Friday, November 14, 2003

The Biblical Doctrine of Purgatory

I received an email today from Patrick Madrid, Catholic apologist and publisher of Envoy Magazine, in which he takes up the Church's doctrine of Purgatory and explains it a very understandable way.

This is a fairly long and thorough article but it is, like most of Patrick Madrid's works, easy to read and comprehend. It would be very helpful both for Catholics who do not quite understand what Purgatory is and isn't, as well as for non-Catholics who may not know the scriptural basis for it.

The article can be read or downloaded at .

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bishops Approve Q&A Document on Marriage/'Same Sex' Unions

Yesterday, also, the U.S. Bishops approved a document called "Between Man and Woman:Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions" which is a Q&A format publication. It is intended to give witness to the truth and to reinforce Catholic teaching that acts of homosexuality are sinful. The word "sin", however, is never mentioned in the document. It does reiterate some of the ideas expounded in the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons from July 2003.

During the debate on the floor, San Francisco Bishop Levada made an attempt to 'minimize' the impact that the document would have on the faithful by stating, "If two homosexuals live together in a chaste union, that would not be immoral". Raymond Arroyo of EWTN noted to Co-Host Fr. James Gould, "Two men living together in a chaste union might well be considered roommates".

The document may be reviewed at

New Q&A Brochure on Devotional Practices

The US Bishops approved a "pastoral statement" on popular devotions yesterday. The document is primarily composed in a "question and answer" format similar to the Q&A document on the Holy Eucharist a couple of years ago. The bishops did affirm that all devotional practices should be "Christo-centric", that is, centered on Jesus Christ.

The document (I suppose it will be in a small booklet form) may be order from the USCCB and may be read at

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

High School Catechetical Textbooks Are Deficient

A U.S. Bishops Committee has determined that many high school religion textbooks are "deficient".
After reading the article, and I wish there were more details, it seems that use of the term 'deficient' is an understatement. Many parents have known for years that their children were being misled and poisoned in matters of Church teaching. See the article here.

Some of the heterdox examples cited:
The Catholic Church is one church among many churches.
Catholic doctrine reflects one opinion among many rather than truth.
Sacraments were "developed" over time and can change.
Sacraments celebrate a "moment in time" rather than an encounter with Christ.
The community confects the Eucharist rather than Christ through the priest.
The subject of women's ordination is ambiguous.
The Sacrament of Marriage refers to "partners" rather than husband and wife.
The inability to call pre- or extramartial sex a "sin".
Morality is presented as 'matters of options/personal choice".
Gender neutering of the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Scripture is a human work.
Miracles of Jesus were a result of 'lucky timing'.

Catechesis has been referred to as the "handing on, faithfully, of the teachings of Christ and His Church". Who are these "Catholic" publishers that produce this garbage? Why are they allowed to continue to use the name "Catholic" if this is an example of what they publish for consumption? Who are the administrators of the high schools who misuse the funds, usually provided by parents with much sacrifice, to purchase this kind of trash? Why are some allowed to 'teach' when they do not even believe what the Church teaches in the first place? This is too disheartening for words!

For those who may be concerned about the education of their high school children, you may want to look at a long forgotten series from years ago written by Fr. John Laux. It is an excellent resource and is available from Tan Books. You will find none of the poison in these books as you will find in many of those being used today. The Baltimore Catechism can still be purchased, if one is so inclined. One might also want to look to Ignatius Press for catechetical materials for younger children. Fr. Robert Levis (EWTN) also has an excellent resource for children.

I only recommend these as resources for parents because parents have the PRIMARY responsibility for education of their children. It is foolish these days, generally speaking, to rely on others to properly catechize your children. The task ahead for faithful Catholics looks quite daunting but I suspect we are being challenged for a reason. God permits evil in order that a greater good come from it. We have all the means necessary to pass on faithfully to the next generation the Faith which we have received. Parents must not neglect their obligations even if others have failed to live up to their responsibility.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I meant to post this the other day.

Divine Mercy in the Lord of the Rings
11/9/2003 10:09:00 AM
By Joseph Pearce - Friends of Mercy Newsletter - Vol. 15, No. 7 | November/December 2003

It's no surprise that Tolkein's trilogy is interwoven with Catholic themes - he was a devout Catholic.
The Return of the King, the final part of Peter Jackson's blockbuster film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be let loose on an expectant nation this December. During the coming months, it will be watched by millions of movie-goers throughout the world, most of whom will be unaware that they are watching a film version of a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.

The work's author, J.R.R. Tolkien, was a lifelong devout Catholic who poured his Catholic heart into the writing of the myth that is now captivating a new generation, half a century after its first publication. Tolkien insisted that the fact that he as "a Christian, which can be deduced from my stories, and in fact a Roman Catholic," was the most important and "really significant" element in his work. Indeed, it's not difficult to discover the manifestation of Divine Mercy in The Lord of the Rings.

In this epic tale of good and evil, the great Ring of power must be destroyed otherwise it will be used by the Dark Lord Sauron to enslave all of Middle Earth. The hobbit Bilbo and then his nephew Frodo come into possession of the Ring from Gollum - a hobbit who has been reduced to a crazed and pitiable shadow of his former self through long exposure to the Ring.

With his trusty servant Sam, Frodo accepts the daunting mission of destroying the Ring by returning to the fire of Mount Doom, where it was forged by the Dark Lord. On their quest to reach Mount Doom in the heart of the evil land of Mordor, Frodo and Sam's steps are dogged by Gollum, who willing to do anything to regain possession of the Ring himself.

The issue then becomes do Frodo and Sam take matters into their on hands by killing Gollum, or do they show him mercy even though he poses a threat to them at points on their arduous journey?

Knowing his treacherous intent, Frodo had wished that Gollum has been killed: "What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature when he had a chance!"

"Pity?" replied Gandalf, the wise wizard. "It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy." Gandalf believes Gollum is mystically bound up with the fate of the Ring. "My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours not least." (Caution: Spoilers ahead for those who haven't read the book yet!)

These words are recalled later by Frodo when he, too, has the chance to kill Gollum. Like Bilbo, Frodo also chooses the path of mercy over vengeance, and, like Bilbo, his charitable choice comes to "rule the fate of many." At the climatic moment on Mount Doom, Frodo finds that he cannot, at the very last, cast the Ring into the fire. On the very brink of success, he finds himself on the verge of final,and fatal, failure.

It is at this crucial moment that Frodo and Middle Earth itself are saved by Gollum who rushes forward and bites the Ring from Frodo's finger before falling into the abyss, destroying himself and the Ring in the process.

The scene is not only a triumph of divine providence over fate, it is the triumph of Divine Mercy, in which free will, supported by grace, is fully vindicated. According to Tolkien himself, Frodo has been saved "because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to do. He, and the Cause, were saved - by mercy: by the supreme value and efficacy of pity and forgiveness and injury" (from Tolkien's Letters).

In the Church, the greatest manifestation of Divine Mercy is, of course, the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. At its deepest, Tolkien's myth serves as a reflection of this archetypal mercy. The journey of Frodo and Sam is emblematic of the Christian's imitation of Christ in carrying the cross.

Tolkien makes the parallel even more explicitly. "I should say," he wrote, explaining the final climatic moments on Mount Doom when the Ring is finally unmade, "that within the mode of the story [it] exemplifies (an aspect of) the familiar words: 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive [those who] trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.'"

Furthermore, Tolkien makes the Christian dimension even more unmistakable in the fact that the climatic destruction of the Ring - and in consequence the destruction of the Dark Lord who had forged it - occurred on "the twenty-fifth of March." That's believed to be the date Christ was crucified. It is also, of course, the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the absolute center of all history as the moment when God Himself became incarnate as man.

As a Catholic, Tolkien knew March 25 was the date in which God had "unmade" Original Sin, which, like the Ring, has brought humanity under the sway of the Shadow. If the Ring, which is unmade at the culmination of Tolkien's Quest, is the "one ring to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them," the Fall was the "One Sin to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them." On the twenty-fifth of March the One Sin, like the One Ring, has been "unmade," destroying the power of the Dark Lord.

It is very comforting in the midst of these dark days that the most popular book of the twentieth century, and the most popular movie of the new century, draw their power and their glory from the light of the Gospel.

Joseph Pearce is Writer in Residence at Ave Maria University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and author of Tolkien: Man and Myth (Ignatius Press).

Bishops to Scold Some "Catholic" Politicians?

The Salt Lake Tribune reports this and the Associated Press, this.

I must have missed this last night as I was watching/recording the re-airing of the U.S. Bishops' meeting in Washington. This certainly was not in the morning session and the afternoon session was to be replayed about 2:00 or 2:30 CST. I hope I have it recorded.

"In a freewheeling discussion reflecting years of concern, some bishops suggested that the church should consider punishments ranging from denying honorary degrees to elected officials, refusing to allow them to speak at Catholic institutions, or even excommunicating them."

I'm not sure how denying an honorary degree to a defiant "Catholic" politician who proudly promotes abortion is really going to effect a change of heart in these people. I understand that excommunication is a 'medicinal' remedy that encourages one to repent and seek reconcilation with the Church. Considering the gravity of the scandal that pro-death politicians perpetrate by their outright rejection and repudiation of the moral teachings of the Church, I am often at a loss why so little has been done to address this.

They quoted one of my favorite bishops:
"It's a constant source of scandal that the most prominent pro-abortion people are Catholics . . . who seem to go unreproved," said Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb.

I hope, if this is indeed true, that the fruit of this endeavor comes more quickly and with better results than with the "implementation" of things like 'Ex Corde Ecclesia'.

Remember Veteran's Day

This came via email early this morning. Thought I would pass it on.

I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free!

Enjoy Your Freedom & God Bless Our Troops!
Show Your Support Send This Page Along Today !

Monday, November 10, 2003

Gay Catholics Speak to US Catholic Bishops

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Gay Catholics Speak to US Catholic Bishops

On November 10, 2003 the National Council of Catholic Bishops will hold their annual fall meeting in Washington, DC. The Rainbow Sash Movement, a national group of Gay and Lesbian Catholics will be sending a delegation to Bishops Liturgy on Monday (November 10, 2003) evening at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. The delegation will be identified by the Rainbow Sashes they will wear during the Liturgy. Joe Murray, the Rainbow Sash Movement Spokesperson, will be leading the delegation. The delegation will be headquartered at the Hyatt Regency, Capital Hill, Washington, DC.

The Catholic Church has become polarized, and its very unity depends on willingness among the hierarchy to acknowledge this, and to listen to the diverse voices within the Church, and seek common ground. On the progressive side, there is a certain anti-institutionalization, and more dangerously, an anti-dogmatic bias. For conservatives, there is a tendency to uphold doctrines even at the price of people's rights and freedoms. Is the Church becoming so focused on immutable doctrine and eternal truths at the price of human beings and their concrete needs? The Church has to expand its vision and see that gay men and lesbian women, as well as bisexual and transgendered people, are as fully human as anyone else, constituent members of the imago dei that is humanity.

Gay and Lesbian Catholics are deeply concerned about the future of the Church, and their place in it. Like others in the Catholic Church the Rainbow Sash Movement is calling the National Council of Catholic Bishops to official dialogue. The problem is not dogma; the problem seems to be how to promote dogma in the framework of love.

The Rainbow Sash Movement believes that the Catholic Church is the living continuity of faith that is why we bring our concerns to the Bishops, and remain faithful within the parish life of the Church.

Rainbow Sash Movement

========End of Release===========================================

I had missed this earlier. I'm curious to see what, if anything, will happen at Mass this evening. I, too, am deeply concerned about my place in Christ's Church, not because of this but because, like St. Paul, I , too, am working out my salvation in fear and trembling. Fortunately, the Church teaches with the authority of Jesus exactly what is necessary to abide with Him and His Church.

We can choose humilty and follow with obedience - choosing life over death, or we can choose pride and "make things up" as we go along, becoming false teachers and prophets, determining for ourselves what is right and wrong and end up rejecting God's gift of grace and everlasting life.

Newsflash!!!! The Catholic Church is NOT going to change the moral law to accomodate sin, in whatever form one wishes to re-define it. Is this really that difficult to understand?

Virtual Tour - Redemptoris Mater Chapel

There is a new virtual tour of the Redemptoris Mater Chapel at the Vatican at You must have or download the shockwave flash player to view it.

This is the chapel that is used by the Pope during his annual retreats and for the homilies given during Advent and Lent. Apparently, it received considerable notice for its Byzantine style mosaics.

Bishops' Meeting Coverage

I had almost forgotten...and I'll have to catch the encore (re-run) shows later. Last time I tried to tape this thing, after having set up the VCR with all the dates & times, the entire schedule changed. As I was out of town, I called home to have one of my sons change the tape when I "knew" the next tape would be needed, based on the pre-planned VCR timer set-up. Of about 12 hours of tape, I only had 30 minutes of the bishops' meeting. Best laid plans, eh?

So unless the schedules change, here is EWTN's current schedule.


Sunday November 9, 8:00 PM LIVE

Monday November 10, 9:00 AM LIVE
Monday November 10, 9:00 PM ENCORE

Monday November 10, 2:00 PM LIVE
Tuesday November 11, 3:30 AM ENCORE

Monday November 10, 6:00 PM LIVE
Tuesday November 11, 1:00 AM ENCORE

Tuesday November 11, 9:00 AM LIVE
Tuesday November 11, 2:00 PM ENCORE
Wed November 12, 2:00 AM ENCORE

Wednesday November 12, 9:00 AM LIVE
Wed. November 12, 9:00 PM ENCORE

Wednesday November 12, 2:00 PM LIVE
Thurs. November 13, 2003 2:00 AM ENCORE

Friday Nov. 14, 8 PM

Dissenters still stirring things up in Milwaukee

The annual Call-To-Action conference was held in Milwaukee this past weekend and as I understand it, Arbishop Dolan was out of town, probably on his way to Washington for the Bishops' Conference meeting.

One of the "hot topics" included a program to begin a nationwide drive to push for optional celibacy. Some priests have gone so far as to include sample letters in parish bulletins. And at least one priest at this CTA/FutureChurch/et al meeting is quoted as saying about the ministerial priesthood, "I think that we just have to open ordained ministry up to everyone, both men and women, married and single." I guess some of these guys have never read the documents of the Church, the Catechism, or much of anything else of value.

The Journal Sentinel has an article on this here.

But that's just a part of this meeting. Illinois Justice Anne Burke, who is the acting chairwoman of the Bishops' National Review Board to oversee the clergy sexual abuse program, was to speak on the efforts of the petition drive. This was also in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

I wish I could understand the rationale for selecting advocates of dissent and heterdoxy to serve on the national abuse panel. It seems that it would be fairly difficult to make right moral judgements, if one is infected with dissent.

Archbishop Dolan really needs our prayers as do all of these others.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Bishop Vasa's Statement on Terri Schiavo

Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR, speaks out on behalf of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the 39-year-old brain-disabled woman whose husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo is determined to end her life by court-ordered starvation.

For Mary and Bob Schindler: ...."Cannot people see that Terri is their baby and that their love for her has a value and that their love tells the world that Terri has great worth? To treat her as if she were already dead is cruel and inhumane. To treat her as if she is dying is likewise ludicrous." Kindest Regards, +RFV

The Catholic Church teaches that hydration and nutrition are simply water and food. These must always be provided as long as the food or water itself or the method of delivery is not unduly burdensome to the PATIENT. There does not appear to be any indication from Terri that the provision or the method of provision of food and water is burdensome to her.

The one 'burden', which so many seem so determined to lift from her, is that one thing that allows Terri to continue to be a living breathing human person, life itself. Life itself cannot be the burden from which we in the Catholic Church seek to deliver the faithful. This is the Assisted Suicide attitude.

Life is a grace and a blessing and yes the living of that life does entail some burdens, sometimes great burdens, but the solution can be neither murder nor suicide — these are offenses against life itself and the Lord who gives it.

Terri is alive. She is kept alive by the same things that keep me alive - Food, water, air. Her disability deprives her of the ability to ingest these things, it does not deprive her of the ability to digest them. She may well die in the future from an inability to digest food but it would be murder to cause her death by denying her the food she still has the ability to digest and which continues to provide for her a definite benefit — life itself.

Kindest regards,

Bishop Robert F. Vasa
Diocese of Baker
Box 5999
Baker, Oregon 97708
(541) 388-4004

See Bishop Raymund Burke's statement here and Bishop Paul Loverde's re-statement of Church teaching here.

The Fascinated God

There is a new book written by a local St. Louis diocesan priest which is being marketed (selectively as I understand it) to some in the archdiocese.

I'm curious if anyone has read it and can offer any sort of evaluation of it. I am always hesitant to spend good money on any books dealing with the Faith, unless they are completely orthodox or, if not, to be used as reference material (like Loraine Boettner's Roman Catholicism). I still have several other good books that I want to get to. I'd like to finish Warren Carroll's The History of Christendom sometime soon. It's quite a read and well worth the time, if one likes history!

Anyway, back to the subject. You can read the abstract of the new book, titled The Fascinated God, here.

While I am not making any premature or undeserved judgements, a few things struck me as "odd" while I read the article about this book. Perhaps, these days I am just a tad overly cautious, but I find it difficult to read somthing like " now accessible in the sacraments of the church in a quasi-magic manner" and not feel concerned.

Any comments?

Prof. James Hitchcock Dinner/Talk

We had a wonderful time at tonight's talk on "What has happened to our Catholic Colleges and Universities." A good dinner and an excellent talk.

Although the problem has been acknowledged by the Holy See and recognized by a number of parents and students, I suspect that the vast majority of Catholic parents are unaware of the dangers that await their children at many "Catholic" institutions of higher learning.

Dr. James Hitchcock addressed the issue from a perspective that I had never heard before, and, as an history professor, he did a remarkable job explaining how the problem of secularization of Catholic colleges appears to be cyclical.

There will be tapes and CDs made. I look forward to listening to Dr. Hitchcock's presentation again while driving to and from work. Credo St. Louis may be able to provide copies. See the Credo post here in you're interested.

I have only been to two of these talks (the first to hear and meet Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz) and both were very informative. It's really a joy to be able to learn from solid, orthodox Catholics.