object in the ancient world, and could only therefore rest in a hoyl place. It's proper place was the Holy of Holies. However, knowing the Babylonians were coming to destroy the Temple, the Jews decided to hide it. However, wherever they hid it had to be sacred, consecrated ground. Now, according to Jewish theology, the sacredness of a space extends not only to its two-dimensional borders but to its ultimate spatial extent. Thus, all of the air and sky directly above the Holy of Holies and all the ground beneath it down to the center of the earth are just as holy as the sanctuary. Thus, the theory goes, the priests (or some say Solomon) had a chamber dug under the Holy of Holies in the event that someday the Ark would need to be hidden there.
Shortly before the Babylonian captivity, the Ark was removed and hidden in this chamber. Then, all of the priests who knew of its whereabouts were slain or died in exile, leaving the entrance to the secret chamber a mystery. Jer. 52:24 mentions that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard captured "Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold...and brought them to the King of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon struck them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath." Now, if the chief priests and the keepers of the threshold were all executed, would anybody be left to know where the Ark was taken?
The idea that the Ark is under the Temple Mount also found support in the work of two Israeli archaeologists, Shlomo Goren and Yehuda Getz, also Rabbis. They were digging secretly in a tunnel beneath the Temple Mount when they noticed some water seeping through a wall. The wall was removed, revealing a valuted chamber with the sealed entrance to another chamber below it. This chamber, the rabbis beleive, held the Ark. However, when the Moslems discovered that there were diggings being conducted under the Dome of the Rock, they threatened a general riot and the diggings were stopped. The rabbi explains that, for the sake of maintaining peace with their Moslem neighbors, the Israelis had to reseal the entrance to the tunnel, and it remains blocked up to this day.
Another reason Rabbi Getz said that no attempt was made to remove the Ark was that there was no one in the proper state of ritual purification able to move it, especially since the Temple Mount was dominated by Gentiles; ie, they had no one who could touch it without being struck dead. Thus they are content to leave it sit until the coming of the Messiah.
This theory, though very popular among Protestants, I find problematic for several reasons.
1) As we discussed last time, the Ark was missing at least 25 years before the Babylonian captivity.
2) It is based on theological reasoning: that the Ark must be in a place as sacred as the Holy of Holies. There is no historical evidence that the Ark was ever taken to any underground chamber.
3) Furthermore, we know that it is not necessarily true that the Ark has to be somewhere sacred. We know that it rested in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three month in the Old Testament. Not only was nobody cursed or struck dead for it, but "the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household" (2 Sam. 6:11). The Scriptures never said that the earth could not touch the dirty ground, only that it could not touch sinful flesh.
4) The Templar Knights, when the Temple Mount was in their exclusive possession during the Crusades, did a series of excavations beneath the site of the Temple and found nothing.
5) Rabbi Getz and Rabbi Goren have not said how they knew that the Ark was in the chamber, only that they were "certain." Furthermore, their work is tied up with Israeli-Palestinian politics and the desire to build a Third Temple. Thus, it is in their political best interest to have the Ark located beneath the Temple Mount.
6) The excuse of Rabbi Getz as to why they didn't make more of an effort to retrieve the Ark (that there was no one holy enough to move it) seems suspect. There exists the modern technology to dig the Ark out and transport it without any human having to touch it.
This theory, which I call the Zionist Theory, is very controversial because, if it were true, it gives Jews a strong claim to parts of the Temple Mount. Most adherents of this view support the idea of building a Third Temple on the Mount and reinstituting animal sacrifice according to Old Testament regulations. Zionist Jews and Protestants are among these supporters; on the other hand, Catholic tradition has always seen the rebuilding of the Temple as a sign of antichrist (as in the well known story of Julian the Apostate's attempt to rebuild it in the mid-4th century).
This theory's main weakness is that it is based on a series of theological assumptions with little history to back them up, and even the assumptions themselves are questionable.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
Next time: Did Jeremiah hide the Ark on Mt. Nebo?
Downsides to "Face to Face" Confession
1) Easier to recollect sins because of the absence of having the priest looking at you while you are trying to do it, thus rendering confession more thorough and thus more fruitful.
2) Preserves anonymity, again making it easier to recount and recollect sins. The anonymity also, in a way, symbolizes the gratuitous nature of God's grace, who gives without distinction of persons. The fact that the priest cannot see you is in a way symbolic of the fact that to God all men are equal and that He judges by the heart.
3) Keeps confessions shorter; it is harder to get into a "discussion" from behind a screen.
4) Sign value: placing yourself behind a screen with the priest, acting in persona Christi, reminds us that sin does indeed put up a barrier between ourselves and God.
5) Greater humility: when we are visible to another person, especially a priest, we will tend to try to look more impressive in our demeanor and facial expressions. Behind a screen (especially if there is a kneeler), we are enabled to forget our image and truly humble ourselves. This is the proper disposition for the sacrament and thus makes it more fruitful.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Here is a good statement from Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide on why we should not have married priests:
Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide, who is also the president of the Australian bishops' conference, wrote the letter for the National Vocations Awareness Week that began in his archdiocese Tuesday.
"You often hear it said," the archbishop started, "that 'the Church should let priests get married and then we would solve the problem of the shortage.'"
"However," he explained, "I think that it is important to reflect on the positive value of celibacy."
"We need to see a vocation as more than just an individual or personal life choice," Archbishop Wilson said. "Each vocation is a call from God in the context of the Christian community and for the service of the community.
"If we only see a vocation from the individual's point of view, we will find it hard to see beyond the thought that priests and religious are missing out on something if they are not married. John Paul II reminded us that 'No one is called to walk alone.'"
The 56-year-old archbishop continued: "The context of a loving, supportive Christian community is important. At the heart of the ministry of Jesus was the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. In fact in his very person he made the Kingdom of God present in human time and history.
"The Kingdom of God is among us and includes our human endeavors, we know that its fulfillment lies beyond us and only in the mystery of God and in the next life."
"Celibate priests and religious are clear signs of this mystery. They continually challenge us to look beyond," the archbishop explained.
Archbishop Wilson continued: "You hear it said 'how can priests be helpful to married people and for families if they haven't experienced it themselves?'
"However, there's a deeper way that priests and religious share in the human experiences of others and so can relate to them. It is in the experience of loss and letting go."
Archbishop Wilson underlined the "deep wisdom in the Church continuing to ask priests to be celibate and in upholding the enduring religious vow of chastity."
"Of their very natures," he concluded, "these vows only exist and are possible because of God's grace. Let us not lose faith and confidence in the gift of this grace. Let us confidently pray for it."
Excellent. He points out that celibacy is a sign of the coming kingdom, where we "are neither married nor given in marriage." One thing he does not point out, on a practical level, is that it would not be fair to the wife and kids of a married priest to have him trying to live his priestly vocation and be a husband. All of the priests I know are so incredibly busy that they would have no time for family life; my parish priest works about 14 hours a day and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown most of the time. This is an often neglected practical side to the question.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Catholic Encyclopedia warns that dealing with apparitions is a serious business: “Illusions in the matter of revelations often have a serious consequence, as they usually instigate to exterior acts, such as teaching a doctrine, propagating a new devotion, prophesying, launching into an enterprise that entails expense. There would be no evil to fear if these impulses came from God, but it is entirely otherwise when they do not come from God, which is much more frequently the case and is difficult of discernment.” Notice that it says that it is difficult to discern if a message comes from God or not, but that it is “much more frequently the case” that it is false. Many supporters of Medjugorje criticize those who seek to look at the evidence in a straightforward and scientific manner. But this is a must because, as the Encyclopedia says, the truth is “difficult of discernment.”
In judging the apparitions and the messages themselves (not counting whatever is found about about the life of the seers), the Church uses a guily until proven innocent method: “To prove that a revelation is Divine (at least in its general outlines), the method of exclusion is sometimes employed. It consists in proving that neither the demon nor the ecstatic's own ideas have interfered (at least on important points) with God's action, and that no one has retouched the revelation after its occurrence.” The Church first tries to see if the apparition can be attributed to anything else: demonic activity, hallucination, etc. The Church finely combs through every detail of the supposed apparition looking for possibilities of corrupted doctrine and non-supernatural origins. Only if all of these other possibilities are ruled out is it finally admitted that the apparition may be divine. Therefore, when looking at Medjugorje, we need to finely go through every detail and scutinize it from every angle. If it is of God, then it will pass the Church’s scrutiny (and by Church, I mean the competent ecclesiastical superiors, not just the whole mass of laity. It is not the job of the laity going on pilgrimages to determine whether or not an apparition is true based on their "experiences"). A similar process is undergone in the canonizing of saints, where the burden of proof is on the supporters of the saint to prove his/her holiness, not on the Church to disprove it.
The Encyclopedia goes on to list seven questions to be examined when looking into the character of the visionary. Again, we see the process of the Church attempting to find any other explanation for the phenomenon before declaring them supernatural in origin:
(1) What are his natural qualities or defects, from a physical, intellectual, and especially moral standpoint? If the information is favourable (if the person is of sound judgment, calm imagination; if his acts are dictated by reason and not by enthusiasm, etc.), many causes of illusion are thereby excluded. However, a momentary aberration is still possible.
(6) Has he been subjected to heavy trials? It is almost impossible for extraordinary favours to be conferred without heavy crosses; for both are marks of God's friendship, and each is a preparation for the other.
Finally, the Encyclopedia asks, “If any work has been begun as a result of the revelation, has it produced great spiritual fruit? Have the sovereign pontiffs and the bishops believed this to be so, and have they assisted the progress of the work?” The answer os a resounding no. The Bishop of Mostar, the one is the greatest postion to know the facts of the story and discern the truth, has frequently denied the visions any authenticity, and neither Pope John Paul II nor Benedict XVI accorded any merit of truthfulness to the visions. In fact, the Bishop of Mostar expressely forbid pilgrimage to Medjugorje: “Therefore it is not permissible to organise pilgrimages and other manifestations motivated by the supernatural character attributed to the facts of Medjugorje” (Jan 29, 1987 Communiqué of the Yugoslav Bishops Concerning the Facts of Medjugorje). Nevertheless, millions of pilgrims each year continue to disobey the Bishop and spurn his authority, something that in itself is a witness against the apparitions.
This ban was reconfirmed June 30th, 1996 by none other than Cardinal Bertone. This same document states the Vatican’s position on Medjugorje as of 1996: “The Vatican position, which also reflects that of local bishops in the former Yugoslav republic was outlined in a letter by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Bertone cited a 1991 report by the Yugoslavian bishops which said that, after much study, it could not be confirmed that supernatural events were occurring at Medjugorje. From what was said, it followed that official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, understood as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, should not be organized, Archbishop Bertone said. Such pilgrimages would be in contradiction with what the local bishops had determined, he added.” As for Pope Benedict XVI, in 2006, Bishop Peric of Mostar discussed Medjugorje with Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to the Vatican. In a summary of the discussion published in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Peric said he had reviewed the history of the apparitions with the pope, who already was aware of the main facts from his time as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "The Holy Father told me: We at the congregation always asked ourselves how can any believer accept as authentic apparitions that occur every day and for so many years?" Bishop Peric said. Bishop Peric noted that Yugoslavian bishops in 1991 issued a statement that "it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions or revelations are occurring" at Medjugorje.
These are the types of criteria the Church must follow when examining alleged apparitions. Not so-called fruits (which are always subjective), but hard evidence. Furthermore, no matter what the outcome of the Church’s decision is, one must always submit to the authority of the Bishop; in the case of Medjugorje, the Bishop (who by the way has led pilgrimages to Lourdes and loves the Blessed Mother dearly) has had his authority flounted at every turn. This in itself is enough to make the visions suspect. So let’s not get bent out of shape just because somebody is trying to examine these things rationally. We have to make absolutely certain that a vision is true before we proclaim it so; otherwise, false apparitions and false prophets, like in Old Testament Israel, are able to cause much mayhem.
Courier: By command of the King, every eligible maiden in ordered to attend a royal ball in the Prince's honor tonite.
Cinderella: Why, that means I can go to the ball, too! After all, he did say "every eligible maiden!"
Wicked Stepmother: Why, yes Cinderella you may go; you are part of the family. That is, you may go if you finish all of your chores and find something suitable to wear.
Cinderella: Oh! Thank you, stepmother! (Runs out excitedly to prepare her dress for the evening)
Wicked Stepsisters: (Indignant) Mother! How could you let her go? Do you realize what you just said?
Wicked Stepmother: (chuckling with sinister smile) Yes. I said "if."
Wicked Stepsisters: (smiling evily) Oh! "If!" (cackling fiendishly)
Gus-Gus and Mice: Poor Cinderelli; they not let her go to the ball. They'll fix her; you'll see.
Okay, now let's change some of the names around and see how this applies to the motu proprio:
Pope Benedict: By the command of myself, the Pope, every priest is to be enabled to say the Mass according to the Missal of 1962.
Traditionalist Priest: Why, that means I can say the TLM, too! After all, it did says "every priest."
Bishop: Of course you may say the TLM, Father. That is, if you are competent in Latin and the old liturgical rubrics and can find a stable group of the faithful.
Traditionalist Priest: Oh! Thank you, Your Excellency! (Runs out ot get on Coalition Ecclesia Dei website to order all the TLM supplies)
Diocesan Liturgist: (very angry) Your Excellency! How could you tell him he could do that? This will undermine Vatican II! Do you realize what you just said?
Bishop: (sinister smile) Yes. I said, "if."
Diocesan Liturgist: (smiling fiendishly) Oh. "If." Right.
Traditionalist Laity: Poor Father. He won't get to say the TLM. They'll fix him. You'll see.
What do you think? Is this a valid comparison?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Let us beseech the Divine Guest of the Virgin's womb, the Spouse of the sacred nuptial chamber, the Lord of the Tabernacle, the King of the Temple, Who bestowed such innocence upon His Mother that His Deity deigned to take flesh and be born of her. She knew nothing of the world; and with her mind fixed upon prayer, she showed forth in her manners that purity which she had conceived at the Angel's greeting; and by her Assumption she was preserved from the corruption of death, she who had borne the Author of life. Yea, dearly beloved brethren, let us earnestly beseech our Lord, that in His mercy He would save the souls of the dead from Hell and bring them to that place whither the body of the Blessed Virgin was translated. May He deign to hear our prayer Who liveth in perfect Trinity.
Who livest and rulest all things for ever and ever .