A follow-up on Our Lady of Doubts…

The issue is not the idea that Mary experienced dilemmas, woes, heartache, frustrations, etc. The central issue is simply that it is a deviation from Catholic tradition to say that, in the act of having such difficulties, Our Lady would accuse, or even “semi-accuse,” God of deceit (or betrayal). Shortly after I published it, another blogger labeled my recent post about Our Lady of the Doubts as another of my ongoing “swipes” at the pope. In reality, I (and numerous other concerned Catholics) would not be prone to such “swipes” (merely to borrow my critic’s term), if Pope Francis did not take so many swipes at the faithful and the Faith itself.

A larger issue is that the pope’s gaffe on this point is not anything new. He has proven himself to be a frequently unreliable expositor of the Faith. Too many nuances fudged, too many half-truths valorized, too little clarification in the face of too much confusion. While I am certainly not saying that everything he says is wrong–quite to the contrary, it is the ragged litany of sporadic malapapalisms which detract from his otherwise conventional orthodoxy–, I am saying that his consistent tendency to confuse and shock the faithful renders him unreliable as a catechist. (The phrase “predicatbly unpredictable” comes to mind.) It is, to put it mildly, problematic that a common reflex of the faithful–and I’ve seen it for myself over and over–is to say, “Well, what I think the Holy Father means is…” or “Well, we can understand him if we….” Getting a new speech writer was a good sign, but the pope’s pedagogical problems persist.

I am at pains to stress that this in no way undermines the graces of his office and in no way impinges on the truth of papal infallibility, properly understood. It is simply to say that, if he had not already provided numerous examples of questionable articulations of the Faith, we could, so to speak, let this latest gaffe slide. As it stands, though, it only reinforces the pattern that we must admit: Pope Francis is not a careful thinker and he is often extremely incautious with his words. Any pastor who requires the help of legions of defenders to show how his malapapalisms “mesh” with the Faith, is simply a poor teacher, and it’s not mockery to call a spade a spade. This, by the way, is why I think the pope himself, and his many avid admirers, place so much emphasis on his actions. I think on some level Pope Francis recognizes his comparative weakness as an articulator, so he compensates, as it were, with grand acts of Christian mercy and pastoral tenderness. Unfortunately, even if he is aware of his shortcomings on the expository side of things, he has an unrestrained gift for gab.

Now, I think the CFN response to Pope Francis’s aspersions on Our Lady goes too far by claiming that John Paull II said basically the same thing, and in effect, gives the game to Pope Francis on this error. As the article presented by Eponymous notes, in Redemptoris Mater §18 John Paull II clearly presented the traditional understanding that, while severe, Mary’s woes at the foot of the Cross did not amount to hostility or despair towards God. Even to insinuate that her genuinely human woes could terminate in or include such a charge against God, is to belie a fundamental confusion about Marian dogmatics and traditional piety. The subtle but crucial difference between what Pope Francis insinuates and what John Paull II teaches, sheds futher light on why countless healthy Catholic souls have reacted so negatively to Pope Francis’s latest bungling of the Tradition.

In the CFN response, John Vennari writes that “In the new Way of the Cross, composed by John Paul II, we read the following or the fourth Station of ‘Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother’:

The mediation contains a flashback to the Annunciation, and a recounting of the prophecy of the Angel regarding Our Lord, “…and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” …

“Mary heard these words. She often returned to them in the secret of her heart. When she met her Son on the Way of the Cross, perhaps these very words came to her mind with particular force, ‘He will reign, His Kingdom will have no end,’ the heavenly messenger had said. Now, as she watches her Son condemned to death carrying the cross on which He must die, she might ask herself, all too humanly, ‘So how can these words be fulfilled?’ In what way will He reign over the house of David? And how can it be that His Kingdom will have not end?’ Humanly speaking, these are all reasonable questions. But Mary remembered that she first heard the angel’s message, she had replied, ‘Behold, I am the handmade of the Lord. May it be done to me according Your Word.‘”

This is subtly but crucially different from what Pope Francis has, wittingly or not, foisted upon us as children of the Mystical Rose. John Paul II’s orthodoxy becomes even clearer when read in connection with his more formal statements in Redemptoris Mater §18:

And now, standing at the foot of the Cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of these words [about Christ’s Davidic reign]. … How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God’s “unsearchable judgments”! How completely she “abandons herself to God” without reserve, offering the full assent of the intellect and the will” to him whose “ways are inscrutable” (cf. Rom. 11:33)! And how powerful too is the action of grace in her soul, how all-pervading is the influence of the Holy Spirit and of his light and power!

Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying. … At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest “kenosis” of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death; but in contrast with the faith of the disciples who fled, hers was far more enlightened.

This glorious account reminds us not only why Pope Francis seriously dropped the ball in his recent sermon, but also why it’s worth getting right (God knows his doe-eyed yes-men can’t be bothered to admit the problem for the faithful). Pope Francis is at pains to emphasize the humanness of Our Lady, presumably in order to foster sympathy between her and ourselves. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but what he leaves out is nothing less than the mystery of divine grace. Mary is the perfect specimen of redeemed humanity. To acknowledge that redeemed humanity can still experience woes and grief is not only beautiful but also deeply orthodox.

However, precisely because the “point” of Marian devotion is to put ourselves in the place of Mary, and to develop by prayer and grace her utter attachment to and love for the Lord, it is a barbarous truncation of the redemption to include in her redeemed humanity the very things that we think of as defiant, craven, and fallen in ourselves. In other words, if Pope Francis had stopped at the point of saying that Mary was holy but also human and therefore felt grief and confusion, he would have made a great point. Alas, by plunging ahead with his characteristic vulgarity and including in her grace-suffused humanity a charge of deceit against God, Pope Francis has utterly confused the fallen dispositions of Mary’s just-like-us humanity with the reality of her grace-perfected humanity.

This is why appeals to Christ’s own expressions of grief either prove too much, or are maladroit. The argument in defense of Pope Francis on this point is that shouting “Lies! I was deceived!” at God can be understood as a legitimate expression of divine grace in the soul, since Christ Himself expressed similar desolation. However, as Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary explains:

Here (ver. 46) he cried out with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani, i.e. my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? These words, out of Psalm xxi. 1[2?], were to express his violent sufferings. The Arians objected them against the divinity of Christ; to whom the Fathers answer, that he spoke these words in the person of sinners, for whose sake he suffered, as they shew by the following words of the same Psalm: far from my salvation are the words of my sins: which cannot be applied to Christ, he being incapable of sinning. Besides, these words may be expounded as a prayer, by which he desires of his Father, not to be abandoned any longer, but that his sufferings may now have an end. In fine, that these words were uttered with an entire confidence, and an assurance in the presence and assistance of God, appears by what he presently added, recommending his spirit into the hands of his Father.

The picture is much the same as far as an appeal to the Lord’s agony in Luke 22 goes:

Christ, our Redeemer, was truly God and truly man. And being made man by a real union of his divine person and nature, to our weak and infirm human nature, he likewise took upon him our infirmities, sin excepted. We must consider him as man … when we read of his praying, and redoubling his prayer in the garden, when we find him seized with fear, sadness, and grief: for though, as God, he could prevent and hinder these passions and affections natural to man, yet he could also permit them to affect his human nature; as he permitted himself to be seized with hunger, after fasting forty days; and so he permitted his human nature to be seized with fear and grief in this garden of Gethsemani. …

— In an agony. This Greek word signifies a strife, or combat; not that there could be any opposition or contrariety in the interior of Christ, whose human will was always perfectly subject to his divine will, and the sensitive part to reason: yet, inasmuch as he was truly man, his human nature dreaded all those sufferings which at that time were represented to his soul, and which in a few hours he was to undergo.

“Grace builds on nature“–this maxim explains why the natural emotions of fear and grief must be included in our understand of Our Lady. “Grace builds on nature”–the maxim also explains why we can never countenance that “Lies! I was deceived [by God]!” is the kind of disposition that divine grace would ever build or generate in a soul as perfect as Mary’s. (One is reminded of the apocryphal tale of Galileo’s sotto voce defiance of the papal judgment–“Eppur si muove.”–a cherished parable among rationalist skeptics.) Although Pope Francis only proposed Mary’s defiant cry as a possibile urge on her part, such a sentiment is incompatible with her perfection in grace.  Otherwise, the dangerous implication is that genuine human grief, even when deified, is morally compatible with calling God a liar, and, moreover, that flinging the word “Lies!” at God is part and parcel of being authentically “human”. We don’t want to go there, Pope Francis.

* * *

Catholicism, like anything real and vital, is rife with particularities. The saving creed is not that God became Man, but that the One True God became a unique man at a unique place in a unique time. To mangle or omit those particularities is to junk the whole thing. It is for this reason that Christian civilization has always prized the “distinguo“–the saving difference, the crucial nuance. To the Catholic mind, there is a world of difference between homoousios and homoiousios, while to the outside mind, it is the rankest sophistry. As Chesterton (?) said, “There are a thousand ways to fall, but only one way to stand up straight.” In this sense, the popular saying that the Devil is in the details is exactly wrong: God is in the details.

What does this have to do with Our Lady of Doubts? The subtle caveats and qualifiers provided by John Paull II rescue his seemingly identical claim from the error implied by Pope Francis’s account of Mary at the foot of the Cross. There is a very pertinent biblical illustration of this same dynamic. When I was grappling with my objections to Catholicism years ago, I hit a wall with Our Lady’s sinlessness. I mean, to a Protestant, saying that any human is sinless is like saying that light is darkness. Precisely in the biblical declaration of her sinlessness–or rather, her fully-gracedness–we see how a subtle difference in words and in spirit can be the difference between a blessing and a curse.

When the angel hails her as “full of grace” and prophecies her motherhood, Mary responds (Luke 1:34) by asking, “How will this be, … since I am a virgin?” Only a few verses earlier, when the angel prophesied fatherhood to Zachariah, he asked the angel (1:18), “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” They both inquired about the cogency of the promises, yet Mary was blessed for all ages while Zachariah was struck dumb. As a Protestant, trying to come to terms with Immaculate Mary, that discrepancy always really bothered me. It just didn’t seem fair. After all, Mary and Zachariah replied in the same way, right?

Well, no, for while the words seem very similar, and both could be read as defiant challenges to the angel, the Bible and Holy Church teach that Mary’s words merited an unfathomable blessing while Zachariah’s merited a penalty. God is in the details. While Zachariah asked for certainty, since he felt that the obstacles were too great, Mary simply asked for clarity so that she could obey the word of the Lord. A subtle difference in tone and choice of words meant the difference between being struck dumb and bringing salvation to the whole world.

Apparently, being mute did Zachariah a lot of good. As soon as he repented of his skepticism and confessed what the angel had passed onto him, his mouth was loosened and he regained his place in the worship of God (Luke 1:57-66). Analogously, while Francis’s and John Paul II’s comments about Mary at the foot of the Cross share striking verbal and conceptual features, the subtle, saving particularities about John Paul II’s account rescue him from the scandal inherent in Pope Francis’s treatment. Seeing as I’m not the only one dumbstruck by his denigration of Our Lady–couched in a sermon all about silence, no less–perhaps silence would do Pope Francis as much good as it did Zachariah.

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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53 Responses to A follow-up on Our Lady of Doubts…

  1. unknownsaint says:

    Silence would be golden for Pope Francis. I don’t understand people wanting to defend this latest garbage about Our Lady. They might even face judgement for that, depending on their motivations and understanding. It would be one thing if the Pope had said, perhaps Mary was confused and doubted her own understanding of the prophecies or what the angel had said. ( I would not accept that but I wouldn’t be really angry about it) The Bible said that Mary asked about what Jesus was doing when he was lost in the temple and why He did it and that she ‘wondered’ at some things that were said about her Son. But the Pope did not say anything like that. Having the desire to call God Himself a liar is the utmost in blasphemy and unbelief. To say Mary felt that way is blasphemy in my opinion, whether the Pope knows it or not.

  2. So you want Pope Francis to shut up. Pshaw.

    As best I can tell, what has traddies and their fellow-travelers tutting is this statement about Mary from the Pope’s meditation: “…perhaps she even had the desire to say: ‘Lies! I was deceived!’” Well, perhaps she did, perhaps she didn’t. But if she did, merely having an evil desire–one which, of course, was counteracted if it occurred–is not tantamount to sin. It is a temptation. Since Our Lord was “like us in all things but sin,” and was thus tempted in all the ways we are, it is hardly dissing Our Lady to say something similar about her.

    All the tutting is for naught that is good.

  3. unknownsaint says:

    Have a desire to say that God is a liar is not a ‘temptation’. It is a desire. If I had a desire to say that God is a liar, it would be a sin. If I had a desire to kill my daughter, would you say that is only a temptation or would it be a sin?? What do people not get about this? Or is this just mental gymnastics? Our Lord was tempted only externally. He never had bad desires and neither did Our Lady.

  4. Brock Fowler says:

    Michael, INITIALLY I was not as much ATTRACTED to consider tradition so much as PUSHED…by statements like yours–and much worse. Had those statements been from bad Catholics, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but it was by astoundingly wonderful Catholics. And I wondered: what could cause them to say such things? Has the faith become an ideology to them to some degree?

    “Shut up,” “pshaw,” “Traddies,” “fellow-travelers,” “tutting,” “tutting”: these are the words of ideological style ridicule. They are not the approach of orthodox Catholics prayerfully struggling through legitimate concerns.

    The purpose of communication is to communicate: there is no such thing as a successful communication approach which leaves wide-spread confusion and misunderstanding.

    And when it is the Pope who says, or does, something, that changes everything. There are many things that the Pope has said that I would not bat an eye about had he been just a spiritual writer. But when a Pope kisses a Koran, for example, that means something COMPLETELY different to many people–especially Muslims–than you or I doing the same thing (which I would never do, by the way). When a Pope goes to the worship place of another religion, and makes only positive statements about that religion, he is not talking just to that audience: he is talking to the whole world…including the Catholic who has been wondering whether or not it really is important to be Catholic or not.

    The Church has always and everywhere taught suspicion of one’s own words–particularly if they are original. We are amazed that a great saint was initially silenced by an inquisition, but that was probably the first time the Dominican had ever encountered something original that was not wrong in the course of his entire life…he didn’t know how to act!

    St. Thomas put out an ocean of words, but there was only one St. Thomas and he said at the end of life that all of his words were straw: where do we see such humility in the modern Church? Where is the self doubt? Where is the reluctance to say much…and praying over every single sentence? For, every single sentence stated by the Pope is important: yes, there should probably be a lot less of them.

    A Pope, or a Council, cannot–in fact–be pastoral. Because we need to hear different things. The atheist first considering Catholicism needs to hear something very different than the Catholic considering trading golf for mass. The best way to speak to the German culture is often different than the best way of speaking to the Philippine. That’s why a more personal and local approach is needed: because every word of the Pope is to the whole world.

    Now, evangelizing and being pastoral is much more satisfying than dealing with doctrine and discipline: but maybe the Popes need to rediscover the profound humility in that approach?

  5. Brock Fowler says:

    Unknownsaint, your are correct: if I desired another woman in my heart, I would have committed adultery in my heart.

    And yes, it is mental gymnastics in an effort to be “loyal” rather than completely truthful–but with God there is never any conflict between the two.

  6. unknownsaint says:

    Yes, another good analogy there Brock. Loyalty trumps everything these days, even things against Our Lady, and it is seriously disturbing.

  7. Branch says:

    “Pope Francis is at pains to emphasize the humanness of Our Lady, presumably in order to foster sympathy between her and ourselves.”

    This is, I think, precisely the flaw in the pastoral approach and why many are enamored with the Pope. They can ‘identify’ with God as they are. God meets them where they are and all. And so when the whole of Catholicism comes across as reaching out to the poor or homeless, it is not that far away from the new ’cause’ morality that has surfaced in the past decade or more. Even corporations now have a place for their own social responsibility and charity mission. It’s seen as a fitting addendum to business. It’s in.

    But this one-way theology can leave someone in despair because we do not just want to be met where we are – we want to be divinized, we want that perfection in grace, we want eternal life. We don’t long for the Kingdom as if we’ve forgotten St. Augustine’s ever-restless heart. But the core message is always the always with us, leaving our hearts burning at Emmaus, God in the breaking of the bread. It’s the God of the next moment of His breakthrough, the God according to our next ‘encounter’ with Him. All imminence.

  8. The Church of “What if God was one of us?”

    It’s amazing how apt EG 94 is to the pope himself at times, if only we had eyes to see.

    “94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.”

  9. Brock Fowler says:

    It is breathtaking to read that level of calumny and ignorance. I wonder, does he knew a single traditional Catholic? It would appear not.

  10. IbnYaqob says:

    Thank you Michael. Temptation proceeds in three stages if we believe Catholic Tradition & that excludes Radtrads. Stage One The Temptation when the will feels the force of being persuaded by evil to sin(here no actual sin occurs), Stage Two compilation of committing sin (which at best can be venial & sin begins to germinate) & Stage Three the resolve of the will to commit the sin in question.

    What the Pope describes here in his pious teaching speculations clearly doesn’t have Our Lady go beyond stage one.

    Since Our Lady wanted to imitate Christ it is fitting she would have been tempted by evil as harshly has he with extra-ordinary grace helping her give extra-ordinary resistance.

    It’s obvious to me. But High Church Protestant wannabes want to see it differently.

  11. IbnYaqob says:

    Says who? Of course they would have had bad desires but Christ being God & Mary having extra-ordinary Grace would dominate their lower desires.

  12. IbnYaqob says:

    >if I desired another woman in my heart,

    You are confusing stage one temptation with stage two. What is cited here with Mary is clearly stage one. The force of temptation. It only becomes sin when the will makes the slightest movement toward it.

    There is nothing here of Francis saying that is what happened.

    Blind leading the blind.

  13. IbnYaqob says:

    This is what the Pope said sans Codg smear mongering commentary.

    Holy Father Said:
    >“The Gospel does not tell us anything: if she spoke a word or not… She was silent, but in her heart, how many things told the Lord! ‘You, that day, this and the other that we read, you had told me that he would be great, you had told me that you would have given him the throne of David, his forefather, that he would have reigned forever and now I see him there!’ Our Lady was human! And perhaps she even had the desire to say: ‘Lies! I was deceived!’ John Paul II would say this, speaking about Our Lady in that moment. But she, with her silence, hid the mystery that she did not understand and with this silence allowed for this mystery to grow and blossom in hope.

    You wrote:
    >Having the desire to call God Himself a liar is the utmost in blasphemy and unbelief.

    You sound like a Calvinist buddy. Consenting to an evil desire with one’s will is an act of blasphemy and unbelief. A desire you did not consent too is a mere temptation.

    Temptation is not a sin, that Reformation error was condemned by Trent.

    But if in your heart you follow the Westminster Confession I cannot help you.

  14. Ben,

    Take this and run with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjmeGKoR1E

    I’ve clearly struck a nerve, and you know I’ve made cogent points, so your insuperable cognitive dissonance has sent you crashing back into your whirling dervish mode again, trying, as maladroitly as ever, to stamp out what your ultramontanist reflex-brain tells you must be [INSERT STREAM OF JARGON YOU’VE PICKED UP AFTER YEARS OF SCANNING COMBOXES].

    Make your point in one comment and then move on. In fact, go troll unknownsaint’s blog if you want to badger him. All the egg nog in the air has me feeling ban-happy.

    Incidentally, I’d like to know the source of your claims about the three stages of temptation and sin.

  15. IbnYaqob says:

    Your hypocrisy is amazing! You give yourself the unlimited right to read into the Pope what you want him to mean(even thought he never says “Our Lady consented with Her Will to call God a liar & discover”) but if I employ the principle of Charity and read the natural meaning from the Pope then I am “defending garbage”>.

    What a lovely example for Christmas!!!!!

  16. He stated that it is legitimate to suppose that Mary WANTED to enunciate the words to God, “Lies! I was deceived!” He has not a leg to stand on according to Catholic tradition, and the only leg you have is his, as you clutch it like a child lost in a crowd.

  17. Merry Christmas, indeed. You can go on making reparations to the Semi-maculate Heart of Mary. I’ll stick with the Church and her Immaculate Heart.

    The pope has considered it a live option to say that Mary reasonably could have harbored blasphemy, and you are obliged to defend him on this point, because, well, anything less would be insufficiently cultish.

    (Thanks for the link. I thought you had in mind the Thomistic terms about willing.) However, even on Tanquerey’s account, by suggesting that Mary COULD have had the DESIRE to blaspheme, he is saying that she COULD have gone to phase two. Apparently, there’s Nothing Special About Mary, after all.

  18. IbnYaqob says:

    >He stated that it is legitimate to suppose that Mary wanted to enunciate the words to God,

    Yeh she was tempted but she gave no consent to it. Again so what? BTW I understand the Pope didn’t mean she would have to say that out loud. If she consented in Her will to do that then God would have heard Her/

  19. The DESIRE to blaspheme is intrinsically disordered, and thus sinful, yet the pope claims that it is legitimate to say that the Immaculate Heart of Mary had this very DESIRE. Just drop it and realize that even a bad preacher can still be an infallible pope.

  20. IbnYaqob says:

    >However, even on Tanquerey’s account, by suggesting that Mary COULD have had the DESIRE to blaspheme, he is saying that she COULD have gone to phase two. Apparently, there’s Nothing Special About Mary, after all.

    I am citing the theology from memory. My point is Mary would have acted without sin. I understood Stage two as the beginning of sin but maybe I was wrong but it is clear Tanquerey is even more refined.

    Still I was remembering how my wife put it. You Codj have done no research into the matter and you professed ignorance of the entire deal.

    >You can go on making reparations to the Semi-maculate Heart of Mary. I’ll stick with the Church and her Immaculate Heart.

    Your name calling is entertaining but remember it is you who have slandered the Pope. I attack nobody. I merely defend my Mother the Church and Father in Faith from slander.

    >The pope has considered it a live option to say that Mary reasonably could have harbored blasphemy, and you are obliged to defend him on this point, because, well, anything less would be insufficiently cultish enough.

    No the Pope merely thinks her mere humanity would have made the natural conclusion with attacks from the evil one alowed by God but Grace moved her will to do otherwise.*

    *Mind you I am giving a Thomist description here & the Holy Father is a Jesuit but I am too lazy to convert it to Molina speak.

  21. IbnYaqob says:

    >The DESIRE to blaspheme is intrinsically disordered, and thus sinful, yet the pope claims that it is legitimate to say that the Immaculate Heart of Mary had this very DESIRE.

    Calvinism! The consent of the will to desire to blaspheme is intrinsically disordered etc… I can do this all night.

    >Just drop it and realize that even a bad preacher can still be an infallible pope.

    Physician heal thyself! A theologically incompetent layman by definition is even more fallible. Much less one who can’t show charity to his own spiritual Father.

  22. 1) False. I read the Tanquerey link, a work which I have made us of before, in order to get the sense of your point.

    2) You say you are defending our Father in faith, but I am also defending our Mother in the faith. THIS is why the pope’s claim wounds me so: it is like seeing mom and dad fight.

    3) As Pius IX says in Ineffabilis Deus, Mary was PRESERVED FROM “the fiery arrows of the evil one.” The pope explicitly stated that Mary could have had the DESIRE (il voglia) to respond to God’s earlier promises with blasphemy. The point is not that she DID so respond; it is rather that the pope’s claim is simply inconsistent with Marian dogmatics. In effect, the pope has said that a Semi-maculate Heart is just as consonant with the scriptural witness as an Immaculate Heart. That’s wrong and I don’t know why anyone would go to the mat for such a gaffe.

  23. Could Mary have been homosexual?

  24. IbnYaqob says:

    >1) False. I read the Tanquerey link, a work which I have made us of before, in order to get the sense of your point.

    Then why ask me for a citation on the three stages of sin if you already knew about it?
    Your story is changing.

    >2) You say you are defending our Father in faith, but I am also defending our Mother in the faith. THIS is why the pope’s claim wounds me so: it is like seeing mom and dad fight.

    It’s more wounding to see a brother attack his Father unjustly.

    >3) As Pius IX says in Ineffabilis Deus, Mary was PRESERVED FROM “the fiery arrows of the evil one.”

    Proof texting are we?

    QUOTE” They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows the the evil one; that she is beautiful by nature and entirely free from all stain; that at her Immaculate Conception she came into the world all radiant like the dawn. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness.”END QUOTE

    This means she was free from sin not temptation.

    >The pope explicitly stated that Mary could have had the DESIRE (il voglia) to respond to God’s earlier promises with blasphemy.

    Which Pope are we talking about now? Also which school of Maryology? Maximalists or Minimalists? Both are valid like Immortalists vs Domisionists.

    > The point is not that she DID so respond; it is rather that the pope’s claim is simply inconsistent with Marian dogmatics.

    Rather you keep moving the goal posts because you need to put the Pope in the wrong.

    >In effect, the pope has said that a Semi-maculate Heart is just as consonant with the scriptural witness as an Immaculate Heart. That’s wrong and I don’t know why anyone would go to the mat for such a gaffe.

    No you are just reading into him what you want him to say.

  25. IbnYaqob says:


    I don’t know what Homosexuality is to answer that question.

    OTOH as far as it is a disordered passion psychologically ingrained as the New Eve she would not be so afflicted based on the argument of fittingness.

    OTOH what does it mean for Mary to be a heterosexual? She never has sex even with her husband for reasons I will assume you know.

    But how is a temptation to doubt equivalent to having the disordered psychological & sexual attraction to members of your own sex?

  26. IbnYaqob says:


    Your example is a fallacy of equivocation. Sexual sins are physical in nature and Mary is the New Eve & her human nature would have been prefected by Grace.

    Doubting God is a spiritual sin. An Angel prior to the War in Heaven could commit the sin of doubt but obviously not a sexual sin. We don’t know what spiritual attack God might have consented to allow to be afflicted on Mary for Her continuing merit. He could have let the Devil temp her with doubt but she never consented to it even imperfectly.

  27. You wrote: “the Pope merely thinks her mere humanity would have made the natural conclusion with attacks from the evil one alowed by God”

    I cited Ineffabilis Deus to substantiate the truth that Mary was NOT subject to attacks from the Evil One, at least not in a way that entered her dispositions. As far as I’m concerned, your contribution to this thread has been exhausted. You have made some good points, for which I thank you, and you have done so without your typical rancor, for which I also thank you. We know how this story ends, Ben, because it’s the same show every time:

    You make scattershot replies to any passing phrase, without grasping the essential logical point, then start gloating about how you can “do this all night,” and finally diagnose your interlocutor with some kind of hyphenated spiritual malady, wallowing in his silence as “proof” of your victory. We get it, Ben. You’re a genius. You’re a mensch and everyone else is a schlemiel unless they agree with you. You always win because you always have a retort. Golf-clap.

    Enjoy your victory by not posting again on this thread! 🙂

  28. By the way, the comments of yours that I suppress only make you look better, threadwise, so spare us your hourly martyr’s indignation dance. “My blog, my rules,” as they say. […]

  29. unknownsaint says:

    “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Having a desire to say something is not a temptation. It is a desire. See the different words we use? Yes? Our Lady had no concupiscence, thus she would not have had such an evil desire to begin with. Take Eve for example. She would not have gone and ate that fruit if she had not been tempted externally by the serpent because she had no concupiscence. She had no evil desire to eat the fruit or think God was lying to her about the fruit killing her. If she had those thoughts, what was the need for the test with the external agent, the serpent? Adam same thing. Adam was tempted externally by Eve. Our Lady had more grace that those two put together. Our Lady was FULL of Grace. She had no such evil thoughts or desires ever. All of her desires were good. Period.

  30. IbnYaqob says:

    >I cited Ineffabilis Deus to substantiate the truth that Mary was NOT subject to attacks from the Evil One, at least not in a way that entered her dispositions.

    I reproduced the quote in context and it clearly didn’t say Mary wasn’t subject to the attacks of the Evil One. That is never mentioned by Pius IX at all.

    BTW you have not proven Pope Francis intended to say Mary had a “disposition” to deny God. Nor have you shown the nature of this “disposition” Pope Francis supposedly thinks Mary had. That requires some creative isogesis of your part.

    The only natural interpretation of Pope Francis here is Mary was being tempted to distrust God from without. Nothing more.

  31. How is the temptation to do something sinful? That’s a pretty elementary point of Catholic theology, and I’m kind of amazed that you’re trying to defend that “being tempted” and “being sinful” are the same thing. I mean, it’s pretty obviously false on the face of it.

  32. Our Savior Jesus was even tempted by the devil. Sure, externally, but what on Earth precludes the devil tempting somebody internally? From planting thoughts in people’s head.

    It’s a pretty clear distinction.

    Codg, you’ve even misquoted Pope Pius IX here to make your point. You don’t think that you’re perhaps being somewhat unfair here?

  33. Tony Jokin says:


    Look at it this way. The words of Pope Francis on Mary even thinking “Lies! I was deceived!” is scandalizing. Can it be that the Pope’s entire sermon can be redeemed by a very complex analysis and an equally complex interpretation of the sermon? YES, I am sure it can be as you attempt to do here. BUT, it doesn’t change the fact that every average (but faithful) Catholic (including myself) who hears the Pope’s words can only feel that they were distasteful. Whatever happened to Pope Francis’s own insistence of keeping sermons straightforward and not too abstract? It’s anything but straightforward to extract the orthodox message from his sermons (not just this one) for they usually tend to lend themselves to the unorthodox interpretation.

    I am often tempted to remember my own Grand father in his old, who for the sake of making one important point, used hyperbole that ignored and compromised other important points about the same subject. Pope Francis to me seems to do the same.

    I am willing to think its his age and give him the benefit of the doubt. I am sure he has no ill intent. But he just loses the plot with his hyperbolic statements. This was one such situation. I do not think the Catholic duty is to then defend his words. Our duty to protect the good name of our Blessed Mother and our Lord, in so far as it rests within our ability, comes before our duty to protect the good name of the Pope.

    I see Mr Bougis here as rightfully doing his duty.

  34. Tony Jokin says:

    What is “obvious to you”, is not the same “obvious” direction to others. They, including myself, see the Pope as crossing the line with that “speculation”.

    Just to make this a bit clear to you, if you are just here to defend the Pope, then you have two issues

    1. Either the Pope is giving sermons that are too complicated to interpret in a straightforward manner — BAD considering BXVI who was much learned than Pope Francis was able to convey his points for the most apart from one blemish with the condom comment (even to that he reacted swiftly)

    2. We must admit that the Pope made a mistake and did say something impious in his exaggeration.

    Whatever you say, we must follow it up with (1) or (2). The other option

    3. The Pope was crystal clear and straightforward in what he said

    is being proven everyday by concrete examples with every accolade from WORLD that keep mounting for the wrong reasons.

  35. Tony Jokin says:

    You should follow Pope Francis and ask yourself,

    “‘Tell me: when God looks at a Radtrad person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them . . . with mercy.”

    You should start applying Pope Francis to your own life with some logical consistency 🙂

  36. Tony Jokin says:

    Mr. Bougis, thank you for writing this post. I think you articulated concerns of many in a respectable way. There are many who I am sure feel the uncomfortableness when they hear the words of the Pope in this sermon but simply abandoned that feeling because they could not articulate their misgivings.

    To be honest, I am such a person and what I like about your blog is that you articulate the concerns that I might have but are unable to express or narrow down in to propositions. Even if you might be wrong in your concerns, the writing down of it means that we can now evaluate our concerns objectively. Before, it could not be done because it existed in the form of an incoherent idea or a gut feeling in our minds.

    So I thank you for your work.

    If I may make one small suggestion, it might be better to avoid of some of the sarcastic remarks with respect to the Pope for that can come across as disrespectful to him. But that has been my only concern when reading your otherwise very helpful blog.

    Merry Christmas to you good Sir, and may God bless you!

  37. ErnstThalmann says:

    Not terribly anxious to enter this exchange, but a couple of points. It’s clear that the theological Tradition sees Mary’s “sinlessness” as extending to all unruly desires and concupiscence. Despite any speculation about “stages” that someone’s relative may have concocted, the fact remains that the pope spoke in terms of a “desire” which, whether acted upon or not, could only be defined as concupiscence in Catholic theology. In effect, the pope, by his own words, sees Mary as being somewhat less pure than would the Tradition.

    Now, on a tangential question, one might argue that calling God a liar is not, in itself, sinful in the absence of omniscience and volition. The perception that God is not a liar depends entirely upon the subjective experience of the believer and requires a certainty of faith that only God Himself can grant. One might call God a liar in light of his or her experience and believe it to be true yet all the time not wanting it to be so. How that would be sin without the element of volition and what might be called in the same sense the “credulity” of Job defies the imagination. Something to chew on. perhaps.

  38. Again: Could Mary have been homosexual?

  39. Again: Could our Lord have been tempted by the devil? The answer is apparently yes.

    Homosexuality leads to a TENDENCY to sin. That’s a totally, 100% different thing from the devil planting tempting thoughts in her head, that she rejects immediately.

    I don’t believe that you don’t get this. It’s very, very simple stuff. Your blind spot when it comes to our Pope is affecting your reasoning here.

  40. But…but it’s not complex. It really isn’t! Seriously, to not get this, you have to almost deliberately misunderstand him. You’ve even misquoted past Popes to make your point, and were called out on this.

  41. Please explain how I misquoted Ineffabilis Deus. The passage I cited about the “fiery darts of the evil one” (ignitis maligni) is a clear reference to Eph. 6:16, the context of which makes it abundantly clear that the “fiery arrows” are the ATTACKS of the Devil. Further, the Devil is incapable of “implanting” wicked desires into our hearts; he, like a vampire, must be invited under our roof, as it were, before he can tamper with our internal dispositions. Are we now to presume that she let the Devil into her heart and that the Devil implanted the desire (il voglia) to say, “Lies! I have been deceived!”?

  42. Mary’s alleged desire to say to God, “Lies! I have been deceived!” betrays a disposition which reflects the stain of original sin. But insofar as Our Lady was delivered entirely from that stain, she could have no more had the disposition to blaspheme than she could have had the disposition to homosexual acts.

  43. Read above. It was pointed out to you exactly where you misquoted the document.

  44. Well, it’s obvious that I don’t know how to read, so please spell it out for me.

  45. Look, while we’re here, saying […] is wrong. [I have retracted the original phrase. My genuine apologies. — EBB] With that out of the way…

    You: As Pius IX says in Ineffabilis Deus, Mary was PRESERVED FROM “the fiery arrows of the evil one.”

    The real quote: They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows the the evil one…

  46. “ignitis maligni telis latuerit”

    Latuerit is the indicative future perfect of latere. Latuerit means to be hid from, concealed, covered, kept out of sight of, kept safe from, etc (cf. p. 311 of Cassell’s Latin Dictionary). Pius IX’s point is that Mary’s immaculate conception delivered her from the reach of the Evil One as we all experience it. God would not deign to let a saint like Joseph “know” her, so all the more would He preserve His Son’s throne from every hint of defect and defection.

  47. In any case, saying that she “escaped” the attacks of the Devil is just another way of saying that God preserved her from such attacks, and from all internal defects which might even give the Devil a point of entry. There was no chink in the armor of her complete harmony with the will of God. As far as her will goes, on earth she was , by Christ’s total grace alone, everything that we can hope to be in Heaven. She was never subject to any internal disorders like the desire to call God a liar. If she was subject to them at the Cross, when her Immaculate Heart was perfectly joined to her Son’s Sacred Heart, then we are going to be subject to such desires in Heaven, which is… highly problematic.

  48. Let me note one other irony: I’ve been accused of eisegesis on the Bishop of Rome’s erroneous and quite audacious speculation about Mary’s heart, yet you and Ben have inserted even more speculation about Satan “implanting” desires into Mary’s heart. Not only is this a hideous notion to bandy about, but it’s also nowhere in the fervorino under question.

  49. What? This is simple stuff about temptation and the devil.

    Right, clearly I’m just too baffled with this whole post of yours and you’re just as convinced that we’re missing your point or knee-jerk defending the Pope or whatever, so once again I’m going to go. Nothing will come of this, and I’ve made my points.

  50. Branch says:

    “The Church of “What if God was one of us?” ”

    That’s exactly the sentiment it seems to me.

  51. Brock Fowler says:

    I’ve been around the block many years, and have taken theology courses, but this “stages” is not something I have run into.

    A desire that is intrinsically evil should not be attributed to Our Lady–especially speculatively.

  52. Pingback: Guerilla blogfare… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam"

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