Monday, December 31, 2007

Anglican Seminarian to Convert to the Catholic Church

Over the weekend I attended a Byzantine mass and afterwards at the potluck meal, I met an Traditionalist Anglican in the seminary who said he was preparing to convert to the Catholic Church. Interestingly, my friend who is an elder at an "Orthodox Presbyterian Church" (OPC) had originally tried to steer me to the very parish where he attends. (He knew I was leaning towards high Church liturgy and wanted to steer me anywhere except the Catholic Church. He also knew that this particular Anglican parish was not in communion with Canterbury). Turns out the seminarian also attended the same OPC parish where my friend is an elder for about a year before entering the Anglican seminary.

I asked him what issues had caused him to stop seminary training and become Catholic. He said they were the usual reasons but mainly Church authority. To our shame, he said the one thing he was going to miss about being Anglican was having communion rails.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tridentine Mass in North Carolina

From Sid Cundiff:

SUNDAY, 6 January 2008, 430pm, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Raleigh NC, Propers for the Solemnity of Epiphany (a Solemn High Mass, offered by Father Paul Parkerson as Priest, with Father Meares as Deacon, and Father Robert Ferguson, FSSP, as Subdeacon, and Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, at the throne)

Sunday, 13 Jan 2008, 330pm, Our Lady of Grace, Greensboro [Father Ferguson], Propers of the Feast of Holy Family.

Sunday, 20 January 2008 at 1:30 p.m., Davis Chapel, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem [Father Samuel Weber, O.S.B.], Propers for Septuagesima Sunday. (if all is ready, this will be a High Mass [more choir members needed!]. There are no kneelers in Davis Chapel; those attending may wish to bring something to kneel upon.)

After 20 Jan 2008, Mass will be offered in Davis Chapel, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem usually on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Every First Sunday of the month, 4:30pm, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Raleigh NC [Father Parkerson]

Every Sunday, 12 noon, Sacred Heart Church, Dunn, NC [Father Parkerson]

Per Father Parkerson, Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be offered also at at the Catholic Churches in Rocky Mount and Wrightsville Beach, NC; I am uncertain as to the dates.

The 13th Century Frat Boys of Nidaros Seminary

From the letter "Cum, sicut ex" to Sigurd, Archbishop of Nidaros (a city in Norway), July 8, 1241:

Since as we have learned from your report, it sometimes happens because of the scarcity of water, that infants of your lands are baptized in beer, we reply to you in the tenor of those present that, since according to evangelical doctrine it is necessary "to be reborn from water and the Holy Ghost" (John III:5) they are not to be considered rightly baptized who are baptized in beer.
Shortly thereafter the fraternity was broken up and the seminarians were ordered to brew tea instead.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mosaic Authenticity of the Pentateuch

Ouch.. smack down for so many RCIA's, Faith Formation and Lay Ministry courses.. This is from the Response of the Commission on Biblical Studies, June 27, 1906:

1. Authenticity — Whether the arguments amassed by critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name Pentateuch are of sufficient weight, notwithstanding the very many evidences to the contrary contained in both Testaments, taken collectively, the persistent agreement of the Jewish people, the constant tradition of the Church, and internal arguments derived from the text itself, to justify the statement that these books have not Moses for their author but have been complied from sources for the most part posterior to the time of Moses. Answer: In the negative.

2. Writer — Whether the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch necessarily postulates such a redaction of the whole work as to render it absolutely imperative to maintain that Moses wrote with his own hand or dictated to amanuenses all and everything contained in it; or whether it is possible to admit the hypothesis of those who think that he entrusted the composition of the work itself, conceived by himself under the influence of divine inspiration, to some other person or persons, but in such a manner that they render faithfully his own thoughts, wrote nothing contrary to his will, and omitted nothing; and that the work thus produced, approved by Moses as the principal and inspired author, was made public under his name. Answer: In the negative to the first part, in the affirmative to the second part.

3. Sources — Whether it may be granted, without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, that Moses employed sources in the production of his work, i.e., written documents or oral traditions, from which, to suit his special purpose and under the influence of divine inspiration, he selected some things and inserted them in his work, either literally or in substance, summarized or amplified. Answer: In the affirmative.

4. Changes and Textual Corruptions — Whether, granted the substantial Mosaic authenticity and the integrity of the Pentateuch, it may be admitted that in the long course of centuries some modifications have been introduced into the work, such as additions after the death of Moses, either appended by an inspired author or inserted into the text as glosses and explanations; certain words and forms translated from the ancient language to a more recent language, and finally, faulty readings to be ascribed to the error of amanuenses, concerning which it is lawful to investigate and judge according to the laws of criticism. Answer: In the affirmative, subject to the judgment of the Church.
Whether most lay instructors in the Catholic Church need a good country ass whoopin... Answer in the affirmative.

Catholics Now Outnumber Anglicans in the UK

My, how the house built on sand does indeed sink. The house Christ laid the foundations for on solid rock 2000 years ago still towers above all the other man made ones. Not that ecclesial truth is found in numbers, but it does say something when the once outlawed and persecuted Catholic Church has grown even larger than her former oppressor.

London, Dec 24, 2007 / 10:30 am (CNA).- In the United Kingdom, new research has found that services offered by the Church of England are no longer the country’s most popular form of worship. The Press Association reports that Catholic churchgoers outnumber Anglicans for the first time since the Reformation.
Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fathers Raising Daughters

Here's an excellent interview of Meg Meeker, author of "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know". This excerpt was particularly telling of how backwards our culture has gotten:

Q: A father is a daughter's best ally seems to be the consensus of your book. While studies say that it is parents who are the key to their children's happiness, what is the unique offering of a father to a daughter that a mother cannot offer, especially in her relationship to God?

Meeker: I think that one of the reasons I wanted to address this issue head-on, is that a father is a daughter's great ally, which today is not only overlooked, but is directly attacked. If you look at the typical sitcom, the father is portrayed as someone who is comical, humorous and just plain dumb, and as though he has something to learn from his daughter.
We're not fighting a 'culture war' anymore. We lost that a long time ago. We're living in a culturally- post apocalyptic society.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

I always thought Christmas was Christianity triumphing over a pagan holiday - baptizing it if you will. Even if that were true it would be fine but check out this post disproving that myth from Mike Aquilina. Ya learn something new every day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Makes a Real Christian?

This post is not meant to point fingers at Protestants - in fact I learned my best Christology from a Protestant (although in all fairness we should remind ourselves that the best in Protestant scholarship is only recently discovering points of Christology which the Church has been teaching for centuries). But any way you look at it, you have to admit that mainstream evangelicalism has skewed the image of Christ beyond recognition. At some point the law of non contradiction has to kick in and say if they are Christian - Roman Catholics aren't.

I'm talking about the people who view Jesus as a Heavenly teddy bear. He is the one in Heaven who understands all your fears and cares intimately for all your emotions and is totally about forgiveness, love and mercy. These are the ones whose songs almost always refer to Him as a possession of theirs "my Jesus" or sing otherwise ridiculous lyrics like "Shine Jesus Shine". The way this movement of sentimentalism thinks and talks about Christ is it any wonder secularists refer to Him as an imaginary friend for grown ups? Their Jesus IS an imaginary friend. He bears no resemblance to the suffering Servant/conquering King/ Lord of Creation we read about in the Scriptures.

Their gospel bears no more resemblance to the gospel handed to us by the apostles than does their image of Christ to the historical One. They teach a gospel of faith alone - explicitly condemned in the book of James. They reject the sacraments instituted by Christ Himself. (They call this rejection "understanding the sacraments differently" - the Gnostics also had a phrase for it). They entertain the erroneous tendencies of nearly every early heresy - most notably Nestorianism, Montanism and various forms of neo-Platonic Gnosticism and eventually even Catharism.

I had a teacher in school remark about Roman Catholics once (I grew up in the Protestant South). One student said "I thought Roman Catholics were just like Christians" she looked at him strangely and scoffed "No. Roman Catholicism is as different from Christianity as Islam is". She associated Protestantism (the Christianity she knew) with true "Christianity". And she was right about one thing - there are huge irreconcilable differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. In fact, it seems to me that one could go as far as to say if one is true Christianity the other isn't. If Protestantism is true, Methodists and Baptists represent two (or rather hundreds of) different ways to be Christian and Roman Catholicism represents one way of getting the whole thing terribly wrong. If Catholicism is true, Methodists and Baptists are two (or again, rather hundreds of different) heretical factions that have retained some elements of truth but have rejected much of true Christianity.

What is a Christian? One who follows Christ right? What difference does it make if group A follows Him in a radically different way than group B? I think it is clear, Jesus' primary mission was salvation and to offer this to a fallen world. So it seems both groups got the fundamental part right. So did the Gnostics. Are they Christian? If so, what honor is the title anymore if it can be so loosely designated as to even apply to blatant heretics?

It seems Eastern Orthodox have a more difficult time viewing Protestants as Christian than Catholics do. Without the sacraments what meaning does the title have?

But the Church has spoken, the Protestants do have a valid sacrament - Baptism. They are baptized into the Church but in an imperfect communion. Some Protestants (like Anglicans) look a whole lot more like the Church in form than others (like Baptists or non-denominationalists). My point in a recent discussion with an Anglican, Phil Snider is that full reconciliation of Christianity can come about in only one way - all Christians returning to full communion with Rome. (It is important to remember that they all were once in full communion and thereby must return as the Holy Spirit has been especially active in calling fallen away brethren like myself to return over the past few decades).

Perhaps the General is sounding His trumpet for battle or perhaps as time moves on history is continuously proving what the Catholics warned would happen at Martin Luther's first inkling of dissent. At any rate, I hope more separated Christians turn from their errors and embrace the fullness of the Christian faith.

Calvin Against Luther

Oh what a tangled web we weave... Check out Dave Armstrong's post on Calvin's thoughts on Luther.

I am carefully on the watch that Lutheranism gain no ground, nor be introduced into France. The best means, believe me, for checking the evil would be that confession written by me .
Funny how it's not the Scriptures that would best expose Luther's errors but rather the magisterial teachings of Calvin. Just what does sola scriptura mean anyway?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Was the Doctrine of Transubstantiation Borrowed From Aristotle?

To continue a somewhat ongoing (if sporadic) discussion that Kenny Pearce and I have been having about the supposed difference between Transubstantiation of Trent versus the undeniable Real Presence of the early Church, I found this excerpt from Lutheran Church Historian, Jaroslav Pelikan (at least he was Lutheran at the time he wrote it) in "The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition" (emphasis my own):

The victory of orthodox Christian doctrine over classical thought was to some extent a Pyrrhic victory, for the theology that triumphed over Greek philosophy has continued to be shaped ever since by the language and the thought of classical metaphysics. For example, the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 decreed that "in the sacrament of the altar... the bread is transubstantiated into the body [of Christ],and the wine into [his] blood," and the Council of Trent declared in 1551 that the use of the term "transubstantiation" was "proper and appropriate." Most of the theological expositions of the term "transubstantiation," beginning already with those of the thirteenth century, have interpreted "substance" on the basis of the meaning given to this term by such classical discussions as that in the fifth book of Aristotle's Metaphysics; transubstantiation, then, would appear to be tied to the acceptance of Aristotelian metaphysics or even of Aristotelian physics.

Yet the application of the term "substance" to the discussion of the Eucharistic presence antedates the rediscovery of Aristotle. In the ninth century, Ratramnus spoke of "substances visible but invisible," and his opponent Radbertus declared that "out of the substance of bread and wine the same body and blood of Christ is mystically consecrated." Even "transubstantiation" was used during the twelfth century in a nontechnical sense. Such evidence lends credence to the argument that the doctrine of transubstantiation, as codified by the decrees of the Fourth Lateran and Tridentine councils, did not canonize Aristotelian philosophy as indispensable to Christian doctrine.
Though as I have stated before, even if it were using language and concepts already proposed by certain pagan philosophers it would not make it untrue. Pelikan does this point more justice than me in this concise quote found two pages after the above (which was on page 44):
In various ways they [the early Christian apologists] joined to assert the thesis that Christ had come as the revealer of true philosophy, ancient and yet new, as the correction and also the fulfillment of what the philosophical mind had already grasped.
Quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The scientific development of the concept of Transubstantiation can hardly be said to be a product of the Greeks, who did not get beyond its more general notes; rather, it is the remarkable contribution of the Latin theologians, who were stimulated to work it out in complete logical form by the three Eucharistic controversies mentioned above, The term transubstantiation seems to have been first used by Hildebert of Tours (about 1079).
Again, this was long before the rediscovery of Aristotle as mentioned above. The article also lists a number of the early fathers whose concept of the Eucharist would seamlessly agree with our modern concept of "transubstantiation" while not employing the exact language - not the least of which is Ambrose of whose opinion on the Eucharist I posted this excerpt some time ago. It also affirms that the ancient liturgies (on which our modern ones are based or in the case of Eastern Churches are still celebrated) bear unequivocal testimony to the doctrine and its ancient roots.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Skeptical Scientists Urge World To ‘Have the Courage to Do Nothing' At UN Conference

Global warming nut jobs are dealt yet another embarrassing blow. Read the whole thing.

BALI, Indonesia - An international team of scientists skeptical of man-made climate fears promoted by the UN and former Vice President Al Gore, descended on Bali this week to urge the world to "have the courage to do nothing" in response to UN demands.

Lord Christopher Monckton, a UK climate researcher, had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday.

"Climate change is a non-problem. The right answer to a non problem is to have the courage to do nothing," Monckton told participants.

"The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money and we should no longer pay the slightest attention to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,)" Monckton added.
You know the good thing about not believing in global warming is similar to the good thing about believing in God: even if you're wrong it doesn't matter. In the case of God - if it did turn out that everything most humans have known about the universe is wrong no one would ever know and it wouldn't matter even if they did. In the case of global warming - if it turns out that most level headed scientific estimates have been wrong and global warming is really a dangerous trend caused by man then we'd all be screwed by the time anyone found out! Hah.

Free Bible Audio

Free Audio bibles including Catholic versions. To get the OT you have to purchase it on CD I think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bible Translation & Fundamentalism

From livescience.com:

The translation of the Bible into English marked the birth of religious fundamentalism in medieval times, as well as the persecution that often comes with radical adherence in any era, according to a new book.
The 16th-century English Reformation, the historic period during which the Scriptures first became widely available in a common tongue, is often hailed by scholars as a moment of liberation for the general public, as it no longer needed to rely solely on the clergy to interpret the verses.
Yup.. all those English speaking peasants in the 100s & 200s living in the Middle East had to rely on the big bad Catholic Church to dictate what the Scriptures said. And how foolish of Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin when the common language in the Roman empire during the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries was Swahili.

Although there are some valid points in this article, I simply had to take issue with this (though it might be true depending on how you read it, it's certainly misleading to say the least). Maybe the issue lies simply with 'wide availability'.
But being able to read the sometimes frightening set of moral codes spelled out in the Bible scared many literate Englishmen into following it to the letter, said James Simpson, a professor of English at Harvard University.
Get used to more secular scholarship saying these types of things in the future.
It was Protestant reformer William Tyndale who first translated the Bible into colloquial English in 1525,
(Although Wycliffe's condemned version came out 150 years earlier in.. Middle English which I suppose was "colloquial" at the time.. again, pre-printing press it wouldn't be 'widely available' especially since it was condemned)
"Scholarly consensus over the last decade or so is that most people did not convert to [Protestantism]. They had it forced upon them," Simpson told LiveScience.
Most Protestants seem strangely ignorant of this part of the Reformation. Even a cursory examination of Church history (even if by the hands of an apologetic Protestant) would verify this. See Baptist historian Bruce Shelley for examples.
Without the clergy guiding them, and with religion still a very important factor in the average person's life, their fate rested in their own hands, Simpson said.
Don't you mean in the hands of the Holy Spirit interpreting the Bible through the individual?

New Study Says Global Warming Not Caused by Man

This stuff is pretty much old news by now and should be common sense anyhow. H/T Pro Ecclesia

Monday, December 10, 2007

Did Jesus Baptize Peter?

The words of St. Clement of Alexandria are preserved in the following passage (the original work which the author is quoting no longer exists):

Yes, truly, the apostles were baptised, as Clement the Stromatist relates in the fifth book of the Hypotyposes. For, in explaining the apostolic statement,"I thank God that I baptised none of you," he says, Christ is said to have baptised Peter alone, and Peter Andrew, and Andrew John, and they James and the rest.
John 3:22
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.
Whereas John 4:2 says:
although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
Especially given 3:22, John 4:2 doesn't seem to completely disprove the possibility of Jesus baptizing Peter if it was indeed only Peter whom He baptized and for specific theological reasons. Yet this is the earliest mention I know of such a tradition (CofA) probably around 200 AD. So the tradition obviously extends well into the second century if not earlier. We have to ask ourselves why the tradition exists. Was it true or merely theologically charged legend invented by the early Church? If it is true then it would fit well theologically with Matthew 16:18 (let's not forget the first disciple was Andrew not Peter) but even if false it would reflect a theological motive in the very primitive Church to set Peter apart from the rest of the apostles in not merely an honorific way.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

St. Clement of Alexandria Against Metrosexuals

How many times do we have to have this cliche reaffirmed - nothing new under the sun:

But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly!
He seems to have a problem with men shaving their beards...
But the embellishment of smoothing (for I am warned by the Word), if it is to attract men, is the act of an effeminate person,—if to attract women, is the act of an adulterer; and both must be driven as far as possible from our society. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered," says the Lord; those on the chin, too, are numbered, and those on the whole body. There must be therefore no plucking out, contrary to God's appointment, which has counted them in according to His will.
Yup. Sounds like me and ole' CofA would have gotten along just fine. I have often wondered why it is that men universally prefer a more feminine woman whereas the opposite (or rather the same while we would expect the opposite) is true of women - they prefer a more feminine man rather than a more masculine one. To our modern sensibilities, Clement's words seem archaic, ignorant and unenlightened.

But the outer appearance of man in society reflects an inward reality - the effeminization of Western man. Clement associates this unnatural grooming to be the sign of an adulterous spirit. Doesn't it seem like the greater tendency for men to be 'metrosexuals' today than say 100 years ago roughly corresponds with the greater lust for adultery and all kinds of sexual perversion? I took a jab at beardless men earlier - that's just in fun. There are plenty of effeminate men with beards and manly men without. (But the rule is quite the other way around). The bottom line is that the issue is not with beards or lack thereof but of an unnatural tendency for men to want to be more feminine and women to want to be more masculine.

Women think they will be more happy if they were like men. They become like men only to find themselves less happy and pride keeps them from reversing the mistake. The evils of feminism have taught them to hate their God-given femininity and likewise it is the evils of our adulterous culture which have taught men to hate their God-given masculinity. Embrace the role God made for you - whether masculine or feminine. Happiness is always and only found in cooperation with God's plan.

Friday, December 07, 2007

New USCCB Document on Music

Not that the leadership at many parishes will pay any attention but so that the faithful know what the Church is actually saying about music in worship - here is the new USCCB document on liturgical music. (Remember this is from the USCCB which historically has been pretty lame on this issue)

The use of the vernacular is the norm in most liturgical celebrations in the dioceses of the United States “for the sake of a better comprehension of the mystery being celebrated.” However, care should be taken to foster the role of Latin in the Liturgy, particularly in liturgical song. Pastors should ensure “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” They should be able to sing these parts of the Mass proper to them, at least according to the simpler melodies.

...

To facilitate the singing of texts in Latin, the singers should be trained in its correct pronunciation and understand its meaning. To the greatest extent possible and applicable, singers and choir directors are encouraged to deepen their familiarity with the Latin language.
That's funny, our schola was forbidden to chant the mass propers even once per month.
In promoting the use of Latin in the Liturgy, pastors should always “employ that form of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation.”
Yea, here's the unfortunate loophole my pastor and others like him will use to get out of obeying any part of this document "but our parish isn't capable of doing it". See we have a policy here, keep the parishioners as stupid as possible lest they become liturgically literate and know how bad of a job we're doing...
"The Church recognizes Gregorian chant as being specially suited to the Roman
Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”
Nothing new here. We've been ignoring this text for some time now, my guess is that many parishes will continue to.
The Second Vatican Council directed that the faithful be able to sing parts of the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin.
What the hell? I thought Vatican II was all about turning mass into a sing-along??!?! I thought Vatican II was meant to introduce guitars and reggae music into the liturgy. Who knew that the bishops actually wanted to increase the reverence not detract from it? How archaic!
In many worshiping communities in the United States, fulfilling this directive will mean introducing Latin chant to worshipers who perhaps have not sung it before. While prudence, pastoral sensitivity, and reasonable time for progress are encouraged to achieve this end, every effort in this regard is laudable and highly encouraged. Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum, learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII, all of which are typically included in congregational worship aids. More difficult chants, such as Gloria VIII and settings of the Credo and Pater Noster, might be learned after the easier chants have been mastered.
Many of us will have to undertake this duty on our own as our pastors will doubtlessly fail to comply with this. CanticaNova is a good place to buy chant materials since you won't likely find them in your parish.
Moreover, “to be suitable for use in the Liturgy, a sung text must not only be doctrinally correct, but must in itself be an expression of the Catholic faith.”
And finally:
Even when listening to the various prayers and readings of the Liturgy or to the singing of the choir, the assembly continues to participate actively as they “unite themselves interiorly to what the ministers or choir sing, so that by listening to them they may raise their minds to God.”
I would forward this on to a few people I know were it not for Jesus' words "do not cast pearls before swine". I have no intention of giving someone more reason for misinterpretation. But just so you know what the Church (even the leadership in America) truly says about music in the liturgy... Also see Father Z's excellent post on the same document.

A Lutheran Considers How to Respond to Challenges From the Ancient Christian Faith

How's that for a loaded title? Check out the new blog entitled Lutheran Seeker. H/T Ecumenicity.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Church Signs

Just couldn't resist...





So to be fair I thought I should make some Catholic ones too:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Father Z Slams National Catholic Reporter For Dissension

I say dissension, in the old days they called it "heresy". Check out his post. Go Father Z.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Narcissism to Blame for Liturgical Abuse

Oh that every priest in America would read this essay on our narcissistic culture. Reading through this article I am constantly reminded of my own parish. Here's an excerpt:

In 1990 Thomas Day, in Why Catholic Can’t Sing, gave some clear examples of the narcissistic phenomenon in the Catholic liturgy — a phenomenon that he calls “Ego Renewal.”

“It is Holy Thursday and we are at the solemn evening mass in a mid-western parish. The moment comes for the celebrant of the Mass, the pastor, to wash the feet of twelve parishioners, just as Christ washed the feet of the apostles at the last Supper. During this deeply moving ceremony, the choir sings motets and alternates with the congregation, which sings hymns. Finally, this part of the liturgy comes to a close with the washing of the last foot. The music ends; you can almost sense that the congregation wants to weep for joy. Then, Father Hank (this is what the pastor wishes to be called) walks over to a microphone, smiles, and says, “Boy, that was great! Let’s give these twelve parishioners a hand.”

A stunned and somewhat reluctant congregation applauds weakly. Father Hank continues….

One by one, Father Hank goes down the row of twelve parishioners; each one gets a little testimonial and applause. With that job out of the way, Father, Hank, visibly pleased with himself, resumes the liturgy, while the congregation, visibly annoyed, contemplates various methods of strangulation.”

This is a narcissistic example of “personalizing” the liturgy, and Day points out that “Father Hank’s” antics, far from being selfless, are fundamentally intended to draw attention to himself. Any psychologist would be aware of Father Hank’s underlying insecurity and consequent need for personal affirmation, and we can see this same psychology on a lesser scale when the celebrant leaves the sanctuary to shake hands during the sign of peace and nods and glad-hands his way through the congregation during the recessional as though he were a local politician running for office. Day displays acute awareness of the narcissism underlying many liturgical problems, and aptly refers to it as “Ego Renewal.” A similar, real-life example of this personalizing of the liturgy in a way that detracts from its spiritual significance occurred at a large Mass, attended by the junior author, in which the main celebrant introduced each of over twenty other concelebrants at the start of the mass, inviting applause for each as they were introduced.

With rare exceptions the introduction of applause within the Mass is a display of the ego needs of the priest or priests who are modeling the mass on show business and on public demonstrations of emotional support at the expense of Christ and reverence.

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

New Patristic Carnival

The new patristic carnival is up at Hyperekperissou. Be sure to check it out. Also let Phil know if you want to host the next one.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving - Authority & Unity

Bryan Cross has an excellent post on Christian Authority & Unity. Check it out if you get a chance. BTW, Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Anglican Bishop Returns to Full Communion With the Church

Welcome home Bishop Lipscomb. Read his open letter here in which he requests release from his vows and acceptance into the Holy Catholic Church. H/T NotMyOpinion. It reminds me of the homily I heard recently at the Ukranian Catholic Church in which the priest stated, after the collapse of our self centered culture all that will remain is Islam, Secularism and the Catholic Church. Pick your side while you still can. The Protestant experiment has failed - the Church stands firm as she always has. This is not the work of man but of God.

In Praise of Fundamentalism

"Fundamentalist" has become such a dirty word these days. Let me first say something perhaps a bit controversial. There will be a thousand fundamentalists in Heaven per every one progressive. Or in other words, how much better to be a fundamentalist than to be a progressive Catholic or mainstream evangelical.

I've been exposed to quite a bit of fundamentalism. To the evangelical mainstreams at my work, the denomination I grew up in (PCA) would be considered fundamentalist-right wing. In fact, one referred to the OPC as a “scary” denomination. That is scary.

I have a number of relatives who would be unhesitant in labeling themselves ‘fundamentalist’. I have more in common with them than with dissenting Catholics. I have more respect for the simpleton thumping his bible and saying that Jesus is coming soon to rapture all the Christians than for the Jesuit theologian claiming that the greatest problem we face today is something that could be solved in the political arena. The fundamentalist (often) errs in innocence. The progressive has access to the sacraments daily and the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit by confirmation and access to the worlds best theologians today and yesterday... yet he rejects the Church teaching (which is part of God's revelation - therefore he rejects God's Word).

You see, the fundamentalist for all his errors has retained what’s important. He has unwavering faith in Christ. The progressive on the other hand blasphemes Christ and sets himself above the Holy Spirit. The progressive thinks that the bible is only true on matters of faith and morality as if God were incapable of scientific or historical accuracy. That’s blasphemous. The fundamentalist recognizes and respects the God-given differences between male and female. The progressive attributes the roles to cultural prejudice and God’s failure to address these issues. That’s blasphemy. The fundamentalist believes in demons and in Satan - the true enemy of Christians. The progressive ignores the brunt of Christ's earthly ministry and thinks that belief in demons is mere superstition - that would make our Lord the chief superstitionist (spell check is telling me that's not a word.... to hell with spell check!). Again, we find the progressive guilty of blasphemy.

Let us remind ourselves that God entered into human history in the Man Jesus Christ during a time where racism was commonplace, slavery was business as usual and the income gap would make modern Mexico look like the poster child of economic Egalitarianism – yet in spite of all this, Jesus didn’t mention one damn word about any of it. The fundamentalist in his simplicity understands this. The ‘learned’ progressive has forgotten – or never knew it in the first place. Worse still – he even ignores the true Christ for the “judge not lest you be judged” Christ that exists only in his imagination.

So I have many words of praise for the fundamentalist (though he errs on many things – a clear example of why Scripture was intended to be interpreted by the Church in the context of sacred tradition and not by an individual trained in some back-woods seminary that teaches in an official capacity that 2 Timothy 3:16 sufficiently proves sola scriptura) and not so many words of praise for the progressive – in fact I have none for him and I have nothing in common with him. (I think that’s the longest sentence I ever wrote). At any rate, I think you get what I’m saying – though he thinks I’m worshiping at the Whore of Babylon, at least the fundamentalist has retained the Christian faith. Progressive Catholics and mainstream evangelicals have lost any resemblance to the orthodox faith.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough Without Destroying Embryos

I was pleasantly surprised to see this article getting mainstream press.

NEW YORK - Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Early Christians and the Sacrifice of the Mass

In reply to Thos from my previous discussion:

Didn't have time to elaborate any more last night but i also wanted to add that forgiveness of sins found in Christ's sacrifice replace the temple sacrifice.

We have some evidence that the earliest Christian liturgies celebrated the 'liturgy of the Word' in the Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath and celebrated the Eucharist on the Lord's day. Mike Aquilina's book "The Mass of the Early Christians" discusses this briefly. Also see this helpful article on the subject.

But that the earliest Christians celebrated the Eucharist as we celebrate it today is uncontested. The specific act of Eucharistic adoration is a fairly recent (recent as in only as old as Protestantism) but this isn't a typical part of our liturgy.

The centrality of the Eucharist in even the earliest of Christian liturgies is uncontested historically. It has been called many names - almost all having to do with the Eucharist. "Breaking of the bread" etc.. Some of the early fathers referred to the mass simply as "the Sacrifice".

As the early Christians were all Jews - naturally they would see the Eucharist in sacrificial terms - the True Sacrifice - replacing and fulfilling the sacrifices of Judaism.

This is the entire reason why Jesus was crucified - He set Himself in place of the temple. It was in Christ that the Jews "escaped" the temple sacrifice - proclaiming and representing the True sacrifice at every mass in perpetuity.

Let us also not forget that God told Moses that the Passover sacrifice was to be perpetually celebrated. As the Church fathers taught us, the Old Testament pre-figures the New and the NT fulfillments always exceed their Old Testament prefigurements. Jesus is the new Adam - greater than the first. Mary is the new Eve, greater than the first.

Christ was the new Passover Lamb - greater than the first. The Eucharistic celebration was both a fulfillment of the temple cult and the passover liturgy. Christ's sacrifice was much greater than the sacrifices of the temple, and since the Passover liturgy was a mere commemoration of the one-time passover sacrifice, the Eucharistic celebration by default must be greater. No longer did the Church consider it to be merely a commemoration (though we do it in memory of a one time event) but instead we understand it as a non-bloody representation of the True Pascal Sacrifice.

So then it should come as no surprise that within one generation , if there were separate liturgical celebrations in the early Church, they were combined well before the end of the first century. The mass structure has stayed identical ever since. Justin Martyr's detailed overview of the mass in his first apology matches exactly what we've described - First the liturgy of the Word following the traditions of the Synagogues and then the liturgy of the Eucharist - proclaiming and representing the Sacrifice in perpetuity according to the commands of God and the traditions of our Church fathers.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ukranian Catholic Mass - Wow

I just got back from the Ukranian Catholic Mass at St. Basil the Great in Charlotte. How incredibly awesome. If you ever get a chance to go to one, don't pass it up. This parish meets at the Catholic high school once per month and for the last 2 or 3 months, I haven't been able to attend for various reasons. Short of an act of God I don't think I'll miss another.

The reverence for the Eucharist was unbelievable. The beauty was unparalleled. I've never been to a 2 hour mass that felt like 10 minutes. Now I see a glimpse of what the "spirit of Vatican II" has robbed the Church of. Her rightful liturgy is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful and reverent liturgy is absolutely fitting to the Eucharist. Anything less is a spit in God's face. In fact, dumbing down the liturgy (like my Parish unfortunately does) is looking in lust after other religions - the casual living room liturgies of Protestant communities, the inwardness of Buddhism even the self-centered attitude of secularism. This amounts to spiritual pornography and to the extent that we no longer merely lust after the irreverence others 'enjoy', we are guilty of liturgical adultery.

Fitting to the mass is nothing less than absolute reverence, solemnity and for God sake - BEAUTY! What do you liberals have against beauty of all things? The folk mass at my parish is the ugliest of all the ones we have, even those who regularly attend it know. They won't say so if you ask them, but if you look on their unenthusiastic faces during the mass; their eyes betray them. It's bad and everyone knows it.

During the mass I felt like I was in Heaven. That's what mass is anyhow - a meeting of Heaven and Earth. Now the liturgy made me believe it.

As if that weren't enough, the priest gave the best homily/sermon I've ever heard. I've never heard such spiritual clarity and deep theological teachings from a sermon. I was blown away by the entire experience. Every mass should blow you away. If it doesn't, something is wrong.

My only problem now is waiting until the next one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Origin of "God Bless You"

My co-workers and I had a quick debate about the origin of "God bless you". I heard someone repeat the tired myth - "people used to think that when you sneezed a demon was coming out of you so they started saying God bless you". We do far too much to perpetuate baseless stereotypes of medieval Christian peasantry. At least that's the impression I get.

I replied "I've heard that too and I really don't know where it came from but that doesn't sound right to me. There was never a time when people were too dumb to know that sneezing was caused by an irritation of the nose. Ask a three year old why he sneezes. He'll tell you (without having gone through the "Enlightenment") that it's because he has something in his nose or he sniffed some pepper. So that line about the ridiculous superstitions held by our ancestors just never really convinced me. (Not to say that people haven't believed some really stupid things... Just look at some of the stuff we still believe).

So it's Friday - I decided to fire up Google (just briefly!) and see what I found out. Here it is: read em' and weep boys...

According to the Wikipedia article on "God Bless You", Snopes Urban Legends lists the origin of the phrase as the aforementioned explanation.

A much more feasible explanation for the origin of the phrase is found here (as well as mentioned first in the Wikipedia article). This site claims that Pope Gregory the Great was its originator.

Finally, Medterms rightly compares the practical application of the phrase with the German - 'gesundheit'.

Just in case anyone ever asks you...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Doctrine of Irenaeus In His Own Words

In my previous post, I discussed Irenaeus as the quintessential early Church father. Continuing on that thought process, I wanted to briefly examine his doctrine. In his lengthy work, Against Heresies, he is entirely devoted to exposing the fallacies of the various Gnostic (in his words: falsely so called) sects. He spends a great deal of time explaining the details of their theology and in fact, much of what we know of their belief system we owe to him as many of their texts are no longer extant. Of his works only one other has survived though we know he wrote many more.

It even seems odd to us that such effort was spent defending Christian orthodoxy against what to us seems to be ridiculous theology. How could any person with even the slightest bit of learning call the God of the Old Testament an evil - lesser god than the True God who sent Jesus Christ? How could Christ have any credibility were it not for the divine origin of the Jewish Scriptures and in turn the Jewish religion? In reality, we see the same thing happening today with 'Christian feminists' who attribute the masculinity of God and the priesthood to cultural prejudice. In doing so they unwittingly blaspheme God and or at least reduce the Scriptures to the mere product of men. So one might ask 1000 years from now on seeing a 21st century refutation of 'Christian feminist' propaganda "how was anyone so unlearned as to consider the Word [Christ] false but Christianity true?" Judging by Irenaeus' exhaustive refutation of the various belief systems, we can safely assume that they had led no small number of the faithful astray in his day.

So Just What Did Irenaeus Believe?
Irenaeus is one of the defining patriarchs of orthodoxy. His articulation of Christian theology borrows heavily from St. Paul - making frequent use of the Pauline epistles with extensive quotes. Most of what he says would be welcome from the pulpits of any Christian community or Church. If the Catholic Church varies on any of his doctrines they are mere nuances. However, while agreeing with most of it, Protestants would have irreconcilable differences on a few things. And wouldn't you know it... I'm about to discuss those very doctrines now.

Three paragraphs you won't find in any evangelical book:

1. He uses apostolic succession to show that the doctrines they teach were received from the apostles and on that account they cannot be contradicted.

But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.
2. And again we find yet more proof in the second century of the primacy of the Roman bishop. This is the earliest and clearest declaration (aside from the words of Christ) that is in extant writing.
Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.
It should be noted that his reasoning differs from the Catholic position as it would soon begin to be more clearly articulated as in that he doesn't consider the doctrine of papal primacy true solely on the grounds of the Petrine succession but also because Paul's resting place is in Rome. We must avoid the temptation to view his statement as claiming that Paul and Peter co-founded the Church in Rome. Being extremely well versed in the Pauline epistles, he would have been well aware that Paul never made it to Rome until the final few years of his life and the Christian community there had already been thriving under the leadership of St. Peter. There is evidence from Eusebius that Peter arrived in Rome as early as 42 AD but certainly didn't stay there until martyrdom. He was back in Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 and he apparently wasn't in Rome when Paul wrote the book of Romans. Returning to the present discussion, we should also note that Irenaeus' terminology here seems to be consistent with the most ancient traditions regarding Rome's supremacy. (See St. Clement of Rome's first century address to the Corinthians in which he refers to Peter & Paul as the "greatest and most righteous pillars [of the church]") Nevertheless, in spite of his incomplete reasoning on this subject, it is absolutely clear and indisputable that he views Rome as having supremacy over the entire Catholic Church (yes East and West).

3. I have already discussed Irenaeus on Mary in this post. But the quote Protestants would find most objectionable I think, is this:
so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race.
A couple years ago when I was struggling with the concepts of Mariology and my decision to convert to the Catholic Church, these words rocked my world. I would have guessed them on the lips of a medieval monk... but Irenaeus??? How could someone so close to the apostles get something so basic so... wrong??? But eventually I had to come to grips with a tough reality - it was admittedly more likely that I was wrong.

In closing, let me point you to a very cool resource. Irenaeus Against Heresies Free Mp3 Download. (Only the first four books are listed there but book five is also available, you just have to type it in manually).

Irenaeus The Ancient Bridge Between East & West

Irenaeus in my mind is the quintessential early Church father. Through his predecessor St. Polycarp, he is but one degree separated from the apostles. Since he was born in Asia minor and later migrated to Lyons in Gaul, he is a bridge between the East and West. And since his doctrine was thoroughly orthodox, he is a champion of the faith.

Irenaeus had already spent time in Rome before coming to Lyons. It’s possible that he even accompanied Polycarp on his journey to Rome to settle disputes between the East & West at around 155 AD. He would have heard Polycarp’s famous response to Marcion “Yes I do recognize the firstborn of Satan”. While this is speculation, we do know that Irenaeus spent some time in Rome.

Following the intense persecution under Marcus Aurelius which claimed not merely a few martyrs, Irenaeus succeeded St. Pothinus as bishop of Lyons. His move from East to West itself exemplifies a truth about the early Church we need to understand and far too often don’t. We have an unjustified tendency in patristics to read the great schism back into the early Church fathers. This anachronism is most often actualized a little later – labeling Tertullian as the icon of the west and Origen of the East (and all subsequent fathers must fall neatly into one of those two categories of interpretation). Even then it is unwarranted – how much less now in the earliest stage of the Church! So while it may be true (and it is) that certain tensions and disagreements between the East and West did begin as early as the second century, Irenaeus stands in the midst of an otherwise foggy period in history declaring by his very life and actions that there was a time when the entire Christian Church was one. On this issue it would also be helpful for us to recall that the very term “Catholic Church” was first found in writing from an Eastern Church father. In other words – the whole Church called itself Catholic until the great Schism.

Another unhelpful tendency we have is to associate the Eastern & Western theological issues too closely with the political issues of the Roman empire. Of course, any student of antiquity knows that our 21st century concept of separation of Church & State hardly extends back to the world in which the early Christian Church grew up in. Still, the fathers of the Church were not so theologically shallow as to associate the Papacy with the seat of Rome merely because it was the capital of the empire (and we know so because of their extensive writings on the subject). When the empire split, let us not forget that the Church remained in tact for quite some time.

So then, the early tensions of East & West must not be ignored but neither should too much be made out of them. We cannot read the schism into the early Church – only the subtle roots thereof.

Sometime ago, I discussed the letter of Polycrates to Pope Victor and Irenaeus' involvement in the Easter dispute. This is a very unique situation where the East has received a different tradition than the West (the West celebrated Easter on Sunday whereas the East celebrated it on whichever day it fell on). To support their cause, they quote such heroes of the faith as St. John, St. Philip, St. Polycarp & St. Melito as ones who lived and died in the East and who handed them this tradition which they were strongly opposed to change.

Interestingly, Irenaeus sided with the west (though he was from the East and presumably received the same tradition as they did from his childhood). But when Pope Victor decided to excommunicate the Eastern Churches which did not comply with the decision of the councils of bishops he had convened, Irenaeus (among other bishops) strongly urged him not to do so. This shows us not only the early consensus of papal supremacy but of Irenaeus' personal belief in the doctrine. We did have some discussion on that subject in the aforementioned post and its subsequent one - the power of the early popes. Yet, perhaps in this case words will speak louder than actions. Next we will examine the doctrines of Irenaeus in his own words.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Baptist Community Takes Sola Scriptura a Little Too Seriously For Comfort

From the Charlotte Observer:

When N.C. Baptists meet this week for their annual session, they will likely kick out a Charlotte church that has said it welcomes homosexuals as they are -- a violation of controversial rules passed at last year's state convention.
Here's my favorite line:
"We think the local (Baptist) church ought to be free to interpret Scripture itself"
Well the Church does have the authority to interpret Scripture. But if you break away from the Church and call your ecclesial community a "church" then you can no longer say that. You can't even agree on how to read "don't lie with a man as with a woman" how will you interpret the tough parts of Scripture?

Now, I know... I know... not every evangelical agrees with this community. There are plenty of Protestants who are just as upset about this blatant departure from Christian values as I am (or rather would be if I was a Baptist). But surely it must serve as a reminder for us all of what sola scriptura has led to. It makes me wonder on what terms and in what way could any working version of sola scriptura actually prevent this sort of thing from happening?

The very concept of sola scriptura effectively eliminates any real ecclesial authority. And inherent to any discussion of 'sola scriptura' is a radical re-definition of the word "Church". Since Church (in the traditional sense) doesn't permit this heretical belief, one must create a new idea of what "Church" is. And here we see even further refinement to suit a particular community's error. When the state Baptist Convention's interpretation of Scripture has differed from their own, they have more narrowly defined "church" (insofar as the said "church" has authority to interpret Scripture) as their own local community. We all know what the next step is.

Update - they did kick the renegade community out.

You Are the Light of the World - Heaven & Hell and Other Random Thoughts

If I hear another 'you are the light of the world' homily I'm gonna puke. You know the one I'm talking about - the safe, ambiguous and powerless homilies often having little to do with the gospel readings. I was talking with a friend about this recently and we both came to the same conclusion - they suck.

I hear a lot of good theology at my parish - our priests are pretty good about that. Unfortunately the homilies are too often summarized up with the "salt & light of the world" bit.. Guys, Christ said this once. He didn't wrap His entire identity around this catch phrase - move on!

I was also thinking about Jesus' words on the subject in Mark's gospel. In chapter 4 Jesus said "salt is good but if it loses its saltiness how can you make it salty again?" This cryptic saying is tough to decode but our current liturgical crisis comes to mind. To say that the Catholic liturgy has lost its saltiness is being extremely generous. I wonder, like Jesus' rhetorical question, can it ever regain its saltiness again? I was reminded of this thought when I read Japhy's post on the "Jenga mass" earlier today.

Last week's homily was good, it dared to mention the realities of hell. I wondered, during the homily, why is it that we're so quick to affirm that our figurative visions of heaven are but shadows of the joy which awaits the saints but the fiery images of hell are actually a little on the harsh side... In simpler terms - we think heaven will be greater than our imagination but we think our imagination is worse than the real hell.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Book Review - Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

I had this book on pre-order for about 6 months before it came out. When it finally arrived in May (I think) I promptly set it on the shelf and let it collect dust for another 5 months. Don't ask me why.

At any rate, I finally picked it up and read it. It was a very easy read - and it moved very quickly. I wasn't as impressed with it as I anticipated being and I think I've found that Pope Benedict speaks much more impressively when he speaks in an official ecclesial capacity (may have a slight connection with the Holy Spirit). That is not to say it wasn't a good book or even a great one. It was and well worth the read.

I would encourage anyone whether Catholic or not to read it. I don't think there is anything that a non-Catholic would find objectionable (unless you're the liberal historical critical scholar B16 continually rails on in which case the more you find objectionable - the better of a book it must be).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Go Archbishop O'Brien

Man, this kind of stuff is encouraging. Something I need right now with my schola being fired and so far two different pastors in my diocese acting in disobedience to the pope regarding the Latin Mass.

Baltimore, Nov. 9, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin O'Brien has removed a pastor who invited a female Episcopalian priest to join him in celebrating a funeral Mass, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Interesting Blog - Free Catholic Audio

Here's a blog I stumbled on recently that is worth bookmarking. It exists to provide free Catholic audio on the net for download or streaming. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Founder of Weather Channel: Global Warming is 'the Greatest Scam in History'

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel calls global warming the "greatest scam in history". Hat Tip: Jimmy Akin.

I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the “research” to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.
Later he says:
I do not oppose environmentalism. I do not oppose the political positions of either party. However, Global Warming, i.e. Climate Change, is not about environmentalism or politics. It is not a religion. It is not something you “believe in.” It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise. And I am telling you Global Warming is a non-event, a manufactured crisis and a total scam. I say this knowing you probably won’t believe a me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. So be it.

I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. As the temperature rises, polar ice cap melting, coastal flooding and super storm pattern all fail to occur as predicted everyone will come to realize we have been duped.
I was indoctrinated with this stuff as a child in elementary school. Since none of the predictions came true I have completely lost any faith in the politically motivated "global warming" fad. They cried wolf one too many times for me.

Father Euteneuer Responds to Jesuit Priest Who "Came Out" During a Mass

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today published an “open letter” to Father Thomas J. Brennan, SJ, who declared that he was a homosexual during a student Mass, admitting that it was one of “the worst kept secrets” on campus.

Father Euteneuer’s response, “Homosexual Jesuit Needs Refresher Course in Priestly Love” was published in his weekly email newsletter, Spirit & Life, available Thursday after 3:00 PM EST on the HLI website (http://www.hli.org). The letter called for Brennan to apologize to his congregation.

Father Euteneuer said, “There is something just plain wrong about abusing people’s trust in the priesthood in such a public way, and since you chose to ‘go public’ with this matter, a public response to your outrageous ‘outing’ is merited.”

“First of all,” Father Euteneuer said, “Holy Mass is not a forum for your self-expression. You chose the sacred liturgy and the pulpit reserved for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the launching pad for your personal testament to homosexuality … You’ve read the same documents I’ve read about the liturgy, and none of them say the liturgy is your personal stage.”

He continued, “[Celibacy] is a form of Christian chastity to which you and I are called, and I trust that you are faithful to it. … A heterosexual celibate renounces his natural desire for wife and children in order to embrace the Bride of Christ in a direct spousal relationship. A homosexual celibate renounces an unholy desire for members of the same sex: that is a renunciation of a disorder, not the embrace of a Bride.

“When even a celibate priest chooses to go public about his homosexual identity as an expression of ‘diversity’ or ‘pride’, the faithful are rightfully confused and scandalized. Not only do you owe them an apology, you owe them a better example of priesthood. They deserve a priest who is clear about the Church’s doctrine about homosexual acts and who teaches it unambiguously. … If you do not clearly witness the Church’s teaching about your own vocation, how can you teach others to be faithful to theirs?”

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Pharisees

The title may lead some to think I’m about to start harping on some sort of self appointed ‘sin patrol’. If that was your initial impression you either have a shallow understanding of the 1st century Christ-Pharisee conflict or you think very little of my perception of it.

I have argued before (borrowing heavily from N.T. Wright) that the simplistic understanding of the conflict is to be dismissed outright. That is, the Pharisees affirmed the wrong kind of religion and Jesus, traveling sage of timeless wisdom that He was, rebuked them – meanwhile offering a new type of internal, Platonic religion. Recent scholarship has thoroughly destroyed these historic fantasies yet the legends live on in the feeble minds of churchgoers everywhere.

To put it another way – Jesus was not a liberal. In the Sermon on the Mount, the ‘mount’ signifies the new Sinai and Jesus Himself is the new Torah. The Christology behind the event is a call to loyalty and obedience to Christ as the Jews had previously been called to the Torah.

So then, Christ didn’t rebuke the Pharisees for too strictly enforcing the Law - proposing instead that we just realize the true message of it all – love, peace and forgiveness. Instead He told them “you allow men to divorce but I tell you, what God has joined man must not separate” and “the Law says you shall not kill, I say if you even think about it you’re already guilty”. Then Christ’s Law is not less strict, less judgmental, more forgiving – His is even more difficult!

The Prophets, by the Holy Spirit, gave us further clarification on how we were to follow God’s Law. It became even clearer in the deutero-canonical period to the point where many of Jesus’ teachings can find comfortable roots in the DC books (further evidence of their divine origin) and finally- Jesus, the Word incarnate, came to eliminate all confusion and to fulfill the Law.

To summarize, Christ didn’t rebuke the Pharisees for following God’s Law too closely but for not following it! It doesn’t do the situation justice to say they merely ‘missed the point’. Jesus saw them as being disobedient to the true commands of God. (See Wright and others for more detail on that). This excessive introduction has served only to make sure we’re all on the same page before I continue.

In the parable of the wicked tenants, Israel’s religious leaders (usually the Pharisees) were the wicked tenants and Israel herself was the vineyard. It seems to me that the same thing is happening all over again. Perhaps it is the perpetually true parable – it’s always happening with God’s people.

Now the vineyard is the Church – and the wicked tenants are those resisting the pope – the liberals who have massacred the liturgy and the heretical groups within the Church promoting homosexual agendas and rebelliously petitioning for the ordination of women. They call themselves Catholic but have shamefully neglected their duties. The USCCB has no shortage of wicked tenants these days.

In my diocese, the diocese of Charlotte, we have a lay ministry course that would make the Jesus Seminar proud. Other officially sponsored educational programs like the Deaconate teach open heresy from what I’ve been told. It’s no secret and nothing’s being done about it. The pastor of my parish has good theology but has been woefully uneducated regarding liturgy and is actively participating in what Peter Kreeft called “the liturgical holocaust” of the Catholic Church. I can think of no better phrase to describe it.

Once the vineyard was adorned with art that would leave the workers awestruck, inspiring them to continue their vital labor. In fact, the vineyard was so beautiful that it attracted new workers and converted her enemies. The workers were nourished by prime rib and asparagus – halibut with lemon sauce but now the tenants have done away with it. They serve skim milk and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a bag of greasy potato chips to go along with it.

It all begs the question – why? Why would the tenants be so opposed to beauty? The answer is quite easy – spiritual warfare. Do you think the enemy wants reverent worship of God or irreverent? Which would Satan prefer, a mass with a feel-good homily and lifeless contemporary music or a deliberate sermon (maybe somewhat hard to swallow and not well suited to immature palates) and the sacred tradition of Gregorian chant in a language people no longer understand?

Do you think the enemy would prefer we disobey the bishop and hold hands during the Our Father to promote ‘the community’ or would he rather us act in fidelity to the Magisterium regardless of what “feels good” to us?

If Satan were alive and active, do you think he’d be the one trying to “restore the liturgy to the dark ages” or would he be the one acting in defiance of the pope on repeated exhortations to revive the lost beauty of the Catholic Church?

I ask these rhetorical questions to emphasize this one fact – we are in the midst of a spiritual war. It should come as no surprise that the enemy continually focuses his most devious attacks on the tenants of the vineyard he wishes to destroy. Who better in a position to rend the land fruitless than the farmers? We again need to remind ourselves of Christ’s promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail against her (the Church). And at frustrating times like these, that’s about all we have to hang on to.

HLI Condemns Action of NJ Governor and State Senator as 'Tyranny'

FRONT ROYAL, VA — The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, STL, president of Human Life International, (HLI) today said, “When a state rejects the protection of individual consciences, that state loses its soul.”

Father Euteneuer was commenting on a New Jersey law sponsored by state Senator Joseph Vitale and signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine that effectively forces pharmacists in that state to violate their consciences by filling prescriptions for abortifacient—abortion-causing—contraception.

“In a free society, the rights of conscience are recognized. When the state abrogates those rights forcing citizens to violate their consciences as a condition for employment, then that state is no longer a free society,” said Father Euteneuer. “This is not yet another action by government in America leading to tyranny, it is tyranny. Governor Corzine and Senator Vitale are no longer acting as American statesmen but as representatives of the Culture of Death, joining officials in eleven other states with this evil law.”

Pope Benedict XVI told a group of pharmacists as recently as October 29 that they must avoid “anaesthetizing consciences,” and he emphasized that drugs should be used to help human beings, not to take the life of unborn children or the elderly.

Father Euteneuer continued, “This new precedent is a call for all Americans, especially Catholics and others who live by firm moral and religious principles, to take a hard look at what is happening in our country as the national elections approach.”

“The day has come” Father Euteneuer said, “when the corner pharmacist, whom we trust and expect to be moral, can lose his or her job and even go to jail for refusing to dispense a pill that can kill a baby.”

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Patristic Carnival V


Its a GodFearin' carnival this one. I'm honored to host the fifth Patristic Carnival. Just a brief intro might not be terribly unwelcome. First, if I missed any good posts, please reply in the comments. Second, I wanted to remind everyone, myself first of all, that the entire aim of patrology is nothing other than to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Though we come from varied faith backgrounds, we find common ground in our love for orthodoxy - for the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. Studying the early Church fathers does not lessen the importance of Scripture - in fact it can do nothing but add to it. The fathers, in harmony with the Scriptures, point to Christ. It is easy in the thick of scholarly study (as if I would know anything about that) to get lost in the intellectualism of it all. I don't think I'm being too sentimental when I preface this carnival's entries with a reminder of the reason we all started studying the fathers of our faith. Also, if you're interested in hosting the next Patristic Carnival, shoot Phil an email. Enjoy!

The Orthodox blog Paradosis gives us a very interesting discussion on the opposite end of the sola scriptura 'error' (if one is to label it such) what he calls 'sola patriarcha'.

Protestant blogger Kenny Pearce writes a detailed examination of the document that has come to us under the name of 'Dionysius the Aereopagite' including alternate translation work.

Lutheran blogger (and prior Patristic Carnival host) The Weekend Fisher summarizes several patristic reflections on the peculiar Christian concept of a "crucified God".

Protestant 'church historian-in-training' Tim Enloe posts a short but insightful essay on the Church Fathers and their 'War on Hellenism'.

Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong summarizes the Church Fathers quotes on the doctrine of justification in comparison to Protestant apologists and their opinions on the issue.

Orthodox priest, Father Stephen writes a great discussion on first, how to read the Church fathers (not merely talk about them and what they believed) and then some very good suggestions on where to begin.

Catholic patristic pun-meister Mike Aquilina gives us a number of great patristic posts as usual - first on the early Church fathers' belief in guardian angels, he comments on Pope Benedict XVI's weekly addresses, one on St. Cyril of Alexandria one on St. Hilary of Poitiers one on St. Eusebius of Vercelli and finally one on St. Ambrose of Milan. He quotes in passing Augustine re: the Catholics of his day and their failure to live the Christian life and St. Jerome on St. Luke. On the feast day of St. Ignatius, he points us to a valuable resource - an audio collection of the Ignatian epistles.

Ben C. Smith continues a series on the canons of the early Church with his post on the Laodicean Synod (360 AD).

Anglican blogger Joe Rawls over at the Byzantine Anglo-Catholic compiles a list of early Church Father quotes on the Eucharist.

Wholly Catholic posts a brief summary on St. Ignatius of Antioch.

The blog of Catholic Publishing Company Ignatius Press posts on the same topic as well.

Stephen at Ivy Catholic gives us an excellent essay on venerating images based on St. John of Damascus' writings.

A man who needs no introduction in the patristic blogosphere - Phil Snider (organizer of this carnival) on his excellent blog Hyperekperissou continues his study of the life of St. Martin, gives us a nice discussion on patristics in light of classical thought and one on Origen's approach to Biblical hermeneutics.

The Presbyterian blogger at Ecumenicity offered this interesting piece on St. Vincent of Lerins and doctrinal growth in the 5th century and commented on Augustine's sermon 77 asking, "Is Salvation a Free Lunch?"

After reading a selection of the above you may be a bit disappointed yet here are the posts from yours truly, the God Fearin' Fiddler: First I discussed the Didache on Baptism with the aforementioned Kenny Pearce. Next, a brief quotation from Origen on Mariology. I posted twice on Athenagoras (with some discussion) one on his views regarding marriage and the other: reflections on his defense of the bodily resurrection. I borrowed from Pelikan to discuss Irenaeus on the Valentinian view of Mary. Finally, I discussed St. Melito of Sardis and his canon and subsequently the canon issue as a whole.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween

I'm more concerned with the horror/gore aspect of Halloween than with kids dressing up as spiderman.... But I'm not going to have time to post on this today like I wanted to. Here are my previous two posts on the subject:

Parents Shouldn't Let Kids Watch Horror Movies

The Distortion of Horror Movies

Enjoy.

Update: The Mexican Bishops Agree With Me - Dont Celebrate Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Transubstantiation and Its Historical Significance

This is a response to Dave, continuing our discussion from this post.

On prayers for the dead - it's in our Scriptures, not yours but it is a Jewish tradition.

I think the doctrine of Transubstantiation is absolutely critical. It affects how we treat the species (come to a mass you'll see what I mean). The Eucharist is the center of our liturgy.

In the PCA where I grew up, after communion the leftover grape juice and crackers would just be chucked in the trash or consumed by kids. This isn't uncommon. But if we were to believe that by taking it unworthily we were profaning the body of Christ as Paul said, what does throwing it in the trash do? How can we profane the body of Christ by unworthily eating a cracker? I do that all the time!

As for the Aristotle argument, I'm pretty ignorant on Greek philosophy but I have heard that sort of a charge too. First, just because a pagan says something doesn't make it false. Pagan philosophers can easily be right about things. (Aristotle was just talking about the nature of the universe or existence - not of the body of Christ obviously). In fact, part of the apologetic task of some of the early Church fathers (Origen comes to mind) was to explain to their accusers how the Greek philosophers had gotten so much right without Christ - if Christ was indeed the Truth incarnate.

So if our explanation of the Eucharistic species sounds similar to his or is even wholly reliant upon it, I dont see how that would discredit it one bit. We call it a mystery - not an easily fathomable event. We may use whatever human-level conventions we have to attempt and comprehend it or to explain it in a way that is accessible to us ignorant men on earth - but it doesn't detract (or add to) the truthfulness of the doctrine). The doctrine gets its truth from Christ Himself.

In the John 6 discourse we see that a literal interpretation versus symbolic does make quite a
difference. You say that a 'non-literal' reading is the obvious. I have to take issue here. I think the only objective measure one could possibly use to decide what is an "obvious" interpretation of a passage and what is not "obvious" would be this - if the majority of readers understand it in way X then we could objectively say (at some level) that way X is the obvious reading (right or wrong).

Immediately from the first teaching (presumably John chapter 6) we see that historically, it was taken very literally. Jesus lost many disciples that day. It is appropriate here to remind ourselves that Jesus did not correct those who left Him because of a literal interpretation. How could they accept this hard teaching? How could it literally be true "this is My Body" and not be a violation against the Law of God? - cannibalism - eating blood etc... The Eucharist is precisely the way in which it can satisfy both conditions. This is the great mystery we celebrate.

Furthermore, as I have mentioned, outside the NT we see that the early Christians unanimously read this literally. St. Ignatius does mention some who did not - and criticizes them sharply for it. St. Ambrose, the mentor of St. Augustine, gives a discourse on Transubstantiation that would be exactly as a 21st century Catholic would speak of it - in case there were any charge of Transubstantiation being different than merely "Real Presence".

This was the issue for me that ultimately led me to accept the Catholic Church. I am thoroughly convinced of the centrality of this doctrine to Christianity. St. Ignatius called the Eucharist 'the medicine of immortality'. The early Christian Church was a sacramental one - centered around the Lord's table. Thats why Church history matters and thats why I stand behind my original criticism of the aforementioned Protestant church history lecture because it glossed over the doctrines of the early Church.

Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Melito and The OT Canon

St. Melito, the bishop of Sardis, was regarded as a prophet in his day according to Eusebius. Unfortunately, most of his voluminous work has disappeared. From what remains extant, we can tell he was a gifted writer. Like most of the Eastern bishops, he held to the tradition of celebrating Easter on whichever day of the week it fell on (as opposed to the Western tradition which celebrated it only on Sunday). He is mentioned specifically as a source when Polycrates writes to Pope Victor on the subject. Clearly, Melito was one of the great heroes of the East.

St. Melito gives us the first known Christian canon of the Old Testament. Here it is:

I accordingly proceeded to the East, and went to the very spot where the things in question were preached and took place; and, having made myself accurately acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, I have set them down below, and herewith send you the list. Their names are as follows:-

The five books of Moses-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua,76 Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books.
Esdras contains both Ezra & Nehemiah. Since Melito was an Eastern Patriarch, what he refers too probably contained what Protestants now call 1 Esdras - known to St. Jerome as 3 Esdras (1 & 2 corresponding respectively to Ezra & Nehemiah). While Catholics and Protestants both reject 3 Esdras (or 1 Esdras) the Eastern Orthodox accept it as Scriptural. That is our first discrepancy between Melito's canon and ours; the second is the fact that his canon doesn't have Esther. In short, no one today would accept his canon.

He doesn't list the deutero-canonical books. St. Athanasius would later list his full canon including six of the deutero canonical books as 'good but not Scripture'. However, he did list Baruch as canonical which still leaves us with a canon no-one accepts today. Contrary to Protestant attempts to dodge the question of 'who has the authority to declare Scripture?' by such poorly thought out answers as 'the books are self evident' we see very clearly that the books were only self evident to 16th century Protestants and not to the early Christians. (This is to mention nothing of the early uncertainty regarding several NT books).

The Church Fathers opinions on the canon are fairly consistent, but do have significant discrepancies between each other. Jerome's Latin Vulgate would come to reject the 3rd book of Esdras as well as include the book of Esther and the Deutero-canonical books adhering to the authority of the Church. This is another short piece of history that shows the importance of an infallible Church authority and its role in the selection of the canon.

Irenaeus on the Valentinian Heresy Regarding Mary

From Pelikan's book - Mary Through the Centuries -

Irenaeus, to whom we owe the first large-scale exposition of the parallel between Eve and Mary, is likewise one of the sources from whom we learn that such a hesitancy among the followers of the Gnostic teacher Valentinus had led them to assert that Jesus had not been "born" of the Virgin Mary in the usual sense at all, but had "passed through Mary as water runs through a tube," not only without birth pangs but without the involvement of the mother except in a purely passive sense.
His source is Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.7.2:
There are also some who maintain that he also produced Christ as his own proper son, but of an animal nature, and that mention was made of him by the prophets. This Christ passed through Mary just as water flows through a tube; and there descended upon him in the form of a dove at the time of his baptism, that Saviour who belonged to the Pleroma, and was formed by the combined efforts of all its inhabitants.
It would be necessary to remind ourselves again that Mariology arose to refute heresies such as these - not as some arbitrary invention of the Church. One cannot truly understand Christ without understanding His relation to Mary - that is - the Incarnation.