Some un-PC, straight-talking from President Putin.
Some un-PC, straight-talking from President Putin.
Today we celebrate the feast of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. Although Thomas is celebrated for his great written works in Catholic theology and philosophy, few people are aware that Thomas’s true greatness and sanctity resided in his retaining the pure mind and heart of an innocent child.
By Sean Fitzpatrick (on Crisis Magazine)
There are a great many saints who will never be known on this side of God’s grace, whose lives merited heavenly bliss but not the history books. This host of secret saints represents the central secret of what it means to be a saint: who a person is is more important than what a person does. In other words, the prestige of sainthood is not necessarily determined by what is done but how it is done.
Thomas Aquinas is a saint; and his sanctity, by this reasoning, is prior to anything of note that he may have done—such as writing the Summa Theologica. Bearing out the distinction between character and career, the Summa suddenly becomes a sign of the holiness of St. Thomas and not the reason why he was holy. Most people know and recall Thomas for being a master theologian, philosopher, teacher, preacher, and a Doctor of the Universal Church—for thus is his overwhelming legacy. Few are aware of his position concerning the role of “playful deeds and jokes” to maintain a healthy mind. There are only a handful of legendary anecdotes and historical scraps which offer insight into the soul, into the person, who achieved such wonders and earned such titles. Those that do exist are strangely suggestive of one whose profundity is both foreign and familiar—the profundity of angels and infants.
Though Thomas Aquinas was a man of formidable stature with a fair head like the sun at the crest of a hill, he possessed a delicate genius. He looked upon the world with the wide-eyed wonder and perceptive power of a youth, and engaged it with a youth’s zeal, honesty, and solemnity. There are few things more serious than a child engrossed in his play, and Thomas resembled one of these in his work. The brilliance of his writings shines with a virtuosity like play. Though the tendency exists, and with good reason, to depict or classify Thomas as an austere academic of furrowed brow and no nonsense, there is a straightforward delight and precision about this saint and his compositions that can evoke the schoolboy as much as the scholastic.
The heart of this mystery surrounding Thomas Aquinas is a terrible innocence. By a miraculous grace, Thomas was permitted to retain a moral integrity throughout his fifty years of life, and a disposition that was not drawn toward regions of depravity. His sins were reputedly the simple sins of small children, and this virtue freed his intellect from the temptations and distractions that drive away wisdom. Thomas had the liberty to examine the intricacies of the worlds around him unencumbered with the disturbances that human nature often introduces.
The traditional origin of this purity and clarity of both mind and heart occurred when Thomas was nineteen and his brothers, in an attempt to dissuade him from joining the Dominicans, locked him in a tower with a seductress. As any furious and frightened boy might have done, Thomas chased the harlot about the room with a flaming brand. Once she escaped, Thomas fell into a deep sleep as two angels descended to his prison and, like a child, dressed and trussed him up in a celestial girdle—a garment of perpetual chastity. From that time forth, he was not given to lust nor to the unruly motions of the flesh and able to apply himself entirely to the beauties and truths of the mind with uncanny poise and precision. This particular power of the innocent remained intact in Thomas Aquinas, allowing him to wield the gravitas and eloquence that comes out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.
The innocence of this thirteenth century sage is perhaps the quintessence of his character, and the most seemingly incongruous element of his renown. When Thomas was a small child, a tremendous storm burst over the ancestral castle and a lightning bolt shot through the casement killing both his sister and his nurse. This tragedy left the lad with a terror for thunderstorms that persisted throughout his life. When the skies rumbled and flashed, he was known to creep into the priory chapel and thrust his head into the tabernacle—as any toddler might creep into his parents’ room on such a night. Is this the behavior of a man possessed with mystic reason and iron logic? On the contrary, is there any man wiser than a man who is like a child?
“Thomas! Thomas!” two snickering friars called, rousing their brother who was bent over his books. “Look out the window—there are pigs flying in the sky!” Incredulous Thomas rose at once and bounced to the window. The friars laughed. Putting the finishing touch on the jest, the saint responded, “I would rather believe that pigs can fly than believe that my brethren could lie.” Could such waggish wit reside in a grave philosopher? On the contrary, does not a childish sense of humor lend gravitas to the philosopher?
“The proof from authority,” reads the Summa, “is the weakest type of proof according to Boethius.” Is it possible that the all-serious Summa could entertain a joke amid its judiciousness? On the contrary, is it possible that anyone who is serious enough to be a saint would not be as lighthearted as a youth?
Unless you become as little children…
The paradox that is presented by these ingenuous characteristics of the ingenious Angelic Doctor is one that should comfort rather than confuse. Paradoxes and Paradise go hand in hand. It is wonderful to think that even the most heavenly enlightened and intelligent of men was seemingly one of childlike simplicity, honesty, and solemnity. At the height of his history as a scholar, he was discovered in his cell scrawling away, as was his wont, but paying rapt attention to invisible teachers—St. Peter and St. Paul, as he once confided to one of his brothers. The great teacher was also a great student, learning the secrets of the Sacred Scriptures from the blessed Apostles themselves. And an apt pupil was Thomas, as St. Albert the Great, his visible teacher, knew well.
Like a new Thomas who could believe without seeing, Thomas Aquinas was finally given what he longed for. No one quite knows what happened as he knelt in the dark church before that crucifix. All that is known for certain is that he was not alone. “Thomas, thou hast written well of Me,” Christ said to his child. “What reward wouldst thou have?” “Nothing but Thyself, Lord,” was Thomas’ reply. It was then that St. Thomas saw something that brought a joyful end to his labors, something that made him famously call the prodigious and ponderous library that he had written “so much straw.” He shrugged at it all with a smiling indifference, as a child does over an old toy. His mind and pen turned to the Song of Songs, to poetry, and music.
When Thomas took to his deathbed in 1274, a star hovered over his monastery as it did for the Holy Infant’s manger. A priest was called in to hear the last confession of a giant—one who had understood and undertaken the truths of heaven and earth. G. K. Chesterton describes what followed in his glorious biography: “…the confessor, who had been with him in the inner chamber, ran forth as if in fear, and whispered that his confession had been that of a child of five.”
The “hidden Deity” was hidden from Thomas no longer.
St. Thomas Aquinas adored his God and gave glory to Him through his works; but it was his love that won him eternal glory and the sun for a crown. If he had remained—as his schoolfellows called him for his quiet manner—the Dumb Ox for his entire life, heaven would yet have been his by virtue of that love. But the Dumb Ox filled the world with his bellowing, and Thomas trod his path to Paradise by the high road instead of the low road—but his direction, whatever the road, was determined by the soul he housed in his great body. The miracle of his labors was a mere result of a much deeper miracle. And though many souls besides his were saved through the miracle of his mind, the greatest miracle of all is that one as a child could be so wise.
In his recent post entitled “Boy, January has been a lousy month“, Saint Corbinian’s Bear summarises the recent developments at the helm of the Church which keep him awake at night.
If you haven’t discovered The Bear’s charming blog yet, you have a treat in store:
This never gets old. “Wait. She looks a lot bigger up close.” This is just to make you smile. The Bear reckons you might need one.
The Bear could not sleep last night, as his 450 gm. ursine brain was spinning like a top. A top shooting flaming nails out of it. It’s been a bad month.
The Bear is not learned. He can’t define all the degrees and kinds of heresy. But like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”
First we had the January Intentions video. Sure looks like heresy to the Bear. 500 years ago somebody would have had some ‘splaining to do before the Inquisition.
Then we had Cardinal Koch’s New Jew View, “The Gifts and Covenants of God are Irrevocable,” from the Commission on Relations With the Jewish Faith. The take away is that the normal method of salvation for Jews is to reject Jesus Christ. Ha! But we put one over on them! They still benefit from from some sort of impersonal salvation process through Jesus, even as they reject Him. But that’s a mystery they did’t even try to justify. The ADL said, “whatever” and issued their press release that Jews don’t need Jesus, but the Church can’t exist without Jews. The Bear hastens to add that it is non-magisterial; just a glorified press release. That does not matter, however, because to everyone, it’s “the Church says.” This was to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate.
Yeah, that’s heresy.
Then our Pope thought of another “biggest problem.” The biggest problem today is that people feel overwhelmed by their sins. And fortune telling. This is like telling Americans their biggest problem is that they don’t eat enough. We need moreawareness of sin! Everybody’s fine with their sins. They even wave colored flags to celebrate them and inform everyone of their nature. Repentance, then Mercy!
From behind the foliage, wearing a German helmet and smoking a cigarette, “Not heresy, but shtupid.”
We’re far from over. The Pope visited the Great Synagogue in Rome. He’s never happier than when he’s as far away from Catholics as possible. He said this: “The Church, while professing salvation through faith in Christ, recognizes the irrevocability of the Covenant.” Huh? Perhaps a kind reader will explain to the Bear what that even means. The Bear suspects it means, “Now I’m going to say something that will make you happy, but will sound like I’m still a Catholic.” But it is an incomplete thought, so the Bear cannot determine if it is heresy or not.
Then there were the priests giving communion to Lutherans (whether they wanted it or not, according to some reports), with knowledge and approval of the Vatican. A harbinger of things to come? Certainly sacrilege, but the Bear doesn’t know if it is heresy. But the Bear would have scattered everyone with a terrifying roar just in case.
Then the Pope changed the rules for Holy Thursday foot washing to include “those from among the people of God.” He encouraged the choosing of those reflecting the diversity of the parish: men, women, children, ill. While it is not heresy to change the rules (he can do that) it does destroy the symbolism of Jesus and his (male) Apostles. Now it is just a general gesture of humility. Two totally different things. Generally, the Bear has noticed that the Church over the last fifty years just doesn’t understand symbolism or how to design effective rituals.
According to a study of erogenous zones of 800 Brits, none were reported. Relax, the Bear is joking. In reality, “feet scored surprisingly low.” (This is the kind of in-depth research that sets SCB apart.) So if you are just kind of creeped out by the above picture, that’s on you. But the Bear still has little confidence in the good sense of many pewsitters on the distaff side, and cringes at what might occur. (Sorry ladies, but you know what the Bear is talking about, especially at parishes with the newer liturgy.)
Then came the big news. Pope Francis would make a Halloween pilgrimage to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with a joint Lutheran-Catholic liturgy. (The Bear has already seen the spin: it’s a “commemoration,” not a celebration.) The Bear honestly cannot believe how a Pope can do that. Won’t his Popeliness just disappear? If he despises the Catholic Church so much, why doesn’t he resign and become a Muslim on Friday, a Jew on Saturday, a Lutheran on Sunday, and Orthodox, Evangelical, Buddhist and atheist on the rest of the days? Heresy?
Oh, yeah, that’s a hella heresy. Christian unity cannot be a unity in error. It can only be a return of wandering sheep to the fold. This does not fit in with the world’s agenda, though.
Pope Francis also apologized again, which is hardly even news anymore. But not a heresy.
The Bear has noticed something about where Pope Francis strays. It is always following the spirit of the age. Diversity. Global Warming, Tolerance. Socialism. Self-Abasement by non-victim classes, and the erasure of established boundaries. These are the virtues and ceremonies of the Prince of the World. In other words, when Pope Francis errs, he errs exactly as the world errs. If he can, he will steer the Barque of Peter into the strong current of the age, and away from the safe course of the ages.
We have a Pope who appears to be informed by the Spiritus Mundi, not by the Church. That is why everything must change.
All of this happened in one single month. The Bear fears it makes for an exhausting read. The Bear’s confidence in Pope Francis has never been lower. Nonetheless, the Bear shall pretend he is Pope, because it gets really messy otherwise. And now, more than ever, he will nail his foot to the floor in front of his favorite pew in his regular plain ol’ Catholic Church that must still exist, despite the antics of it’s leaders. The Bear can see it, right where it always was. Everything Pope Francis has done can be undone by his successor. Or some pope the Bear shall never live to see. We were born in the age of the world. It will not last forever.
We will be delivered from Pope Francis’ many errors, one way or another. We should spend at least as much time considering the state of our own souls, especially as Lent approaches.
And brace ourselves for February’s horrors.
David Daleiden faces up to 20 years in jail for exposing Planned Parenthood selling baby parts
David Daleiden, the pro-life investigator who exposed Planned Parenthood selling baby parts, faces up to 20 years in prison after a Houston grand jury indicted him for offering to purchase human organs from the abortion giant.
Sandra Merritt, his colleague from the Centre for Medical Progress (CMP), has also been indicted. At the same time, the jury decided NOT to charge Planned Parenthood with ANY wrongdoing – effectively letting them off scot-free.
As LifeSiteNews reports:
Center for Medical Progress lead investigator David Daleiden faces a second-degree felony charge of “tampering with a governmental record,” and a misdemeanor charge for violating the state’s “prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs.”
That is, jurors in the state of Texas are accusing David Daleiden of trying to illegally traffic in aborted babies’ body parts.
The jurors pressed the same charges against Sandra Merritt, who claimed to be “Susan Tennenbaum,” the CEO of BioMax, on its incorporation papers.
Texas state law only allows someone to be charged with such a serious felony “if the actor’s intent in committing the offense was to defraud or harm another.”
That felony charge alone carries a punishment of not less than two, and not more than 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Ironically, the investigation began after Daleiden and Merritt posed as business associates eager to pay Planned Parenthood to furnish human body parts that its fictitious company would use in scientific experiments – something they hoped would expose the abortion industry’s criminal wrongdoing.
No information has been released regarding what government records Daleiden and Merritt allegedly tampered with.
The indictment alone does not mean that Daleiden or Merrit have been found guilty of any offence. In the US, a grand jury is made up of ordinary citizens who are presented with evidence and testimony from the prosecutor alone – without any input from the defence – in order to form their theory of a case.
From that information, the jury must decide if they believe there is enough ‘probable cause’ to move the case forward in the judicial process.
It is the decision to clear Planned Parenthood of any offence whilst levelling blame at the CMP investigators that will have most observers scratching their heads in bewilderment, though.
The series of videos released by the Centre for Medical Progress has resulted in months of turmoil for Planned Parenthood. President Cecile Richards was forced to apologise for the ‘tone used’ after the first video showed Dr Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, admitting that Planned Parenthood perform illegal partial-birth abortions to sell intact foetal organs.
In the second video, Planned Parenthood doctor Maru Gatter was caught discussing the pricing of aborted baby body parts – telling the biotech company officials that the prices for such things as a baby’s liver, head or heart are negotiable. This is in direct contrast to Planned Parenthood’s line that the only money they charge for body parts is for ‘expenses’. She also boasted that she could potentially persuade the abortionists to alter the abortion procedure to kill the baby in a way that would best preserve those body parts after the unborn child is killed.
In the fifth video, Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, claimed that the Texas Planned Parenthood has “an edge over other organisations” because they sell the bodies of fully-intact unborn babies. This led many to suspect that Planned Parenthood could be breaking the Born Alive Infants Protection Act that requires abortion clinics to provide appropriate medical care for a baby born alive, whether after a failed abortion or purposefully birthed to “let die.”
Pro-life leaders have reacted with shock and outrage at yesterday’s verdict. Lila Rose – who herself has uncovered evidence of Planned Parenthood law-breaking through investigative journalism – released the following statement:
“David Daleiden and his team have done a tremendous public service by exposing the horrific crimes against humanity that Planned Parenthood hides behind closed doors. CMP’s investigation forced Planned Parenthood, a tax-funded billion dollar corporation, to admit it was harvesting and selling aborted baby parts.
“The district attorney’s office was asked months ago about recusing itself from this case because one of its prosecutors serves as a board member of the Planned Parenthood affiliate involved in the case. It is unacceptable that the office did not recuse itself to eliminate any and all questions of potential bias. A special prosecutor should be appointed now to review this entire investigation.”
Despite the surprise decision by the Houston grand jury, Texan Governor Greg Abbott vowed to continue the state’s investigation into Planned Parenthood:
“The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions,” said Gov. Abbott in a press release Monday. “Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation.”
“The state of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of foetal tissue,” he vowed.
The first undercover video released by Daleiden currently has over 3 million views:
You can watch all the videos released by the Centre for Medical Progress on their YouTube channel.
Prayer for the Return of Lapsed Catholics to the Sacraments
But political advocacy alone is not enough, the cardinal continued.
A culture of life is “most successfully” brought about “by imitating those priests and parishioners at Holy Child Jesus Parish in New York City, by acknowledging that little José, that abandoned newborn baby, was nowhere more at home than in the empty manger of their parish nativity scene, because he, too, is a child of God,” he said.
“It is not by privileges, special graces, or mystical experiences that souls are perfected in love; it is by a total adhesion to my Will, and by a real death to all that is not my Will.
This life of yours will pass quickly. In the end, you will take comfort in one thing only: in the ‘Yes’ that you will have said to my Love for you, and in your adhesion to my Will as it will have unfolded minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day in your life.
Tell me, then, that what I will, you will. Tell me that all that is outside of my will for you is so much rubbish. Ask me to cleanse your life of the accumulated rubbish of so many years. Ask me to make you clean of heart and poor in spirit. Seek nothing apart from what my Heart desires you to have. Ask only for what my Heart desires to give you. Therein lies your peace. Therein lies your joy. Therein lies salvation and glory.
Your plans, your desires, and your anxieties are but puffs of smoke blown away by the wind. Only what I will endures. Only what I will gives you happiness. Seek then what I will, and trust me to give you what you seek.
Souls who chase after rainbows pass by the treasures that I have laid beneath their feet, leaving them behind to pursue a future that is not, and that will not come to be. This is an exhausting exercise for you and for so many souls like you who, enchanted by an ideal, fail to see my work and the splendour of my Will for them, revealed in the present.
Live, then, in the present moment. Choose to be faithful to me in the little things that I give you and ask of you from minute to minute, from hour to hour, and from day to day. It is foolish to pin your hopes and to spend your energy on an imaginary good when the real good that I offer you is here and now.
It is not forbidden you to dream dreams or to imagine a future that you think will make you happy — I give you your imagination and I am not offended when you use it. The imagined good becomes an evil, however, when it saps you of your energy; drains you of the vitality that I would have you offer me in sacrifice by being faithful to the reality that is here and now; and when you use your imagination to flee from obedience and submission to me in the circumstances and in the places where I have placed you at this time.
Plan for the future by living in the present. Open your heart to my voice each day and cling to the smallest manifestations of my Will. Renounce all that springs from your own desires and imaginings and say ‘Yes’ to all that springs from my most loving and merciful Heart. Therein lies your peace, your joy, and your salvation.”
(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest)
It is tempting to see the decree allowing women’s feet to be washed on Maundy Thursday as an indication of an acceleration of liturgical decay underway with Pope Francis, following his breaking of the rule up to now. However, what has happened is no different from what happened under his predecessors.
Bl Pope Paul VI gave in to the pressure of endemic abuse when he allowed the reception of Communion in the hand. But there are other examples too from his troubled reign. One of the most peculiar documents of the Papal Magisterium is his Sacrificium laudis, an Apostolic Letter directed to religious superiors, begging, cajoling, and ordering them to preserve Latin in the Office. You won’t find this document in the Acta Apostolicis Sedis, or on the Vatican website. The speed of its transformation into waste-paper gives new meaning to the phrase ‘dead on arrival’. (You’ll find an English translation on the LMS website.)
Pope St John Paul II gave way, again because of the pressure of abuses, on Altar girls. It was he, also, who permitted another set of countries to take up Communion in the hand. It was on his watch, again, that the restrictions on Communion under Both Kinds fell by the wayside – this was forbidden on Sundays, in theory, and for ‘large congregations’, but the American bishops defied him, and he gave in. It was under him that major investigations of American seminaries and women religious were turned into whitewash, liturgical abuses were established on an industrial scale at the World Youth Days, and being blessed by witch doctors, kissing the Koran, and putting Buddha on altars became de rigeur. Religious sisters not wearing their habits sat right in front of him at a Papal Mass of beatification in Australia in 1995. That day, liturgical discipline was dead.
Pope Benedict XVI allowed Communion in the hand in Poland, where Pope John Paul II never had. Did Pope JP know something his successor did not? It was Pope Benedict who chose to continue JPII’s Youth Day Masses, and Assisi ecumenical gatherings, at a moment when it would have been perfectly possible to let both series stop, and merely tried to make them less awful. But he did not continue JPII’s series of Instructions lambasting liturgical abuses: he must have realised it was pointless. It was under Pope Benedict that the investigation of the American women’s religious lost its conservative mojo: yes, he was the one who appointed João, Cardinal Braz de Aviz as Prefect of the Congregation for Religious, in 2011, with entirely predictable results.
There is, however, an important difference between the actions of these three Popes and Pope Francis. As far as one can tell, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Pope Benedict beleived that poor liturgical discipline was a bad thing. Paul VI lamented Communion in the hand and the loss of Latin. John Paul II apparantly dislike Altar girls, and condemned abuses vigourously before permitting them. Pope Benedict surely had no sympathy with the ghastly things which were happening in American convents. There is no reason to think that Pope Francis is similarly conflicted when he allows the washing of women’s feet on Maundy Thursday.
And another thing: to be crass about it, the Mandatum is not all that important. It happens once a year, and it is optional. It is not an integral part of the Maundy Thursday service – despite its name. Allowing Altar girls and EMHCs and syncetistic pagan rites during Mass are far more serious issues.
Let’s not get on a high horse about Pope Francis at this juncture. This is just another step, and not a particularly large one, in the development of the Ordinary Form away from Tradition, and it is not happening because of the personality of the Pope. It is happening because the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970 was unstable. It included a series of compromises which were never going to last. Given the direction of pressure, these compromises were always going to unravel the same way.
This is the real lesson to be learned. Attempting to shore up the totering edifice of the Novus Ordo with ferocious-sounding rules has failed. JPII and Pope Benedict didn’t manage it, and obviously – obviously – Pope Francis, though not a liturgical ‘meddler’, is not going to succeed in a project in which he has no interest. If it is collapsing, it is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.
The Holy Father broke convention in 2013 when he washed women prisoners’ feet
Pope Francis has issued a decree changing the way that the Holy Thursday foot-washing rite is celebrated around the world.
The decree was published today by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and signed by prefect Cardinal Robert Sarah.
The decree says that the rite should no longer be limited to men.
The Vatican website has published a letter from Pope Francis to Cardinal Sarah confirming the changes.
The letter, written in Italian, says that the Pope made the changes “so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus’s gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity”.
The Pope continues: “After careful consideration, I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the washing of the feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen.”
Francis broke convention on the first Holy Thursday after his papal election in 2013, when he washed the feet of women prisoners.
In practice, many parishes around the world have long included women in the rite.
The foot-washing rite is known as the Mandatum, after the first word of Jesus’s saying in John 13:34 before he washed his disciples’ feet: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”).
The rite was celebrated separately to the Holy Thursday Mass before Pope Pius XII restored it in 1955.
The rubric for the washing of the feet in force until today read: “After the homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows. The men who have been chosen (viri selecti) are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each one, and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one’s feet and then dries them.”
According to the decree, the rubric will now read “Those chosen from among the People of God” instead of “The men who have been chosen”.
According to the Vatican Information Service, the decree says: “The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ’s humility and love for His disciples.
“In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus’ words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.
“In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ and, driven by a love ‘to the end’, to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.
“To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: ‘Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers’ (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and lay people.
“This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully.”
On his blog at l’Espresso, Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister relates the events of an ecumenical gathering happening in Rome this week. We’re still working on getting an official translation, but Google translate (with a little grammatical assistance from your editor) provides us with this:
“I ask myself: but we have the same baptism? If we have the same baptism we must walk together.”
That said, by the way, by Pope Francis, in a reply on 16 November to a Lutheran who had asked if she could take communion at Mass with her Catholic husband.
In a general audience on Wednesday, 20 January, the Pope has taken the same concept:
“At the center of the Lutheran Cathedral in Riga there is a baptismal font dating back to the twelfth century, to the time when Latvia was evangelized by St. Maynard. That font is an eloquent sign of a source of faith recognized by all Christians of Latvia, Catholics Lutherans and Orthodox. This origin is our common baptism … Sharing this grace creates an unbreakable bond between us Christians, so that, by virtue of baptism, we can be really all brothers … All, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, we form a a royal priesthood and a holy nation. ”
Francis this time took it further. Meanwhile, however, the Lutheran pastor from Rome, Jens-Martin Kruse, who had welcomed the visit of the Pope in his church on Nov. 16 and had heard the words, has already come to these conclusions:
“The pope has invited all the faithful to take responsibility before God, to decide according to their conscience if it is possible joint participation, between Catholics and Protestants, the Eucharist. There are no theological reasons why this is not so.”
Pastor Kruse said that in an interview to Zenit on 19 January. And on this very day in Rome, there are those who have gone from words to deeds.
On the morning of January 19, Francis gave an audience in the Vatican to a delegation from the Lutheran Church of Finland, led by a woman, Irja Askola, Bishop of Helsinki, accompanied by representatives of the minority Orthodox and Catholic bishops Ambrosius and Teemu Sippo.
But after the audience with the Pope, in the course of the liturgical celebrations that the delegation has officiated in Rome along with groups of faithful who came also from Finland, it happened during a Catholic Mass that communion was also given to the Lutherans.
This, at least, is what was reported by the Finnish Lutheran weekly “Kotimaa”, signaling the surprise of a member of the delegation, Samuel Salmi, bishop of Oulu, according to which the Catholic officiants knew very well to give communion to the Lutherans…
So, taking all that is said here, what do we know?
Magister begins by reaching back to the ecumenical event in November, wherein he strongly insinuated that a Lutheran woman could receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband if her conscience and prayer led her to do so. You may recall that I wrote about this at the time it took place:
[T]he final paragraph gives us cause for much deeper concern, inasmuch as it indicates not just the pope’s thinking, but a program of action. Let’s look at the relevant section again:
I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.
In much of the commentary I’m seeing — commentary trying desperately to square the papal circle — the focus is on the first “dare”. The pope says he wouldn’t dare “allow this.” What is “this”? Permission for Lutherans to receive the Eucharist in Catholic churches. He says that it is “not my competence.”
The pope has not explicitly given permission to Lutherans to receive Communion. But — and this is a supersized “but” — he’s not telling them not to, either. In fact, he’s insinuating that it’s up to them. The final three sentences give the implicit permission to do just that:
“One baptism, one Lord, one faith.” Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.”
Oh, but you must say something more, Holy Father! It is your solemn duty to do so. Good parents, whether they like it or not, have to say “no” to their children when they are doing something that will harm themselves. Even if the child really, really wants to do it.
Of course, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this, even if we find the reality of it rather shocking. We’ve already received plenty of warning that this is what he believes. We saw it in his favor for Kasper throughout the synodal process (and even in the statement above), along with his refusal to distance himself from the so-called “Kasper Proposal”. We saw it in his refusal to reassure the better part of a million Catholics who sent him the filial appeal. We saw it in his latest interview with Eugenio Scalfari, when Francis said, “the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask [to receive Communion]will be admitted.” We saw yet another signal in the recent article from Fr. Spadaro, close confidant of Pope Francis, in which he indicated that the Synod has left the door open to Communion for the divorced and remarried – an article which Vatican watchers believe is indicative of the mind of Francis on the topic.
Why am I speaking here about Communion for the divorced and remarried when the topic is Communion for Lutherans? Because it’s all of a piece. 1 Corinthians 11:28 makes it clear how we must approach Holy Communion: “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” What Francis, Kasper, and others have been advocating is the idea that this examination is not necessary. That rather than being fearful that we “eat and drink judgment (or condemnation) against” ourselves if we receive the Eucharist unworthily, we should see it as the very means by which we may be strengthened on our “journey.” This is an outrageous form of utilitarianism, in which we use God — our first beginning and final end — to accomplish some other, lesser thing. If our worthiness to receive Him is treated as a matter of no importance, how can this be viewed as anything other than elevating the concerns of man — and man himself — above God?
Of course, this sort of humanism might produce other indicators – say, excessive concern for the material well-being of the poor, distribution of resources, or care for the environment – over and above concern for the salvation of souls.
Here now, Magister connects the same dots I laid out in November. When the pope gives the impression that it is okay for Lutherans who have a clear conscience about it to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church, they reach the conclusion that it’s okay for them to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church.
In Internet-speak: obvious conclusion is obvious.
And that’s exactly what we have here. Look at Magister’s text again:
…the Lutheran pastor from Rome, Jens-Martin Kruse, who had welcomed the visit of the Pope in his church on Nov. 16 and had heard the words, has already come to these conclusions:
“The pope has invited all the faithful to take responsibility before God, to decide according to their conscience if it is possible joint participation, between Catholics and Protestants, the Eucharist. There are no theological reasons why this is not so.”
Now, to be clear: Jens-Martin Kruse was not, as far as I can tell from this report, present in Rome this week for the ecumenical gathering in question. He was not at the papal audience earlier today. But other Lutherans were. Lutherans who were under the impression that it was perfectly acceptable for them to receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass. Lutherans who received Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass from “officiants” (priests) who “knew very well to give communion to the Lutherans.”
The Holy Father was not there. He did not personally give communion to these Lutherans. The Mass in question was held some time after the papal audience. How connected the two were, in terms of those involved in each, is impossible to say from what has been reported.
But what is not impossible is to connect a line directly from the Holy Father’s remarks on November 16th to the open reception of Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass by Lutherans in Rome today.
Words matter. Implications matter. It is a total fallacy to believe that simply because some error isn’t explicitly stated that its presence, hinted strongly at but never fully proclaimed, it does no damage. Leading people to error even by insinuation is still giving scandal; if one engages in such behavior, the responsibility for the consequences are still theirs.
As a Vatican source told Edward Pentin back in November:
The Holy Father’s words have been causing widespread concern in Rome, leading some to go as far as to describe them as an attack on the sacraments. “The Rubicon has been crossed,” said one source close to the Vatican. “The Pope said it in a charming way, but this is really about mocking doctrine. We have seven sacraments, not one.”
We are on a trajectory that includes an official celebration by the Catholic Church, led by the pope, on the 500th anniversary of the deepest wound the Christian faith has ever suffered. We will jointly commemorate the arch-heresiarch, Martin Luther, along with his ideological descendants. What other ecumenical abuses will we endure as this date approaches?
We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re not in Rome. Hell, we’re not even in Avignon.
This is almost certainly not the last we’ll hear on this issue. God spare us from what comes next.
In this deeply moving post, Msgr. Pope describes in detail the terrible life-long sufferings of the young visionary, St. Bernadette of Lourdes. We are stunned to learn of her outstanding humility and courage in her willing acceptance of this very heavy cross for love of God and His Blessed Mother. Bernadette possessed a profound understanding of how ‘penance and sacrifice’, willingly offered up for souls, is the greatest of gifts. She was surely able to say with St. Paul: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). What a truly amazing saint!
The life of St. Bernadette Soubirous was steeped in paradox and irony. She was the chosen visionary of our Lady at Lourdes and was to bring forth, by heavenly guidance, a spring that would bring miraculous healing to thousands. Yet Bernadette herself was beset with health problems that would cause her dreadful suffering. Her quiet and heroic suffering, something she accepted with obedience and as a kind of mission for souls, is not common knowledge today. Hers was a beautiful, difficult testimony; she suffered mightily. I base my reflections here on a biography of her by Fr. Rene Laurentin: Bernadette Speaks: A Life of St. Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words.
Bernadette Soubirous was born in January of 1844. Her father and mother were among the working poor of the town of Lourdes, France. Her father was a resident miller of a mill he did not own. For a time, the family found lodging in the Boly Mill, where Bernadette was born. Surely the persistent, gentle sounds of the mill grinding the wheat were some of her earliest memories. But famine brought financial ruin to the Soubirous family; the mill was sold and they lost everything. So poor did they become that they were forced to live in a cell of the former town jail.
Such poverty and poor nutrition surely contributed to her later health troubles and to her diminutive stature. Bernadette stood only 4 feet 7 inches tall and had an asthmatic condition that would be her cross throughout her life. Many who heard of the visionary of Lourdes and sought to meet her were surprised by the woman they met: diminutive, short of breath, and with a persistent cough. Her life was filled with suffering, and like Jesus, who suffocated on the cross, she would die in a similar (though less violent) fashion.
Bernadette’s suffering began at a young age; her health declined beginning in the sixth year of her life. She had stomach trouble, seemingly a disorder of the spleen. And the cholera epidemic of 1855 struck her cruelly. From that time on Bernadette was asthmatic. Even in the period just after the apparitions, she was so sick that she received the last Sacraments.
Although she recovered, she was constantly sought out by a constant influx of visitors to Lourdes; this tired her greatly. Her pastor and her family sought to protect her as much as possible, but she found it impossible to refuse such numbers entirely. Although Bernadette preferred solitude and shunned the fame that others gave her, she strove to be generous and patient with the steady stream of pilgrims and admirers.
Many were surprised by what they saw when they met Bernadette. They noted that she often coughed and that her asthma seemed to give her much trouble. One visitor was quite startled by her appearance, calling her “puny.” Some years later, another visitor described waiting in the entryway of the convent-school while Bernadette was summoned. As Bernadette came up the hall (with a sister escorting her) the visitor heard the sound of labored breathing and wheezing. The sister entered, followed by a “small child who looked to be merely 13 or 14.” Yet Bernadette was by this time 19 years old. The visitor noted that her face was oval and full, but her cheeks were rather red (a common problem in those who have asthma).
Yes, many visitors were surprised that a woman whose legacy loomed so large was herself so diminutive and in such poor health. They would ask, “Have you prayed for a cure?” The answer often came back simply, strangely, and laconically, “No.”
A visiting priest arrived to question Bernadette about the apparitions and, finding her in bed, asked how long she had been sick:
“Over a week,” she answered.
“And what ails you?”
“My chest,” she noted.
He observed that her cough indicated a considerable weakness in her chest.
“Are you asking the Blessed Virgin for a cure? Hasn’t the water from the grotto helped many people? Why wouldn’t she heal you?”
“Perhaps she wants me to suffer,” Bernadette replied.
“Why would she want you to suffer?”
“Maybe I need to suffer.”
“Why do you need to suffer?”
“Ah, God knows!” she said.
“Yes, people say that she told you that you would suffer very much.”
“Yes,” replied Bernadette, “but she promised me I would be happy in the next life.”
And here is a brief picture of what would be her life: often terrible sufferings, but accepted because she believed that she had been (in some sense) “assigned” this lot. Yes, it is a great paradox.
Despite her many illnesses, Bernadette certainly had her strengths. She stood up to strong interrogation. At one point the town commissioner, anxious about the crowds, warned her not to return to the grotto. She indicated respectfully that she was compelled to go there and that she could not guarantee that she would not. He threatened to lock her away in jail. “Then I guess I couldn’t go to the grotto!” was her fearless response. She was no shrinking violet, despite her illnesses. She knew what she had seen and heard, and no amount of scoffing or threats made her doubt what she had experienced. She also fiercely resisted anyone’s attempts to embellish or misrepresent the apparition. What had happened had happened; there was to be no adding or subtracting from it. She was serenely confident and never wavered from her descriptions.
Bernadette’s teachers among the Sisters of Charity of Nevers noted that her character was strong and that she had her stubborn moments. She could be sensitive to small injustices and was said to be somewhat mischievous, especially in her younger years. Despite her fame for being a saint (because she had seen the Blessed Virgin), she displayed no affectations of sanctity. Bernadette did not play to the crowds. Her family and the nuns who taught her insisted that she was as normal a girl as one could imagine.
As the years went by, her health problems multiplied. One of the sisters in the school she attended noted that Bernadette was regularly short of breath and that she experienced all kinds of other troubles: toothaches, frequent rheumatism in her leg, and a painful shoulder—so painful that it almost caused her to faint. Her frequent coughs brought on vomiting, and she often coughed up blood, sometimes in large quantities. She would often have to be brought to the window to help her breathe.
In sickness Bernadette was never known to be impatient. The winter and the months of early spring were the worst for her.
Many visitors would ask her if she wanted to be a nun. She said, “Yes, but I haven’t the health.” By 1864 her poor health had not improved much, but her attraction to the religious life had grown. Bernadette despaired that she would ever have the health to enter into the religious life. And yet the sisters who saw her growth in holiness were willing to make exceptions.
In 1866 Bernadette entered The Sisters of Charity of Nevers, the same order that had schooled her in Lourdes. Entering the novitiate, she looked forward to the relative seclusion and solitude. The steady stream of visitors and the burden of her fame continued to weary her.
Within a month of entering, as the cool of late September approached, Bernadette’s asthma grew worse. The sisters who ran the infirmary marveled at her ability to withstand suffering. Her choking and coughing were profound yet she did not complain. She said to the sisters, “It’s necessary; it’s nothing.”
So intense were her sufferings that by late October the chaplain was summoned. It was announced to the community that Bernadette would probably not last through the night. The local bishop was summoned as well, and he admitted her into solemn vows that evening presuming that she would not survive the night. Indeed, she had just vomited a basin-full of blood and could barely recite her vows; the Bishop of Nevers recited her answers on her behalf. He left the room that night convinced he would never see her alive again.
And yet Bernadette made another miraculous recovery. Patterns such as this continued until her death in 1879. With every passing year, the asthmatic flare-ups in the winter and early spring worsened, each time bringing her closer to death.
Bernadette entered the infirmary for the last time in December of 1878. In addition to her asthma, she had a tumor that produced rigidity in her knee and caused horrible suffering. The pain was so intense for Bernadette that it sometimes took an hour to move her into a “good” position. Her face was said to have taken on a cadaverous appearance. If she was able to sleep at all, even the slightest movement of her leg would elicit involuntary screams. She lost weight and was said to have slipped away to almost nothing. The descriptions of her condition at this time included the following: chronic asthma, chest pains accompanied by the spitting up of blood, an aneurysm of the aorta, a tumor on the knee, stomach pains, bone decay, abscesses, and bedsores.
Bernadette revealed that she was no longer able to meditate. She was heard to murmur from time to time, “My God, I offer this up to you. Give me patience.” One of the sisters in the Infirmary said that Bernadette’s poor body seemed to be nothing but one large wound.
During Holy Week of 1879, Bernadette’s bedsores became extreme. She coughed almost continuously. By now she knew and stated aloud, “My passion will last until I die.” Still, she rarely complained, though involuntary groans often came forth. Bernadette’s concern seemed to be more about the others around her in the infirmary who were disturbed by her coughing, than about her own condition.
Added to this were satanic attacks. She was heard to say, “Be gone, Satan.” She admitted that the devil tried to frighten her. But when she invoked the holy name of Jesus, the devil soon disappeared.
As death drew near she marveled, saying, “I wouldn’t have thought it took so much suffering to die.” But she then added, “It is no sacrifice to give up a miserable life, where we encounter so many hardships, to belong to God.” She further lamented, “I’m afraid I’ve received so many graces, and have profited so little.”
Her gaze was now directed most frequently toward the crucifix on the wall. She began to extend her arms in imitation of Christ on the cross, saying, “My Jesus! How I love Him!”
Two days before she died, St. Bernadette offered a metaphor for the mystery of her suffering. Something in her hearkened back to the Boly Mill where she grew up in Lourdes. The grinding of the millstone had lulled her to sleep as an infant and accompanied her first years as a child. Perhaps it was that now-distant memory that caused her to say, shortly before she died, “I am ground like a grain of wheat.” She had never willfully complained about her suffering. Somehow she seemed to know this was her mission: to suffer for others.
Yes, it was a supreme paradox that this visionary of Lourdes, who found through God’s grace and Mary instruction a spring of healing water for multitudes, would herself suffer so much for souls, offering her agonies for them, for us. It was her personal and hidden passion for us. The other side of the gift of healing that Lourdes gives is the grace to endure suffering.
Bernadette died on April 16, 1879. Her long passion was now ended. Like Jesus, she gave over her spirit and breathed her last. She was 35 years old.
Visitors to her tomb are able to see her incorrupt body in the glass casket at Nevers. But the face that they look upon is really a wax mask. Surely it captures her beauty, but it also hides the glory of her suffering: suffering embraced and accepted. Her true face at death was more gaunt and showed the effects of the cross she accepted as she was “ground like wheat” and as she lost herself entirely in the Cross of Jesus.
Most know St. Bernadette simply as the little girl kneeling in prayer before the Virgin Mary in countless grottos throughout the world. Less well known is the private, personal, and profound passion of a great woman who discovered that her mission was to suffer for others.
Where does the water of Lourdes get its power to heal? Surely from the Lord. But something of Bernadette’s passion runs through those waters as well. They are indeed precious waters, bought at great price.
Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The fault lines in Anglicanism revealed at last week’s primates meeting will not simply disappear
It is almost five years since I resigned my post in the Church of England and sought to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. My decision was a difficult one which involved leaving behind much that I loved and was familiar with. Often people assumed that I was running away from issues developing within the Church of England but this was not the case. My journey commenced because of a growing understanding that the Church of England and Anglican Communion were not what I thought they were.
The 1930 Lambeth Conference asserted that the Anglican Communion was a “fellowship, within the one holy catholic and apostolic church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury.” Developments within Anglicanism led me to the personal realisation that it was communion with the see of Rome and not the see of Canterbury that guaranteed catholicity.
Last week’s Anglican primates meeting and the unfounded speculations about a breakdown of relationships between the different worldwide Anglican churches has confirmed my decision and understanding of Catholicity. It also highlights broader issues which will be faced by the Anglican Communion in its relationship with the Catholic Church. Questions are posed about how we continue to work in ecumenical conversation.
While a resolution has been reached the whole affair highlights fault lines in Anglicanism that will not simply disappear.
What will the future of ecumenical discussions be?
ARCIC remains the principle organisation which seeks to make ecumenical progress between the Anglican Communion and Catholic Church. Relations have already become strained because of the ordination of woman within the Anglican Communion and the opening session of the third phase of ARCIC in 2011 recognised tension caused over the erection of Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans.
While the global south has been represented in ARCIC there has remained a dominance of theologians from the northern hemisphere. The outcome of last week’s primates meeting demonstrates clearly that the balance of power has shifted in Anglicanism. The African Anglican primate’s voice was obviously strong and will only grow stronger as the western forms of Anglicanism continue to steadily decline.
One of the suggested outcomes initially last week was that future bonds within the Anglican Communion should be reliant on a common relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury rather that communion between diocese and provinces. While this did not happen, it may only be a matter of time before issues resurface again and the primates will be back at this point again. If Anglicanism were to no longer function as a communion, different parts would only relate to each other because of historic affection for Canterbury rather than the mutual recognition. Anglicanism would no longer be bound together by confessional unity. This would certainly undermine Anglicanism’s claims of catholicity.
At present the Anglican partner in ARCIC is The Anglican Consultative Council. But in the future, if the Anglican Communion were to be at best a looser federation, who would provide the authentic Anglican voice in ecumenical discussions? It could all become very complicated.
The focus of the third and present phase of ARCIC is to consider questions relating to, “The Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in Communion the local and Universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching” (ARCIC III 2015). The first meeting of ARCIC III discussed at length a draft document which examined the structures of both the Anglican Communion and Catholic Church and how such structures facilitate communion within and among the local and universal dimensions of the church. It will be virtually impossible to have such a discussion in the future as relationships within Anglicanism will become so complicated and nuanced. X will be in communion with Y but not with Z, and so on. The difficulty will be that one partner in ARCIC has a largely coherent understanding of communion and the ecclesiology and the other has a wide and diverse understanding which will become further confused by fragmentation.
Potentially as Catholics we would have to enter into conversations with several different expressions of Anglicanism, if ecumenical talks were to still be meaningful. Certainly ARCIC’s focus, composition and efforts may need to radically shift.
Also how can we make progress in terms of unity with an ecclesial community that doesn’t seem at unity in itself?
What of the Church of England’s national voice?
Despite falling attendances and general decline, he Church of England still has an important national voice, especially on international issues such as persecuted Christians, climate change and the developing world. Being the focus of a global communion of 85 million people (a figure which changes depending on your source) certainly helps in giving credence to statements from the Archbishop of Canterbury and others. If this global dimension is diminished what effect will that have on our national church’s ability to speak with credibility? Realistically Anglicanism ceases to be such a global entity. The death knell of international Anglicanism could leave a vacuum.
It is an obvious statement that the Catholic Church in England and Wales exists within a global context, with full communion with brothers and sisters throughout the world. However, would our bishops be in a position (or have the desire) to fill the vacuum that Anglicanism leaves? One of the consequences of leaving a vacuum unfilled is the further creeping in of secularism into our national life.
A warning to those who seek decentralisation within the Catholic Church
Those who seek decentralisation within the Catholic Church can gain a glimpse in last week’s primates meeting of what the future may hold if they were to be granted their wishes. A compromise was reached by the primates last week but this decision was not without its sacrifices. Anglicans in America who have been placed under sanctions will surely not keep quiet for long. The danger is that last week’s resolution will be merely a surface dressing and therefore the inevitable is only prolonged. Good will can only stretch so far.
The Anglican Church in North America was founded in 2009 by former members of The Episcopal Church who were dissatisfied and disaffected. This group already claims 29 dioceses and looks to the African Bishops for oversight. This sort of arrangement is only likely to grow as Africa becomes stronger and northern Anglicanism shrinks. In all this the weaknesses of decentralised authority is clearly demonstrated. Do will really want to follow in this way? If we are honest are there similar fault lines closer to home?
Today the Church remembers Saint Margaret of Hungary.
Saint Margaret was a Dominican nun and the daughter of King Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina. She was born on January 27, 1242 and died on January 18, 1271.
Saint Margaret is truly a unique model of virtue for today’s modern young woman. In a prayer “deal” with God, her father promised her to the religious life at her infancy, in return for an end to the persecution of his country by various enemies. She grew into an exquisitely beautiful woman and for that reason was offered marriage many times. She refused any thoughts or inclination towards a married life. She was passionate about her consecration to Jesus and devoted all her efforts to His service, even defying her father’s will for her to be released from her vows.
Despite her extraordinary beauty, she chose to neglect her appearance and often mimicked the lifestyle of the poor and sick she served in her ministry. She would go months without bathing or grooming herself in any way and she was often described as “repugnant” by those who visited the convent where she lived. It is believed that she adopted this practice as a severe form of mortification due to a self-professed attachment to the sins of vanity and pride.
Margaret was extremely strong-willed and defiant in the face of tasks or requests with which she did not agree. She often fasted from food and sleep, ignoring the rules of community life she shared with her sisters.
Soon after her death at a young age, Margaret was venerated as a saint. For example, a church dedicated to her in Bocfolde, Zala County, appears in documents dated 1426. Steps were taken to procure her canonization shortly after her death, at the request of her brother King Stephen V. The necessary investigations were taken up between 1271 and 1276, but the canonization process was not successful, even though seventy-four miracles were ascribed to her intercession, most of them referring to curing illnesses, even someone coming back from the dead. Among those giving testimony were twenty-seven people for whom miracles had been wrought. Unsuccessful attempts to canonize her were also made in 1640 and 1770. She was finally canonized by Pope Pius XII on 19 November 1943, at that time the feast day of her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
Her feast day is celebrated by the Dominican Order. Raised by Pope Pius VII to a festum duplex, it is the day of her death, January 18.
Her monastery was among those suppressed in 1782, part of the suppression of all monastic Orders by the Emperor Joseph II. At that time, her remains were given to the Poor Clares. They were kept in Pozsony (today Bratislava) and Buda. The relics were partly destroyed in 1789 but some portions were preserved and are now kept in Esztergom, Győr, and Pannonhalma.
In art Margaret is usually depicted in a Dominican nun’s religious habit, holding a white lily and a book.
O God of truth,
through the Holy Spirit
you blessed our sister Margaret with true humility.
Teach us that same integrity
so that we may constantly turn from our selfishness
to your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
By Dr. Christopher J. Malloy on Theological Flint (and reposted on Rorate Caeli)
Rorate: “Blogger Dr. Christopher Malloy has written an eloquent piece on why we absolutely should not praise Luther as we draw near to the 500th anniversary of his initial public act of rebellion. Rorate thanks Dr. Malloy for his permission to cross-post this timely collection of quotations here.”
We praise someone who fundamentally deserves praise. No one is without fault, and no one without some merit. But only those are worthy of praise who fundamentally deserve praise, whose pith and marrow is good.
Now, Luther certainly saw some things in the Church as evil that were evil. No one can say that his vision was totally corrupted. But was his vision fundamentally worthy of praise? We must, of course, distinguish contemporary Lutherans from Luther. Here, we are interested in the founder, in the foundation he laid.
What should be the matter upon which we judge this case? Luther’s own texts, of course.
So, in this post, we will cite Luther at length in one of his key contributions. Granted, this key contribution he did not continue explicitly to lay out. However, he never retracted it. In another post, we can lay out the theses he continued explicitly to hold.
In reading the below, ask yourself these questions: Could a saint utter the words below? Could a holy man write the following? Could a true lover of God, one in the state of grace, write the following?
First Thesis of Luther. For Luther, Divine Foreknowledge means that there is No Contingency, and that means that there is No Freedom. This thesis he lays down, so he asserts, to protect God’s foreknowledge so as to protect his promise so as to protect our confidence in salvation by faith alone. Indeed, here we see the connection between this foundation and the explicit teaching of his that endures and which will be treated in a future post. The connection: If future events are contingent, God’s promise is not as trustworthy as we need it to be. Hence, future events are not contingent.
For Luther, there is either grace or freedom (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, from Luther’s Works vol. 33, p. 126; hereafter, LW 33:126). There is either freedom or Christ (LW 33:279).
(Regarding Pharaoh), Luther writes: “If there had been any flexibility or freedom of choice in Pharaoh, which could have turned either way, God would not have been able so certainly to predict his hardening. Since, however, the Giver of the promise is one who can neither be mistaken nor tell a lie, it was necessarily and most certainly bound to come about that Pharaoh should be hardened; which would not be the case unless the hardening were entirely beyond the capacity of man and within the power of God alone” (LW 33:183).
“If God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas necessarily became a traitor, and it was not in the power of Judas or ay creature to do differently or to change his will, though he did what he did willingly and not under compulsion, but that act of will was a work of God, which he set in motion by his omnipotence, like everything else” (LW 33:185).
“It is not in our power to change, much less to resist, his will, which wants us hardened and by which we are forced to be hardened, whether we like it or not” (LW 33:187).
“I admit that the question is difficult, and indeed impossible, if you wish to maintain at the same time both God’s foreknowledge and man’s freedom. What could be more difficult, nay more impossible, than to insist that contradictories or contraries are not opposed, or to find a number that was at the same time both ten and nine?…. Paul is thus putting a check on the ungodly, who are offended by this very plain speaking when they gather from it that the divine will is fulfilled by necessity on our part, and that very definitely nothing of freedom or free choice remains for them, but everything depends on the will of God alone…. Not that any injustice is done to us, since God owes us nothing, has received nothing from us, and has promised us nothing but what suits his will and pleasure” (LW 33:188).
“God’s foreknowledge and omnipotence are diametrically opposed to our free choice”(LW 33:189).
“Here, then, is something fundamentally necessary and salutary for a Christian, to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely prostrated and shattered…” (Bondage [LW 33:37]).
Luther presents as his evidence that God is unchanging. So, he concludes, is God’s will. So far, so good. But from these he deduces that therefore, nothing is contingent. Again,
“From this it follows irrefutably that everything we do, everything that happens, even if it seems to us to happen mutably and contingently, happens in fact nonetheless necessarily and immutably, if you have regard to the will of God” (Bondage [LW 33:37f]).
What have real saints said about this thesis? Well, St. Thomas More labelled Luther’s thesis on absolute determination to be:
“THE VERY WORST AND MOST HARMFUL HERESY THAT EVER WAS THOUGHT UP; AND, ON TOP OF THAT, THE MOST INSANE.”
AMEN to St. Thomas More. How can we contradict St. Thomas More here? Should we, out of human respect and errant versions of ecumenism, lose our theological heads, not in service of martyrdom, but rather in praise of such execrable doctrine?
Let us continue the citations.
For Luther, the thesis of absolute determinism is necessary in order to Protect Faith’s Certainty. No faith is possible unless one already “knows” that because God wills all things, nothing is contingent (LW 33:42).
“For if you doubt or disdain to know that God foreknows all things, not contingently, but necessarily and immutably, how can you believe his promises and place a sure trust and reliance on them? For when he promises anything, you ought to be certain that he knows and is able and willing to perform what he promises; otherwise, you will regard him as neither truthful nor faithful, and that is impiety and a denial of the Most High God. But how will you be certain and sure unless you know that he knows and wills and will do what he promises, certainly, infallibly, immutably, and necessarily?” (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, LW 33:42)
Now, this reason for humility is utterly false, since it contradicts Catholic Dogma. But St. Bernard said that giving false reasons for humility is in fact pride. Hence, Luther also takes one of the steps of pride in contending that this thesis Benefits Humility.
Luther recognizes that the notion of absolute determinism seems to make God utterly evil and perverse. Instead, then, of rejecting it as blasphemous and fideistic, he embraces it as lifting up Faith and Revelation, since it is so contrary to all reason:
“This is the highest degree of faith, to believe him merciful when he saves so few and damns so many, and to believe him righteous when by his own will he makes us necessarily damnable, so that he seems, according to Erasmus, to delight in the torments of the wretched and to be worthy of hatred rather than of love” (LW 33:62f).
Luther’s own words are the evidence. This is the testimony of his own mouth. Let the honest and decent reader judge the case.
Before the bar of every rational and decent person, does Luther not convict himself of utter inhumanity?
Before the bar of all that is reasonable in moral exhortation – from parental to educational to civil and criminal, does he not convict himself of a crime against all law? Is he, therefore, anarchical?
Before the bar of Catholic Dogma, supreme criterion on earth of what we know is and is not part of and/or in harmony with the Deposit of Faith, does he not convict himself of heresy?
Before the God whom we ought to honor, to whom we ought to ascribe only what is good and true and fitting, does he not convict himself of great blasphemies, greater even than the Gnostics who first attempted to ruin the Church? For the Gnostics distinguished two gods, one good and one evil. Does not Luther add to the evil by subtracting from the number of Gods, folding that Evil, which all right reason and right faith and common decency vomit out as execrable, into the one God?
Indeed, DOES NOT ALL OF MODERN THOUGHT — which, incidentally, is not entirely corrupt, though it is by and large no friend of Christ — REJECT SUCH VILE THOUGHT? If we, then, accept what is good and decent in Modernity – as it rebels against fideism and voluntaristic notions of God and absurd notions of justification and divine predetermination and the destruction of all legitimate autonomy of man – must we not therefore reject this foundational thesis of Luther? Finally, does this predetermination to evil harmonize with the errant notion of a mercy shorn of justice, so popular these days?