Thursday, November 26, 2015

Christ Before Family

The Roman Martyrlogy is always read in anticipation for the next day at Prime in the 1962 divine office. For today there is a section that I think will find enlightening to those who are going to be encountering people who may have apostatized from the faith, or perhaps have deliberately excluded them from their thanksgiving celebrations and wrestle in their minds if they have made the right decision. 

"In Persia, the holy martyr James, styled the Dismembered, a famous martyr. In the time of the Emperor Theodosius the younger, to please King Isdegerd, he denied Christ, wherefore his mother and his wife held aloof from him. Then he bethought himself, and went to the King and confessed Christ, and the King in wrath commanded him to be cut limb from limb, and his head to be cut off. At that time countless other martyrs suffered there also." The Roman Martyrlogy

I have not heard to many orators whether clerical or lay teaching on the importance of that part of the Gospel found in Matthew 18, that after multiple admonishments that we should treat a person as a gentile or a tax collector. That of course does not mean we treat them with cruelty, or that we continue to admonish them (which will only harden their hearts: "Rebuke not a scorner lest he hate thee." Proverbs 9:8), but that they be treated as both someone who is not one of us, as Christ referenced to the gentile, and as someone we keep at distance, as the tax collector. For a more in depth look at this, please look at my brother Bonifaces article on Christian Shunning.

Let us not also forget that to deliberately choose the company of those who scoff at the Catholic religion was viewed as an occasion of sin and an injury to faith.    It certainly can be a test of faith, because we cannot be silent in the name of peace while Our Lord who is everywhere present is cruelly treated at the table we eat at. 

Our Lord warned us that our enemies would be that of our own household (Matthew 10:36), and that we must love Him more to the point of our love for our families appearing to be hatred when compared to the love of Christ (Luke 14:26). Family get togethers should not seek some type of false unity where everyone gets a long.  What of a family where one relative is a satanist, another is living in sin, and another devout, while all started Catholic.  How would it be possible for such a gathering to dwell in peace?

This excerpt from the Martyrlogy shows that holding a person in aloof who has denied the faith can both serve as a means of admonishment, and that it was effective to the point of making a man both returning to the faith and suffering a horrible, but glorious death.  It also shows that when we put Christ first before our family ties, as St. James the dismembered's wife and mother did it is true love and charity, if we truly love others we can do no less. 

Strength and courage my friends, do not hesitate to defend Christ, to be aloof from those who have abandoned the faith, or to exclude scoffers. May thanksgiving to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is to be put first always at all of our tables.  Christ before family, Christ before friends, Christ before country, Christ before everything.  May we never prefer anything to the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bishop Barron and the Evolution of Christ's Consciousness

I don't wade into wars in the blogosphere very often; I find them stupid and unedifying. But the little rift over One Peter Five's recent article "The Incredible Shrinking Bishop Barron" by Maureen Mullarkey caught my attention. Mullarkey found fault with Barron's lackluster approach towards Islamic terror. This prompted an indignant response from blogger Brandon Vogt, who called Mullarkey's post "exaggerated polemics" and "misleading", devolving into "baseless speculation." If you wonder why Vogt got so huffy over Mullarkey's post, I would imagine it is because he is "Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries", so he has a vested interest in defending Barron. This is unfortunate because, as we will see, Robert Barron adheres to a Modernist view of Jesus Christ's identity.

There are many things Bishop Robert Barron can be criticized for. I have raised concerns before about his promotion of Hans Urs Von Balthasar's theory that hell might be empty. But I honestly had no idea until recently what a thorough-going Balthasarian Bishop Barron actually is. He not only promotes the empty hell thesis, but has also adopted Von Balthasar's extremely unorthodox Christology.

For years we have attempted to demonstrate that Hans Urs Von Balthasar is not an orthodox theologian, not only due to his controversial theory of a potentially empty hell, but just in terms of his basic Christology. Catholics need to understand that it is not just one theory that makes Balthasar questionable, but a whole slew of bizarre novelties. We recommend reviewing our previous articles "Balthasar's Denial of the Beatific Vision in Christ" and "Balthasar and the 'Faith' of Christ" on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam website,  which both deal with Balthsar's unorthodox Christology, as well as "The Heresies of Balthasar" on this blog, which reveals Balthasar's absurd position that sin has its own ontological reality.

One staple of Balthasarian Christology is his teaching that Christ only gradually came to understand His messianic identity, and that this did not happen by any infused knowledge by virtue of the Incarnation (Balthasar strongly rejected the idea that Christ had any knowledge given directly from God about His mission). Instead, Christ had to "learn" that He was the Messiah, basically through regular human intuition. It kind of slowly dawned on his consciousness as He grew.

The Catholic Tradition is that Christ had infused knowledge of His own identity and mission. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia sums up this teaching
when it states that "the knowledge in Christ's Divine nature is co-extensive with God's Omniscience" and that "since the time of the Nestorian controversies, Catholic tradition has been practically unanimous as to the doctrine concerning the knowledge of Christ" (source). Christ had infused knowledge of everything that pertained to His mission - and clearly who He was pertained quite centrally to that mission! The article says that

"It is almost universally admitted that God infused into Christ's human intellect a knowledge similar in kind to that of the angels. This is knowledge which is not acquired gradually by experience, but is poured into the soul in one flood. This doctrine rests on theological grounds: the Man-God must have possessed all perfections except such as would be incompatible with His beatific vision, as faith or hope; or with His sinlessness, as penance; or again, with His office of Redeemer, which would be incompatible with the consummation of His glory" (ibid).

This is the view of traditional Christology. But Bishop Barron chooses instead to promote the heretical novelty of Balthasar that Christ had to learn about His identity through a gradual enlightening of His consciousness. For example, in his Lenten Meditations, then-Father Barron offers this commentary on the Baptism of the Lord:

"Jesus has just been baptized. He has just learned his deepest identity and mission and now he confronts—as we all must—the great temptations. What does God want him to do? Who does God want him to be? How is he to live his life?"

Jesus has "just learned his deepest identity and mission" at His baptism, implying that He was in positive ignorance of his identity and mission before this moment?

It gets worse. If anybody doubts what a devoted Balthasarian Bishop Barron is, you really need to read his book The Priority of Christ (with an introduction by Cardinal George). You will be astounded by the outpouring of novelty and just plain weirdness that comes out of Barron. In this passage, Barron is speaking about the Blessed Virgin:

“She is this the symbolic embodiment of faithful and patient Israel, longing for deliverance. In John’s Gospel, she is, above all, mother – the physical mother of Jesus and, through him, the mother of all who would come to new life in him. As mother of the Lord, she is, once again, Israel, the entire series of events and system of ideas form which Jesus emerged and in terms of which he alone becomes intelligible. Hans Urs von Balthasar comments in the same vein that Mary effectively awakened the messianic consciousness of Jesus through her recounting of the story of Israel to her son. So in the Cana narrative, Mary will speak the pain and the hope of the chosen people, scattered and longing for union” (Robert Barrion, The Priority of Christ, p. 73).

Notice, he links up his own idea that through Mary Christ “becomes intelligible” with the Balthasarian heresy of Christ not knowing who He was until sometime later. Christ learns who He is by listening to stories about Israel! Barron does not dispute Balthasar - rather, he uses him to bolster his point.

Here is another gem that is key to understanding Barron's position. Barron disagrees with the likes of the modernists Kung and Schillebeeckx on many things, yet he says this:

“Like the ‘Jesus as symbol” approach, the ‘historical Jesus’ Christology is rooted in elements and intuitions of the classical tradition. Kung and Schillebeeckx are quite right in the insisting that Christianity must never devolve into a generic philosophy of life or symbolic system, that it must, on the contrary, maintain its clear and unambiguous connection to the very particular first-century Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, The Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, the first kerygmatic proclamations, the sermons of the earliest missionaries, the creeds and dogmatic statements of the patristic church all depend upon and circle around this Jesus. Therefore, in brushing away certain encrustations and obfuscations in the Christological tradition and focusing our attention on the irreplaceable character of Jesus, Kung and Schillebeeckx and their historical-critical colleagues have done the church a great service. Furthermore, in insisting that the high dogmatic claims of Christology should be consistently informed by a biblical sensibility, the historical critics have compelled Christology to abandon mere flights of speculation and to remain, thereby, truer to its proper origins and ground. The ‘Jesus of history’ can indeed function as a sort of check on unwarranted theological exploration” (p. 42).

"Kung and Schillebeeckx and their historical-critical colleagues have done the church a great service." This phrase should send up red flags (Kung was stripped of his license to teach Catholic theology because of his heterodoxy and has also been praised by Freemasons for "lifetime service to the Craft"); also alarming is Barron's promotion of "the 'Jesus of history' as a "sort of check" on certain aspects of Christology. But, what are these “encrustations and obfuscations” in the Christological tradition? Where is there a problem with “high Christological claims" today or in the 20th century? What exactly are these claims? He does not say, but if he is following the school of Balthasar, then he is probably referring to the Christological teachings of the 5th century during the Nestorian and Monophysite heresies, developments in theology which Balthasar (and by implication, Barron) implicitly reject.

Barron goes on with a reflection on how tradition and the development of doctrine fit into his rejection of "
encrustations and obfuscations in the Christological tradition" and a focus on the "Jesus of history." This will be Barron's attempt to square the circle:

“John Henry Newman felt that the fully grown plant is far more revealing of the nature of the organism than is its seed, and that the mouth of a river is far more interesting and deep than its source. In a similar way, the literarily, spiritually, and theologically evolved portrait of Jesus is more instructive than any historical core, however carefully recovered. The Catholic instinct is not so much to assess the development by the origin as to appreciate the development as the full flowering of the origin. (pg. 43).

Of course, Barron's major point here is correct; the full grown, developed organism is more revealing than the seed. Otherwise, we would fall to the error of Archaeologism-Antiquarianism. But the language Barron uses to make the point is curious; the portrait of Jesus "evolved", in distinction to some "historical core"? So the Gospels are an evolution beyond the “historical core?” What is the relation of the core to the evolved portrait?
It is somewhat ambiguous, but is seems to suggest that the spiritual and theological portraits of Jesus are inconsistent with the historical core. Almost as if he is saying that “Yeah, the real history is sometimes different than what we find in the Gospels and subsequent spirituality and doctrine, but that’s okay because the evolving Church illuminates Christ. Even if X isn’t in the historical core it is still helpful for us.” If so, he is taking a middle position between the Catholic and the Modernist view of the Gospels.

It could be that he is simply saying that the Church's understanding of who Christ is is radically greater than anything that could be revealed by some futile search for the "historical Jesus." That would be a more orthodox interpretation of his words - however, given his paean to Kung and the historical-critical method and his rejection of tradition Christology as full of "obfuscations" and "encrustations", we are not remiss or hasty in positing the former interpretation as possible.

This is exemplified in the earlier passage about Christ’s consciousness; here is another which casts suspicion on Barron's comments about the "evolved" portrait of Jesus:

“The author of John’s Gospel stresses this dimension when he puts in the mouth of Caiaphas the words ‘You do not understand it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed’” (p. 105).

The author of John? Puts into his mouth? If this is any indication, Barron appears to buy into some of the errors of the historical critical method (e.g., that the Gospel of John was not written by John) while not going as far as say, Kung – that is to say, he is definitely a Balthasarian.

So, these words that "the author of John's Gospel" had "put" in the mouth of Caiaphas are an example of a "literarily" evolution, since he claims it didn't happen historically.

If we use that as a reference, then it appears he is claiming that there are indeed theological evolutions, not contained or even implied in the "historical core." What would these be?

Given Barron's earlier statements about Christ having His "messianic consciousness awakened" and having "learned his deepest identity and mission" only at His baptism, we can only conclude that the Catholic doctrine of Christ knowing his Messianic duty is one of these "encrustations" not found in the "historical core." It is, seemingly, a denial of a doctrine and at the same time and affirmation of some level of the Modernist's principle of the evolution of doctrine. There is certainly something bizarre going on here and that it he denies Christ's knowledge, which affects the doctrine of His Beatific Vision.

Bishop Barron's book appears to oscillate form orthodoxy to heterodoxy to error, back and forth; it makes one’s head hurt. There is much more in this book, much more, that is either erroneous or just bizarre. Barron's words, like those of his master Balthasar, are easily manipulated, and a demonstration that the New Theology is inept at communicating theology, always intentionally or unintentionally laying traps so that orthodoxy is restrained and error and heresy goes free.

Bishop Barron is not a bastion of orthodoxy. Like Balthasar, he says some things that sound good when compared to progressive liberalism. But taken on their own merits, Barron's teaching is very troubling. One Peter Five - and all Catholics who love our heritage - are right to be suspicious of him. And those who defend Bishop Barron (like Vogt) need to address these glaring errors in Barron's work.

Special thanks to reader Alexander for drawing my attention to these abnornmalities in Barron's work.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

The unhappy man who lay with his mother

Our humble little publishing operation, Cruachan Hill Press, is about to release a new edition of the Life of St. Columba as told by St. Adamnan, Abbot of Iona. St. Columba (521-597), also known as Columcille, is one of the great saints of the Irish golden age and is known as the Apostle to the Picts and the Apostle of Scotland. The book will also contain several original essays on Columba and Irish Catholicism, as well as an appendix on the hymns of St. Columba. It should be available in the beginning of December.

In working my way through the Vita of this remarkable saint, I came across a section in which St. Columba encounters a penitent who had committed a particularly heinous sexual sin. The saint's reaction is very interesting, especially in light of our contemporary situation vis-a-vis the divorced and civilly remarried, finding "value" in homosexual relationships, etc. Let us read the section in its entirety, taken from St. Adamnan's Life of St. Columba, Book I, Chapter 1:

Regarding an Unhappy Man Who Lay With His Mother

At another time, the saint called out the brethren at the dead of night, and when they were assembled in the church said to them: "Now let us pray fervently to the Lord, for at this hour a sin unheard of in the world has been committed, for which rigorous vengeance that is justly due is very much to be feared."

The next day he spoke of this sin to a few who were asking him about it. "After a few months," he said, "that unhappy wretch will come here to the Iona with [Brother] Lugaid, who is unaware of the sin." Accordingly after the few months had passed away, the saint one day spoke to Diormit [his attendant], and ordered him, "Rise quickly; lo! Lugaid is coming. Tell him to send off the wretch whom he has with him in the ship to the Isle of Mull, that he may not tread the sod of this island." He went to the sea in obedience to the saint's injunction, and told Lugaid as he was approaching all the words of the saint regarding the unhappy man.

On hearing the directions, that unhappy man vowed that he would never eat food with others until he had seen St. Columba and spoken to him. Diormit therefore returned to the saint, and told him the words of the poor wretch. The saint, on hearing them, went down to the haven, and as [Brother] Baitan was citing the authority of Holy Scriptures, and suggesting that the repentance of the unhappy man should be received, the saint immediately replied to him, "O Baitan! This man has committed fratricide like Cain, and become an adulterer with his mother." 

Then the poor wretch, casting himself upon his knees on the beach, promised that he would comply with all the rules of penance, according to the judgment of the saint. The saint said to him, "If you do penance in tears and lamentations for twelve years among the Britons and never to the day of thy death return to Ireland, perhaps God may pardon thy sin." 
Having said these words, the saint turned to his own friends and said, "This man is a son of perdition, who will not perform the penance he has promised, but will soon return to Ireland, and there in a short time be killed by his enemies." All this happened exactly according to the saint's prophecy; for the wretched man, returning to Hibernia about the same time, fell into the hands of his enemies in the region called Lea (Firli, in Ulster), and was murdered."

The man appears to have killed his brother and committed incest with his own mother. I want to note Columba's reactions as the various aspects of this tale unfold. First, when he hears of this sin, his immediate response is horror at the wickedness that has been done. The sins of fratricide and of laying with one's mother is a sin against nature, "for which rigorous vengeance is justly due and very much to be feared." On account of this, he encourages his brethren to "pray fervently" on account of this monstrous act. Columba's initial response is revulsion at this act against nature - he is not interested in finding anything good in the incest and "walking together" from that point. His primary concern is the justice and vengeance of God.

Second, when he finds out that this "unhappy wretch" is planning on visiting the monastery of Iona, he tells his attendant to "send off the wretch whom he has with him in the ship to the Isle of Mull, that he may not tread the sod of this island." He recognizes Iona as a place consecrated to God and is concerned lest the the presence of an unrepentant sinner guilty of such a grotesque crime should pollute the sanctity of the island. He is not concerned with how the "wretch" will feel upon being sent off. He does not put up banners on his church proclaiming how "affirming" and "inclusive" it is. He does not believe that welcoming this unrepentant sinner into the congregation of Iona will be the first step in a gradual leading of the sinner towards the fullness of faith. No - he is mortified that such a person would want to set foot on his island and orders him to be sent off.

Well, in imitation of the Canaanite woman of the Gospel, the sinner begs to see St. Columba, and St. Columba finally relents. It is interesting that one of the monks, Brother Baitan "citing the authority of the scriptures", suggests that the man is penitent and should be received. Baitan seems prone to quickly and easily reconcile the sinner, perhaps moved by a kind of false mercy that would claim to restore grace without the requisite penance. Columba responds by explaining to Baitan the gravity of the sin - essentially saying that this is no ordinary sin, and that ordinary repentance will not be sufficient to restore this man to grace. Because this man has murdered his brother and lain with his mother, "a sin unheard of in the world", an extraordinary degree of penitence is necessary. Columba rightly states that it must be ascertained whether this man has demonstrated sufficient contrition and the willingness to do the proscribed penance. Thus Columba balances Baitan's swift application of reconciliation with a necessary obligation to justice.

The man seems willing to listen to the saint. He throws himself at Columba's feet and promises to do whatever the saint should tell him. This is a pivotal moment, the moment of grace. How does Columba respond? Is he overly anxious to assure the man that he is forgiven, that he should not be scrupulous about his sins? Does he quickly reconcile the man and tell him to follow his conscience regarding whether or not he should return to communion? Does he give him three Hail Mary's and tell him not to worry about it any more? On the contrary, he tells him, "If you do penance in tears and lamentations for twelve years among the Britons and never to the day of thy death return to Ireland, perhaps God may pardon thy sin."

Of course Columba, being a saint, has the gift of foreknowledge and knows that "this son of perdition" will not complete his penance but will return to Ireland impenitent and be murdered by his enemies.

I will not offer any further comment here except to note the gulf that exists between St. Columba's method of interacting with this sinner and the path favored by the modern apostles of mercy. Was St. Columba being unmerciful? It's hard to say how his foreknowledge changes things; would he have behaved differently if he did not already know this man would die impenitent? Who knows - but the point is that Columba's whole orientation is different than what we see being trotted out these days. The modern apostles of mercy have little concern with the objective state of the sinner's soul, no worry for God's vengeance, only trifling care for His justice, and practically no concept of holiness. They - and those who follow them - have become the "unhappy wretches."

Considering the man had committed murder and incest, Columba's penance was merciful. The point is that mercy does not always look the way the Kasperites think it should.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Thief in the Night

Where do you want to be when you die?  What would you like your last words to be?  Many saints and holy men died saying edifying words, Venerable Augustine Baker of the blessed sacrament died after singing the Salve Regina, Charlemegne is recounted as saying "Lord into Thy hands I commend my spirit."  Perhaps you might want to die in the arms of your wife like St. Nicholas Von Flue, or like a penitent thief.

Would you want to die singing the song "Kiss the Devil"?  A song that chorus actually says "I will love the devil and sing his song".  In fact there is not any substance to it, it almost reads as a satanic parody of the Divine Praises.  That was the song that apparently the band Eagles of Death metal started performing according to the Daily Mail when the gunmen showed up and starting their killing spree. 

"For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night." 1 Thessalonians 5:2 .  Consider what you listen to, consider what you do, consider where you go.  Our time is very limited, let us redeem it, because the awful day of judgement  awaits when we leave these frail bodies, and every idle word shall be judged.  If you listen to such music, or go to such places repent.  Pray for Paris, but forget not the need to make reparation to Christ, not just for those who take innocent life, but for those who mock Him, Hate him, and blaspheme Him.  God have mercy on us. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mercy, Annulments & Matrimony

Some reflections on the current state of things vis-a-vis matrimony, annulments, and mercy.

1. There has been a lot of talk about making sure the annulment process is merciful and compassionate. When people use this sort of language, they demonstrate that they do not understand what the annulment process is all about. The annulment process is primarily investigative; its purpose is to determine whether or not a putative marriage bond is valid or not. It has to do with research and investigation into the historical facts in a particular case. "Mercy" and "compassion" by their nature have nothing to do with such an investigative process. To say such a process should be "merciful" or "compassionate" is like suggesting an archaeologist needs to be more merciful when he is trying to figure out if there are ancient skeletons buried beneath a parking lot, or that a coroner doing an autopsy needs to incorporate compassion into his findings. If we told the archaeologist or the coroner this, they would rightfully look askance and wonder in what sense mercy was even relevant to their investigation. Investigation is about simply uncovering facts, and just as mercy and compassion are irrelevant to the facts of a scientific investigation, so they are irrelevant to the annulment process.

2. The annulment process is a legal process. Legal procedures can be just or unjust, but they cannot be merciful or unmerciful. It could be argued - because of the above point about the nature of investigative enterprises - that mercy has no place in legal proceedings. Mercy does have some place in legal proceedings when it comes to the prudence of a judge or magistrate in handing down a particular sentence. We may implore a judge to be merciful; there is a saying, to "throw oneself on the mercy of the court." But (and this is an important distinction) one is appealing for mercy regarding a sentence, not a procedural process. It is the sentence which elicits pleas for mercy, not the process of uncovering facts. A judge may be moved to mercy in issuing a sentence, but no judge would take seriously a plea that searching to uncover the facts of a case was unmerciful. So appeals to mercy are directed towards a sentence, not a process.

Furthermore, we appeal to mercy from persons, not procedures. A procedure can be more or less just, granted; but we do not make judgments about whether a system of procedures is merciful. Mercy is a moral act and can only be granted by a person, never a procedure. The talk about our annulment procedures being made more "merciful" is absurd.

3. It could be argued, of course, that an annulment is exactly that - a sentence. After all, the Tribunal issues a sentence at the end of the annulment process, and upon that sentence depends whether or not a previously contracted marriage is declared null. But the sentence is merely a sentence of fact, not a punitive sentence. The sentence is a statement that such-and-such are the facts of the case. One cannot appeal to mercy in such a judgment; it would make as little sense as saying that the judge's finding of fact that John Doe was spotted at the nightclub on the evening of July 25th is unmerciful. Facts are not merciful or unmerciful. They're just facts. And the annulment decree is a sentence of fact finding, not a punitive sentence. A person can argue that a fact is irrelevant, or needs to be understood in context, or that it is being understood errantly, but he cannot argue that a fact is unmerciful.

4. Finally, it is fascinating to me that there seems to be an eclipse of the concept of the sanctity of the marriage bond itself. For example, despite the great moral shift in the West, if you took a survey, most Americans would still say adultery or "cheating" is wrong. However, if you were to reword the survey and say, "Is it acceptable to have extramarital sex if your partner agrees to it?" we would see widespread agreement. If adultery is wrong, how could it be acceptable because a partner agrees to it? In other words, while many in the West still think adultery is wrong, they no longer understand why it is wrong. For most, adultery is wrong because it violates the trust of a spouse. This explains why so many will say it is acceptable in an "open marriage" situation or when the spouse assents to it. It is only wrong when the spouse has not consented. The betrayal of the spouse's trust is the real evil. Thus, the issue becomes whether mutual consent is violated - the Lockean libertarian principle applied to matrimony.

On the contrary, Catholic Tradition has always held that an extramarital affair is always immoral - even if the spouse consents to it - because it is an offense against the marriage bond. Of course violating trust is a bad thing, but it is not the only thing. The Catholic Tradition recognizes the marriage bond as something that exists objectively; it can be violated and sinned against by certain acts, even if both parties consent to them. But our culture no longer has any concept of an objective marriage bond; marriage is nothing other than consent - with consent, anything becomes permissible; without consent - a continuing consent - the marriage ceases to exist. Whereas Tradition sees the marriage bond as arising out of  a one-time act of consent, for the moderns the bond is nothing other than the consent itself. Thus, they do not understand why anything that is consented to can possibly be objectionable.

5. Finally, even if we could disregard all of the above and suggest that "mercy" should be applied in annulment cases, we ought to note that if "mercy" contradicts objective fact - that is, if in the name of mercy a declaration of nullity is issued that is not warranted by the objective facts of a case - well, this is not mercy; it is simply lying, which is an injustice.

We need to recognize as Christians that not only will our teachings be increasingly rejected, but they will not even be understood. When society cannot even understand that an objective marriage bond exists, the difference between a procedure and a sentence, an investigation of fact vs. a judgment, then the time has probably come to return to the deserts and lonely places and beat our breasts in prayer until renewal comes or the comes and smites the earth in flame.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Papal Rock: Milestone of Enculturation

Since the pontificate of John Paul II, we have witnessed the strange phenomenon of the "pop-star popes": a cult of personality surrounding the Roman Pontiff that has little to do with his office as successor or St. Peter and more to do with him being someone "important" and getting treated like a kind of celebrity. Some of this is natural and unavoidable when dealing with any truly important world figure - but much of it is fed by the popes themselves, who in their globe-trotting adventures, massive outdoor Masses, concerts at World Youth Day, and other grandiose events allow an aura of media celebrity to form about them.

Perhaps it will get worse. Maybe what was once described so optimistically at Vatican II as "enculturation" of society to the Gospel will become full blown descent of the Gospel to the culture - even more so than today. Maybe the popes will descend into the pop-entertainment milieu and describe it as a means of "evangelization." Perhaps some day the popes will record their own pop albums in hopes that such a medium will be more "relevant" to the youth of today.

Well, the future is here, because Pope Francis has recorded and released his first pop-rock album.

Or, to be more specific, Pope Francis has signed off on the release of an 11 track album called Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward! The album features what the U.K. Telegraph calls his "wise homilies and moving speeches" set to Indy rock music. Tony Pagliuca, who worked on the album, said the pope's rhythmic voice gave the tracks a feel of "slow rap."

The senior producer was Father Giulio Neroni, the director of St. Paul's Multimedia who is best remembered for compiling a Vatican playlist for MySpace that included a song by Tupac Shakur, who Fr. Neroni described as an artist who merely wanted to" aim to reach the heart of good minded people." Fr. Neroni released a sample track of the Wake Up! that has apparently been downloaded a billion times. The sample track is from a papal homily in South Korea. The pope's voice comes in around 2:00:

To what degree is the pope involved in this project? He signed off on the concept and was presented with a copy of the finished album by Fr. Neroni in August. The pope himself has not commented on the album.

John Paul II was the first to allow such a project to be recorded with his "Abba Pater" album. Pope Benedict XVI also had a similar album released, although in his case the album consisted of Gregorian chants and polyphony interspersed with papal homilies. Like World Youth Day, it looks like this papal album thing is just becoming something all popes do now, a real milestone ofThe mixing of enculturation.

I present this here merely "for the record" and will offer no further comment - though you are encouraged to! Or follow this blog on Facebook.

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Obedience of Athanasius & Fall Articles

I apologize for the infrequency of my posts as of late; we spent the summer showing our house and then moved in September and are still getting settled in, so things are chaotic. But I did want to draw your attention to some articles published on the sister site over the past several months. 

Many of you mentioned interest in an article on the life of St. Athanasius. I would like to direct you to this article, "The Obedience of St. Athanasius." While I do not offer comparisons or commentary on any contemporary persons or groups, I attempt to demonstrate in this article that St. Athanasius was never disobedient to any legitimate ecclesiastical authority, never defied or "ignored" the pope, and is hardly a model to be appealed to for 'justified disobedience.' It is long, but I think worth the read if you have ever invoked Athanasius in this sort of context. I also have a PDF version of the article.

If you want to keep up with articles coming from the sister site on a more regular basis, I recommend following us on our Unam Sanctam Catholicam Facebook page.

Here are some recent articles from the website, going back to mid-summer:

Philippine Bishop: "Stop Homily Abuse!": An important Filipino primate admonishes against long, tendentious, boring homilies. 
Innocent III: Ten Reasons Why a Man Should Not Get Married: Greatest medieval pope attempts to discourage men from marriage. Hilarity ensures.
Why is Masturbation a Sin? Why masturbation is in fact sinful as well as some practical tips on overcoming this vice.
Canonizations: Old vs. New Comparison: Featuring a chart with a side-by-side comparison of the procedures of pre-Vatican II canonizations to today.
Life in Medieval Cluny: The influence, plan, and organization of the influential medieval French abbey of Cluny.
Balthasar and the Faith of Christ: Balthasar asserts that Jesus experienced faith, ignorance, and even positive error. This man is not a model of orthodoxy.
Anselm Contra Greeks: St. Anselm answers Greek accusations about the Filioque; from de processione Spiritus Sancti
Slick's Not-So-Slick Questions for Catholics: Our apologist Wes Hunt refutes Protestant pastor Matt Slick's inane "Questions for Catholics."

Movie Reviews

Ant Man (2015)
The Equalizer (2014)
Mr. Holmes (2015)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015)
Minions (2015)
Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb (2014)
San Andreas (2015)

Sancti Obscuri

St. Thorfinn of Hamar

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Contact: uscatholicam[at]gmail[dot]com