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The mysterious case of the Extraordinary Synod and the missing books.
Did someone steal books from the Synod fathers' mailboxes?
There've been major news stories reporting the allegation that someone in connection with last fall's Extraordinary Synod of Bishops removed copies of an important Ignatius Press book on marriage, civil remarriage, and Holy Communion from some mailboxes of the Synod participants.
True? ------------------------ If so, what was it somebody didn't want the Synod Fathers to read? ----------------------- Read it for yourself .
Remaining in the Truth of Christ Edited by Robert Dodaro, O.S.A Softcover, 330 pages
Featuring essays by five Cardinals of the Catholic Church and four other scholars.
Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops (left), talks with Pope Francis during the morning session on the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
The head of secretariat of the synod of bishops was reportedly "furious" about "Remaining in the Truth of Christ," which includes chapters by Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller
Both Kath.net and Edward Pentin are reporting that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, ordered the interception of over a hundred copies of the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which had been mailed to participants in last October’s Extraordinary Synod.
The book, which consists of essays by five Cardinals—including Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller—and four other scholars, was written in response to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book The Gospel of the Family, and defends the Church’s teaching that Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion. It was edited by Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA, who was interviewed about it by CWR last September.
Reliable and high level sources allege the head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, ordered they be intercepted because they would “interfere with the synod.”
A source told me that Baldisseri was “furious” the book had been mailed to the participants and ordered staff at the Vatican post office to ensure they did not reach the Paul VI Hall.
Kath.net reports that around 200 copies of the book were mailed, but only a few apparently made it into the hands of the proper recipients, a report that has also been confirmed by Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press. Pentin states that the books were mailed through "the proper channels within the Italian and Vatican postal systems", but that Baldisseri claimed they were mailed "irregularly," and so the interception of the books was legitimate.
In other words, Baldisseri has apparently admitted that the books were taken; the dispute is over why they were taken. Pentin further reports that the books were apparently destroyed after being taken.
Three months ago, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said he knew nothing about allegations regarding the stolen/intercepted/confiscated books, and dismissed the sources for the allegations as not being “serious and objective." Pentin, a veteran and respected Vatican reporter who recorded a controversial interview with Kasper during the Synod, concludes his report by stating that since December, "the allegations have become more widely known and have been corroborated at the highest levels of the church."
What to make of this? First, as Fr. Z notes, these allegations involve a serious crime:
People sing during a Mass for young adults at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York in December 2011.(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Remarriage, Repentance, and Reaching Young Adults | Bill Maguire | CWR blog
Changing the Church's teaching about Communion and remarried Catholics would create a major obstacle to the catechesis and evangelization of young people
Having spilled some ink on the topic of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics and after closely examining the vast body of definitive Magisterial teaching on the subject, the following is clear to me: Civil remarriage is always an objective grave evil if the first marriage is valid; consequently, the reception of Eucharistic communion and the sacrament of Reconciliation is not possible unless there is repentance and a firm purpose of amendment, which means separation or in cases where this is not possible — i.e., where there are children born from the second union — the commitment to live in complete continence.
The Church’s definitive teaching is unambiguous on this point and cannot change — that is, cannot change without at the same time undermining both her competence and authority to speak about marriage and family in the first place. Thus, I would like nothing better than to move on to the real question at hand: What pastoral approaches can the Church develop as effective means to bring about the conversion and repentance of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics — i.e., separation and/or complete continence — so they are able to once again be admitted to the sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic communion?
After all, the theme for last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family was: “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” It would seem that two constitutive components of the Church’s mission to evangelize include: (1) the effort to persuade us to accept and conform our lives to the truth and beauty of God’s will; and (2) the effort to call us to repentance, to change those areas of our lives that contradict God’s will.
As Mary said at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). Or as Jesus himself said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mk 4:17).
With the publication of the Lineamenta for this year’s Ordinary Synod on the Family — which includes the rejected paragraph of the Relatio Synodi on the possibility of communion for the civilly divorced and remarried (n. 51), plus questions which call for yet further exploration of the topic — it seems, however, it is precisely these two components of evangelization (persuasion and repentance) that are off the table.
This Couple’s Kit for Marriage Preparation includes everything a couple needs to experience the full power of Beloved— the 6-DVD set plus two Couple’s Guides for Marriage Preparation.
You’re in love. You’re reasonably compatible. There’s a thrill and romance you enjoy. You want to spend the rest of your lives together. Getting married seems straightforward enough. But…
What if marriage is more than that? What if God has woven into the very design of your humanity a purposeful need and desire to unite you with another, creating something mysterious and holy? What if your marriage is designed to be a vital part of God’s work in the world?
In 12 sessions, Beloved explores the true meaning of marriage and how to live it out together. Here you’ll discover the deepest spiritual, emotional, and practical realities of marriage through Scripture, Tradition, and Church teaching. You’ll see firsthand how to experience the wonder, mystery, and joy of this sacrament—from that first “I do” through the rest of your lives.
This Couple’s Guides included in this kit will work with the accompanying videos to help you discover:
The Meaning of Marriage for You Personally
How Your Marriage Fits Into an Eternal Story
The Truth About the Bonds and Commitment of Love
God’s Plan for True Spiritual and Physical Intimacy
How to Communicate and Resolve Conflict
The Importance of Healing and Forgiveness
Tools for Protecting Your Marriage
Informative and inspirational, Beloved will prepare you to live out the Sacrament of Marriage profoundly, so that your love story is drawn ever more into the greatest love story of all… God’s own love for us.
The Venerable Bede Translates John, by J.D. Penrose (ca. 1902).
Liturgy in Bede’s World | Daniel J. Heisey, OSB | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Time-honored ritual; a space often ornate, if not opulent, used almost exclusively for this purpose; seating by hierarchy; candles; a prayer, perhaps in Latin, perhaps in English; ceremonial robes; a bevy of trained servers; wine; elegant, and often antique, silver and crystal; an oration, at times stilted or soporific: a recurring event all solemnly choreographed and brought to a formulaic close. By the end of the hour or two, a few may be bored, and some wonder again, “All this archaic rigmarole, so pompous and contrived and expensive, while people are starving and living in rags and hovels: would this money not be best spent on the poor?” I refer, of course, to the phenomenon known as Formal Hall.
It is an anthropological fact: Humans need ritual and ceremony. Whether a formal dinner at an Oxbridge college, a wedding, a funeral, a graduation exercise, a sporting event, an inauguration, a coronation, or people regularly gathered for worship in a church or chapel—human public life requires ritual. Likewise, human private life also has its rituals, from one’s daily morning ablutions, to how one weekly goes about cleaning the house or tidying up the garden. It is in the nature of ritual, just as it is in human nature, which never changes, to draw upon established practice and precedent, and to change slowly and with rare innovation. Within a religious context, that human instinct for ritual is called liturgy.
For that anthropological need, as well as for abiding human religiosity, one finds archaeological evidence, ranging from Neanderthal burials to the Staffordshire Hoard.1 Within the latter, seventh-century Anglo-Saxon treasures discovered in 2009, one finds a pectoral cross and what is either part of a processional cross or a cross for on top of an altar. The pectoral cross could have been worn either by a bishop or an abbot or an abbess, and the other cross, if a processional cross, would have been used during major liturgical events, carried usually by a boy from a parish or by a novice monk or nun at the front of a liturgical procession. That sort of procession was led by the most junior person present, here symbolized by a boy or a novice, and from there the church hierarchy was represented in ascending scale, so that, at the end came an abbot, an abbess, or a bishop.
To turn from archaeological finds to literary texts, one encounters just such a procession in Section 17 of Bede’s Historia abbatum, his account of the abbots of his monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow.
Death with Dignity: Questions, Concerns, Dangers | Catholic World Report
Philosopher Robert Spaemann talks about the dangers that would result from the legalization of assisted suicide, and also discusses organ donation and the brain-death criterion. Interview by Julia Wächter (Diocese of Regensburg).
Regensburg, January 29, 2015 (kath.net/Diocese of Regensburg). Internationally renowned philosopher Prof. Robert Spaemann speaks in this interview with Julia Wächter about the paradoxical shifts in the concept of dignity, about the dangers that would result from the legalization of assisted suicide, and about the duties of the Church and of every individual human being.
Julia Wächter: The expression “death with dignity” is used both by advocates and by opponents of assisted suicide. How did we arrive at this apparent shift of meaning in the concept of dignity?
Prof. Robert Spaemann: A human being possesses dignity, not as an exclusively organic living being, but because he is a spiritual subject, an “I”. However, increasingly intense efforts are being made to separate the human being as a biological entity from an “I” that hovers over matter. Advocates of suicide say that this “I” will disappear with the occurrence of death. Consequently the human being, who would then no longer be a human being, would cease to have dignity. In this view he is not understood as a body-soul composite but rather—you would actually have to say—as a mere soul. That is of course paradoxical, because most of these people adhere at the same time to biologism and materialism. Actually they ought to be advocating the diametrically opposed theory. All modern ideology suffers from a deep internal contradiction, and this is apparent precisely in the double meaning of the word “dignity”.
Wächter: Assuming that a person who commits suicide is convinced that everything ends at death: how can such a person, despite the harshness of his existence, prefer what from his perspective is “nothingness”?
Spaemann: This person’s existence becomes increasingly unpleasant to him, and this leads to a calculated suicide [Bilanzselbstmord]. Someone weighs the advantages and the disadvantages and then decides which side outweighs the other. The person thereby makes himself into a thing. Here we need to recommend solidarity with the sinner but clear disapproval of the sin.
Wächter: Is it possible to justify, even for non-believers, the view that a human being cannot be the absolute master of his own life?
Spaemann: That is not a Christian invention. Even Socrates wrote that life is given to us as a gift. A non-believer, nevertheless, does not believe that a human being has a master. At most he might regard arguments based on the natural law as meaningful. Thus the prohibition against helping to kill can be elucidated in terms of the requirements of public safety. In relation to all his fellow human beings, a human being must be perfectly sure of his life. And he is no longer sure of it if there is a permission to kill. A human being is not the absolute master of himself but must respect others also. If he really is a non-believer, he may not even respect his duty toward his neighbor. Then arguing with a stubborn non-believer does not lead to success.
At any rate there are few people who are really certain that there is no God. Most people today [in Germany] are agnostics: “I do not know whether there is a God, maybe yes, maybe no.” With such a person you can still argue, for example with Pascal’s Wager: If nothing were at stake, it would perhaps make no difference whether God exists. But if it is a question of eternity and if someone harbors just a hint of a doubt about the utter absence of a God, then it makes sense to act as though it were true [that God exists]. Faith is a great joy and a consolation. What would you have lost if [it turned out that] God didn’t exist? Nothing at all.
Wächter: Is there an objective right and wrong in the case of dying, or can everyone decide for himself what is “dignified”?
SAN FRANCISCO, January 27, 2015 – Several years ago, Ignatius Press and Magnificat joined forces to launch a new line of beautifully illustrated, high quality, Catholic children’s books. These charming books have captured the imagination of children of various ages through delightful full-color illustrations, exciting stories from the Bible and lives of the saints, and simple yet powerful prayers.
Due to the popularity if these books, two beautiful new titles have been added to the collection and are now available for purchase: Your First Communion: Meeting Jesus, Your True Joy and The Beautiful Story of the Bible.
Based on the words of Pope Francis himself, Your First Communion: Meeting Jesus, Your True Joy, is addressed to young people preparing for their First Communion. They are words of wisdom and encouragement about the patient and enduring love of Jesus, who comes to us as bread to give us his own strength.
In words a child can understand, the Pope explains that not only in the Eucharist but also in the sacraments of Baptism and Confession we meet Jesus and receive his transforming love.
On every page children and their parents will discover that Jesus is indeed their true joy! This book includes pages where a child can write a prayer to Jesus and share memories of his or her First Communion.
Here, in The Beautiful Story of the Bible, are all the most important stories of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, with very expressive and gorgeous pictures, sure to delight young children from 3 years old and up.
The Old Testament stories include Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, David & Goliath, Moses and more. The New Testament stories include the whole story of the life and miracles of Jesus, and the lives of the Apostles and early Church, all presented in a wonderful way that shows God’s great love for mankind.
Ignatius Press is distributing these two new books to the general trade, to Catholic stores, through their catalogues and online at www.ignatius.com
Anthony Ryan, Marketing Director for Ignatius Press, says, “Our whole line of the lovely Magnificat – Ignatius Press books for children is full of a real variety of titles for all ages and on all topics. Several things that the books all have in common is the great beauty of each book, including the colorful, high quality illustrations throughout, combined with very good writing and exciting stories and adventures for children of all ages. These two latest titles are no exception.”
To request review copies or an interview with Vivian Dudro, Editor of these books, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press, (239)867-4180 or email@example.com
Children’s Books Product Facts:
Title: YOUR FIRST COMMUNION Meeting Jesus, Your True Joy Editor: Vivian Dudro Release Date: November 2014 Length: 48 pages · Hardcover Price: $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-58617-986-1
Title: THE BEAUTIFUL STORY OF THE BIBLE Author: Maïte Roche Release Date: November 2014 Length: 132 pages · Hardcover Price: $19.99 ISBN: 978-1-58617-984-7
Is Catholic teaching on marriage an ideal or a norm? | Russell Shaw | CWR blog
The key to understanding the struggle that surfaced at last October’s Synod of Bishops
Is the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including indissolubility, an ideal or a norm? Although the question may sound abstract, even esoteric, it has urgent, immediate practical implications. To say one admires the Church’s teaching as an ideal is, intentionally or not, to undermine that teaching in the act of admiring it.
Here is the key to understanding a struggle that surfaced at last October’s Synod of Bishops on marriage and is likely to continue at the synod next fall.
Most obviously, it’s an argument about the correct approach to take to people in “irregular unions”—cohabiting couples, same-sex couples, and divorced and remarried Catholics whose first marriages haven’t been annulled. In particular: should some of those latter be given communion or should they not?
This is where the question of norms and ideals becomes crucial. To see why, some definitions are necessary.
"The Baptism of Christ" (c. 1305) by Giotta [WikiArt.org]
A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 11, 2015 | Carl E. Olson
Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is 55:1-11 Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 or Ps 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30 Acts 10:34-38 or 1 Jn 5:1-9 Mk 1:7-11
Why be a Catholic? Why bother? Is it about being a good person? Or fitting into a family, a culture, or a particular group of people? What exactly is the point of practicing the Catholic Faith?
It might not be obvious at first, but these basic questions are addressed in today’s Gospel reading and in this celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. They are answered, in part, when we consider another question, a question posed by this Feast: Why was Jesus baptized? If, after all, baptism is for the remission of sins, why would the sinless, holy Son of God insist he go under the waters of baptism?
Not surprisingly, many of the Church Fathers contemplated this question. They recognized that God, in becoming man, had made a startling, transforming statement—through the Word—about the material world. All that has been created is good, and good things such as water, oil, bread, and wine will be used by God to bring grace and impart divine life.
The baptism of Christ was a cosmic blessing; it expressed, in actions and words, the profound gift of God’s divine life. “Do you see, beloved,” wrote Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 236), “how many how great blessing we would have lost if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John and declined baptism? For the heavens had been shut before this.”
By being baptized, Hippolytus explained, the Creator was creating again, creating anew. “So it happened not only that the Lord was being baptized—he also was making new the old creation. He was bringing the alienated under the scepter of adoption.” God did not become man, in other words, to merely make man more moral, or to help people get along better.
“In his Son and through him,” states the first paragraph of the Catechism, God “invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.” This is the message of Christmas, as described so pithily by St. Paul: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Gal. 4:4-5).
The Holy Spirit descended at the baptism of Christ and revealed the Trinity; he also disclosed the sanctifying work brought to man by the Incarnation, and by the death and resurrection of the Son. “The Spirit is the one who testifies,” St. John writes in today’s epistle, “and the Spirit is truth.” There are, he noted, three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood.
These three “are of one accord,” for they testify to the truth and to the One who is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. All three are necessary for true baptism: the Holy Spirit fills man with new life, the water signifies the destruction of original sin and the infusion of divine life, and the blood of Christ regenerates man and restores his communion with God.
Later in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus identified his baptism with his approaching death on the Cross: “You do not know what you are asking,” he said to James and John, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” When they insisted on being able, Jesus replied, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” (Mk 10:38-39). Only through the death of Christ can we be baptized; only by baptism can we share in his life (cf. Rom 6:1-11).
John’s baptism of water brought repentance, but more was needed. “So then John,” explained St. Ambrose, “who was a type of the law, came baptizing for repentance, while Christ came to offer grace.” That grace, which is the love and life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, makes man holy. It makes man a son of God. That’s why we are Catholic.
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the January 11, 2009, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
Where things stand, and where they may be headed, in the same-sex marriage debate.
The year 2014 saw important changes in attitudes and policy in the US regarding marriage and the so-called “same-sex marriage” (SSM) debate. In this article, I would like to bring readers up-to-date on some recent developments, and help Catholics understand their own position better, by summarizing some important philosophical arguments used by traditionalists and by the proponents of SSM. In spiritual warfare as in politics it is helpful to know your adversary, after all.
We begin with an update on recent developments in marriage policy and culture, and then review the history of the debate, introduce some of the important philosophical principles that characterize the different camps, and conclude with a few thoughts on where it’s all headed. We focus on the writings of well-known academic advocates representing the two positions: affirming SSM, Professor John Corvino of Wayne State University, and affirming a traditionalist view, Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University, and his coauthors Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson.
The on-going marriage debate
The reason SSM is so controversial is because it is not just an abstract policy debate, but a highly personal issue, and a moral question. The opposing viewpoints are animated by what could be described as completely different world views. On the one hand, those who advocate SSM typically adhere to a social constructionist view of marriage. In other words, they see marriage as a product of culture and subject to change. For those who defend what is called the “conjugal” view, the definition of marriage is not a malleable construct but an expression, or consequence, of natural law. In the book Debating Same-Sex Marriage, Corvino explains that this definitional debate “…is one of those areas where each side tends to see its position as not merely correct, but obvious. Marriage-equality opponents say that marriage has been male-female pretty much forever, and you can’t just change the meaning of words at will. Marriage-equality advocates say that marriage is an evolving legal and social institution, and if the law and society recognize same-sex couples as married, then they are in fact married” (p. 27).
Pro-SSM author Jonathan Rauch traces the origin of the SSM debate to May 1970, when a homosexual couple applied for (and were denied) a marriage license in Minnesota.
The Fundamental Good of Complementarity | John Paul Shimek | Catholic World Report
Dr. Helen Alvaré on why understanding the complementary relationship between man and woman is vital to understanding God and true love.
understanding the complementary relationship between the man and the woman is key to helping us understand the identity of God, God’s relationship with his people, and how we are to love one another.
John Paul Shimek
With multiple degrees in theology and law, and experience with a vast spectrum of public forum issues Professor Helen M. Alvaré is one of the leading Catholic voices in the United States on pro-life issues, marriage and the family, and the role and mission of the laity.
At George Mason University School of Law, Dr. Alvaré teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She has published on a wide variety of matters concerning marriage, family, parenting, and the First Amendment religion clauses. Outside the classroom, she is a consultant to ABC News on women in the Catholic Church, religion in the public square, and the papacy. Her expertise in these fields has been lauded by the Holy See. Since 2008, she has been a consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Laity at the Vatican. Previously, she served the National Conference of Catholic Bishops as the Director of Planning and Information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
This past November, she served as the Vatican’s media representative for Humanum, a three-day international inter-religious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman, held in Rome and sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Although the conference participants returned home long ago now, and other Church-related news is filling the airwaves, the Humanum conference set a course for future intra-ecclesial (and, indeed, extra-ecclesial) discussions about issues at the forefront of today’s culture. The conference hall might have emptied out several weeks ago, but the fruit that will come of this conference is only beginning to ripen.
Dr. Alvaré recently spoke to CWR about her experience at the Humanum conference and its impact on future discussions of marriage and family.
CWR: Professor Alvaré, it is a real honor to have this chance to talk about Humanum, the international conference held at the Vatican between November 17-19, 2014. First of all, what was the conference about and what are the planners and participants hoping comes from it?
Dr. Alvaré: The Humanum conference was an attempt to engage the world in a serious consideration of the foundational good that is the relationship between the man and the woman. As I wrote in America [after the conference], we think we talk about men and woman all the time, but we are usually just peering into their sex lives or talking about their problems with relationship formation or dissolution. The fundamental good of their complementary union is too rarely considered.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the other Vatican offices hosting the conference hope to surface ways of thinking about and expressing this relationship that effectively convey both its natural and divine significance to observers world-wide. The movies and the papers and the video-talks are intended to have a long shelf life.
CWR: Later this year, high-ranking churchmen will once again gather in Rome for the Fourteenth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of their meeting will be the “Vocation and Mission of the Christian Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.” Some of the prelates who chaired sessions of the Humanum conference will be there for that synod. While the Humanum conference was independent of the synodal path, will it help to keep the conversation going?
Theosis: The Reason for the Season | Carl E. Olson
Note: This piece was originally posted on December 30, 2008. Because it has proven to be fairly popular, it is being reposted, with updated links.
"The Cross of Christ on Calvary stands beside the path of that admirable commercium, of that wonderful self-communication of God to man, which also includes the call to man to share in the divine life by giving himself, and with himself the whole visible world, to God, and like an adopted son to become a sharer in the truth and love which is in God and proceeds from God. It is precisely besides the path of man's eternal election to the dignity of being an adopted child of God that there stands in history the Cross of Christ, the only-begotten Son..." — Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 7.5.
"Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first. No longer is it a question, then, of a 'commandment' imposed from without and calling for the impossible, but rather of a freely-bestowed experience of love from within, a love which by its very nature must then be shared with others. Love grows through love. Love is 'divine' because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a 'we' which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is 'all in all' (1 Cor 15:28)." —Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18.
What, really, is the point of Christmas? Why did God become man?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in a section titled, "Why did the Word become flesh?" (pars 456-460) provides several complimentary answers: to save us, to show us God's love, and to be a model of holiness. And then, in what I think must be, for many readers, the most surprising and puzzling paragraph in the entire Catechism, there is this:
The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God." "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God." "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods." (par 460)
So that "we might become God"? Surely, a few might think, this is some sort of pantheistic slip of the theological pen, or perhaps a case of good-intentioned but poorly expressed hyperbole. But, of course, it is not. First, whatever problems there might have been in translating the Catechism into English, they had nothing to do with this paragraph. Secondly, the first sentence is from 2 Peter 1:4, and the three subsequent quotes are from, respectively, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, and (gasp!) St. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, there is also the fact that this language of divine sonship—or theosis, also known as deification—is found through the entire Catechism. A couple more representative examples:
Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection. (par 654)
Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. (par 1996)
Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God's gifts." (par 2009)
The very first paragraph of the Catechism, in fact, asserts that God sent his Son so that in him "and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." God did not become man, in other words, to just be our friend, but so that we could truly and really, by grace, become members of his family, the Church. Christmas is the celebration of God becoming man, but it is also the proclamation that man is now able to be filled with and to share in God's own Trinitarian life.
Several years ago I wrote a short article about theosis in which I stated the following:
Rose Marie Dunn Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath kneel before Patricia Fresen, center, during a ceremony in November 2007 "ordaining" them into a group called the Roman Catholic Womenpriests at a St. Louis synagogue called Central Reform Congregation. (CNS photo/Karen Elshout)
Catholic Women Priests: Can There Be a Discussion? | Fr Dwight Longenecker | CWR
Those Catholics who are seeking and hoping to "ordain" women are working within a hermeneutic of revolution
Eleven years ago Christine Mayr Lumetzberger was excommunicated because she attempted to be ordained as a Catholic priest. A mischievous and misleading article by British journalist Peter Stanford entitled “Meet the Female Priest Defying Catholicism for her Faith" recounts her story.
Ms. Lumetzberger says she knew from childhood she was called to be a priest. She joined a convent, but after leaving to marry a divorced man, she decided to become a priest. In 2002 she joined six other women on a boat on the Danube and was “ordained”. A few years later she claims to have been consecrated as a bishop. She refuses to name the bishops who consecrated her, no mention is made of her formation or training to be a priest, much less a bishop, but Stanford makes it clear that Lumetzberger is a brave pioneer—a woman of faith who has defied the “celibate men who…give no explanation of why these laws should be followed except fear.”
Stanford’s sentimental and shallow tribute to Lumetzberger gives the usual self-righteous arguments for women priests combined with zero theological rationale or evidence of any knowledge of the Church’s real reasons for rejecting female ordination. Instead we are given a soft image of a “serene” and “softly spoken” woman who helps the poor and has a smiling “mumsy” image.
Despite the clear teachings of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis ruling out the ordination of women, Catholics of a certain strain still press for the innovation and insist that more discussion is needed, more dialogue is required and yet more listening is necessary.
Is, in fact, more discussion necessary—or is the matter settled?
The Anglican Story
To understand the women’s ordination debate in the Catholic Church it is instructive to see the issue in the wider ecumenical context.
The author invites us on a journey of faith, in fifty-two stages – as many as the weeks in a year – a perfect guide to use as the New Year begins in a few weeks. He starts by showing how the Word of God is made present in the Eucharist, and then he invites us to mature in faith and to be transformed by a greater communion with Christ.
God has made himself particularly close to mankind in Jesus his Son. The redemptive Incarnation of his Son is how God reconciles mankind with himself. The memorial of the Passover of Christ is therefore at the heart of our relationship with God. In the Blessed Sacrament, the resurrected Jesus is really present and acting; he draws all mankind into his filial relationship with the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, following the plan of God, Catholics put the Eucharist at the heart of their lives, and take time to adore Jesus in the Holy Sacrament. The adorer wants to abide within the dynamic life of the Eucharist, just as he desires that the Eucharist transform his whole life. Adoration and Eucharistic life transform believers into the image of Christ, and this book will help the faithful participate more fully in the Eucharistic life.
Fr. Larry Richards, author of Be a Man!, praises Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour, saying, “Eucharistic adoration is the most important devotion of our time, and Fr. Florian Racine offers us great insight and practical ideas in helping our adoration of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist bear much fruit! Give Jesus one hour and change your life! I encourage anyone who wants to grow more in love with prayer with Jesus to read this book!”
“These reflections are profound, but gently pastoral; sweeping, yet accessible. This is guidance and advice that is practical, realistic, and inspiring that covers topics from simple humility to bold spiritual warfare, from spiritual dryness to moments of flooding grace. Centered on scripture and punctuated with insights from saints, popes, and the wisdom of the Church across the ages, they provide a powerful exposition of him who is exposed before us in adoration,” says Daniel P. Guernsey, editor of Adoration: Eucharistic Texts and Prayers throughout Church History.
Devin Schadt, author of Joseph's Way: Prayer of Faith, explains, “Fr. Florian imparts to us a mine of Eucharistic truths, a volume saturated with the wisdom of the saints, which guide, prompt and compel us to re-discover the ‘Prisoner of Love’ who awaits us in the tabernacle – in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Like John the Baptist, Fr. Florian directs our hearts toward the hidden and often unrecognized Messiah, who waits for each of us to discover his true presence.”
About the Author:
Fr. Florian Racine is a priest in the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France, and the moderator of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a clerical association erected by Bishop Dominique Rey in 2007. He is now rector of the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene church in Saint-Maximin, France. To request review copies or an interview with Anthony Ryan, Director of Sales and Marketing for Ignatius Press, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press, (239)867-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When the Son of God came the first time, St. Augustine stated in a sermon, “he came in obscurity, it was to be judged. When he comes openly it will be to judge.” This observation is a helpful (and challenging!) bridge between last week’s Gospel reading—the parable of the sheep and the goats—and today’s Gospel reading, proclaimed on this, the first day of the liturgical year.
“Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which in turn is a translation of the Greek word, parousia. Both words indicate a coming or arrival and a presence. Advent focuses simultaneously on the first and second comings of Christ, and his presence with us now, especially in the blessed sacrament of the Eucharist. The parousia—sometimes called the second coming of Christ—will be realized fully at the end of time, but has already been initiated by the Incarnation, which revealed the glory of God among men (cf., Jn 1:14).
While some Christians fixate upon the return of Christ to the point that little else matters, Catholics should—especially during Advent—gaze upon and receive the Eucharist, knowing that it is why anything matters at all. In doing so, we proclaim his coming, anticipating the culmination of time and history.
“By gazing on the risen Christ,” wrote Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in Eschatology, his book on death and eternal life, “Christianity knew that a most significant coming had already taken place. It no longer proclaimed a pure theology of hope, living from mere expectation of the future, but pointed to a ‘now’ in which the promise had already become present. Such a present was, of course, itself hope, for it bears the future within itself.” (Eschatology, 44-45).
The Son of God transcends past, present, and future. Yet he became man, entering into time and history in the most stunning and unexpected way: in the darkness of a cave. Nearing the end of his earthly ministry, facing death, he exhorted his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!” Thus he emphasized that the second coming would also be unexpected and sudden.
These exhortations to vigilance, although mysterious, helped the early Christian to comprehend the deeper meaning of the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. They could see that the Church is the new temple, for the Church is the mystical body of Christ. “When he announces its destruction,” the Catechism explains, “it is as a manifestation of his own execution and of the entry into a new age in the history of salvation, when his Body would be the definitive Temple” (par. 593).
Our Lord first came as a humble babe, hidden in a manger, surrounded by family and the shepherds who responded to the glorious news given by angels. He now comes to us in humility, hidden under the form of bread and wine, within the household of God, giving himself to his sheep—those who have responded to the saving message of the Gospel. This gift of the Son is why we can call God our Father. It is also why we acknowledge, as did the prophet Isaiah, our desperate need to be molded and shaped by the loving hands of the Creator: “Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”
Jesus Christ will one day come in again in power and glory, to judge the living and the dead. Every man will face judgment; every deed will be revealed. “Even now,” St. Augustine told his flock, the Savior “does not keep silent, if there is anyone to listen. But it says he will not keep silent then”—at the final judgment—“because his voice will be acknowledged even by those who despise it.”
Those who despise and ignore the words of Christ are asleep, cocooned in spiritual slumber and sloth. Those who are alert and watch are aware of the Lord’s presence. They long for his coming. They place their hope in the Lord. Such is the essence of Advent.
(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the November 30, 2008, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)
Retired Pope Benedict XVI is pictured among cardinals, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, right, a few minutes before the start a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Scholars: No, Benedict XVI doesn’t support Kasper in synod debates | CNA | Catholic World Report
A new volume of Ratzinger’s collected works includes a revised essay on the reception of Communion by the divorced and remarried.
A new volume of Benedict XVI’s collected works includes an updated version of a 1972 essay in which he had suggested that the divorced and remarried could receive Communion—but the Pope had long since abandoned that position, scholars noted.
“In his book The Gospel of the Family, Cardinal Walter Kasper cites a 1972 essay by Joseph Ratzinger…it is unfortunate that Cardinal Kasper failed to mention that Ratzinger retracted the proposal or ‘Vorschlag’ outlined in his 1972 essay,” Dr. Nicholas Healy, an assistant professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., told CNA Nov. 24.
As a priest of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger—who would later become Pope Benedict XVI—published an essay in 1972 which argued for access, under certain limited conditions, to Communion for the divorced and remarried. While affirming the indissolubility of marriage, Ratzinger and similar authors “appealed to certain passages in the Church Fathers that seem to allow leniency in emergency situations,” Healy wrote in a recent issue of Communio.
This line of argument was taken up in a 1977 book by Walter Kasper, who was then a priest of the Diocese of Rottenburg.
That year, Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and in that capacity he participated in the 1980 Synod on the Family, where he stated that “it will be up to the synod to show the correct approach to pastors” in the matter of Communion for the divorced and remarried.
The concluding document of that synod, 1981’s Familiaris consortio, found that “reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.’”
Days after that document was issued, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Then, in 1991, a canon lawyer, Fr. Theodore Davey, suggested that confession and spiritual direction could open up the way for the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, and cited Ratzinger’s 1972 essay in support of his position.
Cardinal Ratzinger quickly retracted the “suggestions” of his 1972 essay as no longer tenable, because they were made “as a theologian in 1972. Their implementation in pastoral practice would of course necessarily depend on their corroboration by an official act of the magisterium to whose judgment I would submit…. Now the Magisterium subsequently spoke decisively on this question in the person of (St. John Paul II) in Familiaris consortio.”
Fr. Florian Racine offers us a beautiful formation guide on Eucharistic adoration that will help us to practice it in all its depth, and with a missionary perspective.
God has made himself particularly close to mankind in Jesus his Son. The redemptive Incarnation of his Son is how God reconciles mankind with himself. The memorial of the Passover of Christ is therefore at the heart of our relationship with God. In the Blessed Sacrament, the resurrected Jesus is really present and acting; he draws all mankind into his filial relationship with the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, following the plan of God, Catholics put the Eucharist at the heart of their lives, and take time to adore Jesus in the Holy Sacrament. The adorer wants to abide within the dynamic life of the Eucharist, just as he desires that the Eucharist transform his whole life. Adoration and Eucharistic life transform believers into the image of Christ.
The author invites us on an itinerary, a journey of faith, in fifty-two stages—as many as the weeks in a year. He starts by showing how the Word of God is made present in the Eucharist, and then he invites us to mature in faith and to be transformed by a greater communion with Christ.
Fr. Florian Racine, a priest in the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France, and the moderator of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a clerical association erected by Bishop Dominique Rey in 2007. He is now rector of the Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene church in Saint-Maximin, France.
Praise for Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour?:
"Eucharistic adoration is the most important devotion of our time, and Fr. Florian Racine offers us great insight and practical ideas in helping our adoration of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist bear much fruit! Give Jesus one hour and change your life! I encourage anyone who wants to grow more in love with prayer with Jesus to read this book!" — Fr. Larry Richards, Author, Be a Man!
"These reflections are profound, but gently pastoral; sweeping, yet accessible. This is guidance and advice that is practical, realistic, and inspiring that covers topics from simple humility to bold spiritual warfare, from spiritual dryness to moments of flooding grace. Centered on scripture and punctuated with insights from saints, popes, and the wisdom of the Church across the ages, they provide a powerful exposition of him who is exposed before us in adoration." — Daniel P. Guernsey, Editor, Adoration: Eucharistic Texts and Prayers throughout Church History
"Fr. Florian imparts to us a mine of Eucharistic truths, a volume saturated with the wisdom of the saints, which guide, prompt and compel us to re-discover the 'Prisoner of Love' who awaits us in the tabernacle—in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Like John the Baptist, Fr. Florian directs our hearts toward the hidden and often unrecognized Messiah, who waits for each of us to discover his true presence." — Devin Schadt, Author, Joseph's Way: Prayer of Faith
Pope Francis, seated next to Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, discusses preservation of the family in Synod Hall at the Vatican Nov. 17 during the opening of a three-day interreligious conference on traditional marriage. (CNS photo/Chris Warde-Jones, courtesy Humanum.it)
Vatican's colloquium on marriage focuses on universal right, complementarity, anthropology, and strategy | Michael Severance | CWR
The just concluded Humanum conference featured addresses from Pope Francis and the former Chief Rabbi of the UK, and was attended by 350 interreligious leaders.
Pope Francis set a very strong tone for the intense three-day Vatican colloquium Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage, held November 17-19 in the same hall of last month’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, where the Holy Father played the role of listener. During his ten-minute address to open the Humanum conference on Monday, the Holy Father told the group of 350 interreligious leaders that children have a “right to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for a child's development and emotional maturity.”
Before the international audience invited by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in cooperation with the Pontifical Councils for the Family, Interreligious Dialogue, and Promoting Christian Unity, Francis insisted that leaders concerned about children and the long-term health of civil society must “promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation…The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.”
“The contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable’; … it ‘transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple’," he said citing his Papal Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. “And that is why I am grateful to you for your Colloquium's emphasis on the benefits that marriage can provide to children, the spouses themselves, and to society.”
“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.”
“I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future. Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
Finally, the Holy Father asked the audience, composed of 350 marriage and family experts—theologians, social scientists, psychologists, marriage counselors, family lawyers, media experts, ministers, and pastors from 14 different faith traditions and 23 countries—to unite in an unbiased and non-partisan spirit: “Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion[s]. Family is an anthropological fact—a socially and culturally related fact.”
“We can't think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can't be qualified by ideological notions.”
Roots of Complementarity: Creation, “Given-ness” and Completion
Focusing on the fundamental human right of a child to be reared by both a mother and a father, Francis said “complementarity” is a term rich in meaning regarding the natural, interwoven and necessary roles husbands and wives play in shaping happy and healthy households. They “work together for the good of the whole; everyone’s gifts can work together for the benefit of each.” Francis said that to reflect upon complementarity “is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation.”
Streamlining Annulments | Rev. Mark A. Pilon | HPR
This headline greeted the announcement that Pope Francis was establishing a commission to make suggestions for altering the annulment process in the Catholic Church. The word “streamlining” is, perhaps, not the Vatican’s word, but it does capture what this panel is expected to accomplish in the eyes of most people, that the Vatican will make it easier for people to get annulments, and that the number of annulments worldwide will greatly increase.
I’m not sure that’s what was intended by the Pope, or will be the result of the commission’s suggestions. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were well aware of the explosion of annulments in English-speaking countries, and both seemed to be concerned about it. In fact, Pope John Paul II, under whom the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1983, made frequent references of this concern to the Roman Rota in his annual address to that institution. In 2002, he said this:
An unjust declaration of nullity, opposed to the truth of the normative principles, or of the facts, is particularly serious, because, given its official relation with the Church, it favors the spread of attitudes in which the indissolubility is affirmed in word, but obscured in life.1
John Paul II surely was deeply concerned that the tremendous growth of annulments, in the United States in particular, could possibly undermine the permanence of marriage in the minds of many people. In 1968, before certain experimental changes were made in the annulment process, mainly related to psychological grounds for invalidity, there were about 300 annulments worldwide. Five years later in the United States alone, that number had exploded into the tens of thousands, and the popular assumption was growing that whenever a marriage broke down, for whatever reason, one could easily get an annulment.
The situation was so bad by the early 1980s, that a rather liberal judge in the Archdiocese of New York’s marriage tribunal suggested that the whole process should be dumped, and that people should simply be allowed to make up their own minds as to whether their marriage is valid or not.