Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 18, The Christopher Way

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To appreciate the Christopher way.

The Idea: Christopher means Christ-Bearer. Any­one can be a Christopher, if he will just decide to do something to make the world better instead of sitting and com­plaining that the world is growing worse.

How will a Christopher choose a vocation? He will start with an eagerness, with a sense of dedication. He will ask : "In what work will I be able to do the most good for others?" I am not aiming mainly at money, but at doing good and stirring others to want to help. Where can I most influence others? The Christophers propose four fields where our influence can be tremendous: education, government, writing, and labor ­management. The dedicated enemies of God rush to take over these fields. Will I let them have complete charge?

My Personal Application: "That work will profit me most?" is an indication that "self" is ruling me. I might read Careers Which Change Your World. It has put many young people on fire toward choosing an heroic work in life. Why not me? A priest or religious is not the only one who can change the world. It's up to me too!

I Speak to God: Whatever my choice, God, let it light the way to you for others. Help me see the evil of the world, and give me the strength to choose to light a candle for men!

Thought for Today: "lt is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Priest: The Catholic Liturgy in America is in 'State of Emergency'

Forty years have gone by since the Second Vatican Council concluded its work. The 16 conciliar documents have brought about many changes in the Catholic Church. One of the most visible changes is the way the Mass in the Latin rite is celebrated.

Unfortunately, shortly after the close of the council, the liturgical reforms the council set in motion have been upset by ignorance, misinterpretation, and even infidelity. The liturgy in America has become an ongoing battle between three groups of Catholics.

One group rejects the Missal of Pope Paul VI. Another group has misconstrued the liturgical norms of the missal and continues to spread errors and abuses that have nothing to do with the liturgy. Yet another group attempts to show the importance and beauty of the liturgical changes brought about by the council through a delicate fidelity to all the liturgical norms of the Church.

at Matt Abbot's page...

Gospel for Saturday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 9:2-13

The Transfiguration

[2] And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them, [3] and His garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth bleach them. [4] And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. [5] And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah." [6] For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. [7] And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son; listen to Him." [8] And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. [9] And as they were coming down the mountain, He charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man should have risen from the dead. [10] So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. [11] And they asked Him, "Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" [12] And He said to them, "Elijah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of Man, that He should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? [13] But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."


2-10. We contemplate in awe this manifestation of the glory of the Son of God to three of His disciples. Ever since the Incarnation, the divinity of our Lord has usually been hidden behind His humanity. But Christ wishes to show, to these favorite disciples, who will later be pillars of the Church, the splendor of His divine glory, in order to encourage them to follow the difficult way that lies ahead, fixing their gaze on the happy goal which is awaiting them at the end. This is why, as St. Thomas comments (cf. "Summa Theologia", III, q. 45, a. 1), it was appropriate for Him to give them an insight into His glory. The fact that the Transfiguration comes immediately after the first announcement of His passion, and His prophetic words about how His followers would also have to carry His cross, shows us that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

What happened at the Transfiguration? To understand this miraculous event in Christ's life, we must remember that in order to redeem us by His passion and death our Lord freely renounced divine glory and became man, assuming flesh which was capable of suffering and which was not glorious, becoming like us in every way except sin (cf. Hebrew 4:15). In the Transfiguration, Jesus Christ willed that the glory which was His as God and which His soul had from the moment of the Incarnation, should miraculously become present in His body. "We should learn from Jesus' attitude in these trials. During His life on earth He did not even want the glory that belong to Him. Though He had the right to be treated as God, He took the form of a servant, a slave (cf. Philippians 2:6)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 62). Bearing in mind WHO became man (the divinity of the person and the glory of His soul), it was appropriate for His body to be glorious; given the PURPOSE of His Incarnation, it was not appropriate, usually, for His glory to be evident. Christ shows His glory in the Transfiguration in order to move us to desire the divine glory which will be given us so that, having this hope, we too can understand "that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

2. According to Deuteronomy (19:15), to bear witness to anything the evidence of two or three must concur. Perhaps this is why Jesus wanted three Apostles to be present. It should be pointed out that these three Apostles were specially loved by Him; they were with Him also at the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37) and will also be closest to Him during His agony at Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Cf. note on Matthew 17:1-13.

7. This is how St. Thomas Aquinas explains the meaning of the Transfiguration: "Just as in Baptism, where the mystery of the first regeneration was proclaimed, the operation of the whole Trinity was made manifest, because the Son Incarnate was there, the Holy Spirit appeared under the form of a dove, and the Father made Himself known in the voice; so also in the Transfiguration, which is the sign of the second regeneration [the Resurrection], the whole Trinity appears--the Father in the voice, the Son in the man, the Holy Spirit in the bright cloud; for just as in Baptism He confers innocence, as signified by the simplicity of the dove, so in the Resurrection will He give His elect the clarity of glory and the refreshment from every form of evil, as signified by the bright cloud" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 45, 1.4 ad 2). For, really, the Transfiguration was in some way an anticipation not only of Christ's glorification but also of ours. As St. Paul says, "it is the same Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:16-17).

10. That the dead would rise was already revealed in the Old Testament (cf. Daniel 12:2-3; 2 Maccabees 7:9; 12:43) and was believed by pious Jews (cf. John 11:23-25). However, they were unable to understand the profound truth of the death and Resurrection of the Lord: they expected a glorious and triumphant Messiah, despite the prophecy that He would suffer and die (cf. Isaiah 53). Hence the Apostles' oblique approach; they too do not dare to directly question our Lord about His Resurrection.

11-13. The scribes and Pharisees interpret the messianic prophecy in Malachi (3:1-2) as meaning that Elijah will appear in person, dramatically, to be followed by the all-triumphant Messiah, with no shadow of pain or humiliation. Jesus tells them that Elijah has indeed come, in the person of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:13) and has prepared the way of the Messiah, a way of pain and suffering.

Verse 12 is a question which Jesus puts to His disciples, but they should really have asked it themselves, had they realized that Christ's Resurrection presupposed the Messiah's suffering and death. Since they fail to ask it, Jesus does, to teach them that He like Elijah (that is, John the Baptist) must experience suffering before entering His glory.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 17, First Principle in Choosing

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To realize the importance of laying a firm foundation in choosing my life's work.

The Idea: When we meditated on those basic questions of life back in October, we penetrated to the source of our life and its logical goal - ­God Himself.

Now let's suppose the president of a corporation put a million dollars in our keeping - with one condition. Someday he would want it all re­turned. But till then we could invest it as we liked. What would be the uppermost thought in our mind as we looked around for an investment? What will be the guiding principle of any investment I make? "This million must go back."

Working on this principle, I would put the trust in a safe investment which would give me good returns. I'd also keep in mind that the sum could be recalled any time. This would keep me from wild speculation.

My Personal Application: Actually, I've been given that million to invest - my whole life, my soul! But it's mine only as a trust. It really belongs to God. He's given it to me to invest in some vocation. Someday He is going to ask a return. What's the rock-bottom principle that must guide my choice? It's so simple; it's so logical: "Life is from God - for God." My choice must begin there!

I Speak to God: Yes, it's all so simple on paper, my God. But help me work into my very being the principle that my life came forth as a flash of your will. And so it's really yours. I want to invest it in something worthwhile, in something that will assure me good returns - heaven!

Thought for Today: "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Standard of Morality, Part III

III. False Standards

a. Determinism or Necessarianism. - Determinism is the doctrine that every action of man's will is not only influenced but wholly predetermined by antecedent condi­tions internal and external, and is the necessary resultant of physical forces beyond man's control. According to determinism, therefore, man can in no instance actively determine his own choice between two lines of conduct; and the universal conviction (implied in the laws and liter­ature of all nations) that man is possessed of a free will, i.e., capable of human actions as we have defined them, is a universal delusion.

This is a false and pernicious theory. It is opposed not only to the judgment of the common sense of mankind, but to those evident facts of each man's consciousness to which we appealed in proving that man is capable of free deliberate actions. We may present another fact. It is perfectly evident that there is an absolute moral obligation to observe the moral law forbidding blasphemy, trea­son, calumny, murder, theft, etc. The law has been vio­lated. If we deny that man is capable of free choice, we must hold that, in every instance, the violation was the necessary resultant of physical forces beyond the control of the transgressor and that, under the circumstances, he could not but commit the transgression and violate the law.

We must suppose, therefore, that he was under an absolute moral obligation to avoid an action which it was physically impossible for him to avoid - an utterly absurd supposition.

That determinism is not only a false but very pernicious doctrine is evident from the fact that, while wishing to retain the name of freedom, the determinist rejects the reality. He is thus logically forced to identify moral freedom with physical freedom, moral law with physi­cal law, moral good and evil with physical good and evil, moral obligation with physical necessity, moral right with physical might, moral vices with physical defects, morally imputable effects with physically attributable effects.

Determinists have vainly striven to show a difference between their doctrine and that of the fatalist. Deter­minism is fatalism. While proposing various standards of morality, the determinists implicitly deny the very existence of morality, which is a quality of free deliberate conduct. This false and pernicious doctrine is implied in any philo­sophical or scientific system or theory or hypothesis that either explicitly or implicitly denies the existence in man of a simple spiritual substantial soul really distinct frem the material body.

b. Moral Positivism. - Moral Positivism is the doctrine that there is no intrinsic and essential difference between morally good and morally bad actions, morally right and morally wrong human conduct. The positivist denies that any action is intrinsically and essentially good or bad. He holds that the distinction between moral goodness and moral badness, moral right and moral wrong, had its origin in some law, or custom, or prevailing opinion, or experi­ence, not necessarily consequent on man's existence in the universe.

According to this theory, therefore, all that we now hold to be morally good we might have perceived to be morally bad, had our antecedent experience or that of the human race or of our pre-human anthropoidal ancestors been different: and it is not impossible that in some dis­tant future age perjury and treason and murder and lying and hatred of God and of fellow man will be altogether befitting man and good moral conduct.

Moral Positivism, in all its various forms, is a false and absurd doctrine. This is evident from what we have said regarding the moral order, which is based on the intrinsic essential nature of things and is the true objective criterion of morality - really identical with rational human nature adequately taken. That order is as immutable as are the essential natures that constitute the universe of being.

And many of the essential relations that exist between beings, fundamental relations of the moral order, are so evident that even the most depraved savages could not fail to perceive that there are some actions essentially and absolutely opposed to the moral order and therefore ab­solutely and necessarily forbidden by the Supreme Orderer of the universe. We are perfectly conscious that it is the same translucent evidence that motives our judgments re­garding the intrinsic essential moral turpitude of blasphemy and murder and treason and perjury and calumny and ingratitude and innumerable other actions. Here there is no question of blind instinct or mental illusion engendered by past experience.

There is a clear conscious apprehen­sion of the objective truth, of an evident fact. We clearly perceive that no law or lawgiver or custom or convention or development or condition of things could make those actions morally good, befitting a man, conducive to the supreme purpose for which man exists as a part of the existing order.

Moral Positivism is not, therefore, based on positive facts. It owes its origin to a vain endeavor to defend false scientific theories. This is true of the moral positivism of Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, Comte, Bentham, J. S. Mill, Spencer, and innumerable modem authors and university professors who have subscribed to a false atheistic evolu­tionism or an equally false and pernicious liberalism.

c. Utilitarianism. - Utilitarianism is the doctrine that a human action is morally good in so far as it is useful as a means to some end. What end? Utilitarians reply that an action is morally good in so far as and precisely because it contributes to the true happiness or welfare or develop­ment of the individual and therefore of the race. This reply provokes a further question. By what standard or criterion are we to be guided in judging whether a human action does or does not make for man's true happiness, true welfare, true development? Utilitarians propose a standard. Indeed, they propose various standards or cri­teria, for they are not at one on this fundamental point. In doing so, they either exclude or entirely prescind from man's immediate relation to God.

This is the basic error of utilitarianism. Followed out to its logical consequences, it would lead to the explicit denial of God and of man's eternal destiny. It is, therefore, a most pernicious ethical theory. A theory of human conduct that does not take into account the evident fact that man is primarily and directly and immediately ordained for God's external glory, implicitly ignores man's true position in the universe and the supreme purpose for which man exists. An action makes for the perfect man and therefore for the perfect race, for the true happiness and welfare and development of man, and is a morally good action, just in so far as through it and in it is being realized the supreme end or good, the supreme pur­pose, the Creator had in view in endowing man with the power of doing the action. That purpose is realized in the human action only in so far as the action is in due accord with the essential order established by God, i.e., with the essential relations that arise out of man's nature and his ac­tual position in the created universe.

An action opposed to that order is morally bad and therefore opposed to man's true happiness and development, no matter what the tem­poral advantage which may possibly accrue through it to the individual or the race. Such advantage is gained at the sacrifice of God's design, and therefore of God's glory and man's true well-being. Hence, as we have already demonstrated, the essential order established by God and made evident to man is the standard or criterion by which we can judge unerringly whether an action is or is not morally good and consequently whether it does or does not make for man's true happiness, true welfare, true develop­ment.

Finally, the essential order is a standard or criterion of morality precisely and only because it enables us to judge unerringly of the relation of the human action to the supreme purpose God had in view in granting the power to do the action. The moral goodness of the action consists in the fulfilling of that purpose. Only as such is the action the finite participation, the external manifes­tation, of divine perfection intended by God through and in that particular exercise of man's free will. The action is perfective of man as man, morally good, precisely be­cause through it and in it is realized the perfection God willed to effect -through man's free activity. By such ex­ercise of his free will man becomes more like to the infinite prototype and source of all beauty and perfection, his eternal Creator.

A specious argument advanced in favor of utilitarianism is that, as God (if He exists) evidently intends the happi­ness of man, that happiness may be taken, if not as the end and basis of morality, at least as the criterion of moral­ity. There is need of a distinction. God has certainly decreed perfect and eternal happiness as a reward for the observance of the order He has established. It is also certain that the observance of the moral order, morally good conduct, makes for the true advancement and happi­ness of the human race even here on earth. God, therefore, in decreeing the observance, wills the advancement and happiness naturally consequent on that observance.

But it is false to imply that we can distinguish between the true happiness and development of man, to which God wills man to attain here on earth, and that which He does not will, without having recourse to the true standard and criterion of morality which we have established and to which we have referred in the preceding paragraph. As an end or purpose morally good in itself does not justify a means that is morally bad, in other words, as man can­not by deliberate choice advance through morally bad means to a morally good end without soiling himself mor­ally, so it is false to imply that any present or future advantage or happiness of the individual or the State or the entire race of man can ever justify an action that is op­posed to the smallest detail of the order founded on the essences of things and decreed by the infinite Creator.

Moreover, in that order neither man nor man's free action is subordinated to the State or to Humanity as to the su­preme end to be attained through man's activity here on earth. The supreme good to be effected by man through and in each deliberate action here on earth is the observ­ance of the moral order. That observance is God's exter­nal glory, an external manifestation through man's free action of God's infinite goodness. Only with this fact in view can we duly estimate the befittingness or unbefitting­ness of human conduct. A criterion, therefore, that pre­scinds from this fact is not a criterion of the morality of human conduct.

d. Kantianism. - Kant's ethical theory, the "autonomy of reason," is based on a false interpretation of the dic­tates of reason, i.e., of the practical judgments of the hu­man intellect or reason in which the individual applies the universal principles of the moral law to his own conduct in particular cases. Through reason man perceives the ob­jective law, an imperative decree of his legitimate superior, and the relation of this or that particular action to the law, i.e., whether it does or does not come under the law
or the just command of his legitimate superior.

Thus through reason the law is promulgated and our obligation made manifest. The practical judgment is a judgment of right reason, just in so far as it is a judgment based on objective truth, i.e., on objective evidence of the existence and meaning and application of the law. It is correctly called a dictate or imperative command of reason, just in so far as it is the expression of what we are certain is the imperative will of one invested with due authority to im­pose a moral obligation upon us, i.e., of our superior.

According to Kant's theory of the "autonomy of reason," the supreme standard and law of morality is an absolute universal command, a "categoric imperative," issuing from and imposed on q1an by his own reason. Precisely as such is it to be obeyed, and not because the imperative dictate of reason expresses a command of another person distinct from ourself, i.e., not because it is the command of God or of a superior who has authority from God to restrict the use of our physical liberty.

The law and the obliga­tion are from within, not from without. Practical human reason, with which Kant identifies the rational will in man, is the source of all moral obligation and moral goodness. The absolute dictate of one's own reason has within itself, considered apart from all external authority and from any end other than itself, the sufficient reason for its being a supreme law. That law is to be obeyed simply because it is the law, for its own sake, and not because it is a means to an end, not because in the observance of the law we are realizing the supreme purpose or good for which God created us. Only then is man's conduct morally good, when man complies with the dictate of human reason pre­cisely because it is a dictate of human reason.

We said that this is a false interpretation of the dictates of reason. Thus to place the supreme motive of human conduct within man or man's practical reason or his rational will is to imply that man is identified with God or that God does not exist. The pernicious trend of Kant's philosophy is evident in the pantheistic and atheistic hy­potheses excogitated by those who have come under the influence of his teaching. Hence, too, that false rational­ism which conceives the human understanding to be the sole source and final test of all truth, to the exclusion of all faith founded on divine supernatural revelation.

From the proofs we advanced of the existence of God and the immortality of the human soul, and from what we have said regarding the Moral Order and the True Standard of Morality, it is clear that the common sense of mankind has not erred in its interpretation of the dic­tates of right reason. They are founded on the objectively evident order established by God, through which order are clearly indicated God's intention and will in our re­gard, His divine natural law and the restrictions it imposes on the use of our free will.

In observing the law we are glorifying God and meriting the supreme happiness God has proposed as a reward for a life well spent here on earth. God has created man for God's external glory and man's eternal happiness, and He has implanted in man's nature an innate desire for happiness. He proposes eternal glory and happiness as a reward for the due observance of His law and has decreed punishment for its violation. It is absurd, therefore, to maintain that man's action is not morally good if his motive for doing it is to glorify God or to merit eternal happiness or to avoid the punishment decreed by God as a deterring motive.

e. Moral Evolutionism. - In our proof of the existence of God we demonstrated that the primal source of all finite beings is an absolutely immutable Being. That demonstra­tion is sufficient proof of the inherent absurdity of the pantheistical theories of Spinoza and Fichte, of Hegel and Schelling, of Green and Royce and Bergson, of the innu­merable modern exponents of what is called the "transcendental evolution of the Absolute." They postulate a changeable something, real or ideal, or change itself as the primal source of all phenomena in the universe.

In demonstrating that the principle of life in man is a spiritual, substantial, immortal principle endowed with free will, we have proved the absurdity of any biological or psychological theory of evolution which supposes man to have been gradually developed out of some form of an­thropoid beast. From the same proofs it is clear that any evolutionary theory (biological or psychological or tran­scendental) that implies the negation of free will, is false and opposed to evident facts.*

The various ethical theories based on these false evolu­tionary hypotheses are as absurd as the assumptions from which they are deduced. Their advocates have striven in vain to give an adequate explanation of our concepts of moral good and evil, moral right and duty, moral obligation and responsibility, moral law. According to the explana­tions proposed all our moral concepts implying freedom of the will are illusions into which we have been evolved. Such an explanation is subversive of all morality. Herbert Spencer is a leading advocate of the common evolutionist doctrine that the long-continued experience of our brute ancestors of the pleasure attaching to certain actions is the ultimate reason and scientific explanation of our clearly perceiving those actions as absolutely obligatory, as a duty to be done at all costs, even though it should entail the greatest pain and the loss of life itself and all earthly happiness. No account is taken of the evident fact that man is endowed with a mind capable of perceiving the order established by God, his own position in that order, his relation to God.

Without questioning their earnestness or sincerity, we may call attention to the fact that keen exponents of moral evolutionism are capable of expressing vague meaningless formulae in terse dignified language, of skillfully introducing into the exposition of their false theories elo­quent expressions of true principles, and, by attaching new meanings to common ethical terms, of rendering the full import of their false theory far less obvious.

* From the Bible (the Old Testament and the New) we may glean true and certain knowledge of man's origin, his primal state, his first sin and its consequences, the descent of the human race from one pair (Adam and Eve), the degeneration caused by man's gross and continued violation of the order established by God.

As the individual, so the race of man is capable of moral growth and of moral decay. Only by having recourse to the true stand­ard of morality, the evident order established by God, can we distinguish the one from the other.


Adapted from Moral Philosophy
by Rev Charles Coppen, S.J.
(© 1924)

St. Louis University Joins Opposition to Vagina Monologues on Catholic Campuses

Great news from SLU, at least according to the Cardinal Newman Society:

February 15, 2007

More than a year after the University of Notre Dame's president denounced The Vagina Monologues for its "graphic descriptions of homosexual, extramarital heterosexual and autoerotic experiences," Notre Dame students have been forced to move the play off campus. Likewise, students at Saint Louis University have moved their Monologues performance off campus after the university provost refused to support it.
. . .
The provost of Saint Louis University blamed "outside complaints" for his refusal to support the play. Students rejected his offer to support a more appropriate play.
One less prayer vigil at SLU for Catholics in the St Louis Archdiocese, it seems.

More here...

Guidelines on Defections Published in English

Vatican Document Describes Elements of Formal Acts

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2007 ( The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has published in English the clarified guidelines for baptized Catholics who formally separate from the Church.

Cardinal Julián Herranz, the then president of the pontifical council, issued a statement on formal acts of defection from the Church last March. The English text now appears at


Mar 24 - Eucharistic Conference wit Fr Benedict Groeschel

Father Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, will be discuss "Eucharistic Adoration: An Extension of Holy Mass" at a Lay Eucharistic Conference on Saturday, March 24, at the Cedars at St. Raymond Maronite Cathedral, 931 Lebanon Drive in Downtown St. Louis.

The conference will begin with 9 a.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop Raymond Burke and will end with holy hour and Benediction at 3 p.m. Cost is $20, which includes lunch. The Archbishop’s Committee on Eucharistic Adoration is the sponsor.

For information or registration, call (314) 846-8207, ext. 200.

Feb 25 - Seminary Open House

Sunday, February 25th, 2007, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

On Sunday, February 25, 2007, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary will be hosting its third annual Open House, inviting the public to visit the seminarians, take a tour of the Seminary building, and relax on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Tours will be given from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., and there will be refreshments served.

Meet the priests of tomorrow... today: Explore the Seminary grounds, meet your future priests, find out more about Seminary Life, and take a guided tour with your family. All are invited!

For more information, please call the Seminary at 314-792-6100.

Pastoral Letter: On the Observance of the Holy Season of Lent

This is a Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Raymond L Burke:
On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Church throughout the world begins her annual observance of the Season of Lent. During Lent, we go with Christ into the desert to be fortified in our relationship of love of God and one another. By more intense prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we are fortified in our love and more generous in our love. Lent is the annual time of strong grace for renewal in the Christian life through more intense prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 Lenten Message, invites us to recognize in the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus the sign of God’s love for us, His thirst "for the love of every one of us." May our Lenten observance lead us to Christ, to His open Heart, to receive in abundance the gift of God’s love, so that we, in turn, may bring God’s love to our neighbors, especially those most in need. May we follow the exhortation of our Holy Father to make Lent, above all, "a Eucharistic time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed."

During Holy Mass on Ash Wednesday, the blessed ashes will be imposed on our foreheads in the form of the Cross. The imposition of ashes reminds us that, through the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we receive the grace to purify our hearts of sin.

I urge you to unite your heart with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the Heart of Christ in His unfailing love of God and neighbor by taking up with new enthusiasm and energy the Lenten spiritual practices: daily Mass, if possible; the regular confession of sins in the Sacrament of Penance; and the praying of the Stations of the Cross and the rosary.

All Catholics are asked to abstain from eating meat and to fast, in accord with Church discipline and their personal ability to do so. Through these and other forms of discipline, let us purify our hearts for a more generous and selfless love of others and a more faithful stewardship of our world.

I invoke God’s blessing upon you and your home, with the prayer that God will bless abundantly your observance of the holy Season of Lent.

Yours devotedly in Christ,
(Most Rev.) Raymond L. Burke
Archbishop of St. Louis

Archbishop Burke issues Church’s Lent regulations

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has issued the following information regarding the Church’s Lenten regulations:

Ash Wednesday (Feb. 21) and Good Friday (April 6) are days of fast and abstinence. Fasting means taking only one full meal and two lesser meals, with nothing to eat in between. Abstinence means not eating meat.

Catholics who are age 18 to 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, unless there is a serious health reason.

All other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, which applies to all people age 14 and older. Again, Catholics should not hold themselves lightly excused, but the obligation should not apply if there is a serious health problem.
From the St Louis Review

SNAP goes after Bishop Bruskewitz

OMAHA, Neb. - Frustrated by the Catholic Church's handling of its own nationwide sexual abuse scandal, a victim's advocate group on Thursday called on Nebraska church officials to publicly name accused clergy members and admonish a Lincoln bishop whom they say has snubbed reform efforts.

Frustrated? No doubt...

Group members spoke with reporters in front of the chancery office of the Omaha Archdiocese. Clohessy said SNAP did not contact Nebraska's church officials to arrange a visit, but said he has been trying to reach church officials _ including Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz _ for years without reply.

Do Clohessy and SNAP ever contact church officials prior to an ambush? The news media are the only ones they seem to contact prior to their pickets or vigils...One can understand, though, why Bishop Bruskewitz or any other Church official would not respond to them - that would give an them an undeserved legitimacy...

Clohessy and other SNAP officials called Bruskewitz the most resistant bishop in the country when it comes to sex abuse reform.
And Clohessy's proof is what? A more relevant question would be how many victims of pederast priests are there in Lincoln and what has the bishop done about it? My understanding is that he will not tolerate these criminals...

Check Out the New Website

The long-awaited renovation of is finally open, and we'd like you to take a look.

This is a "beta" release, so both the visual presentation and the feature-set are still under development. But it is already richer than the old site, and easier to use as well. Here's what's new:

More Commentary
More columns and a new blog.
A new and growing What You Need to Know feature.

Improved Search
New data to search, such as the Fathers and a Catholic dictionary.
More balanced search results lead you faster to the things you need.
For example, try searching for Eucharist.

New Data Stores
Browse and search the full Catechism.
Look up Catholic terms in Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary.
Browse and search the writings of the Fathers, with each Patristic text described for quick reference.

New Document Collections
Easily-accessible sub-collections from our library:
153 documents from Benedict XVI.
1,728 documents from John Paul II.
More special collections based on user requests.

Improved liturgical calendars and displays

If you do not have Catholic Culture bookmarked, perhaps you should...It's a tremendous resource!

Mar 25-Annual St Joseph's Dinner with Fr. Michael Giesler

Credo of the Catholic Laity and
The Catholic Central Union
are proud to present

Father Michael E. Giesler

Speaking on the Topic

“The Mission of Opus Dei and its Connection to the Lives of The Early Christians.”

Sunday, March 25th at 6:OO p.m.
at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
7750 Carondelet Blvd.
Clayton MO.

Our St. Joseph’s Forum speaker is a priest of the prelature Opus Dei who currently serves as chaplain of the Wespine Study Center in St. Louis. He is the author of several books on Sacred Scripture and the early Christians as well as a series of audio tapes on the marks of the Church and the writings of Pope John Paul II.

Father Giesler obtained his Doctorate in Theology from the University of Navarre (Spain). He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and co-founder of the Midwest Theological Forum an educational service which sponsors conferences and workshops for diocesan priests. He has given many retreats for both diocesan priests and the lay faithful.

Dan Brown’s book The DaVinci Code painted Opus Dei in a bad light. Father Giesler will present the real facts regarding this faithful Catholic organization.

The cost is $20.00 per person.
For more information, visit Credo here.

The Holy Father's Lenten Message

“They shall look on Him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19:37). This is the biblical theme that this year guides our Lenten reflection. Lent is a favourable time to learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life (cf. Jn 19:25). With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God. In the Encyclical Deus caritas est, I dwelt upon this theme of love, highlighting its two fundamental forms: agape and eros.

A Balanced Look at Capital Punishment

If there is one issue where confusion reigns it is the official Catholic position on the death penalty. Many a theologian or social commentator has simplified Church teaching so as to interpret the death penalty as being definitively condemned. Others have made its possible application so theoretical as to render it practically impossible to happen. Such conclusions are misleading.

For a balanced look at this subject based on recent documents which include the then-Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Avery Dulles, read our article, “Is the Church against Both Abortion and the Death Penalty?” Click here for more.
As one who is not opposed to capital punishment for "capital" crimes, this is a welcome reflection, especially today, when so much confusion and erroneous opinions abound.

Gospel for Friday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 8:34-9:1

Christian Renunciation (Continuation)

[34] And He (Jesus) called to Him the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. [35] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will save it. [36] For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? [37] For what can a man give in return for his life? [38] For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels".

[1] And He said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power."


35. "Life": in the original text and the New Vulgate the word literally means "soul." But here, as in many other cases, "soul" and "life" are equivalent. The word "life" is used, clearly, in a double sense: earthly life and eternal life, the life of man here on earth and man's eternal happiness in Heaven. Death can put an end to earthly life, but it cannot destroy eternal life (cf. Matthew 10:28), the life which can only be given by Him who brings the dead back to life.

Understood in this way, we can grasp the paradoxical meaning of our Lord's phrase: whoever wishes to save his (earthly) life will lose his (eternal) life. But whoever loses his (earthly) life for Me and the Gospel, will save his (eternal) life. What, then, does saving one's (earthly) life mean? It means living this life as if there were non other--letting oneself be controlled by the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 John 2:16). And losing one's (earthly) life means mortifying, by continuous ascetical effort, this triple concupiscence--that is, taking up one's cross (verse 34)--and consequently seeking and savoring the things that are God's and not the things of the earth (cf. Colossians 3:1-2).

36-37. Jesus promises eternal life to those who are willing to lose earthly life for His sake. He has given us example: He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:15); and He fulfilled in His own case what He said to the Apostles on the night before He died: "Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

38. Each person's eternal destiny will be decided by Christ. He is the Judge who will come to judge the living and the dead (Matthew 16:27). The sentence will depend on how faithful each has been in keeping the Lord's commandments--to love God and to love one's neighbor, for God's sake. On that day Christ will not recognize as His disciple anyone who is ashamed to imitate Jesus' humility and example and follow the precepts of the Gospel for fear of displeasing the world or worldly people: he has failed to confess by his life the faith which he claims to hold. A Christian, then, should never be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16); he should never let himself be drawn away by the worldliness around him; rather he should exercise a decisive influence on his environment, counting on the help of God's grace. The first Christians changed the ancient pagan world. God's arm has not grown shorter since their time (cf. Isaiah 59:1). Cf. Matthew 10:32-33 and note on same.

1. The coming o the Kingdom of God with power does not seem to refer to the second, glorious coming of Jesus at the end of time (the Parousia); it may, rather, indicate the amazing spread of the Church in the lifetime of the Apostles. Many of those present here will witness this. The growth and spread of the Church in the world can be explained only by the divine power God gives to the mystical body of Christ. The Transfiguration of our Lord, which is recounted in the next passage, is a sign, given to the Apostles, of Jesus' divinity and of the divine powers which He will give His Church.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 16, Choosing the Right Vocation

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To find true happiness.

The Idea: Look around you. Who are the really happy people? The teachers? The store clerks? The mail carrier? The rich? The poor? Happy people are found in every walk of life. Though different, they are happy if they know where they "fit" in life and are using their talents to serve God. That spells happiness here and hereafter. Although to choose involves a de­nial that may cause pain, still choice brings joy. When you choose your life's work, you'll get your greatest happiness in being "someone," in being able to do what you do well. And you'll win eternity by doing your work well.

My Personal Application: Am I going to waste the great power I possess for good in my life. God did not make me by chance. He made me to serve Him, but how'? That will become apparent as my life unfolds. This much I am sure of: I have a purpose in life. If train myself to stop, look, and listen, I shall be able to make a good choice of my life's work. Have I, like many other people, been jumping about from one thing to another, doing nothing well and forgetting that God has some work for me?

I Speak to Christ: Jesus, you said and proved by miracles that you are our model. You must have been thinking of people like me when you decided to spend 30 years of calm obedience and preparation for your life's work. Help me prepare well for mine.

Thought for Today: "I am the way. Follow me!"
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Tree of Life?

Christianity 'Not A Real Religion' According to LAPD as Cannabis Church Files Suit Against City of Angels

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Feb. 14 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- When Reverend Craig X Rubin was arrested at his house of worship he asked the lead LAPD officer for the special rights accorded to clergy under California Penal Codes 1524 and 1525, but was told by the officer that his Bible-based Judeo-Christian organization, that was recognized by the state of California, was "not practicing a real religion." Temple 420 is a registered religious organization with the State of California (CA Corporation #C2791851) and Reverend Rubin has been ordained by a church that has passed the State's organizational test in court. Members of the congregation use cannabis in their temple - a practice that has gotten them into trouble with the LAPD.

People know Reverend Craig X Rubin for the role he plays, as the owner of the medical marijuana club, on the hit show "Weeds" on Showtime; but what people don't know is that he is a messianic Jewish preacher on the weekends.

Temple 420 on Hollywood Blvd. ( has services every Saturday and Sunday at 4:20 p.m. The Old Testament is taught on Saturday and the New Testament on Sundays. The unusual thing about Temple 420 is their faith that cannabis is the "Tree of Life," spoken about in several places in the Bible; most notably the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation, where it describes the leaves of this plant as being, "for the healing of all nations" because cannabis, sometimes called hemp, is so versatile as a natural resource.

Bishop Aquila: Catholic politicians must act upon the truth of the inherent dignity of the human person

“Every act of violence that attacks an innocent human person from the moment of conception to natural death is against the will of God and rejects the inherent dignity of the human person,” the bishop wrote. “Every Catholic politician must recognize and act upon this truth to be a faithful Catholic.”
. . .
“We cannot leave God at the door when we walk into the legislature,” the bishop reminds Catholic politicians, “but rather we must allow the truth of God and the truth of the dignity of the human person to guide us in every decision we make. With each law or bill we consider, we must be, first, a people who recognize that there is the inherent dignity of human life that is bestowed by God and that can never be violated.”

Tarcisio Bertone, the Cardinal Who Was Supposed to Help the Pope (Chiesa)

Since becoming secretary of state, he has exposed Benedict XVI to two public embarrassments. The first was in Poland, with the Wielgus case. The second is in Italy, with the maneuvers for the change at the top of the episcopal conference

by Sandro Magister

New President of Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

New leadership for Vatican's top canon-law office
Vatican, Feb. 15, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has made another change in the leadership of the Roman Curia, appointing Bishop Francesco Coccopalmerio to become president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican’s top office dealing with matters of canon law. He replaces Cardinal Julian Herranz Casado, who is retiring.
More here...and here...

Gospel for Thursday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 8:27-33

Peter's Profession of Faith

[27] And Jesus went on with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" [28] And they told Him, "John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets." [29] And He asked them, "But who do you say I am?" Peter answered Him, "You are the Christ." [30] And He charged them to tell no one about Him.

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection. Christian Renunciation

[31] And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. [32] And He said this plainly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him. [33] But turning and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men."


29. Peter's profession of faith is reported here in a shorter form than in Matthew 16:18-19. Peter seems to go no further than say that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. Eusebius of Caesarea, in the fourth century, explains the Evangelist's reserve by the fact that he was the interpreter of St. Peter, who omitted from his preaching anything which might appear to be self-praise. The Holy Spirit, when inspiring St. Mark, wanted the Gospel to reflect the preaching of the prince of the Apostles, leaving it to other evangelists to fill out certain important details to do with the episode of the confession of Peter.

The sketchiness of the narrative still show Peter's role quite clearly: he is the first to come forward affirming the messiahship of Jesus. Our Lord's question, "But who do you say that I am?", shows what Jesus is asking the Apostles for--not an opinion, more or less favorable, but firm faith. It is St. Peter who expresses this faith (cf. note on Matthew 16:13-20).

31-33. This is the first occasion when Jesus tells His disciples about the sufferings and death He must undergo. He does it twice more, later on (cf. Mark 9:31 and 10:32). The Apostles are surprised, because they cannot and do not want to understand why the Master should have to suffer and die, much less that He should be so treated "by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes." But Peter, with his usual spontaneity, immediately begins to protest. And Jesus replies to him using the same words as He addressed the devil when he tempted Him (cf. Matthew 4:10); He wants to affirm, once again, that His mission is spiritual, not earthly, and that therefore it cannot be understood by using mere human criteria: it is governed by God's designs, which were that Jesus should redeem us through His passion and death. So too, for a Christian, suffering, united with Christ, is also a means of salvation.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 15, Talents

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To know myself.

The Idea: Do you sometimes wonder what kind of person you will truly be as you grow older?

We know God made us to be happy in His service. So since your life is from God, it must be lived for God. But how? Talents are the answer. God gives each person abilities or talents, things he or she can do or likes to do. Why? That each one can have some way to serve Him. But He leaves much leeway to people in choosing their exact vocation. The person with great intellectual talents may choose to teach, to practice medicine, to be a military strategist. The person with clever hands may choose anyone of thousands of skilled jobs. Any honest work can be done for God! God points the way; you make the choice. By study, reading, asking about possible vocations; by calmly checking up on your own abilities; by observing how you get along with others, what work you are naturally attracted to; by praying­ - these are the means to make your intelligent choice of vocation.

My Personal Application: You're not noticed in school or at work? Popularity isn't a sign of real success. Lincoln lost as many elections as he won in his life of political service. Was he a failure? Your nature may be a lively one; it may be a quiet one. Both have advantages; both can be successes. The important point is: know your talents and nature. Then put them to the best use. Your vocation may be clear to you after high school, after college, or perhaps not till later on in life. But will you wander and take just any old job, just as long as it pays? Or will you be ready to make a reasonable choice and live a full life of service to God, yourself, and others?

I Speak to God: Lord, I see that even now my life is going to be much more interesting, for I have something to do, a reason to observe people, to study, to pray, to be good. Help me be alert. Help me keep pure and close to you, so as to think and plan wisely.

Thought for Today: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Standard of Morality, Part II

II. The True Standard

It is correct to say that the divine will of God is the supreme and universal norm to which all human willing must conform to be morally right and good. It is also true that a free deliberate act of man is morally good only in so far as in it and through it is being fulfilled the primary end proposed by infinite wisdom and decreed by infinite will in creating man and placing him as a rational free creature in the ordered universe. But the question arises: what evidence is there to base a judgment regarding the relation of man's free act to the will and the intention of God under the circumstances of each particular concrete case? In itself that relation is not a self-evident fact. Without a more proximate criterion, therefore, man cannot know what human conduct is morally good and what morally bad.

Again, it is perfectly correct to say that, to act in a manner befitting a rational creature, man must follow the dictates of right reason and that they are a rule or standard of morality. But human reason is liable to error. Its function is not to create but to perceive and know truth. Its judgments are true only in so far as they conform to objective truth. There is need, therefore, of an objective standard, of objective evidence of truth, by which man is directed and moved in forming the dictates of right reason.

We also admit, and in a later chapter will prove, that the certain dictates of one's own conscience are an infallible guide to good moral conduct - on one condition. But what is the condition laid down?

That, in the case of an erroneous conscience, the error is not due to culpable neglect on our part to acquire a knowledge of the objective evidence in the case. To be a dictate of conscience, in the only true sense of the word, a judgment must be based on some objective principle perceived as certain. Ignorance excuses from guilt only when it is ignorance that is invin­cible and therefore involuntary and inculpable. In a word, in forming our conscience we should be guided by objective evidence, an objective criterion of morality; for each man's conscience dictates prudence, due circumspection, due consideration of the objective circumstances, according to the nature and importance of the act contemplated. And there­fore is it that when one has a prudent doubt regarding the morality of the act, his real conscience is an imperative dictate not to put the act before removing the doubt by having recourse to an evident objective standard of right and wrong.

Is not the moral order a true standard of morality, an objective criterion, universal and unchangeable, by direct evidence of which man may be infallibly directed in judg­ing of the moral goodness and badness of human actions? It is certain that it is. This is evident from what we have said in the preceding section on the nature of essential order, the objective moral order.

In the following thesis we use the expression "rational human nature as such adequately taken" as synonymous with "the objective moral order." In the explanation of the terms of our thesis we shall give our reason for so doing.

Thesis. The True Standard or Proximate Objective Criterion of Morality is Rational Human Nature as Such Adequately Taken.

Explanation. - We are speaking of the morality of the human act. We have already defined what we mean by a human act, morality, moral goodness and badness.

What is meant by rational human nature as such? We mean human nature as endowed with reason and free will. It is through the faculty of reason or intellect that man is capable of perceiving the objective order established by God and of conforming his conduct to the essential rela­tions therein perceived, thus fulfilling the purpose of his existence in that order. It is as endowed with free will that he has the physical power of determining his own conduct.

He can disregard the essential relations of the ob­jective order: but he may not, that is, he is not morally free to do so. The human will is essentially subordinate to the Creator's will, and the Creator has willed all the essen­tial relations of the objective order. In willing the order and conceding free will to man, God wills the exercise of human liberty within the limits of the order. Any use of free will outside the restrictions thus imposed is an abuse of the concession as granted and opposed to God's will. It is deliberate resistance to God's will, an offence against God's authority. If not retracted by true repentance, it cannot be forgiven: and if not forgiven, it will inevitably meet with punishment. The preservation and the restora­tion of order demand that retribution be made to infinite majesty offended. No rebellion against God can stand forth justified or be crowned with final success.

What is meant by rational human nature adequately taken? It means human nature viewed not only in all that constitutes man a member of a distinct species, but also with all that distinguishes one individual from another; viewed, moreover, not only in itself, but with all its relations to other beings - to God, to fellow men, to parents, to country, to irrational creatures, - with all its natural facul­ties and tendencies and exigencies, with all the essential relations that exist between its various parts and between the parts and the complete rational nature. In a word, rational human nature as such adequately taken is human nature as it really exists and manifests itself to man.

From what is set down in the last two paragraphs, it is clear that rational human nature as such adequately taken is really identical with the objective moral order outlined in the first section of this chapter. But the expression "rational human nature as such adequately taken" brings out explicitly the relation of morality to man's nature, plainly indicating at the same time that no act can truly perfect that nature unless it be an act duly conformed to the essential relations established by God. No matter what its seeming goodness, material or spiritual, an act opposed to any relation founded on the essence of God's humblest creature is an act opposed to God's essence, the infinite prototype and exemplar of all created essences and the 'ultimate foundation of all essential relations. It is an act opposed to man's highest interests and the true progress of the human race.

What is a criterion? In our thesis the word "standard" is used as synonymous with the phrase "proximate objective criterion." A criterion is commonly defined as "a standard by which to determine the correctness of a judg­ment or conclusion." It is that by which man is directed and in view of which he is moved in giving firm assent to a judgment without fear and without danger of error. The criterion of morality, therefore, is the standard by which man is so guided in judging of the moral goodness and badness of a free deliberate act.

The word objective imports that there must be an objective standard of morality existing outside the human mind. Only when our judgments are based on objective evidence is all danger of error removed. Kant made a fun­damental mistake in holding that the imperative dictates of practical reason were an infallible criterion of morality, even though not motived by objective evidence. This is exaggerated subjectivism. It is an evident fact that the human mind can and does make mistakes, and may, under the influence of the will, give firm assent to error. To prevent mistakes and avoid error in its judgments and practical dictates, man's subjective power of perceiving and judging (whether it be called pure reason or practical reason) must be directed and determined by an objective standard that clearly manifests itself as an infallible criterion.

That such a standard exists will appear from the proof of our thesis. Brute animals, not possessed of reason and free will, are guided by instincts implanted in their nature by God. Man, a rational free being, must determine his choice between moral good and evil, and freely choosing the good thus direct his free deliberate act towards the primary end intended by God in creating him and granting him a free will. To do so, as we have just seen, he needs an objective standard of morality. The infinitely wise Creator could not fail to provide for that essential need.

The term proximate implies that the criterion pre­sented in our thesis is a standard by which man can acquire direct and intrinsic evidence of the moral goodness or bad­ness of a human action and can thus unerringly determine the correctness of his judgment regarding the morality of the action, without having recourse to any more immediate moral criterion. By reference to this standard it may be­come perfectly evident that certain laws or opinions or cus­toms are morally bad; and that there are many human actions which are essentially bad and opposed to man's supreme good and which no seeming good or progress or development, whether of the individual or the State or the human race, can ever justify. The command of an evidently good and loving parent, the example of evidently good men, judgments universally held by men through cen­turies, the evidently beneficial or harmful results of a mode of action, are infallible guides only in so far as through them the relation of the action to the standard set down in our thesis is made objectively evident. By referring to this standard, a little child may at times perceive and judge, without fear or danger of error, that the command or ex­ample given by parent or teacher is morally bad and for­bidden, an act opposed to some evident relation of man to God or fellow man. The ordinary child soon perceives the evident essential relation that exists between itself and its parents and the obligation of obeying the commands of its parents - except they command what it clearly perceives to be bad, e.g., a theft or a lie.

Proof of Thesis. - The standard to which human reason must refer to determine unerringly the relation of a human action to the purpose God wills in giving man the physical power to do the act, is the true standard of morality. But to determine that relation unerringly, human reason must refer to rational human nature as such adequately taken.* Therefore rational human nature as such adequately taken is the true standard of morality.

The truth of the first statement in our proof will become evident, if we again consider what is meant by morally good and morally bad human actions. Only then is a human action morally good, when in it and through it man freely fulfills the end or purpose God wills in granting him the physical power to perform the action; only then does it promote the future eternal glory and happiness which God has destined for man and for which man, in the exercise of his free will, must duly dispose himself by willing what God wills to accomplish through him in this life. It would be irrational, and therefore unbefitting man and morally bad, not thus to subordinate all his free deliberate actions to the supreme good and crowning glory of his existence. The present fulfilling of God's will is an evident condition imposed on man's will in God's plan for man's supreme happiness and glory. Therefore the true standard of morality is that to which human reason must refer to de­termine unerringly the relation of a human action to the purpose God wills in giving man the physical power to do the free deliberate act.

The truth of the second statement in our proof is thus established. From our explanation of the phrases "rational human nature as such adequately taken" and "the moral order," it is evident that they 'ire synonymous. Rational human nature as such adequately taken is the existing ob­jective order based on the essences of things and established by God as a means towards the end He willed in creating man. But that order is the only evidence, the only standard or criterion, to which human reason can refer to determine unerringly whether this or that human action is in accord with the purpose God wills in giving man the physical power to do the action, or whether it is contrary to God's design and therefore an abuse of the power granted, a use outside the restrictions manifested to man by God in assigning him a definite position in the order conceived by infinite wisdom and decreed by infinite will. Therefore rational human nature as such adequately taken is the standard to which human reason must refer to determine unerringly the rela­tion of a human action to the purpose God wills in giving man the physical power to do the act.

* In the natural science of ethics we prescind from supernatural revelation. It is evident that one who is certain that God made such revelation, and in it declared this or that action morally good or bad, can make direct appeal to God's word as an infallible criterion of morality.


Coming next, False Standards.

Adapted from Moral Philosophy
by Rev Charles Coppen, S.J.
(© 1924)

Homosexuality in the Bible

Interview With Authors of Exegetical Work

ROME, FEB. 12, 2007 ( Three exegetes have published a new book in which they conclude that the Bible clearly teaches homosexual practices are wrong. (emphasis added)

"Clarifications sur l'Homosexualité dans la Bible" (Clarifications on Homosexuality in the Bible) was written by a priest from the John Paul II Institute and a priest and a Protestant pastor from the University of Fribourg.

Emmanuel Community Father Jean-Baptiste Edart, Dominican Father Adrian Schenker and pastor Innocent Himbaza spoke about their book in this interview with ZENIT.

The interview is here.

Early Teachings on Homosexuality

Some argue that neither the Bible nor apostolic tradition condemns the practice of homosexuality. Passages such as Leviticus 18:22–30, Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and Jude 7 serve as ample proof that Scripture indeed condemns homosexuality. Below is ample proof from tradition. The Fathers are especially harsh against the practice of pederasty, the homosexual corruption of boys by men.

The Didache
"You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born" (Didache 2:2 [A.D. 70]).

Justin Martyr
"[W]e have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And anyone who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods" (First Apology 27 [A.D. 151]).

Clement of Alexandria
"All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot with an arrow one of his subjects who imitated among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods . . . condemning him as having become effeminate among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Scythians" (Exhortation to the Greeks 2 [A.D. 190]).

"[According to Greek myth] Baubo [a female native of Eleusis] having received [the goddess] Demeter hospitably, reached to her a refreshing draught; and on her refusing it, not having any inclination to drink (for she was very sad), and Baubo having become annoyed, thinking herself slighted, uncovered her shame, and exhibited her nudity to the goddess. Demeter is delighted with the sight—pleased, I repeat, at the spectacle. These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians; these Orpheus records" (ibid.).

"It is not, then, without reason that the poets call him [Hercules] a cruel wretch and a nefarious scoundrel. It were tedious to recount his adulteries of all sorts, and debauching of boys. For your gods did not even abstain from boys, one having loved Hylas, another Hyacinthus, another Pelops, another Chrysippus, another Ganymede. Let such gods as these be worshipped by your wives, and let them pray that their husbands be such as these—so temperate; that, emulating them in the same practices, they may be like the gods. Such gods let your boys be trained to worship, that they may grow up to be men with the accursed likeness of fornication on them received from the gods" (ibid.).

And this article, with its numerous references, can be read in its entirety here at Catholic Answers.

Gospel for February 14, Memorial: St Cyril, Monk, and St Methodius, Bishop

From: Mark 8:22-26

The Curing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida

[22] And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to Him (Jesus) a blind man, and begged Him to touch him. [23] And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village. And when He had spit on his eyes and laid His hands upon him, He asked, "Do you see anything?" [24] And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking." [25] Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and He looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. [26] And He sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."


22-25. Normally the cures which Jesus worked were instantaneous; not so in this case. Why? Because the blind man's faith was very weak, it would seem, to begin with. Before curing the eyes of his body, Jesus wanted the man's faith to grow; the more it grew and the more trusting the man became, the more sight Jesus gave him. In this way Jesus acted in keeping with His usual pattern: not working miracles unless there was a right predisposition, yet encouraging a good disposition in the person and giving more grace as he responds to the grace already given.

God's grace is essential even for desiring holy things: "Give us light, Lord. Behold, we need it more than the man who was blind from his birth, for he wished to see the light and could not, whereas nowadays, Lord, no one wishes to see it. Oh, what a hopeless ill is this! Here, my God, must be manifested Thy power and Thy mercy" (St. Teresa, "Exclamations of the Soul to God", 8).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 14, My Choice of Vocation

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To prepare for my place in the world.

The Idea: Do I catch myself day-dreaming, imagining myself as a great doctor, the mother of an outstanding Catholic family, an electronics wizard, a famed soldier, an knowledgable professor? I should! What am I going to be (or what have I become)? Yet, though dreaming is pleasant, only choosing gets things done.

Did I ever make a choice? Sure, I choose a Coke instead of an orange; I do some chore rather than play some game; I study my Catechism instead of watching TV. Dreaming is easy; but choosing is hard. In choosing I must always deny myself. With a dollar I can't have a Hershey bar and a soda; to keep one I must give up the other. And some choices have eternal value, such as choosing to make a success of my life rather than a failure.

What shall I be? Remember, if I don't make any decision, I am really still choosing -I am choosing to drift.

My Personal Application: Can I make a decision and stick to it reasonably? What decisions did I have to make yesterday? My ability to make and stick to good choices today will enable me later to make and keep the choice of my life's work.

I Speak to Christ: Lord, you knew that your decision to defy the Pharisees and stick to your principles would mean loss of friends - and death on the cross. Only with your aid can I choose the right vocation. The least I can do is to make the right choices in what I meet today.

Thought for Today: I'll try to choose things today as I think Christ would choose.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Standard of Morality

I have received not a few questions and opinions regarding various behaviors, practices and beliefs which some wish to elevate as morally good acts and righteous beliefs. In an effort to address these questions in an organized fashion, it seemed to me that the following work, adapted somewhat, might be beneficial.

In setting forth the definition of Ethics...there is a standard to which human conduct must conform in order to be morally good human conduct. What is the standard?

That is the most important question in moral philosophy. A false standard of morality inevitably leads to moral concepts and principles destructive of the moral integrity of the individual and the [human] race and opposed to the very foundations of all social order.

Despite a knowledge of the true standard, mistakes will be made and moral de­pravity will exist. But to hold to a false standard would be to justify moral depravity and render true progress im­possible. Many men of great literary and scientific ability, possessed of many most estimable moral qualities, have pro­posed and do propose false standards of morality. This is due to fundamental error regarding the existence and nature of a personal God or regarding the nature and true dignity of a human person.

The purpose of this chapter is a clear and simple presen­tation of the true standard and a brief refutation of such false standards as still exert a wide influence. We shall introduce the subject by explaining what is meant by the moral order.

1. The Moral Order

The term "moral" primarily expressing a quality of the human act, is extended to other things that are in some way connected with the morality of the human act. Thus we speak of moral habits and principles and judgments, the moral standard, the moral law, the moral order.

The moral order is the order to which human actions must conform to be in themselves rightly ordered and morally good human conduct. In what does this order consist?

Every being has its own proper nature, its own intrinsic essential perfection and its own essential end or purpose. Beings differ in their essential nature, and some are essen­tially more perfect than others. Hence between beings arise essential relations, and thus is constituted an essential and immutable objective order in which each existing being has a definite place determined by its natural perfection.

Man's place in the objective order is thus determined. By nature he is essentially and immutably inferior to God, equal to other men, superior to the brute animal and all irrational creatures. In man the soul is essentially superior to the body, and reason is essentially superior to bodily sense.

Moreover, there are other relations founded on the essential nature of things that enter into the life of man, e.g., parent­hood, citizenship, etc. There is an essential, immutable relation between the parent as such and his child, between
the citizen as such and his State or Country, between the husband as such and his wife, between the subordinate as such and his legitimate superior, between State and State as such. There are essential relations founded on the es­sence of every valid contract made between person and person.

Man, endowed with reason, perceives the objective order of which he is an integral part. He perceives it as an exist­ing order established by a supreme power. He perceives it as the plan of a supreme wisdom, decreed and sanctioned by a supreme will for a supreme purpose. It indicates to man the way towards the fulfilment of his own supreme destiny as a part of the existing order. No man who has come to the normal development of reason can, except through his own fault, be ignorant of the more general re­quirements of this objective order.

Man's will is free. In the exercise of his free will he can conform his action to the order of supreme wisdom, thus freely acknowledging his own position in that order and the relations that exist between him and other beings. Such action is in harmony with his essential nature, befitting him as a man, morally good.

He can deliberately refuse to acknowledge these essential relations. If he does, his action is at variance with essential order, a revolt against supreme wisdom and will. It does not tend to promote but to frus­trate the supreme purpose for which man exists as a part of the existing order. It is opposed to his essential nature in virtue of which he occupies a definite position in the ordered universe. It is unbefitting him as a man and morally bad.

The order based on the essgntial nature of things is, therefore, rightly called the objective moral order. In it man possesses an objective criterion of what is morally good and what is morally bad.

It is as immutable as are the essential natures of the beings that constitute the uni­verse of being. The universal conviction that has ever pre­vailed regarding the essential moral badness or moral good­ness of certain acts is founded on the knowledge of the objective moral order.

Many of the essential relations that exist between beings are so evident that even the most de­praved savages could not fail to recognize that there are actions absolutely forbidden and others absolutely demanded by the Supreme Orderer of the universe.

And we are per­fectly conscious that it is the same translucent objective evidence that motives our judgments regarding the essential moral turpitude of blasphemy and murder and treason and perjury and calumny and impurity and ingratitude. We clearly perceive that no law or lawgiver or custom or convention or develop­ment or condition of things could make them good.

It is the province of special ethics to study in detail the requirements of the moral order. But to show more clearly that it is a criterion by which man should be directed in the conduct of his life, a standard to which human action should conform, we add here the following brief considera­tion.

As God is man's infinite Creator and Lord and Highest Good, what does essential order demand of man?

Evi­dently that he formally acknowledge God's infinite excel­lence and dominion and his own absolute dependence and subjection, that he give to God honor and reverence and loyal unstinted service and love and gratitude, that he make earnest persevering effort to know what God demands of him.

As the spiritual immortal soul is essentially superior to the material corruptible body, what does essential order demand?

Evidently that the lower faculties and appetites in man be made subservient to his higher spiritual faculties and aspirations. As all men, without exception, are equal in essential perfection, fellow servants in the same divine service, created for the same supreme purpose and destiny, what does essential order demand of man?

Evidently that he should love his fellow man with a love similar to that with which he cherishes himself, that he should do to others as he would others should do to him, that he be just to them and respect their rights.

And so we might ask ourselves what is demanded by the essential relations that exist be­tween man and the material things of earth, between parent and child, between husband and wife, between employer and employee, between the professional man and his client, be­tween a college and its students, a church and its members, between citizen and State, between State and State, between Church and State, between family and State, between man and his own life and bodily members and natural faculties.

In each instance we should first seek to know the end or purpose of the relation established and the means required for the due attainment of the end.

Finally, were we to take cognizance of the positive facts made known to man by supernatural revelation and to con­sider that, in the order actually established, its Supreme Author and man's infinite Creator destined man for super­natural glory, endowed him with supernatural gifts, pro­vided him with supernatural means and placed him under positive command to make use of the means provided, it would be incumbent on us to ask what essential order de­mands of man in view of the supernatural perfection thus bestowed and the supernatural relations thus established.

At one point only does this last consideration fall within the scope of the natural science of ethics.

Ethics teaches that one who has come to realize that God could and probably did so order things, should make a prudent earnest effort to know whether He has done so, and should be guided in the conduct of his life by the knowledge thus acquired.

This is the evident dictate of right reason. Essential order evi­dently demands it.


Coming next, The True Standard and False Standards.

Adapted from Moral Philosophy
by Rev Charles Coppen, S.J.
(© 1924)

The Orthodox Roman Catholic

Please consider visiting this site - I have it bookmarked, it's really nice!

Gospel for Tuesday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Mark 8:14-21

The Leaven of the Pharisees (Continuation)

[14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. [15] And He (Jesus) cautioned them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." [16] And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread." [17] And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? [18] Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? [19] When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." [20] And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to Him, "Seven." [21] And He said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"


15-16. In another Gospel passage--Luke 13:20-21 and Matthew 31:33--Jesus uses the simile of the leaven to show the vitality of His teaching. Here "leaven" is used in the sense of bad disposition. In the making of bread, leaven is what causes the dough to rise; the Pharisees' hypocrisy and Herod's dissolute life, stemming from their personal ambition, were the "leaven" which was poisoning from within the "dough" of Israel and which would eventually corrupt it. Jesus seeks to warn His disciples about these dangers, and to have them understand that if they are to take in His doctrine they need a pure and simple heart.

But the disciples fail to understand: "They weren't educated; they weren't very bright, if we judge from their reaction to supernatural things. Finding even the most elementary examples and comparisons beyond their reach, they would turn to the Master and ask: `Explain the parable to us.' When Jesus uses the image of the `leaven' of the Pharisees, they think that He's reproaching them for not having purchased bread....These were the disciples called by our Lord. Such stuff is what Christ chose. And they remain just like that until they are filled with the Holy Spirit and thus become pillars of the Church. They are ordinary people, full of defects and shortcomings, more eager to say than to do. Nevertheless, Jesus calls them to be fishers of men, co-redeemers, dispensers of the grace of God" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 2). The same thing can happen to us. Although we may not be very gifted, the Lord calls us, and love of God and docility to His words will cause to grow in our souls unsuspected fruit of holiness and supernatural effectiveness.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Religion and Ethics? Another Lost University...

Matt Abbott brings to our attention the inability of University of Detroit Mercy, "a Catholic university in the Jesuit and Mercy traditions", to recall, let alone practice, the "traditions" it espouses. But then, the same can be said about the vast majority of so-called Catholic institutions of higher learning. And worse, bishops allow them to continue to claim to be "Catholic"...But then, that's a another problem...

To the point at hand:
'Just say no to sex with pro-lifers' is the title of Matt's short article...the pictures tell all that needs to be told. How these two women are permitted to teach at an alleged Catholic university is a scandal of grave import. Pro-death, abortion loving miscreants are posing as professors - and they both claim to teach ethics. It is unquestionable that these two imposters would fail the simplest authentic moral ethics quiz...

Take a look here...and then pray for those children who minds have been poisoned by these counterfeits; pray those parents who have paid for their children to be deceived by these fakes; pray for the university leadership who, because of apparent moral weakness and malfeasance, permits such anti-Christian activity to occur - and in such a blatant manner.

The only thing left for such disease-ridden colleges and universities which have chosen to defecate on their once Catholic identity and spit in the face of Christ is for them to be mature enough to abandon using any reference to the term "Catholic" - and if they do not have the courage to publicly profess what they publicly espouse, then the local ordinary should take the necessary steps for the sake of the Church's children - both the young students and their parents.

HT to Patte G for the link.