Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Fifteen Years of Blogging!

Fifteen Years of blogging. When I started on Xanga, I never expected to be where I am now. Thank you all for following me. Now we’ll see what the future holds.





Friday, January 1, 2016

If I Might Interject...

So, as of today, the blog formerly known as Arnobius of Sicca has been given a new name. It’s now known as If I Might Interject… which is a name I thought better fit the purpose of my writing. Some may wonder why I chose to rename the blog. 

Well, when I first took up blogging in 2007, I simply took the name of the Patristic author I was reading at the time. His work Against the Nations was interesting and lively, compared to others in the volume. Since I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, I figured it was a nice unique name that wouldn’t be confused with someone else’s work. (I had also been considering Clement of Alexandria, St. Polycarp and St. Irenaeus for names).

My first doubts came in studying a work about Patristics when the author was being described. It seems the general consensus was that the man was a pagan who suddenly decided to become a Christian and the bishop asked him to prove that he was sincere (as opposed to jumping on a bandwagon). He did so by producing a hastily written book which some scholars say show he wasn’t entirely clear on what Catholic doctrine was. In fact, his work Against the Nations was mostly notable for the citations of Greco-Roman literature which were otherwise lost today. (Apparently they were quite crass passages. The editors of the series chose to leave certain passages untranslated in Latin on account of this). That was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t want my blog to have that sort of affiliation with the name.

In a more practical sense, I got an idea as to how practical the name was, when I mentioned to a fellow RCIA teacher in the parish that I had a blog. He asked me the name and I told him. He blinked and said, “You couldn’t come up with an easier name to remember and spell?” I had to admit he had a point. I was beginning to realize that the name I chose was not in keeping with the purpose and image of the blog that I had envisioned. The problem was, I had no idea what to change it to.

Late last year, a blog friend on Facebook sent up a trial balloon seeing how his readers might receive the name If I Might Interject. I thought it was a good one, and I actually wish I had claimed it. It seemed to fit well the purpose for my blog—to interject a Catholic perspective in the disputes of the world as something new to consider. 

However, he went with a different name for his blog rename, and when I asked him if it was all right to use this title for my own, he said it would be OK.

So, after spending several hours figuring out things like ICANN domains, and how to point the new URL to the current blog, things fell together with the help of a really on the ball individual manning the help email messages at Blogger who helped explain what needed to be done. There’s a few minor drawbacks of course. It seems that I can’t change the author name, so I guess it will continue to show up with posts by “Arnobius of Sicca.” (I guess changing that is like doing a legal name change. Difficult and not done through ordinary channels), but so far links are pointing where they need to go, so it’s a minor quibble at best.

That’s the reason for the change of name. I don’t intend to change the blog content. Just to make it more accessible.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Other Side of Bad Catholic Blogging

Uniform polyhedron 43 h01(There’s more than two sides to Problems with Catholic Blogging...)

 

Introduction

I've had a lot to say about the bloggers gone bad in the Radical Traditionalist sense. But I have become more aware of another bad trend in Catholic blogging—the abuse of one's reputation as a Catholic blogger to promote a particular opinion on how to best obey Church teaching, treating other opinions on how to best obey Church teaching as if it was the sign of a cafeteria Catholic. I say that such Catholics abuse their reputation because people do look to them to explain the faith and defend it. So when they use their blog as a platform to attack people who disagree with them and treat this difference of opinion on ways and means as if the person who disagrees are actively choosing to disobey the Church, they alienate the faithful into thinking the Church has no place for them.

Making A Distinction

Now we have to make a distinction of course. When the Church teaches “We must do X,” or “We must not do Y,” then the Catholic who tries to undermine these teachings or tries to say that one may disobey the teaching of the Church are being faithless Catholics. The refusal to do this is rejection of the authority that our Lord gave to the Church:

can. 751† Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

can. 752† Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

can. 753† Although the bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils, do not possess infallibility in teaching, they are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the Christian faithful entrusted to their care; the Christian faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops.

 

 Code of Canon Law: New English Translation (Washington, DC: Canon Law Society of America, 1998), 247.

So the person who tries to justify their disobedience to the Church teaching on sexual morality, abortion, social justice or any other area cannot be said to be having a disagreement on ways and means obeying the Church. This applies to the liberal politician who says they are more “pro-life” than the person who opposes abortion, and it applies to the radical traditionalist who says they can disobey the Church because they are being faithful to an “earlier” tradition.

But if two people agree that the Church teaching must be obeyed, but have two different ideas on how to best follow that teaching, the person who prefers method A has no right to denounce the person who prefers method B. He has even less right to accuse the person who supports method B of all the abuses that he thinks comes from not supporting method A.

This happens in many different ways. For example, the person who accuses a supporter of gun ownership rights as “not really being pro-life” (that’s a No true Scotsman fallacy by the way) or the person who favors a strong stand against abortion treating bishops who try a gentler approach as if they were secretly supportive—these things are twisting the Church teaching in such a way to make the it seem that disagreement with them is disagreement with the Church. But the person isn’t disagreeing with the Church. They are disagreeing with the claim that there is only one way to obey the Church teaching.

The Fruit of This Abuse Is to Alienate the Faithful

So this is an abuse of the credibility one has as a Catholic blogger when it is used to promote a certain preference tends to be harmful to the Church. In essence, it leads people to think that the Church is limited to one ideological view and has no place for them when the actual alienation is with the rash judgment of the blogger. I think we need to keep this in mind. Most of us recognize that it is scandal to try to tell people that it is all right to reject the Church teaching. But some overlook the fact that it is also scandal to tell people that they are sinning when they actually agree with the Church but disagree with us on the ways and means of obedience.

We who want to be Catholic bloggers (as opposed to bloggers who are Catholic—there is a difference), whose purpose of writing is to exhort people to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, need to distinguish between what the Church teaches and how we would prefer for that teaching to be lived out. The former is to spread our Lord’s teachings. The latter is to usurp the authority of the Church for our own purposes and can lead people into rejecting the Church without cause.

Let us as bloggers always keep in mind the words of Our Lord:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7)

If we drive people away from the faith because we cannot distinguish between our preferences and the teaching of the Church, we will answer for it. So let us always consider our words—especially when we are angry over something. Let us always pray that what we publish is in keeping with what Our Lord wants us to publish—defending the faith but showing love and compassion in doing so.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Troubling Trends in Catholic Blogging

Before I begin, I’d like to share two passages from the First Epistle of St. Peter:

19 For whenever anyone bears the pain of unjust suffering because of consciousness of God, that is a grace. 20 But what credit is there if you are patient when beaten for doing wrong? But if you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. (1 Peter 2:19-20)

 

14 But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

I share these two passages because they show there is a difference between being mistreated on account of doing right and being mistreated on account of behaving badly. Unfortunately, it seems some Catholic blogs fail to make this distinction. 

Catholic blogging, particularly that of the apologetics type, involves people offering their insights into the Catholic faith and the Church. However, we possess no authority ourselves. The best we can do is to point to what the teaching of the Church is and encouraging people to follow it. We can explain why we think that the Church authority properly applied should lead to a certain way of acting, but we have to recognize that there certainly is a difference between others disagreeing with us and others disagreeing with The Church. The former is no sin. The latter is—but it is the task of the Church, not the blogger, to determine how to handle such behavior.

Unfortunately, this distinction is not being made. There is a growing number of blogs which fail to consider that there can be different legitimate ways to approach how to apply the Catholic teaching to the world (I wrote about that HERE). The attitude is that if the person we see as an adversary does not support the same tactics I do, he or she is a person to be opposed. Moreover, even when the person is at odds with the Church, we act as if this gives us a license to set aside Christian charity.

That would be great

We have to consider the witness we make in our behavior and in our words. If we behave contemptuously of those we disagree with, do we bear witness to the teaching of the Church? Or do we bear false witness by leading people who read our blogs and our comments to think, “Man, Catholics are jerks”?

For example, there seems to be a growing tendency by some Catholic bloggers to push things on blog comments or Facebook until they get banned, and then treat the banning as a mark of honor in defending the faith. The problem is, sometimes I find myself appalled by what they said and did in the lead up to their getting banned or blocked. Labels like heretic or wrongheaded are sometimes hurled. Insinuations are sometimes made as to the intelligence or the good faith of the target. Then they profess to be shocked, shocked to find “partisan” behavior going on.

What is not said is that most of us would probably ban/block others who behaved in a similar manner to us.

Now perhaps some people might object that they are merely practicing the spiritual works of mercy of admonishing sinners when they attack someone they disagree with. But I think that St. Francis de Sales had some good words on the topic in his work, Of the Love of God:

When that great master of theology S. Thomas Aquinas lay in his last sickness at Fosse-neuve, the Cistercian monks around asked him to expound the Canticles to them, as S. Bernard had done. To which the Saint replied, “Dear fathers, give me the mind of S. Bernard, and I will expound the sacred words as he did!” Even so, if we poor weak Christians are called upon to put forth zealous wrath like those great saints we read of in the Scriptures, it behoves us to answer, “Give us their spirit and their light, and we will do as they did.” It is not every one that knows when or how to be angry.

 

Those holy men were under God’s immediate inspiration, and therefore they could exercise their wrath fearlessly, inasmuch as the same Spirit Which kindled restrained it within due limits. Such anger is not that “wrath of man” of which S. James says that it “worketh not the righteousness of God.” Although S. Paul calls the Galatians “foolish,” and withstood S. Peter “to the face,” is that any reason why we should sit in judgment on nations, censure and abuse our superiors? We are not so many S. Pauls! But bitter, sharp, hasty men not unfrequently give way to their own tempers and dislikes under the cloak of zeal, and are consumed of their own fire, falsely calling it from heaven. On one side an ambitious man would fain have us believe that he only seeks the mitre out of zeal for souls; on the other a harsh censor bids us accept his slanders and backbiting as the utterance of a zealous mind.

 

 Francis de Sales, Of the Love of God, trans. H. L. Sidney Lear (London: Rivingtons, 1888), 351.

In other words, even if we have the example of St. Paul in mind in calling out to others, that doesn’t mean we are following his example when we respond in a harsh way. We can do wrong because: just because St. Paul can be doing the will of God in shocking someone to their senses does not mean we are also doing His will in rebuking a sinner. Even if the person is doing wrong, that doesn’t mean we are doing right in how we admonish.

It’s not the purpose of my blog to single out anybody in particular (while I sometimes fail, my personal policy is not to write a blog against individuals but rather attitudes). Rather I offer my concern in order to let people consider their actions without feeling specifically targeted. It is my hope here to emulate Proverbs 15:1 though I acknowledge I can have my own blind spots. 

We the Catholic bloggers should encourage each other so that people may see that we act out of love of Christ and not think our behavior is a mark against the Church. And, if anybody should think this article is an example of not practicing what I preach, I ask your pardon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Catholic Bloggers Behaving Badly

In these times, the most problematic issues involve the open advocating of disobedience to the magisterium. That needs to be opposed of course because it can lead Catholics into denying the authority of the Church and lose faith in the promises of Our Lord. So it is natural for Catholic bloggers to focus on this, standing up to say “This behavior is not ‘good’ Catholicism. It is schismatic."

But that being said, it is possible for a Catholic to do harm in other ways, even if they practice the faith without dissenting. In other words, how one presents the message can actually alienate people away from seeking the truth. For example, the Church makes clear that we have moral obligations to aid the poor and the refugees. A Catholic who chooses to reject the teaching does wrong. However, when Catholics disagree on the ways and means of carrying out Church teaching, it is certainly wrong to accuse them of being bad Catholics for thinking another strategy is better than the popular one.

In other words, two faithful Catholics can have different ideas on how to implement social justice but, provided that they accept the authority of the Church and strive to obey her teachings, can have different ideas on how to carry out that teaching. So when a blogger should happen to label people as being indifferent to suffering or racist because they have a different idea on how to deal with illegal immigration, that accusation is unjust if the other person agrees with the Church teaching and is trying to follow it. Likewise, when it comes to an issue like gun violence, there can be legitimate differences of opinions on how to solve it. But to label the person who disagrees with banning all guns as lying or being indifferent to suffering, that does not help spread the Catholic faith—it merely causes scandal by leading someone who agrees with the Church position to think he or she has no place in the Church.

So we have to discern. If two people support the Church teaching on X, but disagree on how to best follow teaching X, neither person is a heretic. But on the other hand, if one person supports the Church teaching on X while a second rejects that teaching on X, the second person cannot pretend to be a good Catholic so long as they reject the Church teaching.

This problem is compounded when abusive language is added to the mix. When we defend Pope Francis and his method of teaching, we certainly would be wise in emulating his example. When people are running afoul of Church teaching, the Pope reaches out with mercy and compassion. We should go and do likewise. That doesn’t mean tolerate bad actions as if they were good. That means we show the sinner how to change their ways without acting like a jerk over it. But if the person agrees with the Church teaching but has a different take on what approach to use, to be abusive is to behave shamefully. There can be many different ministries with the same end.

So in addition to defending the faith, we must defend it rightly and charitably. If blogger A presents the Church teaching rightly, but acts like a jerk about how he does so, then he causes harm, alienating our fellow believers and driving them away from their own mission. That’s damaging and more likely to drive the believers from the Church than to serve Our Lord’s will.

But on the other hand, we cannot confuse our political beliefs with our faith. Do our politics reflect our faith? Or do our politics shape our belief? If we choose option #2, we are choosing wrong, making an idol out of our politics.

But let’s be reasonable. Seeking a just and merciful solution to illegal immigration does not mean supporting a blanket amnesty. Opposing gun violence does not mean that only supporting a ban on all firearms is compatible with the Catholic faith. Standing up for the Church teaching on the death penalty or just war does not mean there will be perfect agreement on whether a particular instance of the death penalty is just or a particular war is just.

So let’s stop with the sarcastic remarks about “the thing that used to be conservatism” or accusing people who question the value of welfare as it is currently being implemented as being “not truly pro-life.” There is a difference between The Church Teaching and what I think needs to be done to carry it out. The former is not up for debate. The latter sometimes is.

If we make this mistake, we will have to answer for corrupting the message of the Church and for those we alienate for no good reason. Let us remember the words of the Church on Rash Judgment:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

— of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

— of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;

— of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

 

 Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 594.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I've Been Doing This for EIGHT Years?

So, September 22nd is the anniversary of the day I first published an Arnobius of Sicca article on Xanga in 2007. I have to admit I never thought I’d still be doing this today. Nor did I expect the changes in the world that brought on so many attacks and misrepresentations to defend the Church from. You see, when I created Arnobius of Sicca, it wasn’t created as an apologetics blog. It was created as something to do while I was on work related disability.

My friend Brian was concerned I was becoming lethargic and depressed and suggested it as something to do in order to keep myself occupied. So I did. The first couple of posts were kind of a riffing commentary on whatever happened to cross my desk. It wasn’t anything serious. Then I published an article on the nature of the Church and got a reply from a member of the Quakers who was converting to Catholicism, who told me that my post was very helpful in helping him understand things he was struggling with.

To be honest, I had never thought of the blog actually being useful before and it caused me to think that maybe it could be more than just quips on different topics. That comment was probably responsible for the direction the blog took.

The next big shift came with the visit of Benedict XVI to America. Prior to that time, my blog was strongly disrespectful of the American bishops. But when he came, and I saw how enthusiastically the bishops responded, I began to realize that I was wrong in assuming bad will and incompetence in their actions. From that time on it became clear that there were a lot of bishops who had wanted to do their mission well but were not sure how to do it. Oh sure a few still frustrated me (and a few still do), but this was a reminder that the bishops were the successors to the Apostles and not an enemy political faction.

The third big shift came about by discovering how illogical attacks on the Church could be, and realizing how I needed to study logic to aid in refutation of these attacks. (In the earliest years, I tended to often commit the fallacy of the undistributed middle (A is B and A is C, therefore B is C. Something that still embarrasses me today to remember).

Over the years, my blog had to cover many different topics in defense of the faith. Some fell off the radar because they did not cross my path after the first year or so (such as Protestant anti-Catholicism and the New Atheism brought on by the spate of books on the subject).

Others seemed to be minor issues but became extremely serious (I never expected that religious freedom would become so endangered here as it has without America becoming a dictatorship). I never expected to see the Supreme Court legitimize “same sex marriage” in such a high-handed manner.

Unfortunately, one topic which has not changed is the attack of radical traditionalism on the authority of the Church. Believe it or not, the same attacks they level against Pope Francis today, they leveled against St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI—accusing both of being modernists destroying the Church. Even back then, people were asking me why I wrote against this when the attacks against the Church by modernists and liberals were so much more serious. (My answer today is pretty close to what I would have said then: liberal dissent is not likely to deceive Catholics trying to be faithful, but radical traditionalist dissent can).

I guess over the years, my rhetoric has toned down some and I’ve gained a little more tact (and coherency).

While I never thought my blog would have lasted so long, I have to say I am glad I stuck with it

 

As a special bonus, in case you are interested, here is the text of my first blog entry from 9/22/2007 (which is no longer available elsewhere). It’s a bit embarrassing—because it is rambling and badly written—but you can see that my outlook on life that I approach in my blog with was present here in a less refined form.

[One word of explanation, to put things in context. The link (which I think is now a dead link) in the article below referenced a resolution by the City of San Francisco condemning the Catholic Church for her stand on homosexuality and the refusal to place children for adoption with same sex couples. That struck me as a violation of the establishment clause—though the Supreme Court would later tell us it was OK. That would be a warning that it was open season on the Catholic Church]

My First Post

I don't have anything to say yet, but Xanga I guess abhors a vacuum as much as nature does, as it won't leave me alone until I write this first post.  So here you go.  Hopefully a second post will actually sound intelligent

 <Sounds of laughter from the people who know me>

 I guess you can call me a cynic.  There are very few things that are worth all the effort people put into it.  Belief in God, Moral Values, Truth and raising a family... that matters, and I am not a cynic there.  Obsessing about a pop star and how long she stays in prison, who cares?  Unfortunately the media does, which is why I tend to be skeptical about their being the so-called "defenders of freedom."

 Truth does matter however, as I said, and I find it rather appalling that so many people out there will agree or disagree on a position based on how they feel about it rather than it is true.  We see politicians posturing on various issues and nobody has the sense to ask questions of the truth of an issue... "Yes... yes fine Mrs Clinton, we know you are committed to Choice, but do you think it is a child?  If No, what proof do you have, if I Don't Know, aren't you behaving as recklessly as a hunter who fires at movement into a bush without checking to see if it is a deer?"

 If I held my breath waiting for the mainstream media to ask that one, I'd die of asphyxia.  They're too busy reporting about Brittany Spears and her drug tests and the battle between Kae-West and 50 Cent.

 In spite of this, people have the gall to tell me I left my brain at the door when I became a practicing Catholic , and the Church is anti-freedom.  Not so.  My brain is clearly functional as I find the tripe that passes for news to in fact be tripe.  In fact, the Church taught me to use my brain and trusted me to find that what they taught was true. 

 As for freedom, I think St Thomas Aquinas put it best with explanations of just laws: the just person is free and the unjust are constrained.  While with an unjust law, it is the just who are constrained and the unjust are free.  Considering that the Freedom of Speech elitists who run the Newsrooms and the Campuses and pass the laws in fact shout down those who wish to stand up their moral beliefs and forbid them from doing what they believe, which kind of laws do we seem to have at the moment?

 I guess they forgot the First Amendment also protects the Freedom of Religion

 Amendment I

 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  When the Church is told to toe the line on adoptions to homosexual couples, give them Health Benefits and to distribute contraceptives (Catholic Hospitals) and a current candidate's former husband once tried to make it mandatory for Catholic Hospitals to administer abortions without a conscience clause, it's clear that the words of Abraham Lincoln were prophetic:

 Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy.

 When we see actions like this:

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/bdsupvrs/resolutions06/r0168-06.pdf

 it seems that the idea of the Constitution can be interpreted to be as described by Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

 Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them - particularly verbs: they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs - however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

 'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

  So, it isn't a "denial of religious freedom" because we don't choose to call it that, it seems.  And then they wonder why people consider America to be an anti-Christian country.  Could it be because of Supreme Court decisions, a crucifix dipped in Urine is free speech but one on public land is unconstitutional?  Under the logic of the Supreme Court, the only way one can legally put a cross on public land is if you plan to burn it.

  So, anyway this has gone on long enough... 

<applause from the reader>

...but you understand why I am cynical about things perhaps.

2007-09-22 15:05:14 2007-09-22 19:05:14 open Publish post 617469354 firstpost

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TFTD: Have We Lost the Will To Fight?

Whining

As the shouting fades out on the Catholic blogs, I look at the complaints against the Pope and the synod and find myself wondering—when did we stop being members of the Church Militant and start becoming members of the Church Whining? I mean we have had saints who have had to fight real heresies, real laxness, real abuses—all of which had lasted longer than the life of the saint. Sometimes they had to pay for them with their lives. But they always had to work hard without ceasing in combating error and promoting the truth.

But today? A leaked unofficial document from a small group of the synod, the media misrepresentation of said document, and people are complaining that the Church will never be able to undo the damage, that Pope Francis has lost his chance to win over conservatives, that he will no longer be able to lead the Church effectively.

So, are we going to just throw in the towel? Concede the battleground to the enemy? Blame the Pope?

If our forefathers in the faith had behaved this way, there would be nothing but heresy out there today.

Let’s face it. There are a lot of lies told about the Church that never go away. The concept of the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the Inquisition . . . and let’s not forget the modern falsehoods: The so-called “Silence of Pius XII” or the sexual abuse scandal etc. Does that mean we should blame the Pope and bishops for the ignorance of others? Should we complain because we’re undergoing hostility?

To behave like this is to abandon the fight, leaving the Magisterium isolated.

If we’re going to be like our forefathers in faith, we have to realize there will always be an “all hands on deck” situation where we are called to be the witness to the Church where we are in the world.

Maybe we should consider the possibility that the reason error seems to be running so rampant is not because the Pope dropped the ball, but rather that we have dropped that ball. That we’re expecting a perfect world without the toil.

That’s not reasonable. Christ gave all of us a mission to spread the good news. That’s not just the people off in Darkest Africa. That’s also the de-christianized here as well. The “Nones” and the “not practicing” are the fastest growing group in the country. Why are we blaming the bishops when it may be our job to reach out to them?

Instead of bewailing the media distorting the teaching of the synod and blaming the Pope and bishops, why not consider helping them out?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reflection on Factions "More Catholic Than the Pope."

24 Since we have heard that some of our number [who went out] without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts15:24–26).

(Preliminary Note. It’s easy to assume “Either A or B.” So I expect some readers might be tempted to think that I write this because I emphasize with “the other side.” That would be a mistake. I seek to be a faithful son of the Church and I believe that God will protect her from teaching error. I write about this sort of faction because it seems to be a greater threat to Catholics who seek to do what is right than the factions who falsely claim Church teaching can be disobeyed without sin. Please keep this in mind when reading.)

The Catholic blogosphere has been going berserk during the extraordinary synod, as I mentioned in past articles, but I think this is only a symptom of a larger problem afflicting the Catholics trying to be faithful. The problem is that a certain faction of these Catholics have confused the essence of the Church with the accidents (in the sense of a property of a thing that is not essential to its nature) of the Church. The assumption is this: This faction assumes that its preferences are part of the doctrine of the Church. When the preferences of this faction are changed by the Church, it is assumed that the Church is changing doctrine. 

This is a dangerous attitude to take however. It assumes that the Church can err, while this faction cannot err, when it comes to determining truth. It’s as if everything Our Lord had to say about the authority of the Church and the role of Peter was meaningless, or became void at a certain point in history (usually presumed to be Vatican II). They tend to be vague on exactly when, and or to what extent error exists—perhaps because if they were specific, they would reveal their own denial of Catholic doctrine.

If this faction kept to itself like a sect, they would only be a menace to itself. But the truth is, they give the appearance of being knowledgable, orthodox Catholics and there are many Catholics out there who want to live faithfully, but do not feel confident in their knowledge on how to live as a faithful Catholic. These Catholics look to this faction as a guide on how to practice the Catholic faith. The result is these seeking Catholics are deceived into thinking that the guidance from this faction is authentic Catholicism, when in fact it is Catholic belief mixed in with the preferences of their mentors.

They succeed because there are people out there who do distort doctrine and try to change teaching. There are people who are public sinners and seem to suffer no ill effects from the Church. It’s pretty easy to insinuate that the reason they don’t seem to suffer consequences because there must be “sympathy” for their position. Essentially the real dissent is used as a “guilt by association."

When you have such a distorted teaching, things tend to snowball. Every time the Church changes one of the practices, she is accused of being unfaithful to the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Before too long, you have a case where the teaching authority of the Pope and the bishops is seen as suspect and every time they make a decision, it is scrutinized for potential errors.

This is essentially the problem I am seeing with the conservative Catholics in the English speaking regions of the world. The magisterium is being judged by a faction that is politically conservative and tends to equate political conservatism with Catholic teaching. When the Church teaching seems to “deviate” from the politically conservative, she is accused of betraying Sacred Tradition.

The problem is, the Church has not changed her teaching, and has never betrayed the Scriptures nor Sacred Tradition. The Pope and bishops in communion with her have the authority to assess the Church teaching, making sure the teaching of Christ can be understood by each generation. So the authority and the responsibility falls on the magisterium. But, if the magisterium has the authority and responsibility, we have to trust that God has a role in preventing the Church from teaching error in matters pertaining to salvation. Otherwise, we could never know when the Church was teaching accurately and when she was not. For example, if Vatican II is considered suspect on whether it teaches error, we have no way of knowing that Vatican I or Trent was free of error.

Once you understand this, the reaction to Pope Francis becomes obvious. We had gotten used to two European Popes who were academics. They were very similar in style, and were very effective on teaching the what we were called to do and why. They were succeeded by a Pope from a different continent and experience. Pope Francis did not teach differently than St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He merely shifted the emphasis to acting . . . taking the teachings of his predecessors as a given.

3 popes one teachng

There’s nothing in Pope Francis’ documents on social justice that wasn’t found in the writings of his predecessors. It’s just that he has a different style of presentation.

Unfortunately, some people believe there is a break. In comparison to the public perception of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis is considered to be undignified. Because of course St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI never did anything undignified . . . 

PopeJohnPaulEyes

Pope sombrero marc 2177327k

The difference between Pope Francis and his predecessors is really . . . nothing more than the fact that his style is slightly more blunt.

So, this is the issue with these factions. They are angry with the Church because they believe that the Church should behave differently than it does. They confuse their preferences with doctrine and end up suspecting the Pope of being a secret Marxist or a secret Modernist. They go out with no mandate from the Church and teach their preferences and suspicions as truth, and their error spreads to those who think they are correctly teaching the faith.

The thing to remember is, Christ has had strong warnings for those who do these things. 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’  Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.  Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!  

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. (Matt 23:13–28)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thoughts on What I Hate About Catholics Blogging

During the last year, I have noticed some Catholics who are bloggers have gotten downright nasty in their behavior. Whether it's a case of making oneself the judge of bishops (or the Pope) or a case of making oneself a judge of other Catholics who act differently than the blogger in places where individual discretion is allowed, these bloggers have a tendency to talk condescendingly about those they disagree with. For example...

  • Those silly bishops who think that the current minimum wage is unjustly low! Don't they get economics? (Maybe not, but why should we think YOU know as much or more than them?)
  • Those stupid right wing dupes who thought the Iraq War was just! How can they call themselves Catholic? (Umm, because then Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. John Paul II's words on that war was not intended to be understood as a binding teaching?)
  • Those heretical neo Catholics who like the "Novus ordo" Mass! Don't they know what Pope X said about the Mass? (Listen pal... I rather doubt you know anything more about what Pope X said or even who he even was outside of the information you got on a radical traditionalist website.)

These are exaggerations of positions taken by some Catholic blogs—but unfortunately not as exaggerated as you might think.

I think people should remember that the authority to bind and loose is given to the Pope (Matt 16:19) and the bishops in communion with him (Matt 18:18). The blogger does not have the authority to loose what the Church has bound, nor bind what the Church has loosed. So when the blogger writes on such matters he or she should seek to distinguish between what is Church teaching and what is the blogger's personal opinion.

The reason I say that is there are Catholics out there who are seeking to be faithful and are looking for Catholics they trust to help them understand their faith. The Catholic who blogs needs to make clear that while he (for example) dislikes the Ordinary Form of the Mass, his views on it being harmful are his opinion and not the Catholic teaching.

I think there needs to be a distinction drawn between "Catholic Blog" and "Blogging by a person who is Catholic." The former seeks to discuss the Catholic faith in whatever area their blog focuses on, doing his or her best to express the faith accurately and helpfully. The latter can blog whatever the hell he wants, but his opinions should not be considered as necessarily reflecting the Catholic position.

If the blogger will not do this, and abuses the association of being Catholic to promote his or her own view as if they had more authority than they actually do. Otherwise, perhaps the Bishops might have to invoke Canon 216 when it comes to people calling their blogs "Catholic." (I hope it does not come to that):

Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.

The readers will have to decide for themselves whether I practice what I preach. All I can say is this is what I try to do when I write.