Search This Blog

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bishop Paprocki: The Upcoming Vote

This is important, please watch.  As Catholics we must heed the words of Bishop Paprocki!  They are balanced and very important for us to understand as we enter into the election season.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Liturgy, A School of Prayer

One of the things I do every morning as I drink my glass of iced tea (coffee for me), I read the news release from the Vatican.  I think that there is some good information in there and it keeps me abreast of what is going on in the mainstream Church.  As I was reading this morning, I came across a news brief which I would like to share.  I'm going to break it down Fr. Z style (this time. my responses will be in red):

The liturgy as a school of prayer, as a "special place in which God addresses each one of us ... and awaits our response", was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope explained how, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "we read that the word 'liturgy' originally meant a 'service in the name of/on behalf of the people'. If Christian theology took this word from the Greek, clearly it did so thinking of the new People of God, born of Christ Who opened His arms on the Cross to unite mankind in the one peace of God; 'service in the name of the people', a people which exists not of itself but which has come into being thanks to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ". [I think this is a key point.  There is something important about understanding that the Mass and Eucharist are not about the individual first, but rather it is about the faithful coming together to worship.  That is what the Holy Father is saying.]
"The Catechism also states that in Christian tradition, the word 'liturgy' means the participation of the People of God in the work of God". In this context Pope Benedict recalled how the document on the liturgy had been the first fruit of Vatican Council II. "By beginning with the issue of liturgy, light was very clearly thrown on the primacy of God, on His absolute precedence. ... Where the gaze on God is not decisive, everything becomes disoriented. The fundamental criterion for the liturgy is that it should be oriented towards God, in order to ensure we participate in His work. [A misconception which came about after Vatican Council II is being corrected.  The act of worshipping should be directed at God, the Father 100% of the time.  Our participation in the liturgy is not based on how much we do, but on how well we do it.]
"Yet, we might ask ourselves", the Holy Father added, "what is this work of God in which we are called to participate? ... And what makes the Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, Who brought salvation, real for me today? The answer is this: the action of Christ through the Church and the liturgy; in particular the Sacrament of the Eucharist which causes the sacrificial offer of the Son of God Who redeemed us to be present; the Sacrament of Penance in which we pass from the death induced by sin to new life; and the other Sacraments which sanctify us". [Get that, sacrifice and sanctification]
Quoting again from the Catechism of the Catholic Church the Pope affirmed that "a sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words'. Thus", he explained, "the first requirement for a good liturgical celebration is that it be prayer and dialogue with God, first listening then responding. ... Sacred liturgy offers us the words, it is up to us to enter into their meaning, absorb them, harmonise ourselves with them. ... One fundamental and primordial element of dialogue with God in the liturgy is concordance between what we say with our mouths and what we carry in our hearts", he said.  [Clearly, the Holy Father is trying to shift the meaning of active participation to actual participation.  We don't have to be doing something or even saying something all the time in order to fully participate.  We can internalize the matter and we can actually participate without opening our mouths or eyes one time during the Holy Sacrifice.  While we can and it is laudable that we do, at times, it is not a lessening of our participation if we don't, so long as we orient our hearts, our minds and our souls to the adoration, supplication and worship of God, the Father at Holy Mass.] 
The Pope then referred to a particular moment in which the liturgy calls upon us and helps us to find such concordance: the celebrant's invitation before the Eucharistic prayer: "sursum corda", meaning "let us lift up our hearts"; lift them up, that is, "out of the mire of our concerns and desires, our worries and our distraction. Our hearts, the most intimate part of us, must open meekly to the Word of God and join the prayer of the Church, in order to be oriented towards God by the very words we hear and pronounce".
"We celebrate and experience the liturgy well", the Pope concluded, "only if we maintain an attitude of prayer, uniting ourselves to the mystery of Christ and to His dialogue of a Son with His Father. God Himself teaches us to pray. ... He has given us the right words with which to address Him, words we find in the Psalter, in the great prayers of sacred liturgy and in the Eucharistic celebration itself. Let us pray to the Lord that we may become increasingly aware of the fact that the liturgy is the action of God and of man; a prayer that arises from the Holy Spirit and from us; entirely addressed to the Father in union with the Son of God made man". [Our dialogue is internal.  We must pray and we must unite our souls, our hearts, and our minds to God the Father, in Christ the Son, through the Holy Spirit.  That is the purpose of the Mass.  The Mass is a vehicle to bring us the Sacrament.  It is the means by which we worship as Christians.  It is the authentic and proper way for all Christians to commune with God.  But in order to do this we must pray.  We must understand that prayer is threefold.  It's object must be worthy of God.  It must include faith which includes implicit trust in God.  And it demands our attention.  We must be attentive to what we are doing.  If one of these things is lost, the prayer is not fulfilled.  Christ taught us to pray.  He furthered this by giving us the Mass.  And it is through understanding the end as well as the means that we can truly understand what is proper in the liturgy.]
Following the catechesis the Holy Father addressed greetings to, among others, faithful from Latin America, including a group of Chilean parliamentarians whom he reminded of Catholic politicians' duty "generously to seek the common good of all citizens, in a manner coherent with the convictions held by the children of the Church".

As I was looking at this article, I realized that the act of worshipping is not just an outward action, but it is an internalization of what God the Father created us for.  We were created to worship Him Who Is.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, man lost that freedom to worship Him.  As God expelled them from the Garden, He promised Adam and Eve that He would restore that freedom.  We find that freedom in the Sacrifice on Calvary.  Through the re-presentation of Christ's death in an unbloody way, we gain that freedom that was lost.  If our end on Earth is to worship God the Father, then it is fulfilled in the manner in which He gave us, the Holy Mass.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More on Participatio Actuosa and the Misconceptions

Recently, a priest friend and I were having a discussion regarding active participation prior to the Council and after.  He made the following assertions:

This is what I remember about Pre-Vatican II actual participation in the Mass during that brief and early period of my life:
1. Participation in Mass was highly individualized and personal. The only communal aspect was simply being gathered together. However, all eyes had to be fixed on the sanctuary, there was very little or no interaction amongst those present.
2. The Holy Rosary seem to be the prayer of choice during the liturgy by the vast majority of people. I was taught by my parents to hold the Rosary during Mass and even pray it during Mass.
3. However, I was given a St. Joseph Missal and asked to bring it to Mass to follow the Mass and many people brought both their rosaries and missals to Mass--missalettes or worship aids were not provided by the parish, except a hymnal of some kind.
4. The laity remained quiet, and only the altar servers spoke during the Mass or the choir if there was one--my experience during pre-Vatican II times was mostly the Low Mass at the early Sunday morning time slot.
He then stated, "So no one can tell me that "actual participation" as Vatican II and post Vatican II developments did not hinge on building upon what was good prior to Vatican II but also addressing what wasn't good, meaning passivity and letting others do for them what they should be doing themselves, like singing, speaking and actively engaged in the liturgy both internally and externally and the external being a symbol of internal participation and a fruit of it."

I can.  What you call passivity is not right.  I will use myself as an example (feel free to criticize me, it won't hurt my feelings).  I NEVER respond at Holy Mass and I can guarantee you that I am not passive in my worship.  I internally process and adore Our Lord called down from heaven at each and every Mass.  I do this primarily by the means you list first.

1.  I don't care what the person next to me is doing.  To be honest, I don't want to know.  It doesn't mean a hill of beans to me whether or not Billy is praying a rosary, meditating on the life of Christ or following his missal.  That is how he worships and that is his right.

2.  How one unites himself to the Sacred Mystery is not for me to call.  If one most perfectly unites himself to the SM by meditating on the Life of Christ, good.  If one unites himself to the SM through the rosary, good.  If one unites himself to the SM by following the Missal, good.  But I am not a huge fan of hand missals, because I see them as a crutch, outside the translation of the readings (personal opinion, others will disagree).  But regardless of that, it doesn't matter to me how Billy unites his mind, soul and heart to the SM, just that he does so.

3.  Missalettes and worship aids are unneeded expense and socialist.  The fact that I can pray from a Lasance Missal and you can pray from a St. Joseph Missal and Marc can pray from a St. Andrew's Missal and we are all able to express our personal taste in that manner.  And that is ok.  I shouldn't be forced to follow what OCP or Leaflet or whomever chooses for me.

Rosaries are good, even at Holy Mass.

4.  And yet there is imposed silence now.  It's as if silence is a bad thing, unless it is forced on us after the homily and after Holy Communion's song....Silence at Holy Mass is desirable.  It allows for the faithful to focus on the Sacred Mystery.  It allows for the internal aspect of worship to be expressed.  It is a major fault of Vatican Council II and after that all of a sudden we have to be "busy."

He then went on to say:

After Vatican II and when the liturgy changes were being first implemented, the thrust of the priests who were telling us what was desired by Vatican II was active participation and two things would facilitate this, the turning of the priest to face the congregation during the Mass to make the Mass more "intelligible" more vernacular to make the Mass more easily understandable and the actual participation of the laity in the responses and chants of the Mass that up until that time were reserved to the altar boys and/or choir.
By the 1980's and at the behest the liturgist Father Eugene Walsh, active participation was being defined in the following way:
1. hospitality2. creating silence for private prayer, listening to the Scriptures and meditating on them and listening actively to the prayers that are prayed and not using worship aids and following these in a book, but looking and listening with eyes, ears, body and soul.3. Actively participating and energetically in all spoken and sung parts4. Departing Mass recommitted to bringing Christ to our homes, play and work.
The clericalism part of this was priests in the late 60's and 70's trying to enforce this post Vatican II vision and by facing the people during the entire Mass, acting like supervisors of their participation and sometime belittling people who were slow or unwilling to change from their pre-Vatican II practices. This clericalism might well explain why so many who did not like being supervised during Mass may well have dropped out of Mass altogether, especially if they were felt to be second class citizens by maintaining their pre-Vatican II worship practices. 

No, I'm not looking to be hospitable during Mass.  I don't need to create silence, it is already there, as long as the faithful and the celebrant stop needlessly talking.  My participatio activa (actively participating by singing, responding, etc) is ALWAYS secondary to my participatio actuosa (internal and actual participation) which is how I properly worship.  I'll leave the talking to the servers.  I think that the lack of commitment was minimal compared to today's "participants."  At least people who went to Mass before the Council left the church.  The people after the Council just stopped going.

Is it any wonder, Father that the churches that are filling up are the TLM churches, by percentage?  So, those are the faithful who are committed.  Not those who self-idenitfy as Catholic and do nothing about it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mons. James Lavin, RIP

The world lost a very good priest.  I lost a very good teacher and a very good friend.  RIP Mons. Lavin.

Monsignor James Lavin, 1918-2012
Monsignor James Lavin, who devoted his life to serving the University of St. Thomas community, died today (Sept. 17) at the Little Sisters of the Poor residence near downtown St. Paul. He was 93.
Lavin had suffered from congestive heart failure and died of natural causes at the end of an early-morning Mass celebrated in his room by Father Joseph Johnson, pastor of Holy Family parish in St. Louis Park. "We got to the end of Mass," Johnson recalled. "I said, 'Go in peace,' and he breathed his last."
Arrangements are pending, but Lavin's funeral is expected to be held later this week in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus or in the Cathedral of St. Paul.
"Monsignor Lavin was one of the most beloved figures in the history of St. Thomas," said Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. "His paramount concern was always purely and simply for the welfare of students. They always knew that they could come to him with problems large and small, and he provided common-sense counsel in a soft-spoken but firm voice. He exemplified total dedication. We shall not soon forget him."
Lavin arrived at St. Thomas in 1936 as an undergraduate student and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English in 1940. He returned to campus in 1946 after his ordination and taught religion until 1967, when he became an academic counselor. He went to work for the St. Thomas Alumni Association in 1988 as a special assistant to the president and a university ambassador who attended countless events, funerals, weddings and baptisms.
Known widely as "Scooter" by his college friends, he lived in Ireland Hall as an undergraduate from 1936 to 1940 and as a faculty member and administrator from 1946 to 2002. He began to offer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, also known as "Lavin Burgers," in 1967 to residence hall students in the evenings. Scooter’s restaurant in the Anderson Student Center carries his name, as does an award for volunteer service to the Alumni Association.

Nothing Much Different

Recently, the following question was asked:
"What would the bishops of Vatican II have done differently if they had a crystal ball and could see how the Second Vatican Council was implemented 50 years later with all the developments that have happened in the last 50 years?"
I repsonded this way:

I don't think that they would have done much of anything differently.  What Vatican Council II "promulgated" and what happened are two separate events, with regard to the liturgy.  There is no connection between Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Novus Ordo.

With regard to so-called "ecumenism;" I think that they got exactly what they wanted, which is a change in theology.  The view of catechesis, ecumenism, and evangelization has been so compromised that in order to teach it properly today, one has to spend too much time unpacking the true understanding of Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Paganism in the world.

As for Religious Liberty, I think that they got exactly what they wanted with that too.  I think they wanted to change the tambor of how Catholics viewed Protestants and how we "tolerate" them.  They wanted us to not tolerate them any longer, but to accept them as valid Churches.  I think that most bishops of Vatican Council II would be upset with the term "ecclesial communion."

With regard to the Magisterium of Vatican Council II, I think that most of the bishops would be mortified to think that their work is being critiqued in such an objective way.  By and large the whole point of Vatican Council II was to introduce Subjectivism into the Church as a valid basis for theology and philosophy.

So, save for the Mass itself, I don't think they would have done much differently.  I think that by and large they have accomplished what they set out to do.  I think that most of the bishops would be disappointed that we have Benedict XVI.  I think they would see him more as a Pius XI type and not a John XXIII type.

In essence, the answer is that they would not have allowed the Mass to be as radically disassembled as it was, but other than that...nothing.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who is Jesus Christ?

Today at Holy Mass, Fr. Tigges challenged each and every person to ask and reflect on "Who is Jesus Christ, to me?"

For the Catholic person, this is not a difficult question.  Because we are Catholic, the Church gives a clear, concise and perfect answer as to who Jesus Christ is.

Jesus Christ is God made man.

That may seem like a very simple answer and it is.  But it is the most perfect answer, because it directly, clearly and properly answers the question.  Many will say there has to be more than that.  Many will say that He is this or He is that.  And that is all opinion.  But in essence and in reality, Jesus Christ is God made man.

Some may ask why is Jesus God?  Jesus Christ is God, because He is the only Son of God, having the same Divine nature as His Father.  Some may ask, why is Jesus man?  Jesus Christ is man, because He is the son of the Blessed Virgin Mary and has a body and soul like ours.  Others may ask since Jesus is part of the Blessed Trinity, He must be more than one person, right?  No.  Jesus Christ is only one Person; and that Person is the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.  It gets a little more complicated, but as questions keep getting asked, the answers around Jesus remain simple in answer.  Jesus Christ has two natures: the nature of God and the nature of man.  This is because He is the Son of God and He is the son of the Blessed Virgin.

As we continue to look at who Jesus is, we must understand that Jesus was not always man.  He became man at the time of the Incarnation.  Some will ask, what is meant by the Incarnation?  By the Incarnation is meant that the Son of God, retaining His Divine nature, took to Himself a human nature, that is, a body and soul like ours.  The next question often asked is how was He made man?  The Son of God was conceived and made man by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  When did this happen?  The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day, the day on which the Angel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.  When was Jesus Christ born?  Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day, in Bethlehem, more than two thousand years ago.

When we look to who is Jesus, this is the easiest answer.  It is also the most complete.  There is a misconception in today's world that there must be some deep theological and philosophical answer.  That isn't the case.  The best answer is the most simple.  When Catholics look to answer the question, "Who is Jesus Christ, to me?"  He can answer that in solidarity with all other Catholics in the world and say with all confidence and right thinking, Jesus Christ is God made man.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Musical Patrimony...Has It Been Completely Lost?

I spoke about this late last year, but honestly I think that I need to bring it up again.  What has happened to the musical patrimony of the Church?  The Mass is a song.  In and of itself it is sung.  It doesn't need help from hymns, it doesn't need "contemporary updating."   Vatican Council II specifically spoke to this by expressing that Gregorian Chant should still be the norm.  Yet we get Curtis Stephan and the Mass of Renewal.  Blech.  I know that some will look at this as a matter of taste.  It is.  But it is more.  The Church has a set way of singing the Mass, why change it?  For the sake of change?  Or something else?  To make it more palatable to the Protestants....

Listen below and tell me if you hear the similarity.  Remember, the secular has no place in the sacred.

compared to this...

No place.  The comparison can be made to easily and there is no place for this musical style in the Mass.  The profane (not vulgar) is not apt for Mass.  Leave it on Broadway.

Why not have this....

Too Catholic?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A '42 Chevy and the Church?

I know that this isn't a perfect analogy,  but I recently had a friend who said the following:
Perhaps the deficiencies of the Novus Ordo are crystallized in the fact that it leads to diffuse blog discussions (like this one) of how to pull it out of the ditch.
To which I responded:

I don't think that there is a way to pull it out of the ditch, without totaling it. I think that the only way to save it is to overhaul it.

I liken it this way. Look at the modified street rods that are out there. It would be like taking a '42 Chevy coupe and restoring it to 100% stock body and interior, while souping up the chassis and putting in a Corvette ZR1 engine package.  She'd look cool and have tons of power, but she wouldn't be authentic.  That's what they tried to do with the Novus Ordo in the first place.  And the driver put it into the ditch.

Realistically, there is nothing wrong with putting in a restored 216 inline 6-cylinder which was what was original to the car, it adds stock value and authenticity to the car.  And will fit much better and with no modification.  In other words, if it can be fixed without breaking it, don't break it.

I think that the Church is looking at the Novus Ordo reform of the reform this way.  I think that they want to pull the wreck out of the ditch and reform the car into something that looks like a '42 Chevy, but in actuality is something different.  Why?  Because change is good?  Why not restore the '42 Chevy into an authentic '42 Chevy?  The parts are all there, the restoration won't be any more or less difficult.  And once we have the '42 Chevy with the 216, isn't it going to be easier to drive, less apt to cause problems and keep to the authentic spirit of the car as it originally was?

The TLM was the '42 Chevy in it's original state.
The Novus Ordo was the '42 Chevy modified.
The attempt at the reform of the reform is to pull the car out of the ditch without totaling it.
What ought to happen is to pull the '42 Chevy out of the ditch and restore it to it's original state, as the car ought to be, all original parts. All original specs.  It is authentic and it adds value. And it will run right.

In short...sometimes a reform is good, but a restoration always adds value. I think that the leadership which heads Holy Mother Church could learn something. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another Frank Conversation....

No...I didn't meet Frank Caliendo, but I think I would like to someday, I think that his impressions of George W. Bush and John Madden are spot on...LOL!!!

Seriously, I had a conversation with a priest acquaintance recently which got me to thinking and I think that finally priests are starting to ask the right questions....maybe there is a little hope.

Father said,  "No, we need to celebrate the OF as best as we can by the rubrics, with a good art of celebrating it and doing what is allowed to make it in continuity with the EF Mass, the EF Mass should remain extraordinary, not Ordinary."

I responded in this way:

As best we can.

That is the crux of this whole problem and I see it as multi-faceted.

The first issue. "WE" don't celebrate the Mass, YOU do. We assist. We have no right to assume that we are celebrants along with you in that regard. Whether you meant it to be the clergy or not, that is not how it came across. The faithful have been confused these last 50 years by the erroneous notion that "we" celebrate the Mass. Most simply put, we don't.

Second issue. As best we can. Why not "as the Church expects?" The Mass is not a subjective action. Let me rephrase..the Mass SHOULD NOT be a subjective action. Sadly, with the Novus Ordo, it is. There is no liturgical law dictating what is and what is not. The rubrics of the Mass are 100% subjective. The options have been expanded ad nauseam, they have been taken from directive to suggestive, etc...Why can't the priest celebrate the Mass the way the Church intends? The answer is that the Church hasn't decided how the Mass should be celebrated. And this lends itself to the idea that the OF should really be the EF and vice versa. I will speak to that later.

Third issue. Doing what is allowed to make it in continuity with the EF. What does that mean? How can that objectively be applied across the board? It is an issue, because the OF has no clear direction. And I believe that is by design, from the Consilium.

Fourth issue. The EF should remain extraordinary...No, dear Father; it should not. The Mass is a directed action which is the vehicle to confect a sacrament. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. We are not based, as Catholics, on a subjective notion of biblical worship. We are based upon a liturgical ideal which is not only objective in nature, but guided by laws. It is guided by liturgical and canon law. Because liturgical law was stripped from the Novus Ordo in favor of suggestion, we are left with "as best we can." That is not good enough. With the TLM, we have legal recourse within the Church to hold our priests accountable to their actions. Because this structure is so very key to the notion of Catholic worship, the TLM should be the Ordinary Form until such time as the Novus Ordo is brought into legal certainty with regard to her ceremony.

It was a "suggestion" of the Protestant observers to loosen the rubrics from the objective to the subjective and it was adopted. So the language of the rubrics did change. And the Mass is yet again undermined.

This is all very complex, but a systematic view will show that until the Novus Ordo is not only in need of theological reform, but also in need of legal reform. The Mass is not a subjective biblical notion, but rather it is an objective liturgical notion.

And priests and modern liturgical theologians have either lost sight of that or willfully ignore it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Sincere Thank You...

I want to take a moment to thank each one of you who read my blog for doing so.  I write this blog as an outlet for my Catholic thoughts.  While I don't necessarily fall into the establishment view and I often say things which seem to be at odds with the mainstream, I can tell you that my intention is never to divide, but to bring perspective to the idea that the Church didn't start 47 years ago, but rather 2012 years ago.

Again, thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my blog.  It is humbling to me that a small town kid in the middle of Iowa has had over 35,000 views in 21 months of a blog.


Andy Milam

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Mass....The Real Question...

Since my days in college where I was a "liturgical assistant," I have fought against this notion that the Holy Sacrifice is a meal, in the first place.  It is not.

It is true that Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, but it was not completed until the Sacrifice on Calvary.  The liturgy is not, as Weakland and his cohorts would have us believe a meal, with sacrificial undertones.

And that is the shift in theology.  And this shift in theology from the Mass being a sacrifice to the Mass being a meal vis-a-vis insitution narrative v. the consecratory prayer.  Ultimately, this is the problem with the Novus Ordo.  It can be argued that the architects changed the intention of the Mass from that which it was understood to be into something wholly and completely new.  And that argument has legs.

We can go on and on and on about the liturgical direction, the posture of the faithful, the attitude of the faithful regarding participatio actuosa v activa, the placement of the pax, etc, etc...those things are all very important discussions, as I can attest, but if we bring it down to brass tacks, it is this theological question, "What is the Mass, primarily, Meal or Sacrifice?"

If the Mass is a Sacrifice, we have 1965 years of theological certainty to back up our position.  If the Mass is a meal, we have 47-64 years to defend a theological shift.  We can find reference to the "meal aspect" going back to the first century, but that aspect is always, always couched as being secondary and subordinate to the Sacrificial action.  This is not the case since at least 1965 and most likely 1948.  When the Mass loses it's Sacrificial nature, it loses it's validity, because while the Eucharist was instituted on Holy Thursday, it was not completed until Good Friday.  And without the bloody Sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior, we have nothing more than a symbol.  There is no sign.  For what is a Sacrament?  An outward sign instituted by Christ to bring about Grace.  Without the Sacrificial action of Christ at Calvary, there cannot be an unbloody sacrifice at each Holy Mass.

So, we can argue all we want about postures and positions, they make the Mass more reverent, but the real question is how do we defend the unbloody Sacrifice against the notion of a meal?  The theological question is in front of us, we must answer it and defend it, in an orthodox manner.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's Election Time...Accusations of Flip-Flopping...

It seems every election season we hear about flip-flopping.  You know, where someone changes a position that the other party doesn't like.  Most of the time it is a Democrat accusing a pro-life candidate of changing his position from being once pro-abortion to that of pro-life.

Friends, that is not flip-flopping, that is development of understanding.  As Christians, and more specifically, as Catholics, we are expected to form our consciences according to the Truth.  Sometimes it is easier, sometimes it is harder.  But it is always a journey that takes the entire life of a person and it happens in varying degrees.

What we are really fighting is what is known as British Empiricism.  It is the basis of the philosophies of John Stuart Mill, John Locke and David Hume.  They essentially state that logic is the answer and that everything can be explained vis a vis the scientific method (Yes, I know that is an oversimplification, but it is the very base of their understanding) and that if it cannot be logically reasoned or proven then there is no basis for it.  This is how the vast majority of pro-aborts view their movement.  They really believe that since we cannot prove that life begins at conception, that we cannot treat the unborn human person as a person.  And the argument stems from there.  I will not rehash it, it is widely known.

To the contrary, many in the pro-life movement don't ascribe to this philosophy.  They are more akin to Bl. John Henry Newman's view as presented in An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.  Newman breaks things down into several parts, first he speaks about believing that which you don't understand and second, he speaks about believing that which you cannot prove.  These views are at odds with the Empiricists because it uses assent and inference, a concept which does not follow the closed view of logic.  Newman's view speaks much more fluidly about logic and that it can be applied in a much more open way.

What the pro-aborts refuse to acknowledge is that one can assent their mind and their will to the tenants of the unborn without fully understanding that life begins at conception.  But it is not necessary to "know" this either because  So while the regular unlearned pro-lifer, or anyone for that matter, may not be able to conceive that human life begins at conception, the words of the propositions that define the position are clear and intellectually accessible and assent may legitimately follow.

The key difference between assent and inference is that assent is unconditional and inference is conditional, i.e., dependent on other propositions or ideas and unable to stand by itself.  This is the second part of the equation.inference described a proposition that is intrinsically dependent on other propositions. For instance, the statement, "Therefore, the car is red," is clearly dependent on antecedent propositions for its meaning and those propositions would need to be disclosed before one could meaningfully assent. This is an inferential statement as opposed to "The car in front of the house is red," which is an assertion that can be assented to because it can stand on its own.

Finally, Newman speaks about the Ilative sense.  It is the faculty of the human mind that closes the logic-gap in concrete situations and thus allowing for assent. Logic/formal inference utilizes dependable processes that lead to a certain and firm conclusion in the fields in which it is applied. However, Newman maintained that in concrete life formal incontrovertible proof in favor of a decision is not possible—the best one can achieve is converging probabilities in favor of a conclusion. For Newman it is impossible to attain the concrete existential equivalent of logical certainty. Thus, to close that gap between converging probabilities and full assent, one needs the aid of the Illative Sense in order to attain certitude in specific situations.

Newman recognized that there are dangers associated with using the Illative Sense. In using it one may become vulnerable to superstition and eccentricity. But superstition is held in check, Newman suggests, by the moral element in the act of faith, that is, holiness, obedience, and the sense of duty will safeguard faith from becoming mere superstition.

So, where the pro-abort fails is in holding fast to the Empirical view is that he refuses to look beyond the scope of the logic which faces him.  He doesn't properly apply reason as it is intended to be applied.  The pro-lifer, on the other hand is more willing to allow for his own human faculties to grow and close the "logic gap" as Newman puts it, therefore opening the possibility that it is acceptable to believe that human life begins at conception without empirically knowing it to be the case.

As we listen over the coming months about Romney's journey to becoming more pro-life, we must take into consideration that he may not have a full assent of his mind to the concept.  However, we can take solace in the fact that he is coming to understand it better.  We know this because of his own personal transformation, but also because of who he chose as a running mate.  Paul Ryan is staunchly pro-life and he will be able to continue to help the assent of Romney's mind to that of being more completely pro-life.

If Romney can make the statement regarding being pro-abort, "Understand over time one's perspective changes somewhat," he said. "I'm in a different place than I was probably in 1994, when I ran against Ted Kennedy, in my own views on that."

We can have hope that he will continue to grow in assenting his mind to becoming 100% pro-life.  We must not forget that while there may be some semblance of evil in some of the things a candidate believes, we are bound to electing that candidate which will do the most to further the common good.  If we stop supporting Romney in favor of a candidate like Ron Paul, who may be more perfect, knowing that he does not have the votes to defeat Obama who is more evil than Romney, we are not helping to lessen evil in the world.  For if Obama is re-elected we will face a greater evil than if Romney is elected.  The push right begins by choosing the lesser evil and perfecting the person after that.  It is clear that we cannot perfect Obama, so we must choose to elect the candidate who can defeat him.  In this election it is Mitt Romney.  Once Romney is in office, the American people through the pro-life movement can work to perfect him.  We have seen that he is open to developing his view.

It is not better to be a little pro-abort.  But it is better to be open to the pro-life truth.  Romney gets us there and he is electable. No other candidate can do that.  So, as we vote this election season, we must remember that to lessen evil is a step at destroying evil.  It is akin to the parable of the weeds...

[24]Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his field. [25] But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.
[26] And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. [27] And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? [28] And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? [29] And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. [30] Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.
[36] Then having sent away the multitudes, he came into the house, and his disciples came to him, saying: Expound to us the parable of the cockle of the field. [37] Who made answer and said to them: He that soweth the good seed, is the Son of man. [38] And the field, is the world. And the good seed are the children of the kingdom. And the cockle, are the children of the wicked one. [39] And the enemy that sowed them, is the devil. But the harvest is the end of the world. And the reapers are the angels. [40] Even as cockle therefore is gathered up, and burnt with fire: so shall it be at the end of the world.
[41] The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. [42] And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43

I am not telling you how to vote, but rather that you must vote to lessen evil.  Who is sowing good seed in that parable and who is sowing weeds?