Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
email:torontocatholicwitness@rogers.com

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Pope Benedict: Cuba and the world need change

Fidel Castro meeting Pope Benedict
The Holy Father has nearly completed his apostolic mission in Cuba. He then met an ailing Fidel after Mass. We must pray that somehow our Blessed Saviour may soften Fidel's heart before death.


Earlier, in his masterly sermon, the Holy Father outlined a return to authentic Catholicism in Cuba; yet a lesson that we, in the secularized "west" could do well to listen to and act upon:

Fidel enjoying his visit with the Pope
Furthermore, the truth which stands above humanity is an unavoidable condition for attaining freedom...Christianity, in highlighting those values which sustain ethics, does not impose, but rather proposes Christ’s invitation to know the truth which sets us free. The believer is called to offer that truth to his contemporaries, as did the Lord, even before the ominous shadow of rejection and the Cross....Convinced that it is Christ who is the true measure of man, and knowing that in him we find the strength needed to face every trial, I wish to proclaim openly that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. In him everyone will find complete freedom, the light to understand reality most deeply and to transform it by the renewing power of love...Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity.
A frail Fidel speaking with His Holiness

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pope Benedict in Cuba:True obedience of faith is true liberty

Pope Benedict's sermon from yesterday's Mass of the Solemnity of the Annunciation included a number of key themes. One that drew my attention was the theme of true human liberty being that of following God's will. God's will is, of course, obedience to the Church. For obedience to the Church is obedience to Christ. 
"The expression, “became flesh” points to our human reality in most concrete and tangible way. In Christ, God has truly come into the world, he has entered into our history, he has set his dwelling among us, thus fulfilling the deepest desire of human beings that the world may truly become a home worthy of humanity. On the other hand, when God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man, and frustrates creation’s true vocation to be a space for the covenant, for the “Yes” to the love between God and humanity who responds to him. Mary did so as the first fruit of believers with her unreserved “Yes” to the Lord. 
Pope Benedict and President Castro
 God has created us as the fruit of his infinite love;  hence, to live in accordance with his will is the way to encounter our genuine identity, the truth of our being, while apart from God we are alienated from ourselves and are hurled into the void. The obedience of faith is true liberty, authentic redemption, which allows us to unite ourselves to the love of Jesus in his determination to conform himself to the will of the Father. 
Dear brothers and sisters, I know with what effort, boldness and self-sacrifice you work everyday so thatin the concrete circumstances of your country, and at this moment in history, the Church will better present her true face as a place in which God draws near and encounters humanity".  

Monday, 26 March 2012

Pope Benedict in Cuba: Cuba at a Cross-roads

President Raul Castro, replete with Soviet-style honours gave a rambling speech on the glories and achievements of Marxist-Leninist Cuba. The Holy father, on the other hand, offered the President and the Cuban nation the truth of Christ. Developing earlier themes of his Pontificate regarding a false anthropology, a false humanism - the Holy Father stresses Cuba's glorious Catholic heritage and the deepest aspect of the Cuban soul being devoted to Mary. In some ways the Pope's welcoming address reminded me of Pope John Paul's addresses to General Jaruzelski following the imposition of martial law.Years later, the General confessed to be shaking with anxiety over the encounter.

The Holy Father pointed out that Cuba is at a cross-roads - continue down the road of sixties-style Soviet delusions or truly allow the Catholic Church to release Her dynamic power of re-evangelizing the nation. No man has full control over a nation; each and every person is a moral agent - yet, the Castro brothers have enormous influence. May they see the Church as the greatest friend of Cuba. May they return to the Faith of their forefathers and - since Christ always offers the Graces of repentance and conversion - assist the Church to revitalize that small island nation. The Castro brothers have an extraordinary opportunity (grace?) to strengthen the nation. If not, Cuba will fall prey to the forces of a degrading form of secularism that is haunting western Europe, Canada, the United States (the so-called "West").

Pope Benedict and President Raul Castro: Welcoming Ceremony, Cuba 2012
Pope Benedict : 


Many parts of the world today are experiencing a time of particular economic difficulty, that not a few people regard as part of a profound spiritual and moral crisis which has left humanity devoid of values and defenceless before the ambition and selfishness of certain powers which take little account of the true good of individuals and families. We can no longer continue in the same cultural and moral direction which has caused the painful situation that many suffer. On the other hand, real progress calls for an ethics which focuses on the human person and takes account of the most profound human needs, especially man’s spiritual and religious dimension. In the hearts and minds of many, the way is thus opening to an ever greater certainty that the rebirth of society demands upright men and women of firm moral convictions, with noble and strong values who will not be manipulated by dubious interests and who are respectful of the unchanging and transcendent nature of the human person. Dear friends, I am convinced that Cuba, at this moment of particular importance in its history, is already looking to the future, and thus is striving to renew and broaden its horizons.

Pope Benedict's Apostolic Journey: Cuba, Castro and the New Evangelization

Within hours, Pope Benedict will be touching down in Cuba to continue the evangelization begun in earnest by Bl. Pope John Paul II. Let us pray that the Castro brothers come to not only realize that the Church is of great benefit to Cuba as a nation and the Cuban people; but also offers the true and human alternative to unbridled consumerism and capitalism. Marxism, as the late Pope identified, is a contradiction in itself, it collapses due to inherent weaknesses.


Now is the time for a new evangelization on this tiny island nation. The time is now for the Castro brothers to return to Holy Mother Church. The propitious moment has come. Pray, pray for Cuba.


Pope John Paul and Fidel Castro: The time has come for the New Evangelization 

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Ban the Bunny!

Yep... I've got it in for the little furry critter and would like nothing better than a savory rabbit stew. Let me explain.

I just came from mass, where I had an opportunity to gently rib a young Irish friend who had expressed some dissatisfaction with the last St. Patrick's Day parade. Apparently the participants conducted themselves in a less than saintly fashion culminating in the portrayal of St. Patrick as a drunken bishop. I suggested he get himself to an Italian parish on St. Anthony's feast for the procession and subsequent celebrations to learn how to do it properly. The food is better too, but I digress.

What does all of this have to do with my desire to declare open season on bunnies this time of year? Just this... I have always regarded Easter as an exclusively religious holiday. Christmas has gotten so commercialized that it has bitten the dust long ago. I have long favored changing the date to sometime in January to coincide with the Orthodox calendar, leaving the commercial interests to do what they like with December 25.

Seeing the way St. Patrick's Day has been secularized over the years culminating in the complete parody of a Christian saint makes me feel the secularists are slowly advancing on Easter. Even now there is an Easter Parade in my neighborhood. It makes me cringe...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Pope Benedict speaks about Cuba

En route to Mexico, Pope Benedict spoke these words with regards to Cuba:
Speaking in response to a question focused on the second, Cuban leg of the trip, the Pope said, “With this visit a way of cooperation and dialogue has been inaugurated – a long road that requires patience, but that leads forward.” The Pope added, “It is evident today that Marxist ideology as it had been conceived no longer responds to reality.” He said, “new models must be found, though with patience.” 
The full report can be found here. Call me naive, but I still hold out hope for the conversion of Fidel Castro. Indeed, to not hold out hope for anyone is to reject Christ. But there are signs: Castro's openness to Pope John Paul, his taking his mother's Roman Missal to the same Pope's Mass, the recent address to the nation from the Primate of Cuba - and now, the upcoming visit.

Let us pray that Cuba return to her Catholic roots... let us pray that she not fall into the trap of secular capitalist materialism lurking in Florida (and beyond), awaiting the death of the Castro brothers to once more submerge Cuba into a monstrous offshore whorehouse...

Westminster Cathedral: MacMillan's "Seven Last Words from the Cross"

MacMillan's "Seven Last Words..." is an example of how sacred music can be used to advantage during Lent, while maintaining the purity of the Easter Triduum.
Evangelization or Trolling?

I am going to be charitable and assume that at least some Catholics actually want to spread the gospel. There are those who would prefer not to but that's another post for another time.

I have been reading Reasons for Hope, a primer on apologetics published by Christendom College Press. It reiterates some basics of rhetoric that might bear repeating. The task of the apologist can be divided into three elements... logos, pathos and ethos. Each of these is necessary to the task of persuading the listener to take the message seriously. Much of what passes for apologetics is really preaching to the choir so these elements are not always present.

Logos is the substance of the message, the reasoned argument. Pathos is the emotional appeal of the message or its persuasive quality. Finally ethos is the essential trustworthiness of the messenger in the eyes of the listener. You can begin to see how this relates to a blog. What you are exposed to here is a block of text. You cannot see my face, look into my eyes or feel the emotions that I feel as I write this. All you get is the logos with virtually no pathos or ethos. No one is going to be convinced of anything by reading a blog.

Look at the short message under the masthead. The word "fellowship" describes what we are doing here and the only reason it works is because we know each other and can supply the missing elements from our shared experience. We really are preaching to the choir here and we should recognize that fact. After all, we all need to be encouraged, supported or even corrected on occasion. Unfortunately many bloggers seem to post only when they are angry or disgusted. Given the fact that the object of their anger is likely not reading the blog, what is the purpose of this? Sharing these things tends to reinforce them and the feeling of standing there with a crowd of sympathizers, even a virtual one, can be a powerful inducement to persist in the emotion.

By the way, I run a movie night on Fridays and last year on Good Friday I showed The Passion. Feel free to be outraged.

SICK - Why is Toronto's St. Paul's Basilica staging a Concert on GOOD FRIDAY?

This Good Friday, in Toronto, the Mendelssohn Choir will be staging a concert (Music for a Sacred Place) in St. Paul's Minor Basilica. The fact that the music is "sacred" irrelevant. Good Friday is the most sombre day of the year. A church is a public place of prayer, distinguishing it qualitatively from other places and similar activities in such other places.

Good Friday is a day for prayer in a church consecrated for liturgical services. We are not even talking here of a church that has been discontinued for liturgy and assigned for other activities, as may be done by the local Ordinary per modum actus.

Starting at 7:30 p..m., one will not hear the sound of the Stations of the Cross - but a choir and the audience cheering and applauding.

Disgusting.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Borderline Catholics: We need a re-evangelization from within

I've been giving some thought to our crisis of faith. Readers of our blog will be aware of postings on education and culture. OECTA and other dissident groups are only symptoms. The cause is much deeper, and perhaps much more disturbing. How is it that"Catholic" countries such as the Republic of Ireland and the Province of Quebec could implode so quickly - and within one generation?

The other evening I was reading an article that included the Second Vatican Council as part of the problem (along with implementation, post-conciliar liturgy etc.). Yet there was equivocation: there were no references to the Council documents... No doubt the Council - replete with various ideas of "change" came at an interesting time in history. My own take is that the Sexual Revolution et al. was a mere continuation of the Roaring Twenties that was abandoned due to the Depression, the War and the reconstruction following.

Nonetheless, even the 50s was a gold filling in a rotting mouth. I have a few conciliar dated books to show that amongst the laity there were new ideas, strange ideas. In hindsight one sees these ideas playing out. Catholics did not so much as become counter-cultural, but stepped into line with the march of secular culture. This is all on a macro-level. I believe that Catholics were unable to take up the challenges of the Council - especially the challenge to become evangelizers (really, also Our Blessed Lord's command).

On a micro-level one can see this strange dichotomy in all of us in varying degrees. On example is the recent legalization of Sunday shopping. I believe Fr. Barron references the fact that one aspect of law is that it reflects and molds culture. We can see this in Sunday shopping. Casting blame on Freemasons, Jews, socialists, communists, Islam -- in other words "them" is a refusal to take responsibility. Such legalization came about because the culture was in step with it happening. It makes bad economic sense to keep a store open if no one shops. Well, the truth is that Sunday shopping in its rather innocuous way is highly reflective of a post-Christian society.  The problem, as in all these problems is "us", not "them", It is "us" (the nominal and borderline Christians) who are populating the Malls on a Sunday. I have even seen people leave church after attending the Tridentine Mass and go straight into into the grocery store to come out with bags bulging. Something is profoundly wrong when one can indulge in incense, bells, lace and catharsis and yet be blind to sin. Now, I admit that I too am a sinner. This post is not about casting stones. It is about us admitting that the problem is with "Christians" and not with "them". Borderline or "pick and choose the sins I'll avoid" Christianity does not work. It has never worked.
Cardinal Wuerl - Lecture on the "New Evangelization"
So back to Ireland and Quebec. Back to OECTA and the CNWE. The exterior was all lovely. But inside society was rotting. Inside, the Faith has been lost. What is needed is a profound re-evangelization from within. We have to all confess our sins, our weaknesses and set out on a daily basis to re-evangelize the world through the first step of seeking our own re-evangelization. Cardinal Wuerl gave an excellent lecture on re-evangelization which I highly recommend- see link HERE.
Closing Catholic Schools

It seems that we are heading for a confrontation over the existence of the separate school system in Ontario. On one hand the government under McGuinty is pressuring separate schools to accept GSA groups. On the other hand, every time the issue comes up there is a flurry of public opposition to the separate school system. It may be useful to look at the thoughts of our current pope on the defense of Catholic schools in Germany.

In Milestones, Ratzinger reflected on the German church's desperate struggle to hold onto its schools under the Nazis, concluding that the wiser course would have been to let them go. "Already it dawned on me that, with their insistence on preserving institutions, these letters [from the bishops] in part misread the reality. I mean merely to guarantee institutions is useless if there are no people to support those institutions from inner conviction." Ratzinger said that the older generation of teachers in the Third Reich was largely anticlerical, whereas the younger was pro-Nazi. "So in both cases it was inane to insist on institutionally guaranteed Christianity," he concluded.

He said in Salt of the Earth: "Once the church has acquired some good or position, she inclines to defend it. The capacity of self-moderation and self pruning is not adequately developed... it's precisely the fact that the church clings to the institutional structure when nothing really stands behind it any longer that brings the church into disrepute."

A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger, John L. Allen, Jr., Continuum, 2000

Monday, 19 March 2012

ST. JOSEPH: Patron of Canada

A blessed Feast Day to all - especially to all Canadians, whose patron St. Joseph is. The choice of St. Joseph as Canada's patron saint evolved from a strong devotion of French-Canadians to the foster-father of Jesus. Brother Andre's holiness and apostolate was focused on devotion to Joseph. 


There is a very good interview on Vatican Radio by Fr. Moses Hamungole which focuses on St. Joseph as a role model for fathers. 


St. Joseph, the Crypt at the Oratory, Montreal
St. Joseph, pray for Canada
St. Andre, pray for Canada

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Pope Benedict defends Sexual Morality against the Totalitarianism of Relativism

Pope Benedict has called on the American bishops, during an ad limina visit, to rigorously defend marriage, chastity and a correct understanding of sexuality.  The Pope said that we have a  "crisis of marriage and the family, and, more generally, of the Christian vision of human sexuality".The Pope concludes with a grave admonition regarding the education of children in Christian morality:

"Let me conclude by recalling that all our efforts in this area are ultimately concerned with the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognizing our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfillment".

In practical terms we see this here in Canada: the State attempting to redefine marriage, the State (again) passing legislation creating an immature sexual "ethic" (e.g. wide-spread "legal" pornography, "swingers" clubs etc.). Contrast the Pope and the bishops teachings with the leadership of the Ontario Catholic English Teachers Association (in reality, not so much a professional association, but an Ontario Federation of Labour affiliated activist union) that consistently contradicts Church teaching.  OECTA President, Kevin O'Dwyer on his blog even decries those who oppose the OECTA leadership's position on GSA's as holding "ultra-right wing Christian perspectives".  He has recently stated that the Bishops of Ontario are "ignorant"...  It is a tragedy to see once Catholic organizations siding with an all powerful State imposing a new form of relativistic morality. There is no no longer even "tolerance" - but a demand for conformity, an intolerance of tolerance. This is fascism.


"The Fascist State... takes over all the forms of the moral and intellectual life of man. . .  it saturates the will as well as the intelligence. Fascism, in short, is not only the giver of laws and the founder of institutions, but the educator and promoter of spiritual life. It wants to remake, not the forms of human life, but its content, man, character, faith. And to this end it requires discipline and authority that can enter into the spirits of men and there govern unopposed". (Mussolini). 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Say No to the Lie

The Tori Stafford murder trial is generating a good deal of emotional reaction from everyone who is exposed to published accounts of Terri-Lynne McClintic's testimony. Predictably there are calls for reinstating the death penalty in reaction to the case. It would be useful to identify the lies being put forward here.

All I saw was myself at that age and all the anger and hate and rage and blame I built up towards myself came boiling up out of me.

We have all had impulses to anger based upon some transference of past trauma to present situations. What is the lie here? If you give in to these impulses and vent your anger you will somehow feel better. It never works and the resulting feelings of guilt and shame can send you into a downward spiral.

And yet, upon reading McClintic’s testimony, a common gut reaction is that if what she says is true, she and Rafferty simply don’t deserve to live.

The writer goes on to advocate for a return of the death penalty. The question of the death penalty usually gets raised in response to some horrific crime in which the public becomes intimately aware of the details and emotionally involved. What is the lie here? Oddly enough it is the same as above though experienced through the insulation of official sanction.

There is a theme here to be sure. Abandon reason and give free reign to your emotions and you will feel better. Humans have always struggled with this predilection to addiction of one kind or another. We used to call it concupiscence and it is the direct consequence of original sin. Pander to it and you can sell newspapers. Much of the coverage of the murder trial has an almost pornographic feel to it affording people the opportunity to feel a host of emotions.

Rather than sit here and indulge my emotions, I am going to stop now and offer a prayer for the soul of Victoria Stafford, the two who ended her life and last of all for myself... that I might be granted the grace to say no to the lies in my own life.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Priest and the Lesbian: Fr. Guarnizo speaks

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo has finally addressed the issue of his actions regarding his refusal to give Holy Communion to the "Buddhist" lesbian, Barbara Johnson. Catholic News Service published the statement in full. It would seem that Fr. Guarnizo has been shamefully treated. 

Two key passages include:
If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with Canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.
I wish to state that in conversation with Bishop Barry Knestout on the morning of March 13, he made it very clear that the whole of the case regarding the allegations of “intimidation” are circumscribed to two conversations; one with the funeral director and the other with a parish staff member present at the funeral. These conversations took place on March 7th and 8th, one day before the archdiocese’s latest decision to withdraw faculties (not suspend, since Cardinal Wuerl is not my bishop) on the 9th of March. I am fully aware of both meetings. And indeed contrary to the statement read on Sunday, March 11th during all Masses at St. John Neumann, both instances have everything to do with the Eucharistic incident. There is no hidden other sin or “intimidation” allegations that they are working on, outside of these two meetings.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Catholic Life in Scotland: A personal reflection

I was born a Catholic in Scotland in 1937, and baptized a week after my birth. During my formative years, I have no recollection of ever missing Mass on Sunday or holy days of obligation. On Wednesdays and Fridays we attended Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. At school I was given a thorough Catholic education from Primary through Secondary School. I became an Altar boy at St. Ignatius Parish where I lived when I reached nine years of age.

What was the Catholic Church like during the years of my youth? The church building itself was seen as a sacred place. It was God's house, so when you entered God's house, you left the world outside those doors. The silence inside the church was very apparent. People recognized that God was on his throne in the tabernacle, and many were already praying in silence with Jesus. This silence was evident at all Masses. The priests would tell us that the time for talking was outside after Mass. You had to show respect for those who remained after Mass to make their thanksgiving.

St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish. Photo © Diocese of Motherwell

Today there are things which cause me to grieve for the state of my Church , which I love so much. It seems as though Satan is running rampant. He is spreading confusion and sin, blinding the faithful to the truths of the Gospel. People have lost the knowledge and love of Jesus, and how he came into this world to suffer and die to redeem us and bring us to Heaven.

There are some in the Church today who think the Church is stifling their life style. They push for abortion and contraception, women priests and the abandonment of Christian morality. I pray that they might see that the only thing all of us need is God's love. To all those bound by sin I say, with God's love and His grace we can be set free from sin. Ask and you shall be made whole.

Another issue that concerns me is the abuse of the Blessed Sacrament. From communion in the hand to the proliferation of badly trained extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the abuses are too many to fully document here. On more than one occasion, I have found the Blessed Host in a Hymn Book, or in the pew. Once I had to ask a person to take the host from his pocket and consume it. I could go on, but will leave you with this one thought: the greatest honor for a Catholic is not to be in the Sanctuary assisting the priest. It is to be able to approach the altar rail, if there is one, and to kneel in total adoration, as you receive Our Lord Jesus Christ and to contemplate the wonder of what He has done for you and what you have just received.

God bless,

Montford.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The problem is lukewarm Christians, not radical Islam...

A typical story carried in the Daily Telegraph outlines exactly what is transpiring is so-called "Christian" countries. The government will be trying to ban the use of Christian symbols at work (e.g. a Cross).

We have to get it through our heads that the problem is not so much "them", but "us". We are not Christian countries... even amongst "conservative" Catholics/Christians there is a very strong commitment to social-modernism (c.f. Leo XIII, Libertas, Pius XI, Quas Primas).

We can hardly blame Islam for filling a spiritual void. If the "West" wants to commit suicide - whose fault is that? If the "West" refuses to reproduce itself etc., etc. we cannot blame Islam. We must blame ourselves.
Leo XIII prohpetically pointed out in Immortale Dei:
To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from life, from laws, from the education of youth, from domestic society is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Holy See addresses the UN on the issue of "Gender"

Vatican Radio has a report on the Holy See's intervention before the "UN Human Rights Council" on "gender rights". In concluding his remarks, Archbishop Tomasi said:

We raise serious concern with attempts to define new categories, introduce new terms, or posit new rights, for special groups of people, within human rights law and instruments that already enjoy universal consensus. Such attempts pose a threat both to the universality of human rights, to national sovereignty, and to the social, cultural, and religious institutions that are working to promote and attain the common good of all members of the human family.

The full radio report can be listened to here.

Common Ground - European Bishops call for Sunday as a day of rest

Here is an example of where common ground can do good. Most of us live in jurisdictions that no longer honour the Sabbath. Wide open Sunday shopping is carried on without a thought. And we should admit that this came about because of "us" and not "them". Yes, and even "traditional" Catholics wink at this reality. The stores would be closed if no one shopped. Perhaps it is time for an alliance for Sunday to come to Canada?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Pope Benedict on Catholic Education

I've posted much on the recent difficulties in Catholic education. In Ontario, Catholic education - publicly funded - is, and has been, for years in a deep crisis. The purpose, identity and mission of Catholic education has been obfuscated....


But there is good news! The Catholic Church as the "expert in humanity" (c.f. Pope Paul) is also the expert in education. St. John Bosco as a true radical, dedicated his life to teaching young boys in 19th century Italy. Love of Christ and love of these boys motivated him.  This was putting the Church's words into action. 


In our day too, Pope Benedict has called for a renewal of Catholic education, I've tried to identify a few key points:
  • Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News...
  • It involves the entire Christian community and motivates each generation of Christian educators to ensure that the power of God’s truth permeates every dimension of the institutions they serve.
  • Christ’s Good News is set to work, guiding both teacher and student towards the objective truth...
  • ... particularly disturbing, is the reduction of the precious and delicate area of education in sexuality to management of ‘risk’, bereft of any reference to the beauty of conjugal love.
  • ...charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. 
  • ...the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated.
  • To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Traditional Anglicans decline to join Rome

The Catholic Herald is reporting that the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has decided to not join Rome. One can only speculate reasons why.  There does seem to be inner conflict given the TAC agreed in principle to move toward union with the Catholic Church in 2007. There may also be possible contentious issues with local Australian bishops that the TAC feels might undermine its mission. All speculation....

Why have so many Catholics gone so wrong?


The above question has been sitting in my mind for a while now, especially since my research into dissident "Catholic" groups  (e.g. OECTA, Catholics for Choice, Wymynpriest, CNWE, etc.). How could people who once were in possession of the Truth - abandon it? One answer could be they never had it. The Catholic Faith is an infused virtue from God; it may well be that many of these people were just social Catholics to begin with. But another answer becomes possible. It may well that it was lost through be some crisis of ontology, or being


The Corruption of Truth: Modernism


The Modernist thinker develops and follows the agnostic Kantian-Hegelian path - one of subjectivism, and truth being a never ending product of the dynamic mind. The logical extension of Kant was that religion is a product of the mind, the mind as found within a given moment in history, within a given culture. Truth is not absolute, it is not outside of the mind to be conformed to by the reasoning person. Rather, it is something personal and moulded in the mind. Religion, faith, religious experience is "true" for the "believer", but can be false for the next "believer". What I feel is true - for me. What you feel is true - for you. And so on. Reality, for the Modernist is from within, the object of religion is conformed to the mind. Faith comes from within. Thus, it was no coincidence that Pius X (Pasciendi) wrote that one logical consequence of Modernism was that to be consistent not only was Catholicism true, but so was Islam and so on.

Religious experience is immanent in the mind of the person. With the reduction of religious experience to subjective feelings, religion is reduced to external ritual and moves towards agnosticism. Once religion is no longer objective reality, but subjective thought, all religions become equally true (and hence, equally false). The result is that Catholicism is uprooted, and religious "insanity" (c.f. Mirari Vos, Gregory XVI) abounds. 

"And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself (John 12:32) 

Our Lord Jesus Christ outlined his whole programme for the history of humanity. He drew to its fruition the Theology of History as proclaimed by Abraham and the Prophets, and - with the Holy Spirit operating through St. John the Baptist - fulfilled the Will of His Father by revealing His Sacred and Divine Identity and Mission to His people, the Jewish nation. 

However, now, the call was universal - to all men. For example, the Roman centurion prayer to Christ for mercy on his ill servant ("Domine, non sum dignus"...). This universality of Salvation - more urgent than ever in a world converging on a world culture - must be therefore preached with clarity to all men without exception - to Jew and Gentile alike. Such preaching must be bound with love, but true love supposes truth. The Church temporal, being in possession of the absolute truth in faith and morals is bound before Her Lord and Master, Christ, to preach to all men (c.f. Leo XIII, Satis cognitum, Leo XIII; Quas Primas, Pius IX). 

"Christ loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for it" (Eph. v., 25)

Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum draws our attention to Christ's redemptive power that operates through and for the Church. Men are redeemed by being part of the Church. Thus, all men are called to the one arc of Salvation. To believe in Christ is to believe in the Church, to believe in the Church is to believe in Christ. Pope Leo writes: "But the mission of Christ is to save that which had perished: that is to say, not some nations or peoples, but the whole human race, without distinction of time or place. "The Son of Man came that the world might be saved by Him" (John iii., 17)". Man is saved by Christ, through the Church (c.f. Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II). 


Post -Sixties Ecumenical Confusion leads to the abandonment of Faith and Truth 

Theologically speaking only Catholics have "Faith". To speak of "faiths" is to show that one does not know what one is talking about. There is one Faith - for God cannot contradict Himself - but there are many religions. Islam, is a false religion, it is not a faith. Judaism too, though once the truth Faith, when severed from its culminating point - Our Blessed Lord - ceased to be the true Faith. Granted, Judaism, as a pre-cursor to Catholicism contains all the great truths of the Old Testament - but it is, so to speak frozen. The truths of Judaism come alive and are fulfilled in Catholicism. 

The Holy Spirit, as the Church Fathers taught, acts beyond the Mystical Body to not santify men through other religions, but to impell them to unity with the Church, which has one body and one soul. A man is saved by Christ through the Church. Indeed the Holy Spirit offers gifts to men outside the Church seeking to draw them into the Church. St. Augustine is very clear that false religions do not have the Holy Ghost. A false religion cannot therefore offer a man sanctification. Sanctification is offered only through the Church by Christ. Christ is clear on this "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself (John, 12:32). The Second Vatican Council - in a very contentiously fought out pastoral (hence, not dogmatic) document on Ecumenism, pointed out that any sanctification outside of the Church comes from the Church. Even the various Orthodox churches draw their dynamic from the Church to ontologically retain valid sacraments (e.g. Holy Orders). Pope Paul even had to intervene with last minute changes to ensure orthodoxy (c.f. Second Vatican Council, Abbott edition footnotes).

Following the Council, Pope Paul warned Catholics (1976) that they were two grave dangers that pressed on Catholicism: protestantism (with its individualized "faith", and rejection of the magisterium), and Marxism (with the horizontalization and sociological reduction of religion to "this world" social justice movements). Earlier, in 1968, he had defined these same two evils of individualism and worldly messianism as: atheism and sociological Christianity. We can see these two trends permeating the various dissident sects in varying degrees. Taking up individualized pick-and-choose religion (protestantism, which leads through agnosticism to atheism), focusing on saving the world rather than one's soul, and abandoning Christ's Church through disobedience, brought the logical consequence of abandoning the Catholic Faith (even if one went to church every Sunday). 
To conclude with the words of Pius XII (Mystici corporis):

We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church...even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their father's home.









Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Yet Another Catholic Association Bites The Dust

This is unfortunately an all too common situation. Perhaps it might be useful to look into exactly how this happens. It has been going on for a very long time, as far back as Constantine in fact. Once the Church got imperial patronage it became advantageous for unscrupulous people to become Christian in order to curry favor with the emperor. In fact it was one of the motivating factors behind the monastic movement in the centuries following Constantine.

Sometimes this happens all too innocently with the best of motives. The Out of the Cold program was begun by people who simply wanted the churches to provide overnight shelter for the homeless. Soon representatives from the city approached the organizers and offered a stipend for each homeless person accommodated. All that was required was for each person to sign in. From this first intrusion the city's involvement grew and today Out of the Cold is coordinated by the municipal government.

I would like to say I am surprised at the situation facing the separate schools today. The system is seriously broken but if you look back you realize it was flawed from the beginning. Offers of support from the government ought to be looked on as a very mixed blessing. Ever increasing dependence on government eventually results in loss of control and, in some jurisdictions, the loss of a separate school system entirely. We are currently witnessing demands being made on Catholic schools regarding GSA groups in Ontario and mandated religion courses in Quebec.

If you wish to have Catholic schools which will maintain their Catholic identity then they must be locally sponsored, integrated into the life of the parish and under the auspices of the local bishop. Expecting the government to maintain the integrity of Catholic schools through legislation or even constitutional guarantees is guaranteed to cause problems. Sooner or later they will ask something of you that you simply can't do and your dependence will leave little choice.

OECTA is an association of separate school teachers, many of whom are simply there because they need the job to support themselves. The sad fact is that the positions taken by OECTA probably do represent the views of their constituency. This means there are many Catholic teachers whose knowledge and practice of their faith is not orthodox. Indeed there are many Catholics who are poorly catechised, misinformed or even in need of evangelization. Who is going bring the gospel to these unfortunate souls?

OECTA is NOT Catholic (in THEIR own words!)

Does OECTA really adhere to the Church's Magisterium? (Oh, and what about the poster below from 2006 featuring the dissident ex-priest Gregory Baum?  "Loyal"... "Faithful Catholics" ? - dear, dear...). 

2006 "Catholic Teachers" Conference with Gregory Baum

So that there can be no confusion as to what OECTA officially stands for, I will quote directly from the document "Equity Report -Final" on two profoundly important issues relating to the Catholic Faith. One that attacks the sacred priesthood, hence the sacramental economy; the other, the overthrowing of sexual ethics. The 1997 document received recent impetus from OECTA in a TSU Committee Annual Report (2008) on strategies for continued implementation. Loyalty? Faithfulness? Dear readers, you be the judge.

1. OECTA supports implicitly the "ordination" of women to the sacramental priesthood. This being contrary to the Magisterium.

"The role of the Catholic Church's teaching on the denial of priestly ordination to women which continues to reinforce sexist divisions in the Catholic Church, and its continued insistence on exclusively male language for God, acts as a significant brake on efforts to combat sexism in the Catholic school. Teachers and students, already socialised into sexism within society, operate within the environment of the Catholic school where religion reinforces rather than challenges systemic and individual sexism. The religious teaching and exercises of the Catholic school are held to be the highest expression of its raison d'etre. How can the school curriculum (seven sacraments for men, six for women), language (God is only and at all times addressed as Father), imagery (statues and pictures of God as male) and the central ritual of Eucharist (led only by a male priest) not promote, at the very centre of its most cherished values, that God is male and therefore male is God? ...As educated Catholic laity, teachers must take the risk to be proactive in using inclusive language and in exposing and challenging the sexism and stereotyping that emanate from Church sources".

2. OECTA implicitly supports active homosexual relationships. This being contrary to the Magisterium.

"All homosexual sex is categorized as sinful by the Catholic Church. This has a number of ramifications in the lives of Catholic gays and lesbians. It means that life-long chastity is the only way of life imposed on gay or lesbian Catholics, unlike heterosexuals, who always have the option of marriage. This in and of itself places an enormous burden on gay and lesbian youth and adults. In a heterosexist society, adjustment to a gay or lesbian identity presents major hurdles. For the Catholic, the issue of remaining eternally celibate presents an additional burden...
...Gay and lesbian teachers want to present a positive role model of adjustment and pride in their sexual orientation for the sake of both gay and straight students. But because official spokespersons for the Catholic Church constantly thrust the question of illicit lifestyle into any discussion of sexual orientation, coming out as a gay or lesbian teacher or student in a Catholic school is fraught with difficulties unimagined by heterosexual peers". 
"Report on Equity 1997"; Employment Equity Task Force/Affirmative Action committee, Toronto Secondary Unit, OECTA            
  

All referenced OECTA documentation can be downloaded here.

A very interesting essay on Gregory Baum by Msgr. Fenton can be read here.

Putin and the Catholic Church in Russia

For Catholics, the main concern with the election of Vladimir Putin as President is the survival, growth and outreach to the various Orthodox churches. I therefore do not intend to voice either a pro- or anti-Putin stance. This political aspect does not concern this blog. What is definite however, is that the various Orthodox churches do dispense a sacramental life due to valid Holy Orders. What is also definite is that the Catholic Church has much common ground to work with the Orthodox in combatting a virulent secularism. The new Russian patriarch, Kirill has already spoken of this.

Pope Benedict meeting with a Russian Orthodox delegate in Rome

As such, it is imperative that the Catholic Church continue her dialogue with the Orthodox churches. Vast areas of joint cooperation are possible and necessary. A number of more recent positive signs include the Patriarch's good relationship with the Holy Father, the recent monument to Pope John Paul being erected in Moscow. Also, the proactive actions of the Russian authorities against activity that is contrary to the Gospel is encouraging. Is it possible that things are going one way in the 'West", and another in the "East"? God works in mysterious ways. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Preaching the Gospel or Trapping Lies and Falsehoods

I have decided to spend this Lent going through Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism series. WNED has been airing it on Sunday nights. What strikes me most about the series is Fr. Barron's sheer excitement about what he is talking about. It is contagious and stimulating. He makes me want to delve deeper into my faith and some of what he talks about has found its way into conversations I have had. He is a man in love with the Lord and it shows.

Now contrast that with that other fellow... the one who goes on about lies and falsehoods being trapped and exposed. At the best of times I find him irritating and at the worst of times he can lead me into a sense of anger and outrage. None of these feelings is particularly edifying and they certainly do not make me want to follow just for the sheer joy of it.

I do not wish to minimize the situation we are in so let me summarize. The culture wars are over; we lost. We are facing a world which not only doesn't know who we are but becomes actively hostile if we say anything that threatens their own world view. Some of us are likely to face persecution and death if we persist. I think that about covers it. Now you get a fresh start.

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Mat 28:18-20

Any questions?

Word On Fire

Sunday, 4 March 2012

PRO-ABORTION "Catholic" Dissenters at Loretto College - Part II

In my previous post I identified the distressing use of Loretto College being used by the, "Canadian Network for Women's Equality" (CNWE). Further research shows that this group is part of "Women - Church Convergence" (WCC), defined in part as: a coalition...raising a feminist voice and committed to an ekklesia of women..." Their full mission statement can be read here. The pro-abortion nature of WCC is couched as women being "... the primary decision makers in matters of reproduction, sexuality and women's health". WCC's links page further confirms this. CNWE's "The Seed Keepers,  22, 1, Fall 2010, confirms their own strong pro-abortion stance.


The WCC also extensively promotes the women priestess movement, stating that women "act as ministers of sacramental life". Though Pope John Paul II declared infallibly against women's ordination, the WCC and its "autonomous Catholic-rooted orgnaization/groups raising a feminist voice"claims otherwise . It should be noted that the members of the WCC (including the CNWE) adhere to "common commitments" - which include women's "ordination", abortion "rights", the use of sexuality contrary to the teachings of the Church etc., etc.
CNWE as listed on the Women-Church Convergence website


The CNWE also issued a "Press Release" (my, my!) regarding the election of Pope Benedict. This pompous "release" is highly instructive as to the nature of the CNWE as - again - it called for women's "ordination", and the use of contraception..." Certainly preposterous and consummate buffoonery, but indicative of the mindset and depth of dissent.


It would be comedic if souls were not at stake. So, why are the Loretto Sisters allowing them access to the College? Why has St. Michael's College Faculty of "Theology" recently given an appointment to  Sr. Caroline Dawson? Why has not the Archdiocese of Toronto  requested that the Sisters cease joint activities with the CNWE?  


This saddens me deeply as a former undergraduate student at St. Michael's. I urge all Catholics to contact the Archdiocese and the Loretto Sisters to act accordingly. I also urge all alumni of  St. Michael's College, University of Toronto to cease donating until it demonstrates absolute fidelity to the Magisterium. 


Click here for Part I