Fatima visionary sings Ave Maria

(from http://4thepriests.wordpress.com/)

October 13 is the 93rd anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun that occurred in Fatima, Portugal in 1917


Lúcia de Jesus Rosa Santos – Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, better known as Sister Lúcia of Jesus – one of three children who witnessed a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Fátima, Portugal in 1917– sings Ave Maria in this video taken in her advanced years. She died on February 13, 2005 at the age of 97. On February 13, 2008, the third anniversary of her death, Pope Benedict XVI announced that in the case of Sr. Lúcia he would waive the five year waiting period established in ecclesiastical law before opening a cause for beatification; this rule was also dispensed in the causes for Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. The mortal remains of the Carmelite were moved in 2006 to the Shrine of Fatima. She is buried next to the two other visionaries (her cousins Jacinta and Francisco) in the basilica.


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100 Responses to Fatima visionary sings Ave Maria

  1. alexandrinasociety says:

    The official prayer for Sister Lucia’s beatification is as follows:-

    Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly and I thank you for the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima that revealed to the world the riches of her Immaculate Heart. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I implore you, if it should be for Your greater glory and the good of our souls, to glorify Sister Lucia, one of the shepherds of Fatima, by granting us the grace which we implore through her intercession. Amen.

    If you write to Sister Lucia’s convent, and make a request, they will send you relic cards which have the above prayer on them. The address is:- Carmelo de Santa Teresa, 3000-359, Coimbra, Portugal.


  2. Gertrude says:

    alexandrinasociety: Thank you for the prayer for Irma Lucia’s beatification. I was fortunate enough to meet Irma Lucia almost 50 years ago in Coimbra, and some of the Marto family in Fatima. It was a blessed time, and one I shall never forget. I had not heard her singing the Ave before, and given her then reluctance for any publicity, it is lovely that it exists. Whilst the quality is not perfect it must be one of the few recordings in the public domain.


  3. manus2 says:

    To those (not least our favourite Toad) who might like to see a scientific investigation into the facts surrounding the Miracle of the Sun, I would heartily recommend the book “God and the Sun at Fatima” by Stanley L. Jaki, a distinguished professor with doctorates in both physics and theology, a Templeton Prize winner (etc etc).

    The book provides uncomfortable reading for both the sceptic and the over-enthusiastic believer, as Jaki dutifully insists on unearthing the unadorned facts as they can now be recovered after so many years. I’d tell you more but that would be putting my own slant on it. But it does no harm to say that the elderly nun singing in the video is confirmed by Jaki to have been a child of quite extraordinary courage, fortitude and fidelity.

    The publisher is Real View Books in Michigan, the ISBN is 1-892548-C4-6. It was surprisingly difficult to get hold of a year ago when I eventually tracked it down, but it now appears to be on their website:


    (you’ll need to scroll down through some of his other books)

    It’s difficult to resist the observation that if one compares the treatments of Fatima by Jaki and a certain well-known Oxford Professor, it rapidly becomes clear which of them is actually interested in getting to the truth of the matter.


  4. omvendt says:


    Does Jaki try to ‘explain away’ the event as a metereological phenomenon caused by thin clouds obscuring the sun?

    I don’t know a great deal about Fatima, but didn’t many witnesses, including hard-core communist and atheist sceptics attest to the ‘dancing sun’?

    Wasn’t the sun seen to ‘dance’ by witnesses some 30 miles from Fatima?

    Furthermore, it had been raining heavily that day and the Cova had been transformed into a sea of mud, had it not?

    Is it not alleged that after the phenomenon witnesses found that their clothes were dry, and that the ground around the Cova was dry too?

    It’s difficult to see how all of that could have been be caused by thin clouds covering the sun.

    Is it not also extraordinary (if not indeed miraculous) that a ‘quite extraordinary event’ , seen by thousands, took place at the exact time and date predicted six months earlier by child witnesses?

    I don’t know what’s in Fr Jaki’s book, of course, but I find your comments intriguing.

    Maybe you could help us out a little.


  5. manus2 says:

    Hi Omvendt,

    A rapid response to you posting – I will try and offer something more substantial over the next day or so. Most of the issues you raise are attested to in the book, with the earliest evidence (for example witness statements given at the time, rather than those gathered in the 1940s or later) being cited. The book takes the form of an investigation, working from the earliest evidence and working through to what was collected later. The question of how exactly the miracle took place – or might have taken place- inevitably raises the issue of how exactly the transcendent interacts with the material. Jaki suggests some sort of meteorological aspect to the event, but he doesn’t thereby dismiss it as entirely natural.

    I will offer a careful summary of Jaki’s points later. As for the nature of miracles themselves, Joyful Papist has written a set of posts on her own site.

    I’ll leave it there for now. I’m glad to have stimulated your interest!


  6. omvendt says:

    Looking forward to that, Manus.

    Thanks in advance. 🙂


  7. rebrites says:

    Didn´t the sun dance as well at Medjugorje? What´s become of that particular apparition phenomenon? What is there today?


  8. Mimi says:

    Yes, Medjugorje . . . I’d like to hear some opinions on that. I know a devout lady who is utterly convinced that it is a demonic phenomenon.

    In the immortal words of someone or other, ¿what do other commentatorers think?


  9. alexandrinasociety says:

    Medjugorje has not ever received any official ecclesiastical approbation. There is currently a on-going commission being held in Rome. The Bishop of Mostar – who is the legitimate authority in this matter, has made quite a few statements on his official website which would lead one to be very cautious regarding this phenomenon. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a general statement about alleged private revelations in 1996, which said:-
    “Regarding the circulation of texts of alleged private revelations, the Congregation states: The interpretation given by some individuals to a decision approved by Paul VI on 14th October 1966 and promulgated on 15 November of that year, in virtue of which writings and messages resulting from alleged revelations could be freely circulated in the Church, is absolutely groundless. This decision actually referred to the “abolition of the Index of Forbidden Books” and determined that after the relevant censures were lifted the moral obligation still remained of not circulating or reading those writings which endanger faith and morals. It should be recalled however, that with regard to the circulation of texts of alleged private revelations, canon 823#1 of the current Code remains in force: “the Pastors of the Church have the …. right to demand that writings to be published by the Christian faithful which touch upon faith or morals be submitted to their judgement”. Alleged supernatural revelations and writings concerning them are submitted in first instance to the judgement of the diocesan Bishop, and in particular cases, to the judgement of the Episcopal Conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”
    In the case of Medjugorje, the diocesan bishop has made negative statements about the phenomenon. It has now gone to a commission in Rome. Watch this space. The Bishop of Mostar’s official website (English section) is:- http://www.cbismo.com/index.php?menuID=98 There is also a very informative American blog run by Diane Korzienewski, and she posts all the official documents about Medjugorje, along with comment. http://medjugorjedocuments.blogspot.com I hope this info has been of help.


  10. manus2 says:

    Hi again Omvendt,

    Given Jaki’s repeated insistence on the importance of the eyewitness accounts, I will offer a series of direct quotes from his concluding chapter to give you a flavour of his own findings, rather than adding my own interpretation. The selection of the quotations is unavoidably my own, but I believe they cover most of the points you raise, other than the fact that there are witness statements observing the event from miles away. This is covered in the book, but I can’t find where right now.

    P343 “There is the broad principle that the supernatural is not in conflict with the natural, but acts in co-operation with it. The hallowed dictum ‘gratia non destruit sed elevat naturam’ has an application far wider than the relation of grace and human will.” ( I believe the quotation is from Aquinas, translated as ‘the grace of God does not destroy but lifts up what is merely natural.’)

    P345 “For God’s miracles ought not to be so frightfully obvious as to freeze into immobility the human intellect of its freedom to bow or not to bow to the plain evidence. It is worth recalling that some keen observers of the miracle of the sun refused to take it for a more than purely natural event. It is another matter whether they pondered enough its having been predicted in a manner which was nothing short of miraculous”

    P346 “The extent to which the natural played a role cannot, of course, be surmised without a careful look at the testimonies provided by the eyewitnesses. In view of the lessons provided by biblical exegesis, there should seem nothing sacrilegious in trying to see in the miracle of the sun an unforeseeable occurrence of meteorological factors whose intensity was greatly enhanced by divine intervention. In fact any careful study (or exegesis) of the eyewitness accounts imposes such an approach on the miracle of the sun.” (Jaki has previously cited the biblical precedents of the ten plagues in Egypt, the passing through the Red Sea, Joshua’s battle, and Peter finding the coin in the mouth of the fish)

    P347 “All this would impose the consideration that not the sun itself, but an optical image of it constituted the physical core of the miracle. That image could be formed inside the cirrus clouds observed in the sky, clouds full of ice crystals.” (A discussion of possible mechanisms for the attested phenomena follows)

    P349 “The oppressive heat that was attested by some of the eyewitnesses might have been caused by a sudden temperature inversion which, as noted above, could propel up and down the inversion of air which formed the image of the sun. It is another matter whether such a rise in temperature, even if oppressive as some eyewitnesses stated, could have caused the rapid drying of the clothes, explicitly attested to by some. A most emphatic eyewitness testimony about this, who also attested the sudden drying of the ground, came from one who at the same time states that he had not seen the sun dance. His testimony should seem therefore all the more reliable. On the other hand, doubts may arise about its reliability if one considers the fact that no reference to the drying of the ground occurs in contexts where one could expect it.”

    P349 “None of this should be taken as a proof that there is a straightforward natural explanation for the ‘miracle’ of the sun. To begin with, precisely the fact that it cannot be explained puts one in the presence of a miracle. Now even if the ‘miracle of the sun’ would eventually mean that its miraculous character consists merely in it being predicted by three simple children and to the day and the hour as well as the place, one should keep three points in mind. The first is that this eventuality is purely hypothetical. The second point relates to the fact that no phenomenon analogous to the miracle of the sun had been observed and reported prior to October 13, 1917.”

    P350 “The third point is that the former considerations offered as an explanation of the miracle of the sun are not an explanation of it in the strict sense. Those considerations constitute a hypothesis and nothing more. Even if one concedes what is most likely, namely, that the miracle of the sun was in its core a meteorological phenomenon, total information about it may forever remain God’s privilege.”

    P351 “One can only wish that Fatima writers had paid attention to the article on Fatima, published in the Enciclopedia Cattolica in 1948. There it was stated in reference to the apparition on October 13, 1917, that it was ‘supported by meteorological phenomena, attested by most of the 60,000 pilgrims’. Uncritical enthusiasts of Scatizzi’s ‘definitive’ demonstrations of the absolutely miraculous character of what the sun appeared to do on that day, should pause.”

    P359 “Despite the respect it may command, the declaration made by the bishop of Fatima in 1930 about the solar phenomenon is not the voice of the highest Magisterium in the Church. The Church as such has never endorsed the miracle of the sun, the chief external sign of the message. And yet that sign still gives a special aura to the message, which is in part a prophecy. Indeed, it is a kind of prophecy that rests on several miracles. One of these is the comportments of the (seers) and the holy death of two of them at a tender age. The other is composed of unusual physical events, among them the miracle of the sun. The aura itself, as a physically observable phenomenon, need not necessarily be taken for something preternatural, let alone supernatural. It is otherwise with its having been predicted months ahead of time, and in a way that defies all scientific knowledge then available”

    P359 (After citing Paul’s shipwreck and prophecy of survival) “Why should God, who has an infinitely full knowledge of all natural processes, not rely on processes already at work in nature in order to bring about an effect which is beyond that course of nature which man considered as probable or “normal”? Why should God not make a partly natural event which is humanly foreseeable serve the ongoing purpose of salvation history?”

    P360 “Such and similar considerations are part of the broadly scientific task of ‘explaining’ the miracle of the sun. But since true miracles obtain their full explanation only within the framework of the salvation history, the miracle of the sun should be explained also in the context of what is truly a history of salvation during the 20th Century.”

    P360 “The [miracle of the sun] remains a miracle even if (and this is a very big if) it was but a most unlikely concurrence and interplay of purely physical factors in the atmosphere, an interplay that nobody could conceivably foresee. That the videntes were prophets as well in reference to the miracle of the sun, predicting as they did months ahead of time a sign to come, brings out even more their credibility and the supernatural background of the solar phenomenon.”

    I might add that the broader aspects of Fatima, with regard to 20th Century history, are also discussed in the concluding chapter, but are beyond the scope of this already long posting.


  11. toadspittle says:

    Spittle du jour:

    The way some people go on, you’d think God could do no wrong, wouldn’t you?

    (According to ‘The Poor Mouth,’ a highly-recommended little gem by Flann O’Brien, there are parts of Ireland where to see the sun at all would be considered a miracle.)


  12. manus2 says:

    Especially at night, as my Irish father would say.


  13. omvendt says:

    Thanks for taking the trouble to quote extensively from Jaki’s book, Manus.

    It looks to me as if Fr Jaki has tried to perform a bizarre ‘hatchet job’ on the miracle.

    From my understanding of the events at Fatima, his theories make no sense.

    I don’t think ‘ice in clouds’ can account for the sun’s spinning like a Catherine Wheel, shooting out all the colours of the rainbow.

    Nor do I think ‘ice in clouds’ can account for the sun’s swooping towards the Cova.

    Nor do I think ‘ice in clouds’ can account for the dry clothes of the witnesses and the ground’s having dried up in an ‘instant’, despite heavy rain having fallen all morning.

    Hard-bitten, leftist journalists (very hostile to the Church) reported in their newspapers that a truly miraculous event had taken place.

    It seems to me that Fr Jaki had a problem with miracles in general.

    It seems to me that he found miracles somewhat embarrassing and preferred to (in effect) ‘explain them away’.

    Enjoyed your contributions, Manus.


  14. toadspittle says:

    “Hard-bitten, leftist journalists (very hostile to the Church) reported in their newspapers that a truly miraculous event had taken place.”

    For instance? Not that we doubt you for a moment.


  15. toadspittle says:

    “Wasn’t the sun seen to ‘dance’ by witnesses some 30 miles from Fatima?”

    Why shouldn’t it have been seen by everyone in the world who could see it at that moment? Why the 30 mile limit?

    God works, etc., etc.?


  16. omvendt says:


    This will have to do for now: http://www.fatimacrusader.com/crintro/crintropg16.asp

    I’m tired tonight; tough day.

    I’ll try to get back to you tomorrow with a little more info.

    As to your question about ‘the 30 mile limit’, the answer is – I simply don’t know.


  17. omvendt says:


    This is from Donal Anthony Foley’s ‘Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World’:

    “All eyes turned skyward to see the black clouds parting and the sun, looking like a dull gray disc, become visible. The crowd found they could look directly at it quite easily, as the secular Lisbon paper ‘O Dia’ reported:

    ‘… the silver sun, … was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and the people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. … The light turned a beautiful blue as if it had come through the stained glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. … People wept and prayed in the presence of the miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.’

    In ‘O Seculo’ Avelino de Almeida adopted a very different tone from his earlier satirical article on Fatima, going into even more detail:

    ‘ … one could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people. … People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and dancing of the sun; others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin; others, again, swore that the sun whirled on itself like a giant catherine wheel and that it lowered itself to earth as if to burn it with its rays. Some said they saw it change colors successively. … ‘”

    Best I can do for now, Toad.


  18. manus2 says:

    Toad, you really aren’t going to get much satisfaction out of this, I promise.

    One of the leading journalists of the day, Avelino de Almedia, (an ex-seminarian, no less!) published a highly cynical piece in the daily newspaper O Seculo on the very day of the predicted miracle. The piece he published two days later was of a strikingly different tone. I will give you quotes from both tomorrow, but it’s late for me too. I see while I’m typing this that Omvent has been digging up some quotes. There’s no fudging the record of published articles in a national newspaper.

    There are witness reports of the event being seen up to 30 miles away. Which leaves the sceptic in something of a dilemma. If you claim the event was only an outburst of mass hysteria, how was this magically communicated over such a wide area? And how shallow must scepticism be if it is so easily overturned by the madness of crowds – many sceptics did see the event and were converted. There are witness statements to this effect.

    If the event had any kind of material manifestation, natural or otherwise, how was it predicted months in advance by three illiterate children, and what was the nature of the agency that they claimed had provided the prediction?

    Omvendt, none of the issues you have raised so far has been ignored by Jaki. I can’t give you page after page of his analysis here. The quotes I selected from the conclusions were an attempt to demonstrate Jaki’s very positive assessment of Fatima while he tries to get to the bottom of what exactly happened. The sun itself is unlikely to have physically moved relative to the earth at that time, or it would have been observed globally. There is ample evidence of something physically happening, witnessed over a certain area, as we both have already alluded to. So what happened, and how, is precisely what Jaki is trying to investigate. In my experience lots of individuals and groups feel very strongly about their own understanding of Fatima. I found the Jaki book a pretty tough read myself at first. But I now find its rigour a joy and a solace. More tomorrow …


  19. stnobody says:

    Could we leave Medjugorje out of this please? There’s no connection whatsoever. The vision of the sun at Fatima caused a rainbow of colors to show on the ground, on peoples clothing, etc. The sun seemed to come lower and spin, and then return. At Medjugorje, there’s nothing substantive about the event, and people looking at it with cameras are getting a natural effect of a black dot in the middle which is an effect of the lens. There are also many cases of people destroying their eyesight at Medjugorje. At Fatima there were healings during the event, and as the spectators were originally drenched in rain, they discovered their clothing had dried afterwards. BTW: When her cousin told Sister Lucia that she was thinking of going to Medjugorje, she apparently told her to defintely not to go to the place. I have to also add: what similarity is there between the humble children of Fatima, and the arrogant and beligerant middle-aged millionaires of Medjugorje? Can you imagine Sister Lucia wearing 5, yes 5 diamond rings at one time, driving her custom made bmw as Ivan, and his American beauty queen wife have? Please, give the rest of us, a break from Medjugorje – keep it pure and simple!


  20. fmanion55 says:

    “It seems to me that Fr Jaki had a problem with miracles in general.
    It seems to me that he found miracles somewhat embarrassing and preferred to (in effect) ‘explain them away’.”

    Anyone who could write that, knows nothing about Fr. Jaki. Get the book and read it for heavens’ sake. Get some of his other books while you’re at it. When you’re done reading them, come back and apologize.


  21. toadspittle says:

    I suspect I detect a certain amount of asperity creeping in here.

    As a somewhat skeptical Toad, I suggest we let the ‘dancing sun’ set. There are vastly more important issues. Somebody recently quoted Newman on miracles and I didn’t bother filing it in my quote bin, which was a mistake. It was something on the lines of, “Let’s not get too worked up about miracles. God did plenty of them for the Jews, and He might as well have been whistling Dixie for all the good it did.”
    (I doubt if I remember that absolutely accurately.)


  22. toadspittle says:

    ( on second thoughts, maybe it was, “…whistling The Dream of Gerontius..”)


  23. kathleen says:

    “Let’s not get too worked up about miracles…..” now says Toad.

    Yes, but the POINT of the above arguments proving the miracle of the sun (the subject which you started to question) in the first place, is to underline the truth of the whole period of Our Lady’s apparitions to the three humble ‘seers’ at Fatima. If they were right about the miracle Our Lady predicted to them months in advance, they were surely right about everything she told them. That is the obvious conclusion to make from the miracle of the sun on 13th October 1917.

    And what did she tell these three simple children? Nothing new in the way of doctrine and morals. Instead, for this incredulous day and age just commencing, SHE CONFIRMED ALL THE TRUTHS OF CATHOLIC TEACHING! Purgatory, the reality of Hell, the need for prayer and penance, the evil consequences of sin etc. That is her message. “Do as He tells you.”


  24. manus2 says:

    Fmanion55 – thank-you. Fr Jaki is unfortunately poorly known in the UK. I imagine most subscribers to this blog would heartily endorse his position as a thoroughly traditionalist scourge of the fashionably modern in the Church.

    And alas for you, Toad, Jaki was also an expert on Newman. I would recommend Chapter 3 of his book “Newman’s Challenge” where Jaki describes the long development of Newman’s thought on miracles, which shifts from an early scepticism of miracles outside of scripture to a position summarised on p19 of Jaki’s ‘Miracles and Physics’ as “Newman’s no less emphatic insistence that the frequent occurence of miracles within the Roman Catholic Church was a chief mark of its divine origin”. Newman wrote so much that selective quoting is no substitute for coherent analysis.

    If you’d like to hop away from the dancing sun, you’re welcome. It’ll still be there should you choose to return. There are other important things, but the question of evidence for the transcendental is surely fundamental to any discussion on religion and morality. And there are plain facts about Fatima that cannot be washed away by a desire for vagueness. The interpretation of these facts can indeed lead to a little asperity, as they often lie close to people’s cherished reasons for belief.

    I promised before and after quotes from our agnostic ex-seminarian journalist, Avelino de Almeida, so I’ll finish with these.

    This, published in O Seculo on Saturday October 13, 1917:
    “Thousands of persons are hastening to a wild stretch of the countryside near Ourem to see and hear the Virgin Mary. Let pious souls be not offended and pure believing hearts not be afraid; we have no intention of being a scandal to those who sincerely hold their faith and whom the miraculous still attracts, seduces, bewitches, consoles and fortifies … Some regard it as a message from heaven and a grace; others see in it a sign and proof that the spirit of superstition and fanaticism have planted deep roots that it is difficult or even impossible to destroy… The miracles take place between noon and one o’clock according to those who have been there.” Jaki, p21-2.

    (For of course there had been regular apparitions prior to October, each sufficiently note-worthy with alleged signs that the crowd grew each time)

    This then from O Seculo on Monday, October 15:

    “The time formerly in use [solar time, not the light-saving hours used in wartime] is the one used by this crowd, which the objective estimates of educated people, who are alien to mystical influences in every way, estimate as thirty to forty thousand. … The miraculous manifestation, the visible, preannounced sign, is about to show itself – many pilgrims insist … And then a spectacle, unique and incredible to one who is not a witness, is observed. From the top of the road, where the vehicles have been parked and where there are many hundreds of people who were not inclined to trot in the muddy earth, the whole immense crowd is seen to turn toward the sun which, free of clouds, is now at the zenith. The sun reminds one of a disk of dull silver, and it is possible to look straight at it without the least effort. It doesn’t burn, nor does it blind…” p31

    (There’s no need to reproduce more of what Omvendt has quoted above, but let me give more from the end of the piece)

    “It remains for those who are competent to speak out on the danse macabre of the sun which today in Fatima has caused hosannas to burst forth from the breasts of the faithful and has naturally impressed – as I have been assured by people worthy of belief – freethinkers and others without interest in religious matters who have come to this now famous heath. – Avelino de Almeida.” p36


  25. alexandrinasociety says:

    I remember reading somewhere that Our Lady of Fatima told the children that the Miracle of the Sun had been lessened, because of what the local Masonic administrator, Arturo dos Santos, did (i.e. he kidnapped the three seers so that they missed the August 13th apparition of Our Lady, who appeared to them a few days later in Valinhos, near their homes). I recall reading that Our Lady said that the miracle would have been a lot greater had it not been for this act. I remember thinking at the time that this highlighted the Church’s teaching on the Communion of Saints, and how even one person’s sinful actions can have an effect – either directly or indirectly – on the rest of humanity. I can’t find this info at the moment, but if I do, I’ll post which book it was in.


  26. alexandrinasociety says:

    I found the book mentioned above. It is a book entirely about the solar miracle, including interviews with witnesses, called ‘Meet the Witnesses’ by John Haffert (RIP). Available from:- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meet-Witnesses-John-M-Haffert/dp/1890137561/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287135465&sr=8-1 Chapter 4 is called ‘The Miracle Lessened’ and deals with Our Lady’s statement to the children that the miracle was lessened due to the actions of those who kidnapped the children.


  27. omvendt says:

    Says Manus:

    “The interpretation of these facts can indeed lead to a little asperity, as they often lie close to people’s cherished reasons for belief.”

    I agree, Manus. But I’m sure you would agree with me that (beliefs being “cherished” notwithstanding) beliefs should be grounded in evidence, explanatory power, consistency and so on.

    To believe something just because it makes us feel good is a little suboptimal (and I’m not suggesting for one moment that you would advocate such a reason for belief).


    Before pulling the trigger (as Toad would say) I had typed “I hope I am not doing the late Fr Jaki an injustice, as that is certainly not my intention.”

    And that is actually the case.

    I took them out because I felt they could be seen as a wimpish attempt to soften my criticism of Jaki’s take (or at least what I know of it) on the solar miracle.

    I think Fr Jaki’s interpretation of the Miracle of the Sun ( as far as I understand it) is preposterous (to be precise, I’m referring to his ‘ice in clouds’ etc explanation).

    I have no intention at this time (because I simply have neither the time nor the desire) of reading any of Fr Jaki’s books.

    Clearly, Fr Jaki was an eminent scholar, possessing a formidable intellect.

    On the basis of the (admittedly rather cursory) googling I’ve done on Fr Jaki I find myself thinking “Wow! What a marvellous man!”

    Nevertheless, given that reading Fr Jaki’s books is not high on my current agenda, you’ll probably have to wait a while before I can give you the kind of apology you’re looking for.



  28. kathleen says:


    What a wonderful grace that must have been for you, to have met and talked to Sister Lucia and some of her family all those years ago! Do you speak Portuguese? Sr Lucia’s long happy life of prayer given to God, her obvious humility, serenity and joy, are, in my opinion, another sure sign of the truthfulness of everything Our Blessed Lady confided to her and her little cousins. “By their fruits, thou shalt know them”.


  29. manus2 says:


    At the risk of inflicting further tedium on the foolhardy still with us, I will extract further quotations to illuminate how Jaki explains the various phenomena via his theory. I can’t do that right now, but I am genuinely intrigued by your position.

    I have read several books on Fatima. Jaki’s is by far the best researched, with the widest range of sources, and is to my mind (as a research scientist) the most dedicated in pursuing the actual truth as far as it can be found, before eventually offered a best, albeit tentative, explanation. Jaki’s thesis is therefore based on the best set of “evidence, explanatory power, consistency and so on” that I at least have seen.

    I would be interested to know on what basis you can be sure that Jaki is doing Fatima an injustice. Perhaps you can cite an original source that he might have over-looked – I’ll be happy to check for you. I would hazard a guess, however, that Jaki, having researched and written a 350 page book, and with an international reputation in both science and theology, has probably thought longer and more fruitfully on the matter than either of us. As a scientist, as well as a member of our faith community, I recognise the quality of his evidence and his reasoning, and respect his conclusions until I am shown something better. As I said earlier, it was an uncomfortable read first time through, not least because Jaki draws attention to various factual details that don’t fit in easily with many mainstream Fatima narratives.

    But on the basis of what “evidence, explanatory power, consistency and so on” do you reject his conclusions out of hand?


  30. omvendt says:


    I’ve already tried to explain why I reject Fr Jaki’s “metereological phenomenon” position – so I won’t bore you by repeating myself.

    You find his analysis convincing, and that’s fine.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your interesting contributions to this discussion.


  31. manus2 says:

    So, are you interested in a more detailed explanation of what his position is? I’m happy to lay it out if that would be of interest, but there’s no point otherwise. My earlier set of quotes were more aimed at demonstrating Jaki’s acceptance of the miraculous at Fatima – answering some of the questions you had previously raised.

    And I would be interested to know how you see this miracle occuring and on what scale – at the psychological/optical or at the solar/global. It is challenging, even with such solid a case as Fatima, to answer the question – what physically happened?

    Best wishes.


  32. Gertrude says:

    manus2: When our Blessed Lord was dying on the Cross the sky darkened, though it was daytime and there was no sound of birdsong. I would be interested to learn the meteorological explanation for this.


  33. omvendt says:

    “So, are you interested in a more detailed explanation of what his position is?”

    Not really, Manus. I think I get the gist of it from your earlier posts.

    I certainly appreciate the trouble you’ve taken to provide relevant quotations from Jaki’s book, and I thank you once again for that.

    As to the ‘level’ on which the miracle occurred, not wishing to sound flippant, but I’d put it on the miraculous level.

    I wouldn’t like to attempt a ‘reductionist’ analysis of it.


  34. omvendt says:


    Thank you for spelling ‘meteorological’ properly for me. 😉


  35. omvendt says:

    Goodness me, now I’ve even managed to misspell your name.

    Apologies, GERTRUDE.


  36. manus2 says:

    Hi All,

    Firstly, I’ll spare us all a further trawl through Jaki’s thesis on Fatima. I think we’ve suffered enough.

    Secondly, it is ironic that Jaki is being hauled over the coals here for a supposed reductionist analysis of Fatima, given that Jaki is as staunch and articulate a defender of the miraculous as you can find. The reason I am writing this so late is that I’ve just re-read his short book ‘Miracles and Physics’, in which he skips through the history of science and critiques the philosophical and metaphysical fashions which have attempted to ban the very notion of miracles from educated discourse.

    What the discussion here has illustrated is that we have become so conditioned to science as being a stick to beat us with, that we can be fearful of any rational discussion of a supposedly miraculous event. Clearly the Church does not do this with regard to miracles – for example the various types of healing around Lourdes and elsewhere. Doesn’t the Church appoint investigators of the highest calibre, training and experience? Do they conclude ‘a cure has occurred, but we dare not investigate why?’ Or do they investigate to the best of their ability what has happened, so they can document the nature of the miracle to the best knowledge of science and reason?

    Indeed, returning to Jaki for a moment, in his book he cites the case of Alexis Carrel, who received the Nobel Prize for his study of the rate at which wounds heal. He first visited Lourdes in 1903, and eventually became a Catholic in 1940. Jaki has written the introduction to the English translation of Carrel’s Voyage to Lourdes, and it is available on the Real View Books website cited above.

    So, Gertrude, I accept as a witnessed fact that the sky darkened at the crucifixion. That the birds stopped singing is to be expected – the same happens at an eclipse, they are simply responding to the reduced light. But because we have no additional evidence, we have little grounds for speculating further. Would you turn down heaven if you discovered that God had been so vulgar as to use clouds to darken the sky, lest a more overt celestial manifestation led to a disrupted crucifixion?

    But Fatima is that rare event where the scale of the anomaly is enormous, and where there are rich and varied witness statements (though as Jaki bemoans, far fewer than there should have been!). We continue to squander the huge opportunity it provides by fearing to apply a rational analysis to Fatima as far as we can take it. We give our sceptical friends such as Toad straws to grasp at by denying the Creator whichever entrypoint into the cosmos he chooses. So Toad can snigger at the notion of the sun dance being seen only over a limited area, and thereby shrug off all the other issues.

    What have we to fear? Even as a meteorological event it is unprecedented. Or again, perhaps I’ve missed something – please help me finish this sentence: God was restricted to using the agency of the Sun in a miraculous way at Fatima because … (either theological or scientific principles can be invoked here).

    Enough for one night. God’s blessings on us all.


  37. omvendt says:

    Manus, we have nothing to ‘fear’ from science.

    I doubt very much if anyone on here ‘fears’ science.

    We certainly do not fear truth: indeed among the things which unite people who post here regularly is the desire (and respect) for truth.

    Jaki’s ‘take’ on the solar miracle itself is one which I think is absurd.

    You find it compelling. Fine.

    Our differing views have nothing to do with ‘fear’ of science or fear of ‘rational analysis’.

    Fr Jaki ‘reinterpreted’ the solar miracle: I disagree with his reinterpretation.

    We’re all allies on CP&S insofar as we seek the truth.

    God bless you too.


  38. toadspittle says:

    “So Toad can snigger at the notion of the sun dance being seen only over a limited area, and thereby shrug off all the other issues. ”

    Manus2 can call it sniggering if he/she wants, but it was not.
    I think the question was perfectly valid. If the phenomena regarding the sun had been visible over the part of the world then in daylight, it might suggest one thing. If it was a ‘local’ effect, it might suggest another.

    And I’m not shrugging off ‘all the other issues,’ such as the question of God apparently ‘not preventing’ undeserved ‘punishment’ in His world, (such as the Haiti earthquake) which seems, to me to be a bigger problem than solar high-jinks.

    Being skeptical does not mean that I am not open to argument.

    That being said, I will revert to typical Toad and suggest, as I retire croaking and whimpering from this particular bunfight, that – regardless of whether one believes in them or not – surely miracles, by their very nature, inevitably possess a disconcerting whiff of the conjurer’s hat?


  39. kathleen says:

    Fascinating discussion between Omvendt and Manus, which I am sure many of us have been following!

    I have heard it said that science and religion run on two parallel lines, never crossing. I disagree. Scientific analysis and investigation is often the ally of religion.

    Certainly, a lengthy and thoroughly logical, medical and scientific investigation into inexplicable cures, such as those at apparition sites (especially Lourdes) and those brought about by prayers and intercession to saints, or would-be saints, and which are finally determined to be inexplicable, are rightly called ‘miracles’. These sudden miraculous cures, once established, need no other nitty gritty analysis…… in my unworthy opinion (ie. I tend to side with Omvendt here). They are messages from Heaven, proof of the power of God, and answers to prayer. It is as though Our Blessed Lord is saying to us something like: “Yes, N. is in Paradise already, and can intercede for you the faithful still on Earth”.

    Science has also been the ‘ally’ of establishing the very likely authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. This amazing piece of cloth is, I believe, the nearest one can get to showing how a visible, material reality can point to invisible truths and reality. Many see it as designed through God’s Divine Will to have been kept hidden for centuries precisely to await our advanced scientific age. It can be seen as an aid to Faith for the incredulous and sceptics of our day.


  40. manus2 says:


    No offence intended – in fact just the opposite. I have the highest regard for your rational capacity. I would say you are perfectly entitled to snigger at the notion of a dancing sun which is seen over a limited area of the globe. You posed an entirely reasonable question, which you have just restated more clearly; Omvendt was unable to answer, yet at the same time he feels certain that he can reject Jaki’s careful analysis and tentative conclusions even though the Jaki hypothesis will clearly explain why the effect was seen over a limited area. I repeat that no evidence or source cited by Omvendt is not included in the Jaki analysis. And yet this rejection can be made without looking in detail at the proposed mechanism (however tedious that would be for us all) offered by an honourary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

    We believers are in trouble enough without missing open goals. The events of Fatima are sufficiently extraordinary to make any fair-minded unbeliever pause for thought. Yet we do our own cause injustice by creating barriers around it, for example by setting limits on rational enquiry, or by placing particular spiritual/political assertions at the forefront of the Fatima message (just Google Fatima!). We should welcome all seekers of truth to look on this wonder unencumbered by our own baggage.

    Of course the ‘other issues’ I was referring to were about Fatima itself, and which I suggested to you earlier. Something certainly happened – look at the testimonies of the honest sceptic Almeida before and after the event. If it was purely psychological, then how come it took place over such a wide area? If there was the smallest material component, then how was it predicted months in advance by children?

    And your final point, the “whiff of the conjourer’s hat” points perfectly well to the question of the underlying philosophy or metaphysics. ‘Hard’ science does not admit personhood or agency. Yet the notion comes and goes as convenient. Scientists in the public eye seem to have rather well developed sense of self (ahem!); there appears to be no immediate solution to the problem of consciousness, however loudly the neuroscientists hail their ambitions and successes. I’m afraid I detect the whiff of the conjourer’s hat about my own person, and I secretly suspect the same of you, and worse yet, of every single practitioner of science.


  41. manus2 says:


    I have reveiwed our exchanges. As far as I can see, the outstanding issues are in two classes: (1) the spinning/swooping/colour changing sun or its image thereof. (2) The drying process.

    As a pre-amble, unlike say the Shroud, where there is only once source of evidence, and only scientific measurements taking place, with Fatima we have no scientific evidence (other than the absence of unusual solar behaviour outside of the locale) and we have many witness statements. Therefore we have an assessment of historical rather than scientific evidence. This is a different sort of task with its own well-defined rules (I’m claiming no expertise). Witnesses are inconsistent about Fatima as is to be expected. Later testimonies are generally less valuable than earlier ones etc.

    I assume you have not carried out your own research in the Fatima archives (as Jaki did), and therefore I assume you are relying on the analysis of others – i.e. other books. Could you tell us which they are? Do these books simply cite their preferred witness statements, or do they offer an analysis of the whole testimony?

    What is inherently objectionable about the image of the sun being projected via a lens/mirror/prism of ice/water? You used the phrase ‘every colour of the rainbow’ – well, remind me how a rainbow is formed exactly. If the lens/prism/mirror is unstable and/or rotating, it seems plausible that the observed image might spin, change size (i.e. appear to come nearer) and change colour. Still unprecedented in history, mind you, but localised, not global.

    The drying process. Now here you assert that it happened, while Jaki finds the testimony inconsistent, or at best that it was localised within the crowd. Can you offer evidence that Jaki is wrong to assert that the testimony is inconsistent? I have quoted his conclusions on the matter above – he is perfectly fair about the limits of his theory in explaining a drying process, which just about matches the uncertainty associated with the evidence for it happening.

    In the end, we peter out into silence because we have run out of evidence, or explanation. And so we should with a miracle. But why shouldn’t we allow our rationality to push as deeply as we can into the mystery, not least to give witness to our sceptical friends that we cherish rational thinking as much as they do?


  42. manus2 says:


    I’m not sure there is any disagreement between us. Carrying out the most thorough investigation is our absolute duty. This is what Jaki has done with Fatima, but objections are raised to his conclusions based on the mechanism of miracle he proposes. It’s like objecting to a medical conclusion that the miraculous healing occurred in the bone first and then the flesh, because for some reason a bone miracle is less acceptable than a flesh miracle.



  43. manus2 says:


    I really have enjoyed this exchange, but I can’t keep it up much longer as I am travelling for work over the next couple of weeks. I’ll certainly look out for responses, of course. But a final thought. I’m really trying to dig out what is at the heart of the problem here.

    Jaki claims, and I have no reason to doubt him, that the Catholic Encylopedia of 1948 stated that the Fatima apparition was “supported by meteorological phenomena, attested by most of the 60,000 pilgrims.” We would agree I’m sure that the Catholic Encyclopedia should be considered an authority.

    However, you state that Jaki has “re-interpreted” Fatima, implying that since 1948 some alternative interpretation has emerged as being authoritative, which excludes meteorological phenomena. Please tell me the source of that alternative, authoritative, interpretation.


  44. omvendt says:

    “Please tell me the source of that alternative, authoritative, interpretation.”

    My ‘authoritative interpretation’ of the events of Fatima comes from the Catholic Church.

    No one here is saying you have no right to accept Jaki’s thesis.

    So I think we can let the matter go now, don’t you?

    I really don’t plan on going over this again.

    Bon voyage!

    I look forward to reading more of your posts on a variety of matters.

    God bless!


  45. omvendt says:

    Also sprach Tōad:

    “Manus2 can call it sniggering if he/she wants, but it was not.
    I think the question was perfectly valid.”

    Have to say I agree. By Tōad’s standards he asked a fairly mild (and wholly legitimate) question. (Never thought I’d be rushing to Tōad’s defence! 😉 )

    Just to clear something up about my old mate Tōad: I think he’s quite horribly wrong on some issues – but I also believe that there’s a strong streak of decency running through him. I think he ultimately needs and seeks the truth too.

    That said, let battle recommence! 😉

    (And I’m sure I’ll get a ‘slap’ from Tōad for my ‘cheek’ in posting this. 😉 )


  46. Brother Burrito says:

    Ooh, I do like to see the gladiators clash!

    What this blog lacks is a clap-o-meter, like they had on ‘Opportunity Knocks’, to gauge the audience reaction.

    Keep it up lads, I’m awatchin ‘n’ appreciatin’.

    -Glenda “Slagg” Burrito 😉


  47. manus2 says:

    Erm, I think this is all getting slightly silly now. We are all rushing to agree that our beloved Toad asked a perfectly reasonable question about how wide an audience a dancing sun might reasonably expect (with or without his hat on). My spat on that front was with the mighty Om for insisting that it was indeed the sun wot dun it – see my previous post to Toad. So I agreed with Toad first. So there.

    My only disagreement with Toad was his suggestion that Newman was indifferent to miracles. Not a good time to be dissing Newman, right now, when we’re all bathing in the afterglow of the beatification.

    Glenda “Slagg” Burritto ? My ass.


  48. toadspittle says:


    It is true I know too little about Newman. I intend to rectify that with a biog. Any suggestions, anyone? I simply remembered a quote by him someone ran recently. It apparently is not representative of the great man. Fair enough.
    (You are new here, to me. I enjoy your posts and your writing.)


    No slaps. We will both turn the other.

    “I think he (Toad) ultimately needs and seeks the truth too.”

    True enough. Indeed, Toad – as we all do on CP&S – needs to seek the truth. (Even if we think we already grasp it. It is slippery when wet.) I look in all sorts of places (although don’t intend bothering looking in the Koran, from what I already know.)
    Moreover, as I grow older, I grow less and less confident of ever pinning it down.

    Still, as Montaigne might have said, the hunt is more important than the kill.
    I am currently reading a new book by Sam Harris, the notorious atheist. His premise therein is that Moral Truth can be established scientifically. We shall see. I am skeptical.
    Curiously, Harris seems to be as anti Moral Relativism as the Pope. There, the resemblance ends.

    Kathleen says,

    “Scientific analysis and investigation is often the ally of religion.”

    Well, yes when it suits religion, I suggest. However, I don’t recall submitting wine, after it has supposedly been turned to blood by prayer, to ‘scientific analysis.’
    Has the Catholic church ever suggested that this be done? If so, what was the result? If not, why not?

    And what would we do with this information, when we got it?


  49. toadspittle says:

    Although Manus2,

    The Newman quote ,as I recall, not that he was not so much indifferent to miracles, but more that he was somewhat dubious as to their efficacy.


  50. manus2 says:

    Hi Toad,

    I am sure there are far better Newman scholars than I here on this blog who can suggest a ‘best’ biography. Jaki suggests ‘John Henry Newman. A Biography’ by Ian Ker, Oxford University Press, 1990.

    I have the privilege of living in Oxford, and last weekend we had a fitting commemoration of his first feast day with a night walk from the Oratory to Littlemore, converging in the library where he made his confession of Catholic faith to Fr Dominic Barberi at 11pm. It was a tight squeeze for the 100 or so who came along.

    As for Newman and miracles, the Jaki book (‘Newman’s Challenge) tells that Newman wrote two major essays on miracles: “Essay on Miracles” (1827) and “Ecclesiastical Miracles” (1843). Between them they run to 200 pages. The earlier essay seeks to defend biblical miracles only, against the attacks of Hume, but the later essay shows the developing of his thinking towards the Catholic Church. It includes the following profession of faith in miracles:

    “I firmly believe that portions of the True Cross are at Rome and elsewhere, that the Crib of Bethlehem is at Rome, and the bodies of St. Peter and St Paul also… I firmly believe that saints in their lifetime have before now raised the dead to life, crossed the sea without vessels, multiplied grain and bread, cured incurable diseases, and superceded the operation of the laws of the universe in a multitude of ways.” Jaki, p57.

    That’s fairly unambiguous. Jaki’s book is in essence a defence of Newman’s orthodoxy against the modernist claims on his soul. Accordingly at the end of this chapter, he warns that Catholics may be challenged by earlier quotes from Newman, specifically from a sermon entitled “Miracles no Remedy for Unbelief”, preached in 1839, a full four years earlier that the statement given above. But as Jaki points out, it is perfectly possible to hold that miracles are enormously valuable to believers, but of little help to unbelievers. Sobering, given my earlier waving of Fatima as a sign to unbelievers.

    I hope you can track down your quote and its source.


  51. omvendt says:

    “Still, as Montaigne might have said, the hunt is more important than the kill.”

    Says Toad.

    I don’t really get that. Isn’t the kill whole point of the hunt?

    I don’t really get this kind of thinking. It’s like saying ‘I want to have an itch but I never want to scratch it.’ Or, ‘I want to be thirsty but I never want a drink.’

    I think this is really about evasion: ‘I reject certainty (particularly about God): I’m certain that certainty is wrong. What’s more, I don’t want to be held accountable for any of my actions (especially in regard to sex) so ‘uncertainty’ about ‘knowledge’, ethics etc is very convenient for me. After all, if we can’t know anything then I am beyond criticism and I can basically do what I like – especially sexually.’

    Toad tells us about Sam Harris’s latest project. Interesting.

    But there’s the thing: you cannot derive a moral ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.

    But I’m sure Harris won’t let that get in his way.


  52. omvendt says:

    “What this blog lacks is a clap-o-meter, like they had on ‘Opportunity Knocks’, to gauge the audience reaction.”

    Burro, that is a belter. 🙂


  53. toadspittle says:


    I suspect you will find fox hunters, will tell you that they don’t mind whether or not the fox is killed, only if they have a good ‘hunt’ or not. As I’m not a fan of ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible’, I suppose I might have chosen a better analogy. But am too stupid.
    For myself, I do love a good question – the more difficult the better. Until it gets the the point where I can’t even understand the question, though.

    And I can’t understand this:
    “But there’s the thing: you cannot derive a moral ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. “
    I understand, “Ought implies can,” and might suppose all ‘oughts’ to be ‘moral.’?
    Give me an example, please.
    (And I suspect I’m going to regret this exchange. Ought to, no doubt)


    Thanks for the reading advice.
    “What this blog lacks is a clap-o-meter,”
    Careful how you spell that..


  54. manus2 says:

    Righty-ho. We’re all mates again, and that’s fine. So now I’m going to stir things up again, but with a purpose, which is to ask a broader question about the discipline and fidelity of the various Marian sentiments we share to a greater or lesser extent. I am going to use the previous argument to illustrate the point, but I am definitely not attacking Omvendt on this – had I not read Jaki for other reasons I would probably have responded in a very similar matter to him on this issue. Indeed, I will do my best to put myself in the frame too, as you shall see.

    To start with, those of a traditionalist disposition naturally attracted to this blog would usually associate Marian enthusiasm with conservative loyalty to the Church in general (given that Marian dogmas are amongst the first to be ditched by those who would ‘modernise’). I’m wondering to what extent the Marian threads in the Church have been contaminated by similar strands of willful modernist dissent (same source, very different fruit) in recent years. We’ve seen some hints of this in early comments.

    So now let’s return to the fray. After all, both Omvendt and Burrito suggest that we do so. But that only makes sense if you have enjoyed the spectacle of the argument, rather than actually following it. For from my point of view, the argument is over and the victory complete.

    My final challenge to Om. was this:

    “Jaki claims, and I have no reason to doubt him, that the Catholic Encylopedia of 1948 stated that the Fatima apparition was “supported by meteorological phenomena, attested by most of the 60,000 pilgrims.” We would agree I’m sure that the Catholic Encyclopedia should be considered an authority.

    However, you state that Jaki has “re-interpreted” Fatima, implying that since 1948 some alternative interpretation has emerged as being authoritative, which excludes meteorological phenomena. Please tell me the source of that alternative, authoritative, interpretation.”

    To which Om. replied, “My ‘authoritative interpretation’ of the events of Fatima comes from the Catholic Church.” Om. provides no citation of anything authoritative on the subject at all. This seemed to me the thinnest of fig leaves. Argument conceded, unless God forbid, Om might actually be tempted to think, as we all do from time to time, “L’eglise, c’est moi” (and what a lot of good that thought did Henry VIII). Indeed, throughout the entire discussion Om has only offered one source – and an unfortunate one at that, as will be discussed below.

    Translate the scenario to a more familiar scene, and I can successfully point the finger at myself while making the point clearer. Suppose I (as that thing of pity and terror, a liturgical guitarist) am enthusiastic about modern hymns. An apt example for this discusion might be “I watched the sunrise” (not the sun dance, of course). For those outside the UK, this is a very popular, sentimental, but entirely religious content-free ‘folk’ hymn. My choir hasn’t actually sung it in years, but it was used at the funeral of a very dear friend just this week. And I have been guilty of choosing it for liturgical use in the distant past. Let’s suppose I still do use it enthusiastically.

    Suppose I become aware of the work of a highly regarded, scholarly liturgist (whether or not he might one day become Pope), who points out (directly or indirectly) that this hymn is inappropriate for liturgical use. It might given sentimental comfort, but it represents a breach with the tradition of the Church, and may cause difficulties to those outside the Church because of its poor aesthetic qualities. If my response were – well, we like it around here, you sing something else if you want to, we won’t stop you – I can imagine the response of most of the readers of this blog.

    So why is it on Marian matters, if a scholar points out an interpretation of Fatima is in breech of 1948 authority (at least), and is likely to cause intellectual scandal to those outside the Church (c/f Toad), it’s OK to ignore him and say “you believe that if you want to, but we feel under no obligation to seriously engage with your argument?” How is that any different from me insisting on my right to play “I watched the sunrise” at Communion?

    There are far worse things than this going on in some Marian circles (as well as much goodness, of course!) We have some groups (towards the top of the Google hit list needless to say) accusing the Vatican of covering up secrets, or not really consecrating the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart using exactly the formula she requested, etc etc. There is the Medjugorje issue referred to by StNobody above. And then there are those who promote pious untruths for the sake of the cause who really do create scandal – I’ll give an example shortly.

    But isn’t much of this behaviour pretty simular to what is so readily condemned by the denizen’s of Damian’s blog in the liturgical arena – parading our own desires above the needs of universal salvation, and insisting on making our own mark visible on the altar of the almighty God? I accuse Om, in his instinctive reaction to Jaki’s thesis, of nothing more than I accuse myself of in still selecting not entirely suitable music from time to time. The only observation I am making is that what is well recognised in liturgical matters by conservatives is perhaps less well recognised by them in Marian matters.

    Richard Dawkins is very fond of people who ‘lie for Jesus’, so much so that he recently made that accusation against the well-known journalist Melanie Phillips, who is of course Jewish. ( I have the reference, but not to hand. Google it. It’s funny.)

    Pious untruths are counter-productive and potentially scandalous. So what are we to make of those who deliberately or at best unwittingly propagate them to promote Marian devotion. A case in point I’m afraid is Om’s only cited author, Donal Anthony Foley, who recently in the Catholic Herald re-told the entirely unjustified story of the priests miraculously saved from the Hiroshima blast because of their Fatima devotions.

    Foley’s report is here:


    as is its utter refutation in the comments below the piece. Links are provided there to Time Magazine articles, but a fuller flavour can be found here:


    This is a report by US atomic scientists into the effect of the Hiroshima blast, which providentially includes an eye-witness report by a German priest who along with his community suffered the bombing. The report as a whole provides a wonderful alternative meditation on science and religion (I can tell you!), but it also makes abundently clear that no miraculous protection was offered the priests. Nor is there anything unusual in their long-term survival.

    I have no idea whether Foley knew of this before writing the article, but at the very least he should desist from promulgating the story from here on, assuming he reads comments at the bottom of his own articles. I have seen variants of this story circulating for years, along with the clear evidence of its refutation. I have also seen the resulting scorn on, for example, a strongly protestant cleric’s website. Not, of course, scorn for the heroic priests themselves, but of the dissembling Catholics who spin pious tales to comfort the gulible. Wasn’t that ever the Reformer’s complaint?

    So, this long rambling tale leads to this conclusion: we must be as disciplined in our devotional views and practices as we already accept we must be in our liturgy. And Marian devotees are perhaps as susceptible to modern-ish wilfulness as guitar-playing monsters like me.

    Let me leave the final, astonishing, words to our present Pope, who offers some insight into the nature of what he calls the “profound crisis of postconciliar Marian doctrine and devotion” in his book “Mary, the Church at the Source” (co-authored with Hans von Balthazar, 4th edition, 1997).

    “The question of the significance of Marian doctrine and piety cannot disregard the historical situation of the Church in which the question arises. We can understand and respond correctly to the profound crisis of postconciliar Marian doctrine and devotion only if we see this crisis in the context of the larger development of which it is a part. Now, we can say that two major spiritual movements defined the period stretching from the end of the First World War to the Second Vatican Council, two movements which had – albeit in very different ways – certain “charismatic features”. On the one side, there was the Marian movement that could claim charismatic roots in La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima. … On the other side, the inter-war years had seen the development of the liturgical movement, especially in Germany … Its fundamental goal [was] the renewal of the Church from the sources of scripture and the primitive form of the Church’s prayer” p19-20.

    “… A council [Vatican II] held at that time could hardly avoid the task of working out the correct relationship between these two divergent movements and of bringing them into a fruitful unity … In fact, we can understand correctly the struggles that marked the first half of the Council … only in the light of the tension between these two forces” p21

    “In this drama the famous vote of October 29, 1963, marked an intellectual watershed. The question at issue was whether to present Mariology in a separate text or to incorporate it into the Constitution on the Church. The result of the voting – 1114 to 1074 – … [showed] the biblical and liturgical movements had won a victory … whose significance can hardly be overestimated.” p22

    “In fact, the immediate outcome of the victory of ecclesiocentric Mariology was the collapse of Mariology altogether. It seems to me that the changed look of the Church in Latin America after the Council, the occasional concentration of religious feelings on political change, must be understood against the background of these events.” p24.

    Blimey! Let those with wisdom in these matters provide us with a deeper understanding.

    No more monologues from me – I will be travelling for the next ten days. May God bless us all.


  55. omvendt says:


    I meant to type “here’s the thing … ” Doh!


  56. omvendt says:


    A few preliminary remarks (If I can manage those – the ability to read properly and express myself clearly seems to have somewhat deserted me of late).

    ‘Ought’ can be taken in a non-moral sense in statements such as ‘If you want to get to the match in good time you ought to catch the 2.30 train from … ‘ etc.

    But, as you know, that’s not the kind of ‘ought’ to which I was referring.

    I’m saying that we cannot derive a moral ought from what ‘is’ , in the materialist sense.

    Materialism, as a world view, cannot account for moral ‘oughts’, for objective moral values.

    Now, you may say that you reject the existence of such values, but I suspect you don’t really believe that.


  57. kathleen says:

    Toad says to me:
    “…..I don’t recall submitting wine, after it has supposedly been turned to blood by prayer, to ‘scientific analysis.’”

    No, it would still be the substance of wine. But we know, through the revelation of Christ, and the doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church, that although it smells, tastes and appears to be just wine, through the words of Consecration of a validly ordained priest, it is the Blood of Christ.

    The Catholic encyclopedia explains this mystery of transubstantiation better and more fully than I can: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm


  58. toadspittle says:

    Omvendt, I’m not trying to tease you or be funny, as I think you know.
    You give me a perfectly good example of an ‘ought’ above. (I ought to stop wasting time on CP&S. And I can, if I want to enough.)

    So. Can you give me an example of what you mean when you say…

    “But here’s the thing: you cannot derive a moral ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.

    Supposing I said, “Abortion is wrong. I ought, morally, to oppose it.”

    Am I missing the point? If, so, where?


  59. joyfulpapist says:

    Toad, if I understand Omvendt, you’re starting with a moral proposition rather than a material one. The material proposition is: “Abortion is the extraction from a woman’s womb of a baby with the intention of killing the baby.” This is a factual statement. Any moral proposition about whether or not the abortion is right cannot be derived from these material facts. That is, if you think that the statement is about something bad, it is because you already think killing babies is a bad thing.


  60. omvendt says:


    When I say that you cannot derive a moral ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ I am saying this in the context of materialist philosophy, or ‘scientific naturalism’.

    According to the materialist thesis, all that exists is matter and energy (bits of matter in motion). We are nothing more than material objects (computers made of meat), essentially sets of physico/chemical processes.

    It follows from that that we have no souls, no free will and are therefore not bound by moral obligation.

    Our ethical ideas are derived from bits of matter in motion too (mere by-products, like all consciousness), desires, ‘irrational associations of ideas, ‘evolutionary hard wiring’ etc etc.

    Given that we are the chance result of bits of purposeless matter in motion we cannot be bound by ‘moral obligation’ as there clearly can be no such thing.

    Materialism describes states of affairs: it does not prescribe. How could it?

    So for the materialist, ‘morality’ is simply a physical state like hunger, or sexual desire; being ‘moral’ is just an ‘element’ in our ‘evolutionary makeup’

    As Michael Ruse puts it, “Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . . . ”

    I’m saying, Toad, that you can’t derive a moral ought from a description of bits of matter in motion.

    I hope this clarifies things a little; if not, I’ll have another go another time.

    Plumb tuckered out now. 😉


  61. toadspittle says:

    “Abortion is the extraction from a woman’s womb of a baby with the intention of killing the baby.”… …. Any moral proposition about whether or not the abortion is right cannot be derived from these material facts. “

    Well, Joyful, if we don’t derive ‘moral propositions’ from the perceived existence of ‘facts,’ i.e., the totality of all that there is, from where do we derive them? If you are suggesting we can only get them from ‘outside’ that is to say God, or whatever, I guess we will just have to agree to differ.

    Same with Omvendt.
    “I’m saying, Toad, that you can’t derive a moral ought from a description of bits of matter in motion.”
    And Toad is saying you can. And you must.
    But Omvendt, when you say ‘can’t,’are you declaring that it is impossible to do so, or merely undesirable? Except, I do agree one can’t derive anything from the ‘description, only the ‘ perceived reality.’
    Wow, this is getting dense.

    Your analysis is a very good one, and I’m afraid it very nearly describes my position.
    This issue is the crux of my, and your, difference of opinion, as we agree.
    Since I believe we can, and do, and must, bind ourselves by ‘moral obligation’ generated internally by, if nothing else, evolutionary self-interest, i.e., I have a moral obligation not to kill you, because I don’t want to live in a world where people kill one another indiscriminately. And moral obligations should start at home.
    It would be even worse than the present world, where people kill one another discriminately, often at God’s direction, it might seem.
    For the most part, this rough social contract seems to work, In Moratinos, at least, we have agreed, tacitly, not to kill each other, (well hardly ever) in order that we may lead less uncomfortable lives.
    It would be absurd to say, “Without God, there can be no morality,” and I’m confident that you are not saying that.
    Even the Soviets professed a ‘morality,’ the Incas certainly did, as do fundamental protestants in the USA. Professing a morality clearly does not always guarantee that it will be scrupulously observed, but that is another matter. The Soviet one is not one you, or I, would care to support, but it takes all sorts.
    Neither of us would, I am sure, care to live under the morality of Islam. And where do you think that morality comes from? Is it ‘man-made’ or ‘God-given’? We know where the Muslims think it comes from.
    I guess the bottom line is, if all morality derives from God alone, how come it is not universal?
    I suppose I might try to answer my own question. Yes, all morality does derive from God alone, but only the Catholics know what it is.

    (Good discussion, though.)


  62. Brother Burrito says:

    Most Excellent Toad,

    It is my understanding that true (Christian) morality is something not deducible by human reasoning alone, for the latter is prone to concupiscence, that is the residual tendency to wrongness left by original sin, even after Baptism.

    Christ is the perfectly moral man, in Him there is no sin. He is our archetype, model and exemplar. No moral maze could outfox Him!

    Catholic morality derives from our putting on the mind of Christ, imitating Him at all times, in all ways, and in every circumstance. This aint easy, and there’s many a slip. The pitfalls are numerous, and include self-righteousness, presumption and despair. The best travelling clothes are humility, a wise spiritual director, and the Sacraments.

    It is a human fantasy to suppose that there is some book containing rules and regulations that cover every moral eventuality. Christ derided the scribes and pharisees for their multiplication of such, which weighed down their followers with scruples, guilt and confusion. His little burden, to carry your cross, one day at a time, with Him, is the only sure way. As we become more like Him, we shall learn to Love, and do as we will.

    I am awaiting being shot to pink mist by the (hopefully) fierce return of fire.


  63. toadspittle says:

    Burro, I would not be happy to reduce you to pink mist (love the imagery though) even if I could. My morality tells me that misting people is wrong.
    But yours is a good answer. And if everyone followed the general direction, or whatever, of Christ, the world would be a less worse place for sure.

    You say,
    “It is a human fantasy to suppose that there is some book containing rules and regulations that cover every moral eventuality.”
    This is refreshing and stimulating news to me, because I was under the impression that there were at least two. I’m delighted to be wrong.

    This might, in view of your goal of ‘imitating Christ at all times,’ be time to bring up yet another question that has been exercising the inquisitive and ignorant Toad.
    What do you, as a medical man and a Catholic, make of His suggestion that, “If your eye offends you, pluck it out.”?

    Joyful, as I understand it, most (or at least a great many) abortions are ‘natural’ and are known to lay people as miscarriages. Burro will know.


  64. joyfulpapist says:

    Indeed, Toad, though I wouldn’t call that the extraction of a baby with the intention of killing it.

    Which reminds me that, CS Lewis’s Screwtape, in one of his famous letters, accuses God of cheating by filling heaven up with people who haven’t had a chance to sin.


  65. omvendt says:

    “But Omvendt, when you say ‘can’t,’are you declaring that it is impossible to do so, or merely undesirable?” asks Toad.

    I’m declaring that it’s impossible.

    I’m taking ‘moral obligation’ as being synonymous with objective moral value. That means that fundamental moral values are not the results of subjective preferences, or invented by us, or decided upon by us by means of a ‘contrat social’, or ‘programmed’ into us via evolution. In short, we don’t ‘create’ fundamental moral value, we acknowledge it.

    And as I said earlier, moral values cannot be expressed in terms of matter, energy, extension, motion, time and so on – you get the idea.

    You raise an interesting question about the relationship between moral values and different cultures. I don’t have time right now to get into that too deeply, but I’d like to make one or two comments.

    C.S. Lewis, in one of his books (‘The Abolition of Man’) provides an appendix in which he shows that there is basic acknowledgement of ‘Natural Law’ (using ‘shorthand’ here, Toad) across a wide range of cultures throughout history.

    And, fairly recently, we can see the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ passed by the General Assembly of the UN in 1948 as more evidence suggesting that objective moral value is transcultural.

    Now I’m not saying that no different moral practices are to be found anywhere across the globe. It is a fact, however, that we don’t always live according to the moral standards we know to be true, don’t you agree?

    Furthermore, disagreement about moral value does not demonstrate that there is no objective moral value.

    To get anywhere near to disproving objective moral value, on ‘cultural grounds’, we would have to find a culture which sanctions moral practices which are extraordinarily different from ours, and which are not brought about by different beliefs about the nature of reality, or quite different physical circumstances or life situations.

    And even that would not prove that there are no objective moral criteria.

    All of which leads me to the conclusion that ‘basic morality’ is indeed universal.

    (And yes, it is a good discussion.)


  66. toadspittle says:

    ” It is a fact, however, that we don’t always live according to the moral standards we know to be true, don’t you agree?”
    “Professing a morality clearly does not always guarantee that it will be scrupulously observed,”
    Furthermore, disagreement about moral value does not demonstrate that there is no objective moral value.
    True. We both agree, then, after after all our huffing and puffing, that ‘basic morality’ is universal.
    But I think it’s man-made and you don’t. Right?


  67. omvendt says:

    “But I think it’s man-made and you don’t. Right?” says Toad.



  68. omvendt says:

    To be precise, Toad, I’m talking about objective moral values.


  69. toadspittle says:

    This may be going off the point here (but since the original ‘point’ was a rather formidably fierce-looking nun singing ‘Ave Maria, we can safely diverge a bit, I think)
    Wittgenstein took the view that, “Logic and ethics are fundamentally one and the same. They are no more than duty to oneself.” I am inclined to agree with that. Particularly the bit about ‘duty to oneself.’
    If one is ethical and logical to oneself, it will surely be hard, if not impossible, to treat others unethically and illogically.

    On the other hand, what on earth is Toad babbling about? That Omvendt’s ‘objective moral values’ cannot fail to be both ethical and logical. I suspect. That being so, I agree with him absolutely.
    Just don’t see why one has to involve God.

    Can you imagine posting this on Damian?


  70. joyfulpapist says:

    “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day thou can’st not then be false to any man.”

    I’ve always thought that to be true, even though Pollonius was a sententious fool.


  71. joyfulpapist says:

    However, Toad, you and I belong to a generation that believed in duty. I wonder if the ‘greed is good’ crowd feel that morality is logical and a duty?


  72. toadspittle says:

    That is an excellent point indeed, Joyful.

    I agree, ‘duty,’ though not always desirable or pleasant, was one of those things one just had to do. Without question.
    And I have seen the change in attitude for myself.

    I felt old before. Now I feel ancient.


  73. toadspittle says:

    Virtually no postings on CP&S for days now.
    Maybe it’s me. I see CP&S as a sort of online dinner party. If someone makes a point, I feel it’s my ‘duty’ to take part and respond. Only manners. Keep the talk circulating. Can’t just sit there glowering and waiting for the apple dumplins’ to arrive.
    Am I alone in this? Am I wrong? Probably.


  74. manus2 says:

    My dear Toad,

    If CP&S is a dinner party, then I am in disgrace for inexcuable verbosity which has been politely ignored by all concerned. So I offer an apology especially to you and the hard-pressed Omvendt for being so presumptuous, what with being wet behind the ears and all too.

    In any case, I’ve been travelling – Orlando last week and Dallas this week. Very tedious stuff. But I’ve kept a quiet eye on this thread. I agree it is frustrating to let ideas lie, but how much can be pursued on a single thread when new ones are being generated all the time?

    Anyway, two particular issues I wished to respond to you on were the matter or Newman and miracles and the question of the universality of morality. With Newman, what I should have acknowledged, rather than shooting off on a long-winded tangent, was that my quotation might well have registered high on your misspelt ‘clapometer’, and to be fair to Newman we’d need to unearth the context of quotation (which I hadn’t really done) to understand why he was being so extreme. I was of course mostly defending Newman and indeed Jaki from the charge of being dismissive or embarrased by the notion of miracles, without considering the knock-on effect of making him sound like a frothing fundamentalist.

    But as for morality: for once a quick thought. Is mathematics “real” or a human invention?


  75. toadspittle says:

    We likes a bit of verbosity ’round ‘ere, Manus2.

    A bit like somebody’s (doubtless a cavalryman’s) description of the role of the cavalry in modern warfare: “…to lend tone to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.”

    Re math, depends what you mean by ‘real’ (remember Joad?) But I have no hesitation in declaring it man-made.
    No folks, no figures, I reckons.
    But I take your point. I think.


  76. omvendt says:

    Maybe Manus is something of a Platonist.

    I’m sure he’ll tell us.


  77. manus2 says:

    No I don’t remember Joad, O Toad, but I’ve now looked him up, so I suppose it depends on what you mean by remembering Joad.

    The question I was trying to imply was: are there other sorts of truth that we accept even though they cannot be demonstrated through empirical observation? I think many people would accept that mathematics provides objective “truth”. Indeed, science is potentially undermined if maths cannot be trusted.

    In as much as I understand these labels, Omvendt, I would have to claim to be a Realist, but surely the Platonic ideal constitutes a significant domain only to one who does not acknowledge the divine?


  78. toadspittle says:


    We seeming to be getting somewhere here. Agreed, mathematics is universal – 2 plus 2 is 4, all over. You can’t have Latvian mathematics, or Catholic. And you can’t have say, Irish or Hindu science.
    But then, I find it gets tricky. You can have Latvian and/or Catholic music. Same with art.
    So where does that leave ‘truth’? We all (surely?) accept the universality of ‘art.’ although possibly many of us will find, for example, Tibetan music, or cubism, incomprehensible. But we don’t then say they are worthless, I hope.

    Possibly what is at issue here is, although we each have our own cherished clutch of moral truths, they are often far from identical – even from person to person.
    So we go looking for like-minded people. Consensus. Hence churches and politics.
    And blogs?

    (Perhaps, “Safety in numbers,” is an unassailable truth?)

    As a philosophical ignoramus, I would have thought the notion of divinity at least inherent in Platonic ideal forms
    Maybe it’s just that, inherent?

    I shall have to dogwalk, Massgo and brood on this.


  79. manus2 says:

    OK, let’s take things a step at a time. I was grasping for my long forgotten mathematical training in order to make an assertion along the following lines:

    In mathematics, we find a class of truth statements that can be assessed (and potentially universally agreed) without recourse to empirical investigation, i.e. outside the scope of science. Or, to put it more simply, there exist truth statements outside of science.

    Now just because we accept this (as you appear to) it doesn’t mean anything goes. Specifically, whilst most non-philistines would accept there is some form of truth permeating through music and art, this doesn’t appear to take the form of specific truth statements that are ameanable to assessment, acceptance or rejection on any universal basis.

    I’ll leave it there for now before we move trembling into the minefield of morality. I too have Mass to go to, and yesterday I attended a little dog show for little dogs (as a spectator, not as a competitor) which gave some charming insights into the American Way.

    And as for Plato and God, well I believe there are mathematicians such as Roger Penrose who effectively describe themselves as (at best) agnostic Platonists. How they square that circle I have no idea.


  80. toadspittle says:


    One would think it easy to simply list the universal truth statements that exist outside of science. The Ten Commandments?
    Do, or should, oe must, these statements apply everywhere, everywhen?
    Are there a handful, or an infinite number? There seems no reason why there shouldn’t be ‘true’ things we’ve never heard of yet.

    I suspect that Penrose, like me, uses ‘agnostic’ as a kind of semi-cowardly refuge from the world of certainties. Popper’s very good on Plato (in my opinion). Thinks he’s a fascist.


  81. joyfulpapist says:

    Hans Kung has defined two basic rules of morality.

    1. Treat other humans in a humane way.
    2. Don’t do to other what you would not like them to do to you.

    Sounds fair, but to my mind, it falls apart as soon as you begin to define terms a little.

    Who is human? My family? My neighbour? Other people like me? Beggars in a city on the other side of the world? Men with beards and machine guns?

    What is humane? Can I torture people just a little bit, for their own good?

    Do I have a right to interfere when other people are being treated inhumanely? And which other people?

    If one person’s rights conflict with another’s? How do I decide? What is the appropriate humane treatment for a burglar who is about to hit my husband with a spanner? What if I am pregnant and I am sure having a child will ruin my life? What if I’m a soldier facing a house full of people who may or may not be terrorists, and may or may not be armed to the teeth? What if my neighbour’s vegetables are rotting in his garden, and my children haven’t had a decent meal in weeks?

    Moral codes are not needed for easy decisions. You don’t need to consult your moral code to decide whether or not to take food from your full pantry and share it with your kids. But what if it is your last crust and a complete stranger?

    I know where my moral code comes from. Catholics have spent 2000 years asking ‘what would Jesus do?’ We – and our forefathers in the Abrahamic heritage for several thousand before that – have lots of accumulated experience in making moral judgments while backed into corners, and then talking (endlessly, it sometimes seems) about the rights and wrongs of the answers they found. In fact, some of our certainty about what’s right comes from all the times we’ve got it wrong!


  82. manus2 says:

    Hi Both,

    Now I am feeling like a plodder who wants to take things slowly and carefully. I want to establish what different sorts of truth there might be and where ultimately disagreement might come from. I’ll take my next little step before responding to your points.

    We’ve agreed (clearly from your latest statements) that there is truth outside of science with the example of mathematics. For example statements about irrational numbers cannot be tested or realised in the physical world. Yet they can be agreed to be universally true. But mathematics is still about quantity – pure quantity – and so it is a further step to assert that statements about non-quantities can be agreed to be universally true.

    So, O Toad, there are certainly an infinite number of statements that might be considered to be true – uncountably many, it might be claimed – which means we can never discover them all. Worse than that, Godel has demonstrated that even in mathematics there are statements that cannot be proved either true or false (using the tools of mathematics, at least). But I think we can keep ourselves busy enough with proposed truths that are of immediate relevence to how we live our lives. I haven’t read Popper – I know I need to – but I have read Thomas Kuhn (science as a series of paradigms) whom I found enormously illuminating on the processes of science.

    JP – a pleasure to read you as always. I concur with everything you say. In the absence of absolute theoretical certainty, a few billion person-years of empirical experience ought to count for something. Of course these days the fashion is to assemble a personalised morality out of some DIY drivel and simpy to assert absolute theoretical certainty. You know, “it’s right for me …”


  83. Brother Burrito says:

    Dear Toad,

    You asked above, (six days ago!-sorry):

    “What do you, as a medical man and a Catholic, make of His suggestion that, “If your eye offends you, pluck it out.”?”.

    This was Christ using hyperbole. It is easy to forget to consider how many of Christ’s sayings were left out of the Gospels, and alas, we shall never know them all now. Some must have survived by oral tradition through the earliest Apostles and their successors. Who knows? My point is that this would have been a very memorable one.

    My understanding is that nothing must come between you and the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom can be seen right here and now, but only by the pure of heart. Purity of heart means sinlessness. If the lusts of the eyes lead you constantly into sin, then how will you see the Kingdom? I suffer greatly from this problem, working in an environment where the nurses seem (mostly) to look younger and more beautiful with every passing day. I feel safest locked in my den at home, writing things like this to your good handsome self. Ahem.

    This too is why most professed religious withdraw from the world, until they have gained full custody of the eyes, and the sins that can tempt us through them are thus controlled.

    Personally, I would never pluck an eye out unless it was dead, infected, or cancerous, or in self defence (it’s a soft target, and greatly disables your opponent).


  84. toadspittle says:

    What good comments!

    Joyful, as Manus (can’t keep calling him (her?) Manus2, too formal) says you are always a joy to read indeed. And, had I been wise enough, I might have written much the same as you did , despite being an agnostic. Kung seems to be more or less re-phrasing and re-stating Kant. Which is OK with me.
    As, as you say, as far as it goes.
    But, we seem hitting a snag inasmuch as it is hard to know even what Jesus thought, or meant, or said, it seems. As Burro pointed out to my sneaky question, some of it is hyperbole. Some is parable and ambiguous.

    Manus, you will like Popper.
    I believe, ‘The Open Society’ is as relevant now, in the face of new Islamist extremism, and the U.S. reaction, as ever.

    A Popperism: “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.”

    I have not read Kuhn, but will. What book/s should I get?


  85. manus2 says:

    Hi Toad,

    Time zones getting to me – it’s 3am here but I’ve given up on sleep. Yes I am Manus and male. Thanks for the Popper reference – I’ll start there.

    I’d got the impression that Popper and Kuhn stand on opposites sides on the history of science, and your quotation rather confirms that. Thomas Kuhn’s celebrated idea of the “paradigm” is to be found in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. While Popper emphasises such concepts as falsifiability (scientists walk away from a theory that has been falsified) Kuhn proposes practically the opposite – that scientists are trained in a particular view or paradigm of their specialism, and that much of the day to day activity consists of problem solving in the form of getting the observed data to conform to the paradigm. This eventually and inevitably leads to a crisis as the model is pushed to its limits – effectively a crisis of faith or dogma – until a new paradigm is found which can carry the subject forward. Often this occurs with the rising of a new generation of scientists while the old shuffle off never accepting the new paradigm. Many fascinating examples are cited, for example that Priestley “discovered” oxygen, but working within the framework of the phlogiston paradigm, while Lavoisier subsequently “invented” oxygen based on Priestley’s work, a step that Priestley always rejected.

    The Kuhn description certainly matches my own experience of working in science – you have a vision of what you are pursuing and you run with it as far as you can; there are always problems, but you have to work on the assumption that they can all eventually be solved. Kuhn thus portrays science as a profoundly human activity, not so very different from other disciplines, other than the specific tools and evidence and indeed astonishing effectiveness it brings.


  86. toadspittle says:

    From something Dawkins once said, I got the idea that, he at least, forsees the eventual solving of all ‘material’ problems. Doubt if he acknowledges any other sort. I suppose there would be no theological objection to that thought.
    But Wittgenstein (about whom I am a bore) believed that one cannot set limits on knowledge, because to do so, one would have to somehow position oneself ‘outside’ the limits.

    “…and that much of the day to day activity consists of problem solving in the form of getting the observed data to conform to the paradigm.”

    Says Manus, and that, to me, has a faintly ominous ring of what Foucault was griping about. And, if one was being provocative, the way many people seem to manipulate religion to fit their prejudices.
    Although, on reflection, it applies equally to most everything in life as well.


  87. omvendt says:

    Writes Toad:

    “But Wittgenstein (about whom I am a bore) believed that one cannot set limits on knowledge, because to do so, one would have to somehow position oneself ‘outside’ the limits.”

    This is what did for Kant’s “Ding an sich.”

    Let’s face it, we can’t defend Kant’s cant.


  88. manus2 says:


    I think to position oneself outside of the usual human commitment to belief (in whatever domain) is an especially common (one might say vulgar!) form of vanity.

    Have you discovered Eliazabeth Anscombe – pupil of Wittengenstein, scourge of CS Lewis, and devout Catholic who rose to become Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge?


    P.S. Home tomorrow alleluia!


  89. toadspittle says:


    I’d heard of Anscombe through Wittgenstein. Found this looking for a biography



  90. manus2 says:


    I’ve just got back. I see the intense discussions have moved on elsewhere. I think you will find more robust presentation of the Catholic faith from Anscombe than from any of us amateurs here on CP&S.

    For example, this is the lady on Transubstantiation:


    I have dipped into her two volumes of essays; her book on Intention would clearly require the attention available (to me) only in a silent retreat.


  91. PhilM says:

    Manus2, where did you source the claim that Avelino De Almeida was a former seminarian? I have never heard this claim before and I can’t find a single reference to it.


  92. PhilM says:

    Manus writes:

    “For from my point of view, the argument is over and the victory complete.

    My final challenge to Om. was this:

    “Jaki claims, and I have no reason to doubt him, that the Catholic Encylopedia of 1948 stated that the Fatima apparition was “supported by meteorological phenomena, attested by most of the 60,000 pilgrims.” We would agree I’m sure that the Catholic Encyclopedia should be considered an authority.”

    Methinks you love yourself a bit too much Manus2. A diet of humble pie may do you the world of good.

    To what do you think the “meteorological phenomena” you cite from the Catholic Encyclopedia was referring? Solely the “miracle of the sun” or would you include the remarkable change in the weather including the observation that saturated ground and clothing totally dried in a matter of eight to 10 minutes?


  93. toadspittle says:

    This thread has been ‘dead’ since last October, and has now resurrected. Miracle!


  94. toadspittle says:

    And…PhilM, Toad suspects you might be confusing Avelino De Almeida with Albert Camus.

    (And go easy on Manus. He’s a bit touchy these days.)


  95. kathleen says:

    Yes dear Toad, those were the days when we had these long interesting debates, seldom seen nowadays! The Manus/Omvendt discussion on here was very edifying.
    Where is everyone? We still get plenty of visitors to the site, but few commenters. Many thanks to all those who do log in though and give us their opinions and views…. we’ve had a few new ones from our American friends recently, which are all greatly appreciated.


  96. manus says:

    Gosh, a resurrection indeed.

    PhilM, regarding Avelino I don’t have the book to hand right now, but I’m fairly sure it was from Jaki’s book on Fatima. I will confirm that later.

    I can’t remember all the details of the argument with my good friend Omvendt, and why I was so enthusiastic about the statements in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I’m sure it would re-emerge from the context of the discussion, if anyone was prepared to read through all that again. I suggest it was more a matter of desperation over the endless discussion than exhilaration.

    The drying phenomenon is very interesting, but as far as I am aware the testimony for it is more patchy, and less likely to challenge the cynical (like old Toady) than the dancing Sun itself.

    Anyway, humble pie is an excellent dish, and best eaten in company. Toad and I share plenty, don’t we?


  97. manus says:


    It was indeed from the Jaki book: Stanley K Jaki, “God and the Sun at Fatima”, Real View Books, 1999, ISBN 1-892548-C4-6.

    Re-reading p12-13 and the associated notes, it would appear that Almeida is a bit of bete noire:

    “For, contrary to typical statements in the Fatima literature, Almeida, who began his higher education in the Major Seminary of the Lisbon patriachate in Santarem, never really lost his faith. Here too a careful study of the record can bring us much closer to the truth of the matter” (p13)

    Here he cites a reference, which is Sebastio Martins dos Reis, “A personalidade moral e literaria de Avelino de Almeida” in Alvoradas (Evora) Jan-Marco e Abril-Junho de 1958, also as chapter 1 in his “Na Orbita de Fatima” (Evora: Centro de Estudios, 1958).

    Jaki goes on to say:

    “That Almeida remained, deep in his heart, close to Catholicism was known only to those, who not only read carefully what he wrote, but were also close friends of his. They knew that if he was a unbeliever, it was by association and not by conviction. To the world at large he, as an editor at O Seculo, appeared as an ally in the cause of anti-clericalism. This is the picture of him that, unfortunately, found an advocate in Costa Brochado, a distinguished Portuguese historian and the author of “Fatima a luz da historia”, undoubtedly the best presentation of Fatima in the context of contemporary history” (p13).

    Regarding the Catholic Encyclopedia, are you suggesting that only the drying was being referred to as ‘meteorological’ – while no suggestion is given as to the nature of the Sun’s movement? That is possible, I suppose. I wonder whether it is possible to find out?

    But if your intention is to oppose Jaki’s central thesis on Fatima, then the obvious thing to do is to get hold of the book and judge the full case for yourself, rather than pay too much attention to my poor efforts to represent it here.


  98. toadspittle says:

    Well here we are, back in sunny Fatima.

    “They knew that if he (Almeida) was a unbeliever, it was by association and not by conviction.”

    So that’s all right, then. Teeny bit weasel-worded though, thinks Toad.

    Whether or not there was a miracle at Fatima, the ongoing obsession with every tiny detail (including very dubious-sounding character readings) is certainly awesome, indeed miraculous. Thinks Toad.

    (Omvent has gone very quiet again. We must hope he’s not back ‘inside’.
    He gave us to understand he was ‘going straight’ from now on.)


  99. manus says:

    Hi Toad,

    Well I’m as surprised as you are. If the guy asks a question I’ll give him an answer. Jaki does seem to be labouring the point about the state of Almeida’s soul, but then I assume he is asserting what he believes are the facts (such that he did study in a seminary) against the common perception in the Fatima ‘culture’.

    Any serious assertion of a miracle will inevitably entail excruciating examination of detail – it’s like lawyers getting hold of something.


  100. toadspittle says:

    “– it’s like lawyers getting hold of something.”

    Says Manus. Well thanks, Manus. That fills Toad with confidence.


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