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.
We’re coming up on the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, and like the author of this article, I have many Catholic friends (here and elsewhere). What do I want them to know? In this article from The Federalist, Anna Mussmann does a pretty good job of explaining.
[…]In their eyes, our admiration for Martin Luther is as misguided as holding a big party in honor of one’s divorce. They argue the Reformation ushered in a world where each individual’s personal taste in interpretation became supreme, leading to the moral chaos and postmodernism that riddles the cultural landscape today. At best, they see Protestants as limping along without the spiritual blessings God bestows through their church yet, like anorexics, rejoicing in this near-starvation.
I readily concede that the Reformation brought costs as well as benefits. Yet as a Lutheran, I am profoundly grateful for the sixteenth-century return to Scripture that reminded us of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and Solus Christus. I deeply appreciate the Lutheran determination, demonstrated in the “Book of Concord, “to find and cling to biblical truth. That is why I want my Catholic friends to know three things about the event I will be celebrating on October 31.
1. It’s Not about Individualism
Secular historians, like secular journalists writing about Pope Francis, often misunderstand religion. Mainstream history textbooks portray Luther as someone who struck a blow for the individual by rejecting the authority of people who wanted to tell others what to believe. As long as these historians don’t peruse his actual writing, they see Luther as a pretty progressive guy by the standards of 1517. My Catholic friends read this stuff and, quite naturally, pick up the idea that Luther’s teachings led to hyper-individualism.
Yet Luther’s actual theological legacy is not conducive to extreme individualism. He intended to participate in a conversation about reforming errors that were harming the Catholic Church. That is because he wanted to point out where individuals were going wrong by failing to submit themselves to the authority of scripture. […]
It’s true, we are just about as hidebound to what Christians have always believed everywhere as the most traditional Catholic. We don’t do novelty (well some of us do). The Rev Dr Luther was essentially what we would call today a whistleblower. I too have taken Catholic friends to church with me, and especially in the LCMS, they are surprised, if anything we are more liturgical than many Catholic parishes. What Old Luther tried to do was to go back to our roots, in the early church. To be sure there are places we disagree.
The Lutheran Reformation was not about making up new traditions from scratch, but about identifying the parts of the historic liturgy that convey the gospel well. One reason it’s so much fun to talk about philosophy and literature with my Catholic friends is that we share a rich sense of history and see ourselves as taking part in a conversation that has been going on for centuries.
However, we Lutherans disagree with Catholics in a highly significant area. They say church tradition is as reliable a guide as scripture, and that one can safely construct theological dogmas on promises and statements that aren’t found in scripture. Thus they accept concepts like the bodily assumption of Mary as doctrine even though the Bible says nothing on that subject.
Now, Lutherans respect church tradition. The Lutheran reformers frequently referenced the writings of the early church fathers. We, too, are grateful for the history that ties us to the church universal throughout time, and we, too, commemorate the faithful saints who have gone before us (although we don’t ask anyone dead to pray for us—the Bible offers no promise that we will be heard that way).
There is considerably more. Do follow the link above.
I do note that Luther believed in the bodily assumption, but it was something that he took on faith, because, well it isn’t mentioned in scripture. We do, some of us anyway, following Luther’s practice, venerate Our Lady, though.
One of the main points that I always make though is that (so does Anna) without Luther, there is no Trent. He was causal in the reform that the Catholic Church needed badly.
In truth, many Lutherans do as she said, refer to our Reformation as a conservative one, in keeping with the traditional definition, keeping the good and reforming the bad. Some of those that followed had different goals, such as being as not-Catholic as they could be. We (and perhaps the Anglo-Catholics) sit firmly in the middle, Catholic but not Roman, Evangelical but traditional.
Occasionally it’s an uncomfortable spot, as we have neither the Pope nor do we get to make it up as we go. For me, it’s the right spot, as it is for many of us.
A Tweet last evening guided me to an important story – here it is.
Brilliant – required reading from@firstthingsmag – Whose Bourgeois Morality? https://t.co/fz1P8J85XH
— John Charmley (@ProfJCharmley) October 18, 2017
Some of you are quite familiar with Professor Charmley, as I am, I consider him a close friend, but in any case, he is exactly correct. This is required reading for any of us who wonders what in the world the Catholic Church is thinking these days. Here is the link again, and here is a snippet.
[I]n the latest round of debate over Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, a fervent defender of the document sniffed at some of its critics that “the Magisterium doesn’t bow to middle-class lobbies” and cited Humanae Vitae as an example of papal tough-mindedness in the face of bourgeois cultural pressures. It was a clever move, rhetorically, and we may hope that it’s right about the magisterial kowtow. But I fear it also misses the point—or, better, several points.
At the Synods of 2014 and 2015, to which Amoris Laetitia is a response, the most intense lobbying for a change in the Church’s traditional practice in the matter of holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried—a proposal the great majority of Synod fathers thought an unwarranted break with truths taught by divine revelation—came from the German-speaking bishops: prelates who represent perhaps the most thoroughly bourgeois countries on the planet. Thus, one does not strain against veracity or charity by describing the German-speaking bishops as something of a lobby for middle-class preoccupations. Passionate defenders of Amoris Laetitia might thus be a bit more careful when dismissing as a middle-class lobby those who raise legitimate concerns about the ambiguities in the document; what goes around, comes around.
There was, of course, far more going on in the 2014-2015 German campaign to permit holy communion for the divorced and civilly remarried than lobbying on behalf of the bourgeois morality of secular, middle-class societies. There was, for example, the ongoing, two-front German war against Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on the morally appropriate means of family planning) and Veritatis Splendor (St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical on the reform of Catholic moral theology). We are told, now, that a commission is examining the full range of documentation involved in the preparation of Humanae Vitae. One hopes that that study will bring to the fore what Paul VI realized when he rejected the counsel of many and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to natural family planning as the humanly and morally appropriate means of regulating fertility.
Do read it all, and think about the implications. I’m no Catholic as you all know, but Rome has provided the best leadership on this since the Second World War, and we will all lose if they lose their voice, and even more, will the children who will never be born lose much more than their voice.
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
Time for me to post something here, I reckon, and I think might do. The other day a document called “Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis“ (if your Latin is as bad as mine that translates as “A filial correction concerning the propagation of heresies”) was served on the Pope. What that document does is accuse him of teaching seven heresies. Not the kind of stuff that usually happens in the Catholic Church. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1333 to Pope John XXII. He later recanted his errors. I can’t really say that I see Francis doing that. I’m rather glad I’m not the recipient of that 25-page letter though.
Gene Veith over at Cranach spells out some of it, no doubt some of you know more than I do. He talks about the charges (for lack of a better description) and there is a link to the English translation of the document, I’ve only read the summary, so far. It’s copyrighted so I can’t give you much, but it concerns mostly this, “It lists the passages of Amoris laetitia in which heretical positions are insinuated or encouraged, and then it lists words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.”
[Emphasis in the original]
Lots of this has to do, I gather, with giving communion to the divorced and remarried, and beyond that I’m not prepared to go. We’ve discussed this at great length. Search for COMMUNION FOR THE REMARRIED in the search box above if you don’t already know what most of us think. It always leads to much heat and some hurt feelings, so let’s not overly rehash it still again.
The one count that Dr. Veith and I both found a bit amusing is that they are accusing him of being Lutheran, or at least under Luther’s influence. Part of the reason I find that a bit amusing is that so few Lutherans could actually be convicted of that. Dr. Veith adds this,
I tend to have sympathy with the conservative side of theological controversies, though not on this issue. The sacrament is given specifically to sinners for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 26:28), and is not to be reserved only for those in a state of moral perfection. But that is one of the “Lutheran” teachings that Pope Francis has approximated and which the signers consider heretical.
But I still have sympathy for those who wrote and signed this letter. Conservative Catholics, almost by definition, revere and obey the papacy. To come to the conviction that the Pope is teaching heresy must be agonizing.
To believe that the Pope has violated the teachings of the Church Universal, that the papacy is not the protector of orthodoxy as has been assumed but a means of introducing innovative and problematic doctrines into the Church, can be a traumatic realization. And to take a stand on this conviction shows great integrity and courage.
The signers may consider Luther to be a heretic. But at least they know now how he felt.
Good thing it’s mostly bishops and academics signing this though. Henry VIII burned a few folks for that very thing, before he married one, of course. It was far from the longest marriage of his.
Indeed it must be a horrendous nightmare for any churchman to come to that feeling about any of his bishops, but the Pope! I don’t envy them, but I too admire them greatly. It must take great courage to put your name on that document.
They (whoever they may be) say that “May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse. I suspect we all understand why.
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.