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Thursday, June 19, 2014

95 Theses VII: Heresy Knocks Twice

31. One who bona fide buys indulgence is a rare as a bona fide penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed. My comment: We don't deny doctrines because people misunderstand or misuse them.

32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers. My comment: You can't be saved by an indulgence, not then, not now, not ever. I doubt anyone of any importance actually claimed otherwise. Also, pronouncing damnation on people is exactly what Jesus said not to do. You're not the Church; shut your pie-hole.

33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them. My comment: Papal indulgences are an amazing gift, and an opportunity to participate in the reconciliation won by Christ, and deepen our love for Him.

34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man. My comment: Sacramentals work by the authority of the Church, to convey grace to dispose us to receive the sacraments--the efficacious signs of our salvation--more worthily. The whole problem is the faulty ecclesiology that makes "decreed merely by man" seem like a good argument.

35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins. My comment: I doubt anyone actually ever claimed this, but a true penitent by definition does not need to be told to confess his sins.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Don't Read "Love" Advice

I'm just that sort of guy. If my feelings for someone (romantically) are strong, they're really strong. I'm glad it never went anywhere That One Time, because who she really is, and who she might have wanted me to think she was, are different. Which isn't to say she was dishonest. She wasn't. We just see what we want to see.

Anyway, I was reading a webpage called, "The Date Report." The first article was great. Let me sum up, dudes: Disappearing is a total tool move. Don't do it. I'm not even good at this, and I know that one. If it's over, you can tell her, pansy.

I thought the second one would be funny. What the music you like says about you on a first date. Sidebar: I hate the entire concept of dating. It seems cruel and reckless. Anyway, I found two that are a couple of favorites: John Mayer, and John Legend.

"John Mayer: You are a virgin."

Yes, in fact, I am. I don't see even a correlation here, but OK. Why is this a bad thing? Should I feel bad about this? Why? Pray tell, O Wise One, who has bonded physically, emotionally--dare I say--metaphysically--with random strangers multiple times, while trying to pretend you're not wounded deeply by the whole thing. Moving on.

"John Legend: You have emotional sex." Well, no. We covered this. But I very likely will, if marriage is my vocation. I do everything with emotion. I eat Snickers bars with emotion. I'm not bored, ever. EVER. Moreover, if the marital embrace is a picture of Christ and the Church, you'd better believe I'm going to get emotional. I would hope that the Love explosion which is seeing God in the Beatific Vision would not leave me as the picture of stoicism!

The flippant, inconsequential nature of the life of lies they are trying to sell us! It boggles the mind.

Happy Thoughts, With St. Cyprian

Sheesh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

95 Theses VI: The Undiscovered Heresy

26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them). My comment: On the contrary; he can do both. John 20:23.

27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest. My comment: Assuming someone actually said this, it's only true to the extent that it reflects the Church's actual teaching; insofar as it doesn't, it doesn't matter, no matter who said it.

28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God. My comment: This is certainly true, but I don't get the point. Denying the Church's right to intercede does not end greed or avarice.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful). My comment: The legend isn't odd if one doesn't view participation and the will of God as a zero-sum game.

30. No one is sure of the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness. My comment: He can be sure of forgiveness, if he receives the sacraments. But one cannot accept this if he has the special pride of scrupulosity.

95 Theses V: The Final Frontier (Of Heresy)

21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the pope's indulgences. My comment: An indulgence does not absolve from sin; only Reconciliation can do that. If the Pope grants a plenary indulgence for doing some action, it means that it redounds to God's praise much more, having done it in a state of grace, and for love of God, than the time in Purgatory.

22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life. My comment: The meaning is unclear here. But obtaining an indulgence and applying its benefits for the souls in Purgatory is a most noble practice, commended by the Church to this day. And once more, trying to tell the Successor of Peter (who could alter canon law with the stroke of a pen right now) about his jurisdiction is a fruitless waste of time.

23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few. My comment: As a self-contained statement, I agree with this. It is very difficult to have the disposition to receive all the benefits of an indulgence. Even the most earnest and zealous of us may only benefit partially, at any given time.

24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty. My comment: This is impossible to know. Moreover, we'll find out. We might think, "Hey, I've done enough good to go straight Home" but God says, "I don't think so." There might be another who is scrupulous. In any case, the clergy may be culpable for encouraging presumption and Pelagianism in some. And in not catechizing the people. But it cannot negate the riches of God's mercy in Christ.

25. The same power as the pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish. My comment: This is almost true. A priest in his parish can do 2 things about Purgatory: Jack and Squat. Also, the Bishop of Rome is still more free to grant these, a diocesan bishop's authority notwithstanding.

You Got A Doctorate? Seriously? (Was Cantor Really That Bad?)

This is the kind of stuff that makes me sure I could add something to our national conversations, such as they are. I'm sure I'll be destroyed by a media deception, or words taken out of context. But we've got to do better than this. Lurking in this pile of nonsense is the idea that consent between two parties is sufficient to establish moral licitness, and a real connection to the common good. In other words, markets are neither moral, nor amoral. But Catholics--left, right, or center--cannot believe this.

The state exists to promote the common good; that is, the sum of all the conditions necessary for every single person to reach the end for which they were made. To believe that a particular intervention by government is imprudent, unwise, or unnecessary is different than believing that government has no licit role by definition in promoting the common good. For this reason, I believe that this philosophy is ultimately destructive, because it views government as such as the enemy. "Limited government" is only useful insofar as that limitation serves healthy self-determination, economic and otherwise, and personal growth.

If we've got nothing to replace standard left-liberal programs but rhetoric about "liberty," (which means today, "radical individual autonomy,") we're going to keep losing. Americans generally do want to be left alone, but not at the expense of the disabled, the very poor, and good things like public libraries, schools, and the arts. Generally, we are in debt to ourselves, so various means of social assistance and organization do need reform. Yet too many people hear, "Government is bad," when we say "reform." What they ought to hear is, "Government needs to work for its people, not for large firms, or for politicians who support failed programs for personal gain and public approval."

Can we have Cantor back, before we lose that seat to Planned Parenthood?

Fred Noltie Blogs, We All Win

He's at it again. At best, (and that's being generous) it's a coin-flip. Frankly, I don't take a stand if it's 50-50, and neither should you. That was a particularly nasty realization for me. Because the Reformers promised certainty, a tie goes to the papists.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn, (Sr.) the 8-time National League batting champion and Hall of Famer for the San Diego Padres, has died of cancer. He was just 54 years old. I don't really have the words to tell you how great he really was, or how sad I am, but I'll give it my best shot.

In 2001, my mother won season tickets for the Cardinals in a contest. I could only go to one game, and I chose the Padres. I knew that would be the end of the line for him, and I wanted to cheer for him in person. He didn't play that night, but he's quite simply the greatest hitter I've ever seen, and I was happy to know he was in the park. No one ever smiled as much as he did. I've never seen someone so excellent have so much fun playing baseball.

That same year, one of the columnists for ESPN wrote about what it was like to cover Gwynn, even though he didn't like to watch baseball himself. What can you say? He's Mr. Padre, the quintessential Nice Guy, the great ambassador, pretty much everything we want our sports heroes to be, yet they rarely are. Well, Mr. Gwynn made a fan and a friend out of that writer, and no one is surprised.

One absurd statistic I heard still blows my mind. His .338 career batting mark is staggering, but for his career average to drop below .300, he would have had to make an out 20,000 times in a row. (Most full-time hitters make roughly 600 plate appearances in a season.)

You couldn't get more universally beloved than this man. Did he ever get booed, anywhere? And if you did, you'd feel bad about it. Sometimes, the chiches are true, and this man was a living, breathing, embodiment of everything the grizzled cynics hate. Watching him was like watching Field of Dreams 6000 times, but it was real. Worth a note that the highest attendance ever recorded at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony was the year Tony went in.

I had to put the "Sr." in there, because his son made the big leagues. I can only imagine what Tony, Jr. feels right now. Be sad, but know also that how you regarded him isn't too far from how we all did, and maybe that's the greatest legacy of all.

Rest in peace, Tony. I hope to see you in glory.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

95 Theses IV: A Bad Vacation

16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance. My comment: I frankly don't know how any person who studied the Church's teaching in any depth could say this. Any era, any time. He should have listened to his confessor, and spiritual director. Any person who is this troubled (because scrupulosity is obvious here) should not have been teaching anyone anything. Personally, I know the feeling. I told a friend years ago, "I feel I should drop out of seminary, so I can figure out who God is." (And that's pretty much what I did.)

17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased. My comment: Whatever Purgatory is really like, the debts paid there are judged by the will of God. We cannot, and should not, wish for a respite for anyone in Purgatory, apart from the will of God.

18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace. My comment: Because Purgatory from time immemorial has been understood as the place where the elect are made perfect, as it is written, "Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord," it should be understood that the doctrine of Purgatory is a settled matter. This is a pointless speculation for someone trained in Sacred Theology. Growth in grace is proper to the time of testing that is this life. A soul judged elect but imperfect does not need to grow in grace.

19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves. My comment: Again, the starting-points for anyone in theology are the dogmatic declarations of the Church, and the Magisterium in particular. You can believe anything you like, but if you doubt what is de fide, nothing you are doing is authentically catholic. All the great saints tell us not to gauge our spiritual lives by how we may feel at any given moment.

20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself. My comment: I am not aware of any limitation on the Pope's authority to remit canonical penalties, even those lawfully imposed by others. He may choose, for the good of the Church and the individual, not to exercise that power, but any suggestion that he does not have it seems gravely mistaken.