“Rights are often confused with exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual, who becomes self-referential, no longer open to encounter with God and with others, and absorbed only in seeking to satisfy his or her own needs.”
Listers, the following quotes are taken from what has come to be known as the “State of the World” address. Right on the heels of his excellent Christmas Eve homily, His Holiness’ address to the Diplomatic Corps touched on Syria, Iraq, North Africa, and many other nations and their turmoils. Below are the seven most thematic statements and the address in full may be found at Vatican News. SPL offers several lists tracking the acute thoughts of Pope Benedict XVI and also recently published a list from Fr. James V. Schall echoing a similar critique of the Western man’s error in understanding human rights entitled Modern Man Has Lost His Way. A summary of the address may be found as a Vatican video.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
7 January 2013
1. Forgetfulness of God gives rise to violence
Yet from the Christian point of view, the glorification of God and human peace on earth are closely linked, with the result that peace is not simply the fruit of human effort, but a participation in the very love of God. It is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence.
2. Baneful Religious Fanaticism
The consequences of forgetfulness of God cannot be separated from those resulting from ignorance of his true countenance, the root of a baneful religious fanaticism which, again in 2012, reaped victims in some countries represented here.
At the same time, I must note with dismay that, in various countries, even those of Christian tradition, efforts are being made to introduce or expand legislation which decriminalizes abortion. Direct abortion, that is to say willed as an end or as a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. In affirming this, the Catholic Church is not lacking in understanding and mercy, also towards the mother involved. Rather, it is a question of being vigilant lest the law unjustly alter the balance between the right to life of the mother and that of the unborn child, a right belonging equally to both.
4. The Western error on human rights
Sadly, especially in the West, one frequently encounters ambiguities about the meaning of human rights and their corresponding duties. Rights are often confused with exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual, who becomes self-referential, no longer open to encounter with God and with others, and absorbed only in seeking to satisfy his or her own needs. To be authentic, the defence of rights must instead consider human beings integrally, in their personal and communitarian dimensions.
5. Profit to the detriment of humanity
The crisis developed because profit was all too often made absolute, to the detriment of labour, and because of unrestrained ventures in the financial areas of the economy, rather than attending to the real economy. There is a need, then, to rediscover the meaning of work and proportionate profit. To that end, it would be well to teach people how to resist the temptations of particular and short-term interests, and to look instead to the common good.
6. Religious Liberty
It even happens that believers, and Christians in particular, are prevented from contributing to the common good by their educational and charitable institutions. In order effectively to safeguard the exercise of religious liberty it is essential to respect the right of conscientious objection. This “frontier” of liberty touches upon principles of great importance of an ethical and religious character, rooted in the very dignity of the human person. They are, as it were, the “bearing walls” of any society that wishes to be truly free and democratic. Thus, outlawing individual and institutional conscientious objection in the name of liberty and pluralism paradoxically opens by contrast the door to intolerance and forced uniformity.
7. There is no peace without charity
At the end of the Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, whose fiftieth anniversary will be celebrated this year, my predecessor Blessed John XXIII remarked that peace remains “an empty word” if it is not nourished and completed by charity (AAS 55 , 303). Indeed, it is at the heart of the diplomatic activity of the Holy See and, above all, of the concern of the Successor of Peter and of the whole Catholic Church. Charity cannot take the place of justice that has been denied; nor can justice, on the other hand, replace charity that has been refused. The Church daily practises charity in works of social assistance such as hospitals and clinics, her educational institutions such as orphanages, schools, colleges and universities, and through help given to peoples in distress, especially during and after conflicts.
“The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” – St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325 attributed.
Listers, priests and bishops having been erring as long as humans have occupied those offices. However, the quotes that most strongly articulate this truth are shrouded in ambiguity regarding their primary sources. SPL has complied the most common germane quotes shared on Catholic blogs and given a citation for each one – often clarifying a misquote or giving context for an attributed quote. Please feel free to add any other quotes that complement this list or help articulate the sources.
“The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”
– or –
“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.” St. John Chrysostom attributed.1
“I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.” St. John Chrysostom, Extract from St. John Chrysostom, Homily III on Acts 1:12.2
“The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325 attributed.3
“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” Saint John Eudes, attributed.4
“It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 45
“Augustine says in his Rule: ‘Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.’ But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 4, Sed Contra.
“It is better that scandals arise than the truth be suppressed.” Pope St. Gregory the Great6
“But, when necessity compels, not those only who are invested with power of rule are bound to safeguard the integrity of faith, but, as St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.'” Pope Leo XIII7
Chrysostom Quote: Ole “Golden-mouth” is the primary recipient of the attributed quote. The origin of the actual quote is obscure, but several theories abound. The most interesting are that the flourishing rhetoric of St. Chrysostom and Dantean imagery came together in the Middle Ages or that the quote was actually a misrepresentation of Chrysostom’s words from the protestant leader John Wesley. SOURCE [↩]
Athanasius Quote: Attributing the quote to Athanasius is a natural connection given the fact the man fought against the heresy of Arianism – a heresy that is estimated to have swallowed almost 80% of the Catholic bishops. [↩]
Eudes Quote: It is believed that St. Eudes is referencing the quote in the belief it was said by St. Athanasius [↩]
Aquinas Quote: The quote is also often cited as,”When there is an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects.” The entire fourth article of the cited question addresses the issue of “Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate?” [↩]
Gregory Quote: While prolifically quoted amongst blogs and Catholic debates, a source for this quote is elusive. If any listers can furnish a source and a citation, SPL would appreciate it. [↩]
Pope Leo Quote: The quote is taken from SAPIENTIAE CHRISTIANAE and is often quoted on Catholic blogs as: “when circumstances make it necessary, it is not prelates alone who have to watch over the integrity of the faith.” [↩]
The sacraments are an essential element to the birth, growth, and transformation of every Catholic believer. We are in some way affected by each of these sacraments every day of our lives.
Listers, the sacraments are an essential element to the birth, growth, and transformation of every Catholic believer. We are in some way affected by each of these sacraments every day of our lives. We are reborn in baptism, we are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit at confirmation, we are fed by our Lord in the Eucharist, we are made into one flesh by marriage, we are given the sacraments by Christ through the hands of our priests, we are made well by the chrism, and we are forgiven in confession. In St. John Chyrsostom’s day, the theology of the sacraments were not so clearly defined as they are now, but these sacraments even then existed more or less in the lives of the early Christians.
Let us now look at how St. John Chrysostom described these essential elements of the Christian life. The following quotes are how Chyrsostom perceived those spiritual things given to us through material means:
1. Baptism / Confirmation¹
“For Christ has given nothing sensible, but though in things sensible yet all to be perceived by the mind. So also in baptism, the gift is bestowed by a sensible thing, that is, by water; but that which is done is perceived by the mind, the birth, I mean, and the renewal. For if you had been incorporeal, He would have delivered you the incorporeal gifts bare; but because the soul has been locked up in a body, He delivers you the things that the mind perceives, in things sensible.” —Homily 82 from Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew
How shall we receive this with so great insolence? Let us not, I pray you, let us not slay ourselves by our irreverence, but with all awfulness and purity draw near to It; and when you see It set before you, say thou to yourself, Because of this Body am I no longer earth and ashes, no longer a prisoner, but free: because of this I hope for heaven, and to receive the good things therein, immortal life, the portion of angels, converse with Christ; this Body, nailed and scourged, was more than death could stand against; this Body the very sun saw sacrificed, and turned aside his beams; for this both the veil was rent in that moment, and rocks were burst asunder, and all the earth was shaken. This is even that Body, the blood-stained, the pierced, and that out of which gushed the saving fountains, the one of blood, the other of water, for all the world […] This Body has He given to us both to hold and to eat; a thing appropriate to intense love. For those whom we kiss vehemently, we oft-times even bite with our teeth. Wherefore also Job, indicating the love of his servants towards him, said, that they ofttimes, out of their great affection towards him, said, Oh! That we were filled with his flesh! Job 31:31 Even so Christ has given to us to be filled with His flesh, drawing us on to greater love. — Homily 24 On First Corinthians
3. Holy Orders
Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained (ἐ χειροτονήθησαν) with prayer: for this is the meaning of χειροτονία, (i.e. putting forth the hand,) or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which touches the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained. —Homily 14 in Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles
For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained? What authority could be greater than this? The Father has committed all judgment to the Son? But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son. —On the Priesthood 3:5
Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh? So that they are no more two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:4-6
See a teacher’s wisdom. I mean, that being asked, Is it lawful? He did not at once say, It is not lawful, lest they should be disturbed and put in disorder, but before the decision by His argument He rendered this manifest, showing that it is itself too the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He enjoin these things, but in full agreement with him.
But mark Him arguing strongly not from the creation only, but also from His command. For He said not, that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman. But if it had been His will that he should put this one away, and bring in another, when He had made one man, He would have formed many women.
The question Is lust a sin? seems absurd, but by asking these questions and answering them in thomistic fullness the Angelic Doctor is able to lead us into profound observations.
Listers, a portion of St. Thomas Aquinas’ brilliance is attributed to his ability to state that which we all already know but struggle to articulate. The question Is lust a sin? seems absurd, but by asking these questions and answering them in thomistic fullness the Angelic Doctor is able to lead us into profound observations. Similar to his treatment on the capital vice of gluttony, the beloved “Dumb Ox” echoes the seriousness in which Christ took the reality of sin and how it perverts what is good and reasonable in humanity.
1. What is the proper matter of lust?
The Common Doctor begins his treatment of lust by discerning its “matter” or what properly composes the vice of lust.
As Isidore says (Etym. x), “a lustful man is one who is debauched with pleasures.” Now venereal pleasures above all debauch a man’s mind. Therefore lust is especially concerned with such like pleasures.
The Angelic Doctor turns to the authority of St. Isidore of Seville (d. AD 560)1 and agrees the lustful man is “debauched with pleasures.” However, exactly what pleasures compose the matter of lust? Lust is contrary to the virtue of temperance, which holds us to right reason in the midst of that which would lure us away – yet how is it different than greed or gluttony?
Even as temperance chiefly and properly applies to pleasures of touch, yet consequently and by a kind of likeness is referred to other matters, so too, lust applies chiefly to venereal pleasures, which more than anything else work the greatest havoc in a man’s mind, yet secondarily it applies to any other matters pertaining to excess. Hence a gloss on Galatians 5:19 says “lust is any kind of surfeit.”
To wit, lust applies primarily to venereal pleasures and secondarily to other pleasures.
2. Are all sexual acts lustful?
Listers, Aquinas commonly submits questions that seem strange or even absurd. Some questions seem superfluous and others seem so obvious that they need not be asked. However, the Summa Theologica is not an encyclopedia, but a pedagogical series of questions that build upon one another. This question’s official title is Whether no venereal act can be without sin? and it lays the groundwork to understand the more complex questions and answers.
A sin, in human acts, is that which is against the order of reason. Now the order of reason consists in its ordering everything to its end in a fitting manner. Wherefore it is no sin if one, by the dictate of reason, makes use of certain things in a fitting manner and order for the end to which they are adapted, provided this end be something truly good.
Virtue is a good habit or that which disposes us to good acts through the perfection of our powers. One such power is our reason and virtue perfects the power of our reason, e.g., temperance holds us to reason when faced with pleasures that would lure us from reason.2
Vices are those habits which would disorder our reason. If temperance is the virtue that holds us to right reason even in the midsts of allurement – in distinction to fortitude which holds us to reason in the midst of fear – the the vice of lust seeks to pervert that which is good and reasonable through venereal matters.3
Now just as the preservation of the bodily nature of one individual is a true good, so, too, is the preservation of the nature of the human species a very great good. And just as the use of food is directed to the preservation of life in the individual, so is the use of venereal acts directed to the preservation of the whole human race.
Hence Augustine says (De Bono Conjug. xvi): “What food is to a man’s well being, such is sexual intercourse to the welfare of the whole human race.” Wherefore just as the use of food can be without sin, if it be taken in due manner and order, as required for the welfare of the body, so also the use of venereal acts can be without sin, provided they be performed in due manner and order, in keeping with the end of human procreation.
Sex is good and serves a mighty and noble purpose within the human race. Lust however seeks to corrupt man’s reasoning toward sex and distort its goodness.
3. Why is lust a sin?
In his question Whether the lust that is about venereal acts can be a sin? the Common Doctor of the Church builds upon the foundation already laid.
The more necessary a thing is, the more it behooves one to observe the order of reason in its regard; wherefore the more sinful it becomes if the order of reason be forsaken. Now the use of venereal acts, as stated in the foregoing Article, is most necessary for the common good, namely the preservation of the human race.
Wherefore there is the greatest necessity for observing the order of reason in this matter: so that if anything be done in this connection against the dictate of reason’s ordering, it will be a sin. Now lust consists essentially in exceeding the order and mode of reason in the matter of venereal acts. Wherefore without any doubt lust is a sin.
Evil is not a thing in itself, but is rather a lack or an absence of what is good. Aquinas would say evil is the privation of the good. In that line of thinking, if right reason is a good and sin is an evil then being sinful is irrational and a strike against reason. Lust then carries a particular weightiness about it due to human sexuality’s strong connection with the common good. The seriousness imported by the corruption of lust is the basis of Aquinas’ next question.
4. Is lust a capital vice?
Flowing with the logical progression of St. Thomas’ previous questions, it is no surprise that Aquinas cites the authority of Pope St. Gregory the Great in naming lust a capital or “deadly” vice.
Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 45) places lust among the capital vices.
As stated above, a capital vice is one that has a very desirable end, so that through desire for that end, a man proceeds to commit many sins, all of which are said to arise from that vice as from a principal vice. Now the end of lust is venereal pleasure, which is very great. Wherefore this pleasure is very desirable as regards the sensitive appetite, both on account of the intensity of the pleasure, and because such like concupiscence is connatural to man. Therefore it is evident that lust is a capital vice.
Like virtues, vices are habits and habits are a quality that define who we are. As virtues produce in us many good works so too do vices become sordid sources of many sins. Lust is a capital vice because it manifests sins within the matter of man’s strong desire for venereal pleasures and that venereal pleasure in and of itself is a good when properly ordered to reason.
Isidore: Born at Cartagena, Spain, about 560; died 4 April, 636. Isidore was the son of Severianus and Theodora. His elder brother Leander was his immediate predecessor in the Metropolitan See of Seville; whilst a younger brother St. Fulgentius presided over the Bishopric of Astigi. His sister Florentina was a nun, and is said to have ruled over forty convents and one thousand religious. Source [↩]
What is a habit? – The Philosopher (Aristotle) “defines habit, a ‘disposition whereby someone is disposed, well or ill;’ and he says that by ‘habits we are directed well or ill in reference to the passions.’ For when a the mode is suitable to the thing’s nature, it has the aspect of good: and when it is unsuitable, it has the aspect of evil.” (I-II.49)
A Habit or Act? – Virtue “denotes a certain perfection of a power. Now a thing’s perfection is considered chiefly in regard to its end. But the end of power is act. Wherefore power is said to be perfect, according as it is determinate to its act.” Power (potential) finds its end in an act. Virtue perfects the power; thus, the act is perfected. Justice is not an act, but by the habit of justice one may act justly. – More on Virtue from Aquinas [↩]
Temperance v. Fortitude: In clarification by contrast, temperance would be the virtue that keeps us from adultery, masturbation, and any disordered sexual pleasure, while fortitude holds us to reason in the midst of fear, e.g., on the battlefield, when scared to do what is right and good, etc. [↩]
“Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Theotókos, I invoke God’s abundant gifts upon all of you with great affection! God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! لِيُبَارِك الربُّ جميعَكُم [May God bless all of you!]”
Apostolic Journey to Lebanon
(14-16 September 2012)
On the occasion of the signing and publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
All quotes are by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI unless otherwise cited.
1. Meeting of His Holiness Benedict XVI with journalists during the flight to Lebanon
“I can tell you that no one advised me to cancel this journey, and for my part I never considered doing so, because I know that as the situation becomes more complex, it is all the more necessary to offer this sign of fraternal encouragement and solidarity. That is the aim of my visit: to issue an invitation to dialogue, to peace and against violence, to go forward together to find solutions to the problems.”
2. Welcoming ceremony at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport
“The links between Lebanon and the Successor of Peter are ancient and deep. Mr President, dear friends, I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of men. Christ says, سَلامي أُعطيكُم, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). And looking beyond your country, I also come symbolically to all the countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all the inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs. To them too Christ says: سَلامي أُعطيكُم.”
3. Visit to St. Paul’s Basilica in Harissa and the signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
“Fear not, little flock” (Lk 12:32) and remember the promise made to Constantine: “In this sign you will conquer!” Churches of the Middle East, fear not, for the Lord is truly with you, to the close of the age! Fear not, because the universal Church walks at your side and is humanly and spiritually close to you! It is with this hope and this word of encouragement to be active heralds of the faith by your communion and witness, that on Sunday I will entrust the Post-Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to my venerable brother Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, and to all priests, deacons, men and women religious, the seminarians and all the lay faithful. “Be of good cheer” (Jn 16:33)! Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Theotókos, I invoke God’s abundant gifts upon all of you with great affection! God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! لِيُبَارِك الربُّ جميعَكُم [May God bless all of you!]”
4. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness
“It is in this restrictive, unstable and lately violence-prone context that God has permitted his Church to grow. She lives there in a remarkable variety of forms. Along with the Catholic Church, a great number of venerable Churches and Ecclesial Communities of more recent date are present in the Middle East. This mosaic demands a significant and continued effort to build unity in respect for the riches of each, and thus to reaffirm the credibility of the proclamation of the Gospel and Christian witness.”
“The Pastors of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris realize with regret and concern that the numbers of their faithful are dwindling in the traditional Patriarchal territories, and for some time now they have had to develop a plan of pastoral care for emigrants… I also exhort the Church’s Pastors in those places where Eastern Catholics have settled to welcome them with charity and fraternal esteem, to facilitate the bonds of communion between emigrants and their Churches of origin, and to enable them to celebrate in accordance with their own traditions and, wherever possible, to develop pastoral and parish activities.”
5. Meeting with members of the government, institutions of the Republic, the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and representatives of the world of culture
May 25th Hall of the Baabda Presidential Palace, 15 September 2012[Full Text]
“We need to be very conscious that evil is not some nameless, impersonal and deterministic force at work in the world. Evil, the devil, works in and through human freedom, through the use of our freedom. It seeks an ally in man. Evil needs man in order to act. Having broken the first commandment, love of God, it then goes on to distort the second, love of neighbour. Love of neighbour disappears, yielding to falsehood, envy, hatred and death. But it is possible for us not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21). It is to this conversion of heart that we are called. Without it, all our coveted human “liberations” prove disappointing, for they are curtailed by our human narrowness, harshness, intolerance, favouritism and desire for revenge. A profound transformation of mind and heart is needed to recover a degree of clarity of vision and impartiality, and the profound meaning of the concepts of justice and the common good.”
6. Luncheon with the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops and the papal entourage
Refectory of the Armenian Catholic Patriachate of Bzommar, 15 September 2012[Full Text]
“Dear friends, through the intercession of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, and of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, let us ask the Lord to bless the Armenian community, so sorely tried down through the ages, and to send to its harvest numerous saintly workers who, because of Christ, are enabled to change the face of our societies, to heal hearts that are broken and to offer courage, strength and hope to those who despair. Thank you!”
7. Meeting with the youth in the square across from the Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké
“You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you. She counts on you! Be young in the Church! Be young with the Church! The Church needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. All this is important and it takes time. Seek beauty and strive for goodness! Bear witness to the grandeur and the dignity of your body which “is for the Lord” (1 Cor 6:13b). Be thoughtful, upright and pure of heart! In the words of Blessed John Paul II, I say to you: “Do not be afraid! Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ!”
8. Holy Mass and the presentation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East
Beirut City Center Waterfront, 16 September 2012[Full Text]
“Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually, your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. He is always close to you. Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of his loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!”
9. Presentation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East
Beirut City Center Waterfront, 16 September 2012[Full Text]
“Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord’s call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears (cf. Rev 21:4)! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the firstborn of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw his actions and heard his words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2,000 years ago, and may it be lived today and for ever! Thank you.”
“Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! […] May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs.”
11. Ecumenical Meeting in the Hall of Honor of the Syro-Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet
“Allow me to acknowledge here the testimony of faith shown by the Syrian Antiochene Church in the course of its glorious history, a testimony to an ardent love for Christ, which has caused it to write some heroic pages of this history, right up to the present, by remaining committed to the faith even to the point of martyrdom. I encourage this Church to be for the peoples of the region a sign of the peace that comes from God as well as a light that keeps their hope alive. I extend this encouragement to all the Churches and ecclesial communities present in the region.”
12. Departure ceremony at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport
“I pray to God for Lebanon, that she may live in peace and courageously resist all that could destroy or undermine that peace. I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it. I hope that Lebanon will fortify the communion among all her inhabitants, whatever their community or religion, that she will resolutely reject all that could lead to disunity, and with determination choose brotherhood. These are blossoms pleasing to God, virtues that are possible and that merit consolidation by becoming more deeply rooted. The Virgin Mary, venerated with devotion and tenderness by the faithful of the religious confessions here present, is a sure model for going forward in hope along the path of a lived and authentic brotherhood.”
Articulating our gratitude and both intellectual and emotional response to the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity is a daunting if not impossible task for most of us. Thankfully, the gifted mind of the Catholic Church’s Common Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas has given us his expression and attempt to verbalize that which is truly ineffable.
Listers, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic life. However, articulating our gratitude and both intellectual and emotional response to the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity is a daunting if not impossible task for most of us. Thankfully, the gifted mind of the Catholic Church’sCommon Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas has given us his expression and attempt to verbalize that which is truly ineffable. According to tradition when the acumen of St. Thomas Aquinas’ mind reach even its limit of wisdom, he would go up and embrace the tabernacle and softly knock his head against it. As in his meditation for before receiving the Eucharist, the “Dumb Ox” of the Church gives us an immense gift in his meditation for after Holy Communion.
1. For No Merit of My Own
I give Thee thanks, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, that Thou hast vouchsafed, for no merit of my own, but of the mere condescension of Thy mercy, to satisfy me, a sinner and Thine unworthy servant, with the Precious Blood of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ.1
2. Let it be…
I implore Thee, let not this Holy Communion be to me an increase of guilt unto my punishment, but an availing plea unto pardon and forgiveness. Let it be to me the armor of faith and the shield of good will. Grant that it may work the extinction of my vices, the rooting out of concupiscence and lust, and the increase within me of charity and patience, of humility and obedience. Let it be my strong defense against the snares of all my enemies, visible and invisible; the stilling and the calm of all my impulses, carnal and spiritual; my indissoluble union with Thee the one and true God, and a blessed consummation at my last end.
3. To the Ineffable Banquet
And I beseech thee that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring me, sinner as I am, to that ineffable banquet where Thou, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, art to Thy saints true and unfailing light, fullness and content, joy for evermore, gladness without alloy, consummate and everlasting bliss. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In this stream of thought, I am going to list 7 quotes from the man who possibly saved my marriage before I even met my husband.
Listers, next to converting to Catholicism, the second best choice of my life was marrying my husband. Before I converted and before I met my husband, I did not believe that marriage was a sacrament. Not recognizing this great mysterious gift as one of the major sources of grace caused me to think all sorts of other errant nonsense. For example, I believed that divorce was okay and that contraception was not only permissible but essential to a happy marriage. Fortunately I met St. John Chrysostom before I met my husband.
There was a stat floating around on the internet that said that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Whether that is true I am not sure. However, it got me thinking. If this stat is true, then why is this the case? I think that part and maybe the whole problem of it is most people don’t understand how serious marriage is. We see youtube videos of these kind of goofy weddings where people are dancing hamfistedly down the aisles, but as cute and adorable and unique as that may be it’s not serious enough for what the occasion is all about. Marriage is a sacrament. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about what that means.
In this stream of thought, I am going to list 7 quotes from the man who possibly saved my marriage before I even met my husband.1
1. Pick Virtue Rather than Riches When Selecting a Good Husband
First, look for a husband who will really be a husband and a protector; remember that you are placing a head on a body. When your daughter is to be married, don’t look for how much money a man has. Don’t worry about his nationality or his family’s social position […] When you are satisfied that the man is virtuous and decide what day they will be married, beseech Christ to be present at the wedding. He is not ashamed to come for marriage is an image of His presence in the Church. Even better than this: pray that your children will each find such a virtuous spouse; entrust this concern of yours into His hands. If you honor Him in this way, He will return honor for honor. — Sermon on Marriage
2. Advice on How to Pick a Wife
Since we know all this, let us seek just one thing in a wife, virtue of soul and nobility of character, so that we may enjoy tranquility, so that we may luxuriate in harmony and lasting love. The man who takes a rich wife takes a boss rather than a wife. If even without wealth women are with pride and prone to the love of fame, if they have wealth in addition, how will their husbands be able to stand them? The man, however, who takes a wife of equal position or poorer than himself takes a helper and ally and brings every blessing into his house. Her own poverty forces her to care for her husband with great concern, to yield to him and obey him in everything. It removes every occasion of strife, battle, presumption, and pride. It binds the couple in peace, harmony, love, and concord. Let us not, therefore, seek to have money, but to have peace, in order to enjoy happiness. Marriage does not exist to fill our houses with war and battles, to give us strife and contention, to pit us against each other and make our life unliveable. It exists in order that we may enjoy another’s help, that we may have a harbor, a refuge, and a consolation in troubles which hang over us, and that we may converse happily with our wife. How many wealthy men who have taken rich wives and increased their substance have yet destroyed their happiness and harmony, as they contend in daily battles at table?How many poor men who have taken poorer wives now enjoy peace and look upon each day’s sun with joy? –How to Choose a Wife
3. The Two-Fold Purpose of Marriage
Marriage was not instituted for wantonness or fornication, but for chastity. Listen to what Paul says: “Because of the temptation of immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her husband.” There are two purposes for which marriage was instituted: to make us chaster, and to make us parents. Of these two, the reason of chastity takes precedence. — Sermon on Marriage
4. Weddings Should Be Christ-Focused
Marriage is not an evil thing. It is adultery that is evil, it is fornication that is evil. Marriage is a remedy to eliminate fornication. Let us not, therefore, dishonor marriage by the pomp of the devil. Instead, let those who take wives now do as they did at Cana in Galilee. Let them have Christ in their midst. “How can they do this?” someone asks. By inviting the clergy. “He who receives you,” the Lord says, “receives Me.” So drive away the devil. Throw out the lewd songs, the corrupt melodies, the disorderly dances, the shameful words, the diabolical display, the uproar, the unrestrained laughter, and the rest of the impropriety. Bring in instead the holy servants of Christ, and through them Christ will certainly be present along with His mother and His brothers. For He says, “Whoever does the will of My Father is My brother and sister and mother.” — Sermon on Marriage
5. Fidelity Is an Equal Responibility in a Marriage
In this passage [1 Corinthians 7:1-2], however, there is no mention of greater or lesser authority. Why does he speak here in terms of equality? Because his subject is conjugal fidelity. He intends for the husband to have greater responsiblity in nearly every concern, but fidelity is an exception. “The husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does.” Husband and wife are equally responsible for the honor of their marriage bed. — Homily on 1 Corinthians 7
6. Love is More Powerful than Fear
Notice, however, that Paul explains love in detail, comparing it to Christ’s love for the Church and our love for our own flesh, saying for this reason a man leaves his father and mother but he does not elaborate concerning fear. Why so? He would much prefer love to prevail, because where there is love, everything else follows, but where love is absent, fear will be of no use. If a man loves his wife, he will bear with her even when she isn’t very obedient. How difficult it is to have harmony when husband and wife are not bound together by the power of love! Fear is no substitute for this. That is why he speaks at greater length about the stronger force. So if you think that the wife is the loser because she is told to fear her husband, remember that the principal duty of love is assigned to the husband, and you will see that it is her gain. “And what if my wife refuses to obey me?” a husband will ask. Never mind! Your obligation is to love her; do your duty! Even when we don’t receive our due from others, we must always do our duty. –Homily on Ephesians 5:22-23
7. The Love between a Husband and Wife is a Vital to the Success of Humanity
The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love. St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord?” Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down. –Homily on Ephesians 5:22-23
For all married couples, St. John Chrysostom, pray for us!
N.B. Keep in mind that St. John Chrysostom lived from 347-407 AD, so this was clearly a different age and different part of the world. Arranged marriages were a more common place occurrence. Also, the structure of marriages were different in those days. So, please hear out all of what St. John Chrysostom has to say because his intent is not misogyny but to help married couples flourish in their vocation.
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.” Saint Louis de Montfort
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” Pope Pius XI
“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” St. Josemaria Escriva
“To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction.” Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX
“The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries.” Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” Blessed Pope Pius IX.
The Most Holy Rosary is simply the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When our most August Queen Mum appeared to St. Dominic in the 13th century she gave him specific instructions on how to pray Her Psalter. Today when one says they “pray the Rosary” they often mean just a third of Her Psalter, for the Most Holy Rosary consists of all 15 Mysteries. The Rosary isn’t a “man made” prayer as most Protestants and even heretical Catholics claim. In fact, it is woman made, the Holy Theotokos Herself revealed this glorious and most perfect prayer.
“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.” Saint Louis de Montfort
“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche
“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!” Saint Bernardine of Siena
“And thus it can be understood that in the 19th century, when the incompatibility of modern reason and faith was strongly declared, Pope Leo XIII pointed to St Thomas as a guide in the dialogue between them.”
Listers, Pope Benedict XVI describes St. Thomas Aquinas as having an “exquisitely Eucharistic soul.” The following is taken from a talk delivered by the Holy Father on June 2nd, 2010 and he also delivered a follow up on June 16th of the same year. The former is focused more as a basic introduction to the life and virtue of the Angelic Doctor and the second is more theological in nature.
Pope Urban IV, who held him in high esteem, commissioned him to compose liturgical texts for the Feast of Corpus Christi, which we are celebrating tomorrow, established subsequent to the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Thomas had an exquisitely Eucharistic soul. The most beautiful hymns that the Liturgy of the Church sings to celebrate the mystery of the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist are attributed to his faith and his theological wisdom.
Listers in his second lesson on the Angelic Doctor, Pope Benedict XVI moves past the basic biography of Aquinas and into the more fundamental theological and philosophical changes the saint brought to Holy Mother Church.
And thus it can be understood that in the 19th century, when the incompatibility of modern reason and faith was strongly declared, Pope Leo XIII pointed to St Thomas as a guide in the dialogue between them. In his theological work, St Thomas supposes and concretizes this relationality. Faith consolidates, integrates and illumines the heritage of truth that human reason acquires. The trust with which St Thomas endows these two instruments of knowledge faith and reason may be traced back to the conviction that both stem from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which is active in both contexts, that of Creation and that of redemption.
Listers, Pope Benedict XVI closes his three-part catechesis over St. Thomas Aquinas by discussing the Angelic Doctor’s Summa Theologiae and catechetical sermons. The following is the entire homily given by His Holiness during the Wednesday General Audience of the 23th of June 2010. SPL has added the titles and subtitles.
My Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, also said this, in a Discourse he gave at Fossanova on 14 September 1974 on the occasion of the seventh centenary of St Thomas’ death. He asked himself: “Thomas, our Teacher, what lesson can you give us?”. And he answered with these words: “trust in the truth of Catholic religious thought, as defended, expounded and offered by him to the capacities of the human mind.”1 In Aquino moreover, on that same day, again with reference to St Thomas, Paul VI said, “all of us who are faithful sons and daughters of the Church can and must be his disciples, at least to some extent!
One of the most misunderstood aspects of our Catholic faith is our fascination and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Listers, one of the most misunderstood aspects of our Catholic faith is our fascination and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I personally struggled against this concept before I joined the Church. After I converted, I still didn’t give our Blessed Mother the due that she deserved; however, that all changed. On my honeymoon I picked up Mary: The Church at the Source by Pope Benedict XVI (at the time of publishing, he was Cardinal Ratzinger) and Hans Urs von Balthasar (who happens to be my favorite modern theologian). By the time I finished it, I discovered a new love, respect, and awe for our Holy Mother. Mary: The Church at the Source is a collection of essays by Pope Benedict XVI and Hans Urs von Balthasar. As it is written by two of the greatest Catholic theologians of the modern era, this book is by no means a quick read. However, each essay teaches something new and something exquisitely beautiful about our Holy Mother. I would compare this book to a fine wine, which must be savored to be better appreciated. I highly recommend that every Catholic should read this book. Therefore, I have given 10 tastes to whet your mariological palate. Now on to the reflections…1
#1 Mary’s Maternity Is More than Just a Matter of Biology
We must avoid relegating Mary’s maternity to the sphere of mere biology. But we can do so only if our reading of Scripture can legitimately presuppose a hermeneutic that rules out just this kind of division and allows us instead to recognize the correlation of Christ and his Mother as a theological reality.” —Page 29 Pope Benedict XVI.
#2 The Necessity of Marian Piety
The organ for seeing God is the purified heart. It may just be the task of Marian piety to awaken the heart and purify it in faith. If the misery of contemporary man is his increasing disintegration into mere bios and mere rationality, Marian piety could work against this “decomposition” and help man to rediscover unity in the center, from the heart.” —Page 36 Pope Benedict XVI
#3 Mary, the Signpost of Hope
This is why Mary, who has given him birth is truly “full of grace” – she becomes a sign to history. The angel’s greeting makes it clear that the blessing is more powerful than the curse. The sign of woman has become the sign of hope; she is the signpost of hope.” — Page 53 Pope Benedict XVI
#4 Mary’s Openess to God’s Word
Mary’s divine maternity and her enduring attitude of openness to God’s word are seen as interpenetrating here: giving ear to the angel’s greeting. Mary welcomes the Holy Spirit into herself. Having become pure hearing, she receives the Word so totally it becomes flesh in her. — Page 72 Pope Benedict XVI
#5 The Incarnation as Hard to Imagine Without Mary
Thus the woman who called herself lowly, that is nameless (Luke1:48) stands at the core of the profession of faith in the living God, and it is impossible to imagine it without her. She is an indispensable, central component of our faith in the living, acting God. The Word becomes flesh – the eternal Meaning grounding the universe enters in her. It needed the Virgin for this to be possible, the Virgin who made available her whole person, that is her embodied existence, her very self, as the place of God’s dwelling place in the world. The Incarnation required consenting acceptance. Only in this way do Logos and flesh really become one. — Page 83 Pope Benedict XVI
#6 Mary as Jesus’s First Teacher
Now, this means that even Jesus himself has above all his Mother to thank for his human self-consciousness, unless we suppose that he was a supernatural wunderkind who should not have to owe this self-consciousness to anyone. But such a hypothesis would jeopardize Jesus’s humanity […] She must have introduced Jesus into the tradition and so enabled him to recognize his own mission in the mirror of the promise. True, Jesus’ personal prayer and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit disclosed this mission to him with increasing depth. Nevertheless, the human contribution – to this process must by no means be underestimated; this, too, would offend against the learning process of a normal child. — Page 103 Hans Urs von Balthasar
#7 Mary’s Naked Faith
The purpose of this constant training in the naked faith Mary will need under the cross is often insufficiently understood; people are astonished and embarrassed by the way in which Jesus treats his Mother, whom he addresses both in Cana and at the Cross only as “woman.” He himself is the first one to wield the sword that must pierce her. But how else would she have become ready to stand by the Cross, where not only her Son’s earthly failure, but also his abandonment by the God who sends him is revealed. She must finally say Yes to this, too, because she consented a priori to her child’s whole destiny. — Page 109 Hans Urs von Balthasar
#8 Mary and the Eucharist
First, the Mass. Does any Christian really know what a sacrifice it is to offer the Father the Son as the world’s redeemer after the Consecration? But those who contemplate Mary’s sacrificial gesture get a glimmer of why, despite all objection, we can and must describe the Eucharistic celebration as a sacrifice (not of Christ alone, but also of the Church). And does any one of us really receive the Son in Holy Communion as perfectly as he offers himself? We are right to pray, “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of our Church”: on that perfect act of faith that was nowhere as undivided as in Mary — Page 112 Hans Urs von Balthasar
#9 The Importance of the Veneration of Mary
The veneration of Mary is the surest and shortest way to get close to Christ in a concrete way. In meditating on her life in all its phases we can learn what it means to live for and with Christ – in the everyday, in an unsentimental matter-of-factness that nonetheless enjoys perfect inner intimacy, Contemplating Mary’s existence, we also submit to the darkness imposed on our faith, yet we learn how we must always be ready when Jesus suddenly asks something from us. — Page 117 Hans Urs von Balthasar
#10 Mary, Mother of the Church
If we are ready to do this, then even today we can see the face of the Church light up with the motherly look and expression that was so obvious to, and so enriching for, the first Christian centuries. It is because we Christians had long lost sight of this motherly aspect that the present Pope (Paul VI) expressed it by giving Mary the title “Mother of the Church.” This title is legitimate, so long as the Church, precisely as an assembly of individual believers, is also seen as the structured social organization that we customarily consider her to be today. If we could make up our minds to penetrate through this understanding of the Church to a deeper level, we could once more realize the “archetypal identity” between Mary and the Church and, from time to time at least, drop the “of the” between “Mother” and “Church.” —Page 143 Hans Urs Von Balthasar
The crisis in Syria has escalated to a civil war standards and has claimed the lives of thousands. Amongst those most marginalized by the conflict are our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters.
Listers, the crisis in Syria has escalated to a civil war standards and has claimed the lives of thousands. Amongst those most marginalized by the conflict are our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters. The spiritual leader for many of those Catholics is His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III (Laham), Patriarch Of Antioch and All the East, Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He has released a 24 point statement which SPL now presents in full.1 Those unfamiliar with the other churches and rites within the Catholic Church can find more information at 5 Questions About the Eastern Catholic Churches.
His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III (Laham), of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Syria, has imparted these reflections and observations as a vademecum to throw light on the attitudes of the local Church towards the dramatic events in Syria and on certain moral contortions in relation to these events.
1. The greatest danger in Syria at present is anarchy, lack of security and the massive influx of weapons from all sides. Violence is, alas, the dominant language today and violence begets violence. In Syria, this danger is ensnaring and affecting all citizens, regardless of race, religion or political persuasion.
2. Christians, too, are exposed to this same danger, but they are the weak link. Defenceless, they are the group most liable to exploitation, extortion, kidnapping, torture and even elimination. But they are also the peace-making, unarmed group, calling for dialogue, reconciliation, peace and unity among all the sons and daughters of the same homeland. This is the rarest kind of talk that many do not wish to hear. We Christians, to whom was entrusted the Gospel of Peace, feel ourselves called to further it.
3. Nevertheless, there is no Muslim-Christian conflict. Christians are not targeted as such, but can be reckoned among the victims of chaos and lack of security.
4. The greatest danger is interference from Arab or Western foreign elements. This interference takes the form of weapons, money and one-sided, programmed, subversive means of communication.
5. Such interference is harmful even to what is called the opposition. It is injurious to the just claims that are expressed more or less everywhere. This interference harms national unity at home by mixing up the cards.
6. This interference also weakens the specifically Christian voice of moderation and more particularly, the voice of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria. Local Churches have made their voices heard on several occasions and the declarations of the heads of the Christian Churches are characterised by moderation and the call for reform, freedom and democracy and for fighting corruption, supporting development and freedom of speech and the promotion of dialogue.
7. Nowhere in these declarations is there any allusion to the persecution of Christians, who, as we have seen, are not targeted as such. Neither is there any allusion to concepts of “Muslims,” “Salafists,” “fundamentalists,” “opponents,” “fear,” “regime” or “Party.” The declarations called for more dialogue and more reforms and participation in parliamentary parties and elections.
8. The language of the declarations was always positive, peaceable, calling for love and dialogue and rejecting resorting to arms. It advocated protecting defenceless citizens and not involving civilians in fighting. In short, the declarations are very remote from extremism of any kind. Though civic, they are in no way against such and such a group, either at home or abroad.
9. I don’t know what the reason is for the campaign against the leaders of the Churches in Syria and against their standpoints. I wonder from where come the labels that are stuck on them of compromise, exploitation and collusion with the regime, of time-serving, servitude or laziness?
10. It should be known that the State and its leaders have never addressed to Church leaders any directive or inducement to make a statement or adopt a particular position. The freedom of Church leaders was everywhere assured and still is to this day, whether in their behaviour or their private or public statements. In March 2012, I made a personal tour of European capitals. I asked no permission or guidance from anybody and no-one asked me to adopt any particular stance. I outlined that in a paper that summarised most of my convictions with regard to the situation prevailing in Syria.
11. It is possible for everyone to see the papers I’ve published with successive calls for fasting, prayer, dialogue, reconciliation, rejection of violence and avoiding resorting to arms…There are also the statements of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria and the declarations of the three Patriarchs whose patriarchal headquarters are in Syria: namely the Greek Orthodox, the Syriac Orthodox and the Greek Catholic Patriarchs (cf. http://www.pgc-lb.org/eng/news_and_events/Nouvelles-de-Syrie).
12. These leaders and the communiqués that they have published are the official voice of the Churches in Syria. Further, as Patriarch and President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, I call upon everyone to consider this voice as the authoritative stance of the Church in Syria. We allow no-one to speak in our name or in the name of Syria’s Christians, mar our statements or label us with charges of any kind whatever.
13. Similarly, it is subversive to doubt the credibility of the Church’s leaders or their transparency, fidelity and objectivity, the veracity of their sources of information or the news that they broadcast. The Church leaders don’t rely on the media, but they are in continual contact with their priests, monks and nuns and lay-people and all other citizens. They are leaders who look after the concerns of the Christian faithful and are also in contact with citizens of all denominations and with well-known leading members of the country. In all these situations they are free in their behaviour, movements and statements. They always call for mutual edification, dialogue and solidarity among all.
14. On the other hand, we think that the attitudes of certain persons and particular institutions, and the press campaign, are harming Christians in Syria and exposing them to danger, kidnapping, exploitation and even death. These attitudes heap false accusations on Christians, sowing doubt in their hearts and spreading fear and isolation. As a result, they help their exodus both inside the country and abroad…
15. These very attitudes claiming inopportunely to be interested in Christians can increase the radicalism of certain armed factions against Christians. They exacerbate relations between citizens, especially between Christian and Muslim citizens, as was the case in Homs, Qusayr, Yabrud and Dmeineh Sharqieh, etc…
16. That is why we are inviting these institutions and persons to concern themselves rather with civil peace in Syria. Let them support the call for dialogue and reconciliation, and the rejection of violence. Let them work to preserve the security of defenceless civilians in the current conflict, so as not to expose them to danger, lest they become the target of attacks of one faction or another…and so succumb, as victims of anarchy, insecurity, terrorism, exploitation, kidnapping and liquidation, as we mentioned above.
17. These reflections and observations spring from our Christian faith and patriotic convictions together with our knowledge of our Christian history and Syrian heritage, particularly with regard to living together, openness and mutual respect, despite the difficult period which our country is going through, during which relations between civilians have been abused, whether they are Christian, Muslim or other.
18. Our positions and reflections spring from our conviction that, despite the abundant bloodshed and hatred that have been shown, with feelings of enmity and rancour, Syrians, because of their long history, remain experts in living together and can resolve this dangerous crisis, unique in their history, helping one another, loving each other and forgiving and working together for the common future.
19. We also put a lot of hope in the initiatives of civil society to strengthen love and links among Syrians whom the conflict threatens to destroy. We pray for the success of the Mussalaha (reconciliation) movement in which delegates from all Churches are active alongside members of other denominations. This represents a foundation for effective resolution of the tragic events.
20. Similarly, we believe, hope and expect the Ministry of Reconciliation, created especially for the Mussalaha movement, to succeed in its mission of bringing back unity and love to the hearts of all: it prepares the way to resolve the conflict. We place a lot of hope in the creation of the new Ministry of Reconciliation.
21. Naturally, we are still calling once more for the rejection of violence and for stopping the cycle of killings and destruction, especially of destitute civilians, who are really defenceless victims, whether they are Christian or Muslim.
22. We should like to state truly and frankly that our position as Christians stems from the fact that we are Christian citizens in a secular society. The so-called prerogatives supposedly enjoyed by Christians in Syria are only the universal rights of all Syrian citizens regardless of the denomination or faith to which they belong. There is an historical basis for that in the confessional “millet” system dating back to the time of Ottoman rule. The Patriarch was then head of his Church in both the religious and secular sense. The business of private Church jurisprudence developed during the French protectorate, then under successive Syrian governments up to the present one, so the assertion that the status of Christians is the fruit of their adherence to the regime and will fall with it is absolutely false!
23. The Islamic world needs the Christian presence alongside it, with it and for it, in liaison and interaction, as was the case historically. This presence will and must continue. I say that Islam needs Christianity and that Muslims need Christians and we shall stay with them and for them as we have done in the past and throughout 1433 (Islamic) years of common history.1
24. To conclude: As Christians we address our big appeal to the Arab world to call it to unity: the division of the Arab world has always been the major target at home and abroad. This division is the reason for the dangers that are lying in wait for the region and is the cause of the absence of a just and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict is the basis and primordial cause of the majority of misfortunes, crises and wars in the Arab world. This conflict, according to the testimony of His Holiness the Pope, of many churchmen, Apostolic Nuncios, and even of Jewish Israeli politicians, is the primordial cause of the Christian exodus. Yes, the division of the Arab world, according to the testimony of the persons cited above, has been hindering a solution to this conflict for sixty-four years! (cf. the opinion of Tzipi Livni2 in The Financial Times 13/07/2012).
Peace lies in the unity of the Arab world and the safety of Christians can only be assured by the unity of the Arab world, from which flow the circumstances favourable to living together and Muslim-Christian and inter-Muslim dialogue. The greatest danger in this field affects Islam itself when it is divided along the fracture lines of the Arab world, evidence for that being the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict. This phenomenon is more dangerous than the danger that Christians or other denominations are incurring in Syria and the region.
Crises and wars are the cause of the exodus of Christians and the cause of the deterioration of Muslim-Christian relations.
Europeans, take an interest in the unity of the Arab world, if you want to help Christians.
Europeans, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if you want to help Christians.
Europeans, work for peace in the Middle East, if you want to help Christians.
Our common destiny for us all, Arab Christians and Muslims…is the same. Don’t cut us off from our Arab community environment, nor from our Muslim community environment.
Help us to play our role and fulfil our mission in the Arab world so that we can be present in it, with it and for it…and there be as light, salt and leaven.
Take an interest in us in and because of our community environment. In your analyses don’t make us out to be intruders in our Arab Muslim-Christian world, nor agents in it, dhimmis protected by you or others than you.
Help us to be Christians of the Church of the Arabs and Church of Islam.
Europeans: don’t hide your interests behind your zeal for Christians!
We invite our brothers and sisters in the Arab East and in Europe and everywhere else, states, religious or humanitarian institutions to help us in this unity undertaking and we say: “One united Arab voice and one united Western voice can return security and safety to Syria and all the Middle East, as we walk together towards a better future.” Thank you in advance to all who will respond to this call.
We need the unique role of the Pope and the Vatican and hope that the visit of the Pope to Lebanon next September will be a support for these reflections that I’ve drafted on the situation in the Arab world and more precisely in Syria.
May the Lord of history grant us his Holy Spirit to guide us on the paths of good! Amen.
+Gregorios III (Laham) Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Of Antioch and All the East, Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
Source: The document was brought to our attention by Rorate Caeli and originally taken from the eparchy website. [↩]
Listers, brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay.1 It is easy to say the heathens and Hitlers of the world need Christ and His Church, but what of the Protestants? Are they saved because they worship Christ or is their Christ more a personalized term than a person? Are we prepared to critique what is brass in the world, even if the Protestants, Orthodox or secular humanitarians share or emulate our virtues? There is One God, One Christ, One Groom and One Bride. There is One Kingdom with One King, One Vicar and One Queen.
All humans are in need of Jesus Christ and the Messiah commissioned St. Peter and the Apostles to care for his sheep and guard his Church. We cannot let our modernist upbringings dull the trenchant truth of Christ nor can we let some misplaced zeal blur the evangelistic nuances necessary to reach a protestant, an Orthodox or an atheist.
Know the faith listers. It is in Holy Mother Church that we find the unadulterated love and person of Jesus Christ.
The unsettling words of St. Cyprian share their effect on Protestants and Catholics alike – primarily because we are all modernists accustomed to pluralism and inclusive speech. The Early Church writer clearly states there is One Savior and One Bride, His Church and that the One Church of Christ can only be the Church entrusted to the Apostles and to their disciples, the Bishops of the Church. Those who start their own “churches” – breaking apostolic succession – sit in the “seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues.” Complimenting the words of the saint are the similar words of our fourth Pope in the list The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97.
Listers, our Lord Jesus Christ is not returning to our world for a harem of “churches.”There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and it was founded by Christ and charged by him to St. Peter and the Apostles. However, there are now and always have been those groups that attempt to rend Christ from his Church – to recreate that which God gave us, the Church. In AD 250, St. Cyprian wrote an outstanding work entitled On the Unity of the Church. The epistle focuses especially on the topic of schism and those who would set themselves up as Church leaders and/or start their own “churches.” Without question, these groups are proto-protestant groups and the saint’s arguments apply just as much to our modern schismatic and heretical groups as they did to his ancient schismatic groups.2
“He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”
“And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole.”
“What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?” –St. Cyprian, AD 250
God promised King David that a descendant of his would sit upon his throne forever. In the wake of this promise, the Old Testament prophets foretold of a “New Davidic Kingdom” and the Messiah – the Son of David – who would save God’s people. Undoubtedly, Christ is the Messiah – the Son of David – and his Kingdom is a Davidic Kingdom. In David’s Kingdom there was a Vicar who had the key of the kingdom and ruled in David’s stead whilst he was way. The Son of David is no different in his Kingdom – he gave St. Peter the keys of the Kingdom and St. Peter – the First Pope or Vicar of Christ – and his successors hold the Kingdom to the teachings of the King. The list All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope is built upon this biblical truth. Those looking for the scriptural evidence of the papacy may enjoy 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy and the forerunner to that list: 13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter was “Prince of the Apostles.”
Listers, the following is a short compilation of quotes taken from previous Ecumenical Pontiffs of Rome: “Outside the Church there is no hope for salvation.” These quotes show us the confidence that our previous Bishops of Rome have had in their authority given by God Himself to be the Vicar of Christ here on Earth. As St. Augustine said, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.” Cheers!
The “Miracle of the Holy Fire” is a longstanding event in the Orthodox Church that is often times used as proof the power of the Resurrection of Christ lies in his “true church,” the Orthodox. Of course, Catholics rebuttal that the fire is nothing more than a fraud. As one can imagine this devolves quite quickly into Catholic vs Orthodox polemics.
Listers, the following is a brief examination of the controversial “Miracle of the Holy Fire.” The Greek Orthodox Patriarch enters the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday – according to the Orthodox calendar. He proceeds into the Tomb of Christ and begins to pray. A fire is then miraculously enkindled by the Holy Spirit – supposedly the power of the resurrection – and is shared rapidly throughout the Church and all those who are waiting outside. To be clear, it is said that Pope Gregory the IX declared “Holy Fire” a fraud in AD 1238, but a primary source is needed to confirm this papal statement. Today, the miracle is not recognized by the Catholic Church, but is considered a pious tradition of certain Orthodox Churches.
Setting everything about the “holy fire” event aside, St. Peter’s List would like to remind listers that Pope Benedict XVI is building a legacy of being the “Pope of Christian Unity.” As Holy Mother Church staves off militant secularism on one side and militant Islam on the other, we should be praying for unity amongst those who call themselves followers of Christ. This is in no way a fanciful call to “just get along,” as any Orthodox/Catholic discussion on the role of the papacy, the crusades, St. Augustine and the filioque will leave blood on the floor. Regardless, pray and strive for unity.
Turning primarily to a video by Michael Voris and an academic article by Thomas F. Madden, St. Peter’s List wants to place the three historical inquisitions of the Church in historical context. It should be well noted that the list does not exonerate those who operated under the guise of the Catholic Church from all wrongdoing and crimes; however, what the list does do is defend what our culture has erroneously deemed indefensible by using historical facts and comparisons to whittle down the propaganda and engage in an actual conversation about the inquisitions.
Listers, most believe that the “Spanish Inquisition” was a dark and embarrassing era within the Catholic Church. The rhetoric is well known: thousands were imprisoned, non-Catholics were tortured, and a “convert-or-die” travesty swept over much of Europe. However, what if the Church’s three primary inquisitions – the Medieval, the Spanish, and the Roman – were created to harbor people from injustice, to grant the accused individuals more rights and legal representation than in secular courts, or to secure the concept of “due process,” which became a precursor to English law and eventually the American Constitution? Moreover, what if history shows that the common misperception of the Church’s Inquisitions are based on vulgar protestant propaganda wars? All these questions and more are addressed and answered in a well-documented fashion by the following sources.
Although the Spanish defeated Protestants on the battlefield, they would lose the propaganda war. These were the years when the famous “Black Legend” of Spain was forged. Innumerable books and pamphlets poured from northern presses accusing the Spanish Empire of inhuman depravity and horrible atrocities in the New World. Opulent Spain was cast as a place of darkness, ignorance, and evil. Although modern scholars have long ago discarded the Black Legend, it still remains very much alive today. Quick: Think of a good conquistador.
Like all courts in Europe, the Spanish Inquisition used torture. But it did so much less often than other courts. Modern researchers have discovered that the Spanish Inquisition applied torture in only 2 percent of its cases. Each instance of torture was limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. In only 1 percent of the cases was torture applied twice and never for a third time.
Irony: The “brass is mistaken for gold more easily than clay” originates – as far as I know – with CS Lewis, whom converted to Anglicanism and not Catholicism, though it was Tolkien that led him to Christ. [↩]
Novatian: Another impetus of the epistle was the first “anti-pope” who attempted to claim he was holier than the rest of the Church and claimed moral superiority, especially in not wanting to ever extend forgiveness to sins post-baptism. [↩]
“If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” – St. Pius X
Roman Pontiffs on Mary as Mediatrix:
Treasury of All Good Things
1. “God has committed to her the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.” and “God has committed to the Blessed Virgin Mary the treasury of all good things in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace and all salvation.” (Pius IX: Encycl., Ubi primum, February 2, 1849.) — [p. 12, number 12; p. 18, no. 38]
Only Through Thee
2. “O Virgin most holy, none abounds in the knowledge of God except through thee; none, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895.) — [p. 12, no. 13]
No One Goes to CHrist Except Through His Mother
3. “With equal truth it may be said that of the great treasury of all graces given to us by Our Lord—for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ—nothing comes to us except through Mary’s mediation, for such is God’s Will. Thus, as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so no one goes to Christ except through his mother.” (Leo XIII, Encycl., Octobri mense, September 22, 1891.) — [pp. 13,14, no. 19]
With Mary and Through Mary
4. “If it is impossible to separate what God has united, it is also certain that you cannot find Jesus except with Mary and through Mary.” (St. Pius X: Allocution to the Franciscans, November 12, 1910.) — [p. 14, no. 20]
Our Lady of the Rosary
5. “Every day, as the Church herself recommends, priests will recite the Holy Rosary, which, by proposing for our meditation the mysteries of the Redeemer, leads us to Jesus through Mary.” (Pius XII: Exhortation, Menti nostri, September 23, 1950) — [p. 14, no. 23]
What We Owe the Virgin Mary
6. “As the various mysteries present themselves one after another in the formula of the Rosary, for the meditation and contemplation of men’s minds, they also make clear what we owe to Mary for our reconciliation and salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Fidentum Piumque, September 20, 1896.) [pp. 15,16, no. 29]
7. “All our hope do we repose in the Most Blessed Virgin, in the all-fair and immaculate one who has crushed the most cruel serpent’s poisonous head and brought salvation to the world.” (Pius IX: Apost. Const., Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854.) — [p. 18, no. 39]
The Mediatrix of Our Salvation
8. “O Holy Mother of God; to thee we lift our prayers for thou, powerful and merciful, art the Mediatrix of our salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) — [p. 19, no. 43]
Through the Mater Dei
9. “None, O Mother of God, obtains salvation except through thee, none receives a gift from the throne of mercy except through thee.” (Leo XIII: Adiutricem populi, September 5, 1895) — [p. 19, no. 44]
Mary is the Mediatrix and the Dispenser of Graces
10. “Whenever we speak of Mary or speak to her, let us not forget that she is really our Mother, for through her we received divine life. She gave us Jesus himself, the source of grace. Mary is a Mediatrix and Dispenser of Graces.” (Pius XII: Radio message to the Italian Catholic Action, December 8, 1953) — [p. 22, no. 59]
Under her Patronage
11. “Since Mary is ‘Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,’ let us cry to her, ‘mourning and weeping in the vale of tears,’ and place ourselves and all that is ours confidently under her patronage.” (Pius XII: Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947.) — [p. 25, no. 71]
Hope & Trust
12. “The Catholic Church has always and with justice put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God.” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Supreme Apostolatus, September 1, 1883.) — [p. 32, no. 104]
Suffering with her Son
13. “According to the common teaching of the Doctors, it was God’s design that the Blessed Virgin Mary, apparently absent from the public life of Jesus, should assist him when he was dying nailed to the Cross. Mary suffered and as it were, nearly died with her suffering Son; for the salvation of mankind she renounced her mother’s rights and, as far as it depended on her, offered her Son to placate divine justice; so we may well say that she with Christ redeemed mankind.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 35; no. 119]
Immune from All Sin
14. “She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever more closely united with her Son, offered him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father….” (Pius XII: Encyclical, Mystical corporis, June 29, 1943.) [p. 37; no. 128.]
Necessary to Secure Salvation
15. “… it is evident that she cannot do other than help most devotedly her dearest adopted sons at an hour at which it is necessary to secure for them salvation and sanctity for all eternity.” (Benedict XV: Letter, Inter sodalicia, May 22, 1918.) [p. 46; no. 171]
She Has Received Us As Sons
16. “… It was before the eyes of Mary that the divine sacrifice for which she had borne and nurtured the Victim was to be finished. … In the miracle of love, so that she might receive us as her sons ….” (Leo XIII: Encyclical, Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) [p. 50; no.187]
All Graces to Mankind
17. “Mary is all powerful with her divine Son who grants all graces to mankind through her …” (Benedict XV: Encyclical, Fausto appetente die, June 29, 1921.) [p. 59; no. 244]
Salvation of the Christian People
18. “From whom can we expect the salvation of the Christian people today if not from her of whom it is written that whosoever shall find her shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord?” (Pius XI: Letter, Cum valde, Februrary 20, 1929.) [p. 59; no. 245]
“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore… they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.”
Listers, the Early Church was the Early Catholic Church. First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is an orthodox window into the infancy of the Church (AD 97) and particularly into the structure of the Church.1 The Early Church is not an ambiguous or mysterious time. It is a well recorded period with a great number of writings from the Early Church Fathers. Clement lived in Rome only a stone throw away from the Coliseum. He is seen as a successor to St. Peter and is considered the fourth Pope of Rome, following St. Peter, St. Linus and St. Anacletus.2 Pope St. Clement I’s epistle has a well-paced catechetical tone and is quite mild compared to St. Cyprian’s On the Unity of the Church. St. Cyprian states, those who start their own “churches” are “deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues” (AD 250).
St. Clement’s epistle to the faithful in Corinth is not a Catholic apologetics text or a work from the Counter-Reformation. The words come from a leader within the infancy of the Church of Christ – AD 97. One of the best hermeneutics when reading the Early Church Fathers is not only to pay attention to what they say, but to note well their assumptions about the faith. These assumptions are sometimes greater than their actual words, because the assumptions are the principles that are so ingrained into the Church that they are assumed truths, i.e., unquestioned and widely known. St. Clement’s epistle demonstrates this in a powerful way as he cannot envision “multiple churches” no more than he can imagine a Church outside the direct lineage of the apostles. An undercurrent in St. Clement’s writing and in all the Church Father’s is that perfect charity and perfect faith cannot exist in ecclesial and doctrinal disunity – there is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the very least, one should read this text and think to themselves: does my “church” sound like the Early Church – and if not, why?
Pope Clement I, Vicar of Christ and martyr, pray for us.
1. Virtue Thwarts Schism
Chapter II continues the epistle’s early theme of lauding the Corinthians in their virtues and prepares the discussion for the topic of schism.
Perfect Charity and Faith Demand Unity
“You were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. You mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own.”
2. Sts. Peter and Paul
In Chapter V, His Holiness Pope Clement I displays an important theme in early ecclesial thought: the remembrance of the Apostles. He turns first to his predecessor, St. Peter and his “numerous labours” in the faith until he “departed to the place of glory due to him.” Secondly, he calls to memory St. Paul who was “removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.” It is not surprising the saint chooses Sts. Peter and Paul. Rome itself was consecrated not only by St. Peter’s office as the Vicar of Christ, but also by St. Paul’s ministry and martyrdom. St. Clement also refers to the “extreme west” and maybe referring to St. Paul actually making it to Spain.
The whole first part of the letter is exhortation to overcome schism, sedition and factions through virtue. The saint exhorts his readers that if they are going to be true believers like Sts. Peter and Paul, then they must endure through envy, anger, pride and all other vices that lead to disunity.
After calling to memory Sts. Peter and Paul, His Holiness speaks in Chapter VIII about how repentance and penance are ecclesial and inseparable from the People of God. The history of Israel is riddled with times of sedition and schism, but through virtue and obedience the People of God would remain together. It is undeniable that in the Old Testament there could be no distinction between the structural and physical unity of Israel and their spiritual and doctrinal unity. So too did Christ charge his apostles in with the care and guidance of Holy Mother Church, in which true faith and charity cannot exist without true unity.3
The People of God Are Always United
“As I live, says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;” adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity.” Say to the children of my people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, and though they be redder than scarlet, and blacker than sack-cloth, yet if you turn to me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people. And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before my eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together.”
4. St. Paul’s Corinthians
Skipping forward to Chapter XXXVII, the Bishop of Rome delves into analogies to explain the hierarchy of the Church. Pope Clement is writing to many of the same Corinthians to whom St. Paul wrote. Notice that His Holiness draws upon St. Paul’s own analogy of the Body of Christ and how this fits his constant theme of apostolic authority and exemplars.4
The Church Is Hierarchal
“Let us then, men and brethren, with all energy act the part of soldiers, in accordance with His holy commandments. Let us consider those who serve under our generals, with what order, obedience, and submissiveness they perform the things which are commanded them. All are not prefects, nor commanders of a thousand, nor of a hundred, nor of fifty, nor the like, but each one in his own rank performs the things commanded by the king and the generals. The great cannot subsist without the small, nor the small without the great. There is a kind of mixture in all things, and thence arises mutual advantage. Let us take our body for an example. The head is nothing without the feet, and the feet are nothing without the head; yea, the very smallest members of our body are necessary and useful to the whole body. But all work harmoniously together, and are under one common rule for the preservation of the whole body.”
5. The Divine Order of the Church
Chapter XL begins a turn in the epistle. His Holiness argues that the Lord has given the Church an order and a proper way to do things. Worship of God and the roles therein are not done “thoughtlessly or irregular.” Moreover, the order of the Church is given by God, not man. The Church and the worship of God are not matters of opinion or individuality, but of obedience and uniformity.
No Man Has the Authority to Order the Church
“These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.”
6. A Ministry Is Given
Chapter XLI continues discussing the preservation of Church Order. Here Pope Clement I turns to the Jewish religion and their rituals and even their punishments if Jews deviated from their proper manner or role. He then pivots in this point and says, “that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.” Also, notice that a man’s role in the Church – his ministry – is given to him. A strong assumption within Early Church texts is the notion that the order of the Church was given by God to man; thus, no man has the authority or capability to start his own “church.”
Danger Outside God’s Ecclesial Order
“Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. You see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.”
7. The Apostle’s Appointed Bishops
Chapter XLII outlines a clear theology of succession from Christ to the Apostles to the Bishops of the Church. As an early Christian, how do you know if you belonged to the true Church? Well, does your community have a bishop? Did your bishop come from the Apostles who came from Christ our Lord who came from God the Father? It should be stressed this epistle is dated AD 97.
From God to the Apostles to Us
“The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”
8. Undeniable Apostolic Succession
In Chapter XLIV, St. Clement shuts the book on any doubt that the apostles chose and declared men to lead as bishops after their death. It is apostolic succession in a clear and practical manner articulated in AD 97.
Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore… they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.”
9. Rome Has Spoken
Chapter LIX reveals that Pope St. Clement I is not afraid to teach apostolic succession nor to utilize its authority as well. It is reminiscent of how St. Paul scolded the Churches he founded by an authority he traced to Christ and Sts. Peter and James.
“If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; but we shall be innocent of this sin, and, instant in prayer and supplication, shall desire that the Creator of all preserve unbroken the computed number of His elect in the whole world through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom He called us from darkness to light.”
Notice His Holiness presupposes that the Corinthians must listen to him and if they do not they risk the penalty of transgression and serious danger. Corinth is a community founded by St. Paul who probably has a bishop in place, but notice that Clement as Bishop of Rome speaks with authority that comes with spiritual ramifications. Why is the Bishop of Rome sending a letter to the Church of Corinth if Rome has no spiritual authority over Corinth?
What books made the Bible? – There is a misconception that the books that were included in the Bible were simply all of the early Christian texts. The actual canon for Holy Scripture was formed by a need for the Church to show what was and what was not actually taught by the apostles; thus, the Church included all the works of the apostles and their closest companions. Many other good Catholic epistles existed, as I Clement, but they were not what was needed to defend the teaching of the apostles against the gnostics. [↩]
Old Testament Scripture: Ezekiel 33:11, Ezekiel 18:30, Isaiah 1:18 [↩]
Nature, Grace and Hierarch: Those familiar with Aquinas will know that man is by nature a political and social animal. Men are political animals that are naturally inclined to organize into communities, and as such hierarchy is also natural to man. If hierarchy is natural to man then ever more so would it be in the Church since grace perfects nature. [↩]
“Uphold St Thomas Aquinas as one of the highest teachers of the Church”.
Listers, if the discussion of Vatican II regarding the continuity of Sacred Tradition is ever to come to full force the spectre that has become Vatican II must be addressed – most necessarily in first distinguishing what Vatican II said and what people think Vatican II said. Amongst the host of legitimate problems, the post-Vatican II Church abandoned St. Thomas Aquinas. Entire Thomistic libraries were recovered from the garbage dumpsters outside Catholic universities and the popular malformed lens of Karl Rahner interpreted the entirety of Sacred Tradition afresh.1 Though Vatican II suffers its own vagaries, the insufferable “Spirit of Vatican II” has become a skeleton key of liberals, i.e., heretics, to unlock whatever thinly dissembled modernist errors they wish into the Church.
Often times one will hear when St. Thomas Aquinas is brought into the conversation that Vatican II did away with that old medievalist and the Church’s supposed peace with modernity has ushered in new Catholic manners of thinking. Again, all actual problems with the text of Vatican II aside, it did no such thing. Though it lacks the assiduousness and acumen of previous Church documents, the Council still affirms St. Thomas’ role as the mind that rules Catholic academia like a king.
“We therefore desired that all teachers of philosophy and sacred theology should be warned that if they deviated so much as a step, in metaphysics especially, from Aquinas, they exposed themselves to grave risk.” – St. Pis X
“He (Thomas Aquinas) enlightened the Church more than all the other Doctors together; a man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others” (Consistorial address of 1318). – Pope John XXII
“But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.” – Pope Leo XIII
“But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.” – Ibid.
The following list is taken directly from the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding Aquinas and Vatican II.2
VATICAN II and POST-VATICAN II DOCUMENTS On St. Thomas Aquinas
1. Optatam Totius
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Optatam Totius decree n. 16: “[…]Next, in order that they may shed light on the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections”.
2. Gravissimum Educationis
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, GravissimumEducationis declaration n. 10: “[…]The Church is concerned also with schools of a higher level, especially colleges and universities. In those schools dependent on her she intends that by their very constitution individual subjects be pursued according to their own principles, method, and liberty of scientific inquiry, in such a way that an ever deeper understanding in these fields may be obtained and that, as questions that are new and current are raised and investigations carefully made according to the example of the doctors of the Church and especially of St. Thomas Aquinas (Cf. Paul VI’s allocution to the International Thomistic Congress, Sept. 10, 1965: L’Osservatore Romano, Sept. 13-14, 1965), there may be a deeper realization of the harmony of faith and science”.
3. Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis
Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis (1970), n. 86: “[…]Uphold St Thomas Aquinas as one of the highest teachers of the Church”.
4. Apostolic Letter Lumen Ecclesiae
Pope Paul VI
5 December 1975
“Now, since it would be too lengthy to list all the attestations of the great veneration of the Church and of the Pontiffs for St Thomas, here we would just like to recall that towards the end of the last century – precisely when the consequences of rupturing the equilibrium between reason and faith were more evident – they once again proposed his example and his magisterium as positive factors for the unity of religious faith, culture, civil life, to be implemented in new ways in compliance with the new times.”
“The Apostolic See invited and encouraged an authentic revisitation of Thomistic studies. Our Predecessors, starting with Leo XIII and for the strong impulse he gave with the Encyclical Aeterni Patris, recommended love for the study and teachings of St Thomas, to manifest the consonance of his doctrine with divine revelation, the harmony between faith and reason, preserving their respective rights; the fact that the prestige recognised to his doctrine, far from suppressing emulation in research, stimulates it rather and guides it confidently.”
“Moreover, the Church underlined her preference for the doctrine of St Thomas, proclaiming that it is its own […] and to encourage it on the basis of its multisecular experience. Even today the Angelic Doctor and the study of his doctrine are, by law, the cornerstone of the theological formation of those who are called to the role of confirming and comforting their brothers in the faith.”
Post Vatican II Rahnarian Theology: To wit, Karl Rahner’s theology attempted to retain the jargon of St. Thomas Aquinas while instituting a Kantian form of metaphysics. It is unclear if Rahner knew the heretical ends to which his work would lead others. His bifurcated system of metaphysics allowed things to be interpreted as a realty of symbols and then a reality of the mysterious and unknowable truth behind them. In essence, this paved the way for heresies like Roger Haight’s Jesus Symbol of God and led to a widespread belief that the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church was simply one set of symbols expressing the greater reality of existence. The movement did much to try and discredit St. Thomas and thwart thomistic studies as the orthodoxy of St. Thomas Aquinas’ texts would only dispute and disprove their heretical and protestant theologies. [↩]
Many people undervalue the genre of fiction because fiction is often misconstrued as purely a method of entertainment.
Listers, many people undervalue the genre of fiction because fiction is often misconstrued as purely a method of entertainment. Although this common use is by no means wrong, the exclusive reason why someone chooses to read a book should not be because they want to escape the doldrums of human existence. Fiction, however, should be another way of gaining a new perception on reality without the abstractions of philosophical debate (although fiction may perhaps precipitate philosophical discussion). The following list contains quotes from authors, some Catholic and some not, about the importance and value of the genre of fiction:
1. Flannery O’Connor on the Reality in Fiction
“People are always complaining that the modern novelist has no hope and that the picture he paints of the world is unbearable. The only answer to this is that people without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won’t survive the ordeal.” –“The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1969), 77-78.
2. Blessed John Paul II on the Gospel’s Ability to Inspire Art
“Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things” –-“Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists”
3. G.K. Chesterton on the Underlying Morality in Fiction
“This great idea, then, is the backbone of all folk-lore — the idea that all happiness hangs on one thin veto; all positive joy depends on one negative. Now, it is obvious that there are many philosophical and religious ideas akin to or symbolised by this; but it is not with them I wish to deal here. It is surely obvious that all ethics ought to be taught to this fairy-tale tune; that, if one does the thing forbidden, one imperils all the things provided[…]This is the profound morality of fairy-tales; which, so far from the being lawless, go to the root of all law. Instead of finding (like common books of ethics) a rationalistic basis for each Commandment, they find the great mystical basis for all Commandments.” –“Fairy Tales”, All Things Considered, (New York, Feather Trail Press, 2009), 87.
4. C.S. Lewis on What Makes Good Fiction
“I never wrote down to anyone; and whether the opinion condemns or acquits my own work, it certainly in my opinion that a book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then.” — C.S. Lewis, “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to Be Said,”The New York Times November 18, 1956.
5. G.K. Chesterton on Teaching Children Fairy Tales
“We all know the people who think it is wicked to tell children fairy tales which they are not required to believe, though of course not wicked to teach them false doctrines or false news why they are required to believe. They hold that the child must be guarded from the danger of supposing that all frogs turn into princesses or that any pumpkin will at any minute turn into a coach and six and that he must rather reserve his faith for the sober truth told in newspapers, which will tell him that all Socialists are Satanists or that the Act of Parliament will mean work and wealth for all. We ourselves have generally found that children were quite sufficiently intelligent to question the first and that grown-up people were quite sufficiently stupid to swallow the second.” –“Dragooning the Dragon” As I was Saying (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1985)
6. Flannery O’Connor on the Levels of Meaning in Fiction
“We all write at our own level of understanding, but it is the peculiar characteristic of fiction that its literal surface can be made to yield entertainment on an obvious physical place to one sort of reader while the selfsame surface can be made to yield meaning to the person equipped to experience it there.” — Flannery O’Connor “Writing Short Stories,”Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1969), 95.
7. Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Necessity of Fiction Conveying the Message of the Gospel
“In order to communicate the message entrusted to her by Christ, the Church needs art. Art must make perceptible, and as far as possible attractive, the world of the spirit, of the invisible, of God. It must therefore translate into meaningful terms that which is in itself ineffable. Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen. It does so without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery.” — “Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists”
8. Flannery O’Connor on the Necessity of the Supernatural in the Heart of the Author
“Where there is no belief in the soul there is very little drama. The Christian novelist is distinguished from his pagan colleagues by recognizing sin as sin. According to his heritage he sees it not as sickness or an accident of environment, but as a responsible choice of offense against God which involves his eternal future.” –Flannery O’Connor, “Novelist and Believer” Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose,(New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1969), 167.
8 quotes by various Popes explaining the power and necessity of the Rosary in the Catholic life.
Listers, the following list catalogues a sampling of papal statements about the importance of the Rosary. SPL was started in October – the Month of the Holy Rosary – and will continue to post lists honoring Our Lady and the Rosary.
“It has always been the habit of Catholic in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in Her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God. And truly the Immaculate Virgin, chosen to be the Mother of God and thereby associated with Him in the work of man’s salvation, has a favour and power with Her Son greater than any human or angelic creature has ever obtained, or ever can gain…” ~Pope Leo XIII
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the: Mother of God; a Perpetual Virgin,; Immaculate in all Her ways; Queen of Heaven and Earth; Mother of the true Church; the Mediatrix of all grace; and Co-Redemptrix. The Litany of Loreto gives us several titles of the Blessed Mother that better describe Her role in our salvation. One that has shown favor with both Saints and Supreme Pontiffs is that of “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.” From this simple title stems various others such as: Virgin Most Powerful, Help of Christians, August Queen, Refuge of Sinners, Seat of Wisdom, and Cause of our joy.
Pope Leo XIII has written several Apostolic Letters on the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one that comes highly recommended is “Supremi Apostolatus Officio.”
“This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven, has never forth with such brilliancy as when the militant Church of Go has seemed to be endangered by the violence of heresy spread abroad, or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies. Ancient and modern history and the more sacred annals of the Church bears witness to public and private supplications addressed to the Mother of God, to help She has granted in return, and to the peace and tranquillity which She has obtained from God.”~Pope Leo XIII
6 Quotes: Pope Leo’s Predecessors on the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Urban IV: testified that “every day the Rosary obtained fresh boon for Christianity.”
Sixtus IV: declared that this method of prayer “redounded the honour of God and the Blessed Virgin, and was well suited to obviate impending dangers.”
Leo X: that “it was instituted to oppose pernicious heresiarchs and heresies.”
Julius II: call it: “the glory of the Church.”
St. Pius V: that “with the spread of this devotion the meditations of the faithful have begun to be more inflamed, their prayers more fervent, and they have suddenly become different men; the darkness of heresy has been dissipated, and the light of the Catholic faith has been broken forth again.”
Gregory XIII: in his turn pronounced that “the Rosary has been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.”
Saint Louis de Montfort
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.” Saint Louis de Montfort
“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.” Saint Louis de Montfort
“The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” Sister Lucia dos Santos, Fatima seer
“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche
“The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen
“When people love and recite the Rosary they find it makes them better.” St. Anthony Mary Claret
“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” Pope Pius XI
“Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.”
St. Padre Pio
“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” Bishop Hugh Doyle
“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” St. Josemaria Escriva
“If you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path.” St. Josemaria Escriva
“Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” St. Josemaria Escriva
“You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God.” St. Josemaria Escriva
“There is another related in the Chronicles of St. Dominic. Near Carcassonne, where St. Dominic was preaching the Rosary, there was an unfortunate heretic who was possessed by a multitude of devils. These evil spirits to their confusion were compelled at the command of our Lady to confess many great and consoling truths concerning devotion to her. They did this so clearly and forcibly that, however weak our devotion to our Lady may be, we cannot read this authentic story containing such an unwilling tribute paid by the devils to devotion to our Lady without shedding tears of joy.” Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary
“They will have the two-edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in their whole behaviour.” Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, speaking of the great Saints of the end times
“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” Saint Padre Pio
“The Rosary is the most beautiful and richest of all prayers to the Mediatrix of all grace; it is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God. Say it each day.” Pope Saint Pius X
“Among the various supplications with which we successfully appeal to the Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary without doubt occupies a special and distinct place. This prayer, which some call the Psalter of the Virgin or Breviary of the Gospel and of Christian life, was described and recommended by Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII” Pope Pius XI
“I saw souls falling into hell like snowflakes.” – St. Teresa of Avila
Listers, the following saintly quotes focus on the narrow path of salvation and the fewness of those who will apparently achieve the heavenly reward. In an era that consistently opines a broad if not universal path to salvation, it is difficult but necessary to remind ourselves of the grim reality of hell.
While thinking of hell, let us call to mind the Fatima prayer:
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.
Be one of the small number who find the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven. Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost. Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.
Falling into Hell Like Snowflakes
St. Teresa of Avila
I had the greatest sorrow for the many souls that condemned themselves to Hell, especially those Lutherans. […] I saw souls falling into hell like snowflakes.
Wheat & Chaff
The Lord called the world a “field” and all the faithful who draw near to him “wheat.” All through the field, and around the threshing-floor, there is both wheat and chaff. But the greater part is chaff; the lesser part is wheat, for which is prepared a barn not a fire. […] The good also are many, but in comparison with the wicked the good are few. Many are the grains of wheat, but compared with the chaff, the grains are few.
The Burning Wicked
Pope St. Gregory the Great
The more the wicked abound, so much the more must we suffer with them in patience; for on the threshing floor few are the grains carried into the barns, but high are the piles of chaff burned with fire.
St. Francis Xavier
How many souls turn away from the road to glory, and go to hell!
Even Those Within Our Walls
Pope St. Gregory the Great
There are many who arrive at the faith, but few who are led into the heavenly kingdom. Behold how many are gathered here for today’s Feast-Day: we fill the church from wall to wall. Yet who knows how few they are who shall be numbered in that chosen company of the Elect?
Slaves of the Devil
St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori
The greater number of men still say to God: Lord we will not serve Thee; we would rather be slaves of the devil, and condemned to Hell, than be Thy servants. Alas! The greatest number, my Jesus – we may say nearly all – not only do not love Thee, but offend Thee and despise Thee. How many countries there are in which there are scarcely any Catholics, and all the rest either infidels or heretics! And all of them are certainly on the way to being lost.
St. Anthony Mary Claret
A multitude of souls fall into the depths of Hell, and it is of the faith that all who die in mortal sin are condemned for ever and ever. According to statistics, approximately 80,000 persons die every day. How many of these will die in mortal sin, and how many will be condemned! For, as their lives have been, so also will be their end.
As a man lives, so shall he die.
The Living Damned
St. Vincent de Paul
Ah! A great many persons live constantly in the state of damnation!
“The truth about the good supplies by the Christian tradition becomes an insight of human reason and hence a rational principle.”
Listers, the following quotes are taken from a collection of political speeches given by Cardinal Ratzinger. SPL highly recommends the work entitled Values in a Time of Upheaval.
1. Ghostly Existence of Marxism
“In place of utopian dreams and ideals, today we find a pragmatism that is determined to extract from the world the maximum satisfaction possible. This, however, does not make it pointless to consider once again the characteristics of the secular messianism that appeared on the world stage in Marxism, because it still leads a ghostly existence deep in the souls of many people, and it has the potential to emerge again and again in new forms.” (17)
2. Realm of Reason: Peace & Justice
“Politics is the realm of reason – not of a merely technological, calculating reason, but of moral reason, since the goal of the state, and hence the ultimate goal of all politics, has a moral nature, namely, peace and justice.” (24)
3. Human Nature Remains the Same
“Man, precisely as man, remains the same both in primitive and in technologically developed situations. He does not stand on a higher level merely because he has learned to use more highly developed tools.” (25)
4. The Idol of Freedom
“Freedom is often thought of as something anarchical, something simply opposed to institutions. This makes it an idol, since human freedom can never be anything other than a freedom expressed in the right way of living in common – freedom in justice. Otherwise, it becomes a lie and leads to slavery.” (26)
5. Last Acceptable Form of Bigotry
“We can be very grateful that no one in our country can permit himself to mock that which is holy to Jews or Muslims. But many seem to view as one of the basic rights of human freedom the right to pull down from its pedestal what Christians regard as holy and to heap it with ridicule.” (28)
6. Freedom Tempered by Law and the Good
“Freedom preserves its dignity only as long as it retains the relationship to its ethical foundations and to its ethical task. A freedom that consisted solely in the possibility of satisfying one’s needs would not be human freedom, since it would remain in the animal realm. An individual freedom without substance dissolves into meaninglessness, since the individual’s freedom can exist only in an order of freedoms. Freedom requires a communal substance, which we could define as the guaranteeing of human rights. We can put this in other terms: the very essence of the concept of “freedom” demands that it be complemented by two other concepts, those of law and of the good.” (48)
7. The Rational Principle of Man
“The truth about the good supplies by the Christian tradition becomes an insight of human reason and hence a rational principle.” (64)
8. The Objectivity of the Conscience
“Rather, conscience signifies the perceptible and commanding presence of the voice of truth in the subject itself. Conscience means the abolition of mere subjectivity when man’s intimate sphere is touched by the truth that comes from God.” (86)
9. The Man of Conscience
“A man of conscience is one who never purchases comfort, well-being, success, public prestige, or approval by prevalent opinion if the price is the renunciation of truth.” (87)
10. The Advocate of Christian Memory
“The true meaning of the teaching authority of the pope is that he is the advocate of Christian memory. He does not impose something from the outside but develops and defends Christian memory.” (95)
“The state is not itself the source of truth and morality […] Nor can it produce truth via the majority.”
2.The Good and the Truth
“The goal of the state cannot consists in a freedom without defined contents. In order to establish a meaningful and viable ordering of life in society, the state requires a minimum of truth, of knowledge of the good, that cannot be manipulated.”
3. The State Is Not the Source
“Accordingly, the state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good.”
4. Law Is A Dictate of Reason
“This ‘outside’ might, in the best possible scenario, be the pure insight of reason. It would be the task of an independent philosophy to cultivate this insight and keep watch over it. In practice, however, such a pure rational evidential quality independent of history does not exist […] In fact, all states have recognized and applied moral reason on the basis of antecedent religious traditions, which also provided moral education.”
5. Rational Moral Faith
“Christian faith has proved to be the most universal and rational religious culture. Even today, it offers reason the basic structure of moral insight which, if it does not actually lead to some kind of evidential quality, at least furnishes the basis of a rational moral faith without which no society can endure.”
6. The Church Informs But Cannot Become
“Accordingly, as I have already observed, the state receives its basic support from outside: not from a mere reason that is inadequate in the moral realm, but from a reason that has come to maturity in the historical form of faith […] By merging with the state, the Church would destroy both the essence of the state and its own essence.”
7. Church & State
“The Church remains something “outside” the state, for only thus can both Church and state be what they are meant to be. Like the state, the Church too must remain in its own proper place and within its boundaries. It must respect its own being and its own freedom, precisely in order to be able to perform for the state the serve that the latter requires. The Church must exert itself with all its vigor so that in it there may shine forth the moral truth that it offers to the state and that ought to become evident to the citizens of the state. This truth must be vigorous within the Church, and it must form men, for only then it will have the power to convince others and to be a force working like a leaven for all of society.”
“I believe in an America… where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope.”
Listers, the following quotes are taken from the now (in)famous speech then Presidential-Candidate John F. Kennedy delivered to a gathering of Protestant ministers on the subject of Catholicism, politics and the presidency. The entire transcript was posted by National Public Radio online at the courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The speech imports great insight into how Catholicism and politics were touted to the country at large, and that protestant suspicions of Catholic politicians were assuaged by assuring an absolute severing of Catholic religious life from political life . JFK’s statements are commonly taken as the nascent stages or even birth pangs of the “Catholic Left” that has carved out a stronghold in American politics.
On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy’s Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy.
1. Political and Religious Life Are Separate
“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”
2. Niether Request or Accept Papal Guidance
“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”
3. Today I am the Victim, Tomorrow You
“For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.”
4. When There Is No Catholic Vote
“Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.”
5. Absolute Separation of Church and State
“I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition, to judge me on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress, on my declared stands against an ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I have attended myself)— instead of judging me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we all have seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and always omitting, of course, the statement of the American Bishops in 1948, which strongly endorsed church-state separation, and which more nearly reflects the views of almost every American Catholic.”
6. The Church Does Not Speak for Me
“But let me stress again that these are my views. For contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.”
The following is a recording of most of the famous Houston speech:
“Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.”
Pope St. Gregory
Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. St. Augustine
The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection. Pope St. Gregory
Learn the heart of God from the word of God. Pope St. Gregory
Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade. Pope St. Gregory 1
Holy Scripture by the manner of its language transcends every science, because in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery. Pope St. Gregory
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people. G.K. Chesterton
An unjust law is no law at all – we will not and cannot not comply.
Listers, the HHS mandate has jolted the soporific Catholic Church in America into action. We are at war. We are in a multi-front conflict that cannot be reduced to violations of religious liberty. The Church is calling the faithful to stand against the scourge of abortion, the unnatural and artificial recreation of marriage and family, and the inalienable right for Catholics to worship God in the mass and serve him in the poor according to the truth of the Gospels. As our world abandons God and natural law for the dictatorship of relativism, Holy Mother Church is calling us to defend the faith and to promote that which is natural and rational in man.
Spread the faith. Spread the truth. Let people know where you stand. Do not be afraid.
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UPDATE 02/10/12: Mea culpa. Thanks to Josh McManaway in the comments and @JWY80 on Twitter for the reminder that “‘cum’ semper requirit casum ablativum.”
3. We Cannot – We Will Not – Comply
Echoing the words of our Bishops and the leaders of many Catholic institutions.
4. An Unjust Law is No Law
One of St. Augustine’s most famous quotes seems more applicable now than ever before in the history of the United States.
5. The Church Has Outlived Every Major Empire. Think Twice.
This isn’t the first time we have stood up and had to pay for it. We’re not going anywhere.
6. The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail – Matthew 16:18
7. If “What Goes On” In The Bedroom Doesn’t Affect Me, Why Make Me Pay For It?
8. Pregnancy Is Not A Disease
9. “Give me an army praying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” – Blessed Pope Pius IX
10. BONUS: Keep Calm and Catholic On
Facebook Timeline Cover Images
Here are three images sized specifically for Facebook Timeline Cover Images. (You can thank Lister Tammy who made this suggestion in the comments. Be sure to click the image and then save the full-sized version!
Listers, we’ve recreated our popular Keep Calm and Catholic On graphic. The papal tiara is an original SPL design and red will be the new theme color. We will soon begin production of this graphic on various SPL merchandise.
In the midst of all the troubles and anxieties we as Catholics now face in this modernist world, please remember to faithfully attend mass, pray the rosary and most of all – Keep Calm and Catholic On.