Monday, November 28, 2005

my article

My recent article in The Record online:

"O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me." (Psalm 70[69])

These are the opening words to the Liturgy of the Hours, the universal prayer of the church prayed by seminarians, clergy and the laity every day. These were also my words as I knelt nervously in the chapel to receive a blessing by one of the deacon-seminarians on the first day of my arrival at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore on Aug. 25, 2005.

What a grand seminary! What a grand chapel!

Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, knelt in that same pew 10 years earlier during his visit to Baltimore. It all seemed so daunting as I prayed for God’s help.

And he has given me his help. I’m enjoying myself and settling into the routine of daily morning prayer, evening prayer, Mass and the flow of community life with seminarian brothers from all over the country.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten into the swing of course work too, after having been out of college for three years. I have our very own Father Gladstone "Bud" Stevens, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville who teaches at St. Mary’s on Monday and Thursday mornings: Epistemology (the art and science of knowing) and introduction to Catholic theology.

In the former, I’ve been studying Vatican II documents such as Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) and the search for and knowledge of truth. In the latter, I’m learning how to enter into a "conspiracy" with the Church. You see, the Latin word for conspiracy (conspirare) means "to act in unison with."

My remaining courses are history of philosophy, philosophical anthropology and political philosophy, all of which have done a nice job of burying me up to my ears in reading assignments. But as our professors keep telling us: "Gentlemen, you’ve got to learn how to think before you can learn theology. This is no longer about you, but the faithful whom you’ll serve, who are waiting on you to give them meaning and the truth."

So, it all seems like a nightmare when I think of seminary as if it’s "college all over again."

But it’s not. It’s more than that; it’s formation, it’s becoming a priest after Christ’s own heart, assuming that almighty God, my archbishop and my vocation director will it to be. When I think of it that way, all the reading and the papers are more than worth it.

How humbling it is to be here. What an honor it is to study for the priesthood. When I pause and think of all the sacrifices you have made and all the prayers you’ve offered for me and my fellow seminarians so we can study and pray here at St. Mary’s, it amazes me.

All I can do to repay you is to say that I will work my hardest to continue to discern if the priesthood is not only something that I want but what God wants for me as well. I will never forget all the encouragement and support so many of you in the Archdiocese of Louisville gave me before I packed up the U-haul and left for "Mary’s land."

Weekly holy hours with the community and a small daily rosary group have been my anchors in addition to your prayers.

I will work to take the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians to heart: "But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift ... to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants. ... Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ." (4:7,12-15)

Mary’s Magnificat, her canticle of praise and thanksgiving to God, is also part of the Liturgy of the Hours in evening prayer. It will be through God’s abundant grace and Mary’s intercession if I achieve "the full stature of Christ" and discern his will for me.

So, I echo Mary’s words: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. ... the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)

Please continue to pray for vocations, for Michael Wimsatt (my fellow Louisville seminarian here) and for me. Feel free to write us at: St. Mary’s Seminary and University, 5400 Roland Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21210.

Reflection for Solemnity of Christ the King

Here's my reflection for the gospel on Sunday, November 20th, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, for my Lectio Divina study group. The gospel was Matthew 25:31-46.

The three parables before this reading, of the faithful servant who was responsible while his Master was away, of the wise and foolish maidens preparing for the coming of the bridegroom, and of the talents in which the servants used the gifts their master had given them – these three are concluded with this account of the Last Judgment in which all such matters will be resolved. This is called the Last Judgment because it will happen at the end of time and will be a public proclamation of the sentence already given at our Particular Judgment, the one we receive at the moment of our death.

But how does this reading coincide with the Solemnity of Christ the King? Here Christ is identified with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. To the righteous he says, “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” And to the wicked he says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” This identification with the least of his brethren hardly sets Him up as a king, right? But, in the beginning of this reading, in the first verse, we see that he will “sit on his glorious throne” and throughout the reading we see that it is “the King” who addresses the righteous and the wicked, welcoming them into his “Kingdom” or banishing them from it. As a matter of fact, this very act of judgment of all the nations gathered before him is one proper only to a King. We also see the image of the Messiah as being on a throne, judging his people, elsewhere in scripture, in the Prophets and the Book of Revelation.

So today, we are called to reflect on Christ as King, King of Heaven and Earth. But, Christ’s Kingdom is not one of brick and mortar with lavish estates and palaces and conquered lands and peoples strewn across the earth. No, Christ’s Kingdom is established in our hearts. Is Christ the King of your Heart? It is His by right. Do you obey his commands and precepts as a loyal subject of his Authority or do they fall on deaf ears? Are you quick to resist his commands as if he, the King of your Heart – who knows every square inch of your Heart and knows how to direct and order His Kingdom – does not know how to direct you, his lowly subject? In any of the monarchies on earth, if any king were to order his subject to do something, he would do it without delay would he not? And if the President were to call or write one of us, we would obey his command right away. But when it comes to Christ, who is the King of much more precious a kingdom than any country or nation, our world has largely decided that it does not need to heed His royal commands.

And so it is for this reason that we must also, today, reflect on the sheep and the goats in this passage and our place among them. If we, His loyal subjects, obey the Lord, Our King, when he commands us to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcome to the stranger, clothing to the naked, care to the sick and company to the imprisoned – if we do these very concrete actions – then we will show the world who the king of our hearts really is and thus who the king of this world really is. We must proclaim Him as our King, and him alone, and perform these works because he is our king. Then the world, including us, will see the oppression of their current master – pride, covetousness, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and laziness – and upon seeing this oppression, weather in their hearts or in their rulers, will allow themselves to be conquered by Christ’s grace and love and to welcome his Reign.

As Christ is totally different from any other Master, so too must our obedience be totally different. In obedience to our vices, we may do these good works, feeding the hungry, giving clothes to the naked, etc. but out of pride seeking recognition or approval or out of envy of others wealth, to show the giving we are capable of as well, as a sort of competition. In obedience to our presidents and kings, we may do these good works out of a vague sense of compassion, giving for the sake of giving, or giving to meet a certain status quo. This type of compassion is empty and without meaning or purpose. Christ, our true King, calls us to avoid both types of disordered obedience. He calls us not to mere philanthropy but true and meaningful Christian charity. And this can only happen when we identify our King, as St. Matthews does in this gospel, with the least among us. So not only are we obeying our King’s command, but in doing so we are acting for him, too him! When we can see the face of our King in the lowly and approach each one as if he was our King himself, only then are we exhibiting Christian charity. On the contrary, if we distribute food to a nation, for example, just so we can raise the poverty rate or if we welcome strangers merely to fulfill a quota or a certain level of diversity, if we do either of these and others then we are denying the Royal dignity inherent in each of the least of our brethren and we act in vain. This is why St. Paul asserts that “if I give away all I have… but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Finally, St. Teresa of Avila writes: “Here the Lord asks only two things of us: love for his Majesty and love for our neighbor. It is for these two virtues that we must strive, and if we attain them perfectly we are doing his will. The surest sign that we are keeping these two commandments is, I think, that we should really be loving our neighbor; for we cannot be sure if we are loving God, although we may have good reasons for believing that we are, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor. And be certain that, the farther advanced you find you are in this, the greater the love you will have for God; for so dearly does his Majesty love us that he will reward our love for our neighbor by increasing the love which we bear to himself, and that in a thousand ways: this I cannot doubt.”

Closing Prayer:

O Jesus Christ, we acknowledge You as universal King. All that has been made, has been created for You. Exercise all Your rights over us. We renew our baptismal vows, renouncing Satan, his empty promises and his works; and we promise to live as good Christians. In particular do we pledge ourselves to labor, to the best of our ability, for the triumph of the rights of God and Your Church.

Divine Heart of Jesus, to You do We offer our poor services, laboring that all hearts may acknowledge Your Sacred Kingship, and that thus the reign of Your peace be established throughout the whole universe. Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

sixth paper

Here is my Philosophical Anthropology paper, mentioned here, I got an A!

St. Thomas Aquinas, in the first half of the second part of his magnum opus, the Summa Theologiae[1], treats one of the fundamental questions of human existence, the good and evil of human actions. Through the course of addressing this question he concludes that not all human actions are good, that some are indeed evil. In doing so, he reveals interesting insights into his understanding of the human person (and even provides a basis from which to compare his thought to Plato’s). Here we will focus our attention on Article 1, of Question 18 in this particular section[2] in order to examine these understandings and how he arrives at them.

Article 1 asks the following question: “Whether every human action is good, or are there evil actions?”[3] Before we begin, a clarification must be made that will affect how we understand the rest of this article and ancillary articles that St. Thomas references. When he says “Evil” here in the title he doesn’t only mean moral evil. “Evil” also suggests “non-goodness,” a distinct idea from moral evil. Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, gives the example of a tree to illustrate this point. He says that “a tree is not evil for not being God, but a tree, unlike God, can be diseased, and disease is evil for a tree.”[4] Noting this distinction from the beginning will give us a broader understanding of St. Thomas’ language which we will see later.

St. Thomas begins the article by presenting three Objections against the possibility that any human actions can be evil, which he will then analyze and refute. In Objection 1 he states: “Dionysius says that evil occurs only in virtue of what is good.” But since the power of good cannot produce evil, evil actions must not exist. Objection 2 says that an evil action is one that is deficient in some way. But all actions can be perfected and perfected actions are only good. Therefore, “every action is good and none is evil.” Finally Objection 3 again quotes Dionysius who states that evil only happens accidentally. But all actions must have proper effects, not accidental ones, “therefore no action is evil; on the contrary, every action is good.”

St. Thomas then gives a general rebuttal by quoting our Lord in John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light.” The witness of Scripture being one of his primary authorities, he states that some human actions must be evil. He then gives his own Response that will expound on the rebuttal and concludes the article with specific Replies to each Objection. In this Response and in the Replies we see the heart of St. Thomas’ understanding of the human person.

First he says that if we can understand how some things can be evil themselves, understanding evil as it was described earlier, then we can progress to an understanding of how human actions can be evil as well. The “good-ness” or “evil-ness” of an action flows from the “good-ness” or “evil-ness” of the thing that produces the action. He begins this train of thought by stating that since a thing exists at all, it is good. This he proved in two earlier Articles in the Summa and is worth examining here[5]. In the first part of the Summa under Question 5, Articles 1 and 3 ask “Whether goodness differs really from being?” and “Whether every being is good?” respectively. He answers negatively to Article 1 and affirmatively to Article 3. “Goodness and being are really the same, and differ only in idea” because goodness is desirable, and it is desirable in so far as it is perfect, perfect in so far as it is actual and actual if it simply exists. Therefore, as St. Augustine says, “inasmuch as we exist we are good.”[6] In answering positively to Article 3, it is enough to see that being denotes existence and so we are in the same line of logic used in Article 1 and can conclude that every being is good.

Returning to St. Thomas’ Response, we now have the first point revealed about his understanding of the human person, that because he exists, he is good, or to put it a better way, he is essentially good. We will see the appropriateness of this word, essence, later in our examination of the Response.

St. Thomas then states that “In God alone the complete fullness of His being is in something one and simple, while in everything else the fullness of being proper to it involves diverse things.” He makes this point to draw out the distinction between God and man. Man is good because he has being as a human, as was shown before. But, unlike God, man’s fullness of being isn’t in “something one and simple,” but requires the composite of soul and body with all of their respective capabilities intact. So in this respect if man falls short in one of these capabilities he is imperfect and so is not exhibiting the complete fullness of his being of which he is capable. Therefore, he is evil in this way, or rather; he has evil or “non-goodness” in him. St. Thomas illustrates this in his example of the blind man: “a blind man possesses goodness inasmuch as he lives, but evil (or “non-goodness”)[7] inasmuch as he lacks sight.”

Finally, St. Thomas concludes:

We must therefore say that every action has goodness, in so far as it has being: whereas it is lacking in goodness, in so far as it is lacking in something that is due to its fullness of being; and thus it is said to be evil: for instance if it lacks the quantity determined by reason, or its due place, or something of the kind…[8]

Peter Kreeft comments here that “St. Thomas means by ‘being’ not [only] ‘existence’ (for evil acts exist) but also essence [as was mentioned before], including proper form and order to the end.”[9] Here again “evil” means some sort of deficiency or “non-goodness” but this now leads us to the more popular understanding of “evil” as a moral issue because these deficiencies make evil possible.[10] It is because of this connection that St. Thomas can conclude that some human acts are evil.

An example of “non-goodness” making “moral-evil” possible is illustrated in Article 8 of Question 5 in the first half of the second part of the Summa.[11] Here the question is “Whether every man desires happiness?” In his Response, St. Thomas states that “to desire happiness is nothing else than to desire that one’s will be satisfied. And this everyone desires”[12] But, some do not know the proper object of happiness which is the vision of the Divine Essence.[13] This deficiency in knowledge, this “non-goodness,” leads man to engage in destructive behaviors, morally evil actions, that he thinks will bring him happiness but will only offend him, others, and God. Therefore a second point revealed about St. Thomas’ understanding of the human person is that though man is essentially good, he is capable of committing absolutely morally-evil acts.

We can also draw out of the previous examination a basis for comparison to Plato. Where St. Thomas’ definition of man portrays him as fully being only when he is a composite of body and soul, Plato regards only the soul as the real being and the body as merely its “prison.” For St. Thomas the body and soul, together with all its faculties work together for the attainment of happiness, i.e. vision of the Divine Essence. Plato’s vision of the Divine Essence, the “Form of the Good,” is hindered and constricted by the body, and all his energies are spent trying to subdue and minimize the body’s influence and contribution (Phaedo 64e-65b).

This brings us to St. Thomas’ Replies in our focus Article. In his Reply to Objection 1, in which Dionysius says that evil “occurs only in virtue of what is good,” St. Thomas qualifies this by saying that “evil occurs in virtue of a deficient good.” Indeed he would agree that an absolute good could not produce evil. But this particular good (which still has goodness by virtue of being a good) is “deficient” thereby allowing the possibility for evil to be produced. In his Reply to Objection 2, in which it is asserted that evil actions do not exist because actions are perfectible and therefore good, St. Thomas counters that a certain aspect of an action can indeed be perfected while another aspect, the deficient one, can yield the evil. For example, a blind man has the “power of walking” like any other man but his deficiency in sight hinders his walking. Here we have evil as a “non-goodness” which, for further example, could lead to the moral-evil of despair or impatience. Finally in his Reply to Objection 3, which states that evil only happens accidentally rather than properly – so no action is evil – St. Thomas states that an evil action can have a proper effect according to the “goodness and being it has.” For example, adultery generates another human being by virtue of the “union of male and female” not the “lack in the order of reason” (a deficiency of reason) that made the adultery possible.

Now that we have examined the entirety of this Article in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, we can state clearly and separately two points that we have uncovered regarding his understanding of the human person: 1. That man is good because he exists and due to his essence and 2. It is possible that some of his acts are evil despite his essential goodness. One may be spurred by this examination to ask, “Why would man make evil actions?” In our brief treatment here we have said that this is due to man’s deficiencies of the soul and body that make evil possible. Armed now with this understanding of the human person and the cause and capability of evil in him, we can come to reconcile the real evil human action in this world with the dignity with which man was created.

[1] In this essay, I use the translation of Summa Theologiae in Treatise on Happiness, translated by John A. Oesterle, ©1983, University of Notre Dame Press edition, hereafter referred to as “TH.” I also refer to a different translation of Summa Theologiae used in Summa of the Summa, edited and annotated by Peter Kreeft, ©1990, Ignatius Press – that was done in 1920 by The Fathers of the English Dominican Province – hereafter referred to as “SS.” All quotes from Summa Theologiae are of the former translation unless indicated otherwise.
[2] 1-2.18.1 to be precise
[3] SS translation used here
[4] SS, p. 414, n. 120 says, “‘Evil’ is meant here not only in the narrow and specific sense of moral evil, but as the opposite of any good. St. Thomas does not believe that evil is a being, but that it is in beings. He does not belief that multiplicity and finitude are evil in themselves, as the Gnostics and Manichees taught, but that finitude and multiplicity make evil possible. A tree is not evil for not being God, but a tree, unlike God, can be diseased, and disease is evil for a tree.”
[5] TH, p. 161, n. 7 directed me toward these articles. They are, to be precise, 1.5.1 and 1.5.3
[6] The quotes in this paragraph up to this point, except for “good-ness” and “evil-ness” which are my own invention, are from the SS translation
[7] Cf. n. 4 above
[8] SS translation used here
[9] SS, p. 415, n. 121
[10] This is distinct from saying the deficiencies themselves are evil. Cf. n. 4 above.
[11] 1-2.5.8 to be precise
[12] SS translation used here
[13] Cf. 1-2.3.8

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pre-Theology Ministry Log 05

(see here)

Pre-Theologian Ministry Log

Date: Thursday, Nov 17, 2005

Event: St. Ambrose Family Outreach Center: This week very few adults were there, I think it may be because it was the first really cold evening and maybe people didn’t feel like getting out. So Vic and I only stayed there for an hour while he helped one young man. No one else needed help and the teens were playing basketball so I chatted with the teen coordinators at the front desk

Name the feelings you experienced during the event: I was talking with one of the guys that runs the teen program, Gregory, and he was so excited to hear that I had worked in software development before seminary. He talked about the calendar project that the teens were working on and I could tell how proud he was of the project and of the kids. He showed me the calendar they made last year and went on and on about how much work it took to make and how some of the kids were really sharp with computers. He wanted to much for me to help them with their next calendar because it would be good for the kids and they could learn so much from me. They wanted me to come Tuesday night (Nov 22) but I said that Vic would be going home and St. Mary’s likes for us to come in pairs. Besides, I have work study in the library that night from 7-10pm.

What was difficult and or troubling? Why? Nothing, although I did feel very tired.

Where was God in this event? In Gregory’s zeal for working with the teens.

What have you learned about yourself in the wake of this event? Nothing evident at the moment

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Consecration: Twenty-Sixth Day

(see here)

True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort: No. 12-38:

12. Finally, we must say in the words of the apostle Paul, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has the heart of man understood" the beauty, the grandeur, the excellence of Mary, who is indeed a miracle of miracles of grace, nature and glory. "If you wish to understand the Mother," says a saint, "then understand the Son. She is a worthy Mother of God." Hic taceat omnis lingua : Here let every tongue be silent.

13. My heart has dictated with special joy all that I have written to show that Mary has been unknown up till now, and that that is one of the reasons why Jesus Christ is not known as he should be.

If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary. She who first gave him to the world will establish his kingdom in the world

Necessity of Devotion to Our Lady

14. With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since he alone can say, "I am he who is". Consequently, this great Lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had and does not now have any absolute need of the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of his will and the manifestation of his glory. To do all things he has only to will them.

15. However, I declare that, considering things as they are, because God has decided to begin and accomplish his greatest works through the Blessed Virgin ever since he created her, we can safely believe that he will not change his plan in the time to come, for he is God and therefore does not change in his thoughts or his way of acting.

16. God the Father gave his only Son to the world only through Mary. Whatever desires the patriarchs may have cherished, whatever entreaties the prophets and saints of the Old Law may have had for 4,000 years to obtain that treasure, it was Mary alone who merited it and found grace before God by the power of her prayers and the perfection of her virtues. "The world being unworthy," said Saint Augustine, "to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave his Son to Mary for the world to receive him from her."

The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.

God the Holy Spirit formed Jesus Christ in Mary but only after having asked her consent through one of the chief ministers of his court.

17. God the Father imparted to Mary his fruitfulness as far as a mere creature was capable of receiving it, to enable her to bring forth his Son and all the members of his mystical body.

18. God the Son came into her virginal womb as a new Adam into his earthly paradise, to take his delight there and produce hidden wonders of grace.

God-made-man found freedom in imprisoning himself in her womb. He displayed power in allowing himself to be borne by this young maiden. He found his glory and that of his Father in hiding his splendours from all creatures here below and revealing them only to Mary. He glorified his independence and his majesty in depending upon this lovable virgin in his conception, his birth, his presentation in the temple, and in the thirty years of his hidden life. Even at his death she had to be present so that he might be united with her in one sacrifice and be immolated with her consent to the eternal Father, just as formerly Isaac was offered in sacrifice by Abraham when he accepted the will of God. It was Mary who nursed him, fed him, cared for him, reared him, and sacrificed him for us.

The Holy Spirit could not leave such wonderful and inconceivable dependence of God unmentioned in the Gospel, though he concealed almost all the wonderful things that Wisdom Incarnate did during his hidden life in order to bring home to us its infinite value and glory. Jesus gave more glory to God his Father by submitting to his Mother for thirty years than he would have given him had he converted the whole world by working the greatest miracles. How highly then do we glorify God when to please him we submit ourselves to Mary, taking Jesus as our sole model.

19. If we examine closely the remainder of the life of Jesus Christ, we see that he chose to begin his miracles through Mary. It was by her word that he sanctified Saint John the Baptist in the womb of his mother, Saint Elizabeth; no sooner had Mary spoken than John was sanctified. This was his first and greatest miracle of grace. At the wedding in Cana he changed water into wine at her humble prayer, and this was his first miracle in the order of nature. He began and continued his miracles through Mary and he will continue them through her until the end of time.

20. God the Holy Spirit, who does not produce any divine person, became fruitful through Mary whom he espoused. It was with her, in her and of her that he produced his masterpiece, God-made-man, and that he produces every day until the end of the world the members of the body of this adorable Head. For this reason the more he finds Mary his dear and inseparable spouse in a soul the more powerful and effective he becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul and that soul in Jesus Christ.

21. This does not mean that the Blessed Virgin confers on the Holy Spirit a fruitfulness which he does not already possess. Being God, he has the ability to produce just like the Father and the Son, although he does not use this power and so does not produce another divine person. But it does mean that the Holy Spirit chose to make use of our Blessed Lady, although he had no absolute need of her, in order to become actively fruitful in producing Jesus Christ and his members in her and by her. This is a mystery of grace unknown even to many of the most learned and spiritual of Christians.

2. Mary's part in the sanctification of souls

22. The plan adopted by the three persons of the Blessed Trinity in the Incarnation, the first coming of Jesus Christ, is adhered to each day in an invisible manner throughout the Church and they will pursue it to the end of time until the last coming of Jesus Christ.

23. God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the seas (maria). He gathered all his graces together and called them Mary (Maria). The great God has a treasury or storehouse full of riches in which he has enclosed all that is beautiful, resplendent, rare, and precious, even his own Son. This immense treasury is none other than Mary whom the saints call the "treasury of the Lord". From her fullness all men are made rich.

24. God the Son imparted to his mother all that he gained by his life and death, namely, his infinite merits and his eminent virtues. He made her the treasurer of all his Father had given him as heritage. Through her he applies his merits to his members and through her he transmits his virtues and distributes his graces. She is his mystical channel, his aqueduct, through which he causes his mercies to flow gently and abundantly.

25. God the Holy Spirit entrusted his wondrous gifts to Mary, his faithful spouse, and chose her as the dispenser of all he possesses, so that she distributes all his gifts and graces to whom she wills, as much as she wills, how she wills and when she wills. No heavenly gift is given to men which does not pass through her virginal hands. Such indeed is the will of God, who has decreed that we should have all things through Mary, so that, making herself poor and lowly,, and hiding herself in the depths of nothingness during her whole life, she might be enriched, exalted and honoured by almighty God. Such are the views of the Church and the early Fathers.

26. Were I speaking to the so-called intellectuals of today, I would prove at great length by quoting Latin texts taken from Scripture and the Fathers of the Church all that I am now stating so simply. I could also instance solid proofs which can be read in full in Fr. Poiré’s book "The Triple Crown of the Blessed Virgin". But I am speaking mainly for the poor and simple who have more good will and faith than the common run of scholars. As they believe more simply and more meritoriously, let me merely state the truth to them quite plainly without bothering to quote Latin passages which they would not understand. Nevertheless, I shall quote some texts as they occur to my mind as I go along.

27. Since grace enhances our human nature and glory adds a still greater perfection to grace, it is certain that our Lord remains in heaven just as much the Son of Mary as he was on earth. Consequently he has retained the submissiveness and obedience of the most perfect of all children towards the best of all mothers.

We must take care, however, not to consider this dependence as an abasement or imperfection in Jesus Christ. For Mary, infinitely inferior to her Son, who is God, does not command him in the same way as an earthly mother would command her child who is beneath her. Since she is completely transformed in God by that grace and glory which transforms all the saints in him, she does not ask or wish or do anything which is contrary to the eternal and changeless will of God. When therefore we read in the writings of Saint Bernard, Saint Bernardine, Saint Bonaventure, and others that all in heaven and on earth, even God himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God was pleased to give her is so great that she seems to have the same power as God. Her prayers and requests are so powerful with him that he accepts them as commands in the sense that he never resists his dear mother's prayer because it is always humble and conformed to his will.

Moses by the power of his prayer curbed God's anger against the Israelites so effectively that the infinitely great and merciful Lord was unable to withstand him and asked Moses to let him be angry and punish that rebellious people. How much greater, then, will be the prayer of the humble Virgin Mary, worthy Mother of God, which is more powerful with the King of heaven than the prayers and intercession of all the angels and saints in heaven and on earth.

28. Mary has authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven. As a reward for her great humility, God gave her the power and the mission of assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels who fell away through pride.

Such is the will of almighty God who exalts the humble, that the powers of heaven, earth and hell, willingly or unwillingly, must obey the commands of the humble Virgin Mary. For God has made her queen of heaven and earth, leader of his armies, keeper of his treasures, dispenser of his graces, worker of his wonders, restorer of the human race, mediatrix on behalf of men, destroyer of his enemies, and faithful associate in his great works and triumphs.

29. God the Father wishes Mary to be the mother of his children until the end of time and so he says to her, "Dwell in Jacob", that is to say, take up your abode permanently in my children, in my holy ones represented by Jacob, and not in the children of the devil and sinners represented by Esau.

30. Just as in natural and bodily generation there is a father and a mother, so in the supernatural and spiritual generation there is a father who is God and a mother who is Mary. All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for their mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father. This is why the reprobate, such as heretics and schismatics, who hate, despise or ignore the Blessed Virgin, do not have God for their father though they arrogantly claim they have, because they do not have Mary for their mother. Indeed if they had her for their mother they would love and honour her as good and true children naturally love and honour the mother who gave them life.

An infallible and unmistakable sign by which we can distinguish a heretic, a man of false doctrine, an enemy of God, from one of God's true friends is that the heretic and the hardened sinner show nothing but contempt and indifference for our Lady. He endeavours by word and example, openly or insidiously - sometimes under specious pretexts - to belittle the love and veneration shown to her. God the Father has not told Mary to dwell in them because they are, alas, other Esaus.

31. God the Son wishes to form himself, and, in a manner of speaking, become incarnate every day in his members through his dear Mother. To her he said: "Take Israel for your inheritance." It is as if he said, God the Father has given me as heritage all the nations of the earth, all men good and evil, predestinate and reprobate. To the good I shall be father and advocate, to the bad a just avenger, but to all I shall be a judge. But you, my dear Mother, will have for your heritage and possession only the predestinate represented by Israel. As their loving mother, you will give them birth, feed them and rear them. As their queen, you will lead, govern and defend them.

32. "This one and that one were born in her." According to the explanation of some of the Fathers, the first man born of Mary is the God-man, Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ, the head of mankind, is born of her, the predestinate, who are members of this head, must also as a necessary consequence be born of her. One and the same mother does not give birth to the head without the members nor to the members without the head, for these would be monsters in the order of nature. In the order of grace likewise the head and the members are born of the same mother. If a member of the mystical body of Christ, that is, one of the predestinate, were born of a mother other than Mary who gave birth to the head, he would not be one of the predestinate, nor a member of Jesus Christ, but a monster in the order of grace.

33. Moreover, Jesus is still as much as ever the fruit of Mary, as heaven and earth repeat thousands of times a day: "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." It is therefore certain that Jesus is the fruit and gift of Mary for every single man who possesses him, just as truly as he is for all mankind. Consequently, if any of the faithful have Jesus formed in their heart they can boldly say, "It is thanks to Mary that what I possess is Jesus her fruit, and without her I would not have him." We can attribute more truly to her what Saint Paul said of himself, "I am in labour again with all the children of God until Jesus Christ, my Son, is formed in them to the fullness of his age." Saint Augustine, surpassing himself as well as all that I have said so far, affirms that in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God all the predestinate, while in the world, are hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin where they are protected, nourished, cared for and developed by this good Mother, until the day she brings them forth to a life of glory after death, which the Church calls the birthday of the just. This is indeed a mystery of grace unknown to the reprobate and little known even to the predestinate!

34. God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion his chosen ones in and through Mary. He tells her, "My well-beloved, my spouse, let all your virtues take root in my chosen ones that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace. When you were living on earth, practising the most sublime virtues, I was so pleased with you that I still desire to find you on earth without your ceasing to be in heaven. Reproduce yourself then in my chosen ones, so that I may have the joy of seeing in them the roots of your invincible faith, profound humility, total mortification, sublime prayer, ardent charity, your firm hope and all your virtues. You are always my spouse, as faithful, pure, and fruitful as ever. May your faith give me believers; your purity, virgins; your fruitfulness, elect and living temples."

35. When Mary has taken root in a soul she produces in it wonders of grace which only she can produce; for she alone is the fruitful virgin who never had and never will have her equal in purity and fruitfulness. Together with the Holy Spirit Mary produced the greatest thing that ever was or ever will be: a God-man. She will consequently produce the marvels which will be seen in the latter times. The formation and the education of the great saints who will come at the end of the world are reserved to her, for only this singular and wondrous virgin can produce in union with the Holy Spirit singular and wondrous things.

36. When the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse. One of the main reasons why the Holy Spirit does not work striking wonders in souls is that he fails to find in them a sufficiently close union with his faithful and inseparable spouse. I say "inseparable spouse", for from the moment the substantial love of the Father and the Son espoused Mary to form Jesus, the head of the elect, and Jesus in the elect, he has never disowned her, for she has always been faithful and fruitful.

3. Consequences

37. We must obviously conclude from what I have just said:
First, that Mary received from God a far-reaching dominion over the souls of the elect. Otherwise she could not make her dwelling-place in them as God the Father has ordered her to do, and she could not conceive them, nourish them, and bring them forth to eternal life as their mother. She could not have them for her inheritance and her possession and form them in Jesus and Jesus in them. She could not implant in their heart the roots of her virtues, nor be the inseparable associate of the Holy Spirit in all these works of grace. None of these things, I repeat, could she do unless she had received from the Almighty rights and authority over their souls. For God, having given her power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children - not only in what concerns their body - which would be of little account - but also in what concerns their soul.

38. Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth by grace as Jesus is king by nature and by conquest. But as the kingdom of Jesus Christ exists primarily in the heart or interior of man, according to the words of the Gospel, "The kingdom of God is within you", so the kingdom of the Blessed Virgin is principally in the interior of man, that is, in his soul. It is principally in souls that she is glorified with her Son more than in any visible creature. So we may call her, as the saints do, Queen of our hearts.

Prayers for Part 3

St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
St. Mary, pray for us!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Consecration: Twenty-Fifth Day

(see here)

True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort: No. 213-225: (Wonderful effects of this devotion)

213. My dear friend, be sure that if you remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out, the following effects will be produced in your soul:

1. Knowledge of our unworthinessBy the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through Mary, his faithful spouse, you will perceive the evil inclinations of your fallen nature and how incapable you are of any good apart from that which God produces in you as Author of nature and of grace. As a consequence of this knowledge you will despise yourself and think of yourself only as an object of repugnance. You will consider yourself as a snail that soils everything with its slime, as a toad that poisons everything with its venom, as a malevolent serpent seeking only to deceive. Finally, the humble Virgin Mary will share her humility with you so that, although you regard yourself with distaste and desire to be disregarded by others, you will not look down slightingly upon anyone.

2. A share in Mary's faith

214. Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints. Now that she is reigning in heaven she no longer has this faith, since she sees everything clearly in God by the light of glory. However, with the consent of almighty God she did not lose it when entering heaven. She has preserved it for her faithful servants in the Church militant. Therefore the more you gain the friendship of this noble Queen and faithful Virgin the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life. It will cause you to depend less upon sensible and extraordinary feelings. For it is a lively faith animated by love enabling you to do everything from no other motive than that of pure love. It is a firm faith, unshakable as a rock, prompting you to remain firm and steadfast in the midst of storms and tempests. It is an active and probing faith which like some mysterious pass-key admits you into the mysteries of Jesus Christ and of man's final destiny and into the very heart of God himself. It is a courageous faith which inspires you to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for God and the salvation of souls. Lastly, this faith will be your flaming torch, your very life with God, your secret fund of divine Wisdom, and an all-powerful weapon for you to enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. It inflames those who are lukewarm and need the gold of fervent love. It restores life to those who are dead through sin. It moves and transforms hearts of marble and cedars of Lebanon by gentle and convincing argument. Finally, this faith will strengthen you to resist the devil and the other enemies of salvation.

3. The gift of pure love

215. The Mother of fair love will rid your heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to obey the commandments of her Son with alacrity and with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will fill your heart with pure love of which she is the treasury. You will then cease to act as you did before, out of fear of the God who is love, but rather out of pure love. You will look upon him as a loving Father and endeavour to please him at all times. You will speak trustfully to him as a child does to its father. If you should have the misfortune to offend him you will abase yourself before him and humbly beg his pardon. You will offer your hand to him with simplicity and lovingly rise from your sin. Then, peaceful and relaxed and buoyed up with hope you will continue on your way to him.

4. Great confidence in God and in Mary

216. Our Blessed Lady will fill you with unbounded confidence in God and in herself:
1) Because you will no longer approach Jesus by yourself but always through Mary, your loving Mother.
2) Since you have given her all your merits, graces and satisfactions to dispose of as she pleases, she imparts to you her own virtues and clothes you in her own merits. So you will be able to say confidently to God: "Behold Mary, your handmaid, be it done unto me according to your word."
3) Since you have now given yourself completely to Mary, body and soul, she, who is generous to the generous, and more generous than even the kindest benefactor, will in return give herself to you in a marvellous but real manner. Indeed you may without hesitation say to her, "I am yours, O Blessed Virgin, obtain salvation for me," or with the beloved disciple, St. John, "I have taken you, Blessed Mother, for my all." Or again you may say with St. Bonaventure, "Dear Mother of saving grace, I will do everything with confidence and without fear because you are my strength and my boast in the Lord," or in another place, "I am all yours and all that I have is yours, O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things. Let me place you as a seal upon my heart, for your love is as strong as death." Or adopting the sentiments of the prophet, "Lord, my heart has no reason to be exalted nor should my looks be proud; I have not sought things of great moment nor wonders beyond my reach; nevertheless, I am still not humble. But I have roused my soul and taken courage. I am as a child, weaned from earthly pleasures and resting on its mother's breast. It is upon this breast that all good things come to me."
4) What will still further increase your confidence in her is that, after having given her in trust all that you possess to use or keep as she pleases, you will place less trust in yourself and much more in her whom you have made your treasury. How comforting and how consoling when a person can say, "The treasury of God, where he has placed all that he holds most precious, is also my treasury." "She is," says a saintly man, "the treasury of the Lord."

5. Communication of the spirit of Mary

217. The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. As St. Ambrose says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!" "When will that happy day come," asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, "when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?" When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: "Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!"

6. Transformation into the likeness of Jesus

218. If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus. I have seen many devout souls searching for Jesus in one way or another, and so often when they have worked hard throughout the night, all they can say is, "Despite our having worked all night, we have caught nothing." To them we can say, "You have worked hard and gained little; Jesus can only be recognised faintly in you." But if we follow the immaculate path of Mary, living the devotion that I teach, we will always work in daylight, we will work in a holy place, and we will work but little. There is no darkness in Mary, not even the slightest shadow since there was never any sin in her. She is a holy place, a holy of holies, in which saints are formed and moulded.

219. Please note that I say that saints are moulded in Mary. There is a vast difference between carving a statue by blows of hammer and chisel and making a statue by using a mould. Sculptors and statue-makers work hard and need plenty of time to make statues by the first method. But the second method does not involve much work and takes very little time. St. Augustine speaking to our Blessed Lady says, "You are worthy to be called the mould of God." Mary is a mould capable of forming people into the image of the God-man. Anyone who is cast into this divine mould is quickly shaped and moulded into Jesus and Jesus into him. At little cost and in a short time he will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mould that fashioned a God-man.

220. I think I can very well compare some spiritual directors and devout persons to sculptors who wish to produce Jesus in themselves and in others by methods other than this. Many of them rely on their own skill, ingenuity and art and chip away endlessly with mallet and chisel at hard stone or badly- prepared wood, in an effort to produce a likeness of our Lord. At times, they do not manage to produce a recognisable likeness either because they lack knowledge and experience of the person of Jesus or because a clumsy stroke has spoiled the whole work. But those who accept this little-known secret of grace which I offer them can rightly be compared to smelters and moulders who have discovered the beautiful mould of Mary where Jesus was so divinely and so naturally formed. They do not rely on their own skill but on the perfection of the mould. They cast and lose themselves in Mary where they become true models of her Son.

221. You may think this a beautiful and convincing comparison. But how many understand it? I would like you, my dear friend, to understand it. But remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mould. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary.

7. The greater glory of Christ

222. If you live this devotion sincerely, you will give more glory to Jesus in a month than in many years of a more demanding devotion. Here are my reasons for saying this:

1) Since you do everything through the Blessed Virgin as required by this devotion, you naturally lay aside your own intentions no matter how good they appear to you. You abandon yourself to our Lady's intentions even though you do not know what they are. Thus you share in the high quality of her intentions, which are so pure that she gave more glory to God by the smallest of her actions, say, twirling her distaff, or making a stitch, than did St. Laurence suffering his cruel martyrdom on the grid-iron, and even more than all the saints together in all their most heroic deeds! Mary amassed such a multitude of merits and graces during her sojourn on earth that it would be easier to count the stars in heaven, the drops of water in the ocean or the sands of the sea-shore than count her merits and graces. She thus gave more glory to God than all the angels and saints have given or will ever give him. Mary, wonder of God, when souls abandon themselves to you, you cannot but work wonders in them!

223. 2) In this devotion we set no store on our own thoughts and actions but are content to rely on Mary's dispositions when approaching and even speaking to Jesus. We then act with far greater humility than others who imperceptibly rely on their own dispositions and are self-satisfied about them; and consequently we give greater glory to God, for perfect glory is given to him only by the lowly and humble of heart.

224. 3) Our Blessed Lady, in her immense love for us, is eager to receive into her virginal hands the gift of our actions, imparting to them a marvellous beauty and splendour, and presenting them herself to Jesus most willingly. More glory is given to our Lord in this way than when we make our offering with our own guilty hands.

225. 4) Lastly, you never think of Mary without Mary thinking of God for you. You never praise or honour Mary without Mary joining you in praising and honouring God. Mary is entirely relative to God. Indeed I would say that she was relative only to God, because she exists uniquely in reference to him.

She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says "God". When St. Elizabeth praised Mary calling her blessed because she had believed, Mary, the faithful echo of God, responded with her canticle, "My soul glorifies the Lord." What Mary did on that day, she does every day. When we praise her, when we love and honour her, when we present anything to her, then God is praised, honoured and loved and receives our gift through Mary and in Mary.

Prayers for Part 3

St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
St. Mary, pray for us!

the abortion clinic

I just got back from the abortion clinic with Max, my fellow seminarian. We went to the 8:15am Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and then went to the clinic afterwards.

The Holy Spirit was very affirming today. First the Mass... and then after Mass, Max recognized a tall, slender, older French lady who used to join our community for Evening Prayer. She hadn't been coming because the seminarian that used to invite her graduated last May... so Max invited her. She said that she is praying for us every day and asked us to pray for her son. Seeing her really touched my heart. Then Max and I, feeling emboldended (sp?), went to the clinic and setup up our "Women Deserve Better" signs along the side of the road.

Before we knelt down on the sidewalk to pray a young lady who was walking in to the building (there's also a pharmacy in the same building... I think alot of people don't know the abortuary is in there) saw the signs we were holding and walked up to us. She said, "OK, what do got to give me? I have one minute." So Max, assuming she was pregnant and going in for an abortion, stepped up and just allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through him. He introduced himself and then told her that she was a beautiful young lady and a beautiful mother, not just in the future, but a beautiful mother now who deserves better than abortion and doesn't have to kill her baby. She said, "Oh, there's a clinic in there?" I said yes, and that we were there just to pray for an end to abortion and increase awareness of what goes on there. She said "well I respect you guys for what you're doing" and then shook Max's hand and left. I pray that we've planted a seed in her to change her mind about abortion if she is pro-choice or to have courage to defend life, is she is pro-life.

Then Max and I prayed morning prayer, a rosary, the Litany of the Holy Spirit, the Litany of the Blessed Mother, Ave Maris Stella, St. Louis de Montfort's Prayer to Mary, the Prayer to end Abortion, the Litany of the Saints, and Act of Contrition for reparation of sin, the Office of Readings, and other spontaneous prayers.

Praise be to God!

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us!

fifth paper

Here is my Political Philosophy paper, mentioned here

I got it back a few days ago and got an A. The topic is a little different than how I originally planned. I decided to write it in a way that would show that the voice of the Church and the voice of the Courts (the ones that are still sound), when heard together, can actually provide a better defense of the traditional defintion of marriage than if one would only hear one or the other, as is the tendency today. I tried to show the striking parallels between statements from both institutions. It took a lot of work but I found the resulting body of evidence pretty interesting.

Now, just a little disclaimer to my "separated brethren" ;) a.k.a. Non-Catholics :)
This paper was written to a very narrow audience: my professor. So I was free to start with certain presumptions that I didn't have to build from the ground up. Also, I take the Church a little bit out of context so I highly encourage any readers to look up the relevant documents online and read the full context - they're pretty short - I'll provide links to them in the paper, for footnote 3:

Of the issues affecting society today, few are as highly debated as gay “marriage.”[1] From the halls of Supreme Courts to lecture halls of colleges and universities across the country, few people are neutral on its legality. When addressing it, one cannot ignore the two institutions with arguably the most authoritative voices on the matter: the Supreme Courts (federal and state) and the Catholic Church. But there are two tendencies involved here. The first is to hear one over the other: the Courts over the Church, because the Courts are more “reasonable” (or more suited to the public square); or the Church over the Courts, because she is more “faithful” (or more suited to the pulpit). The second tendency, which on many occasions includes the first, is to hear them both, giving them each their due, but separately, as if they contradict each other. In seeking to avoid both tendencies, brief arguments from both institutions will be highlighted in communio.[2] Starting from the conclusion that gay “marriage” has a negative impact on society[3], this essay will show that both institutions have very compelling reasons for one to oppose it – reasons that compliment rather than conflict with each other – and that if spoken in concert a more robust defense of the traditional understanding and definition of marriage can be made.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the beginning of its March 2003 document regarding homosexual unions said, “Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.”[4] Here we see that Christians and non-Christians, Catholics and Protestants should all listen without fear. Here we also have the Church, as she always has, placing the issue of marriage (and in this case homosexual unions and by extension, gay “marriage”) at the level of the common good. The Courts would concur. Justice Martha B. Sosman in her dissent from the majority in Goodridge v Dept. of Pub. Health – the case that legalized gay “marriage” in Massachusetts – said, “this proffered change affects not just a load-bearing wall of our social structure but the very cornerstone of that structure.”[5] Indeed Maynard v. Hill proclaimed that marriage “is an institution, in the maintenance of which in its purity the public is deeply interested, for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.”[6] It is interesting to note that the institution declared most capable of furthering authentic human progress is the one Goodridge declares to be our greatest enemy: “[It] ruled that our current marriage system is ‘caste-like’ resting upon ‘invidious distinctions’ that are ‘totally repugnant.’”[7]

Goodridge’s assault on the institution of marriage is not a recent phenomenon in our society. Casti Connubii (“Christian Marriage”), an encyclical letter of Pope Pius XI, says, “[It] appears all the more regrettable that particularly in our day we should witness this divine institution [marriage] often scorned and on every side degraded.” It goes on to speak of, “[T]hat genius… which, anxious only for truth, [considers itself]… emancipated… from all those old-fashioned and immature opinions of the ancients; and to the number of these antiquated opinions they relegate the traditional doctrines of Christian marriage.”[8] This “particular day” was December 1930.

How does this longstanding “scorn” of marriage, this “emancipation” from the “old-fashioned” and “caste-like” definition of marriage toward one that embraces homosexual unions, negatively impact the common good of society? The Congregation, in the document above, answers this question by looking at the ethical considerations of different “orders”: the “order of right reason,” the “biological and anthropological order,” the “social order,” and the “legal order.” Here we will see how considerations from each one matches up with those of Supreme Court cases in the United States.

Speaking from the “order of right reason,” the Congregation states that legalized gay “marriage” assumes “a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good.” One of the “patterns of thought and behavior” it would influence would be “the younger generation’s perception and evaluation of forms of behavior. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”[9] Justice Robert J. Cordy, who also dissented in Goodridge, mirrors the Congregation:

As long as marriage is limited to the opposite-sex couples who can at least theoretically procreate, society is able to communicate a consistent message to its citizens [and especially its youth] that marriage is a (normatively) necessary part of their procreative endeavor; that if they are to procreate, then society has endorsed the institution of marriage as the environment for it and for the subsequent rearing of their children… [Gay “marriage”] would be a diminution in society’s ability to steer the acts of procreation and child rearing into their most optimal setting.[10]

Commonwealth v. Stowell and Hall-Omar Baking Co. v. Commissioner of Labor & Indus. would both agree.[11]

From the “biological and anthropological order,” the Congregation speaks more explicitly about the youth of society. It says that “as experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons.”[12] Justice Cordy, again, gives a similar response. Referring to Baker v. State, he says

[T]he raising of children by same-sex couples, who by definition cannot be the two sole biological parents of a child and cannot provide children with a parental authority figure of each gender, presents an alternative structure for child rearing that has not yet proved itself beyond reasonable scientific dispute to be as optimal as the biologically based marriage norm.[13]

Granted, the Church is more certain of these “obstacles” than the courts, but the similarity in their messages is still noteworthy.

Arguing from the “social order,” the Congregation adds:

Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage… If from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good.[14]

Skinner v. Oklahoma comments: “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the [human] race”[15] Justice Cordy, once more in agreement, says, “The alternative, a society without the institution of marriage, in which heterosexual intercourse, procreation, and child care are largely disconnected processes, would be chaotic.” Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, adds an interesting opinion: “[T]he most likely result of same-sex marriage will not be the expansion of marriage benefits to more and more relationships, but the elimination of marriage as a legal status.”[16]

Finally, from the “legal order” we have our last parallel statement. Speaking of homosexual persons and the “real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens,” the Congregation concludes that “It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.” It suggests they should “make use of the provisions of law,” rather than marriage to ensure, as Maggie Gallagher calls it, an “administrative benefits package.”[17] Moe v. Secretary of Admin. & Fin. says, “[T]he state retains wide latitude to decide the manner in which it will allocate benefits.”[18] Justice Cordy adds, “There is no reason to believe that legislative processes are inadequate to effectuate legal changes in response to evolving evidence, social values, and views of fairness.” Massachusetts Fed’n of Teachers v. Board of Educ. and Mobile Oil v. Attorney Gen. both attest to the fact that the “Legislature may proceed piecemeal in addressing perceived injustices or problems [no matter how painfully slow this process may be to those seemingly offended]”[19]

At this point, we have seen several ways in which the Supreme Courts and the Catholic Church, both speaking on the negative impact of gay “marriage” on society, have very similar if not identical arguments. And we only looked at two key documents from the Church! We have shown that even in select documents, the Church is very much aware of the public landscape before her and the Courts (those that are still sound) are equally aware of the common good that she works so diligently to protect. In no way should the Courts and the Church be discouraged from speaking together in the public square. When separated or pitted against each other, their common outcry against a redefinition of marriage is only partially heard and those to be protected are slighted. Seeing their complimentarity here should give those in support of traditional marriage a more balanced, clearer, deeper, and louder (but not shrill) voice to be heard.[20]

[1] I’m working from the premise that since marriage is, by definition, between a man and a woman, gay “marriage” is an anomaly and so must be referred to in quotes. It is outside the scope of this essay to present the logical and moral foundation for marriage’s traditional definition.
[2] Or “in communion.” Dr. Paul Seaton points out in “Progress or Tyranny? The Goodridge Dissents,” (Fordham University), n. ii “The major Christian and Jewish traditions expressly make room for reason and reason’s deliverances in the economy of their faith: the Catholic, as is (or should be) well known, endorses natural law reasoning, the Jewish appeals to the Noahide Code, the Reformers and their followers appealed to the ‘first grace’ (natural law) and ‘the dictates of nature’; all refer to the second table of the Decalogue as moral-social truths available to unaided reason.” (Hereafter, “Progress or Tyranny?”)
[3] See the dissenting opinions in Goodridge v. Dept of Pub. Health, 798 N.E.2d (Mass. 2003) (hereafter, “Goodridge”); “(How) Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution: A Reply to Andrew Koppelman,” by Maggie Gallagher, University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Fall 2004 (hereafter, “Maggie Gallagher”); “Love and Marriage – and Family Law,” Public Interest, Spring 2005; “Progress or Tyranny?” supra; The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy at; Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, March 2003 (hereafter, “The Congregation”); Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (“Christian Marriage,” [hereafter, id.]), Dec. 1930; The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1601-1666 (hereafter, “CCC”); and many, many other sources.
[4] The Congregation, supra, #1
[5] Goodridge, supra
[6] Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 211 (1888)
[7] Maggie Gallagher, supra, p. 65
[8] Christian Marriage, supra, #44-45
[9] The Congregation, supra, #9
[10] Goodridge, supra
[11] See Commonwealth v. Stowell, 389 Mass. 171, 175 (1983) (given State’s broad concern with institution of marriage, it has “legitimate interest in prohibiting conduct which may threaten that institution”) and Hall-Omar Baking Co. v. Commissioner of Labor & Indus., 344 Mass. 695, 700 (1962) (“Legislative classification is valid if it is rational and bears some relationship to the object intended to be accomplished” [emphasis added]).
[12] The Congregation, supra, #7. The Congregation actually goes on to say, “They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.”
[13] Goodridge, supra. See Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194,222 (1999) (“conceivable that the Legislature could conclude that opposite-sex partners offer advantages in the[e] area [of child rearing], although… experts disagree and the answer is decidedly uncertain”). Cf. Marcoux v. Attorney Gen., 375 Mass. 63, 65 (1978).
[14] The Congregation, supra, #8
[15] Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942)
[16] Maggie Gallagher, supra, p. 37, n. 12
[17] Maggie Gallagher, supra, p. 35-43 goes into great depth on the idea of marriage as being an “administrative benefits package.” She says, “Since the advent of the gay marriage debate, the most prominent way of thinking about the relationship between law and marriage is to say that the law provides important marriage ‘benefits’” etc.
[18] Goodridge, supra, Justice Cordy’s dissent, [FN38]: Moe v. Secretary of Admin. & Fin., 382 Mass. 629,652 (1981).
[19] Goodridge, supra, Justice Cordy’s dissent: See, e.g., Massachusetts Fed’n of Teachers v. Board of Educ., 436 Mass. 763, 778 (2002); Mobile Oil v. Attorney Gen., 361 Mass. 401, 417 (1972)
[20] One final parallel statement gives us a glimpse of the magnitude of what is at stake, the first from Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U.S. 15, 45 (1885); and the second from CCC, supra, #1657:
[N]o legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth… than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman… the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.
-- and –
It is [in the home] that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family… ‘by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity’… [make up] the first school of Christian life and ‘a school of human enrichment.’ Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. (emphasis added)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Consecration: Twenty-Fourth Day

(see here)

True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort: No. 152-164:

152. This devotion is a smooth, short, perfect and sure way of attaining union with our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists.
(a) This devotion is a smooth way. It is the path which Jesus Christ opened up in coming to us and in which there is no obstruction to prevent us reaching him. It is quite true that we can attain to divine union by other roads, but these involve many more crosses and exceptional setbacks and many difficulties that we cannot easily overcome. We would have to pass through spiritual darkness, engage in struggles for which we are not prepared, endure bitter agonies, scale precipitous mountains, tread upon painful thorns, and cross frightful deserts. But when we take the path of Mary, we walk smoothly and calmly.

It is true that on our way we have hard battles to fight and serious obstacles to overcome, but Mary, our Mother and Queen, stays close to her faithful servants. She is always at hand to brighten their darkness, clear away their doubts, strengthen them in their fears, sustain them in their combats and trials. Truly, in comparison with other ways, this virgin road to Jesus is a path of roses and sweet delights. There have been some saints, not very many, such as St. Ephrem, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St. Bonaventure, and St. Francis de Sales, who have taken this smooth path to Jesus Christ, because the Holy Spirit, the faithful Spouse of Mary, made it known to them by a special grace. The other saints, who are the greater number, while having a devotion to Mary, either did not enter or did not go very far along this path. That is why they had to undergo harder and more dangerous trials

153. Why is it then, a servant of Mary might ask, that devoted servants of this good Mother are called upon to suffer much more than those who serve her less generously? They are opposed, persecuted, slandered, and treated with intolerance. They may also have to walk in interior darkness and through spiritual deserts without being given from heaven a single drop of the dew of consolation. If this devotion to the Blessed Virgin makes the path to Jesus smoother, how can we explain why Mary's loyal servants are so ill-treated?

154. I reply that it is quite true that the most faithful servants of the Blessed Virgin, being her greatest favourites, receive from her the best graces and favours from heaven, which are crosses. But I maintain too that these servants of Mary bear their crosses with greater ease and gain more merit and glory. What could check another's progress a thousand times over, or possibly bring about his downfall, does not balk them at all, but even helps them on their way. For this good Mother, filled with the grace and unction of the Holy Spirit, dips all the crosses she prepares for them in the honey of her maternal sweetness and the unction of pure love. They then readily swallow them as they would sugared almonds, though the crosses may be very bitter. I believe that anyone who wishes to be devout and live piously in Jesus will suffer persecution and will have a daily cross to carry. But he will never manage to carry a heavy cross, or carry it joyfully and perseveringly, without a trusting devotion to our Lady, who is the very sweetness of the cross. It is obvious that a person could not keep on eating without great effort unripe fruit which has not been sweetened.

155. (b) This devotion is a short way to discover Jesus, either because it is a road we do not wander from, or because, as we have just said, we walk along this road with greater ease and joy, and consequently with greater speed. We advance more in a brief period of submission to Mary and dependence on her than in whole years of self-will and self-reliance. A man who is obedient and submissive to Mary will sing of glorious victories over his enemies It is true, his enemies will try to impede his progress, force him to retreat or try to make him fall. But with Mary's help, support and guidance, he will go forward towards our Lord. Without falling, retreating and even without being delayed, he will advance with giant strides towards Jesus along the same road which, as it is written, Jesus took to come to us with giant strides and in a short time.

156. Why do you think our Lord spent only a few years here on earth and nearly all of them in submission and obedience to his Mother? The reason is that "attaining perfection in a short time, he lived a long time", even longer than Adam, whose losses he had come to make good. Yet Adam lived more than nine hundred years!

Jesus lived a long time, because he lived in complete submission to his Mother and in union with her, which obedience to his Father required. The Holy Spirit tells us that the man who honours his mother is like a man who stores up a treasure. In other words, the man who honours Mary, his Mother, to the extent of subjecting himself to her and obeying her in all things will soon become very rich, because he is amassing riches every day through Mary who has become his secret philosopher's stone.

There is another quotation from Holy Scripture, "My old age will be found in the mercy of the bosom". According to the mystical interpretation of these words it is in the bosom of Mary that people who are young grow mature in enlightenment, in holiness, in experience and in wisdom, and in a short time reach the fullness of the age of Christ. For it was Mary's womb which encompassed and produced a perfect man. That same womb held the one whom the whole universe can neither encompass nor contain.

157. (c) This devotion is a perfect way to reach our Lord and be united to him, for Mary is the most perfect and the most holy of all creatures, and Jesus, who came to us in a perfect manner, chose no other road for his great and wonderful journey.

The Most High, the Incomprehensible One, the Inaccessible One, He who is, deigned to come down to us poor earthly creatures who are nothing at all. How was this done? The Most High God came down to us in a perfect way through the humble Virgin Mary, without losing anything of his divinity or holiness. It is likewise through Mary that we poor creatures must ascend to almighty God in a perfect manner without having anything to fear.

God the Incomprehensible, allowed himself to be perfectly comprehended and contained by the humble Virgin Mary without losing anything of his immensity. So we must let ourselves be perfectly contained and led by the humble Virgin without any reserve on our part.

God, the Inaccessible, drew near to us and united himself closely, perfectly and even personally to our humanity through Mary without losing anything of his majesty. So it is also through Mary that we must draw near to God and unite ourselves to him perfectly, intimately, and without fear of being rejected.

Lastly, He who is deigned to come down to us who are not and turned our nothingness into God, or He who is. He did this perfectly by giving and submitting himself entirely to the young Virgin Mary, without ceasing to be in time He who is from all eternity. Likewise it is through Mary that we, who are nothing, may become like God by grace and glory. We accomplish this by giving ourselves to her so perfectly and so completely as to remain nothing, as far as self is concerned, and to be everything in her, without any fear of illusion.

158. Show me a new road to our Lord, pave it with all the merits of the saints, adorn it with their heroic virtues, illuminate and enhance it with the splendour and beauty of the angels, have all the angels and saints there to guide and protect those who wish to follow it. Give me such a road and truly, truly, I boldly say - and I am telling the truth - that instead of this road, perfect though it be, I would still choose the immaculate way of Mary. It is a way, a road without stain or spot, without original sin or actual sin, without shadow or darkness,. When our loving Jesus comes in glory once again to reign upon earth - as he certainly will - he will choose no other way than the Blessed Virgin, by whom he came so surely and so perfectly the first time. The difference between his first and his second coming is that the first was secret and hidden, but the second will be glorious and resplendent. Both are perfect because both are through Mary. Alas, this is a mystery which we cannot understand, "Here let every tongue be silent."

159. (d) This devotion to our Lady is a sure way to go to Jesus and to acquire holiness through union with him.
(1) The devotion which I teach is not new. Its history goes back so far that the time of its origin cannot be ascertained with any precision, as Fr. Boudon, who died a holy death a short time ago, states in a book which he wrote on this devotion. It is however certain that for more than seven hundred years we find traces of it in the Church.

St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny, who lived about the year 1040, was one of the first to practise it publicly in France as is told in his life.

Cardinal Peter Damian relates that in the year 1076 his brother, Blessed Marino, made himself the slave of the Blessed Virgin in the presence of his spiritual director in a most edifying manner. He placed a rope around his neck, scourged himself and placed on the altar a sum of money as a token of his devotion and consecration to our Lady. He remained so faithful to this consecration all his life that me merited to be visited and consoled on his death-bed by his dear Queen and hear from her lips the promise of paradise in reward for his service.

Caesarius Bollandus mentions a famous knight, Vautier de Birback, a close relative of the Dukes of Louvain, who about the year 1300 consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin.

This devotion was also practised privately by many people up to the seventeenth century, when it became publicly known.

160. Father Simon de Rojas of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives, court preacher to Philip III, made this devotion popular throughout Spain and Germany. Through the intervention of Philip III, he obtained from Gregory XV valuable indulgences for those who practised it.

Father de los Rios, of the Order of St. Augustine, together with his intimate friend, Father de Roias, worked hard, propagating it throughout Spain and Germany by preaching and writing. He composed a large volume entitled "Hierarchia Mariana", where he treats of the antiquity, the excellence and the soundness of this devotion, with as much devotion as learning.

The Theatine Fathers in the seventeenth century established this devotion in Italy and Savoy.

161. Father Stanislaus Phalacius of the Society of Jesus spread this devotion widely in Poland.

Father de los Rios in the book quoted above mentions the names of princes and princesses, bishops and cardinals of different countries who embraced this devotion.

Father Cornelius a Lapide, noted both for holiness and profound learning, was commissioned by several bishops and theologians to examine it. The praise he gave it after mature examination, is a worthy tribute to his own holiness. Many other eminent men followed his example.

The Jesuit Fathers, ever zealous in the service of our Blessed Lady, presented on behalf of the sodalities of Cologne to Duke Ferdinand of Bavaria, the then archbishop of Cologne, a little treatise on the devotion, and he gave it his approval and granted permission to have it printed. He exhorted all priests and religious of his diocese to do their utmost to spread this solid devotion.

162. Cardinal de Bérulle, whose memory is venerated throughout France, was outstandingly zealous in furthering the devotion in France, despite the calumnies and persecutions he suffered at the hands of critics and evil men. They accused him of introducing novelty and superstition. They composed and published a libellous tract against him and they - rather the devil in them - used a thousand stratagems to prevent him from spreading the devotion in France. But this eminent and saintly man responded to their calumnies with calm patience. He wrote a little book in reply and forcefully refuted the objections contained in it. He pointed out that this devotion is founded on the example given by Jesus Christ, on the obligations we have towards him and on the promises we made in holy baptism. It was mainly this last reason which silenced his enemies. He made clear to them that this consecration to the Blessed Virgin, and through her to Jesus, is nothing less than a perfect renewal of the promises and vows of baptism. He said many beautiful things concerning this devotion which can be read in his works.

163. In Fr. Boudon's book we read of different popes who gave their approval to this devotion, the theologians who examined it, the hostility it encountered and overcame, the thousands who made it their own without censure from any pope. Indeed it could not be condemned without overthrowing the foundations of Christianity. It is obvious then that this devotion is not new. If it is not commonly practised, the reason is that it is too sublime to be appreciated and undertaken by everyone.

164. (2) This devotion is a safe means of going to Jesus Christ, because it is Mary's role to lead us safely to her Son; just as it is the role of our Lord to lead us to the eternal Father. Those who are spiritually-minded should not fall into the error of thinking that Mary hinders our union with God. How could this possibly happen? How could Mary, who found grace with God for everyone in general and each one in particular, prevent a soul from obtaining the supreme grace of union with him? Is it possible that she who was so completely filled with grace to overflowing, so united to Christ and transformed in God that it became necessary for him to be made flesh in her, should prevent a soul from being perfectly united to him?

It is quite true that the example of other people, no matter how holy, can sometimes impair union with God, but not so our Blessed Lady, as I have said and shall never weary of repeating. One reason why so few souls come to the fullness of the age of Jesus is that Mary who is still as much as ever his Mother and the fruitful spouse of the Holy Spirit is not formed well enough in their hearts. If we desire a ripe and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of life which is Mary. If we desire to have the Holy Spirit working within us, we must possess his faithful and inseparable spouse, Mary the divinely-favoured one whom, as I have said elsewhere, he can make fruitful.

Prayers for Part 3

St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
St. Mary, pray for us!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pre-Theology Ministry Log 04

(see here)

Pre-Theologian Ministry Log

Date: Thursday, Nov 10, 2005

Event: St. Ambrose Family Outreach Center: Tutored Ms. Jenkins for her G.E.D.

Name the feelings you experienced during the event: Tonight I realized that I’m walking Ms. Jenkins through her lessons a little too much. I’ve noticed that after each step of a problem she asks me if it’s right or not. This certainly isn’t going to help her when she’s taking the G.E.D. and I’m not there. Hehe, she asked me if she could spray paint me black, put a wig on me, and take me to the G.E.D. with her! We got a good laugh out of that! She also has a little multiplication table that she always refers to rather than trying to figure it out herself (or actually memorize the table). I noticed I was getting a little frustrated with her as the evening progressed which I felt a little bad about. Part of me wants to take this seriously and wants to be stern with her so that she’ll take it seriously too…she often gets sidetracked and just wants to breeze through it so she can get it done and go out with her friends. But at the same time, she is my elder, and though I am her tutor, I have no right to talk down to her like she’s my student or something. I asked her if I was being too hard on her, but she said No.

Our conversation digressed wildly from our work too, but I can’t quite remember how. At one point she mentioned that her mother was a very devout Catholic and “boy, she loved her Catholicism!” Then she said, “but this is 2005, don’t ‘nobody carry on like that anymore.” I just laughed and said kinda jokingly “now, now, there’s nothing wrong with Catholicism.” When I think back on it there were probably 101 other more articulate ways to defend the faith at that moment but, oh well. I didn’t pursue it further than that, but I was a little worried that she had left her faith. At one point (again, I’m don’t know how we got on the subject…I promise we actually DO study!) she lamented how sexual “everybody was” when she was younger, but “that don’t mean you can’t still give your life to Jesus.” I remember thinking to myself that that’s not how Catholics usually articulate it. Finally, right before we left she started talking about her colonoscopy and how the guy studying next to her should get his checked! I felt pretty embarrassed then! So, anyway, I’m a little concerned about the digression of our conversation and the best way to keep us on task!

What was difficult and or troubling? Why? A little guilt over getting frustrated with her. I wasn’t totally impatient but I could tell that I wasn’t being as completely patient as I could have been. Also some embarrassment (and some scandal) at her digressions.

Where was God in this event? Outside of the Sister, His abiding presence was silent to me, at least from what I can discern for now.

What have you learned about yourself in the wake of this event? I have a tendency to get impatient and should be careful to avoid that.