Saturday, July 30, 2011

The multiplication of loaves: What if it were only a matter of people sharing?, or Why it had to be a miracle

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 14:13-21
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied.
It is well known how the modernist and rationalist interpreters of Sacred Scripture will attempt to twist the multiplication of the loaves (indeed, we should say “multiplications”, since Jesus did this more than once) from a miracle into an instance of sharing.
“It wasn’t a miracle,” they tell us. “Or, rather, the miracle was that our Lord got the people to share!” Now, I don’t intend here to point out that such “scholars” have little understanding of the Gospels – how the event is clearly related as a miracle, how the crowds (according to St.  John) wanted to make Jesus a political King on account of the fact that he could solve all their material problems with his power, how our Savior himself reminds the Apostles that he had fed the multitudes with only some loaves and a few fish (remember, he was with them on the boat and told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees).
I could do all this, many have done so before – it is the very necessary project of apologetics (the first phase of theology). However, I wish to consider the multiplication according to the higher science of theology proper: What would it mean if this were only a case of sharing? And, What did Christ tell us when he worked this great miracle?

Friday, July 29, 2011

In defense of St. Martha, On the sanctification of work

Work is necessary, and it must be sanctified

July 29th, Feast of St. Martha
And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)
To be clear: We do not intend to "defend St. Martha" against the Lord, but rather to defend her from the popular (and sentimental) caricatures with which the modern world has obscured the true meaning of Christ's words. Today, it has become popular to speak of the importance of following Mary’s example in this dispute between the two sisters from Bethany. Certainly, Mary did chose the best part – which is the life of prayer. Still, we must recall that most of us (i.e. most of those reading this blog and also all the contributors) are called to the active life in the world – we are called to the life of work, which is symbolized by St. Martha.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let the priests bless the bread!, The multiplication of the loaves and the new English translation of the Mass

Christ's hand is raised in blessing at the multiplication of the loaves

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 14:13-21
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples.
What the priest used to say at Mass: “The day before he suffered, he took bread in his sacred hands, and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said; TAKE THIS …”
What the priest will say at Mass: “On the day before he was to suffer, he took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: TAKE THIS …”
The Institution Narrative of Eucharistic Prayer I (above) is quite clearly modeled on the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. As St. Thomas Aquinas notes (together with many others), the Gospels do not relate that Christ looked up to heaven at the Last Supper, but we may presume this action since it was prefigured at the multiplication of loaves and has been maintained in the earliest tradition of the Church.
What is particularly encouraging about the new English translation of the Roman Missal is the inclusion of the language of blessing in the Institution Narrative. While before – in Eucharistic Prayers I and III – the Latin word benedixit was translated as “He gave you […] praise” [completely confusing the two distinct actions of giving thanks (tibi gratias agens) and blessing (benedixit) by supplying the word “praise”]; the new translation will happily include the notion of blessing – “he said the blessing”.
What is more, Eucharistic Prayer IV will be modified from “he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples” to “he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples” – which is much more faithful to the Latin benedixit and to the biblical inspiration of the liturgical text. It will now be very clear that the blessing is directed toward the bread itself, which is about to be consecrated.
This is what we should like to point out in our current article: The liturgical language of the Mass must be rooted in the biblical language of the Gospels (and, as applicable, of the whole Bible). A consideration of Christ’s blessing of the bread just before the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish will serve to explain why the new translation of the Institution Narrative is far more biblical than that which has been used in the English-speaking world since the 1970s.
How sad it is that the old (i.e. the current) English translation hid this act of blessing for so many years. Starting in Advent 2012, a wonderful thing will occur: The priest will once again be permitted to bless the bread at Mass!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The pearl of great price: The Eucharist, the child, the poor. Sermon of July 24th

A homily from last Sunday, delivered by Father Ryan Erlenbush at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Miles City, MT. 
How we find the pearl in the ordinary circumstances of our daily life: Through attendance at Mass every Sunday, through gracious acceptance of children within marriage (i.e. using Natural Family Planning and not contraception), and through being generous to the poor.

Father Ryan's Sunday Sermons: The pearl of great price: The Eucharist, the child...: "St. Anthony of Egypt sold all he had, entered the desert, and endured every trial with joy - he had found the pearl of great price! 1..."

The New Theological Movement: The Contributors

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush
Fr. Erlenbush is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Great Falls – Billings in Montana, USA. He was ordained on 23 June 2009. Completing his seminary studies at the North American College in Rome, he received an STB from the Pontifical Gregorian University and both an MA and an STL from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), focusing on dogmatic theology.

Fr. Erlenbush posts his homilies at Father Ryan's Sunday Sermons.

Fr. Erlenbush had previously written articles under the pseudonym Reginaldus, referring to two heroic Dominican priests: Reginald of Piperno who was the close friend and confessor of St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange who is surely the greatest Thomist of our day.

The contributors to The New Theological Movement had previously adopted pseudonyms. For an explanation of this, see our article in defense of pseudonymous blogging.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why isn't Joachim mentioned in Jesus' genealogy?

July 26th, Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
As we look at the two genealogies of Christ given in the Scriptures (Matthew 1:1ff and Luke 3:23), we might wonder why it is that St. Joachim is not mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus. It is no surprise that St. Anne would not be mentioned (since few women are), but we ought to be a bit alarmed at the lack of St. Joachim – since, he is the closest male blood-relative of our Savior.
Some – thinking themselves wise – may reply too quickly: “Well, of course Joachim isn’t mentioned! The genealogies are traced not through Mary, but through Joseph. Hence, since Joachim is Jesus’ ancestor through Mary, it is obvious that he wouldn’t be listed in the genealogy through Joseph!” Such persons are quite ignorant of the great diversity of Catholic opinion on this question.
In fact, many of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church – as well as the best of the biblical scholars (we refer especially to Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide) – have maintained that the genealogy given in Luke is the natural genealogy through Mary, while that in Matthew is the legal (and regal) genealogy through Joseph.
“How can this be?,” some will cry, “The Bible clearly states that the genealogies are both through Joseph – first as ‘son of Jacob’ (in Matthew), then as ‘son of Heli’ (in Luke).” Pointing our readers to our previous article on Mary’s genealogy, we turn now to a careful study of where Joachim lies hidden in the text of St. Luke’s Gospel.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Keeping them straight: James the Greater and James the Less

St. James the Greater, of Compostela
July 25th, Feast of St. James the Greater
“St. James the Apostle, brother of blessed John the Evangelist, who was beheaded by Herod Agrippa about the time of the Paschal Feast, being the first of the Apostles to receive the crown of martyrdom. His sacred bones were translated on this day from Jerusalem to Spain, and buried in the furthest parts of that country, in Galicia, and are piously venerated with great honour by the people of that country, and by the mighty concourse of Christians who go thither to perform their religious duties and vows.” (from the Roman Martyrology)
Devout Catholics often feel a certain anxiety when a feast of one of the St. James-es occurs. We often wonder: Which James is this again? And what did that James do? And how many Jameses are there anyways?
There are, in fact, as many as five different Jameses presented in the Scripture – and to these, there are also many extra-canonical traditions regarding the Jameses. In this little article, we will not so much attempt to give all the scriptural and patristic proofs of the general tradition, but will instead strive to put forward (clearly and concisely) the scriptural and traditional accounts about the different Jameses.

Friday, July 22, 2011

St. Mary Magdalene and the insanity of modern Catholic biblical scholarship

July 22nd, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
The majority of modern biblical “scholars” – including Catholics – maintain that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (the sister of Lazarus and Martha), and the sinful woman (of Luke 7) are three distinct women. On the other hand, there is some popular devotion which connects Mary Magdalene at least with the sinful woman, if not with Mary of Bethany. Finally, there is a modern opinion that Mary Magdalene is the adulterous woman of John 8 [in my study of the Fathers and Doctors, I have yet to find any support for this final claim].
It may be somewhat surprising, therefore, to realize that the Western Catholic tradition has held – from at least the 5th century up to the early 1900s – that Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the sinful woman (of Luke 7, not the adulteress of John 8) are one and the same person. Thus, the ancient and nearly unanimous tradition of the Latin Church is completely ignored by the modern Catholic “scholars”.
Indeed, if Mary Magdalene is not also Mary of Bethany, then we come to the awkward conclusion that Mary of Bethany is not venerated in the Roman Catholic Church – since there is no feast of “St. Mary of Bethany”, nor does the Latin Rite recognize any saint of that description apart from St. Mary Magdalene. Moreover, we point out that the feast of St. Martha of Bethany falls on the octave day of the feast of St. Mary Magdalene – lending additional support to the Church’s tradition.
While there is a tradition in the East which considers Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, and the sinful woman to be either two or even three women – and there is certainly some ground for such a claim – we will here defend the Latin consensus that these three are indeed only one single woman: The penitent, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, the Magdalen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Holy Communion Twice in a Day... Not Ordinarily Says Rome

Can. 917 – Qui sanctissimam Eucharistiam iam receipt, potest eam iterum eadem die suscipere solummodo intra eucharisticam celebrationem cui participat, salvo praescripto can. 921, § 2.

Can. 917 – He who has already received the most holy Eucharist, is able to receive it again on the same day only within a eucharistic celebration in which he participates, without prejudice to the provision of can. 921, § 2.

Catholics are often told that they can receive Holy Communion twice in a day without qualification. It seems to be a “right” to receive Holy Communion twice in one day, no matter what the circumstances may be. Looking into the Church’s law on this question reveals something altogether different however. First, the Code of Canon Law is basing Can. 917 on a document from the then Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments entitled Immensae caritatis, which in English begins “The witness of immeasurable charity (immensae caritatis) which Christ the Lord left to his Church, his bride…” (Acta Apostolica Sedis, 65 [1973] 267 – 268) This document discusses highly important matters of Church discipline surrounding so august a Sacrament; Matters such as the distribution of Holy Communion by extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, a wider faculty – not unrestricted and limitless – for the reception of Holy Communion twice in one day, the mitigation of the Eucharistic fast for the infirm and the elderly and finally, the piety and reverence toward the Most Blessed Sacrament when the faithful receive the Host in the hand. Weighty matters and unfortunately I am not able to treat of them all. However, we now turn to the question of receiving twice in one day and will leave the rest for another day.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi and the Golden Age of Catholic biblical scholarship: He knew the whole Bible by heart, in its original languages

July 21st, Feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church
In the 1800’s, led primarily by protestant theologians, the science of biblical theology first began. This science – which is completely different from the “proof-texting” of the Medieval scholastics and from the allegorizing of the early Fathers – approached the Bible in a whole new way: Emphasizing especially the importance of the original languages and also giving greater prominence to the human authors of the biblical books. For the first time, the Bible was understood in the historical context in which it was originally written.
Now, as with any completely new and original science, it is to be expected that biblical scholarship would struggle for a few years – jumping from one theory to another – but, soon enough, a real “golden age” dawned in the 1900’s. Unfortunately, because of the fears of the Church authorities, Catholic scholars were forbidden from practicing this new science – after all, Catholics were only allowed to read the Bible in Latin (and lay Catholics were discouraged from reading it at all). However, all this changed in 1943 when Pope Pius XII issued the Encyclical letter Divino Afflante Spiritu. And so, the Golden Age of Catholic biblical scholarship had begun.
So goes the common myth. The truth could hardly be more different from this fable. It is the above yarn which (in this little article) we hope to begin to untangle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christ Jesus, the true pearl of great price

As the precious pearl lies hid within the humble shell,
so too the divinity of Christ is veiled by his humanity

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 13:44-52
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
In the Gospel for this Sunday, our Savior begins with two parables: That of the treasure hidden in the field and that of the pearl of great price. “In these two parables Jesus shows the supreme value of the Kingdom of heaven, and the attitude people need if they are to attain it. The parables are very alike, but it is interesting to note the differences: the treasure means abundance of gifts; the pearl indicates the beauty of the Kingdom. The treasure is something stumbled upon; the pearl, the result of a lengthy search; but in both instances the finder is filled with joy.” (from the Navarre Bible Commentary)
 As the Church has meditated on the “Parables of the Kingdom” – that is, the parables found in Matthew 13:1-52 (those of the sower, of the weeds, of the mustard seed, of the leaven, of the hidden treasure, of the pearl of great price, and of the net which caught many fish) – she has come to understand these to reveal not only the nature of the Kingdom and of the Church, but also of the person of Jesus. Our Savior is himself the Kingdom of heaven, just as the Church is his mystical body.
Christ Jesus is himself that pearl of great price.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why can't young children receive Anointing of the Sick?

Nearly all priests, and even the majority of moderately catechized lay persons, know that the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick cannot be given to young children who have not yet acquired the use of reason. Such is the clear teaching of the Church: “The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger of death by reason of illness or old age.” (Canon 1004.1)
In previous articles, we have discussed whether Anointing can be given before surgery and also how sick one must be in order to receive Anointing of the Sick, we now offer a final article on why young children who have not yet reached the use of reason cannot receive this sacrament. Indeed, although most priests know this fact, it is likely that many do not understand why this is the case. In my own experience of seminary formation, I was shocked to discover that (at what is supposed to be a conservative and academically rigorous seminary) the priests on faculty entrusted with teaching the seminarians about Anointing of the Sick could not explain why this sacrament is not given to young children.
We will say this: If a priest cannot explain why Anointing of the Sick is not given to children who lack the use of reason, he has not yet come to even a most rudimentary understanding of the sacrament – such a priest really knows nothing at all about Anointing of the Sick. Conversely, a careful consideration of this question will lead us to the very heart of the sacrament of Anointing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Mustard Seed: Christ, the Church, and St. Lawrence

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 13:24-43

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.
The parable of the mustard seed follows after two other seed-based parables which emphasize the tribulations which the Gospel must endure. The first, which was read by the Church last Sunday, is of the sower who went forth to sow – of the seed which he scattered, three parts were lost (for they fell upon the path, the rocky earth, and among thorns), and only one part was preserved (for it alone fell upon the good soil).
Our Lord then proceeds with another parable which emphasizes an additional tribulation. In the parable of the weeds and the wheat, we learn that even among the seed placed in good soil, the enemy will come and sow weeds which will threaten the wheat and attempt to stifle the harvest.
Hence, when he comes to the third parable, that of the mustard seed, Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide begins his commentary on this passage with the following remark: “This is Christ’s third parable, the occasion and cause of which St. Chrysostom gives as follows: ‘Because the Lord had said that of the seed three parts perish, and one is preserved, and again of that which is preserved, there is great loss on account of the tares which are sown above it, lest people should say, who then and how many will believe? He removes this fear by the parable of the grain of mustard seed, and therefore it is said, Another parable put He forth unto them, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, et c.’”
As the Fathers and Doctors interpret this passage, they see Christ himself, the Church, and even St. Lawrence the deacon represented in the tiny seed which grows to become a great plant.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pope Sixtus V: Every true Bonaventurian must defend Scholasticism

July 15th, Feast of St. Bonaventure
On 3 May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the legacy of St. Bonaventure at his customary Wednesday Audience (this was the first of three audiences which would be dedicated to the Seraphic Doctor). The Holy Father recalled the memory of the disciple of St. Francis with great tenderness: “Today I would like to talk about St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. I confide to you that in broaching this subject I feel a certain nostalgia, for I am thinking back to my research as a young scholar on this author who was particularly dear to me. My knowledge of him had quite an impact on my formation.”  (See the whole text here)
Together with St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure has come to symbolize the Scholastic period of theology. Sadly, Scholasticism has come under no small amount of ridicule in recent days. Some Catholic theologians have gone so far as to claim that the Church has moved past the “old theology” of the medieval schools and has adopted a “new theology” for the present day. The proponents of this “new theology” have the intention of “razing the bastions” – that is, destroying (rather, dismissing) the traditional distinctions developed by the Scholastic doctors.
Certainly, any true Bonaventurian (as well as any true Thomist; indeed, any true Catholic) would abhor such a notion. Below, we reproduce selections from the Bull Triumphantis Hierusalem (from 1588) of Pope Sixtus V, in which St. Bonaventure is officially elevated as a Doctor of the Church. In his praise of the Seraphic Doctor, Pope Sixtux V also promotes the Scholastic theology which St. Bonaventure so well personified.
[The text below is entirely from Pope Sixtus V. We apologize for the rather difficult wording which was common to that age. We have tried to bring attention to certain points with our emphases.]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blessed Kateri and the importance of Evanglization

Fr. Jacques de Lamberville, who brought salvation to Kateri

July 14th, Feast of Bl. Kateri (in the United States)
As we celebrate today the memory of Blessed Kateri Takakwitha, we call to mind the importance of the missionary zeal in the life of the Church.
Bl. Kateri was born to a Catholic mother and a pagan father, but lost her parents to small pox at a young age – she herself was badly scarred by the disease. Living then with her uncle, who was not a Christian, she nevertheless maintained an interest in the Church and Christ Jesus.
When she was twenty years of age, she was baptized by Fr. Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary priest. Kateri entered the Church on Easter, 18 April 1676.
It is well known how Bl. Kateri mortified herself and grew in the spiritual life. Moreover, she suffered much persecution and ridicule from her clan, who did not understand her new faith. Ultimately she was forced to abandon her community and flee to a Christian community of Natives in Kahnawake, Quebec. In 1679, Kateri took of vow of chastity, consecrating herself as a virgin. She died on 17 April 1680, at the age of twenty four.
What is particularly striking about her story is the simple fact (which is more than a mere statement of history) that, if a Catholic priest had not brought the faith to her people, Kateri would not be a blessed. Moreover, if a protestant missionary had been the one to baptize Kateri, she would not be a blessed and we would not be celebrating her feast today.
The salvation of the “Lily of the Mohawks” really did depend upon the missionary work of the Catholic priest, Fr. Jacque de Lamberville. Kateri’s eternal salvation came through the real historical work of the Church, who spread the Gospel among the pagan natives of the Americas, baptizing them in the Name and instructing them in the one true Faith.
How great must be our zeal for Evangelization, it is a matter of eternal life and eternal death!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When should I receive Anointing of the Sick? or, How sick is "sick"?

There has been, quite happily, a realization in recent years that the Anointing of the Sick (i.e. Extreme Unction) is a sacrament of the “sick” and not of the “dying”. Last week, we recognized that this sacrament (because it is not for the “dying”) is not appropriate for those who are in serious and even immediate danger of death but are not sick – e.g. for persons about to enter war, those about to be executed, and also those about to undergo “serious” surgery who yet have no serious illness.
What became clear in the comment box of the previous article is that there is no little confusion about what the Church means by “serious sickness” and “the sick”. How sick does one have to be before receiving Anointing? In what circumstances does old age call for the sacrament of Anointing? In other words: How sick is “sick”?
Finally, we must also consider how often the sacrament of Anointing should be repeated.

Monday, July 11, 2011

St. Benedict, the common life, and the danger of "lone-rangers"; or, What St. Benedict might say to Fr. Corapi

July 11th, Feast of St. Benedict
As the Church today celebrates the feast of St. Benedict (according to the Ordinary Form), we consider the common life which the Father of Western Monasticism both defined and defended. In our own day (as I suppose in any period of history), there is a great impulse toward individualism and independence – and these tendencies often creep into our religious sensibilities through hidden and unseen cracks.
St. Benedict defended the institution of common monastic life and recommended this before the solitary life of the hermit. Certainly, the life of the hermit is more perfect than that of the monk, but St. Benedict warns that the hermit’s life is also more dangerous and therefore should only be entered after many years of living the common life of the monastery.
Far too often, both religious and priests separate pre-maturely from the common life of their community in order to take up a solitary life independent from the monastery or (as the case may have it) from the common life of the diocesan clergy. This tendency toward separatism is very dangerous, as it puts the vocation of the priest or religious in grave jeopardy – indeed, it can happen that the individual (now outside his community and living independently and according to his own whims) will become so lost as to end up renouncing his vocation and pursuing instead his own plans rather than the will of God which is communicated through his superiors.  [Does this story sound familiar to anyone?]
A consideration of the opening chapter of Holy Rule of St. Benedict will serve to correct this errant tendency.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A sower went forth to sow, but who prepared the soil?

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 13:1-23
A sower went out to sow. […] Some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
The parable of the sower describes the manner in which the grace of God is freely bestowed upon the earth and bears much fruit in the hearts of those who believe. The liberality and the generosity with which the Lord pours forth his Word upon the earth – giving grace not merely to those who are well-disposed (i.e. the good soil), but even to the wicked (i.e. the poor soil) – witnesses to the infinite riches of the Divine Mercy.
Still, we must consider how it comes about that some soil is well prepared while other soil is poor. If it is God who sows the seed of grace, who prepares and disposes the soil of the human soul to receive that grace?
In responding to this question, St. Thomas Aquinas’ own position grew and developed – in this theological question, as in so many others, the Common Doctor rises above all his contemporaries and soars ahead as the greatest Master. The thought of the Angelic Doctor has become a light to the whole Church. We shall here consider (briefly, and in simple terms) the key points of the debate and the change in St. Thomas’ thought which led to a significant development in Catholic theology generally.
Can man prepare or dispose himself to receive the first gift of grace?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Should Anointing of the Sick be given before surgery?

Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man. (James 5:14-15)
 “The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Sacram Unctione Infirmorum, 30 Nov 1972)
“It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation.” (CCC 1515)
Happily, the sacrament of Extreme Unction is no longer (in the popular thought of the faithful) relegated solely to the last moments of life, but is celebrated much more conveniently when the sickness first begins to seriously threaten life. Most unhappily, a widespread confusion has occurred as to the whether (and, as the case may have it, why) the sacrament of Anointing is to be given before serious surgery.
Many of the Christian faithful (indeed, even many of the priests) are of the mistaken opinion that serious life-threatening surgery is, in itself, a cause for the administration of the sacrament of Anointing. This confusion could be perpetuated by the brief words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (as reproduced above), but can be easily corrected if we consider the nature of the sacrament.
As we shall see, serious (and even life-threatening) surgery is not a cause for the reception of Anointing of the Sick. Likewise, other foreseen life-threatening events (such as deployment for military service or capital punishment) do not render a person fit to be a recipient of this sacrament.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Same-sex "marriage" advocates are far too spiritual

They don't understand the meaning of marriage

4th of July, Independence Day (USA)
The United States of America is at a crossroads: Will she defend the natural institution of marriage or will she doom herself to societal decline? With all the debate about same-sex “marriage” and the recent legislation in New York, much ink (or, rather, megabytes of online data) has been spent on the issue. On point that seems to have gone unnoticed – or, at least, has not been stressed enough – is that the homosexual activists have failed to recognize that human beings are animals.
The argument for same-sex “marriage” recognizes (at least theoretically) the love of the spouses, the fidelity and permanence of the marriage bond, and the emotional and psychological significance of marital union, but it completely fails to recognize the physical and animal aspect of marriage – namely, the preservation and propagation of the human species. The same-sex “marriage” advocates treat of human beings as though we were angels, pure spirits. They completely ignore the physical nature of man.
This is what is most surprising about the promoters of the homosexual sub-culture: For materialistic hedonists, they are far too spiritual.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

To be "humble of heart", The 12 degrees of humility according to St. Benedict and St. Thomas Aquinas

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 11:25-30
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.
Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide cites the words of St. Augustine on this verse: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, not to frame a world, not to create all things, visible and invisible, not to do miracles in the world and to raise the dead; but that I am meek and lowly in heart. Dost thou wish to be great, begin from the least. Thou art thinking of constructing a mighty fabric of loftiness, think first of the foundation of humility. And as great as each one wishes to build up his edifice, the greater the building, so much the more deeply let him dig his foundation.”
In following Christ our Savior, we are to imitate not so much his power and his glory, but rather his meekness and humility. But how to be humble? Indeed, it is much easier to be humble in word than humble of heart. In this regard, we turn to the writings of St. Benedict of Nursia who, in the seventh chapter of his Rule, establishes the twelve degrees of humility. Finally, we will reproduce St. Thomas Aquinas' defense of the twelve degrees, recalling that the Angelic Doctor himself learned humility through his schooling under the Holy Rule as a boy. 

[what follows is taken entirely from the Rule of St. Benedict and from the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, respectively]

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why Jesus had to know all things, "From his fullness we have all received"

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, from whose fullness we have all received. Have mercy on us!
Many tend to presume presume that the Church’s doctrinal teaching on the perfection of Christ’s humanity carries with it the danger of removing our Lord too far from the natural experience common to (fallen) humanity. “Be careful,” they warn us, “lest you so elevate the Savior that he is no longer really human.” (They seem to think that a man is not human unless he suffers from the effects of sin)
In this regard, it is not uncommon for such persons to claim that the traditional teaching on our Savior’s knowledge – including, especially, that the Lord enjoyed not only the natural human (acquired) mode of knowledge, but also the beatific knowledge of the saints (i.e. the intimate vision of and communion with God) and also the infused knowledge of all the truths which the human mind is capable of knowing (i.e. the knowledge of all created reality, past, present and future) – to be harmful to the devotional life of the Christian: “How,” they question, “can we relate to the Lord, if he did not experience ignorance, doubt, and confusion?” And again, they are perplexed when they come to certain passages of the Scriptures which seem to indicate a degree of positive ignorance in the Savior: “Was not our Lord ignorant,” they say, “of the time of the Second Coming?” Or, “Did not the Christ feel abandoned by his Father when he suffered on the Cross?”
Contrary to the grumblings of such persons, the Church has always affirmed the perfections of Christ’s sacred humanity (and especially of his knowledge) as essential to his role as our Savior. And this is why the Catholic Church affirms (in her ordinary Magisterium) that our Lord knew and knows all things even as man: If Jesus saved us through his humanity, then it is necessary that this humanity be perfect.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus recognized the essential role of the humanity of the Lord as the instrument of our salvation, united to his divinity. The fullness of Christ’s Sacred Heart is the storehouse of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.