Saturday, October 29, 2011

The ambition of a priest desiring to become a bishop

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees […] preach but they do no not practice. […] All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
It should give every priest of the New Law pause to recognize that the chief criticism which our Savior levels against the Pharisees is that they are vainglorious and ambitious. They sit in the chair of Moses and have accrued to themselves great pastoral responsibility, but have failed to exercise their authority for the good of the sheep and have instead sought only to gain worldly honor for themselves.
As the Fathers and Doctors of the Church consider this passage from Scripture, they comment on the danger of the vice of ambition (and also the sin of vainglory) which can be so injurious to the priestly vocation. Ambition in the priesthood can mean the desire for a “more important” parish or a more prominent role in the diocese, but it is most especially typified by the desire for the episcopal rank. The height of ambition and pride for a (diocesan) priest is seen in his desire to be a bishop.
Is it lawful to desire to be a bishop? What must the priest do in order to avoid the sin of ambition? For direction on this point, we look to the greatest doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Friday, October 28, 2011

St. Simon, "the Canaanite" not from Canaan and "the Zealot" who was no Zealot

October 28th, Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude
“In Persia, the birthday of the blessed Apostles Simon the Canaanite and Thaddeus, who is also called Jude; Simon preached the Gospel in Egypt and Thaddeus in Mesopotamia, and then they both entered Persia and suffered martyrdom there, after having made subject an innumerable multitude of that people to the yoke of Christ.” (Roman Martyrology)
It is a minor point of irony that both Simon and Jude share names with others of the Apostles – St. Simon, of course, shares his name with St. Peter who was first called Simon; while St. Jude has this name in common with Judas, the betrayer. Thus, St. Simon is called either “the Zealot” (“Zelotes”) or “the Canaanite” in order to distinguish him from the Prince of the Apostles, while St. Jude is called “Thaddeus” as distinct from the Iscariot.
We do well on this day to consider the person of St. Simon the Zealot: Who was he? Where was he from? Was he a Zealot? And how did he die?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can we hope that all men be saved?

And he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats.

This topic has been beaten around far too many times for my own taste – however, since the reading for Mass today (Romans 8:26-30) contains what is probably the clearest doctrine on hope in the whole of Scripture, and since the phrase for in hope we were saved inspired our Holy Father’s encyclical letter on Christian Hope (Spe salvi), it seems appropriate to offer a few brief reflections on the nature of hope.
Last Saturday, I offered a word on the nature of the theological virtue of hope over at the Virtuous Planet blog, today I would like to consider the object of hope – For what do Christians hope? Can we properly hope that all men should be saved?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hope vs. Presumption, article

I have just posted an article over at the (relatively new) blog, It is on the difference between the theological virtue of hope and the vices of despair and presumption.

If hope is 100% certain, how do we avoid the typically Protestant error of presumption - "Once saved, always saved"?

Check out the article here - Hope vs. Presumption
Update: You will now find the article [here].

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you love your neighbor with the same love with which you love God?

The theological virtues: Faith, Charity, Hope

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 22:34-40
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
“Which is the greatest commandment?” Such is the question of the scholar who put our Savior to the test. However, though this man was acting in behalf of the Pharisees, it is clear from the Scriptures, that he in fact had a deep desire to know Christ Jesus and to become his follower. The goodness of the man is more clear in Mark’s Gospel where our Lord commends and encourages him saying, You are not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34).
The love of God and the love of neighbor is the hinge of the whole moral life. In the final analysis, it is love (i.e. supernatural charity) which determines our eternal reward – to die with charity is to die in the state of grace and attain to heaven, to die without charity is to die in mortal sin and to be condemned to the everlasting punishments of hell.
What then is the nature of this supernatural charity which fulfills the Law and the Prophets? Further, how does the love of neighbor relate to the love of God?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St. Luke, the most prolific New Testament writer

October 18th, Feast of St. Luke
“In Bithynia, the birthday of St. Luke the Evangelist, who suffered much for the name of Christ and died filled with the Holy Spirit. His bones were translated to Constantinople and thence taken to Padua.” (from the Roman Martyrology)
It is well known that St. Luke is an Evangelist and also that he wrote the Acts of the Apostles. He was a disciple of St. Paul and accompanied the Apostle on several journeys.
Additionally, most know that St. Luke had been a physician before his conversion. Beyond this, we may wonder: Who was St. Luke? Moreover, why is he pictured by the symbol of an ox?

Monday, October 17, 2011

On the authority of bishops, from St. Ignatius of Antioch

October 17th, Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch
On December 20th, in the Roman Martyrology, we read: “At Rome, the passion of St. Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr; he was the third after St. Peter the Apostle to rule the Church of Antioch, and in the persecution of Trajan was condemned to the beasts and sent to Rome in fetters. There he was afflicted and tortured by the most cruel torments in the very presence of the Senate. Finally he was cast to the lions and, ground by their teeth, became a sacrifice for Christ.”
 St. Ignatius of Antioch has rightly been called the “Doctor of Unity” – both insofar as he brilliantly set forth the doctrine of the unity of the person of Christ in two natures, and as he defended the unity of the Christian people within the hierarchy of the Church. As the unity of the single person of Christ cannot be properly defended without admitting the diversity of his two natures, so too (we say by analogy) the unity of the Church cannot be maintained without the diversity of hierarchical vocations within the mystical body.
Today, in honor of our saintly Bishop and Martyr, we consider the role of the bishops of the Church – specifically, we do well to call to mind the special relation between the priests and the bishops. [This is particularly important in our days, when many so-called “conservative” priests rebel against the authority of their bishops.]

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sanctifying grace and the interior castle of St. Teresa of Avila

October 15th, Feast of St. Teresa of Avila
Today’s saint, Teresa of Avila, is honored by the Church as the “Doctor of Prayer” – and so indeed she is. Of all the spiritiual treatises on the life of prayer, the writings of the Carmalite Reformer stand at the head. From among these writings, it has been recognized by many that “The Interior Castle” deserves a special pride of place as the greatest (or, at least, one of the greatest) works on the nature of prayer. Together with “The Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa’s “Castle” is arguably the greatest treatise on the spiritual life.
Rather than considering, in this little post, the progression of the soul through the seven mansions of St. Teresa – which progress is the most often-noted aspect of the little book – we will benefit greatly from a prior consideration of St. Teresa’s conception of the soul in God, and God in the soul.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Money in the image of Caesar, and man in the image of God

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 22:15-21
Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.”
The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians sought to trap our Savior by asking him the question of the tax – Is it lawful to pay the tax to Caesar? In response to this, the good Jesus points out that the image of Caesar is on the coin – but that we are to render to God what is God’s.
As the Fathers of the Church read this passage, they recognize that the coin is made with the image of Caesar, but man is made in the image of God. 
It will be well for us to consider the historical debate among the Jews which set the stage for the question of taxation. We will then consider the manner in which man is in the image of his Creator.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Feast of Sts. Dionysius the Areopagite and Abraham, another plug for the Roman Martyrology

St. Denis, Bishop and Martyr

October 9th, Feast of Sts. Denis and Abraham
At Paris, the birthday of the holy martyrs Denis the Areopagite (Bishop), Rusticus (Priest), and Eleutherius (Deacon). Of these, Denis having been baptized by Paul the Apostle, was ordained first Bishop of the Athenians; then, coming to Rome, he was sent to France by blessed Clement the Roman Pontiff, to fulfill the office of preaching, and arrived at Paris. After he had faithfully carried out there for some years the work committed to him, at last he suffered martyrdom, being slain with the sword with his companions after most severe torments by the prefect Fescennius.
On the same day, the memory of St. Abraham, Patriarch and father of all believers.
(Taken from the Roman Martyrology)
Today is one of those days when I am reminded how good the Roman Martyrology is. [see my earlier post on the Martyrology, here]

Friday, October 7, 2011

Make the most of your daily Rosary!

I posted the following last year on this day, but it is well worth another consideration.
From The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis Marie deMontfort
[from the 41st through the 43rd “roses” or chapters, and also from the 45th rose]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Without a wedding garment - Faith without works

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 22:1-14
My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?
Though all people are invited to the wedding banquet, only a few come. And, even from among those who do attend, at least one is cast out. Our Savior’s parable from this Sunday’s Gospel should give us pause – for he is speaking of the mystery of salvation and damnation.
Many are called, few are chosen. But what exactly does our Lord mean when he warns us that those who attempt to come to the feast without a “wedding garment” will be cast out and rejected? What is the significance of this garment, and how do we don it?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gone through October 14th

I will be on vacation and generally unable to access internet for about the next two weeks, from today through to October 14th. New articles will still be posted through a blogger feature which allows me to schedule posts weeks (or even months) in advance.
However, although new posts will go up (about three per week), there will be no comments allowed. This is on account of the fact that I will not be able to moderate comments during these days.
Thank you for your patience!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Can a pro-life politician ever vote pro-abortion?

October 2nd, Respect life Sunday
While recognizing the intrinsic evil of abortion, that is of each and every abortion in any and all circumstances, there is serious difficulty in discerning how to bring a nation from a pro-abortion stance to becoming pro-life. In particular, some generally pro-life politicians (in various nations, including the USA) have agreed to vote in favor of certain legislative bills which are pro-abortion in cases of rape and incest. These pro-life politicians justify voting in favor of the pro-abortion bills by claiming that the bill (though still pro-abortion) restricts abortion and begins to move the nation gradually to a pro-life stance.
Indeed, there are some politicians who, while stating that they are pro-life and are against all abortions, nevertheless also state that they will pass legislation which (while restricting abortion overall) allows for abortion in cases of rape and incest.
Can a good politician vote for such a bill or hold such a stance? Can a pro-life politician vote in favor of allowing abortions only in extreme cases (e.g. rape or incest)?