Thursday, September 6, 2018

St. Thomas Aquinas: Mercy and truth are necessarily found in all God's works, if mercy be taken to mean the removal of any kind of defect. Not every defect, however, can properly be called a misery; but only defect in a rational nature whose lot is to be happy; for misery is opposed to happiness. For this necessity there is a reason, because since a debt paid according to the divine justice is one due either to God, or to some creature, neither the one nor the other can be lacking in any work of God: because God can do nothing that is not in accord with His wisdom and goodness; and it is in this sense, as we have said, that anything is due to God. Likewise, whatever is done by Him in created things, is done according to proper order and proportion wherein consists the idea of justice. Thus justice must exist in all God's works. Now the work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy; and is founded thereupon. For nothing is due to creatures, except for something pre-existing in them, or foreknown. Again, if this is due to a creature, it must be due on account of something that precedes. And since we cannot go on to infinity, we must come to something that depends only on the goodness of the divine will—which is the ultimate end.We may say, for instance, that to possess hands is due to man on account of his rational soul; and his rational soul is due to him that he may be man; and his being man is on account of the divine goodness. So in every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears mercy. In all that follows, the power of mercy remains, and works indeed with even greater force; as the influence of the first cause is more intense than that of second causes. For this reason does God out of abundance of His goodness bestow upon creatures what is due to them more bountifully than is proportionate to their deserts: since less would suffice for preserving the order of justice than what the divine goodness confers; because between creatures and God's goodness there can be no proportion.

I really, really wish we could reboot some things in the Church, things that happened in connection with the Second Vatican Council. Today, I am not talking about the discarding of the Tradition of the Mass and the invention of the form we have today. That’s a biggie, though. (Why did we get rid of the Requiem Masses?) I am, however, talking about the complete abandonment of the long-standing moral tradition of the Church.
The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of moral theology, which I would suppose was meant to reinvigorate the study of Moral Theology for our modern times. What happened, though, was a profound break with the long-standing moral teaching of the Church going all the way back through St. Augustine, the Apostolic Fathers, and to the apostles. Now, you might think, Good. Moral teaching in the tradition was based so much upon the commandments and now we are all about love, or something like that. We are free now. We have grace and we don’t need to follow the law. It seems to me that the whole world thinks this way now. Otherwise, how could so many of us who call ourselves Christian think that keeping the moral law is not necessary if one wishes to go to Heaven. This, in spite of the fact that Jesus continually says exactly the opposite in the Gospel. "If you wish to enter life, keep the commandments." (Mt 19:17) Where did people find this new Jesus who says we don’t have to worry about the commandments? Where did he come from? How is it that many people we all know claim that even serious public sinners, as soon as they die, are in Heaven? At least we ought to be able to acknowledge that the Catholic Church traditionally held that we should pray for them, in case they were not in Hell and needed purification in purgatory. At least, that.

I think the problem with us modern people, including an untold number of bishops and priests, is that there is no longer any serious rational fear of the eternal punishment known as Hell. Or, if there is a consideration of such a state of life after death where there is nothing but torment, it is, according to the modern mindset, reserved for those who in fact are concerned about the Commandments. Those are the people that judge, no? You see, one considerate of the moral law is a person who hates.

It is disturbing that I see so many people who claim some authority, whether it is the authority of a Cardinal, the famous theologian, or the facebook guru, that suggest to us that Mercy renders concern for the commandments contrary to the heart of God. For thousands of years we had sound instruction and commandments. Now we have come to believe that there is just grace and love. It is certainly correct to say that God is merciful and we, too, should be merciful, forgiving, loving, reaching out to others, who, like me, are sinners. 

I would want those in my pastoral care to know, however, of the fallacy of thinking that mercy cancels out God’s justice. That because of mercy, we will not have to account for our actions, good and evil. Again, let’s remember what Jesus tells us. (Rev. 22:12: Behold, I am coming quickly with my reward with me to repay each one according to his deeds.) My point is this, the saints and the Church, herself, tells us that God’s instruction, including the law, is a work of Mercy. God does not owe us salvation. He gave His Commandments to human beings to bring about the salvation of the human race, out of love for sinners. That’s His mercy. He gave us his law. Jesus is the perfection of the law. We see this in his standing up to the Pharisees and preaching, as in the Sermon on the Mount, that one cannot divorce and remarry, that unjust anger is murderous, that cursing and swearing are evil, that adultery leads to hell, that one must honor parents and not hide money in the temple to avoid it. “You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."

The current crisis in the Church and the hierarchy is the direct result of a lack of fear of God on the part of these seriously misled clerics and others who imitate them. Do not be like them. 

The Pharisees had an excuse for everything they did.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Some guidance from the Diocese of Lake Charles on the Ruling on SSM

Diocese of Lake Charles: Further Guidance for Catholics



Further Guidance for Catholics
July 3, 2015

In the U.S. Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, the opinion of the five-member majority creates the legal right of two persons of the same gender to marry one another. At the same time, the opinion states, “[I]t must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

It is a matter of natural truth and the universal teaching of the Catholic Church that “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”  (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,” sec. 5, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html) Furthermore, while the Church obliges all to avoid every sign of unjust discrimination toward men and women with homosexual tendencies, clear and emphatic opposition to the court’s creation of this so-called right of same-sex marriage is a duty. Moreover, it is necessary that Catholics refrain from intentional cooperation in the application of this ruling and, as far as possible, from voluntary participation in its application. The traditional principles of formal and material cooperation apply. All Catholics can exercise the right to conscientious objection. The Catholic politician must oppose the ruling’s definition of marriage in ways that are possible and make his or her absolute personal opposition known. It is the duty of the Catholic politician to witness to the truth, to take action to help reverse the effects of the ruling redefining marriage, and limit the harm done by the opinion.

Anyone with questions about the meaning and application of the Church’s teaching in this matter should consult the pastor of his or her parish. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rural hospitals struggle to stay open, adapt to changes - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana



According to the AP story: "A total of 50 hospitals in the rural U.S. have closed since 2010, and the pace has been accelerating, with more closures in the past two years than in the previous 10 years combined, according to the National Rural Health Association. That could be just the beginning of what some health care analysts fear will be a crisis."



I have been talking about this for a while now. Many more hospitals will be closing. I just can't seem to put my finger on the reason. Does anyone know what happened in 2010 that could have caused this? OK, I shouldn't be so mischievous. See March 23, 2010.





Rural hospitals struggle to stay open, adapt to changes - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Transfiguration, Faith and Family Matters

An old post with corrected citations.

The Transfiguration, Faith and Family Matters

If a person wants to probe the mystery of the life of Jesus, one might find it helpful to think of the Transfiguration of Jesus as it must have impacted the Holy Apostles, Peter, James and John, but especially Peter.

It is clear, is it not, that this experience dramatically affected the Apostles’ way of winning converts to Christ? When they started to evangelize after the Resurrection, the Transfiguration had made them stronger in tough times.  Understanding this experience can help us be better teachers of the faith.

As we think of the climb up the mountain, who knows, maybe Peter was having a good bit of doubt at this point. Maybe he was saying, "One minute you treat me like a prince, you call me the 'Rock of your Church.' The next minute, when I want to stop you from dying, you treat me like the enemy and call me Satan. What is all this about?" Then, they get up on the mountain there and Peter, James and John have this spectacular experience of seeing Jesus shining, standing with Moses and Elijah.
This whole scene is capped with the voice from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

Ok, let’s take a step back then, and see what we can learn.  How does the Transfiguration change us, so to speak?  How can we learn from the Apostles, especially St. Peter? I want you to ask yourself what you might learn about transmitting the faith in your family from this experience.

There is a recent study published in a book called “Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations,” (Oxford) by Vern Bengston, with Norella Putney and Susan Harris.  Bengston and his crew follow 350 families composed of 3500 individuals over several generations.

In a recent article on Zenit, (http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/39793, March 16, 2014) a review of the book says,
Church attendance in the United States hit a peak in the period 1950-59. Following that there was a gradual decline in the 1960s and a sharp decrease in the following decade.
Immigration from Hispanic countries has offset the numbers of Catholics leaving the Church, but what Bengtson singled out was the growth in the number of ‘nones,’ that is, those who say they have no religious affiliation. By 2012 they represented almost 20% of the adult population.”

The Zenit article then makes a number of observations from the book about the impact of family on the transmission of religion:

Nevertheless, the type of family life does influence the degree to which religious faith is passed on. Warm, affectionate parenting is most likely to result in the successful transmission of religion, Bengtson noted. This was particularly true for relations with fathers, he added.
….Grandparents can have considerable influence and are often more important regarding the religiosity of their grandchildren than is recognized.
Apart from the type of parenting, there are other family situations that have an important impact on the transmission of religion.
Parents in a same-faith marriage are more likely to achieve religious continuity across generations. This is particularly true when both parents are actively religious and religion plays an important role in their lives.
Divorce often, but not always, is a disruptive force in the transmission of religious traditions.

Here are three points to consider for faith in the family.

My first point:  Don’t let the crosses in your life be a stumbling block for your children’s faith.  Peter, in particular, has learned that you cannot reject the Cross without turning your back on God’s plan.  In doing so you become the enemy of God.  If you have been turning away from the Cross, get back to it. Get back to Jesus. When the going gets tough, don’t run. Let our blessed Lord show you the true meaning of the crosses in life. If you have difficulties, crosses, that are impacting the way you live and present the faith in the family, fight the devil. Remember, he will use anything to win the souls of your children including making you think you are unhappy, causing financial difficulties and any other problems that can take your mind off the most important things in life.  All the time you are thinking about how miserable you are, have you ever thought that maybe that is just the devil’s way of taking your children to hell? If you need help to get on the right footing, seek it out.  All things are possible with Christ.

Second: If you are following your own ideas about what the faith ought to be, you need conversion. The Apostles come to a deeper knowledge of who this Jesus is.  He is like Moses and Elijah, but even the voice from the cloud tells them that He is greater. If they had any questions about how to interpret the law and the prophets before this, they do not have any now. 

This is important for us.  Many times, people dip a finger into the Bible and come up with a morsel from one of the prophets or from the law and they want to judge that the Church has made a mistake.  But, if we are supposed to listen to Jesus, then we know that the Church, founded on the Rock of Peter, is the one against whom the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail.  So those Catholics who depart from this haven of safety, the One Holy Catholic Church, are living by following their own private interpretations. Don’t confuse the issue about those born into other communities of faith. God can handle that. That’s not your problem right now. I am talking about your Catholic children. Peter’s experience with his own faith propelled him to be very clear about the duties of his office.  In 2 Peter 1:20 he tells us to “know this, first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation.”  I ask you, what better lesson could Peter have had than these events to cause him to write this to us?  Remember Peter also warns in chapter 3 v. 16 that in the letters of Paul there are some things that are hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

My final point:  You see the Risen Lord at each Holy Mass and it is your duty to lead others to Him.  I think you should know that Jesus expects you to speak about him in your life.  You are a prophet, a teacher, a priest, and a missionary to your children. You have a position in your current situation that requires that you speak of what you have seen and heard. This, my friend, is really very simple.  You are standing at the end of a line. If you do not attempt to bring some one to Christ that you are close to, what do you suppose will happen to them and to the Church? If you do not go to those around you and bring the Lord to them, that line, that part of the Church ends with you.


Now, if the Father is well-pleased with Jesus and tells us so.  Shouldn’t we be able to tell others.  If God can say how wonderful his Son is, won’t you do it, too?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Cardinal Must Have Meant, "The Church Says We Must Clearly and Emphatically Oppose Same-Sex Unions"

So, in keeping with what I stated in the last post, here is my response to a story on Yahoo News, http://news.yahoo.com/pope-francis-dolan-gay-marriage-150312090.html.  Of course, this was all over the news this weekend.  

This is a long post, but if you are concerned about this issue, please read it.


First, here is the story from Yahoo.
Pope Francis wants church to study civil unions, Cardinal Dolan says 
Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church to study same-sex unions, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday.
According to Dolan, Francis wants church leaders to "look into it and see the reasons that have driven them."
"It wasn't as if he came out and approved them,"  Dolan said.  "He said, 'Rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people."
In an interview published last week by an Italian newspaper, Francis reiterated the church's longstanding opinion that "marriage is between a man and a woman." But, he said, "We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety."
The Vatican moved quickly to clarify the comments.
"The Pope did not choose to enter into debates about the delicate matter of gay civil unions," Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office, said in a statement. "We should not try to read more into the Pope’s words than what has been stated in very general terms."
But according to the Catholic News Service, it was the first time a  pope has "indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions."
When asked for his own views on same-sex marriage, Dolan said he is concerned it could "water down" the sanctity of traditional marriage.
"It's not something that's just a religious, sacramental concern," Dolan said. "It's also the building block of society and culture. So it belongs to culture. And if we water down that sacred meaning of marriage in any way, I worry that not only the church would suffer, I worry that culture and society would.”
Dolan was also asked about Michael Sam, the Univ. of Missouri football player, likely an NFL draft pick, who recently came out as gay.
"Good for him," Dolan said. "I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don't think, look, the same bible that tells us that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, 'Bravo.'" (emphasis added)
Since being installed as pontiff in 2013, Francis has changed the tone coming out of Rome from one of exclusion to inclusion, irking some conservative Catholics in the process.
"I haven't sensed too much bristling among the conservatives," Dolan said. "They honestly will say, 'His style is a little different and might periodically cause us a little angst.' But in general they too seem to be rejoicing in what you might call the evangelical fervor, the good interest in the life of the church."
Here are some of the relevant points of Church doctrine:

1. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Non-discrimination against Homosexual Persons." (July, 1992)“There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups’ concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved” (No. 9)

2. The doctrine and practice of the Church requires opposition to legal recognition of same-sex unions.  See the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," (June, 2003) which states, "In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty." (bold and emphasis added)

This document was very specific about actions to be taken. The document questioned the genuineness of policies of so-called tolerance of these unions. It called upon Christians to give witness to the whole moral truth which is contradicted by homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. It suggested ways that Christians could act: 1. Unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology. 2. Stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions. 3. Reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and above all to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defenses and contribute to the spread of the homosexual phenomenon.

Regarding those situations wherein homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given legal status belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. “One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application."

The document made special mention of Catholic politicians in opposing the legal recognition of homosexual unions. It said that when legislation in favor of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law maker has the moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of such a law is gravely immoral.

This document was signed by the Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and at the end of the document we see the Papal Authority attached explicitly to this document.  It reads: "The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication."

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Conclusions

So, given my principles of interpretation from my earlier post, I have to say that Cardinal Dolan's appraisal of the Pope Francis's comments do not imply that there is any openness to approval of same-sex unions.  The Church has instructed us that "clear and emphatic opposition [to same-sex unions] is a duty."  Moreover, there can be no agreement with the legislation's approval and no cooperation with such laws, as far as possible, when they are already enacted.  Given the authority ascribed to the Church's position on this matter, the Church will not approve so-called "same-sex unions."  So, tell all your friends.  

Cardinal Dolan uses some unfortunate words in describing the "coming out" of the Missouri college student.  Of course, we do not know exactly what the Cardinal might have intended in his response but I can say what he did not intend.  He did not intend to approve of homosexual acts or even the condition itself.  Unfortunately, the Cardinal's remarks makes most of us look outdated who try to encourage chastity and push back against this onslaught of the gay agenda.  Nonetheless, do not be discouraged. Keep the faith.  The Church needs YOU more than ever.  We can pray for Cardinal Dolan. We can write him and encourage him to be brave. He is in a difficult position as the Archbishop of New York.  We should be supportive of his efforts to go before a national audience and try to proclaim the truth in a venue that uses every opportunity to mock our religion.