11 April 2009

Words of Wisdom from the 2nd Century

On the Resurrection of the Dead, Athenagoras of Athens (ca. 190)

Chapter One—Defense of the Truth Should Precede Discussions Regarding It

BY the side of every opinion and doctrine which agrees with the truth of things, there springs up some falsehood; and it does so, not because it takes its rise naturally from some fundamental principle, or from some cause peculiar to the matter in hand, but because it is invented on purpose by men who set a value on the spurious seed, for its tendency to corrupt the truth. This is apparent, in the first place, from those who in former times addicted themselves to such inquiries, and their want of agreement with their predecessors and contemporaries, and then, not least, from the very confusion which marks the discussions that are now going on. For such men have left no truth free from their calumnious attacks—not the being of God, not His knowledge, not His operations, not those books which follow by a regular and strict sequence from these, and delineate for us the doctrines of piety. On the contrary, some of them utterly, and once for all, give up in despair the truth concerning these things, and some distort it to suit their own views, and some of set purpose doubt even of things which are palpably evident. Hence I think that those who bestow attention on such subjects should adopt two lines of argument, one in defence of the truth, another concerning the truth: that in defence of the truth, for disbelievers and doubters; that concerning the truth, for such as are candid and receive the truth with readiness. Accordingly it behoves those who wish to investigate these matters, to keep in view that which the necessity of the case in each instance requires, and to regulate their discussion by this; to accommodate the order of their treatment of these subjects to what is suitable to the occasion, and not for the sake of appearing always to preserve the same method, to disregard fitness and the place which properly belongs to each topic. For, so far as proof and the natural order are concerned, dissertations concerning the truth always take precedence of those in defence of it; but, for the purpose of greater utility, the order must be reversed, and arguments in defence of it precede those concerning it. For the farmer could not properly cast the seed into the ground, unless he first extirpated the wild wood, and whatever would be hurtful to the good seed; nor the physician introduce any wholesome medicines into the body that needed his care, if he did not previously remove the disease within, or stay that which was approaching. Neither surely can he who wishes to teach the truth persuade any one by speaking about it, so long as there is a false opinion lurking in the mind of his hearers, and barring the entrance of his arguments. And, therefore, from regard to greater utility, I myself sometimes place arguments in defence of the truth before those concerning the truth; and on the present occasion it appears to me, looking at the requirements of the case, not without advantage to follow the same method in treating of the resurrection. For in regard to this subject also we find some utterly disbelieving, and some others doubting, and even among those who have accepted the first principles some who are as much at a loss what to believe as those who doubt; the most unaccountable thing of all being, that they are in this state of mind without having any ground whatsoever in the matters themselves for their disbelief, or finding it possible to assign any reasonable cause why they disbelieve or experience any perplexity.

10 April 2009

Good Friday homilies: 2006 & 2007

Feverishly working on the book manuscript!

Here are my Good Friday posts from the last two years. . .please, forgive my re-posting.

Rejoice! He is dead! (2006)

Today death dies (2007)

2008? I was on a mission-trip with U.D. students during Holy Week.

09 April 2009

Just Say NO to P.C. foot-washings!

Q: Any opinion on the yearly controversy over the rubrics regarding the Holy Thursday liturgy for foot washing?

A: I always dread this question! My iron-clad rule is: Say the black, do the red. In other words, read the prayers as they are written in the liturgical books and follow the rules as they are. Following this rule, the priest will wash the feet of twelve men from his parish.

Now, the controversy revolves around two elements of this liturgy: 1) who washes? and 2) who gets washed? Some say: everyone washes; everyone gets washed! Others follow the rubric requiring the priest to do the washing, but they usually try to mix and match the washee's to accommodate some weird need to use this liturgy to express the "diversity" of the parish (as if just looking around in the pews doesn't demonstrate this well enough).

The B.I.G. issue, of course, is whether or not women can be included as washee's. The rubrics clearly require that the washee's be men, males (vir). In the U.S., bishops are allowed to grant pastors an exception to include women. Most do, I would bet. Fine.

What this debate about rubrics usually misses is the whole point of the rite itself. Jesus washes the feet of his disciples in order to show them that he is not only their Master and friend but their servant as well. He will go to the cross as a servant for them (and for us all). The priest, acting in the person of Christ, washes the feet of twelve men in order to liturgically enact this revelatory moment.

This liturgy is not about diversity or tolerance or discipleship or community-building. This is the moment when Christ--fully God, fully man--begins to empty himself in preparation for his passion and for the cross. In one very important way, this liturgy is about who the priest is for his parish--since he is and acts in the person of Christ as head of the Church, the priest is symbolizing his servant-leadership of the community. To use foot-washing on Holy Thursday for any other purpose is simply perverse.

Some will argue that since Jesus tells his disciples "to go and do likewise" that this is reason enough to turn the liturgy in a podiatrical free-for-all. If this is the case, then let's follow the example of scripture precisely. Celebrate the liturgy as it is written and then "do likewise." In other words, the priest will wash the feet of twelve men and then another part of the liturgy can be devoted to the "doing likewise." Or maybe a foot-washing free-for-all liturgy can be planned for another time of the year, or even regularly scheduled during Lent. Not perfect solutions by any stretch, I know.

What is tiresome about this yearly debate is the constant refrain of prog liturgists that this event needs to "express diversity." No, it doesn't. There is no good reason for this liturgy to do any such thing. Why this liturgy should yield to the demands of liturgical political correctness is beyond me. There's no demand that baptisms reflect the parish's diversity. Diversity in confessions? Will every Latino couple getting married in the parish need to find an Asian couple to get married with in order to celebrate diversity? Can three black guys get ordained to the priesthood at the same time, or do they need to wait until at least one white guy is ready for ordination?

Of course, the other possibility is to simply skip it. It's optional.

08 April 2009

Condoms (and the West) fail Africa

A bleak story about the failure of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. . .

Bleak Stories Behind Failed Condom Campaigns
by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Sub-Saharan Africa has two-thirds of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases. So you would think that Western journalists and politicians might condescend to ask us what we think about how to fight AIDS. But they haven’t. A pity, because they would have found that many of us support Pope Benedict XVI’s scepticism about the effectiveness of distributing condoms.

A few days ago, The Lancet, a leading British medical journal which regularly pontificates about public health, slammed the Pope for making “a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people”. I wonder if the editor of The Lancet has ever visited rural areas of Nigeria or South Africa. If he did, he would begin to see why fighting AIDS with condoms is like extinguishing a fire with petrol.

[. . .]

Read the whole piece.

07 April 2009

"an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility"

Sent to me by an up and coming young Dominican. . .

Pius X, Pascendi Dominici gregis:

With all this in mind, one understands how it is that the Modernists express astonishment when they are reprimanded or punished. What is imputed to them as a fault they regard as a sacred duty. They understand the needs of consciences better than anyone else, since they come into closer touch with them than does the ecclesiastical authority. Nay, they embody them, so to speak, in themselves. Hence, for them to speak and to write publicly is a bounden duty. Let authority rebuke them if it pleases -- they have their own conscience on their side and an intimate experience which tells them with certainty that what they deserve is not blame but praise.

Then they reflect that, after all, there is no progress without a battle and no battle without its victims; and victims they are willing to be like the prophets and Christ Himself. They have no bitterness in their hearts against the authority which uses them roughly, for after all they readily admit that it is only doing its duty as authority. Their sole grief is that it remains deaf to their warnings, for in this way it impedes the progress of souls, but the hour will most surely come when further delay will be impossible, for if the laws of evolution may be checked for a while they cannot be finally evaded. And thus they go their way, reprimands and condemnations not withstanding, masking an incredible audacity under a mock semblance of humility.

While they make a pretense of bowing their heads, their minds and hands are more boldly intent than ever on carrying out their purposes. And this policy they follow willingly and wittingly, both because it is part of their system that authority is to be stimulated but not dethroned, and because it is necessary for them to remain within the ranks of the Church in order that they may gradually transform the collective conscience. And in saying this, they fail to perceive that they are avowing that the collective conscience is not with them, and that they have no right to claim to be its interpreters.

Postings around. . .

A quick round up of excellent blog posts. . .

US gives Italian earthquake victims $50,000. Maybe someone should tell The One that an abortion clinic was destroyed.

Mark Shea untangles the mess some make of papal infallibility.

Diogenes spanks the NCR on their story about why Bishop Morlino fired the feminist "pastor."

He also clears up the confusion over why The One was invited to Notre Dame.

Patrick N. Allit at Inside Catholic recounts the history of Catholic anti-communism.

As Americans we are not only free to speak but free to listen: Freedom to Listen.

Reiki goofiness banned at Catholic wellness center. Someone was listening!

"Misanthropic ecofascism" and The Revenge of Gaia (a book review)

Anna Arco tells us how the tolerant, diversity-loving Austrian "We Are Church" Catholics defied the Pope.

And a funny one from Jeff Miller. . .technology comes to Holy Week!

06 April 2009

Bishops spank Notre Dame

Catherine Harmon of Catholic World Report has a round-up of bishops who have spoken out against Notre Dame's shameful invitation of The One to speak at commencement.

If you don't see your bishop listed, you might consider asking him what he thinks about this mess!

H/T: Tom Peters of American Papist

More abortionist folly. . .

The lengths pro-aborts will go to in order to protect their "right" to kill children:

Why A Botched Abortion Case Should, and Does, Inspire Outrage

Sherry F. Colb

For both pro-choice and pro-life advocates, the facts of this case are unsettling and even shocking.

An important feature of the facts that distinguishes what occurred here from abortion more generally is that if the narrative alleged by the prosecution and by Sycloria Williams is accurate, then Belkis Gonzalez – the woman who is said to have placed a live fetus into a biohazard bag – did something that goes well beyond what can be called "terminating a pregnancy."

Indeed, Gonzalez apparently had nothing to do with the termination itself: She did not dilate Williams's cervix or induce labor or otherwise play any role in removing the fetus from Williams's body. It was only after Williams had given birth to her fetus that Gonzalez cut the umbilical cord and deposited the allegedly live, writhing, breathing infant into a biohazard bag, along with gauze and other garbage.

One might argue, as some pro-life advocates have, that there is no meaningful difference between what Gonzalez did and what an abortion provider does, because in both cases, a fetus is killed. This argument, however, ignores one of the main premises of the right to abortion – the bodily-integrity interest of the pregnant woman. Particularly at the later stages of pregnancy, the right to abortion does not protect an interest in killing a fetus as such. What it protects instead is the woman's interest in not being physically, internally occupied by another creature against her will, the same interest that explains the right to use deadly force, if necessary, to stop a rapist. Though the fetus is innocent of any intentional wrongdoing and the rapist is not, the woman's interest in repelling an unwanted physical intrusion is quite similar.

Once the fetus is no longer inside the woman's body, though, killing it is not necessary to preserving the woman's bodily integrity. If Gonzalez had, instead of suffocating the infant in a garbage bag, placed it into an incubator with a respirator, for example, Williams would not have been any more pregnant than she was in the circumstances that actually unfolded. And once Williams was no longer pregnant, and thus no longer occupied by an unwelcome intruder, she had no more right to procure the death of her fetus than did anyone else, including Belkis Gonzalez [. . .]

Commenting on his own post, Chris Johnson notes: "The metaphor proposed is the stupidest ever offered about any subject. To equate an unborn baby with a rapist doesn’t even begin to work. A rapist has a choice of whom he rapes. A fertilized egg cannot declare, 'Oh, hey, I think I’ll park myself in that woman over there whether she wants me to or not.'"

H/T: Chris Johnson, MCJ

Unsigned comments will be deleted. Permission is given to re-post or reprint with attribution for non-commercial use only.

Yes, Rebecca, confessions are allowed during the Triduum!

Is your pastor telling the parish that there will be no confessions after Wednesday this week?

Is he claiming that this is stipulated by the Church?

I've heard this all my Catholic life! (Though I've known that it's not true.)

Fr. Z. says, "Nay! Nay!"

The Church does NOT forbid confessions after Wednesday.

The Book

The book contract with Liguori Press arrived in the mail this morning!

Back to work. . .

Quaking in Rome! (UPDATE 3)

Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake Hits Central Italy

ROME (AP) - A strong earthquake struck central Italy early Monday, killing [150+] people including four children, and causing buildings to collapse, officials and news reports said.

Several people were also reported missing in the area where the quake struck. The quake was felt in much of central Italy, including Rome.

The quake struck about 70 miles (110 kilometers) northeast of Rome at about 3:32 a.m. local time (0132 GMT, 8:32 p.m. EDT), officials said. The Civil Protection Department said the epicenter was near the city of L'Aquila, in the mountainous Abruzzo region.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude was 6.3, though Italy's National Institute of Geophysics put the magnitude at 5.8.

Four children died in L'Aquila after their houses collapsed, the ANSA news agency said.

Massimo Cialente, mayor of L'Aquila, told private Sky TG24 that two people were reported dead in the nearby small town of Fossa. He confirmed reports that another eight were missing in another small town.

The ANSA news agency said the dome of a church in l'Aquila collapsed, while the city's cathedral also suffered damages.

People were woken by the quake and ran into the streets, ANSA said.

The quake was the latest in a series of jolts that struck the area over the past two days.

UPDATE: Video from the BCC

UPDATE 2: Slideshow from the BCC

UPDATE 3: More pics from TIMES Online

05 April 2009

Real Men for Christ!

To be a Real Man for Christ!

Drawing God's people to God Himself. . .

Obama Bowing and Scraping to Saudi King

I know quite a few of you really hate it when I post on overtly political subjects. If you are one of these, you will want to skip this post.

President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia (00:55):

Some will claim that this is simply diplomatic protocol. If so, why is Obama the only head of state bowing to the king? If so, why didn't he bow like this to Queen Elizabeth II? Heads of State do not bow to one another.

AND before someone writes it in the combox. . .yes, I know that Bush bowed to the Pope. . .more of a profound nod, really. . .but he should not have done so.