So many ideas occur to me, and I can’t develop them. Either more immediate needs take precedence, or I wile away the hours on something trifling. When I recall the many thoughts both subtle and sublime that have passed through my mind, and I survey the meager record I have left of them, I get melancholic. And with melancholy come memories of Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” or I quote Nero’s dying words, “What an artist dies in me.”
But enough of that. As I’ve learned, sometimes it’s good to publish your half-formed ideas. Who knows who might develop these thoughts, and do better with them than I could? So today I focus on a key element of the Catholic Faith and of Catholic practice: the communicability of perfection:
1.) The Father communicates to the Son everything that the Father has, save Fatherhood. This includes the Father’s identity as source of the Holy Ghost. The “Filioque” is essential. Continue reading
Strange, how the seeds of doubt are sown. I read a blog post by someone who touts himself as a traditional Catholic. The author made an observation. Earlier in Church art, images of Our Lady always include Our Lord. Think of the icons of the East, where Our Lady typically holds the Christ Child. Think of Romanesque and Gothic statues of Our Lady seated, with the Christ Child on her lap. The author contrasted this artistic tradition with Neo-Gothic statues of the modern era, which often show Our Lady standing alone, her arms outstretched. This pose is often associated with Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima.
The author was implying that this artistic convention is un-traditional and divorces Our Lady from Our Lord. It makes her an independent force or mediator, separate from Our Lord, making the Protestant allegation of Mariolatry seem true. This thought now occurs to me when I see statues of Our Lady absent a representation of the Christ Child. It occurs to me when I venerate Our Lady at the Lady Altar in a local church, where the statue shows Our Lady in the pose described above. It’s a wicked thought, but it takes some insight to redress. For me, the insight was slow in coming. It came one day when praying the Rosary, specifically the mystery of the Visitation. Continue reading
Each day between today (Jan. 18th, regardless of the date stamp above) and next Wednesday (Jan. 25th), I encourage you all to pray the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. For each day’s prayers, I refer you here (http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2015/01/traditional-catholic-prayers-for-week.html). For some background on this prayer octave, I refer you here (http://church.atonementonline.com/wp-content/uploads/Octave-of-Prayer-for-Christian-Unity.pdf).
The octave lasts from the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome (Jan. 18th) until the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan. 25th). You can learn more about today’s feast here (http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2017/01/the-two-feasts-of-st-peters-chair.html#.WIAQSGciyM9). The first day’s prayer intention is for the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of Christ. In honor of today’s feast, here is a photo of the Altar of the Chair in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. As I understand it, the throne above the altar is a reliquary containing the relics of St. Peter’s cathedra (chair). Continue reading
St. Peter: Next up.
C.S. Lewis: Hmm . . . hello. Are you . . . St. Peter?
St. Peter: Yes, don’t the keys and the papal tiara indicate that?
Lewis: Erm, yes. <Starts to turn pale.>
St. Peter: Well, time for the standard questions. First question: At the moment of your death, did you believe with divine faith in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Lewis: Pardon? Continue reading
“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” Mat. 24:24
The purpose of this piece is to expose the prejudice that some Catholics exhibit when considering the life and the work of a specific Protestant author. Here, the prejudice is in the Protestant author’s favor. I intend to point out why this prejudice is incorrect. Let’s start:
Catholic missionaries evangelized the region around Nagasaki, Japan, in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Then the Japanese government turned against the Catholics, martyred the priests, and forced the Church underground. After Japan began to open up to the Western world in the 1800s, a Catholic priest arrived. A group of wary local women approached him and asked three questions (I paraphrase):
1.) Do you venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary?
2.) Do you obey the Pope of Rome?
3.) Do you have a wife?
The priest answered Yes to first two questions and No to the last one. The women then went away. Sometime later, the men of their village returned to the priest, revealing that they were “Kakure Kirishitan,” the secret Christians of Japan.* Continue reading
Regardless of the date that appears above, it’s still December 8 here in the Driftless. Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the United States of America. In honor of our nation’s patronal feast day, I cite His Holiness Pope Pius XI’s encyclical letter Mortalium Animos (1928), emphasis added:
“Besides this, in connection with things which must be believed, it is nowise licit to use that distinction which some have seen fit to introduce between those articles of faith which are fundamental and those which are not fundamental, as they say, as if the former are to be accepted by all, while the latter may be left to the free assent of the faithful: for the supernatural virtue of faith has a formal cause, namely the authority of God revealing, and this is patient of no such distinction. For this reason it is that all who are truly Christ’s believe, for example, the Conception of the Mother of God without stain of original sin with the same faith as they believe the mystery of the August Trinity, and the Incarnation of our Lord just as they do the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, according to the sense in which it was defined by the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. Are these truths not equally certain, or not equally to be believed, because the Church has solemnly sanctioned and defined them, some in one age and some in another, even in those times immediately before our own? Has not God revealed them all?” (http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19280106_mortalium-animos.html)
There is a certain trendy objection to transubstantiation that goes like this:
“Of course, I believe in the Real Presence. But ‘transubstantiation’ is a very abstract term that would limit the Real Presence to a specific, Aristotelian philosophy. Why must we pry into mysteries and define the ‘how’ of the Real Presence? When it comes to the Real Presence, there’s more that unites Catholics with the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans than what divides us.”
This is very seductive, specious nonsense. Let me reduce this objection: the Church should not define the ‘how’ of a dogma using terms that are specific to this or that philosophical school. Transubstantiation depends on an Aristotelian distinction between substance and accidents, and therefore is too specific and limiting.
We can reject this very easily: Continue reading
The next time a “Sola Scriptura”-type Protestant asks you where some Catholic practice is in Scripture (statues, candles, incense, etc.)*, ask them where the following are in Scripture:
–Organized youth groups. Where does St. Paul ever say, “Organize youth groups so teenagers can flirt with each other and have sleep-overs and get away from their parents”?
–Church camps. Ditto above.
–Church-affiliated schools and universities. Ditto yet again.
–Formal church buildings. I don’t remember Our Lord ever building a physical church building. To our knowledge, the Apostles didn’t, either. They met in a dining room (the Cenacle).
–Pews at church. If you have an issue with statues, why not with pews, or stained glass, or steeples, or bells, or tacky banners?
–Asking people if they’re saved. Where in Scripture does a Christian ever walk up to someone and ask them point-blank, “Are you saved?” Continue reading
In the Old Testament, many figures are types, or foreshadowings, of Christ. Some of these types are more familiar to Catholics than others. I think Joshua* is one of the lesser-known types for Catholics. It’s a shame, as there any number of obvious parallels:
–In Hebrew and Greek, the names Joshua and Jesus are the same. Jesus is the new Joshua.
–Joshua led the old Chosen People into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. Jesus leads the new Chosen People into Heaven after the death of the Mosaic Law. What Joshua is in the Old Testament, Jesus is in the New Testament.
–Joshua leads the Israelites through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Christ was baptized in the Jordan, and Baptism opens the gates of Heaven to us.
Catholic, Protestant, and presumably (?) Orthodox scholars have assembled these parallels and others to boot. I propose a parallel that I’ve never seen called out elsewhere: Joshua’s last words foreshadow Christ’s institution of the Papacy. Continue reading
I once listened to a Protestant radio show where the host was explaining why Protestants display a cross instead of a crucifix. The distinction is that a crucifix includes a corpus, an image of Our Lord’s Body. He said something like, “Because the crucifixion is over! It was once and for all! Christ is no longer on the cross — He is risen.”
This argument is preposterous. What he was saying was, “It is inappropriate to display artistic representations of past historical events.” If that is the case, why is it okay to represent the crucifixion in Holy Scripture, which is a work of literary art? All four Gospels have a Passion narrative. Why? It’s over. Why are we still talking about it? Christ is risen! But St. Paul said at I Cor. 2:2, “For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Just as St. Paul’s preaching focused on the redemption Christ wrought for us on the Cross, so too does Catholic visual artwork focus on the Crucifixion.
In contrast, the Protestant radio host exposed himself as an irrational fool. If you belong to some heretical sect that is scared to portray Christ’s saving death on the Cross, get out of it and join the one true Church, which Christ founded and which still honors His Crucifixion.