Tuesday 25th October 2016

Morality and economics, Pope Francis, and Rush Limbaugh

November 30, 2013 World News Comments Off on Morality and economics, Pope Francis, and Rush Limbaugh

November 30, 2013
By Matt C. Abbott

Pope Francis recently issued the apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel.” Click here to read it.

Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh isn’t pleased with the document, calling it “pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.” (Source)

I sought comment on the matter from Father John Trigilio Jr., Ph.D., Th.D., president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Below is Father’s analysis (slightly edited).

Mabel And The Antichrist

November 30, 2013 Featured Today Comments Off on Mabel And The Antichrist


In 1908 Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson published his futuristic novel Lord of the World, set about a century ahead and depicting the coming of Antichrist and the end of the world. The book was highly praised by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and it merits consideration today — when we are at approximately the time of the story.
Benson made an attempt to predict technological advances, and in this regard his book is closer to the mark than some futurist novels. Air travel was well-established, with aircraft called volors. Apparently a volor had only one propeller, and the wings flapped up and down! Of course it is impossible to predict future changes with any degree of confidence. George Orwell published his book Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, so he had to look ahead only 35 years, and he was right about the change from pounds, shillings, and pence to decimal currency in Britain; but he gave them dollars and cents instead of pounds and pence.
Chesterton was probably wise to ignore technological advances in his novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill; published in 1904, it depicts events a century later, but people are still traveling in hansom cabs and horse-drawn buses.
In this article I will concentrate on the general picture of society Robert Hugh Benson projects, and in particular on the effect of that society on one character — Mabel Brand. I’ll relate that to Western society today.
Msgr. Benson rightly saw the early 21st century, particularly in Europe and America (the United States had annexed Canada!), as a time of all-embracing secularism. The religious people who remained were nearly all Catholics, and the irreligious were materialists and Communists. Freemasonry and Marxism had been dominant factors in the triumph of secularism and the overthrowing of religion.
The great fear was that war would break out between the West and the East, a war with disastrous consequences because of the terrible weapons of destruction that science had made possible. Then came a mysterious charismatic figure who reconciled the opposing sides and brought the promise of permanent and universal peace.
Julian Felsenburgh was his name, and he was hailed as Savior of the world. He was seen as “the kind of figure that belonged rather to the age of chivalry: a pure, clean, compelling personality, like a radiant child.” He had arisen out of the flat, socialistic level of a world that had lost all ultimate meaning, and which saw Man as the ultimate reality. Now here, in Felsenburgh, was the perfect representative of divine man. So he was referred to as Incarnate God. In reality, he was Antichrist!
Nineteen-year-old Mabel Brand, married to a prominent politician, craved a world of peace and harmony, but she and her husband viewed religion as an impediment to this, and as something evil and irrational. When Julian Felsenburgh came she welcomed him as the fulfillment of her dreams of a better kind of life than the current materialistic society offered.
“I saw the Son of Man,” she said. “Oh! There is no other phrase. The Savior of the world. . . . I knew Him in my heart as soon as I saw Him.”
The One who now bore these divine titles “was no longer a monstrous figure, half God and half man, claiming both natures and possessing neither. . . . Here was one instead whom she could follow, a god indeed and a man as well — a god become human, and a man because so divine.”
But Felsenburgh didn’t remain the man of peace he at first seemed. He took brutal steps to crush faithful Catholics. He imposed compulsory worship — worship of Man, not God. The Christian festivals were replaced by festivals celebrating the new humanistic religion, with an apostate Catholic priest placed in charge of the development of a suitable secular ritual.
Catholicism was the principal enemy, for it constituted the only great threat to a universal Religion of Man. It was, according to the Antichrist, high treason against Man, for it asserted a transcendent supernatural authority — God. So it must be removed from the world.
The turning point for Mabel was the passing of a law that everyone will be questioned as to whether they believe in God, and will be put to death if they confess that they do. She was unable to accept the apparently logical consequences of the secular humanism with which she had been indoctrinated, yet was unable to refute it. She assumed it was true, yet found it revolting.
She saw only one solution, for life had become unlivable. Euthanasia was legal and was widely practiced (the Release Act had been passed in the year 1998), and she found it preferable to the Religion of Man that Felsenburgh the Antichrist offered. “It was her belief, as of the whole Humanitarian world, that just as bodily pain occasionally justified the termination of life, so also did mental pain.” Euthanasia could be “the most charitable act that could be performed.”
Comparing the current Western world with Benson’s picture, we find in both a dominant materialism hostile to Christianity. There is a difference in the way people have reacted: In Benson’s scenario most felt a deep need for the spiritual but tried to achieve it by deifying man, whereas now most people without religion seem content to live without the spiritual.
Perhaps that’s not altogether accurate, though. The occult and witchcraft have plenty of followers, and many consult their horoscopes. And we have the extreme environmentalists and their latest fad of global warming, which has become a pseudo-religion for many.
Brian Clowes makes very pertinent comments on this in his excellent article in The Wanderer of October 31, p. 7b. To quote him: “This faith has a god (Gaia, the Mother Earth, etc.), a pope (Al Gore), a priesthood with religious orders (PETA, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and others), dogmas that must not be questioned (population control and global warming), rituals (recycling and Chevy Volts), feast days (Earth Day celebrations), sacraments (sterilization and abortion), and even indulgences for ‘sins’ such as driving a big SUV (carbon offsets).”
There is this difference: In Benson’s novel Man is glorified; in the secular religion of our world he is more often viewed as a parasite: No longer seen as the image and likeness of God, he has become a menace to the pure earth of Gaia.
In both Benson’s future world and our own time Catholicism is perceived as the great enemy, the force that must be destroyed if the new religion is to prevail.
Many are like Mabel: trapped in materialism and yearning for something nobler, yet blocked from the truth by presuppositions. There is a challenge for us here: to convey the truth to them in a way they can understand.
In Mabel’s case the apostate priest Fr. Francis had outlined Catholic beliefs to her, and tried to present them fairly. But he had lost the faith, and as a result his explanations lacked life and warmth, and did not address her difficulties. So they left her cold and confused.
Another Francis has been giving advice recently about how to evangelize: Pope Francis. He has emphasized the need for a living relationship with Jesus Christ, who is Truth Incarnate, and through that relationship to convey the Christian truths that have transformed our lives. Believers need to both know and love the faith, and to know and love and sympathize with the many Mabels of today.

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(John Young is a graduate of the Aquinas Academy in Sydney, Australia, and has taught philosophy in four seminaries. His book The Scope of Philosophy was published by Gracewing Publishers in England in 2010. He has been a frequent contributor to The Wanderer on theological issues since 1977.)

A Devastating Poll On Obama — And Obamacare

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“The Affordable Care Act’s political position has deteriorated dramatically over the last week.” That, coming from longtime Obamacare cheerleader and Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, was pretty strong language. And it was only Wednesday of the week in question.
That was the day after the release of a devastating Quinnipiac national poll. It showed Barack Obama’s approval rating at 39 percent, with his disapproval rating at 54 percent — sharply down from 45 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval on October 1, the day the government shutdown began and healthcare.gov went into (limited) operation. … Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

November 30, 2013 Our Catholic Faith Comments Off on Catholic Replies

Q. In St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, he talks about Christ appearing to many people after the Resurrection and “last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me” (15:8). What does he mean by being born “abnormally”? — P.R., Massachusetts.
A. Other translations make the meaning of this clearer when they have Paul saying that he was “one born out of due time” (Douay-Rheims) or that he was “one untimely born” (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Paul means that because he was not with Jesus from the beginning, as were the Twelve, he is “the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9). He goes on to say in the next verse, however, that “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God [that is] with me.”
Earlier in the same letter, Paul asserted his right to be called an apostle. “Am I not an apostle?” he asked. “Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? Although I may not be an apostle for others, certainly I am for you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord” (9:1-2).

Q. Today, our seminary professor proclaimed as false the notion that the Old Testament made prophecies or predictions about Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection. Rather, she said, these seeming prophecies are due to a “retrospective rereading of the Old Testament.” She added of these “alleged” prophecies that “none of it holds any water, but it makes them happy at the parish level.” She also stated that we recognize the “same work of God in the Christ event” that is evident in the Old Testament. However, as the attached document shows, there are at least 351 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ! It is mathematically impossible that this is just a coincidence, or is just our projecting onto the Old Testament text what is not really there. What do you think of this? — Name and State Withheld.
A. We think your professor is wrong. Of course, some of the Old Testament prophecies did not become clear until they were fulfilled in Jesus, but to call false the notion that there were many prophecies (more than 300) in the Old Testament that pointed to the life, death, and Resurrection of our Lord is contrary to what the Church teaches. For example, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) says this (cf. nn. 15, 16):
“The principal purpose to which the plan of the Old Covenant was directed was to prepare for the coming both of Christ, the universal Redeemer, and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy (cf. Luke 24:44; John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:10), and to indicate its meaning through various types (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). . . . God, the inspirer and author of both testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New. For though Christ established the New Covenant in His blood (cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (cf. Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27; Romans 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 3:14-16) and in turn shed light on it and explain it.”
Speaking of questionable insights into the Bible, we got a flier the other day about a talk on the Gospel of Matthew that was to be given at the Paulist Center in Boston. The flier said that the speaker, Dr. Michael O’Laughlin, would demonstrate that “Matthew was not an eyewitness account, but was based on two documents from an earlier stage of reflection on the meaning of the Christ event.” The reason this flier caught our attention was that we had some disagreements with Dr. O’Laughlin 24 years ago (!) when he came to our parish to present a six-week series on “The New Testament for Beginners.”
The very first night in that series back in 1989, O’Laughlin informed the attendees that the evangelists were not eyewitnesses to the events in Jesus’ life, that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the four Gospels, and that St. Luke did not know St. Paul and was probably not a physician. Because it is difficult to challenge a speaker without all the facts at hand, we wrote to O’Laughlin later and quoted from Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, which said that the Gospels were the work of apostles and “apostolic men” and were “handed on to us in writing . . . according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” (n. 18).
One footnote to that passage said that “apostolic men” referred to Mark and Luke. Another footnote cited the second-century writings of St. Irenaeus, who wrote in Against Heresies that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were indeed the authors of the Gospels. He also wrote that “Luke, also, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by him.” Irenaeus would have learned this from his teacher St. Polycarp, who knew John, the apostle and author of the fourth Gospel.
Dr. O’Laughlin responded that while “the points you raise are valid ones,” we had misinterpreted him and misquoted Dei Verbum, which he said “carefully avoids saying that the apostles wrote the Gospels.” But paragraph seven of that document says that Jesus’ commission to preach the Gospel to all nations “was faithfully fulfilled by the apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by ordinances, handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.”
There were other places where we thought O’Laughlin was off base, but suffice it to say that he put more credence on what biblical scholars think than on what the Church teaches. He saw little hope in bridging “the gulf that stretches between my position as a scholar and your own as an apologist. We will most likely never agree on what it is permissible to say in a class. I, however, am quite willing to accept and honor your basic input, which in this case I believe boils down to a plea to put greater emphasis on the teachings of the Magisterium. I would ask you to afford me the same openness.”

Q. An evangelical friend and I have been visiting a man in the hospital who says that he is an atheist. When my friend and I talked about Baptism for the man, she said that it would have to be by immersion. I told her that pouring water on the man’s head would be sufficient, but she told me to “prove it from the Bible” that this manner of Baptism is legitimate. Is there anything in the Bible about immersion being the only way to baptize someone? — A.A., Massachusetts.
A. We are not aware of anything in the Bible stating that the only way to baptize someone is by immersion. Although Jesus was baptized by immersion in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (a Baptism that He did not need), He never talked about immersion when He said that one must be “born of water and Spirit,” i.e., baptized, in order to get to Heaven (cf. John 3:5), or when He said that the formula of Baptism is “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
Baptism by immersion was commonplace in the early Church and up until the 13th century, but it was not the only method of Baptism. The first-century document known as the Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, makes this clear when it says:
“In regard to Baptism — baptize thus: After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water; and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
So the pouring of water was acceptable in apostolic times. It is also implied in the Bible. For example, when the apostles baptized 3,000 persons in the city of Jerusalem on the first Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:41), how likely is it that all those converts were immersed in water?

Pope: Intelligence is a gift

November 30, 2013 World News Comments Off on Pope: Intelligence is a gift

2013-11-29 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)The Christian conforms his way of thinking to God’s, and for this reason rejects ways of thinking that are weak and restricted.
This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Sanctae Martha. The Lord taught his disciples to be attentive to the signs of the times, signs which the Pharisees failed to comprehend.
The Pope said that, in order to understand the signs of the times, a Christian must think not only with his head, but also with his heart and spirit. Otherwise, he cannot understand the “way of God in history”:“In the Gospel, Jesus does become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him. At Emmaus he says: ‘How foolish and slow of heart’. ‘How foolish and slow of heart’… He who does not understand the things of God is such a person. The Lord wants us to understand what happens, what happens in my heart, what happens in my life, what happens in the world, in history… What is the meaning of what is happening now? These are the signs of the times! On the other hand, the spirit of the world gives us other propositions, because the spirit of the world does not want a community: it wants a mob, thoughtless, without freedom.”
While the spirit of the world wants us to take a “restricted path,” Saint Paul warns that the “spirit of the world treats us as thought we lack the ability to think for ourselves; it treats us like people who are not free”: “Restricted thought, equal thought, weak thought, a thought so widespread. The spirit of the world does not want us to ask ourselves before God: ‘But why, why this other, why did this happen?’. Or it also offers a prêt-à-porter [‘ready to wear’] way of thinking, according to personal taste: ‘I think as I like!’. This is okay, they say…. But what the spirit of the world does not want is what Jesus asks of us: free thought, the thought of a man and a women who are part of the people of God, and salvation is exactly this! Think of the prophets… ‘You were not my people, now I say my people’: so says the Lord. And this is salvation: to make us people, God’s people, to have freedom.”
Pope Francis added that Jesus asks us “to think freely… in order to understand what happens.” The truth is that “we are not alone! We need the Lord’s help”. We need to “understand the signs of the times”: the Holy Spirit, he said, “gives us this present, a gift: the intelligence to understand”:”What path does the Lord want? Always with the spirit of intelligence with which to understand the signs of the times. It is beautiful to ask the Lord for this grace, who sends us this spirit of intelligence, because we do not have a weak thought, we do not have a restricted thought and we do not have a thought according to personal preference: we only have a thought according to God. With this thought, which is a thought of the mind, of heart, and of soul. With this thought, which is the gift of the Spirit, [we] look for the meaning of things, and to understand the signs of the time well.”
The Pope concluded: This is therefore the grace for which we must ask the Lord: “the ability which gives us the spirit” to “understand the signs of the time.”

Video: Rev. Robert A. Sirico Comments on the Economic Views of Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’

November 29, 2013 Frontpage Comments Off on Video: Rev. Robert A. Sirico Comments on the Economic Views of Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In this short talk, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, offers some general observations about the new “Apostolic Exhortation” published Nov. 26 by Pope Francis. Specifically, Rev. Sirico addresses the economic content of the work, titled “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) and poses some questions for further reflection.

Moratorium On Common Core Standards

November 29, 2013 Featured Today Comments Off on Moratorium On Common Core Standards


I don’t know if we should view the information coming out of New York City regarding Common Core as good news or bad; I await our readers’ reactions. It seems as if the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), New York City’s teachers union, is calling for a delay on any decisions about teacher performance based upon the implementation of the controversial federally mandated curriculum. On October 14, the web site Education News reported that the UFT, “citing a lack of curriculum materials in many schools in New York City,” is “calling for a moratorium on high-stakes consequences for Common Core Standards assessments as the city schools are just a few months into implementing new teacher evaluations.”
What is the union worried about? It seems as if Common Core’s standards have become a problem for members of the union. Education News reports, “The union is pushing for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers to make yet another change to the state’s teacher evaluation law. . . . We’re 15 percent through the school year and this is still a complete mess,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We have no choice but to go in this direction.”
Even those predisposed to react with skepticism toward teachers union demands may find themselves sympathetic with Mulgrew. A survey commissioned by the UFT “showed that most schools are still missing all or part of the curriculum” based on Common Core. “About 64 percent of schools still lacked some math curriculum materials and 78 percent had not received English curriculum, according to the survey.” It seems fair that teachers should not be held responsible for teaching a curriculum that is not available to them.
Education News found that, while the federal Department of Education was responsible for delivering the curriculum to the nation’s schools by the beginning of this fall’s term, there was an “uneven distribution of curriculum. . . . Several schools received hundreds of copies of the wrong book, while others received too few copies to teach the curriculum for an entire grade. The curriculum is supposed to help teachers better prepare students for the state’s end-of-the-year standardized tests, and students’ performances on the tests will have a direct result on the rating teachers receive on their evaluations.”
According to teachers union head Mulgrew, “Now we know there is no debating with the fact that [the city’s] incompetence on getting the right materials to schools will have an adverse effect on the students and teachers.” Mulgrew wants the moratorium to be lifted only when “every school has the appropriate materials.”
Is it unfair to think of the rollout of Obamacare as we read this story? Is that comparing apples and oranges? Or is there a pattern that can be seen in both Obamacare and Common Core that requires our attention? Is this another piece of evidence for why the federal government does not belong in local school systems — and in our health-care system? Is any delay in implementing Common Core good news?
On another topic: selecting a college major. It revolves around the old question of whether students should choose a field of study based on the job prospects it offers, or on their scholarly interests. Many of us who studied in a liberal arts college decades ago heard the maxim that colleges ought not be considered “trade schools”; that employers will respond more favorably to job applicants with the language skills and the well-rounded scholarly background of a liberal arts major than to those with “narrow” occupational training.
It is an argument that has lost much of its luster in the difficult job market of our time. Employers do not seem as attracted as they once were to the “well-rounded” liberal arts major. The stories about liberal arts graduates either unemployed or working at Starbucks make an impact on us because they strike home. Many of us know young people caught in these dire straits.
An article by Catherine Conlan on Yahoo’s web site deserves attention because of these new workplace realities. Conlan reports on a recent study by Payscale that documented the “seven most underemployed majors” in the United States today. Specifically, the study examined which college majors result in graduates who have “to settle for jobs that don’t match their education or training.”
Coming in seventh place was psychology, whose “majors often end up in human resources positions, teaching, or at coffee shops.” In sixth place was history. Those with a bachelor’s degree tend to end up “in operations management or as paralegals.” In fifth place was liberal arts. Hiring managers tend to see “a liberal arts grad as someone who can’t make a decision” about a specific major. The study recommends that liberal arts majors “specialize soon” or find themselves hired as administrative assistants, office managers, or paralegals.
Those who see themselves as a future “Indiana Jones,” traveling the globe to study cultural practices or research lost civilizations, and think that majoring in anthropology — which came in fourth — will open these doors, should think twice, according to the Payscale research. Anthropology grads “are more likely to be working as office managers or in customer services.” Payscale also recommends that would-be actors avoid majoring in drama and theater arts (tied for number three). Rather than getting “their big break” because of a major in theater arts, they will likely find themselves “executive assistants, administrative assistants, and customer service representatives.”
Criminal justice was the major tied with drama and theater arts for the third position. Criminal justice majors found work, but Payscale maintains it is employment in fields that do not usually require a college degree: “police officers, paralegals, and security guards.” Payscale contends this meets the standard of “underemployment.”
The major coming in at the top spot on Payscale’s list was business administration. Perhaps this surprised you as much as it did me, considering all the stories we hear about highly paid graduates holding an MBA, a master’s degree in business administration. But Payscale’s focus was on bachelor’s degrees, and it found that a BBA, a bachelor’s in business administration, “isn’t going to get you nearly as far as an MBA will.” Students who do not go on to a graduate school of business often “end up as credit or collections managers, retail assistant managers, or as wait staff.”
Perhaps some of our readers disagree with Payscale’s findings. If so, fire away with your reasons why.

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Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about this and other educational issues. The e-mail address for First Teachers is fitzpatrijames@sbcglobal.net, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 15, Wallingford CT 06492.

A Natural, Scientific, And Highly Effective Treatment For Infertility

November 29, 2013 Frontpage Comments Off on A Natural, Scientific, And Highly Effective Treatment For Infertility


(Editor’s Note: Mercedes Arzú Wilson is the president of the Family of the Americas Foundation,
www.familyplanning.net. Those wishing to order the complete study she describes below may contact Mrs. Wilson at fafmercedes@yahoo.com. And Wanderer readers may be receiving a letter in the mail about this Family of the Americas Foundation program.)

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How we are succeeding in reversing the catastrophic effects of man-made sterility, through simple knowledge of the procreative gift bestowed upon us by God, is becoming a revolutionary victory for the Catholic Church.
From time immemorial, the crucial human problem related to childbearing has been the problem of sterility, which in all ancient societies was considered an obstacle to be overcome, a tragic affliction, and even a “curse.” However, this modern age is utterly unique in human history, because of its relentless celebration of everything that is unnatural and because it uses every means to stop the possibility of becoming pro-creators with God of a new human life.
The world is already paying a heavy price for allowing such distorted tendencies, as it is now suffering a “demographic winter.” … Continue Reading

Is Mary The Mother Of God… Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

November 29, 2013 Our Catholic Faith Comments Off on Is Mary The Mother Of God… Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?


Part 1

Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics:
For two years in Perth, Western Australia, my wife and I hosted the only talk-radio show run by lay Catholics. It was a great opportunity to share the faith in public and to answer questions about the Church. One day we received a letter from a non-Catholic listener. It read:
“Last week you broadcast a musical recording of Placido Domingo singing a classical version of the Ave Maria. I realize that the first part may have been somewhat inspired in the Gospel of Luke. The second part, however, is an R.C. invention: It is inappropriate to call Mary the ‘Mother of God.’
“For Mary to be the Mother of God, she would have to be God’s parent, older than Him, and just as divine as God Himself. Now, in the Trinity, there are only three Persons — not four. So, how could Mary be the Mother of God since she is infinitely inferior — and younger — than God?
“One thing is to believe in the virgin birth, which I do; another is to believe in such a preposterous dogma as the ‘Divine Maternity.’ Mary is the mother of Christ, not the ‘mother of God.’
“I am grateful to the great Reformers for having put an end to this unbiblical belief and for bringing out the truth for us Bible-Believing Protestant Christians.
“I would appreciate your comments on this. Yours sincerely. . . .”

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I read out the letter to the listening audience, and, by way of a reply, I cited three Statements of Faith, which reflect the Mind of the Church regarding Mary, the Mother of God:
1) “In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such good things were given her that no one can grasp them. Not only was Mary the Mother of Him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of Him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a mother in time and at the same time man and God.”
2) “It cannot be denied that God, in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor. . . . Elizabeth calls Mary the Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the Person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God.”
3) “It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God.”
This is undoubtedly the Catholic faith. Now, my question is: Who called Mary by the title of “Mother of God,” for the first time, as cited in the “Hail Mary”? It was no Medieval Pope or council. It happened 33 years before the foundation of the Church. It was the Holy Spirit Himself who referred to Mary as being the Mother of God:
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe in her womb leapt. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished’” (Luke 1:39-45).
Who is this “Lord” Elizabeth was talking about?
The Hebrew word for “my Lord” is Adonai, which literally means my Lords, in the majestic plural. In the version of the Old Testament most used by the apostles, the Septuagint, the word Kyrios is used — which means “The Lord” and refers to God our Lord, just like Adonai.
Moses cried out, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. . . .” (Deut. 6:4), or “The Adonai our God is one Adonai. . . .!”
Thus, Elizabeth said, “And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Adonai should come to me?” and “the things promised by Kyrios.”
Who was this Adonai, this Kyrios, this Lord of Elizabeth? It could not have been any adult lord of her time, such as the high priest, the Roman governor, or her husband. They were all born already, and Mary was not expecting any of them — it is evident. She was the Mother of one as yet unborn Adonai, an unborn Kyrios, an unborn Lord. The same One who promised Mary many things.
The only one Adonai who was going to be born was the Expected One of the nations: the Messiah. And Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who is God and can neither deceive nor be deceived, refers to the unborn Messiah as Adonai, the same word used by Jewish prophets to refer to the Lord God of Hosts.
Thus, to the question, “Who was the ‘Lord’ of St. Elizabeth, whose Mother Mary is,” the answer is quite simple: God is her Lord, her Adonai — her Son.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth called Mary the Mother of her God, purely and simply.
Thus, the Catholic Church could have chosen to say in the Hail Mary prayer, “Holy Mary, Mother of my Lord, pray for us sinners.” It means exactly the same thing as “Holy Mary, Mother of God.”
There is only one God, in three distinct Persons. The Second Person is as divine as the first and the third. Mary conceived and gave birth to a divine Person; therefore, she is the Mother of that same divine Person — she is the Mother of God. Not the Mother of the Trinity, but the Mother of its Second Person — God the Son.
The non-Catholic listener finished his letter with this affirmation: “I am grateful to the great Reformers for having put an end to this unbiblical belief and for bringing out the truth for us Bible-Believing Protestant Christians.”
What he did not know was that the three statements of faith I cited in the beginning of this article were made by: 1) Luther (in The Works of Luther, Weimar, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, vol. 7, p. 572); 2) Calvin (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, vol. 45, pp. 348, 35), and 3) Zwingli (in Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin 1905, in Evang. Luc., Op. comp., vol. 6, I, p. 639).
In this regard, all three of them fully agreed with the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches:
“Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus’ (John 2:1), Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her Son, as ‘the Mother of my Lord’ (Luke 1:43). In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos) [cf. the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD]” (CCC, n. 495.)
Conclusion: Opposition to Mary’s title of “Mother of God” is thoroughly unscriptural. It is unfortunate that those separated brethren who thrive in opposing everything coming from the so-called “R.C. Church” get so carried away in their bigotry that they end up opposing the Bible they claim to believe in, and even the founders of Protestantism themselves.

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(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; an EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI]; president of the Sacred Heart Institute, and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is www.raymonddesouza.com.)

Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation

November 28, 2013 Our Catholic Faith Comments Off on Public Revelation Vs. Private Revelation


Our previous installment ended by citing a pair of remarkable verses from the Letter to the Hebrews, verses that concisely summarize God’s divine pedagogy, His master plan of divine Revelation: “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things, through Whom also He created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2). As expounded last week, God’s Old Testament revelation, mediated to mankind through the patriarchs and prophets, was gradual and partial — it was revealed in stages and progressively supplemented throughout successive epochs and ages of salvation history. But its culmination in the person of the Incarnate Word was definitive and complete.
As taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In Him He has said everything” (CCC, n. 65).
Dei Verbum (DV), the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation promulgated after Vatican Council II, explains that “Jesus perfected Revelation by fulfilling it through His whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious Resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth” (DV, n. 4). The Revelation made by Christ to the apostles, and the Holy Spirit whom He sent after, was final and definitive — nothing will ever be added to that revealed Deposit of Faith, nor will anything ever be changed. St. John of the Cross, in an excerpt from his spiritual masterpiece The Ascent of Mount Carmel, which is set before the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours during the second week of Advent, comments strikingly on the previously cited verses from the Letter to the Hebrews:
“In giving us His Son, His only Word (for He possesses no other), He spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word — and He has no more to say…because what He spoke before to the prophets in parts, He has now spoken all at once by giving us the All who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending Him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty” (Book 2, chapter 22, nn. 3-5).
As Pope Benedict XVI states in his apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (VD): “. . . with Jesus Christ [the Church] stands before the definitive word of God: He is “the first and the last (Rev. 1:17)” (n. 14).
The words of St. John of the Cross serve as a fitting segue into the main theme of this installment: public Revelation versus private revelation. What is public Revelation? In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, defines public Revelation as “the supernatural manifestation of God’s wisdom and will for the human race, in order to lead humanity to its heavenly destiny. It is entrusted directly to the Church for preservation and interpretation and is contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”
It is the “new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away, and no new public Revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (DV, n. 4). Public Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle.
The Catechism, however, goes on to make a critical distinction: “. . . even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries” (CCC, n. 66). The Church’s teaching office — her Magisterium — guided by the Holy Spirit, continues to “plumb the depths” and “uncover the riches” of divine Revelation as generations and centuries pass. This truth is manifestly made evident as the Church, from time to time, solemnly defines dogmas of the faith, truths that must be accepted by the faithful as part of divine Revelation and necessary for salvation.
One need only consider such Marian dogmas as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption to see how Church doctrine providentially develops over time. Although not solemnly defined until 1854 and 1950, respectively, these teachings of the universal Church are examples of truths of the faith that are implicitly contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which, “under the successive influence of theological study, devotional impulse, and even theological disagreement, come to be explicitly understood, universally believed, and, in the end, solemnly defined by the Church” (Fr. George D. Smith, The Teaching of the Catholic Church, p. 35).
Readers interested in examining the history of doctrinal development surrounding these Marian dogmas are encouraged to consult two apostolic constitutions: Ineffabilis Deus on the Immaculate Conception and Munificentissimus Deus on the Assumption.

A Valuable Aid

We turn now to private revelation, examples of which abound in the history of the Church. Fr. Hardon defines private revelation as “supernatural manifestations made to a particular person since apostolic times. . . . When the Church approves certain private revelations . . . they are to be accepted on the Church’s judgment, but they are not part of divine faith.” All that is necessary to attain salvation has been revealed through public Revelation. As such, private revelations “do not belong…to the Deposit of Faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history” (CCC, n. 68).
Having made this distinction, it may also be said that private revelation is a wonderful gift to the Church and can lead souls closer to God. However, it’s important to understand their purpose in the spiritual life. They are given to the Church at times in history when the particular message contained in the private revelation is providentially needed. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Private revelation is an aid to [the] faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public Revelation. . . . A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones . . . and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time” (VD, n. 14).
Take, for example, the 1917 apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children to encourage them and others to pray the rosary and to offer up their daily sufferings as a penance in reparation for the sins of mankind. Isn’t this precisely the Gospel message? The Magisterium of the Church carefully investigated the Fatima apparitions and deemed them worthy of belief.
Two other well-known examples of Church-approved private revelation that have led many souls closer to God are Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673) and Devotion to Divine Mercy (revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s). They teach not an iota that is contrary to faith and morals, but rather highlight certain aspects of the public Revelation of God.

The Middle Ground

Again, it is important to emphasize that it is not prudent to center one’s spiritual life on private revelation — the Church dutifully investigates private revelations and deems many worthy of belief if they are authentic, but she does not enjoy providential protection in such matters. Also, it would be unwise to desire or seek out visions or revelations. Two great doctors of the Church, the Carmelite mystics St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, caution strongly against such a practice.
In her spiritual classic Interior Castle, St. Teresa warns that “when you learn or hear that God grants these favors to souls you [must] never beseech Him or desire Him to lead you by this path” (Book VI, chapter 9, n. 14), for such a way is fraught with dangers.
It would also be unwise to err in the opposite direction. Several months ago, as recounted by a local pastor, a mission was preached at his parish by an excellent missionary priest. The mission leader spoke of the visions at Fatima and afterward, a parishioner objected: “Why is he talking about Fatima? That’s just private revelation, so we don’t have to believe in it, and he shouldn’t be talking about it from the pulpit.”
While the parishioner was correct in saying one does not have to believe in the Fatima apparitions to gain salvation, the individual didn’t seem to grasp that the essence of the Fatima message — prayer and penance — is precisely the Gospel message. How true was the pastor’s response: “It would be quite a mistake . . . to say that we cannot teach about Fatima from the pulpit or in catechism classes!”
As always, if one compares the extremes described in the two preceding paragraphs, the wise course of action and middle ground is always found in the teaching of the Church.

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(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. With the full blessing of Raymond Cardinal Burke, Fier is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

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This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

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