I apologize due to the upcoming American holiday of Veteran’s Day; there will be no podcast for I was mandated for overtime work this morning. However, I will like to post the introduction of the First Letter of John. In prayer, this morning, I was reading it in a form of Lectio Divina, something called to me to do so, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how beautiful this letter is to the faithful.
The First Letter of John
1 ¶* That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2 the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship† with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 ¶ And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5 ¶ This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness‡ at all. 6 ¶ If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 ¶ but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 ¶ If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Christ Is Our Advocate
2 ¶ My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 ¶ and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 ¶ And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.§ 4 ¶ He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 ¶ but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 ¶ he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
A New Commandment
7 ¶ Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 ¶ Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10 ¶ He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. 13 ¶ I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the Evil One. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the Evil One.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
1.The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 1 Jn 1:1–2:17.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our friend Neo has bid farewell. I have thought about leaving in the past and I have said as much as well. However, this blog was something of a community, one that kept drawing me back. I do hope the call of the communio calls to Neo once more, but it appears as we’re all resigned to our sinful natures that one by one each pilgrim with the evening advanced looks to rid the sweat ridden clothes of our collective ecumenical dialogue.
The greatest lesson of scripture I believe is the call for repentance. I have a co-worker who is deaf and is debating whether to get a cochlear implant. She jokingly asked me today, knowing I am a man of faith if I could heal her or pray for her to receive her hearing. I told her first off that I am far from holy and that I am still working on my faith every day, but I expressed that in many of the healings of Christ in scripture, such as the paralytic, Christ preferenced the desire of forgiving sins over physical miracles. “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’
Love, repenting, and forgiveness
Many will claim are not miraculous,…but… with an examination of the nature of humanity, one could easily argue are perhaps the greatest miracles we can perform with our fellow man. The Spirit gives us many gifts: Understanding, Counsel, wisdom, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. Gifts that aid us in communio and can give us the ability to show the world the true miracle of Christian love.
Our community is one that can only express ideas, therefore, we do not have the privilege to see each others’ love. The Word of God took flesh, one single word of utterance of God to show us His love. The Incarnation of our Lord is God’s word–it’s the Word from the beginning. Christ has left us so that the Paraclete could guide us. As Teresa of Avila writes, Christ has no body, but as being baptized into the Body of Christ, I am the eyes, the ears, the arms, the feet so that others can hear the one utterance of God–the Word of God.–Love….Love.
My job takes me to some of the poorest parts of my community and it tears my soul. The Word of God with the guidance of the spirit has called me to show Christ’s love by starting a ministry in my parish, one that can put forth the love of the Word in our community. Ideas are grand and fun to discuss, but they do get bogged down and stale, ideas do not move mountains, but faith, as small as a mustard seed can move mountains.
I do not know what my plans are for continuing with this blog. Many of the great Protestant voices and others have left. Chalcedon has left, Geoff gone, Jess and now Neo. We may have differences, but through the Word of God, I do love you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The best way to reply to everyone’s comment’s after some thought I believe is in post format. I have been perusing through George Weigel’s new book on Pope St. John Paul II Lessons in Hope in which I was struck by a particular passage written Weigel about understanding the man and philosopher Wojtyla. Weigel writes, “There are theologians who write as if they never studied philosophy at all—and it shows, usually in confusion…philosophy is essential prerequistite to doing theology seriously…for there is no way to understand John Paul II’s magisterium—his teaching as pope—without understanding the rudiments of his philosophical position.” In light of Weigel’s point, I am really struck by his words to the point that in regards to our own discussions here, I am moved to reexamine my own life and education to understand why I have arrived to this particular conclusion. I am not a relativist, I believe the truth to be the truth; however, I do fully understand that our perceptions shaped by our environmental factors guide the manner in which we interpret the truth.
Prior to my degree in history, I was a Classics major, so I do have a background in basic classical philosophy, although I have read briefly the points of more modern philosophers—unimpressed. I am reminded in my early years as a student of the famous Plato Allegory of “the Cave.” Slaves being chained to a rock; their perception of reality dictated by the darkness and the small ray of light producing shadows on the rock, and the slave that breaks free rises to the top and see the world and everything that causes the reality of the cave below.
At this point, I must reject Cartesian philosophy that our experience could be nothing more than a dream state and our existence is the only sure thing we can possibly know. Dreamlike states do not follow any laws of nature and therefore do not possess the vital logical elements to come to any proper conclusion of the truth. For example, Descartes would say experience could be imagined; however, experience dictates that in we cannot dream of things or imagine them without any sort of priori knowledge of them, they must be revealed to us for ourselves to grasp them. Naturally, Classical philosophy makes clear that if one can imagine some attributes they have been observed to be true.
So, the Cave example illustrates also that no matter the difference of experience—there are truths that both the slave from above and the ones in the cave can both understand. The slave that escapes understands the origin of the shadows and the cause from the sun; nonetheless, the slaves in the cave can have no such experience. However, through our human reason, the slave from above could still possess the methods to explain the concept of light by having the cave slaves manipulate the shadows with their own environment. The slave from above can also block the sun entirely during the day to exhibit that the source of light, which causes the shadows, exists somewhere outside the cave, and possibly can explain it must be its own celestial body. It may be true that the slave from above cannot explain other facets of the outside world such as the nature and essence of trees, but it is possible to explain the source of light the absence of it is darkness.
Although the experiences of the cave slaves and the one from above are different—through reason—the conclusion of the truth of a source of light and darkness can still be reached by both parties.
So, what is the effect of this allegory on my own theology? I ask, “If I believe two people to be good Catholics or Christians and they’ve come to two different conclusions, what is the possible cause of their experiences that have led to these conclusions?” And, “What truths can be reached by both parties with their common experiences?”
Therefore, in regards to theology, I began to reflect on Christ, other parts of the Gospels, and St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
In many ways, in the Gospels, Christ asks us to become poor or like the poor. Naturally, the reason for this is because, like the outside the cave, those of us who have experienced being poor—I should preface destitute—can have absolutely no understanding of those who live these experiences everyday.
Let’s take a look:
21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 
21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 
42 A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 44 For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” 
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, 
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Of course, these are just the passages that I’ve found briefly, but naturally, what they tell you is to either be the poor by giving up your possessions or to be around the poor by making them your guests, and thus, by doing so, you remove yourself from the cave.
I will tell you that it wasn’t from sitting in class that gave me this understanding of Plato’s allegory, it was twofold, first with my new job, it forced me out into the poorest of poor neighborhoods in my community, I saw first hand what it was like to be poor in my community. All of my previous conceived ideas that I held in my ivory tower were washed away. The second is when I started a ministry for studying early church history at my parish and studied how the early Church Fathers used the philosophy of the pagans to better their own Christian philosophy by understanding that any can possess truth. So, it wasn’t until I left my cave that I began to put all of these things together.
So, let us bring out the lessons of Christ in the Gospel and St. Paul in marriage while examining Pope Francis Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia to see if we find a common understanding of the truth that has been revealed to us by experiences.
In regards to divorce let’s get straight to it with Christ’s words in Matthew Chapter 19:
3 Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” 4 b He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 7 d They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” 8 He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” 10 [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. 12 Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” 
A fairly straightforward text, one that I’ve used time and time again to illustrate that all Christians must accept Christ’s definition of marriage and any of those who advocate for same-sex marriage is guilty of espousing heresy. I also agree with my orthodox Catholic brothers and sisters that Christ is very clear on his teaching on divorce. It’s impossible. I believe it to be prudent to reflect on the ending of this particular passage:
He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. 12 Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Now, I’ve grown up Catholic, I can tell you that honestly the only time in my diocese a Catholic is instructed on Christian marriage is during Pre-Cana. I will state this to be a grave mistake, in Christ words here, he instructs that there are those who are incapable of marriage—I have never heard this lesson taught in a homily or any other Catholic resource to best honest, but it’s lesson that must be stressed early on within our Catholic families. I would surmise that withholding a proper discourse on such a lesson many are married, even if they go through pre-Cana, who are not fit for marriage. Therefore, naturally, annulments, divorces, second marriages, and children divided up among all these situations are victims of the failure of the Church to teach the proper understanding of marriage early on in every Catholics’ life. As such, we shall address the experience of those children in the frameworks of the cave allegory and those who completely ignore it by the lack of mercy in their legalism. In fact, by illuminating such a glaring misinstruction by the Church with Christ’s teaching on marriage, it gives some credence to Pope Francis’ words:
“It’s provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say ‘yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”
It should not be a large leap of reason to understand that if no one is taught that there are those incapable of marriage, then there are many of us Catholics without the proper understanding for discernment in such a Christian vocation. I do not doubt by living among my own peers there are many who say forever without any concept of what that possible means. Of course, this is Pope Francis’ understanding “They don’t know that it’s indissoluble, they don’t know that it’s for your entire life. It’s hard,” 
Now, what is St. Paul’s understanding of marriage?
Advice to the Married. 1 Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: “It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman,” 2 but because of cases of immorality every man should have his own wife, and every woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. 7 Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 b Now to the unmarried and to widows I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire. 10 To the married, however, I give this instruction (not I, but the Lord): A wife should not separate from her husband 11 —and if she does separate she must either remain single or become reconciled to her husband—and a husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say (not the Lord): if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to go on living with him, he should not divorce her; 13 and if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to go on living with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise your children would be unclean, whereas in fact they are holy.
15 If the unbeliever separates, however, let him separate. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases; God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband; or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 
Again, I agree, it is pretty straightforward, but again, remove yourself from the cave. Imagine, if your wife or husband in a valid marriage leaves you, and you are one of those who cannot possibly control your desires in which St. Paul speaks. You may have corrupted view of marriage, you may be living a life of sin by adultery or adultery through a second marriage, but it would be prudent to examine whether in this particular situation when reflecting on St. Paul’s teaching by your habits, by your knowledge, etc. whether you’re fully culpable of mortal sin in such situation. I believe to dismiss such examples, which could be very common, would be merely looking at the shadows of the cave; not listening to the explanation of light by the surface slave.
Again, let’s examine St. Paul in Ephesians 5:
Wives and Husbands. 21 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. 24 As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her 26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, 27 that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
31 “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”
32 This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. 33 In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband. 
This particular passage was the source of sermon message at my wedding. Do our husbands have a proper understanding that our marriage must be a true representation of Christ’s love for the Church? Many get caught up on the submission of the wife in the text; however, no one bats an eye when St. Paul says the Husband must willingly die for his wife. Again, I agree the teaching is straightforward, but the first time I heard a proper teaching on this text was when I was 27 years old, I was already well into my years of discerning marriage without the proper instruction from the Church and culture. These situations must all be considered when examining a step by step resolution when solving the Church’s marriage crisis.
Of course, let me explain, none of this is contradicted by the Catechism’s understanding on sin, the teachings of the magisterium and it is a full reflection footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia:
“ In certain cases [emphasis added], this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy.” … I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
Of course, let us examine this under the other controversial footnote 329:
In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters,” which the Church offers them, [emphasis added] point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, “it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.”
So what about those children? Should their parents to submit to legalism? Perhaps, but it’s apparent that their parents from an early age, and I would surmise the children themselves will be, have been in a dark damp cave without the proper Christian teachings on marriage, which should have occurred throughout their entire life. And without the proper teachings, they cannot have the proper knowledge of the gravity of their actions and they certainly may not be in full possession of their will under the habit of which they should have been warned and discussed by St. Paul. Therefore, to deny these individuals of communion, is a lack of mercy to receive one who none are worthy to receive, one who may give them a proper understanding through the grace of His sacraments.
“Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”
 George Weigel, Lessons in Hope (Basic Books: New York, 2017), 11.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 19:21.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mk 10:21.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mk 12:42–44.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Lk 4:18.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Lk 14:12–14.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 19:3–12.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), 1 Co 7:1–16.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Eph 5:21–33.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write today, after some thought as a testimony of my position, I still support the Pontificate of Pope Francis, the Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ. There are many opinions in regards to his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, and sadly not enough clarity on the matter, but I believe there to be good reasons to give him still the benefit of the doubt.
As noted by the National Catholic Register:
None of the passages of Amoris Laetitia cited by the correction explicitly denies that a person who knowingly and willingly commits grave evil cuts himself or herself off from God’s grace.
Amoris Laetitia does explore the possibility that a person who commits grave evil may in some cases not have full knowledge or deliberate consent when doing so, but precisely insofar as they lack full knowledge and/or deliberate consent, such a person is not necessarily committing mortal sin.
The position is consistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131
1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.
1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
The fact is that it is true that there are possibilities for someone to be in a relationship that from the outside may appear to be gravely sinful; however if that particular person does not meet the three requirements for a mortal sin then they are less culpable. Pope Francis should not be criticized for attempting to bend—not break– understanding as an example of God’s mercy. The National Catholic Register also reminds Catholics to recognize the authority of the Catechism of the Catechism by citing Fidei Depositum 3. As of now, faithful Catholics should understand the exhortation under the precepts of the established teachings of the Catholic Church. Of course, this is the understanding also of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput:
“Archbishop Chaput, on July 1, issued pastoral guidelines for his archdiocese on the Pope’s exhortation. He said the document is best understood when read “within the tradition of the Church’s teaching and life.”
My own Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, a known orthodox Catholic bishop–who has brought back the Latin mass to the diocese, restored the St. Michael Prayer to all masses, withheld communion from Senator Dick Durbin, performed an exorcism on the Illinois House—has written in support of Amoris Laetitia:
There are no changes to canon law or church doctrine introduced in this document, as Pope Francis explains, “If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases” (n. 300). Rather, the Holy Father says, “In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur” (n. 307).
Pope Francis himself notes that it is a lengthy document. “Consequently,” the Holy Father writes, “I do not recommend a rushed reading of the text. The greatest benefit, for families themselves and for those engaged in the family apostolate, will come if each part is read patiently and carefully, or if attention is paid to the parts dealing with their specific needs. It is likely, for example, that married couples will be more concerned with Chapters Four and Five, and pastoral ministers with Chapter Six, while everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight. It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for ‘families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity’” (n. 7).
Following the Holy Father’s request, I encourage Catholics and all people interested in strengthening marriage and family life to read the entire Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis “patiently and carefully.” As Pope Francis so frequently requests, please pray for him and for all those called to the vocation of marriage and family life as well as those who minister to them.
So I ask that for those among us not to misconstrue my words. I still believe it to be prudent and the duty of the Pope to still clarify his teachings on the matter of his exhortation, but I refuse to frame the Church in a myopic political language of left vs. right or Traditional Catholics vs. Vatican II Catholics—these are the seeds of division. There is only the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. I believe Pope Francis should also answer the scholars who have attached their name to the Filial Correction.
I believe it prudent for the Pope to give a proper answer within the context of the deposit of our faith because I believe that the author of the Filial Correction, Professor Claudio Pierantoni, makes a fair point of the ramifications of no such answer:
It’s very difficult to say, but I believe they haven’t issued it yet because they fear a schism. But I think the opposite is true: that if they don’t do it, there will be a schism. To not speak of the true doctrine, to not correct errors, for fear of schism is a contradiction. Only truth can unite. If error spreads it will cause a split, from parish church to parish church, from bishop to bishop, from country to country. It would be a practical schism, which in fact already exists, but if the correction doesn’t take place, it will get much worse.
I fully believe that some squabbles between Catholics are completely silly. I would almost surmise that some Catholics have been wanting to leave the Church for some time, only waiting for some excuse to do so because of so-called heresy. In many ways, we’ve forgotten to love our brothers and sisters in the Church. Naturally, I think to myself, if we cannot get our own house in order, how can we convince our fellow protestant Brothers and Sisters in Christ to come to the Church? In the wake of these “scandals” and “heresy,” I cannot stop but think of Christ priestly prayer:
20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
“Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”
 Jn 17:20
St. John Chrysostom was born around 349 A.D. in Antioch and like many of the other Church Fathers we’ve discussed like St. Justin Martyr and St. Athanasius was born into wealth. The affluence of his family allowed him to taught by one of antiquities greatest teachers, Libanius. The famous pagan professor said “It is a pity…that the boy is a Christian—otherwise he could be my successor.” Chrysostom lost his father at an early age and being brought by his mother, Anthusa, as Pope Benedict XVI explains she “instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.” D’Ambrosio explains that despite having such a formidable education, Chrysostom, “lost his enthusiasm for a life in law or public service. He had met some hermits outside the city and, inspired by their example, decided to join them. He spent four years with the monks on Mount Silpius, “he extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an old hermit.”
Pope Benedict, in his General Audience on St. John Chrysostom, gives an account of Chrysostom’s early career in the Church’s clergy as he “between 378 and 379, he returned to the city. He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386 and come a famous preacher in the city’s churches.” It was the next year when Emperor Theodosius had been compelled to increase taxes due to a response to an invasion. The tax increased caused a mob to form who were incensed by the tax. The mob defaced statues of the Emperor and as a response to the vandalism, the Emperor intended to punish the city. At this moment, after the Bishop went to the Emperor to plead for reconciliation, Chrysostom went to the people, led them in prayer and gave twenty-one of some of his most famous homilies called On the Statues. St. John was able to quiet the rage of the mob, which in turn, smoothed over the wrath of the Emperor. In our current cultural climate, perhaps it would be wisdom for both leaders and citizens to reflect on this event.
St. John Chrysostom understands this by developing and defending the doctrine of Eucharist to be called “The Doctor of the Eucharist.”
“For When thou seest the Lord sacrificed and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the Victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that Precious Blood, canst thou think that thou art still amongst men and standing on earth…Oh, what a marvel! What love of God to Man!”
Elias left a sheepskin to his disciple, but the Son of God, ascending left us His own flesh!…Let us not lament, nor fear the difficulties of the times, for He who did not refuse to pour out His Blood for all and has suffered us to partake of His Blood for all and has suffered us to partake of His Blood again—what will He refused to do for our safety?”
As we note above from Fr. Rengers, D’Ambrosio further explains, “One of the most notable themes struck by John is the centrality of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the life of the Church. He insisted that consecrated elements truly become the Body and Blood of Christ.” In D’Ambrosio’s text, he references from Homilies 1 and 2 on the Betrayal of Judas in which St. John Chrysostom’s words become an astounding defense for the Priesthood and the Priest’s role in Christ’s sacrifice at the Mass.
If we break down St. John’s words, when he articulates the idea “It is not man who causes what is presented to come the Body and Blood of Christ, but Christ Himself.” This is a perfect example of what is known as In Persona Christi. It’s important to note that we acknowledge this in the beginning of Mass. For example, at the opening of Mass, when we respond “And with your Spirit, It is a response to In Persona Christi—not the priest. And of course, there are other times when the Priest serves in the person of Christ like at the sacrament of reconciliation.
Again, in a Christmas Homily, St. John Chysostom reminds us of the Incarnation during the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Mass by saying, “Reflect, O Man, what sacrificial flesh you take in your hand!” (note the language)
 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers (Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014), 243.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008), 98.
 D’Ambrosio, 243.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 98.
 Ibid, 99.
 D’Ambrosio, 244.
  Christopher Rengers and Matthew E. Bunson, The 35 Doctors of the Church (Tan Books: Charlotte, 2014), 112.
 D’Ambriosio, 245.
St. Athanasius writings were also responsible for much of the development and understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. In the Liturgy of Hours, the reading for Trinity Sunday is taken from St. Athanasius’ First Letter to Serapion in which he writes:
It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the Apostles and guarded by the Fathers. For upon this faith the Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian, either in fact or in name…We acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being (note: Christ’s Divinity here). It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved…”
How would any of you describe the Holy Trinity?
One time I was having a discussion with an atheist who had popped in the comment section of my blog who presented a challenge to all Christians. The challenge stated, “Name one unique idea created by Christianity.” After some other bloggers had offered ideas that were dismissed, and after I had presented Transubstantiation— only to be dismissed (even though it is unique)— I also presented the most glaring central doctrine of the Church, The Holy Trinity. However, the atheist rejected this as not being an original idea as he gave what he referred to as the Hindu trinity known as Trimurti. After I had looked into the Trimurti, I concluded that the Christian Trinity is truly unique, and this comparison to the Trimurti was a false equivalent.
Now to claim this is a false equivalent, one must have a better understanding of the most Holy Trinity. In the case of the Trimurti, the three gods are exactly that, three distinct gods that are reincarnated into an avatar known Datta, but regardless, Brahma still takes center stage in that religion. I explained their difference ultimately using the Athanasian Creed, Fr. Rengers reminds us of the Athanasius Creed, “consisting of 40 rhythmic statements, had been used in the Sunday Office for over a thousand years.” —which I wish we would use more often— “So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God…So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another.”
During the conversation, I wish that I had the modern example given by Michael Pennock in This is Our Faith of a woman who is three different persons, although she is one woman. She is a Mother, a wife, and friend. I also wish I was more familiar with St. John’s of Damascus example, “The Father is the sun with the Son as ray and the Holy Spirit as heat.” All very distinct concepts, but from one source, and with one will. It is entirely different, a central doctrine and great mystery that is truly original to Christianity.
Finally, a great foundation for understanding the Holy Trinity rests in focusing on the Incarnation, The Word of God, Christ Jesus, Our Lord and Savior. Of course, as I’ve mentioned previously, unless we are fluent in ancient languages, we must read St. Athanasius in translation. However, one of the greatest teachers of our faith, and perhaps one day will be honored as a Doctor of the Faith, Bl. John Henry Newman writes on the Incarnation:
“This was the new and perfect tabernacle into which He entered (the body); entered, but not confined, not to be circumscribed by it. The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; though His own hands ‘made it and fashioned it,’ still he did not cease to be what He was, because He became man, but was still the Infinite God, manifested in, not altered by the flesh. He took upon Him our nature, as an instrument of His purposes, not as an agent in the work. (The Incarnation is not a creature) What is one thing cannot become another; His manhood remained human, and His Godhead remained divine.”
 Rengers and Bunson, 8.
 Dave Armstrong, Quotable Newman (Sophia Press: Manchester, 2012), 197.
On the Incarnation
In Athanasius’ work, the first 5 sections discuss creation and the fall of man. In the text, we are reminded of the God’s only prohibition and the result of ignoring such an edict from God.
“First of all believe that God is one, which created and framed all things, and made them to exist out of nothing.” 2. To which also Paul refers when he says, “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.” 3. For God is good, or rather is essentially the source of goodness: nor could one that is good be niggardly of anything: whence, grudging existence to none, He has made all things out of nothing by His own Word, Jesus Christ our Lord… and He did not barely create man, as He did all the irrational creatures on the earth, but made them after His own image, giving them a portion even of the power of His own Word; so that having as it were a kind of reflexion of the Word, and being made rational, they might be able to abide ever in blessedness, living the true life which belongs to the saints in paradise. 4. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care, besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption.
Here, St. Athanasius reminds us, that by committing this sin against God by ignoring his edict, we, in fact, lost existence with God being cast out of the garden by inventing wickedness
“as Wisdom also says: “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world.” But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thence-forward prevailed against them… having to begin with been inventors of wickedness and called down upon themselves death and corruption; while later on, having turned aside to wrong and exceeding all lawlessness, and stopping at no one evil but devising all manner of new evils in succession, they have become insatiable in sinning”
However, in sections six through ten, St. Athanasius explains God’s resolution for the salvation of humanity. He explains, in section six, that he cannot go back on his word in Genesis, in regards to his prohibition, humanity must die; however, if God were to leave his creation as thus it would show God to be limited in his own nature.
It is in section six of On The Incarnation that we come to a theological crossroads between St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Arguably, the greatest thinker, philosopher, and theologian of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas Aquinas argues for a theological position which is in contradiction with St. Athanasius work in On the Incarnation about the necessity of The Word becoming flesh. In the Summa, St. Thomas remarks that the Incarnation is not necessary, but fitting; however, in On the Incarnation, St. Athanasius, by explaining that God cannot go back on his word in Genesis, there is only one fitting method for deification or theosis of humanity in salvation history. For all practical purposes, as I’ve quoted both sources, they appear contradictory, as I would assume St. Thomas would agree with the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction, only one explanation can be correct.
In the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas writes:
Whether it was necessary for the restoration of the human race that the word of god should become incarnate?
We proceed thus to the Second Article:—
Objection 1. It seems that it was not necessary for the reparation of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate. For since the Word of God is perfect God, as has been said (I., Q. IV., AA. 1 and 2), no power was added to Him by the assumption of flesh. Therefore, if the incarnate Word of God restored human nature, He could also have restored it without assuming flesh.
Obj. 2. Further, for the restoration of human nature, which had fallen through sin, nothing more is required than that man should satisfy for sin. Now man can satisfy, as it would seem, for sin; for God cannot require from man more than man can do, and since He is more inclined to be merciful than to punish, as He lays the act of sin to man’s charge, so He ought to credit him with the contrary act. Therefore it was not necessary for the restoration of human nature that the Word of God should become incarnate.
Obj. 3. Further, to revere God pertains especially to man’s salvation; hence it is written (Mal. 1:6): If, then, I be a father, where is my honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? But men revere God the more by considering Him as elevated above all, and far beyond man’s senses, hence (Ps. 112:4) it is written: The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens; and farther on: Who is as the Lord our God? which pertains to reverence. Therefore it would seem unfitting to man’s salvation that God should be made like unto us by assuming flesh.
On the contrary, What frees the human race from perdition is necessary for the salvation of man. But the mystery of the Incarnation is such; according to John 3:16: God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. Therefore it was necessary for man’s salvation that God should become incarnate.
I answer that, A thing is said to be necessary for a certain end in two ways. First, when the end cannot be without it; as food is necessary for the preservation of human life. Secondly, when the end is attained better and more conveniently, as a horse is necessary for a journey. In the first way it was not necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. For God of His omnipotent power could have restored human nature in many other ways. But in the second way it was necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii.): We shall also show that other ways were not wanting to God, to Whose power all things are equally subject; but that there was not a more fitting way of healing our misery.
St. Thomas is correct that the omnipotent eternal God can choose whatever course for salvation; however, what it appears that St. Thomas fails to realize that it wouldn’t be possible for God though to chose a course that would contradict He that is logic. Athanasius reminds us that necessity of the Incarnation in six section of the Incarnation by stating:
“For this cause, then, death having gained upon men, and corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing; the rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution. 2. For death, as I said above, gained from that time forth a legal hold over us, and it was impossible to evade the law, since it had been laid down by God because3 of the transgression, and the result was in truth at once monstrous and unseemly. 3. For it were monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die the death, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not. 4. Again, it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption. 5. For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practised on men by the devil. Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.”
Now and again, I’ll hear atheist come up with a question in an attempt to stump Christians. Two examples: “Could your all-powerful God create a rock that he could not lift?” or “Could God make a square a triangle?” These ideas by their nature violate the very foundation of reason because God could not possibly make a square a triangle for it would lose its essence of being a square. It’s also an illogical proposition for the idea of God to create an immovable rock for it would violate the essence of an omnipotent God. At the same time, the necessity of the Incarnation becomes apparent because of mankind, by the words of God, as stated by the first Doctor of the Church, St. Athanasius, must be sentenced to the penalty of death. Man must die.
However, in accord to salvation, in section nine, St. Athanasius writes so beautifully the purpose and necessity of Christ’s incarnation in fulfillment of His divine plan explaining that because man must die and the Word cannot die, the Word becomes true flesh:
He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent. 2. For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death. And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God,
It’s important to remember St. Athanasius’ story in our own current time. When the culture demands that our faith change and “get with the times.” In fact, many of our own bishops, priests, and fellow laymen may side against the orthodoxy of our own faith just as many emperors, bishops, and fellow Christians of Athanasius’ time sided with Arius.
 Athanasius of Alexandria, “On the Incarnation of the Word,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 37–38.
 Ibid, 39.
 On the Incarnation, 6.
 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, n.d.).
 Athanasius of Alexandria, “On the Incarnation of the Word,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 39.
 On The Incarnation, 9
Pope Benedict XVI writes, “Athanasius was undoubtedly one of the most important and revered early Church Fathers. But this great Saint was above all the impassioned theologian of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God who – as the Prologue of the fourth Gospel says – “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1: 14).”
St. Athanasius was born around 300 A.D, his exact date of birth is debated among scholars, and died on May 2, 373 A.D. Fr. Christopher Rengers writes in his book, The 35 Doctors of the Church, “nothing is known of his family. From the thoroughness of his education, it is presumed that he came from well-to-do parents who could afford a good education. But he could have received much of this through the influence of Alexander (Patriarch of Alexandria)” Pope Benedict believes that this education occurred before any contact with Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. Prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., in 318 A.D, Athanasius wrote his most famous work called On the Incarnation in which Marcellino D’Ambrosio articulates as “one of the great theological classics of all time.” However, it must be expressed that there is some debate when the classic text was written; D’ambrosio dates it to an earlier period due to addressing the topics brought forth by Arius and the Arian heresy, but not ever naming Arius distinctly.
The issues brought forth by St. Athanasius and settled during the Council of Nicaea would appear to us modern Catholics as non-controversial, but Catholics of the modern age have to realize that much of our creedal traditions were forged during these pivotal years. Fr. Rengers explains, “A GREAT controversy that involved emperors, popes and bishops, that stirred up intrigue and bloodshed, that shook Christianity to its depths, centered on one simple, sure answer in the Catechism. The answer goes very simply: ‘The chief teaching of the Catholic Church about Jesus Christ is that He is God made man.” Fr. Renger goes on, “Because of his championship of this fundamental truth he is called ‘The Father of Orthodoxy’…St. Athanasius defended the divine Sonship at the cost of immense personal discomfort, suffering and danger. His whole live was shaped around his defense of the divinity of Christ.”
St. Athanasius’ orthodoxy exhibited in his work On the Incarnation and others that defended the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ caused him a lot of turmoil in his life. D’Ambrosio reminds us that “during the forty-five years he was bishop, he was banished five times for a total of seventeen years in exile. By the time he died in A.D. 373, he had outlasted most of his enemies. He fought tirelessly, sometimes almost singlehandedly, for the truth of the Catholic faith taught at Nicaea.” During one of his many exiles, St. Athanasius “was pursued up the Nile, When the imperial officers were gaining on him, he ordered his boat turned around. At the time it was still hidden from the pursuers by a bend in the river. When the two boats crossed paths, the Roman officers, not personally knowing Athanasius shouted out, asking if anyone had seen Athanasius. St. Athanasius himself answered them: “He is not very far off.” It’s important to ponder this story, for it reveals that in our future struggles, we must use our intelligence to not only defend ourselves from our enemies but also to defend the faith.
Arius was a priest in Alexandria who “threatened authentic faith in Christ, declaring the Logos was not a true God but a created God, a creature “halfway” between God and man who hence remained for ever inaccessible to us.” Jimmy Akin explains Arianism very well in his book, The Fathers Know Best, writing that the heresy was “Founded by Arius, a priest of Alexandria, Egypt, in the early 300s. Arius held that originally the Son of God did not exist. There was a time in which there was a single divine Person who became the Father when he created the Son out of nothing. The Son was the first of all created beings and thus separate from the Father in being. The heresy was condemned at the first ecumenical council—Nicaea I in 325—but the controversy intensified and lasted much longer.
What would be the result if Arius’ assertion were true?
D’Ambrosio explains “If Christ is simply a demigod, an intermediary who is something less than God, he is not really Emmanuel, God with us, Rather, he is an emissary sent by God…the emissary conveys the orders of the Sovereign but does not himself know the Sovereign intimately, he cannot reveal God to us as he really is. We are condemned to obey God but to never really know him.”
The idea of the Incarnation and Divinity of Jesus is important to Christianity that D”Ambrosio explains it as “the linchpin of our salvation. If Christ were only a creature, the Gospel would truly be such a good news after all.” In many ways, it has always been sin that is easily visible in the world. The good news of the Gospels gives us hope that the hole that has been caused by our sin against God will be healed by God with our cooperation, as St. Athanasius explains so beautifully in his work On the Incarnation.
I am reminded of the consequence of Christ being a creation of God and also of an essay written by G.K. Chesterton on Original Sin.
“ONCE upon a time when Mr. H. G. Wells was setting forth on his varied and splendid voyage from Utopia to Utopia, he announced as a sort of watchword or war-cry that the new world would have nothing to do with the idea of Original Sin. He did not specially speak, and, indeed, there was no reason for him to speak, about his other beliefs or unbeliefs. He had not then compared the Trinity to a dance; but neither had he called adoring multitudes to the shrine of the Invisible King. But, standing at the end of the great scientific nineteenth century, he thought it time to announce that the one doctrine he did not believe in was Original Sin. Standing at the beginning of the still more scientific twentieth century, Mr. Aldous Huxley calmly announces that the one doctrine he does believe in is Original Sin. He may be a sceptic or a heretic about many things, but on that point he is quite orthodox. He may not hold many theological dogmas, but about this dogma he is quite dogmatic. There is one fragment of the ancient creed which he not only clings to, but declares to be necessary to all clear minds of the new generation. And that is the very fragment which Mr. Wells threw away thirty years ago, as something that would never be needed any more. The stone that the builder of Utopia rejected . . .”
It is St. Athanasius work, On the Incarnation, where he lays down both the importance of the divinity of Christ and his necessary sacrifice to make the world anew as a result of humanities sin against God.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2008),58.
 Christopher Rengers and Matthew E. Bunson, The 35 Doctors of the Church (Tan Books: Charlotte, 2014), 2.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 59.
 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, When The Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers (Servant Books: San Francisco, 2014),162.
 Ibid, 163.
 Renger and Bunson, 1.
 D’Ambrosio, 177.
 Pope Benedict XVI, 59.
 Jimmy Akin, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2010), 85.
 D’Ambrosio, 165.
 Ibid, 164.