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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

More Reposts from Last Summer To End The Year

A short but serious meditation from Providence

St Prosper wrote from the Council of Quiersey, (853 A.D.), “If some are saved, it is the gift of Him who saves; if some perish, it is the fault of them that perish.”

Perfection Series II: Providence

Garrigou-Lagrange may be the greatest Thomist of the 20th Century. His book, Providence, must be read. I have referred to it about a month ago, and there are too many superb passages to go through the entire book.

The book is a meditation on God, Who He Is. The author’s starting point in the long discussion on providence is the understanding, as far as we can now, of the Nature of God and the nature of human beings.

I have taken so many notes on this book, I really do not know where to begin.

Let me concentrate on one idea today. Garrigou-Lagrange writes that holiness is the life of grace in its perfection.

As I have written many posts on grace, one can follow the tags on those sections. The Dominican notes that sanctifying grace is the participation in the Divine Nature. Knowing this, how can anything turn against grace, freely?

Garrigou-Lagrange makes it clear that it is completely rational to trust in God and to follow Him. So why is it that more people do not follow God, if we are all rational human beings? How is it that humans more and more turn against natural law and their own human consciences?

Providence is hard for many to understand, but the root of God’s care for us, is love. What is missing is the recognition that what all people desire is love, and that there is only one Person Who can meet our deep desires for fulfillment.

The fulfillment of our desire is only God. Love is the answer to all we really need.

Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that God has a right to be loved by us.

We seek the real good, we desire more than we can see and find on this earth. The entire argument for God involves not only His Attributes, but an understanding of our won nature as human.

As I wrote last year on another blog, the new evangelization must start with the basic questions-who is man, who is woman, where are we going, what is the end of life, why do we exist and so on.

But, in order to evangelize at this level, one must have some knowledge of self and Who God Is.

Herein lies the problem….

Perfection Series II on Providence

Garrigou-Lagrange has a chapter on the grace of a happy death. He refers to St. Augustine’s book, Gift of Perseverance, which I have not read. It is now on my list.
This chapter speaks to one of the most common heresies of our day, heresies which are common in both England andAmerica.

The Semi-Pelagians, Protestants and Jansenists all have different views of death, as well as life. Garrigou-Lagrange does us a great favor by defining these heresies, which are so popular.

Here we go and pay attention to this post, as you most likely will encounter or have encountered people who believe in these false positions.

“The Semi-Pelagians maintained that man can have the initium fidei et salutis, the beginning of faith and a good desire apart from grace, this beginning being subsequently confirmed by God. According to their view, not God but the sinner himself takes the first step in the sinner’s conversion. On the same principles the Semi-Pelagians maintained that, once justified by grace, man can persevere until death without a further special grace. For the just to persevere unto the end, it is enough, they said, that the initium salutis, this natural good will, should persist.”

(Should I comment here that this is the case for so many Protestants, who do not believe in sanctifying grace or the sacraments, but think the initial grace of conversion is enough? See my posts on the types of grace and on converting Protestants.)

“It amounted to this, that God not only wills all men to be saved, but wills it to the same extent in every case; and further, that precisely the element which distinguishes the just from the wicked –the initium salutis and those final good dispositions which are to be found in one and not in another, in Peter and not in Judas—is not to be referred to God as its author; He is simply an onlooker.”

“It meant the rejection of the mystery of predestination and the ignoring of those words of our Lord: ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father, who sent me, draw him’ (John 6:44), words that apply both to the initial and to the final impulse of our hearts to God.”

All our thoughts for goodness and all our desires for God are from God and not ourselves.

Continuing, Garrigou-Lagrange notes that St. Augustine makes it clear that “prevenient grace cannot be merited or in any way be due to a purely natural good impulse, since the principle of merit is sanctifying grace, and this, as its very name implies, is a gratuitous gift….”

So, too, the grace of final perseverance is a gift, a special gift, as Garrigou-Lagrange notes referring to St. Augustine. This is a gift of mercy, given to the elect.

Now, here is the area which some people find difficult. And, in the future, I shall unpack Garrigou-Lagrange’s book,Predestination, which this section anticipates.

The Council of Trent makes it clear that God makes it possible for all people to be saved and observe His precepts, and in fact, helps the elect persevere to the end.

God does will a great good for one over another. There are “levels of holiness” according to our own make-up, our unique souls and unique bodies. But, God never asks the impossible and gives to all what is needed for salvation.

The Second Council of Orange used St. Augustine’s arguments against the Semi-Pelagians. “Thus it remains true,”notes Garrigou-Lagrange, “that the grace of a happy death is a special grace peculiar to the elect.”

Now, some Protestants err on the opposite end of this false thinking.  This is the belief that God, indeed, asks for the impossible. The heresy of Jansenism falls into this error, of thinking that certain of God’s commandments are impossible, even for the elect, as they are denied graces to do certain things.

To think that God would ask or even command the impossible is a common thought among some Catholics today, who tolerate serious sin in their own or others’ lives, thinking that is all these people can do, or achieve. They are denying God’s justice and His mercy--His Providence.

I have heard people say, “Catholicism is too hard” as if God is not standing there giving grace to live up to the life of discipleship. If God does not give us sufficient grace to be saved, then human liberty or freedom is impaired as well.

What flows from this error are these fallacies: 1) sin cannot be avoided; 2) sin no longer exists as humans cannot choose; 3) there is no hell.

We have heard these arguments lately, have we not, from certain famous theologians? In their denial of hell, they deny both human liberty and God’s sufficient graces. The fallacy which follows is that of sola fide, maintaining that good works are totally impossible and unnecessary for salvation. I know many people who actually believe this.

There is no hope. There is only presumption, points out Garrigou-Lagrange. “Jansenism and Protestantism, in fact, oscillate between presumption and despair, without ever being able to find true Christian hope and charity.”

So, one of the Baptists I know sins and never goes to Confession, of course, not believing in the sacraments, and thinks he is saved because of his one moment of conversion. That he drinks too much, or sleeps around, or never goes to church on Sunday does not matter.

He is saved.

Trent states the hard truth, “Whereas we should all have a steadfast hope in God, nevertheless (without a special revelation) no one can have absolute certainty that he will persevere to the end.”

Now, the following points may have never been taught to my readers before this.

 “…the principle of merit is the state of grace and perseverance in that state; but the principle of merit cannot itself be merited.” God continues grace in us, we do not. But, we cannot take this for granted.
It is a special gift to die in the state of grace.  As Garrigou-Lagrange notes, the “just must  humbly admit that they have really no right to the grace of final perseverance”.

Obviously, humility is key…the principle of merit cannot be merited. This means that the state of grace to get merit cannot be merited. Such is grace, freely given by God to us and none of our so-called meritorious acts mean anything if we are in mortal sin.

This is the sadness of those who have chosen heresy, even false religions. This is why it is our duty to be involved in evangelization.

At death, we need to be in the state of grace, we need to have lived in charity, and we need to have had our will correspond to the Will of God.

This is why we must pray for a happy death. We cannot take it for granted.

To be continued…

Reposts from Last Summer To End The Year

Back to Basics

Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us of some basic truths:

Because God is intelligent and good, he gives all people the grace of salvation. Natural law tends to a rational end. Our natural end is heaven or hell, with rewards of punishments in the afterlife.

Whether people believe in the afterlife or not does not change the truth. The problem with many Catholics is that they simply do not believe. They have lost faith. They do not see that their lives have a purpose in this life and in the next. They think all religions are the same, or that the fullness of truth is not in the Catholic Church, but in some odd pan-religion.

Catholics no longer think like Catholics for the most part, but as Protestants. Some have a rebellious spirit which means they think it is right and good to contradict Church teaching.  Few understand obedience.

When will Catholics understand that the road to perfection is locked with a gate marked, “Orthodoxy”.

Orthodoxy is rational.

Orthodoxy is not arcane or hidden knowledge, but free and not difficult to discover.

Orthodoxy clears the mind, the soul, the heart so that one can receive grace to step onto the road to holiness.

Orthodoxy is the foundation for the life of virtues and the fruition of the gifts of the spirit.

Basic truths from a great mind…

Perfection Series II: Moses And Elijah

Over the past three years, I have written on perfection and the seeking of perfection. Some people have thought that this great search is optional. Others have thought it is impossible.

Some people think is it a selfish endeavor (?), as if the seeking of perfection is merely for self-help, or some personal gain.

No, the pursuit of perfection is the pursuit for God, Who Is Perfection. We become like God, participating in the Divine Nature, through grace. When we seek perfection, we are seeking God.

I am meditating on Moses and Elijah today.

When Moses had to flee from Egypt, into Sinai, he was not seeking God. He was being drawn to God by God. God was calling him to purgation and perfection.  Purgation came in the long weeks in the desert, before he came upon the daughters of Jethro. Purgation continued in his long days in the desert as a husband and then, father. Purgation came to him in the encounter with God in the Burning Bush. Fire has always been a sign of purging. Burning metals makes them purer. Boiling water kills germs. Fire of purgation is the great symbol, if not the reality, of purgatory.

Before the Presence of God in the Burning Bush, Moses was faced with his own imperfections, his own limitations. This encounter with God began a long working out of Moses’ perfection.

We tend to think of Moses’ activity and role in freeing the people from Egypt, of setting the People of God free, as the culmination of his perfection. No, it is part of his own purification.

When Moses had to return time after time to speak with Pharaoh, Moses had to learn to rely on God more and more. He spent hours in prayer, listening, trying to understand the plan of God, which he finally did.

In Sinai, Moses became more and more perfected. He was separated for some time from his wife.  The Jewish tradition, and I accept this, is that Moses, once having encountered the Living God, chose a celibate life.

He become God’s own person, and in that process, became not only a great friend of God, but more and more like God.

By the time Moses walked up the mountain to receive the Commandments, He was in a state of Illumination and thenUnion with God.  In the Jewish tradition, when Moses died, St. Michael and Satan fought over his body. Why? Why was the body never found?

Moses appeared with Christ in the Transfiguration with the prophet Elijah, who left this earth in a fiery chariot. Therefore, Moses was in heaven body and soul. This could only have happened if Moses, through purgation, reached a height of perfection which allowed this unusual privilege.
The Transfiguration reveals Christ in glory, with Moses and Elijah. Those two men had to be in glory to join Christ.

The road to perfection varies with each person. The road to perfection involves purification of the senses and the soul. That these two men were present on Mount Tabor indicates that they had been set aside for a special role in the Church.

These men had found God, and they had been found by God, as examples for us on the road to perfection.

Their entire lives were centered on the One they loved.  God called Moses and Elijah to reach a level of perfection, to share in the Divine Nature is a unique and special manner.

This level of perfection is union with God as much as a person can experience on this earth. That these two men were taken up to heaven body and soul also makes us think of our own destiny, which is eternal life, finally when our souls and bodies are united.

The road to perfection is not a self-centered focus, but the seeking of Love, Who Is a Person.

The seeking of perfection is the seeking for God Himself.

The Transfiguration was an event not merely for Peter, James, and John, but for us, who have been given sanctifying grace, just as Moses and Elijah were granted a special grace.

Now, this grace is not only for two or three select men or women, but for all. This is God’s desire that all men and women are saved, that they all respond to grace. Not all will do so, which is their tragedy.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes that the seeking of perfection, which is our job on earth, takes daily focus.

Do not let moments pass by and pay attention to graces, daily.

Slavery of the Will; Freedom of the Will

Starting tomorrow, a new series on Semi-Pelagianism, one of the most prevalent heresies in the Church today. Since the Synod, (and before), many Catholics have been confused about the nature of grace and free will.

As readers of this blog know, I have written much on grace, so just follow the tags. But, a small series on the heresy, which St. Augustine attacked directly, seems necessary.

See you tomorrow and have a lovely evening wherever you are, dear Readers. Here is what we ate on New Year's before pasta in 1974! Not much has changed.

Persecution in Fort Wayne

just wait, will get worse.

According to Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, the case “never should have gone to trial.”
“There is no religious freedom if a court or a jury can decide for the Catholic Church what is morally appropriate for those who are hired to teach in a Catholic school,” he said.
Reilly said the Church’s failures in the past to “teach the truth about human sexuality and marriage” are now creating a “substantial threat” to Catholic schools’ religious liberty.
“The teachers filing these lawsuits seem to be largely ignorant of Catholic teaching — despite being entrusted to teach the next generation of Catholics — and such ignorance is widespread in the Church.”
He said the solution to lawsuits such as the one Herx filed “is more and better Catholic education” — including making sure prospective teachers for Catholic schools know or understand Church teaching when they sign their contracts. 
“We need to do an even better job of hiring and ensuring that teachers know what they are signing up for.”

Read more:

Perfection Thought for Today from Reader S...

1 Peter 5:10 Douay-Rheims

10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect you, and confirm you, and establish you.

Holy Days of Obligation Question

Can any reader in Malta tell me whether tomorrow is a holy day of obligation? I asked three Catholic people here, who did not know, and as I have missed Mass for the second day now, I have heard no announcements.

The archdiocesan website seems to be down. I cannot find the information on line.

Update: no one from Malta has replied. Does anyone know? There are many lists of obligatory days on line but not for Malta that I can find.

A Saying Proven False

Once, when I was in Ireland, someone told me that where one celebrates New Year's Eve is where one will be a year later. Does this count crossing a state line in order to go to a party?

Hmmm. Here are the places I have been recently on December 31st.

2009 Maryville, Missouri

2010 Moline, Illinois

2011 County Meath, Ireland

2012 London, England

2013 Davenport, Iowa

2014 St. Andrew's Malta

I can go back in my personal history further and give other examples of this contradiction to an old wive's tale. However, I wish it were true. I would like December 31, 1985 to be repeated--I was in Rome at the Venerabile!

From where do these quaint sayings come? I really would like to know where this one originated.
And, why? Happy New Year to all my readers, wherever you are.

Choosing Battles

I have learned a lesson in my life which many learn the hard way. "Choosing one's battles" can be a phrase which all of us need to learn in order to cope with the world in which we live, and in the Church in which we live.

Some things we can change, some things we cannot change, some things are not our responsibility, some things are our responsibility.

In this Age of the Laity, especially after the Synod, it is clear that the laity have a huge part to play in reminding some clerics where the truth of Christ lies and where personal, subjective opinion has no place.

Daily, some people in their jobs, businesses, in all professions, need to choose which fights are worthy to enter in to and which ones need to be ignored. Sometimes, all one can do is pray.

This idea of "choosing one's battles" is new in our culture. I first came across the phrase in the 1990s in working in the Church, in areas where I learned, quickly, what I could and could not change. However, even though the phrase was new, the concept was old. I had to stand up in the 1970s in an educational situation where a teacher was proselytizing students in a secular school, trying to spread the cult she was part of to our students. I won that battle, as the board supported a secular stand of no religion in the classroom, but I could not work with this team teacher, as she made life difficult for me after this. I had to find another job. But, that battle was worth the agro.

Not all battles are worth the agro. In my own life, I had to choose battles and pass up battles. A lay person in the Church can only do so much on one's own. But, in matters ethical, I never stood down.

This is the problem with too many Catholics-not discerning which battles are important, are capable of being won, and which are not. Compromise is never an option in ethical, moral situations. Never

But, some battles need to be passed by or passed up to the proper authorities who can deal with these things. If we find ourselves constantly in an adversarial mind-set, which is not from God, but from the self, we need to step back, pray, become humble.

All the saints faced battles, some so keen that the saints became martyrs, such as St. Thomas More, or St. Anne Line. One cannot avoid certain conflicts, even when facing tribulation and death.

But, the more subtle arguments can be avoided, or put on the back burner, until one actually can make a difference.

How does one discern when to enter a fray and when not to do so? I have a few bullet points to help with discernment.

  • Can one make a difference? Is one in a position to actually change a situation?
  • Is the situation one of moral or ethical importance, affecting one's self or others, especially those underneath one in authority, such as students in a classroom, or workers underneath one's management?
  • Does one have all the information needed to fight the battle clearly and rationally? Has one done one's homework and researched the area of contention?
  • Is one acting out of humility and not pride? 
  • Is the situation one in which if a person ignores it, that person would be cooperating with evil? The midwives in Scotland, who lost their case, is a good example of this. They could not cooperate with the evil of abortion.
  • Are you responsible for doing something, or is someone else? Michael Voris gave us a clear example in London last year (2013), when he stated that the secrets of Fatima were not the business of the laity, as those were given to the Pope and to the bishops, for them to sort out. Some things are simply not our domain for action.
  • If one is responsible, can one follow through with all the steps necessary to make the change or bring the problem to a solution?
  • Is one prepared for the consequences, for failure, or even, for success?
  • If one does not act, if one falling into serious sin in any way?
  • Does one have a martyr complex, thinking one is being persecuted, when one is not? This can be a sign of a serious mental or emotional imbalance in a person.
  • Does one have the physical and emotional stamina to fight this battle to the end?
There may be other considerations, but these may prove helpful for some people who must make hard decisions of conscience, as I have had to do several times, with severe, but necessary consequences for my self and my family.

One cannot hide from responsibility, but one does not have to take on responsibility where one is not in a position to do so.

Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to all Catholics in the sacrament of Confirmation. However, sin and weaknesses can prevent this gift, along with the virtue of Prudence, from being activated in one's soul, informing the mind, controlling the emotions. Prayer must always be part of discernment.

Of course, those seminarians in delicate positions of formation must pray about engaging or not engaging in arguments or activities which would prevent them from being ordained. One does not have to engage in battles at the seminary level, unless sin is involved. The questions concerning the TLM or the trappings of tradition do not have to be addressed by a seminarian in training. 

Get ordained, is what I tell sems, then you will be in a position to effect change.

Pride or the lack of wisdom in a young man or woman can be a serious obstacle for their vocations in the Church as a priest or nun.

Choose your battles, people.  But, be ready for the big ones which you cannot avoid.

See here for another perspective.

Global warming "on ice"

Ruminating on Vocations

A vocation is a call from God. A person cannot create a vocation to the priesthood, religious life of a monk, or nun or active sisterhood, if God does not initiate the call.

I have been thinking of some young people I know who have been struggling with vocations and I want to address them, and parents as well.

First of all, God calls the humble, not the proud. To be a priest or sister, a monk or nun, demands an attitude of service to the Church and not a careerist attitude. Too many young people see the priesthood, especially, as a way to "get ahead", to have influence in the world on a human level. This reaching out for status is particularly a temptation for those who think they do not fit in the world, or who even have little talents for worldly occupations. If one cannot work, one cannot serve. To be a good priest is hard work. Also, as noted before, a seminarian and a priest must be a teachable person, one open to learning the long history, theology and philosophy of the Church, plus all the pastoral skills. Humility is key.

Second, a call does not depend necessarily on intelligence or skills, but one must be able to fulfill the duties of a novitiate or a seminary. The Church needs bright young sparks to become priests, especially today, as the need for apologetic seems more and more necessary. One cannot have learning disabilities or a low IQ and be a pastor who must administer perhaps five parishes, travel consistently, balance budgets, encourage the laity and be a saint. To do what most lay people would not have to do, that is, multitask, forms a huge role of the priest in today's society. Long gone is the priest in his ivory tower dictating roles to others, especially if there are no lay persons willing to help out. Last year, at Easter, my parents' pastor pleaded for help in the Church and especially for young men to consider the deaconate, as so many priests in that diocese were getting old and even some younger one were ill with constant problems.

To be a priest in any situation now, is to be a missionary and not a prima donna. I can see the hard work and long hours necessary for the priest in most countries. Even in Malta and Gozo, there is now a priest shortage, which means most priests have multiple jobs, such as pastor and teacher, as they have in my old home diocese. A canon lawyer also works in a parish, even as a pastor, and so on.

Third, a priest or nun, brother or sister in religion, must leave all and follow God. To think they can live like comfortable middle-class people is not only an error in judgement, but a sign that, perhaps, that young person does not have a call. Again, the comfortable life is fast disappearing. To be physically uncomfortable is now part of the call, and should be.

Fourth, a call is a mysterious relationship between the individual and God. This relationship has been in the Mind of God for all time, despite the difference of time, historical context and genetics. God knows those He calls from the very moment of their existence in the womb. A call just does not pop out of nowhere, but comes from the Lord Who created the person to be a priest, a nun and so on.

That relationship can be thwarted, by free will, as no one is forced into following a vocation. But, there is another side to this coin of free will and that is grace. God gives the grace to say "yes" and I believe that if someone says "no", they have rejected a particular grace.

Fifth, in opposition to the fourth point is the truth that one cannot conjure up a call if one does not have one. Grace simply is not there to be a priest, a nun, a brother, a sister. One cannot work or live without grace for any length of time, as that life is built on sand and not solid rock. Sadly, I know several men who thought they were called to the priesthood and wasted time seeking the place to live this vocation out when there was no place, because that was not God's will for them.

To keep trying and failing is a sign of a lack of a vocation and too many people want to blame others, such as the order, or institution, the diocese or even Rome for being rejected. God does the choosing and God does the rejecting for His purposes, especially if someone has tried several orders or dioceses. Such moving about from one diocese or order to another is a sign that a person does not have a vocation.

Sixth, physical strength and health, as well as the absence of disablities is a sign as well. Again, the lifestyles are demanding. These physical demands are what proved to me that I did not have a vocation to the one order which was open to me joining-Tyburn. I simply could not keep up with the very disciplined and hard schedule. God did not make me for such a rule, as much as I loved being in Tyburn.

Seventh, one can love the trappings of the religious life or priesthood, such as the Liturgy or monastic environments, even soutanes and habits, but this does not mean that one has a vocation, as these are outward manifestations of a larger reality, and an interest, or even a passion, could mean one is called to be a liturgist, a cantor, a writer of sacred music, or a maker of vestments, as examples.

Eighth, a real sign of a vocation today is to accept the Church as it is, with both the EF and NO form of the Mass, and the various female orders either new and with teething pains, or old and needing patience. One does not get married if one wants to CHANGE the woman or man to whom one is engaged. That is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, one does not join a religious order or a diocese thinking that one will change the status quo. Not only does that exhibit the sin of pride, but an immaturity. Saints who reform orders, or men or women who convert their spouses, are rare, indeed.

We are made in the image and likeness of God and how God wants us to work out our salvation is His perfect plan for us. Several excellent writers have noted that a person will not find happiness or peace in this life if he or she chooses the wrong vocation. Even if that happiness is the unfelt joy of St. Therese, there must be a deeply rooted peace about one's vocation.

I am writing this as I am grieved by two friends who refuse to give up pursuing something to which God has not called them after several failures. These two women have tried again and again to become nuns and have left several orders because they have not fit in.

Why they are so stubborn reveals a mislaid pride, thinking that the only way they can be holy is to be a nun. And, they are, I am afraid, seeking a status or lost ideal of perfection. They have lived very unhappy and thwarted lives. I wish them the best, but they need to move on into a lay mindset.

The rule of orders is the more perfect way, as a rule is set up to help a person be a saint, which our jobs in the world do not do. Secular pursuits are not perfect objectively, ordered to the growth of the spiritual life, as are the rules of the Benedictines, Carmelites and so on.

But, to be humble and recognize that God has called one to a less perfect way in the world and still strive for great sanctity is a true gift of self-denial, death to the self. Sometimes, a man is a "bad priest" or a woman a "bad nun" because they should not have been such in the first place.

What happens in reality is God's Will. I firmly believe this. One must embrace this truth. However, God honors our free wills as sacred.  A tragic thing happened to someone who struggled with a vocation to the priesthood for years and years, finally falling in love and becoming engaged. His mind kept going back and forth on his decision even to the day of the wedding. On his wedding day, he actually heard God, as he stood at the altar, that the marriage was not God's will for him. But, he went ahead with the sacrament. That man has been married for over twenty years now, and he has a core of sad peace. He knows he chose incorrectly, but he loves his wife and will continue with his vows until he dies. He believes that he just did not listen well. One should get advice from others, and many people thought he should have been a priest. The parish people discussed this for years when he was young. There is a mystery in his life, but he is good and dedicated. His wife knows the story and they have come to love each other in a special way, in a suffering, but at peace. One can say "no" to God. I wonder if when they are older, she may not let him go into the priesthood? This is possible, as one can leave a vow to go on to a higher call.

One cannot play God and be something God did not create one to be. And, like marriage, or the rare call of singleness for the Lord, one is being, not just doing, what God intended for all time for one's life.

Being not doing...

A man or woman must honestly look at who they are, what their gifts are, and what physical traits are theirs in order to understand whether they have a vocation or not. To be holy is to fulfill the call of God, not to fulfill one's own desires, which may not be in keeping with God's plans.

Pray for two groups of people today. Pray for those who are being called to the priesthood or religious life, and pray for those who are not, who are confused about what it means to become holy, that they may embrace their lay calls


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Schism Material

reason for so many posts

I am ill...and in bed. As STS states, "Mum, you do not know how to rest."

See you all tomorrow. There is now water pouring out from one wall of the flat going under my bed and I have to move things. Prayers, please.

The Weak and The Strong

Those of us who are naturally strong have to be squashed by the Almighty in order to give up our own strength and rely on God alone.

This is the mystery of God using suffering to make the strong weak and the weak strong.

Sometimes, we are weak in some areas and strong in others. But, the truth is that we have to learn to rely on God alone.

I have been in this position for over fifteen months. To rely on others is hard for me, as I was so capable for so long. But, God undermines our false confidence in ourselves so that we come to Him in truth.

All we have comes from God and all we have is gift. The ego does not want to admit this, clinging on to what is supposedly "mine".

One does not want to get ill, or have cancer, or live in poverty, or lose loved ones, but God allows all suffering for one reason-to get rid of the ego, so that He can give us His strength and His Own Self.

For those who are weak, God gives strength beyond their imagination. For those who are strong, God brings humiliation, so that they see who they really are.

All of this movement of the spirit involves both justice and mercy. Justice comes to us so that we can atone somewhat for our sins, and make reparation. Mercy, which is the giving of compassion to someone who deserves punishment, is sheer gift. Justice is what is due to us, the reality of consequences.

At this end of a year, we can stop an thank God for His wisdom in how He moves in our lives.

May we benefit from His loving care, even if that care is intense suffering.

Excellent Article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on Pope Francis

A light goes on sometimes

Extrapolating from the comments made below by Ben Carson, it dawned on me why Catholic vocations are at such a low tide-or yet another reason than those commonly defined.

What Ben Carson notes about the black youth not growing up respecting authority is true for the way Catholic parents are referring to the clergy, even in so-called good Catholic homes.

We had good friends who were priests who served as brilliant examples of good priests for my son. We did not speak against the clergy in any general anti-clerical sense, but I have seen over and over in families where priests are so criticized that any young man who may consider a vocation would be discouraged from doing so.

Authority must be respected in the role of authority. Whether a particular person measures up to that role is another question entirely.

I respect the pope because he is the pope. I respect my bishop because he is the bishop.

The merits of the person are separate from the office, which is something many Catholics simply do not understand.

The great divide in the Church over the EF and NO families has caused problems with vocations. A young man must never think the NO in invalid, for example, and think he has a vocation. He must be willing to say both, unless he joins an order where the charism is only saying the EF.

Respect for the authority of the Church must be part of the young person's character if he thinks he is called to the priesthood. We have enough priests who do not love the Church and we absolutely do not need more like that, either liberal or conservative.

Sadly, with parents wanting to be friends rather than parents, too many young men have not had experience with authority. They simply do not know how to submit. And, an adversarial attitude is not the mark of a vocation.

I see this daily.

And, this attitude would be a deterrent to a young man considering a vocation. Or, he simply would not last in the seminary. Only a young man who is humble, who is teachable, can learn to be a priest.

Thoughts on Pelagianism

Thinking and talking about St. Thomas a Becket yesterday brought up some interesting ideas through a friend of mine. St. Thomas Becket was killed partly because he had rightly insisted on a priest getting an ecclesial trial for a serious crime, and in the meantime, the king's man, a knight, killed the priest, which is still grounds for excommunication.

The priest should have gone on trial by the Church and then by the secular state. Church first, State second.

Thomas Becket was standing up for the rights of the Church regarding clergy over the State interference. That the priest was wrong is clear in history, but there were procedures, which meant that the State honored the Church's judiciary. Canon law first, secular law second--or, better, that the secular law would reflect canon law.

As it should.

When any secular state takes power away from the Church, that state is not honoring the way God wants His Church to be protected. It is the duty of every state to protect the one, true, holy, and apostolic Church. Of course, the secularists deny this and so want "equality" and not merely tolerance.

There is a difference.

That the Church and the State would have found the priest guilty and that he would have been executed is sure.

These thoughts bring me to the problem of Pelagianism and universalism-the belief that all men are saved.

First of all, King Henry did something outside of Church law. By taking law into his own hands and not deferring to the Church, he showed that his view was like that of the Pelagians, that is, that one can achieve heaven, eternal life, sanctity on one's own efforts, with good works, and not with grace. The Church teaches that not only is grace necessary for salvation, that is, the need for the Redemptive action of Christ, which gives us grace through Him, but that grace helps us avoid future sins.

When both Original Sin is denied, and when grace is seen as unnecessary,  this leads to an idea that everyone may be saved without Christ.

In fact, the Church condemns the idea that we can do good works without grace.

Pelagians deny free will as well. This is popular in our day and age of over-psychoanalyzing sin to the point where no one is guilty of choosing evil, which we are.

Those who believe or have some type of fairy-tale idea that all men, women and children go to heaven forget all the above points.

Original Sin is a reality and it darkens our intellect, makes us more vulnerable to sin, and robs us of eternal life.

This is why Christ came, to free us from Original Sin, and the great icon of this is the Harrowing of Hell-to which we refer in the Creed.

Back to Becket...

The saint realized that one cannot contravene Church teaching for the sake of a good end, or in the case of excommunicating those bishops who did not follow proper order in the coronation of Henry's son, not following Church procedure but giving in to the king.

Only the Archbishop of Canterbury could give the right of coronation, which was and still is a religious duty and rite, not merely secular, at least in Catholic countries. Roger de Pont L'Évêque, the archbishop of York, Gilbert Foliot, the bishop of London, and Josceline de Bohon were excommunicated for going over the Archbishop's authority to give the oath of coronation.

Again, we see an interpretation of Church law and practice being flaunted by those who wanted to undermine the power of Becket and therefore place the Church under State control. What King Henry II could not do, Henry VIII succeeded in doing and bringing disgrace, terror and murder into the realm.

If there is no grace needed for good works, one can be saved outside the Church. Not so...

If there is no Original Sin, all people are saved. Not so.

There is a place for those who are not saved in and through Christ and His Church and that is hell. People want a generalized type of mercy without justice. Becket was standing up for real justice, which could include mercy, regarding the criminal priest. 

Without justice, there can be no mercy, and people continue to sin, expecting no consequences. Pelagians today, as in centuries past, undermine the authority of the Church, not only with regard to the sacred teachings from Scripture, which the Church preserves, but regarding temporal punishment due to sin, not only a Scriptural truth, but one clearly defined in the teachings of the Church.

The universalists want everyone to be saved, thus falling into the Pelagianist denial of free will and grace. One cannot gain heaven without grace and freely choosing to follow Christ. That God brings some people into heaven through the merits of the Catholic Church is a truism, explained here under the label of merit.

But, as Pelagius denied the need for Christ's Redemptive work on the Cross, so to do those modern universalists. If all men, women and children go to heaven, why bother to evangelize anyone, which is a command of Christ, God Himself?

Pelagians want salvation without the Church, without the sacraments, without grace. They want the so-called good works done by a person to bring one to heaven.

Just as the knight thought he was doing a good by killing a criminal priest, so the Pelagians confuse means and end. 

to be continued....

Well, some of us knew this...

Stay in The State of Grace Always

Why I Am So Cold....

Again, Great Website-Please, Support It

Coming to Conclusions about Malta

From what I have personally witnessed in four extended visits here, since 2011, I do not believe there will ever be a Tridentine Mass culture here in Malta.

The older generation is fast disappearing, and those seventy and younger are content with the Novus Ordo. Too many priests in high positions do not support the TLM or even the Latin NO. As noted, one prominent priest said from the pulpit that "Latin is divisive."

Even conservative priests do not push for, work for, or promote the TLM. I only know of two who say it privately, one is Rome and the other, now that he is a pastor, may not be saying it at all.
There are 423,282 inhabitants in Malta, with the largest increase since 2013 being non-Catholics.
In fact, most of the new immigrants are not Christians.
To pretend that this will be a haven for the TLM seems to be wishful thinking. 
In fact, the climate for having any, much less regular TLMs, is worse than four years ago.
I have not met any Maltese seminarians from the seminary here. Whether they are pro-TLM...?

IMO, without the TLM, there will be no renewal of the Church here and Catholicism will die.