Why Are They Leaving?

April 30, 2008

I found the following article absolutely riveting. InsideCatholic asked 34 prominent Catholics from various backgrounds to answer the question, “Why Are So Many Leaving the Catholic Church?” You will find this to be an important work for helping us get at the core of the problem. Enjoy!


Pope John Paul II, Ora Pro Nobis!!!

April 30, 2008

In a recent article written by Fr. Dwight Longnecker for InsideCatholic.com, Fr. Longnecker helps us grasp the gravity of the matter in terms of the unrestrained sexual activity everywhere, including our public school system. Fr. Longnecker offers the Theology of the Body as the way out of this cesspool we have found ourselves in as a culture. Pope John Paul II, pray for us!!!

In March, a Florida school district that was already dealing with one teacher being arrested for teacher-student sexual relations had to deal with another young female teacher involved with an underage boy.

Anecdotal evidence and statistical studies hint that sex abuse in American public schools is at epidemic proportions and that school districts regularly sweep the problem under the carpet — moving offending teachers on with glowing references just to transfer the trash. Cynics say the reason the problem doesn’t surface in the press is because public schools are shielded by legislation that protects their assets from being seized in lawsuits. “Where there’s no money,” the argument goes, “there’s no lawyer; and where there’s no lawyer, there’s no story.”
 
Catholics, still reeling from the sex-abuse scandals in the Church, may be inclined to wag a finger and say, “You see, Catholic priests are not the only pedophiles. School teachers are worse!” That may be true, but such shrill complaints are likely to be counterproductive. Critics of the Church will think Catholics are trying to shift attention elsewhere.
 
Better to leave the comparisons to priestly abuse on one side and deal with the core problem — which, in both cases, is essentially the same. Because of the invention of the contraceptive pill and the sexual revolution of the Sixties, members of our society regard sex as an activity for recreation, not procreation.
 
Educators, doctors, psychologists, and humanists consider it healthy and wholesome for young people to be sexually active pretty much as soon as they are physically able. Sex education is taught in a values-free environment, where the only negative thing is a sexually transmitted disease. Even an unwanted pregnancy is not considered a setback; the girl can simply have the pregnancy “terminated.” In such an environment, anything goes; and where anything goes, anyone is fair game.  
 
We have gotten used to the idea that college campuses are a sexual playground, but the same is true of our high schools. A local public high school in our town recently stopped giving out hall passes during study periods because boys and girls were meeting up to engage in sexual activity. Stories are flying that in another local school district they have decided to put closed circuit televisions on their school busses, due to the rampant sexual activity going on while other teenage passengers watch and cheer on the act.
 
If this is the real situation for young people in our society today, is it any wonder that novice high school teachers fall in with their teen students? If sex education is taught in a values-free environment, and from puberty onward young people are told by parents, teachers, teen magazines, the media, and their peers that sex is just a healthy past time, why should we suddenly expect girls and guys fresh out of college to instantly develop some sort of sexual morality?
 
For a decade of their lives, the young people who are now teachers have lived in an environment where everyone was a legitimate sexual partner. When the teachers were in high school, most of the teens were sexually active. Now, when they return as young teachers, it seems virtually everyone is.
 
Where were they supposed to find scruples about going out with a desirable 16-, 15-, 14-, or 13- year-old boy or girl? For that matter, why should members of our society (who have insisted on the sexual free-for-all) suddenly tell them that there are some boundaries, and that they can be arrested and go to jail for what they regard as no more harmful than a good game of tennis?
 
You understand I am not condoning such behavior. I am simply observing that secular, sexually promiscuous people who have been taught a recreational view of sex in a totally amoral context have no real reason for disciplining their sexual behavior. They just don’t have the tools in their toolbox.
 
Furthermore, given the relativistic atheistic education most college students have received, they have no philosophical or moral groundwork on which to construct a coherent sexual code of behavior. The authorities tell a new teacher that he or she is not to have a sexual relationship with a student. However, the authorities dare not (and cannot) tell the new teacher why such a relationship is forbidden.
 
Is it forbidden simply because the person is below a certain age? There is no logic for such an arbitrary decision. If the student consents and is already sexually active anyway, why would a certain age limit in itself provide a prohibition?
 
Is the relationship forbidden because it is assumed that the older person is exploiting the younger? The reverse may be the case. A sexually precocious teenager can be more predatory than a teacher. Indeed, some teachers have reported sexual harassment from students.
 
Is the sexual liaison forbidden because the teacher and student are in a professional relationship? The libertine will argue that, so long as the relationship takes place outside the professional context, there is nothing wrong with it. What the student and teacher do in their free time is beyond question.
 
Lawmakers and judges may, for the time being, enforce age limits for sexual activity, but without an underlying philosophical and moral foundation, those limits will seem increasingly arbitrary and absurd, and we should not be surprised when rules governing ages for sexual behavior are challenged.  
 
The volcano of human sexuality can only be controlled for a deeper reason. Erotic desire, sexual instinct, and sentimentality are not enough. It is only by a thoroughgoing philosophical and theological explication of the human person that the mystery of human sexuality can be understood.
 
Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body offers us the only way out of the present moral chaos. There we find that the dignity of human sexuality is grounded in the intrinsic dignity of each human being. The sexuality of that innate dignity is exalted and glorified within the sacrament of marriage, which in turn produces the fruit of new human life. Any behavior, therefore, that cheapens or destroys marriage cheapens and destroys human dignity.
 
This is why high school teachers having sex with students is wrong — because it cheapens and destroys the one thing that makes human sexuality sacred, and therefore cheapens and destroys the integrity of the human person. Only when our society recognizes a deeper reason for sexuality will we have the grounds to properly control sexual misbehavior.
 
Until then, be prepared for the assault of that debauched hoyden Sexual Anarchy, and her terrible sister Despair.
 Rev. Dwight Longenecker is chaplain to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. Check out his Web site and blog atwww.dwightlongenecker.com.



The Pope’s Music

April 28, 2008

I came across a great article which helps us better understand the passion of our Holy Father in desiring a restoration of beauty and the sacred. Read the article here.


The Mengele Syndrome

April 23, 2008

Marie at “View from the Pew” makes us think in this election year. Read her article here.

“This man is completely carried away; everything he says and writes has the mark of his egocentrism; this man is capable of trampling on corpses and eliminating anything that is an obstacle. I cannot understand how there are so many people in Germany who do not understand him, and cannot draw conclusions from what he says or writes. Has any of them even read his horrifying ‘Mein Kampf’?”

The above quotation is from Pope Pius XII who seemed to be the only man in Europe to understand Adolf Hitler’s intentions from the beginning! This begs the question how was a whole nation deceived?
They were deceived because in the end people will believe what they want to believe and truth has very little to do with it. Adolf Hitler was not born with the title ‘Der Fuhrer’ neither was he born a monster, he became both of these in his short life. He was able to convince a Nation that genocide was the answer to all their perceived ‘problems’, how could he do this? Because the nation was ready to be seduced and they were.
The next step in Hitlers demonic plan was to convince the German people that murder was the ultimate solution to all their problems. But Hitler was cunning, he knew that the German peoples had to be de-sensitized towards murder, that it would become acceptable, but this had to be done little by little and drip by poison drip. Using stealth and seduction Hitler did precisely that.
Hitler began a programe of forced sterilization of those who were deemed ‘mentally deficient.’ After this success, he began the move towards enforced euthanasia of those deemed by the Nazi’s as unfit to live, approximately 60,000 Germans died using this legal method of murder. These orders were made law and carried out from 1935 to 1939 before Hitler began the Mass extermination of the Jews.
Another ground breaking move made by Hitler was to legalize abortion as he stated with these ‘enlightening’ words, “In view of the large families of the native population, it could only suit us if girls and women there had as many abortions as possible. Active trade in contraceptives ought to be actually encouraged in the Eastern territories, as we could not possibly have the slightest interest in increasing the non-Germanic population.”
Should we be too surprised that almost 70 years later most Western countries also embrace that ‘theory’ and have put it into affect? That ‘catholics’ are also embracing this ‘enlightened’ way of thinking and like the Nazi’s, genocide has also been sanitized into more acceptable terms such as Pro-Choice, and the baby is called a ‘cell’. We are in this day and age living the Nazi ideal, some simply don’t know it yet, they are too busy supporting this genocide of the innocents.
As the Germans threw out the Crucifix and embraced the Swastika should we not feel alarmed when within our own countries there are organizations which are attempting to ban the Crucifix from all Government buildings and institutions? Some have also taken the step to have the Ten Commandments removed. Who is frightened by the Commandments of God? Only those who are breaking them!
Just as in Nazi Germany it becomes dangerous when a country accepts evil as a good, and murders it’s most vulnerable citizens, rather than live by their Faith which opposes murder.
In our own day we are living the ‘Mengele Syndrome’ where abortion is now legal in most Western countries. Where scientists perform experiments on human embryo’s, as well as trying to create human life in a test tube. Is there not a move to use euthanasia as a viable alternative to end human suffering as well as dispose of those who are born with disabilities?
Have we not become what we hate?
When you listen to and vote for politicians who embrace the Pro-Choice platform you have become the enemy. You have been seduced into accepting murder as a right. When did God cede Power to man?
The most scary aspect is, that Adolf Hitler was not born evil, yet he became it. The entire German people were not born evil, yet they supported it. The worlds population at that time were not born evil yet they ignored it. When evil knocks at your door will you recognise it’s dark message? Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI warns us with these wise words, “The more one understands the holiness of God, the more one understands the opposite of what is holy, namely, the deceptive masks of the devil”
How did Hitler murder over 6 million people, because he could. The question is did we learn from history or are we repeating it?
Written by Marie

Let’s Do That Mary-thing

April 22, 2008

Saint Maximilian Kolbe

In this compelling article, Peter Kreeft writes that we are all called (like Saint Maximilian Kolbe – left) to be saints. In fact, it is the necessary weapon that will win the culture war. Please take the time to read this compelling article which, honestly, views our present condition and offers hope and inspiration for the future …

“If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon. Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars.

To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him. You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.

Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars. I assume you would not be reading a magazine called Crisis if you thought all was well. If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.

Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis — especially the “intellectuals,” who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.

It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic. People are richer. End of discussion.

Perhaps Time is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and better.

There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.

Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.

Night is falling. What Chuck Colson has labeled “a new Dark Ages” is looming. And its Brave New World proved to be only a Cowardly Old Dream. We can see this now, at the end of “the century of genocide” that was christened “the Christian century” at its birth.

We’ve had prophets who warned us: Kierkegaard, 150 years ago, in The Present Age; and Spengler, 100 years ago, in The Decline of the West, and Aldous Huxley, seventy years ago, in Brave New World, and C. S. Lewis, forty years ago, in The Abolition of Man, and above all our popes: Leo XIII and Pius IX and Pius X and above all John Paul the Great, the greatest man in the world, the greatest man of the worst century. He had even more chutzpah than Ronald Reagan, who dared to call Them “the evil empire” : He called Us “the culture of death.” That’s our culture, and his, including Italy, with the lowest birth rate in the world, and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s abortion holocaust.

If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale.

But is not God forgiving?

He is, but the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. How can forgiveness be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive except a lack of self-esteem, nothing to judge but “judgmentalism?” How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?

But is not God compassionate?

He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth, and to Caananites who do their work, who “cause their children to walk through the fire.” Perhaps your God is — the God of your dreams, the God of your “religious preference” — but not the God revealed in the Bible.

But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah?

The opposition is heretical: the old Gnostic-Manichaean-Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. For “I and the Father are one.” The opposition between nice Jesus and nasty Jehovah denies the very essence of Christianity: Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Let’s remember our theology and our biology: like Father, like Son.

But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?

No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely “compassion” (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.

In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my “Catholic” students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.

Welcome back from the moon, kids.

Where is the culture of death coming from?

Here. America is the center of the culture of death. America is the world’s one and only cultural superpower.

If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us? They call us “The Great Satan.” And do you know what I call them? I call them right.

But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.

Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come — but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work — if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit — can never happen without the Cross.

I don’t mean merely that Western civilization will die. That’s a piece of trivia. I mean eternal souls will die. Billions of Ramons and Vladamirs and Janes and Tiffanies will go to Hell. That’s what’s at stake in this war: not just whether America will become a banana republic, or whether we’ll forget Shakespeare, or even whether some nuclear terrorist will incinerate half of humanity, but whether our children and our children’s children will see God forever. That’s what’s at stake in “Hollywood versus America.” That’s why we must wake up and smell the rotting souls. Knowing we are at war is the first requirement for winning it.

The next thing we must do to win a war is to know our enemy.

Who is our enemy?

Not Protestants. For almost half a millennium, many of us thought our enemies were Protestant heretics, and addressed that problem by consigning their bodies to battlefields and their souls to Hell. (Echoes of this strategy can still be heard in Northern Ireland.) Gradually, the light dawned: Protestants are not our enemies, they are our “separated brethren.” They will fight with us.

Not Jews. For almost two millennia many of us thought that, and did such Christless things to our “fathers in the faith” that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God — the true God — in us.

Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.

The same is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers.

Our enemies are not “the liberals.” For one thing, the term is almost meaninglessly flexible. For another, it’s a political term, not a religious one. Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism, it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay. Spiritual wars are not decided by whether welfare checks increase or decrease.

Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.

Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death, not even Ted Turner or Larry Flynt or Howard Stern or Disney or Time-Warner. They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients too. So are homosexual activists, feminist witches, and abortionists. We go into gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us, if we are cells in our Lord’s Body. If we do not physically go into gutters, we go into spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is.

Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, “cafeteria Catholics,” “Kennedy Catholics,” “I Did It My Way” Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy.

Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God. They are also our patients.

Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.

Who, then, is our enemy?

There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ.

Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian.

Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.

So says Jesus Christ: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

So says St. Peter, the first pope: “The Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

So says St. Paul: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness in high places.”

So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work, and he chose the 20th. This pope with the name and heart of a lion was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a trance. When he awoke, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use to get it through the 20th century. The prayer was widely known and prayed after every Mass — until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge; the disaster that has turned the faith of our fathers into the doubts of our dissenters, the wine of the Gospel into the water of psychobabble.

The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision, because this is the vision of all the popes and all the saints and our Lord himself: the vision of a real Hell, a real Satan, and real spiritual warfare.

I said there were two enemies. The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul?

What is the horror inside your soul?

Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.

And thus we have our third Necessary Thing: the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy.

All it takes is saints.

Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back nothing, absolutely nothing?

No, you can’t imagine it, any more than anyone could imagine how twelve nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire. You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It is your free choice. Here is one of the truest and most terrifying sentences I have ever read (from William Law’s Serious Call): “If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be.”

That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment. But it is also thrillingly hopeful because it is an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can.

What holds us back?

Fear of paying the price.

What is the price?

The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: “A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything.” The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, “islam,” “fiat” — Mary’s thing. Look what that simple Mary-thing did 2000 years ago: It brought God down and saved the world.

It was meant to continue.

If we do that Mary-thing — and only if we do that — then all our apostolates will “work”: our missioning and catechizing and fathering and mothering and teaching and studying and nursing and businessing and priesting and bishoping — everything.

A bishop asked one of the priests of his diocese for recommendations on ways to increase vocations. The priest replied: The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization.

Why not yours?”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Kreeft, Peter. “How to Win the Culture War.” Crisis 16, no. 6 (June 1998): 12-15


“I Have a Mustard Seed and I Am Not Afraid to Use It.”

April 21, 2008

Nancy Pelosi greets Pope

As Magdi Allam recounted, on his road to conversion, the challenge that Pope Benedict XVI offered to Islam in his September 2006 address at Regensburg was “undoubtedly the most extraordinary and important encounter in my decision to convert“. Osama bin Laden recently accused Benedict of plotting a new crusade against Islam, and instead finds something far more threatening: faith the size of a mustard seed that can move mountains. Before Benedict’s election, I summarized his position as “I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it.” Now the mustard seed has earned pride of place in global affairs.

There are those who argue that the best way for the church to spread its message is to embrace the largest number of people and to work with them where they are,” said John-Peter Pham, a professor at James Madison University and a former Vatican envoy. “And at the opposite end are those who would argue that actually the same message is much more credible when it’s propounded by a smaller group of individuals who live it more intensely.”

“I don’t get any sense of him wanting to purge or anything,” said Christopher Ruddy, an assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. “But I think he is willing to say what he thinks are hard truths, or unpopular truths.”

In an interview published in 1997 in “Salt of the Earth” (Ignatius Press), then Cardinal Ratzinger explained it this way: “Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world – that let God in.”

Some day, Cardinal Ratzinger once wrote, the West will tire of secularism and spiritual loneliness. “And they will discover the little community of believers as something quite new,” he wrote. “As a hope that is there for them, as the answer they have always been looking for.”

Clearly Pope Benedict XVI is a man, not only of great faith, but an expert in “Salvation History,” with its endless accounts of how God continuously prefers to build on the “rock” of a few (Anawim) who are preciously obedient, rather than build on the sandy soil of a compromising and rebellious horde seeking comfort and coddling more than the cross.

Even the “Prince of Preachers,” who some would say is the father of the mega-church movement, C. H. Spurgeon, understood the necessity to raise truth as a priority over the fear of offending:

“Jesus Christ had spoken certain truths which were highly objectionable to the Pharisees. Some of his loving disciples were in great fright, and they came to him and said, “Knowest thou not that the Pharisees are offended?” Now, our Savior, instead of making any apology for having offended the Pharisees, took it as a matter of course, and replied in a sentence which is well worthy to be called a proverb, — “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Now we have oftentimes, as Mathew Henry very tritely remarks, a number of good and affectionate but very weak hearers. They are always afraid that we shall offend other hearers. Hence, if the truth be spoken in a plain and pointed manner, and seems to come close home to the conscience, they think that surely it ought not to have been spoken, because So-and-so, and So-and-so, and So-and-so took offense at it.

Truly, my brethren, we are not all slow to answer in this matter. If we never offended, it would be proof positive that we did not preach the gospel. They who can please man will find it quite another thing to have pleased God. Do you suppose that men will love those who faithfully rebuke them? If you make the sinner’s heart to groan, and waken his conscience, do you think he will pay you court and thank you for it? Nay, not so; in fact, this ought to be one aim of our ministry, not to offend, but to test men and make them offended with themselves, so that their hearts may be exposed to their own inspection. Their being offended will discover of what sort they are. A ministry that never uproots will never water; a ministry that does not put down will never build up. He who knoweth not how to pluck up the plants which God hath not planted, scarcely understandeth how to be a worker of God in his vineyard. Our ministry ought always to be a killing as well as a healing one, — a ministry which kills all false hopes, blights all wrong confidences, and weeds out all foolish trusts, while at the same time it trains up the feeblest shoot of real hope, and tends comfort and encouragement even to the weakest of the sincere followers of Christ.

Do not, then, be needlessly alarmed about our ministry. Just give us plenty of elbowroom to strike right and left. Let not our friends encumber us. Whether they be friends or foes, when we have to strike for God and his truth, we cannot spare whoever may stand in our way. To our own Master we stand or fall, but to no one else in heaven or on earth.”

From a sermon entitled “The Weeding of the Garden,” delivered December 8, 1861.


Pope Seeks a Hermeneutic of Continuity

April 14, 2008

With the Holy Father’s visit only hours away, many are looking forward to his message of peace, love and hope. Even more, we await more of his ability to give us a language which helps us identify and face the challenges of our times.

From a recent article in Newsmax, “Perhaps the greatest problem the Pope will confront in America is the one that haunts the Church in Europe, that is, Catholics are sliding into what is known in the U.S. as the phenomenon of ‘cafeteria Catholics’ — the nominal believers who pick and choose from among the Church’s teachings, take ample helpings of whatever they like, and pass over whatever is not to their liking.

Back in 2005, Pope Benedict addressed what he called the ‘central problem of our faith today’ with these remarks: ‘Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.’

For many conservatives and traditionalist Catholics, the confusion in the Church is directly attributable to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, but the Pope disagrees. It was not the Council itself, he believes, but misinterpretations of the Council’s many documents that are the problem.”

The following is from a Zenit article on Dec. 22, 2005 …

Vatican II Texts were Misinterpretted, Says Pope

Explains Roots of Crisis That Hit Church in Wake of Council

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The crisis that arose in the Church after the Second Vatican Council wasn’t due to the conciliar documents, but rather in their interpretation, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made a long analysis of the legacy left by the 1962-1965 gathering of the world’s bishops, when he met today with his aides in the Roman Curia to express his Christmas greetings.

The Holy Father asked rhetorically: “What has been good and what has been insufficient or mistaken?” in the implementation of the Council.

According to Benedict XVI, the reception of the Council’s messages took place according to two interpretations that “confronted each other and have had disputes between them.”

The first interpretation is the one the Pope called “hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture” “between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Church.”

According to this view, what is important about the Council is not its texts but the spirit of renewal brought to the Church, the Holy Father said. This view, he observed, “has often been able to make use of the media’s liking, and also of a part of modern theology.”

Of reform

The other interpretation is “the hermeneutics of reform,” which was proposed by the Popes who opened and closed the Council, John XXIII and Paul VI, and which is bearing fruits “in a silent but ever more visible way,” said Benedict XVI.

According to this view, the objective of the Council and of every reform in the Church is “to transmit the doctrine purely and fully, without diminutions or distortions,” conscious that “our duty not only consists in guarding this precious treasure, as though we were concerned only with antiquity, but in dedicating ourselves with a firm will and without fear to the work that our age calls for,” the Pope said.

“One thing is the deposit of faith, that is, the truths contained in our venerated doctrine, and another [is] the way in which they are enunciated, preserving however the same meaning and fullness,” he said, echoing John XXIII.

In this way, the Council presented a “new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and some essential elements of modern thought,” Benedict XVI pointed out. He insisted that “the Church, both before as well as after the Council, is the same one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, journeying through time.”

“Today we can look back with gratitude to the Second Vatican Council,” he added. “If we read and receive it, guided by an appropriate hermeneutic, it can be and will be increasingly a great force for the always necessary renewal of the Church.”