Lord have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
Lord havc mercy
R. Lord have mercy
God our Father in heaven
R. Have mercy on me
God the Son, Redeemer of the world
R. Have mercy on me
God the Holy Spirit
R. Have mercy on me
Holy Trinity, one God
R. Have mercy on me
(Each invocation should begin with: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David” and end with, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”)
Who has suffered agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
Who has been scourged at the pillar
Who has been crowned with thorns
Who has carried the Cross
Who has been nailed to the Cross
Who has died on the Cross
Whose side has been pierced with a lance
Who rose from the dead
Who ascended to the Father
Because of your suffering, your Father has swept away my transgressions like a cloud
Because of your suffering, your Father has made my scarlet sins white as snow
Because of your suffering, your Father has loved me with a great love
Because of your suffering, your Father has made me alive with You
Because of your suffering, your Father has raised me up with You
You have born my sins in your body on the Cross
You have freed me from sin
You have enabled me to live righteously
By your wounds I have been healed
From whose side water and blood flowed
From whose side the Church was born
From whose side, a fountain has come to wash away the sin and impurity of the Church
From whose side the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist have sprung
You are the Lamb of God and You take away the sins of the world (3x)
You so loved the world you gave us your only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. May my heart be open to this truth and may I obtain eternal life through the merits of your Son. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen
“FATHER, … this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” – than the name of JESUS.
III. THE AIM AND INTENDED READERSHIP OF THE CATECHISM
11 This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium. It is intended to serve “as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries”.
12 This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful.
IV. STRUCTURE OF THIS CATECHISM
13 The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), and the prayer of the believer (the Lord’s Prayer).
Part One: The Profession of Faith
14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men. First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).
Part Two: The Sacraments of Faith
15 The second part of the Catechism explains how God’s salvation, accomplished once for all through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is made present in the sacred actions of the Church’s liturgy (Section One), especially in the seven sacraments (Section Two).
Part Three: The Life of Faith
16 The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude, and the ways of reaching it — through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God’s law and grace (Section One), and through conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God’s Ten Commandments (Section Two).
Part Four: Prayer in the Life of Faith
17 The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for, and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us.
I found the description of the sacrament of baptism below to be personally true within the soul. To be “born again” by the action of the Spirit in these modern times reveals, (among a great many things), the historical reality of the presence of God in the flesh (Jesus) on earth . One learns confirmation of that visitation to his people, his death, and resurrection over 2000 years ago in one way–through the very same heart that was pierced by the Roman soldiers following his death on the cross. They wanted at that time in history to insure, with their own eyes, the death of the guilty ones; Yet, today, it is the same innocent blood and water mercifully flowing forth from the side of the Savior of the world which washes clean our sinful fallen souls, and enlightens the eyes and ears of our hearts in his bringing our souls into union with the Father—face to face in beatific communion with the Trinity. And there is no power, seen or unseen, nor evil spirit, or sin which plagues us, greater than this love of the Trinity, which God in His fullness of Glory desires to share with all men in the sacrament of baptism–Baptism reveals the meaning of life and the search for truth: To come to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be with him joyful forever in the next.
The following is from ‘Jesus of Nazareth, by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, pg. 20:
“Jesus’ Baptism, […] is understood as a repetition of the whole history, which both recapitulates the past and anticipates the future. His entering into the sins of others is a descent into the “inferno.” But he does not descend merely in the role of a spectator, as in Dante’s Inferno. Rather, he goes down in the role of one whose suffering-with-others is a transforming suffering that turns the underworld around, knocking down and flinging open the gates of the abyss. His Baptism is a descent into the house of the evil one, combat with the “strong man” (cf. Lk 11:22) who holds men captive (and the truth is that we are all very much captive to powers that anonymously manipulate us!). Throughout all its history, the world is powerless to defeat the “strong man”; he is overcome and bound by one yet stronger, who, because of his equality with God, can take upon himself all the sin of the world and then suffers it through to the end—omitting nothing on the downward path into identity with the fallen. This struggle is the “conversion” of being that brings it into a new condition, that prepares a new heaven and a new earth. Looked at from this angle, the sacrament of Baptism appears as the gift of participation in Jesus’ world-transforming struggle in the conversion of life that took place in his descent and ascent.”
…Because false ecumenismis a cancer on the Body of Christ, the Church, that’s why…
Saint Peregrine (Pellegrino) Laziosi (Latiosi) (1260 – 1 May 1345) is the patron saint for those suffering from cancer. After viewing the following pics, perhaps it’s time for a novena on behalf of the Church in France afflicted so terribly with spiritual cancer, whose adults (in great numbers) no longer attend mass, but apparently find no problem with introducing young baptized hearts into the spiritual phenomenon of Islam.
I make this defender of the faith statement my own concerning refuting perverted Catholicism, as it is in this case: “The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is and must remain the center of all Truth on earth, until He comes again. To that end, we will continue to attack falsehood wherever we see it… Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life. Please God, and live forever.”
EDITOR NOTE: This story first appeared in October within the online magOuest France; was reported on by Rorate Caeli, as well as other sources I can’t recommend here, as they themselves are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
It is written of all men concerning God, that “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” [John 19:37]. And like the unbelieving Apostle Thomas, these hooligan’s too will drop to their knees, if not their bellies; yes, their souls as well as flesh will lie open in obedience to the all-powerful presence of the Creator of heaven and earth… They will look upon His Pierced Heart and every wound he suffered on behalf of their every transgression; and at that very moment, a great lament will take hold within their own hearts, marking them indelibly with regret–because they offended the all-holy Mother of God before her Son–the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let us pray, as surely as Mary, the Queen of Peace is, that this occurs within the lives of these vandals before The Last Judgement–that what is also written within sacred scripture, may be true of them: “He who is forgiven much, will love much.” [Luke 7:36-50]
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began… ..He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him — He who is both their God and the son of Eve.. “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son… …I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.” [Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 452C; LH, Holy Saturday, OR]
Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”
So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.
The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.
Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, “
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
“What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says: They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says: They will look upon him whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.
“We cannot be sure whether Eric’s theological position is typical of a liberal or a radical Protestantism. But as an exercise in loyal dissent it moves beyond the limits of orthodox Catholicism…”
To pell is to pelt; to knock about, is what mell is to beat with a mallet; to hammer… And yesterday Cardinal Pell hammered retired Australian priest Eric Hodgens and his unorthodox ethos of Vatican II, a spirit responsible for much of the difficulties and challenges the Catholic Church faces in the world today.
Eric Hodgens is a Melbourne priest ordained in 1960. He has had parish appointments for all of his ministerial years except for two years of full-time study at Melbourne University. He was Director of Pastoral Formation for Priests in Melbourne for seven years while setting up a new parish. Eric has the most extensive set of statistics on secular priests in Australia and writes occasionally on Catholic and other matters. Further articles can be viewed on his blog www.catholicview.typepad.com
Time to speak – and act
A large section of Catholic priests are at odds with the public stance of the Church. The issues which disturb them include:
the displacement of the main game of spreading a message of life, hope, compassion and forgiveness by overstressing, moral issues;
foreclosing on moral issues which need revisiting – eg contraception, IVF, divorce, homosexuality;
World Youth Days which feed the personality cult of the pope to the detriment of the local church and which have not reversed the flow of youth from the Church;
the autocratic, non-consultative management style of many bishops – themselves unsuitable and unwanted and appointed without consultation;
the promotion of reactionary, authoritarian and fundamentalist movements such as Opus Dei, Legionaries of Christ, Heralds of the Gospel, Communione e Liberatione as real, effective responses to the challenge of faith in a secular world;
the non-consultative and politically motivated superimposition of a new, defective translation of the liturgy. This one has the potential of sparking a people-power revolt as a growing parade of liturgical experts list the bad policy and the abuses still being perpetrated under its banner;
The discomfort these priests feel ranges from embarrassment to outright disagreement.
Yet, we priests do not speak up much. Why?
We were trained not to speak up. In our earlier years we were afraid to speak up because the bishop was too awesome a figure. The rank gradient was steep. Remember “My Lord”. Remember genuflecting and kissing the ring. And bishops learned the trick of controlling the pack by showing anger or displeasure at the first sign of disagreement.
We were also trained to put the Church institution first. Rocking the boat in public was disloyalty and self-aggrandisement.
More recently priests worked out that it was useless to talk up anyway. Bishops generally were impervious to criticism, especially on issues of Roman policy.
The Diocesan Council of Priests became a waste of time in most dioceses. So, why waste your psychological energy? Just go back to your parish and do your own thing.
Finally, there was always the promise of obedience which imitated the antique oath of fealty to the liege lord. “Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?” Priests took this literally and seriously.
This policy will no longer do. It is time to speak up and to act. The matter is urgent. Why?
The church in Australia and the west is in serious trouble. Church-loving laity know it, priests know it. The symptoms are clear: a drought of priests, dropping Mass attendance, the loss of the younger generation and a walking away from membership by the worn down hard core.
So, what is the cause and what response is needed?
In Europe and its offspring, membership of the Church was overwhelmingly a matter of inheritance. The baby was christened and all presumed that it would stay a Church member for life. Most European states had an established religion. They were confessional states. Even after the arrival of the secular states the denominational sub-groups remained relatively large and strong. Christian identity remained confessional – ie I belong to this church, believe what it believes and practice religion the way it does. Membership qualifications were clear and the group’s boundaries were clearly defined.
Two rules of membership provided continued existence. Firstly, you christened your children and inculturated them into the group. Secondly, there was strong group pressure not to defect.
Since World War II the social cohesion of religious groups has weakened leaving christened members freer to think and act for themselves. A lot of this is due to a massive expansion of knowledge — scientific, psychological, sociological, historical, critical. Combined with a massive expansion of education, the result is much more freedom of thought. In this new environment long assumed facts have been turned upside down. So many accepted beliefs and practices are seen as dated and irrelevant. Bemoaning the scene is no help. We must revisit the core message of the Church and re-work the way we present it in the light of the new knowledge in this new social context. One term used to describe this process is recontextualization.
Rome lays the blame on secularism and relativism and calls for a new evangelization. John Paul II started this call. Benedict has followed it up by establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The problem with this is that there is no intention to review the articulation of faith and moral teaching, nor an intention to try out new approaches to liturgy, nor to experiment in inculturation. Look at the favoured new movements, the new translation of the missal, the catechesis offered at World Youth Days – all reasserting the old model which is not working.
The foreclosed answer is reconfessionalisation, not the recontextualization needed Recontextualization entails accepting, even welcoming, secular and pluralistic culture. We rearticulate our core faith so that it makes sense in that context.
We rearticulate our concept and imagery of God so that God is the unseen, transcendent core of being rather than the string puller and button pusher of a puppet world. Jesus becomes the face and voice of the unseen God and the channel of God’s faithfulness and love. Salvation is the hope that we can justifiably hold on to in the face of death – a hope reassured by our faith in Jesus risen.
The recontextualized articulation of the central message of Christian salvation is well under way. Scripture scholars like Ray Brown, Joe Fitzmyer, John Meier and Eugene La Verdiere have shown us how faith develops and its articulation grows. As Jesus became larger than life in the belief of the early Christian communities they told larger than life stories. Under their guidance the scriptures make sense.
Karen Armstrong has lucidly shown the distinction between logical and mythological discourse. If you want to have meaningful faith conversation in the modern world you must understand the power and meaning of myth.
Theologians like Roger Lenaers and Roger Haight rearticulate the core of Christian theology in a way which is credible in the modern world. Michael Morwood and Philip Kennedy have done a fine job of popularizing this recontextualized theology. But their efforts are not appreciated by Rome. Haight has been silenced. Tissa Balasurya and Jaques Dupuis were both pursued by the CDF for recontextualizing Christian faith in the face of religious pluralism.
The Catholic Church had a great chance to meet this challenge at the start of the 20’h century. The response was Pius X’s campaign against modernism with mind-numbing results. We were not alone. At about the same time the US protestants answered the challenge with their fundamentalist tracts. We got another chance with Vatican II and Gaudium et Spes. The non-converted curial remnant got busy and won the post-conciliar battle especially under John Paul II. Gaudium et Spes was dismantled. The result is our unpreparedness for the current collapse. It is now the 11th hour. The matter is urgent.
It is precisely because so many priests have taken steps along this econtextualizing path that they are in disagreement with Roman policy as it recycles the old confessional model. Many priests have already very thoughtfully modified their pastoral practice. They are already recontextualizing their own faith journey. They have replaced the simplistic faith of their youth with a more fluid faith borne out of experience, more mature and reflective appreciation of the scriptures and a more vital, dynamic theology.
Our promise of loyalty was made to the Church in the person of the bishop. If the bishop is wrong, a loyal priest speaks up. In the light of relentless alienating Roman policy, made acutely specific in the current imposition of the defective translation of the liturgy, we have the responsibility not only to speak up but to act.
Cardinal Pell responds:
Some Gaudium and No Spes
By George Cardinal Pell
Father Eric Hodgens’ piece on the Gaudium et Spes priests gives us plenty of food for thought. It is well written and provocative, as you would expect of a priest who described his own cohort as possessing “the biggest proportion of intelligent, educated and competent leaders”. But it is unbalanced, misguided, selective and sometimes inaccurate.
Recently I have been concerned by the theological extremism of some Swag contributions, and am grateful for the opportunity to state the case for the orthodox mainstream. I am not ordering anyone to “withdraw to the fortress and sing the old song”, but my best lines are still from the New Testament with its ancient truths and melodies.
Eric sees himself now as “a presbyter called and ordained by the Church – the People of God” rather than as “a priest called and consecrated by God”. It is difficult to know exactly what this means, but it might point us to a number of fundamental issues.
More cards have been laid on the table than in Father Hodgens’ earlier writings. While it would be interesting to know whether he still has any jokers up his sleeve, it is more important to recognize that many of the cards cannot be identified accurately. We do not know, for example, his answers to the nine questions he lists. We do not know the limits to his hostility to some ancient devotions such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and veneration of Our Lady. We do not know whether his opposition to the papacy and episcopate touches these institutions themselves or simply the style of recent incumbents. So too with priesthood and traditional Christian teaching on marriage, divorce and sexuality.
We cannot be sure whether Eric’s theological position is typical of a liberal or a radical Protestantism. But as an exercise in loyal dissent it moves beyond the limits of orthodox Catholicism.
Let me attempt to state the issue in the most basic terms.
We find no evidence in Eric’s article that the Catholic Church is the recipient of divine revelation, “God’s message not some human thinking” (1 Thess 2.13); nor that the Catholic Church was founded by the Son of God “the Word who was with God . . . the Word who was God” (Jn 1.1), Jesus the Christ, the son of Mary with a divine as well as a human nature. If Christ is divine, New Testament teachings have a unique authority.
Eric writes with the genuine anguish of most of us older Catholics who grew up at an unusually high tide of faith and practice and lived through the radical decline which followed the social revolution of the 1960s in the First World. But some of the damage was self-inflicted.
One major point of difference is that in my view Eric’s prescriptions are a significant cause of our problems. His solutions were put into practice after the Council, to some degree in Australia, but especially in Belgium, Holland and French-speaking Canada. They emptied the Churches there.
Pope Paul VI appointed no bishops who were opposed to the ethos of Vatican II, and for various reasons the good bishops appointed in Holland were overwhelmed, tossed aside by the liberal gales. This brings me to another contemporary fact, which I never anticipated as a young seminarian in Rome during the Council or as a young priest. The now aged liberal wing of the Church, which dominated discussion after the Council and often the bishops and the emerging Church bureaucracies, has no following among young practising Catholics, priests or religious. This is not only true in Australia, but everywhere in the Western world. In these different countries dominated by a secular media and intelligentsia, liberalism has no young Catholic progeny.
On reflection we should not find this surprising, as growth is tied to Gospel fidelity, to faith, love and sacrifice. After Vatican II many of us overestimated our cultural strengths and underestimated the virulence of anti-Christian forces. You need strong Christian foundations to participate productively in “open dialogue”. Without these roots the end of the road is agnosticism.
I should conclude with a few words in defence of the four popes who were mauled, especially Paul, John Paul II and Benedict. Incidentally it is a matter of historical record that at the 1971 Synod of Bishops, Pope Paul offered to the bishops the option of ordaining married men to the priesthood and the bishops declined to accept this.
All three popes were prolific writers, while John Paul II and Benedict were professional academics with a record of scholarly and popular publications rarely if ever equalled by any Australian priest. I believe Pope Benedict is now our most distinguished living theologian.
The charges against the Holy Father do not amount to too much e.g. instituting a special year to honour priests (which was well received by priests and people), continuing with a new translation of the Roman Missal, and encouraging the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated. He did not receive back the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, but only lifted their excommunication. They are still in schism.
Pope John Paul provokes a special hostility, allegedly an abuser of power, out of touch in scripture, limited in theology, a bad listener. It is a surprise that anyone came to his funeral. In particular he is denounced for emasculating the leadership of the Church, who are clerical and compliant, “low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence”.
In an astonishing example of provincial arrogance, Hodgens claims that “the more intelligent and better educated” bishops (only “some” to be sure) are corrupt and have sold their soul for advancement. Me thinks he protests too much.
Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict were not hostile to intelligence, education or competence, but they have striven regularly to appoint bishops who will defend the apostolic tradition and strive to implement policies which will strengthen the Catholic position, not white-ant it.
Hodgens’ misunderstanding of the magisterium is typical of his position. The magisterium refers primarily to the teaching authority of the pope together with the bishops (Vatican II’s collegiality). The baptised faithful share in this and so do the theologians with priests and religious.
Certainly the teaching authority of the bishops was recognized early by St. Ignatius of Antioch (+107 A.D.) and St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (+200 A.D.) with his apostolic succession lists of bishops to defend the apostolic tradition. The ancient teaching chair of the bishop exemplifies this, predating by many centuries any groups of professional theologians in the medieval universities. In Pope John Paul’s 27 years of pontificate 24 individuals were disciplined for their theological views, including eight who were silenced or removed, in the worldwide Catholic community of more than one billion believers. Father Hodgens himself escaped any reign of terror and so did many hundreds of dissidents.
Eric is a bit too generous to his generation, to which I belong. Many were formidable, but we coincided with a period of decline probably unparalleled since the Reformation.
“Reflections on an ordination golden anniversary” is thought provoking. I am glad Father Hodgens has enjoyed his years of priesthood. Unfortunately much of the analysis is mistaken since his solutions, to the extent we can identify them, are less than Catholic and would make a difficult situation worse.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).
The Catholic Church: Gift of Love, Truth and Life
By F. K. Bartels
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) — Although it is fashionable in some circles to view the Catholic Church as merely one institution among others, it is vital to properly understand who and what the Church is, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sacrificed his sacred humanity on the cross for the sake of his holy Bride. It was therefore God himself who willed that the Church should exist. As the sacrament of salvation and the gateway to eternal life, the Church exists as a definite and specific institution, invisible and visible, divine and human — a gift of love, truth and life.
There is in fact a great deal of misunderstanding in contemporary society about Mother Church. It would not be an exaggeration to state that if Christ had not founded her as a definite and specific Church, then the fullness of truth our intellects so thirstily crave would be inaccessible: we would be doomed to grope in a world of darkness without hope of understanding the reality of those things which are beyond what is readily apparent to the senses. In absence of the Church, we could not know with certainty the truth about salvation and redemption, grace and free will; nor of the eschatological realities each man must eventually face; nor could we even understand what a human person is. Christ, of course, knew all this. Therefore, the Way, the Truth, and the Life who is our Savior (see Jn 14:6) founded his Church as an apostolic institution of unity, holiness, and catholicity.
Though it is the Church who dispenses the words of truth and the sacraments of life, and who carries the faithful in her womb as they journey along in God’s providential plan, there are some who willingly isolate themselves from such beautiful gifts. For some view her through sterile, calculating eyes as an human institution only; one who ceaselessly attempts to shackle modern man with ever-tightening moral constraints. In this way, she is viewed with suspicion, and thus whatever moral word she may proclaim with love for the freedom and safety of her children is dismissed as an undue, legalistic imposition that stymies freedom.
Others see the Church in an entirely abstract way, as if she did not exist as Mother Church whose words transmit the fullness of truth, but rather as a vague concept that simply and only refers to the manner in which Christians share a relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. In this view, the Church is seen as a non-institution, indefinite and unspecific: the word Church is reduced to “church,” and with that reduction the fullness of its meaning is lost. Consequently, the words “church” and “Christian” are often thought to be synonymous. However, being a member of the latter group does not necessarily imply full communion with the former. While it is true that by virtue of their baptism all Christians are incorporated into the Church, it is important to distinguish between full and partial communion. In order for one to be in full communion with Christ’s Bride, it is necessary to be a practicing Catholic who gives assent to all that the Church teaches.
There are still others who view the Church through the warped lens of indifferentism. The fullness of truth transmitted by the Church is regarded with cold disinterest; ruled by pragmatism, the fleeting events of contemporary society are given the utmost priority, and thus worshiped as idols; truth and religion are seen as distant, trivial issues hardly worth fretting over, for there is little time for it all. The ramification of such an insane attitude is that the breadth and depth of religious truth is madly considered to be mere inconsequential clutter.
Jesus Christ Suffered And Died For The Church
It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.”Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).
Many theologians see in this sacred moment on Calvary the formation of the first cell of the Church. Hans Urs Von Balthasaar commented on the fruits of the relationship conferred on Mary and John by our Beloved Savior: “From this original cell of the Church established at the Cross will come everything which will form the organism of the Church” . It is there, at the base of the cross, in an act of unwavering faith confronted with intense emptiness, pain and sorrow, that the gift of Church as a community bound in Love is conferred upon the Virgin Mother and the beloved disciple. This new way of life is immediately and fully embraced, for the disciple takes Mary into his home “from that hour”.
“In order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, . . . the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:31-34).
In his book,God Is Near Us, then Cardinal Ratzinger writes, “From his side, that side which has been opened up in loving sacrifice, comes a spring of water that brings to fruition the whole of history. From the ultimate self-sacrifice of Jesus spring forth blood and water, Eucharist and baptism, as the source of a new community.” Thus this Cardinal who would soon become Pope Benedict XVI was able to say, “The Lord’s opened side is the source from which spring forth both the Church and the sacraments that build up the Church.”
In this sacred, incomparable event on the cross, the Person of Jesus Christ is revealed: The Son of God and Son of Man willed to die for humanity, and, in that astonishing moment which will forever leave men speechless, he has lovingly formed in the midst of a chaotic world an island of truth and security: his Bride, the Catholic Church. This gift of love, truth and life flowed forth in divine abundance as an organic, living reality of oneness, whose beating heart is Christ himself.
The Church: Monarchical And Hierarchical Authority
Our understanding of the Church would be incomplete if we overlooked St. Matthew’s gospel. After Simon Peter confessed that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (16:17-19).
In Matthew’s gospel we clearly see that the Church is founded by Christ as a definite and specific institution; i.e., Christ founded the Church — not “churches”. Authority is conferred on St. Peter as leader, who is given the “keys to the kingdom,” and the power to “bind” and “loose”. The implication of this fact is that Peter had a primacy or special place among the apostles. Here, with St. Peter as earthly head, we see the visible monarchical structure of the Church. It stands to reason that Christ would install a leader at the helm of his Church, for without one she would quickly fall into division and disarray. Analogies always fall short; nevertheless, we should note that any business or corporation would not long survive without a leader. In Matthew 18:18, Christ gives the authority of binding and loosing to the other apostles — though Peter remains at the helm — forming the hierarchical structure of the Church.
Some object to the claim that St. Peter was First Bishop of Rome and leader of the Church. There is the notion that Christ founded his Church on St. Peter’s faith only; that Peter had no actual leadership role, and that he was but merely a figurehead. Some presently treat the office of the papacy in such a manner. But no one gives the “keys to the kingdom” to faith; no one confers the power to “bind” and “loose” on faith. Christian faith is the theological virtue by which the mind and will assents to God’s revelation: it is a movement of the intellect and choice of the will to love the God of infinite goodness with all one’s heart. Faith is saying “yes” to the Word. Faith in itself cannot possess the authority to “bind” and “loose”. Authority is granted to people. In this case, it is conferred on the Church, an authoritative monarchical and hierarchical institution, who is the Body of Christ and who possesses the fullness of truth.
The early Church Fathers were firmly convinced of the primacy of Peter and of a definite and specific Church instituted by Jesus Christ. Thus, on looking into history, we find the notion of a vague, non-institutional church entirely foreign to the Christian community.
On the unity and authority of the Church, St. Ignatius wrote: “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. . . . Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, A.D. 105).
It is especially noteworthy that Ignatius, a man of Antioch, first writes, so far as we know, of the term Catholic Church; for it was also at Antioch that, as the Acts of the Apostles indicate, the followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (see Acts 11:26).
St. Cyprian, writing in about A.D. 251: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church, 4).
It was St. Cyprian’s understanding of the reality of the Church that compelled him to write this vital truth: “He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: ‘he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.’ Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ” (Ibid.).
We return to the Crucifixion. God Incarnate, through Whom all things were created and are sustained, sacrificed himself and died on the cross for his Church: a definite and specific, divine and human institution of oneness who exists as the Body of Christ. Our Savior died for the immense and incomparable gift of his Church: the sacrament of salvation whose sole purpose is to guide humankind to its eternal end. The Church is a sign and instrument of Christ’s salvation: it is within the loving arms of Mother Church that God’s children receive the sacraments in which they are swept up into the life of the Holy Trinity. Such a gift is priceless and beyond all comparison. It should never be overlooked, dismissed or rejected; rather every Christian should flock to Mother Church, the gateway to life eternal.
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
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