Signs and blunders…

Down with your shoo-fly Sign of the Cross!

Away with your stealth-fart genuflection!

I vanquish your Hail Hydra sign of peace!

+ + +

On a more serious note, here is an interesting passage, from a very good book that I had read many years ago, but could not find again until last night:

“Through the medium of blessed water, the Church transfers a priest’s blessing to the faithful, remitting venial sins, just as the water sprinkled by Hebrew priests purified unclean persons and places. For the same reason, we touch a drop of holy water to ourselves when we make the Sign of the Cross on entering a church–but not necessarily when leaving after Mass, because receiving the Eucharist remits those same venal sins. You need to be cleaned on the way in to the sacred mysteries, not on your way out to the sordid world.”

– Kevin Orlon Johnson, Why Do Catholics Do That? (1994), p. 220.

What say ye?

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Once upon a time in a land called Catholica…

If only the extraordinary form were as ordinary as extraordinary ministers.

Or, to cite something Pope Francis recently said:

“[U]nless the encounter, the meeting of generations, is reestablished, unless a new and fruitful intergenerational equilibrium is restored, what results is a serious impoverishment for everyone, and the freedom which prevails in society is actually a false freedom, which almost always becomes a form of authoritarianism.”

Now replace “society” with “the Church”.

Irony is so dead.

Along similar lines, one of the early books published about Francis was by a former Jesuit seminarian, Chris Lowney, turned investment banker, who sees Bergoglio as a model of corporate leadership. Thankfully, the Church is not an NGO, because anyone who believed it were, might act more like a community organizer than something more outdated. He sets up the basic difference this way:

“Some folks approach [leadership] opportunities knowing that they are superbly prepared to lead, and that unshakable self-confidence stays with them every day of their careers. We call such people narcissists. They often get their organizations into trouble because, blinded by the radiant glow of their self-perceived greatness, they don’t see what havoc they create or what misery they inflict on others.”

Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads (October 2013), p. 2

Did I mention that irony is as dead as a door nail?

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Fides quaerens intellectum…

1) If it’s not obvious, I want to clarify that most of my blogging is all part of that fides quaerens intellectum thing. 

2) My problem is that the oneness of the Church seems eviscerated by a lot of ecumenical discourse, and while “Church” is a term that admits of analogical meanings, oneness is not. The existence of multiple Catholic rites–i.e. distinct Churches within the Catholic Church–is not problematic. Separation from communion with the Roman See is the problem. The One True Church includes within itself multiple Churches, but does not admit of any substantial plurality, since all those Churches are ONE by virtue of their communion with Rome. Just as the ONE God is a communion of plural persons, so the ONE Church is a communion of plural Churches. 

So, to recall a key passage from Praeclara gratulationis publicae: 

“We advise the reconciliation and union with the Church of Rome [implying that there is no union as things stand]; and [by union] We mean a perfect and complete union, such as could not subsist in any way if nothing else was brought about but a certain kind of agreement in the Tenets of Belief and an intercourse of Fraternal love [i.e. union can only subsist in something more than common doctrinal pledges and signs of fraternity, the latter which do not in any way comprise true union]. The True Union between Christians is that which Jesus Christ, the Author of the Church, instituted and desired, and which consists in [!] a Unity of Faith and Unity of Government.”

The Eastern Churches are indeed Churches, albeit schismatic Churches, which is Leo’s point. They have amputated themselves, so how the Church can breathe with an amputated lung, is left unexplained. Protestants are in an even more perilous place as prodigal sons. Of course LG didn’t come from nowhere, but I’m grappling with its many strands, not dogmatizing. I’m trying to resolve important tensions without resorting to the usual memory-hole tactics that so often grease the wheels of a zombified aggiornamento.

3) I agree that JPII had the Eastern Churches in mind, but a very common acceptation of the “two lungs” metaphor is meant to include the schismatic Eastern Churches. The thing I liked about Leo XIII’s quotation in my previous post, is how it showed that the idea of drawing upon the light of the East was not a new idea with JPII. On my way into the Church, I seriously grappled with becoming Eastern Orthodox, so I really do treasure the light of the East. I think I should re-read Orientale Lumen.

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Tell yer Ma, tell yer Pa…

I recently contributed a piece to the One Peter Five website. As the founder of 1P5, Steve Skojec, explains:

In anticipation of the upcoming Synod on Marriage and Family, questions surrounding the reconsideration of the traditional definition of marriage are rising among the faithful.

In his 1P5 debut, Elliot Bougis examines the situation through the lens of Bishop Thomas Tobin’s September 21st pastoral letter on the subject and a 1998 instruction from then Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF on many of the same questions being asked today.

If you’ve got concerns about the synod, this is a must-read.

So, head on over to 1P5 and see if I manage to say anything worthwhile.

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Thank you, Heisenbergian Catholicism, for yet another headache…

“The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter.”

Lumen Gentium §14

A defective profession of faith, no fellowship with the Roman See, and a denial of at least five Sacraments, to boot. Are such things really the grounds for saying that non-Catholics are somehow “within” or “part of” the Church? I saw this quotation today and it sent my head spinning. Refusal of communion with the Holy See, rejection of the Faith on numerous points, and a negation of virtually the entire sacramental order of grace–that is supposed to speak well of Christian unity? If the bar is that low to be “linked with” the Church “in many ways,” then, really, what does it take to be a heretic/schismatic?

Of course, maybe the reality is not so dizzyingly Heisenbergian, after all. To wit:

“22. Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. “For in one spirit” says the Apostle, “were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.” As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered – so the Lord commands – as a heathen and a publican. [19] It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.

– Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (1943)

The problem seems to be that whereas Pius XII used the word “reapse” (really, effectively, actually), Unitatis redintegratio §3 used the term “non plene” instead. This is, arguably, not a small difference, since an unreal inclusion automatically entails an imperfect communion, whereas the latter does not entail any real inclusion. If I am not really a member of, say, a teacher’s union, how can I be said to enjoy “imperfect communion” with that union?

Fortunately, it only took twenty years to bleach out such dogmatic madness.

Still, though, some of those gnarly old pre-conciliar popes sounded pretty astute:

“The Church … has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. … ‘There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition’ (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).

“The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. …

“Wherefore, from the very earliest times the fathers and doctors of the Church have been accustomed to follow and, with one accord to defend this rule. Origen writes: ‘As often as the heretics allege the possession of the canonical scriptures, to which all Christians give unanimous assent, they seem to say: “Behold the word of truth is in the houses.” But we should believe them not and abandon not the primary and ecclesiastical tradition. We should believe not otherwise than has been handed down by the tradition of the Church of God’ (Vetus Interpretatio Commentariorum in Matt. n. 46).”

– Pope Leo XIII, Satis cognitum (1896), which, perhaps not so curiously, never cited in the Vatican II documents (though I may be wrong about that)

The irony is even more acute considering what is written in the preceding paragraph:

“He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a ‘bodily’ manner and not ‘in his heart.'”

That stringent warning does not somehow apply to non-Catholics, even as they are described in §15?

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On breathing with two lungs…

“[T]he yearning desire of Our heart bids us conceive and hope that the day is not far distant when the Eastern Churches, so illustrious in their ancient faith and glorious past, will return to the fold they have abandoned. We hope it all the more, [since] the distance separating them from Us is not so great: nay, with some few exceptions, we agree so entirely on other heads that, in defense of the Catholic Faith, we often have recourse to reasons and testimony borrowed from the teaching, the Rites, and Customs of the East.

“Weigh carefully in your minds and before God the nature of Our request. It is not for any human motive, but impelled by Divine Charity and a desire for the salvation of all, that We advise the reconciliation and union with the Church of Rome; and We mean a perfect and complete union, such as could not subsist [subsist!] in any way if nothing else was brought about but a certain kind of agreement in the Tenets of Belief and an intercourse of Fraternal love [ahem!]. The True Union between Christians is that which Jesus Christ, the Author of the Church, instituted and desired, and which consists in a Unity of Faith and Unity of Government.

“[W]e should all be united by the bond of mutual Charity. Our Lord Jesus Christ enjoined it most emphatically, and wished that this love of one another should be the mark of His Disciples. But how can hearts be united in perfect Charity where minds do not agree in Faith?

“It is on this account that many of those We allude to men of sound judgment and seeking after Truth, have looked to the Catholic Church for the sure way of salvation; for they clearly understand that they could never be united to Jesus Christ, as their Head if they were not members of His Body, which is the Church; nor really acquire the True Christian Faith if they rejected the Legitimate teaching confided to Peter and his Successors.

“On this account let them consider how injurious to Christian Unity is that error, which in various forms of opinion has oft-times obscured, nay, even destroyed the True Character and idea of the Church. For by the Will and Ordinance of God, its Founder, it is a Society perfect in its kind, whose Office and Mission it is to school mankind in the Precepts and Teachings of the Gospel, and by safeguarding the integrity of Morals and the exercise of Christian Virtue, to lead men to that happiness which is held out to every one in Heaven. …

She would receive that Honor which is her due and she would go on her way, free from envy and strong in her liberty, as the Minister of Gospel Truth and Grace to the notable welfare of States.  For as she has been given by God as a Teacher and Guide to the human race, she can contribute assistance which is peculiarly adapted to direct even  the most radical transformations of time to the common good, to solve the most complicated questions, and to promote uprightness and justice, which are the most solid foundations of the commonwealth. …

Nothing is more foreign to her disposition than to encroach on the rights of civil power; but the civil power in its turn must respect the rights of the Church, and beware of arrogating them in any degree to itself.  Now, what is the ruling spirit of the times when actual events and circumstances are taken into account?  No other than this: it has been the fashion to regard the Church with suspicion, to despise and hate and spitefully calumniate her; and, more intolerable still, men strive with might and main to bring her under the sway of civil governments.  Hence it is that her property has been plundered and her liberty curtailed: hence again, that the training of her Priesthood has been beset with difficulties; that laws of exceptional rigor have been passed against her Clergy; that Religious Orders, those excellent safeguards of Christianity, have been suppressed and placed under a ban; in a word, the principles and practice of the regalists have been renewed with increased virulence.

Such a policy is a violation of the most Sacred Rights of the Church, and it breeds enormous evils to States, for the very reason that it is in open conflict with the Purposes of God.  When God, in His most Wise Providence, placed over human society both temporal and Spiritual Authority, He intended them to remain distinct indeed, but by no means disconnected and at war with each other.  On the contrary, both the Will of God and the common weal of human society imperatively require that the civil power should be in accord with the Ecclesiastical in its Rule and Administration.

– Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae (1894), cited, curiously enough, in note 14 of Lumen Gentium §15.

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Vatican II is Catholicism on Future Shock.

“The accelerated pace of history is such that one can scarcely keep abreast of it. The destiny of the human race is viewed as a complete whole, no longer, as it were, in the particular histories of various peoples: now it merges into a complete whole. And so mankind substitutes a dynamic and more evolutionary concept of nature for a static one, and the result is an immense series of new problems calling for a new endeavor of analysis and synthesis.”

– (p. 907) #5. Gaudium et Spes. From The Vatican Collection: Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. (Austin Flannery, O. P. General Editor) Northport, New York: Costello Publishing Company.

HT to The Catholic Eye

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