Happy thoughts from the front that dare not speak its name…

“[T]here is no true civilization without a moral civilization, and no true moral civilization without the true religion….”

— Pope Saint Pius X, Notre Charge Apostolique, August 15, 1910.

As is my wont, in this post I shall try to let cited passages, which I recently discovered in the course of my catch-as-catch-can reading, do most of my speaking for me. To wit:

A considerable body of Christians, untrained in the Christian philosophy of life, are allowing themselves to absorb principles which undermine the constructions of Christian thought. They do not realise how much dangerous it is for Christianity to exist in an atmosphere of Naturalism than to be exposed to positive persecution. In the old days of the Roman Empire those who enrolled themselves under the standard of Christ saw, with logical clearness, that they had perforce to cut themselves adrift from the social life of the world in which they lived–from its tastes, practices and amusements. The line of demarcation between pagan and Christian life was sharp, clearly defined and obvious. Modern Christians have not been so favorably situated. As has been stated already, the framework of the Christian social organisation has as yet survived. This organisation is, to outward appearances, so solid and imposing that it is easy to be blind to the truth that the soul had gradually gone out of it. Under the shelter and utilising the resources of the organisation of life created by Christianity, customs, ways of conduct, habits of thought, have crept in, more completely perhaps, at variance with the spirit of Christianity than even the ways and manners of pagan Rome. …

The Christian of to-day thinks that he is living in what is to all intents and purposes a Christian civilisation. Without misgivings he follows the current of social life around him. His amusements, his pleasures, his pursuits, his games, his books, his papers, his social and political ideas are of much the same kind as are those of the people with whom he mingles, and who may not have a vestige of a Christian principle left in their minds. He differs merely from them in that he holds to certain definite religious truths and clings to certain definite religious practices. But apart from this there is not any striking contrast in the outward conduct of life between Christian and non-Christian in what is called the civilised world. Catholics are amused by, and interested in, the very same things that appeal to those who have abandoned all belief in God. The result is a growing divorce between religion and life in the soul of the individual Christian. Little by little his faith ceases to be a determining effect on the bulk of his ideas, judgments and decisions that have relation to what he regards as his purely “secular” life. …

The sincerely religious–and there are many such still–are beginning to realise that if they are to live as Christians they must react violently against the milieu in which they live. It is beginning to be felt that one cannot be a true Christian and live as the bulk of men in civilised society are living. It is clearly seen that “life” is not to be found along those ways by which the vast majority of men are hurrying to disillusionment and despair. Up to the time of the recent cataclysm the average unreflecting Christian dwelt in the comfortable illusion that he could fall in with the ways of the world about him here, and, by holding on to the practices of religion, arrange matters satisfactorily for the hereafter. That illusion is dispelled. It is coming home to the discerning Christian that their religion is not a mere provision for the future. There is a growing conviction that it is only through Christianity lived integrally that the evils of the present time can be remedied and disaster in the time to come averted. 

— Fr. Edward Leen, The Holy Ghost (Sheed and Ward, 1953), pp. 6-9.

Fr. Leen explicated sixty years ahead of me what I have for some time referred to as “squatting/squatters in the cathedral.” This is the phenomenon wherein post- and anti-Christian masses execrate Christian tradition and morality in one breath, but then take the deliverances of that same moral tradition for granted in the next. They are, in effect, squatting in a structure to which they pay no tribute, and which they desecrate and dismantle until it is too late, and the inevitable jackals of pre-Christian hegemony attack them and drag them into the darkness of social chaos.

This is precisely what has led to the further apostasy in Ireland recently, concerning the nation’s popular decision to ratify same-sex so-called marriages. Ireland’s social order, moral assumptions, and even its constitution are suffused with Christian reality, yet all those things have become only so much kindling to tend camp fires in the cathedral. The same goes for the bishops of that nation, and others like it. They are so sure that “the teaching of the Church is clear,” that they have mostly not bothered to proclaim said teaching. After all, the Church’s position is clear, and they are loyal sons of the Church, so why waste time rehashing stale orthodoxy? Surely it would be better to gin up “new ways” of speech, initiate “new historical dynamics” in the conciliar romance of “encounter”. Indeed, what the faithful need are not bishop-pilots but liberated pastoral guides who can listen, accompany, commiserate, accommodate, and adapt, right? 

Fortunately, this “blind and unchecked passion for novelty” and the attendant syphilitic imbecile lust for compromise is but the flavor of our age, and not an expression of the Church’s true pastoral mindset. That mindset was profoundly expressed on Christmas day, 240 years ago, by Pope Pius VI, when, in the thick of the spiritual cataclysm caused by the French Revolution and Liberal/Rousseuavian philosophy, he wrote the following in Iscrutabile:

Beseech, accuse, correct, rebuke and fear not: for ill-judged silence leaves in their error those who could be taught, and this is most harmful both to them and to you who should have dispelled the error. The holy Church is powerfully refreshed in the truth as it struggles zealously for the truth. In this divine work you should not fear either the force or favor of your enemies. The bishop should not fear since the anointing of the Holy Spirit has strengthened him: the shepherd should not be afraid since the prince of pastors has taught him by his own example to despise life itself for the safety of his flock: the cowardice and depression of the hireling should not dwell in a bishop’s heart. Our great predecessor Gregory, in instructing the heads of the churches, said with his usual excellence: “Often imprudent guides in their fear of losing human favor are afraid to speak the right freely. As the word of truth has it, they guard their flock not with a shepherd’s zeal but as hirelings do, since they flee when the wolf approaches by hiding themselves in silence…. A shepherd fearing to speak the right is simply a man retreating by keeping silent.”

Amen, and amen!

Now, if only the hirelings higher-ups read my blog.

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My latest at @OnePeterFive: “Pope’s Ghostwriter Clashes with Head of CDF over Eco-Encyclical?” @Pontifex

Pope’s Ghostwriter Clashes with Head of CDF over Eco-encyclical?

… According to Vaticanist Sandro Magister [LINK], Pope Francis has decided to postpone the publication of his long-awaited encyclical on the environment. The reason, according to Magister, is that the Pope realized that the document in its current state had no chance of receiving the approval of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith….

Continue reading at One Peter Five and add your two cents.

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Love is love is love is love…

“Trent has a powerful and well-placed serve, the occasional devastating smash, and volleys efficiently at the net when she gets into position. Vatican II possess only an ordinary serve, but plays a wide variety of strokes including topspin [sic], and is fast and agile around the court.”

— George Cardinal Pell, Foreword to The Council in Question, Moyra Doorly & Aidan Nichols, OP (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2011)

[A]s soon as the corruption of each mischievous error begins to break forth, and to defend itself by filching certain passages of Scripture, and expounding them fraudulently and deceitfully, immediately, the opinions of the ancients in the interpretation of the Canon are to be collected, whereby the novelty, and consequently the profaneness, whatever it may be, that arises, may both without any doubt be exposed, and without any tergiversation be condemned.”

— St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory, #72

“38 Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received [Jesus] into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard his word. 40 But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: ‘Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me.’ 41 And the Lord answering, said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.'”

— The Gospel according to St. Luke 10

“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

— The Gospel according to St. Matthew 22:36-37

“[H]e who wrests the sacred Scripture from its true and genuine sense to the dogmas of the impious and to heresies, treats the word of God most injuriously…. It is also a shameful and base contamination of sacred Scripture, to pervert its words and sentences, which should be revered with all veneration, to profane purposes, as nefarious men do, namely, to scurrility, fable, vanity, flattery, detraction, fortune-telling, satirical libels, and the like. Such profanation of the divine word, the sacred council of Trent commands to be punished [cf. Session iv., sub. fin.].”

Catechism of the Council of Trent (trans. Rev. J. Donovan [Dublin: James Duffy, 1867]), part III, chapter III, question XXVII

“[I]n order to curb impudent clever persons, the [Tridentine] synod decrees that no one who relies on his own judgment in matters of faith and morals, which pertain to the building up of Christian doctrine, and that no one who distorts the Sacred Scripture according to his own opinions, shall dare to interpret the said Sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which is held by holy mother Church, whose duty it is to judge regarding the true sense and interpretation of holy Scriptures, or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, even though interpretations of this kind were never intended to be brought to light. Let those who shall oppose this be reported by their ordinaries and be punished with the penalties prescribed by law….”

The Council of Trent, Session IV, second decree [trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848)]; cf. Dz. 786/DS 1507

“‘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.”

— Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, #9 (1896)

[We must] guard the proper way of expressing [orthodoxy], lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things. St. Augustine gives a stern warning about this when he takes up the matter of the different ways of speaking that are employed by the philosophers on the one hand and that ought to be used by Christians on the other. ‘The philosophers,’ he says, ‘use words freely, and they have no fear of offending religious listeners in dealing with subjects that are difficult to understand. But we have to speak in accordance with a fixed rule, so that a lack of restraint in speech on our part may not give rise to some irreverent opinion about the things represented by the words.’ And so the rule of language which the Church has established … is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge.”

— Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, ##23-24 (3 September 1965)

“According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown. … God, Who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood. … For this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment. … [For] man … is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself….”

Gaudium et spes, chapter I, #12, chapter II, #24 (7 December 1965)

“[Observing all that Jesus commanded means honoring] above all the new commandment, the first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples [is]: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’.”

— Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium§161 (24 November 2013)

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There has been some discussion recently of the above topics at One Peter FiveRorate Caeli, Theological Flint, and, I’m sure, in many other venues.

In what follows I shall provide two parallel translations of highly pertinent passages from the Catechism of the Council of Trent concerning the first and greatest commandment. I shall emphasize and minimally gloss what I think are the most pertinent lines of the quotations.

The translation on the left is from The Catechism of the Council of Trent (trans. J. A. McHugh and C. J. Callan [Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1982]), while that on the right comes from Catechism of the Council of Trent (trans. Rev. J. Donovan [Dublin: James Duffy, 1867]).

All of the following is worth reading, but the punchline is in the last passage cited.

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Part III, chapter I, question I

“[T]he Decalogue is the summary and epitome of all laws…. For if carefully examined and well understood, whatever else is commanded by God will be found to depend on the Ten Commandments which were engraved on those two tables, just as these Ten Commandments, in turn, are reducible to two, the love of God and of our neighbour, on which “depend the whole law and the prophets. “[T]he Decalogue is a summary and epitome of the entire law … because on those ten precepts…, if carefully examined with a view to be rightly understood, are found to depend all other things that God has commanded; as again do those same ten commandments on these two, namely, the love of God and of our neighbor, on which ‘dependeth the whole Law and the Prophets.‘”

Part III, chapter II, question III

“The pastor should teach that the first part of the Decalogue contains our duties towards God; the second part, our duties towards our neighbor. The reason (for this order) is that the services we render our neighbor are rendered for the sake of God; for then-only do we love our neighbor as God commands when we love him for God’s sake. The Commandments which regard God are those which were inscribed on the first table of the Law.” “The parish-priest will teach [his flock] that, in the Decalogue, the precepts that regard God occupy first, and those that regard neighbor, the second place; because the services that we render our neighbor, we render him for the sake of God; for then only do we love our neighbor according to the precept of God, when we love him for God’s sake….”

Part III, Chapter II, question VI — “Thou shalt not have strange Gods before Me”

“After this it should be added that [to love and worship God alone above all else] is the first and principal Commandment, not only in order, but also in its nature, dignity and excellence. God is entitled to infinitely greater love and obedience from us than any lord or king [and, implicitly, to fellow human beings].” “These matters explained, [the pastor] must add, that [to love and worship God alone above all else] is the first and greatest of all the commandments, not only in order, but also in nature, dignity, excellence; for God ought to have with us infinitely greater love and authority than are due to master, to monarch [and, implicitly, to fellow human beings].”

Part III, chapter V, question III

“Let him begin by showing that the divine precepts of the Decalogue were written on two tables, one of which, in the opinion of the holy Fathers, contained the three preceding, while the rest were given on the second table. This order of the Commandments is especially appropriate, since the very collocation points out to us their difference in nature. For whatever is commanded or prohibited in Scripture by the divine law springs from one of two principles, the love of God or of our neighbor: one or the other of these is the basis of every duty required of us. The three preceding Commandments teach us the love which we owe to God; and the other seven, the duties which we owe to our neighbor and to public society.” “[T]he parish-priest must … explain … that the divine precepts of the Decalogue were engraved on two tablets, one of which, as we have received from the holy Fathers, were comprised those three which [pertain to God], and on the other the remaining seven [which pertain to Man]. For us this description was most apposite, that their very order might distinguish the nature of the commandments; for whatever is commanded or prohibited in the sacred Scriptures by the divine Law, springs from one of two principles; for either the love of God or of our neighbor is had in view in every moral duty. Now the three preceding commandments teach the love of God; in the other seven is contained what appertains to domestic and public society.”

Part III, chapter V, question IV

“In the first three Commandments, which have been explained, God, the supreme good, is, as it were, the subject matter; in the others, it is the good of our neighbor. The former require the highest love, the latter the love next to the highest. The former have to do with our last end, the latter with those things that lead us to our end. Again, the love of God terminates in God Himself for God is to be loved above all things for His own sake; but the love of our neighbor originates in, and is to be regulated by, the love of God.” “For, in the three preceding commandments … the subject matter as it were, which they treat, is God, that is the Supreme Good; but in the others, the good of our neighbour: in the former is proposed supreme, in the latter, secondary love; the former regard the ultimate end, the latter those things that are referred to that end. Besides, the love of God terminates in God himself, for God is to be loved above all things solely for his own sake; but the love of our neighbour has its origins in the love of God, and is to be directed to it as to a certain rule….”

Part III, chapter V, question V

“Moreover, no honor, no piety, no devotion can be rendered to God sufficiently worthy of Him, since love of Him admits of infinite increase. Hence our charity should become every day more fervent towards Him, who commands us to love Him with our whole heart, our whole soul, and with all our strength. The love of our neighbor, on the contrary, has its limits, for the Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To outstep these limits by loving our neighbor as we love God would be an enormous crime.” “Moreover, no honour, no piety, no worship is rendered to God, sufficiently worthy of him, towards whom love admits of infinite increase; … but the love with which we embrace our neighbor is circumscribed within its own proper limits, for the Lord commanded us to love our neighbour as ourselves; and if any one outstep these limits so as to give equal love to God, and his neighbour, he commits a most grievous crime….”

obi wan continuity looking for

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* Here is the translation of the above passage from the Council of Trent, session 4, second decree, as provided by J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848)]:

“…in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,–in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, –wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,–whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,–hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established.”

Incidentally, reference to punishment/penalties for contravening the sense of Scripture is omitted in the latest (43rd) edition (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2010) of Denzinger-Schönborn.

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Family fun with the Codgitator’s Semiotic Slip ‘N Slide…

Q: “… You certainly have brought about a Copernican revolution in terms of language, lifestyle, behaviour and witness on the most considerable issues at the global level, even with atheists and with those who are far from the Christian Catholic Church. … Your linguistic, semantic, cultural revolution, your evangelical witness is stirring an existential crisis for us priests. What imaginative and creative ways do you suggest for us to overcome or at least to mitigate this crisis that we perceive?”

Pope Francis: “You said a word that I really like. It is a divine word. If it is human it is because it is a gift of God: creativity. And the commandment God gave to Adam, ‘Go and multiply. Be creative.’ It is also the commandment that Jesus gave to his disciples, through the Holy Spirit, for example, the creativity of the early Church in its relations with Judaism: Paul was creative; Peter, that day when he went to Cornelius, was afraid of them, because he was doing something new, something creative. But he went there. Creativity is the word.”

— from an exchange during a papal meeting with priests of Caserta (28 July 2014)

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the logo for the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy:

jubilee of mercy logo

And I’m pretty sure you’ve seen at least a few reactions to it, ranging from the nonplussed Simcha Fisher to the outraged Eric Gajewski, who discusses numerous semiotic ‘resonances’ which the logo shares with Masonic lore. The image, reports the National Catholic Register, was created by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, also shows one of Jesus’ eyes merged with the man’s to show how “Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ.” Incidentally, here is a slideshow of Fr. Rupnik’s other artwork; note the faces in the first painting.

Be that as it may, Unamsanctam wryly notes, “The motto of the Year of Mercy is ‘Merciful Like the Father’, despite the fact that Pope Francis says the purpose of the year is to the demonstrate ‘the church’s maternal solicitude.'”

IMG_0378

The logo has triggered countless strong reactions, and is going to be plastered all over Catholic Parishdom for the next year and a half or so. You can expect more reactions to emerge and return as time goes by. One reaction in particular that will persist, to cite Unamsanctam again, concerns the motives and pastoral liabilities behind the jubilee as such:

“Lest you have any doubt that this Year of Mercy will be used as a propaganda tool to push for greater acceptance of deviant lifestyles, Archbishop Reno Fisichella, spokesman for the Year of Mercy, stated that ‘The motto, “Merciful Like the Father,” serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.'”

In the same vein, Louie Verrecchio, with his trademark subtlety, sees the logo as one more tile in the revolutionary mosaic that he believes Pope Francis is crafting over the surface of the Church. To wit:

harvesting the fruit - masterful mercy logo kasper francis

Others shall persist in seeing Masonic winks and nods in the logo. To wit:

masonic hints in year of mercy logo

Such speculation is par for the course with Pope Francis, since his every move has been analyzed as never before by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Photos like the following are trip wires for conspiracy speculation:

IMG_0090

IMG_0082

(According to one guide to Lodge decorum, “The proper attitude of prayer is to stand with your arms crossed over your chest, with the left arm over right arm.”)

As if he were begging to be misunderstood by conspiracy theorists, below is the pectoral cross which the pope has worn even when he was a bishop:

IMG_0071

(Note the sheep carried on the man’s shoulder’s, and how his arms are crossed.) 

In any case, let us return to the logo itself. We cannot know how much input Pope Francis had in the composition of the logo, but two facts do seem pertinent. First, the image clearly hearkens to his pectoral cross, with sheep-like Adam resting on the Lord’s shoulders. Second, there is a famous photo of Pope Francis which is remarkably similar both to the logo’s design and to his own pectoral cross:

pope francis holding sheep shoulders

IMG_0379

jubilee of mercy logoCertainly the easiest explanation is that Fr. Rupnik was aware of the pope’s pectoral cross and the photo with the lamb, and incorporated those elements into the design of the logo. Yet, I wonder if Rupnik’s influences were as uncomplicated as we might like to imagine. Or, assuming he was aware of the following video, we must wonder what it says about Pope Francis’s own theological cogency.

On 11 November 2013, Pope Francis had a video interview with Fernando Solanas, an Argentinian environmental activist. During the exchange, Pope Francis made the following remarks, among others:

IMG_0372

(“You said a word that I really like.”)

IMG_0373

(“Right?”)

IMG_0374

(“Creativity is the word.”)

IMG_0376

(“God is a God of surprises.”)

IMG_0375

(“You certainly have brought about a Copernican revolution in terms of language, lifestyle, behaviour and witness…”)

For those of you still keeping score at home, here, as one friend pointed out to me, is how Shiva is depicted:

three_eyed_hindu_god_shiva

Namely, with three eyes.

But that is not all, as my own curiosity revealed.

One legend involving Shiva concerns the death of his beloved Sati, and the rage into which Shiva flew to avenge her. “According to [one] version,” Wikipedia informs, “Shiva placed Sati’s body on his shoulder and ran about the world, crazed with grief. The Gods called upon the God Vishnu to restore Shiva to normalcy and calm.”

Here is how the story is often depicted in Hindu art:

Shiva carries Sati

jubilee of mercy logo

shiva carries sati highlighted

Logo for Holy Year of Mercy

IMG_0379Oh, who knows? It’s probably just Fr. Rupnik’s way of vivifying what Pope Francis wrote in Evangelii Gaudium, #254:

“[D]ue to the sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them [i.e., non-Christians] tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying towards God. While these lack the meaning and efficacy of the sacraments instituted by Christ, they can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences. The same Spirit everywhere brings forth various forms of practical wisdom which help people to bear suffering and to live in greater peace and harmony. As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs.”

The lesson is, I guess, that as every time you ‘encounter’ this curious logo in the parish bulletin, countless Catholic blog sites, on a spiritual retreat, in the confessional, as a bumper sticker, in your weirdly burnt toast, etc., you can have your faith enriched by thinking on the loving rage of the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva. After all, we may be living the myth of Shiva in our day, so it can’t hurt to know that we can always lean on his shoulders when times get tough. After all, creativity is the word.

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Was the Second Vatican Council “different”? (Part 1)

“At the conclusion of one of the most important recent books on the Second Vatican Council, What Happened at Vatican II (2008), John O’Malley SJ states that the most important ‘issue under the issues’ at the council called by John XXIII was language. The Jesuit historian argues that Vatican II was ‘a language event’ and that ‘the style of discourse was the medium that conveyed the message’.”

Massimo Faggioli, 15 February 2015

Due to the vast amount of material I attempt to cover in this post, I will not spend very much time on exposition or analysis. As I was writing this post, documentary evidence swelled to more than I had ever anticipated, so I decided to break the original post into numerous (ahem) “shorter” posts, not only so it is easier for me to edit, but also so it is easier for readers to (in)digest and discuss.

In many cases I think the citations speak for themselves, but I will add emphases throughout to support my thesis, which, in light of recent discussions at this blog is the following:

Vatican II included foundational premises and doctrinal features which were qualitatively different from those of prior councils.

First of all, by refusing to include canons and decrees in its official teachings, Vatican II of its very nature created room for dissent and ambiguity in a way that no other council had ever done before.

Second, by intentionally adopting a novel rhetorical and ideological strategy for addressing error and articulating truth, Vatican II differed from prior councils in a way that the sensus catholicus is still attempting to digest, and, to be frank, may never succeed in wholly assimilating. The conflicts arising after Vatican II are, therefore, rooted in the conciliar intentions and documents themselves, and not, as in prior councils, in the extrinsic reactions to them. It is, therefore, a red herring to argue that, since previous councils were also followed by conflict and resistance, and were also met with unforeseeable challenges many years or even decades later, therefore the post-Conciliar crisis is just a typical function of ecclesial councils.

For example, even if the council of Chalcedon was accused by various “mia-” and “monophysite” dissenters as dangerously ambiguous, at least Chalcedon decreed blunt, sic-et-non canons and decrees which could either be accepted or rejected.  In contrast, Vatican II generated such a tsunami of doctrinal, liturgical, and canonical “considerations” that it’s impossible for anyone to know precisely which horn of the many ambiguities one is required to affirm. After all, if an ecumenical council has enshrined the ambiguities, who are we to dissolve them?

The difference is this simple:

To reject X in the canons and decrees of Chalcedon, or any other pre-Conciliar council, is eo ipso to excise oneself from the Church; whereas, to reject Z in the teachings of Vatican II teaches–unless of course Z was already explicitly canonized or decreed by prior councils!–is not necessarily to excommunicate oneself, but simply to express one’s freedom of conscience by emphasizing one facet of what is by now the pluralistic, big-tent world of “post-conciliar Catholicism”.

The analogy I have recently come to use is this:

Prior councils were very concrete grammar books, intended to correct a discrete set of linguistic errors and promote an equally discrete set of proper linguistic abilities. What Vatican II offered the faithful and the world, by contrast, was more like a dictionary of the entire language. Granted, it lacked nothing, did not formally contradict any prior “grammars,” and was remarkably well organized (golf clap for The Experts, everyone!), but it assumes so advanced a grasp of the language to begin with that it’s not only gravely ineffective as a concrete teaching tool for the average learner, but also a boundless field of semantic over- and under-emphasis, depending on the user’s ideological predilections. As such, as we shall see ad nauseam, Vatican II was, by the admission of its own most zealous advocates, unlike all prior councils, and in ways which are endemic to the endless struggles which characterize its “reception” and “implementation.”

But now to the first phase of the documentary evidence.

Continue reading

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Annnnnddd…. of course….

The post I was halfway finished with got deleted by a web browser glitch. Or something. Back to the grindstone.

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Drop a pebble in a pond…

As Catholics, we are to embrace the normative guidance of the Church as the guidance of Christ Himself. That which the Church advises for the faithful as safe norms for sanctity (and salvation) is to be embraced as nothing less (and nothing more) than Christ’s own guidance for us on His One Way to the Father. We are to let our Yes to the Lord be our Yes to His Body, and our No be No–to both.  

For, if we deign to “sift” the guidance of the Church as good here, optional there, or even evil and sacrilegious elsewhere, then we assume the role of judge and shepherd on our way along Christ’s Way to the Father. Further, if we grant that the Church can enjoin the faithful to that which is only doubtfully or optionally good, then her sanctity is only doubtfully or optionally certain. But of course, a doubtful authority is no authority. 

In turn, if we grant that the Church could instruct the faithful to practice, or even merely approve, that which is evil or sacrilegious, then we must grant that approving evil and sacrilege conforms to the will of God (i.e., the Way of Christ). It betrays a profound confusion of the Catholic faith to say that, because God “permits” numerous evils in the world, He therefore could permit the establishment of (equally?) numerous similar evils in the Church’s magisterium and worship as things which His elect should approve as guideposts along The Way of Christ. For it is precisely by the Church’s magisterium, sacraments, and communion that the evils of a fallen world are overcome and transformed into the greater glory of God for an ultimate good. But if the Church’s magisterium and worship are subject to the same immoral contrarieties and contradictions as that which characterize the fallen world, then we must ask not only how one could “navigate” the Church’s potentially innumerable errors and compromises with evil, but also why one should heed the Church any more than a worldly entity. 

As such, granting the Church’s infallibility in matters of worship and piety which necessarily safeguard the infallibility of faith and morals, does not entail granting thy her statutes and norms never possibly allow the faithful to perform evil or defect from otherwise perfect guidance. The Church’s liturgical and disciplinary infallibility is the supernatural analogue of the absolute cogency and authority of the natural law. Neither one contradict the other, and no faithful Catholic can pretend to flout either. 

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