Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God


U.S. Ordinary, Msgr. Steenson, for the Anglican Use Ordinariate. Issued this statement about the Traditional Mass. It’s … wait for it … NOT part of Anglican patrimony. So, Msgr. Steenson, what the hell was it the English priests were doing before the Protestant rebellion? I’ve expressed fears that the Anglican patrimony was a Protestant parimony. I thought they were Catholic. How can you reject your complete heritage and cling only to a heritage which was borne out of rebellion to Holy Mother Church and, therefore, rebellion to Christ? While I have tried to repress my fears that the Anglican Use folks want to be Catholic Protestants, statements like this don’t help me strain interpretations in a charitable way. The Traditional Mass is not a part of the heritage of the English Church? Patently absurd! What’s worse, he says that new Anglican Use litrugy is to be brought into line with the Novus Ordo Mass which is clearly a part of Anglican heritage… oh wait. No it isn’t. So maybe he’s just anti-traditional. And what about the English Missal?? This was used in the Protestant English tradition and it is basically an English translation of the Trad Mass (with a few minor changes). So I guess that part of the patrimony is nixed. So Maybe I am right. This guy wants the truly Protestant portion of the Anglican patrimony to stand and the traditional (read *Catholic*) parts to fall… and to add insult to injury, merge the Anglican Use with the New Mass. Yeah, it all fits.
I know some clerics in the Anglican Use will not be happy with this direction being taken here, even if they would never bother with the Trad Mass. They don’t want a mix of the BDW with the NOM. As Michael Davies pointed out:
“In his Introduction to the French edition of The Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote: J. A. Jungmann, one of the truly great liturgists of our time, defined the liturgy of his day, such as it could be understood in the light of historical research, as a “liturgy which is the fruit of development” . . . What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a *fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product*.” Well, if the New Mass is a banal, on-the-spot product, what are we to think of the Anglican Use, which is a patch work of different valid and invalid rites and Protestant tradition. So let’s mix the patch work with the bana;, on-the-spot production… yeah, that’ll be good.

Rorate has a good note about this:


July 30, 2012 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Catholic Priesthood and Eucharist

1.1 Of course, with a title like that, I am already going to disappoint since so much can be said (which for the last hundred plus years has not been said and is beginning to be said again). I do not have any grand notions that anyone will convert here because of this, but I do hope that, even if you disagree with it, you will see that the Church truly grounds Her beliefs in the revelation given to the Apostles by Almighty God. I thank you for reading this little offering.  It is really a summary of what I think Brant Pitre is getting at in some of his lectures and essays.  This isn’t my own work or original thought.  I don’t claim that I have come up with this on my own.

2.1 As I said before, what I will address is nothing new, but only “new” in the sense that we have forgotten about this “old” truth recently. Jesus was a priest. That is a fact we have known and have not forgotten. What that means truly is something that has been forgotten in certain quarters of the “Christian” world. I want to show that the fact that Jesus was (and is) a priest is related to the reconstitution of Israel around Himself; the renewal of Israel in the renewing of the covenant which he called the “New Covenant.” This has further implications as we regard His very mysterious words at the Last Supper in which He apparently offers Himself to the Father in a sacrificial act, a religious act, when He says “This is My Body, which is given for you; this is My Blood, which is poured out for you and for many.” It had not yet been done, yet He says His Flesh is and Blood is given/poured out; not will be but is. (Why this is best seen as a sacrificial act will be seen in Proposition 3, paragraphs 5.1 5.5.) Understanding Jesus’ Priestliness will help us to understand these most beautifully sublime and profound truths of the Faith.

Proposition 1: Jesus considered Himself to be the fulfillment of the Law, the Old Covenant.
Proposition 2: Jesus was a Priest and intended His disciples to be priests.
Proposition 3: The sacrifice which priests of the New Covenant offer is the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Precious Crucified and Resurrected Redeemer.

Brief Arguments in Support of the Thesis
Proposition. 1: Jesus Fulfillment of Law
3.1 He summed up the Old Covenant in a number of ways: first, by His very loud actions of calling out His disciples and numbering them in a special, yet very old way, which served as a sign to the Jewish leaders of the day that their time was up. (A Law Giver—Moses/Jesus; number 1 guy—Aaron/Peter; three in the “inner circle—Aaron, Nadab, Abihu/Peter, James, John; the 12—duh; and the 70—elders/disciples sent out; this would have been very upsetting to the leaders of the day… and it was; they did kill Him you know.) Second, He claimed through the use of biblical images and references that He was in fact the true Temple. (John 1:50-51: cf. Dan. 7:13-14 and Gen. 28:10-18; also, this follows from what is said in Proposition 2.) Third, that claim (to be the true Temple) coupled with His announcement that something greater than the (old) Temple was here (along with many other statements), He was claiming to be Israel’s God become man. Fourth, He offered Himself in a High-priestly, sacrificial, and liturgical-religious act at the Last Supper which guaranteed and informed the actual historical-temporal Passion and Crucifixion of our Blessed Redeemer (more on this in Proposition 2). Finally, for this discussion, He was a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, a Priest forever; unlike the temporal priesthood of the Old Covenant which was a shadow of (and a sign pointing to) the Priesthood of the New Covenant.

3.2 All of these examples, and many more, show just how Jesus summed up the Law.

Proposition 2: Jesus and Disciples are Priests
4.1 That Jesus is a priest was already stated in the last point of Proposition 1. Hebrews 5.10 and 7.21 recall Psalm 110.4, “The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’.” Also, we must note that Jesus claimed priestly prerogative when He and His disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath. We rightly focus on the “I am the Lord of the Sabbath” part, but we forget the interesting quotes from the Old Testament which He uses to justify His disciples actions.

MATT. 12 1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

4.2 David does what only a priest is allowed to do, namely eat the Bread of the Presence (another very interesting topic, this Bread of the Presence, which actually informs some of Proposition 3). It seems that David was claiming the much older Melchizedekian priesthood as his own in the action. This is extremely likely and in the absence of a better explanation we’ll make use of it and note that Jesus is claiming for Himself and His disciples this Melchizedekian right as priests. Further, Jesus quotes from the Law which exempts priests from observing the Sabbath law. Now how would an appeal to priestly exemption get the disciples “off the hook” if they were not priests? and why would Jesus think that would fly with the Pharisees if the disciples were not priests? I find it unintelligible. It would be like me chastising a lady for belching in public, and you saying to me “Well, men will be men—just get over it.” Well that lady is not a guy, so why refer to the way men can be as a justification for her delicate belch? No reason at all!

4.3 Then comes the bombshell: something greater than the Temple is here. Who works in the Temple? Jesus just said priests do. (That’s another reference to priests. This section is replete with references to the priesthood.) He is greater than the Temple, greater than the actions in the Temple. What is in the Temple? The Holy of Holies. What was in the Holy of Holies (at least before the exile and hoped for still in Jesus’ day), but the Presence of God? What can be greater than that which contains the Presence of God, but God Himself? Jesus is claiming for Himself and His disciples a priesthood that trumps the Old Covenant priesthood which, with reference to the David passage and the Hebrews/Psalms passages, we find out to be after the order of Melchizedek. Further, he is claiming a Superiority proper only to God over the Temple and the Sabbath.

4.4 Much more should be said, but the final section will be the longest and I am already testing your patience. Suffice to say that Jesus intended to inaugurate a New Covenant priesthood.

Proposition 3: Sacrifice Which Priests of New Covenant Offer is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ
5.1 Before actually giving a brief argument for Proposition 3, I think I need to preface it by delving further into the mysterious actions and words of our Savior at the Last Supper. (Doing so will also give us the reason why, as I stated in 2.1, the action at the Last Supper is a sacrificial, religious action.) First, let’s recall the context of the Last Supper—Passover. What was the Passover a commemoration of? It is the Exodus from exile and slavery in Egypt. What happens at this meal? A lamb is slaughtered. A sacrifice is made, a sacrifice of remembrance. One could say, “Do this in remembrance of your release.” Many theologians from all sides have pointed out that the Jews considered this meal in some way connecting them to the historical Jews who actually came out from Egypt; this sacrificial meal was a way of re-enacting the Exodus. It was not a mere calling to mind what happened on that day (it was that, to be sure), but a bringing into the present what happened so long ago.

5.2 Now that may sound all very odd and some of you might wonder why I would bring up such a weird point. The reason is this: when Jesus said what He did at the Last Supper, there was a context in which it was heard and understood by the Apostles. For example, it is like us talking about “punting.” Now in 2,000 years, folks might wonder at that word, but we have a very clear understanding of what somebody means when they say they are going to have to “punt”, even when they say it outside the immediate context of a game of football. But imagine a culture that has never played football, never really heard of it (except a few of the sports history scholars). Then they come across that phrase. It might seem odd, or they might have a ready interpretation based on their own “modern” experience that renders the phrase for them understandable, but completely misses the point that you and I are trying to convey when we say that word or phrase “punt the ball.”

5.3 With that understood, let me delve just a little deeper into what it means to “remember.” As I have already indicated, it means more (but not less) than a recalling to mind what happened some time before. It is a participation somehow in the event. When Jesus says, “do ye this in remembrance of Me,” there is a whole context of Covenant making and renewing that is something like second nature to not just any Jew, but anybody in the ancient cultures. Again, just like anybody in our sports gorged culture knows what it means to “punt” or “turn a double play”, anybody back then would have known the following (well, almost anybody):

5.4 Part of making (“cutting”) a covenant was the separation of the sacrificial animal (you separate body and blood). As in Genesis 12, the two parties of the Covenant would walk in between the separated animal in an act of swearing to hold to the covenant. If either party was to break the covenant, he would be forfeiting his life. “Do unto me as has been done to this animal if I break covenant with you,” is what the parties were explicitly saying. (Sidebar: The beauty of Gen 12 is that God alone walks between the sacrifice pledging His own life to keeping the Covenant, swearing that if He broke it, He would kill Himself! Awesome stuff isn’t it!) There would then be a covenant feast, in which the sacrifice was eaten, and bread and wine (fruits of the earth) were also consumed and represented the body and blood of the animal sacrificed. They would also have feasts in remembrance of the covenant in which sacrifice was made renewing the covenant and bread and wine consumed.

5.5 Of course, we know that sacrificial meals in pagan cultures consumed the body and blood of the animal sacrificed. But the Law proscribed that practice for the Jews, because “The life is in the blood.” (Another mysterious saying… watch what Jesus does to it…) Pagans thought that by drinking the blood of the animals that represented the deity they were sacrificing to, that they were imbibing the very divine life of the deity! Thus, to add insult to injury, their idolatry was manifold. Not only did they worship what was not God, they further tried to become like their god (or gods) by drinking its (their) divine life. (While we can admire that they knew that they were not good enough in of themselves to please the deities but needed the deities’ “grace” and divine life to be acceptable, we must be sad at their misappropriation of those correct insights and their false worship of false gods.)

5.6 Let’s put this all together. Jesus tells His many disciples in John 6 that unless they eat His Body and drink His Blood they have no life. Keep the context in mind. What would think if you were a Jew? “Hold on buster! It is forbidden to drink the blood of any animal, let alone a human! What the heck?! The life is in the blood, and I don’t need your humanity, I already got it. Not to mention I’ll go to hell if I eat a human!!” “But I tell you, whoever eats the Flesh of the Son of Man and drinks His Blood will live forever; he who does not, has no life in him.” “But, rabbi guy, I got life in me! I am alive—” and turning to friends “he’s a freak!” (To which Judas silently agrees.) But Peter says “Where shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

5.7 “Will live forever…” “What?” these poor Jews must have said to themselves. Can you imagine the controversy? These people were extremely well-versed in the ins and outs of sacrifice, they knew the language of sacrifice and they knew how the pagans did it. Jesus was using sacrificial terminology here. The eating of flesh and drinking of blood in relation to living forever only makes sense in the context of sacrifice, and I am convinced they got this and thought Jesus was mad. The deep trust of the 11 disciples is so utterly commendable here; because here Jesus is making one of His starkest claims at being Israel’s God, identifying Himself with Yahweh. He claims that His own Body and Blood, if consumed, will bring you Eternal Life.

Final Thoughts
6.1 This is completely insufficient and there are many gaps that need to be filled in. There is so much more that I wanted to write; so many more biblical texts I wanted to cite. But I only hope to maybe a) give some more support to those who already believe what the Catholic Church has always taught; and b) give those who are not Catholic food for thought, and maybe cause you think more about this. A further benefit may be that some of you who are of the opinion that the Catholic notion of a priesthood is not derived from the Bible may realize that nothing could be farther from the truth. Catholic theology grounds its teaching of the New Covenant firmly in Holy Scriptures.

Questions for Discussion
1. What do you find problematic in these propositions?
2. What do you find praiseworthy?
3. Can you please be specific in any refutations or clarifications or supplements to my propositions?

August 19, 2010 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Religious Freedom and the Catholic Church

From the Remnant

Here is a tease…

Religious Freedom has certainly been one of those hotly debated topics in the Church before, during and after Vatican II. What are the true immutable principles involved and are these to be applied univocally or analogically according to a diversity of concrete circumstances and historical contexts?  Is the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom, “Dignitatis Humanae”, an expression of  “continuity” or “rupture” from these immutable principles?  Pope Benedict XVI wished to settle this question in his Address to the Roman Curia on the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” (December 22, 2005): “It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.”

This work by Bishop von Ketteler, published approximately 100 years before Vatican II, sheds much light on these burning questions and helps us to grasp more firmly what “is easy to miss…at a first glance.” Ketteler clearly establishes the unchanging principles involved and goes further by demonstrating how these are to be properly applied given the circumstances and requirements of our age while dispelling confusion and reconciling apparent contradictions in light of historical contingencies.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

The choice…

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Religion | Leave a comment


October 21, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Biden says Obama a national security liability.

Well, not exactly in those words… but that is what he conveyed to a group of donors in Seattle, WA. (former home of the Supersonics…) He said the following: [with my comments in brackets]

“28 states are in serious trouble and they’re about to contribute to the economic downward spiral because what are they doing? Cutting services, laying people off as they lose their tax base. So there are going to be a lot of tough decisions Barack’s gonna have to make, a lot of tough decisions, including on foreign policy. [and here is the kicker folks!!!!!]
“And here’s the point I want to make. Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis [a generated crisis, one concocted to test Obama], to test the mettle of this guy. And he’s gonna have to make some really tough – I don’t know what the decision’s gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee [he guarantees!!] you it’s gonna happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you, not financially to help him, we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right. Because all these decisions, all these decisions, once they’re made if they work, then they weren’t viewed as a crisis. If they don’t work, it’s viewed as you didn’t make the right decision, a little bit like how we hesitated so long dealing with Bosnia and dealing with Kosovo, and consequently 200,000 people lost their lives that maybe didn’t have to lose lives. It’s how we made a mistake in Iraq. We made a mistake in Somalia. So there’s gonna be some tough decisions. They may emanate from the Middle East. They may emanate from the sub-continent. They may emanate from Russia’s newly-emboldened position because they’re floating in a sea of oil.”

Well, if I was thinking about voting for Obama, I just got a really good reason from his running mate to vote for McCain. This is too good to make up, folks. You just can’t make this stuff up. Why in the world when Foreign policy is his weakest point and the economy (his best position in terms of popularity) is currently the talk, why would you switch to the opponents best point? Biden is the best player on McCain’s team!! What a dope. Obama has to be kicking himself wishing he had swallowed his pride and got Hilary on the ticket. The most he would’ve had to worry about if she were VP candidate would be a food taster… now this guy could cost him the election. Funny funny funny.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Politics | Leave a comment

Polling data…

One ought to be careful about polling data. Campaigns have their own “internal” polling which is much more accurate than what we are “allowed” to see. Folks with access to that “internal” data say that the race is much closer than we are allowed to think. This is verified by the way the campaigns act. If the data we are force fed is accurate, McCain is really just wasting money and Obama shouldn’t be on the attack. But McCain is still fighting and Obama is not playing a defensive strategy that is designed to “run out the clock.” The Obama campaign knows that the numbers are much closer than the public sees. This is why he is urging his supporters to remember what happened in New Hampshire, when on the day of the primary, polling had him up by 10% points and he lost. It is also why he has gone on the attack about “Joe the Plumber.” He gave the worst answer he could have there, but if it was in the bag, as the media/Obama surrogates have told us, then why trash the guy and dig up so much about him, so that we can now safely say that we know more about Joe than we do Barak Obama?
The point is this: let’s wait to see what the numbers look like from Zogby the day of the election. Zogby has nailed it in the tight races like no one else has over the last 12-16 years, at least since I have been really paying attention starting in 92, though I didn’t hear about Zogby until I believe 96. Check out his site as the day nears. If he has an Obama win, then chances are that Obama will win… but if it is in the margin of error or they are tied, then there is a good chance for McCain, and if he has McCain ahead then it is in the bag for McCain.

More about elections, polling, Obama, abortion and FOCA next time when I issue the second installment of “Abortion and the Obama Factor.”


October 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Obama is gonna lose… Part 2

Well, maybe not.

He just might be too pretty, too smooth and too sexy.  (??)

McCain too old, too experienced, too injured, too unsexy.

I often get upset when Democrats treat Americans as if they are sooo stupid and they (the dems) need to run your life for you because you are just too damn dumb.  But I think they are right that Americans are dumb.  But not in the way they think.  They are smart enough to run their everyday lives (well, for the most part)… but the anti-intellectualism that exists in our society, the need for grandeur, the drive for instant gratification, etc. plays to Obama; and here is the contradiction.  Obama is supposed to be an intellectual and (God help us if we hear this much more) nuanced.  Make me sick.  If umm-ing your way through an answer in nuanced, then I am a fricking genius.  Anyway, we can’t stay focussed for 2 minutes to hear even a ridiculously idiotic answer to a question, and we are anti-intellectual, but then we feel good somehow (maybe making peace with our anti-intellectualism) voting for the guy who is nuanced?  Whatever.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

McCain on the Offence

Finally, McCain has realized (it seems) that being a Mr. Nice Guy who tries to get the moderate vote is not the best way.  He is attacking Obama and hard… FINALLY!  Palin is out there kicking butt, and taking no prisoners.  There is nooo way that McCain will win if he doesn’t attack.  I really don’t like McCain (odd for a traditionalist right… or not), but the New Messiah is just unbearable.

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

What is the Pope saying? *UPDATED*

**UPDATE**  Rorate has an update on the Popes remarks.  Much better… but still……


Well, over at the New Liturgical Movement there is a post (“An Act of Tolerance”) on the Pope’s comments about the TLM and the MP to the French people via the media in a short press conference.

I am a little confused by his comments.  Cardinal Hoyos seems to be making, for the Pope, much more liberalizing comments than the Pope is making himself.  I can see now the uncooperative bishops who flatly defy the Pope to his face on this thing now confidently quoting the Pope.  “You see?” they will say, “the MP is meant only for the Old Farts and the damn SSPX schimatics!”  And I can see that from the remarks of the Pope.

Next, what is this business about fundamental identity?  Is he using the word identity technically- probably not… the press wouldn’t get it.  But maybe he is… I don’t know.  And without knowing I can only guess at the probable meanings.  Interpreted broadly, it could just mean that the two mass are both valid and therefore have a fundamental identity.  But every valid rite could have that said of it and then it would be superfluous at best to say that… then again, the obvious often needs to be stated.  But still, that doesn’t make sense here.  He can’t mean (or can he?) that the two masses are identical, strictly speaking.  That is obviously untrue.  But add “fundamental” to the mix and now I am really confused.  What does fundamental mean?  Back to the first option?  No, that is not satsfactory.  But what is?  The fact seems to be that the is a fundamental non-identity between the two forms, or rites or whatever they are supposed to be called now.

What is interesting to me is that in his valiant effort to promote the Hermeneutic of Continuity, he is actually using a Hermeneutic of Discontinuity.  The very intent of the authors of the New Mass was a break with the past.  One of the framers even gloated that the Old Roman Rite had been destroyed when replaced by the New which was conceived (at least in part) to make the liturgy more compatible with protestant worship.  Of course, the approval of the Lutheran “bishops” verified that!  To try and make a rite that was intended to be a break with the past continuous with that past is in discontinuity with the past 40 years.  He did write the preface to Gamber’s book didn’t he?  He was a friend of Machael Davies wasn’t he?  I am sure he knows Davies’ monumental trilogy, doesn’t he?  Not to mention V2 called for a renewal or revision (not unheard of in the Church, and not unwelcomed either.  The Novus Ordo Missae was not was the Council called for and I am about tired of hearing the NO in conjunction with the Council.  The Council did not call for a wholesale rewriting of consecrations, etc.  But, that is all part of the new lingo.  V2 equals NO. 

The end wil be that the liberals and traditionalists will not like this statement and for the same reasons.  The New Mass and the Old Mass really are different (though valid).****  The liberals want it to be much more different than it was intended to be and they for sure don’t want anybody saying it is like the old.  The traditionalists know that it is different and don’t like hearing that it isn’t different.  The only folks that will be happy with the comments by the Holy Father are the papal positivists, which constitute a majority of catholics (I think they are more than 50% anyway).



****It really chaps my backside that I gotta insert that little though valid crap after saying there is a real difference between the two masses.  The damned sophists have been successful in beating us at the word game… sophists always are good at that.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Obama is gonna lose…

I suppose anyone who might see this would say, “Well, duh, you’re a trad-cath.  Of course you want him to lose.”  But I think there is more to my doubts about his winning than my trad-catholicism.  The polls say everything.  There is no way on earth that he should be trailing, or tied with, or even just a couple points up on McCain right now.  This has to have to Obama folks scared to death.  His biggest mistake (and smallest) was not picking Hillary as VP.  Biggest because he is going to lose without her.  Smallest because had he won with her, Bill and Hill would have been really running the show and everybody would have known it, no matter what the protestations to the contrary would have been.

I figure it comes down to this:  How do you want the world to end?  Obama’s way or McCain’s way?  Still, I can’t see voting for the one candidate who is on the record FOR infanticide.  But, hey, I am not one to judge.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

The Ten Commandments and Natural Law

The Decalogue has been often called the Law of God, with overtones of Divine Inspiration and Revelation. It may seem that what is being asserted is that the Ten Commandments belong to Supernatural truths that are not accessible to natural reason. That is, we couldn’t by any amount of thinking hard or reasoning from what we already know arrive at the Ten Commandments. But clearly this is false. For to assert this would be to assert, logically, that man cannot reason to or know that God exists, which he can do. And if we can reason to or know in some other way that God exists, then it is a short step to the first two precepts of the Decalogue*.

Many natural law thinkers have said that the Decalogue is a divinely inspired collection of Natural Law truths. This means that God didn’t give us anything new in the Ten Commandments. These were given because what had been clear in times past had been obscured by the sinfulness of men. But natural law finds its basis immediately in human nature and ultimately in the eternal law. Budziszewski and Rice have called the natural law basically a user manual for attaining the end for which man was made. While I have certain problems with that formulation, I think it captures the basic idea that is important. It tells us how to act as humans and directs us towards our end.

But if these laws or precepts are rooted ultimately in the eternal law, what about the question of dispensation?  For instance, can the precept Thou shalt not kill be dispensed; that is, can God either himself kill somebody or command that somebody be killed– especially the killing of an innocent (as in the case of Abraham and Isaac)?

Some have argued that the precepts of the Decalogue cannot be dispensed since they belong to the natural law strictly speaking.  This means that the precepts of the decalogue are either self-evident or are inferred from from these self-evident precepts.  This is the take that those in the Thomist tradition usually endorse.  Scotus argues that only the first two commandments belong to the natural law strictly.  But is that to say that the others do not?  Not at all.

Scotus says that the Second Table (precepts 4-10) belong to the natural law in an extended sense.  That is to say that these precepts, while not following with any logical necessity from the first two precepts, are in “exceeding harmony” with the self-evident precepts of the First Table.**  Since then these precepts do not possess the necessity of the First Table, then it is possible for these precepts to be dispensed.

Now regarding Thou shalt not kill, Thomas says that when God has commanded it or the state performs a just execution or there is a Just War, then this is not a violation of the precept since the precept is directed towards an undue or unjust killing.  Since God’s commands are just, a just death penalty is (well) just, and Just War is (again) just, then these are not dispensations.  Scotus says that these would constitute dispensations, but that is alright since the precept isn’t self-evident or derived from self-evident principles.

There is the interesting question about what is meant exactly by self-evident.  And the additional question of how it is that the precept against adultery is not necessary given human nature and the nature of sexuality.  Or say the precept (not in the Decalogue explicitly) against homosexuality.

Let’s explore those questions next time…
When I have had time to work them out myself!



* I will be using the traditional (Catholic and Lutheran) numbering of the Decalogue. See the following link for the enumeration of various religious groups.
** Scotus suspends judgment on whether the 3rd precept concerning Sabbath observance belongs to the natural law strictly speaking or not.  I will not go into the discussion here, but it is very, very interesting.  Therefore, when referring to the First Table, let the reader understand that I mean the first two precepts.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Religion | 2 Comments

Atheist Prof. Desecrates the Eucharist

Father Z has the story.  It is really hard to pray for the guy and not against him.  But even the worst can be converted, as I am sure St. Paul would say.  But, man I wanna just twist this jerk’s head right off.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

The Nominalist, Islamic and Sophist roots of Protestant Thinking

I have been listening to the esteemed Dr. Rao’s series on the legends created by enemies of the Catholic Church and what methods were used to debunk the Church throughout the ages.  He arrived at the Reformation and started making some very interesting points.

It seems that the distrust in natural reason to know anything for sure, which then led to a faith alone approach (literally alone- in fact, even contra-ratio), was accompanied with the notion that God’s will is supersupreme… so supersupreme that it can even do what it cannot possibly do.  The Laws that govern everything are arbitrary and could be changed in an instant.  The way of salvation could be one way today and if God willed it another way tomorrow.  Of course, this has its roots, in terms of “Christian” heresy, in the Muslim philosophers.  (Yes, Islam is a Christian heretical splinter group– shall we say the first major Protestant “Church”.)  Additionally, there was the humanist movement that was in full swing which was very adept at rhetoric and focussed more on quick wit than sharp logic and good reasoning.  Rao read numerous passages from Luther and Calvin as they took the age old approach of making your opponent look silly through mockery and not detached argument.  As Calvin put it, “Sure, little children can go for this popery, but not grown men…” and frequent name calling like Luther’s “popish asses”, and “drunk with the blood of the saints”, etc…  This goes back to Isocrates and his folks that were pounded by Plato and Aristotle.

This all held together with the emphasis on the “word” and its superiority.  Now the “word” was then taken to mean preeminently the “Word of God”, or the Bible.  This all a very puzzling situation, and as Rai points out in his talks, when different groups converge to try and take out the Church, they end up affirm mutually exclusive propositions in their efforts.  But many times they don’t see it, and worse, if they do, they contend that your human reason is not the judge of Scripture… Scripture is the judge of Scripture.  And if you question them on what that could possibly mean, they say, “So what do you have against the Bible?”  See how it works?  Quite odd indeed.

Well, this is not exhaustive and is only meant to make you think about something you might not have considered before… especially if you are protestant.  The whole mindset that went into doing the theology that resulted in the Protestant Reformation is a mindset that is dangerous and false.  That is not even to mention the fact that because of Luther, we got the Enlightenment and … ugh… Kant and his pals.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

“All” Israel means what?

Michael Barber over at Singing in the Reign has an interesting piece on that old passage that keeps Dispensationalists alive as they continually twist Paul’s hard words to their own destruction, as our first Pope put it.

Rom. 11.25-26:

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel [πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ] will be saved…

The conclusion of the argument is that the All is not a strictly universal all in the sense of the logical form of the universal proposition Every A is B.  Instead it is to be taken as referring to the 12 tribes of Israel as a whole, and not every individual within that class.  This is a weaker form of All and makes sense given the texts cited in the article.  Check it out!

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

Analyzing Analyticist

This is my rant against Analytic Philosophy after nearly being strangled to death by studying Analytic philosophers for nearly a year.

Let B stand for the the belief that Analytic Philosophical Reasoning is the best way to do philosophy.
Let S stand for the seriousness with which Analytic Philosophers take their enlightened position.
Let P stand for the prideful superciliousness which Analytic Philosophers hold for non-Analytic Philosophers.

Therefore, there is a belief B that is taken seriously S, and is then P used to look down upon the less enlightened.
In Anal code, the above would look roughly like:
BS, then P.

Let Toilet be a placeholder for BS and P.


July 2, 2008 Posted by | Religion | 1 Comment

Why Good Scotch is Good…

It is tasty.  It is subtle.  It is peaceful.  It is relaxing.  It lifts the mind from the base things of this world to the high things of this world.  God was good in giving us this masterful drink via the ingenuity of 4th and 5th century monks in Scotland.

Scotch.. another reason to be Catholic!  What else but the Catholic Church could have given us such a beautiful libation? 😉

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Aesthetics, Catholicism, Ethics, Life, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

What is Faith, Part 2

Thus saith Newman- not Analytic, but also not Thomas Aquinas…

Lead on Kindly Light…


Now, in the first place, what is faith? it is assenting to a doctrine as true, which we do not see, which we cannot prove, because God says it is true, who cannot lie. And further than this, since God says it is true, not with His own voice, but by the voice of His messengers, it is assenting to what man says, not simply viewed as a man, but to what he is commissioned to declare, as a messenger, prophet, or ambassador from God. In the ordinary course of this world we account things true either because we see them, or because we can perceive that they follow and are deducible from what we do see; that is, we gain truth by sight or by reason, not by faith. You will say indeed, that we accept a number of things which we cannot prove or see, on the word of others; certainly, but then we accept what they say only as the word of man; and we have not commonly that absolute and unreserved confidence in them, which nothing can shake. We know that man is open to mistake, and we are always glad to find some confirmation of what he says, from other quarters, in any important matter; or we receive his information with negligence and unconcern, as something of little consequence, as a matter of opinion; or, if we act upon it, it is as a matter of prudence, thinking it best and safest to do so. We take his word for what it is worth, and we use it either according to our necessity, or its probability. We keep the decision in our own hands, and reserve to ourselves the right of reopening the question whenever we please. This is very different from Divine faith; he who believes that God is true, and that this is His word, which He has committed to man, has no doubt at all. He is as certain that the doctrine taught is true, as that God is true; and he is certain, because God is true, because God has spoken, not because he sees its truth or can prove its truth. That is, faith has two peculiarities;—it is most certain, decided, positive, immovable in its assent, and it gives this assent not because it sees with eye, or sees with the reason, but because it receives the tidings from one who comes from God. This is what faith was in the time of the Apostles, as no one can deny; and what it was then, it must be now, else it ceases to be the same thing. I say, it certainly was this in the Apostles’ time, for you know they preached to the world that Christ was the Son of God, that He was born of a Virgin, that He had ascended on high, that He would come again to judge all, the living and the dead. Could the world see all this? could it prove it? how then were men to receive it? why did so many embrace it? on the word of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, messengers from God. Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. No one doubts, no one can doubt this, of those primitive times. A Christian was bound to take without doubting all that the Apostles declared to be revealed; if the Apostles spoke, he had to yield an internal assent of his mind; it would not be enough to keep silence, it would not be enough not to oppose: it was not allowable to credit in a measure; it was not allowable to doubt. No; if a convert had his own private thoughts of what was said, and only kept them to himself, if he made some secret opposition to the teaching, if he waited for further proof before he believed it, this would be a proof that he did not think the Apostles were sent from God to reveal His will; it would be a proof that he did not in any true sense believe at all. Immediate, implicit submission of the mind was, in the lifetime of the Apostles, the only, the necessary token of faith; then there was no room whatever for what is now called private judgment. No one could say: “I will choose my religion for myself, I will believe this, I will not believe that; I will pledge myself to nothing; I will believe just as long as I please, and no longer; what I believe today I will reject tomorrow, if I choose. I will believe what the Apostles have as yet said, but I will not believe what they shall say in time to come.” No; either the Apostles were from God, or they were not; if they were, everything that they preached was to be believed by their hearers; if they were not, there was nothing for their hearers to believe. To believe a little, to believe more or less, was impossible; it contradicted the very notion of believing: if one part was to be believed, every part was to be believed; it was an absurdity to believe one thing and not another; for the word of the Apostles, which made the one true, made the other true too; they were nothing in themselves, they were all things, they were an infallible authority, as coming from God. The world had either to become Christian, or to let it alone; there was no room for private tastes and fancies, no room for private judgment.

June 27, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

SSPX on its way back?

Well, we can only hope.  Rorate and Father Z have a good bit to say about it.  Please pray for the Church.

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

What is Faith?

“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of
things that appear not.”

Is this a good defininition?
St. Thomas thinks that it is, especially since the Apostle himself gives it. And while the definition is not like a technical definition, St. Thomas contends that it lacks none of the necessary components of a definition. What then is the “substance” of the “substance of things hoped for”? Obviously, it cannot be a substance in terms of the supreme genus as in Aristotelian logic. He says that substance may also be suitably used to indicate the “first beginning of a thing”. Thus it can be said that “the first self-evident principles are the substance of science, because, to wit, these principles are in us the first beginnings of science, the whole of which is itself contained in them virtually.” So then, faith is the first beginning of the things we hope for and do not see. The object of faith then is understood as something unseen, as the second part of the definition says. For what we hope for we do not see, “(Rom. 8:25): ‘We hope for that which we see not’: because to see the truth is to possess it.” 
St Thomas explains “evidence”; that it “is taken for the result of evidence. For evidence induces the intellect to adhere to a truth, wherefore the firm adhesion of the intellect to the non-apparent truth of faith is called ‘evidence’ here. Hence another reading has ‘conviction,’ because to wit, the intellect of the believer is convinced by Divine authority, so as to assent to what it sees not.”
He then goes on to define faith using the form of definition:

Accordingly if anyone would reduce the foregoing words to the form of a definition, he may say that “faith is a habit of the mind, whereby eternal life is begun in us, making the intellect assent to what is non-apparent.”

He further explains,

In this way faith is distinguished from all other things pertaining to the intellect. For when we describe it as “evidence,” we distinguish it from opinion, suspicion, and doubt, which do not make the intellect adhere to anything firmly; when we go on to say, “of things that appear not,” we distinguish it from science and understanding, the object of which is something apparent; and when we say that it is “the substance of things to be hoped for,” we distinguish the virtue of faith from faith commonly so called, which has no reference to the beatitude we hope for.

Therefore, we must next ask what the proper object of faith is.

(All quotes from St. Thomas are from his Summa Theologica, Treatise on Theological Virtues, Question 4, Article 1.)

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Philosophy, Protestantism, Religion | Leave a comment