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Who Inhabits Your Soul?

In 14 Book Corner on 2014/04/25 at 12:00 AM

A question based on the excerpt from Saint Teresa of Avila’s  Way of Perfection, ch.28 (© Institute of Carmelite Studies)

In my opinion, if I had understood as I do now that in this little palace of my soul dwelt so great a King, I would not have left Him alone so often. I would have remained with Him at times and striven more so as not to be so unclean. But what a marvelous thing, that He who would fill a thousand worlds and many more with His grandeur would enclose Himself in something so small! In fact, since He is Lord He is free to do what He wants, and since He loves us He adapts Himself to our size.

So that the soul won’t be disturbed in the beginning by seeing that it is too small to have something so great within itself, the Lord doesn’t give it this knowledge until He enlarges it little by little and it has the capacity to receive what He will place within it. For this reason I say He is free to do what He wants since He has the power to make this palace a large one. The whole point is that we should give ourselves to Him with complete determination, and we should empty the soul in such a way that He can store things there or take them away as though it were His own property. And since His Majesty has the rights of ownership, let us not oppose Him. And since He doesn’t force our will, He takes what we give Him; but He doesn’t give Himself completely until we give ourselves completely.

This fact is certain; and because it is so important, I bring it to your minds so often. He never works in the soul as He does when it is totally His without any obstacle, nor do I see how He could. He is the friend of all good order. Now, then, if we fill the palace with lowly people and trifles, how will there be room for the Lord with His court? He does enough by remaining just a little while in the midst of so much confusion.

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Norms Regarding Discernment of Presumed Apparitions

In 14 Book Corner on 2014/02/21 at 12:00 AM

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH PUBLISHES NORMS

Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) – The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently published its “Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations”, translated into various languages. The document was approved by Pope Paul VI and issued by the congregation in 1978 though it was not then officially published as it was principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.

Over the course of the years the document has appeared in various works dealing with the subject in question, although without the authorisation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is the competent authority in such matters. Since the contents of the Norms are already in the public domain, the congregation believes it is now opportune to publish them.

The publication is accompanied by a preface written by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, extracts of which are given below.

“In the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God held in October 2008, the issue of the problems stemming from the experience of supernatural phenomena was raised as a pastoral concern by some bishops. Their concern was recognised by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who inserted the issue into the larger context of the economy of salvation in a significant passage of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Verbum Domini’. It is important to recall this teaching of the Pontiff”.

“As the Fathers noted during the Synod, the uniqueness of Christianity is manifested in the event which is Jesus Christ, the culmination of revelation. … He Who ‘has made God known’ is the one, definitive word given to mankind. … The Synod pointed to the need to ‘help the faithful to distinguish the word of God from private revelations’ whose role ‘is not to complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history’. The value of private revelations is essentially different from that of the one public revelation: the latter demands faith; in it God Himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church.

“The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ Himself. If it leads us away from Him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, Who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorised to give it their prudent adhesion. A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones. It can have a certain prophetic character and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is proffered, but its use is not obligatory”.

“It is my firm hope that the official publication of the ‘Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations’ can aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin”.

NORMS REGARDING THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN THE DISCERNMENT OF PRESUMED APPARITIONS OR REVELATIONS

Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) – Given below are extracts from the document “Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations”, published recently by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document was approved by Pope Paul VI and issued by the congregation in 1978 though it was not then officially published as it was principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.

ORIGIN AND CHARACTER OF THESE NORMS

“1. Today, more than in the past, news of these apparitions is diffused rapidly among the faithful thanks to the … mass media. Moreover, the ease of going from one place to another fosters frequent pilgrimages, so that Ecclesiastical Authority should discern quickly about the merits of such matters.

“2. On the other hand, modern mentality and the requirements of critical scientific investigation render it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve with the required speed the judgements that in the past concluded the investigation of such matters (‘constat de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate’)”.

“When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:

“a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria;

“b) then, if this examination results in a favourable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, ‘for now, nothing stands in the way’) (‘pro nunc nihil obstare’).

“c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgement regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits”

I. CRITERIA FOR JUDGING, AT LEAST WITH PROBABILITY, THE CHARACTER OF THE PRESUMED APPARITIONS OR REVELATIONS

“A) Positive Criteria:

“a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;

“b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:

“1. Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);

“2. As regards revelation: true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;

“3. Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).

“B) Negative Criteria:

“a) Manifest error concerning the fact.

“b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God Himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation.

“c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.

“d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.

“e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.

“It is to be noted that these criteria, be they positive or negative, are not peremptory but rather indicative, and they should be applied cumulatively or with some mutual convergence”.

II. INTERVENTION OF THE COMPETENT ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY

“1. If, on the occasion of a presumed supernatural fact, there arises in a spontaneous way among the faithful a certain cult or some devotion, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority has the serious duty of looking into it without delay and of diligently watching over it.

“2. If the faithful request it legitimately (that is, in communion with the pastors, and not prompted by a sectarian spirit), the competent Ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to permit or promote some form of cult or devotion, if, after the application of the above criteria, nothing stands in the way. They must be careful that the faithful do not interpret this practice as approval of the supernatural nature of the fact on the part of the Church.

“3. By reason of its doctrinal and pastoral task, the competent Authority can intervene ‘motu proprio’ and indeed must do so in grave circumstances, for example in order to correct or prevent abuses in the exercise of cult and devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrine, to avoid the dangers of a false or unseemly mysticism, etc.

“4. In doubtful cases that clearly do not put the good of the Church at risk, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority is to refrain from any judgement and from any direct action (because it can also happen that, after a certain period of time, the presumed supernatural fact falls into oblivion); it must not however cease from being vigilant by intervening if necessary, with promptness and prudence”.

III. AUTHORITIES COMPETENT TO INTERVENE

“1. Above all, the duty of vigilance and intervention falls to the Ordinary of the place.

“2. The regional or national Conference of Bishops can intervene” in certain cases.

“3. The Apostolic See can intervene if asked either by the Ordinary himself, by a qualified group of the faithful, or even directly by reason of the universal jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff”.

IV. ON THE INTERVENTION OF THE SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

“1. a) The intervention of the Sacred Congregation can be requested either by the Ordinary, after he has done his part, or by a qualified group of the faithful. In this second case, care must be taken that recourse to the Sacred Congregation not be motivated by suspect reasons (for example, in order to compel the Ordinary to modify his own legitimate decisions, to support some sectarian group, etc.).

b) It is up to the Sacred Congregation to intervene ‘motu proprio’ in more grave cases, especially if the matter affects the larger part of the Church”.

“2. It is up to the Sacred Congregation to judge and approve the Ordinary’s way of proceeding or, in so far as it be possible and fitting, to initiate a new examination of the matter”.

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What Jesus Really Said About the End of the World

In 14 Book Corner on 2014/02/13 at 12:00 AM

Have you ever met a serious Christian who was not at least somewhat interested in the end of the world? I have not.

And fascination with this topic is not reserved to Christians, as witnessed by the recent brouhaha over the supposed prediction of the Mayan calendar of the end of the world in December of last year.

But here we still are — all but those who have already exited this world in the traditional way to meet their Maker.

Now, David B. Currie, author of “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” and popular speaker on Catholic radio and television, tackles this much misunderstood topic in his book “What Jesus Really Said About ‘The End of the World,'” published by Catholic Answers.

Currie’s aim is not only to properly interpret Jesus’ mysterious words about the end times (which he does with almost excruciating investigation), but also to refute the notion that Jesus falsely predicted when they would occur.

Continue reading…
http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/what-jesus-really-said.html

Fr. John McCloskey

Biographies

In 14 Book Corner on 2014/01/30 at 12:00 AM

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Defenders of the faith have been raised up in every era of the Church to proclaim fidelity to the truth by their words and deeds. Some have fought heresy and overcome confusion like Athanasius against the Arians and Ignatius Loyola in response to the Protestant reformers. Others have shed their blood for the faith, like the early Christian martyrs of Rome, or Thomas More, John Fisher and Edmund Campion in Reformation England.

Still others have endured a “dry” martyrdom like St. Philip Howard, Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty and Jesuit Walter Ciszek. Intellectuals have been no less conspicuous in their zealous defense of the faith, like Bonaventure, Albert, Thomas Aquinas, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The stories of all these, and more, are told here in this book.

“The holiness, heroism, and perseverance of the men and woman described by Fr. O’Connor will inspire and instruct readers defending the Catholic Faith in every sort of situation. Each chapter is a well-crafted portrait filled with historical detail, theological insight, and lessons about living and spreading the Gospel in trying times. A seamless combination of history, biography, apologetics, and evangelization.”
—Carl Olson Author, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”?

Fr. Charles Connor, a Church historian, is the host of several 13-part series on EWTN, and is the author of the best-selling Classic Catholic Converts.

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In the wake of Pope John Paul II’s death, many are asking: What is the future of the Catholic Church? Given its recent scandals, students of theology might discount its influence on Western civilization and simply cast it off as a corrupt religion. That would be a big mistake; as New York Times bestselling author Thomas Woods chronicles in his book, the Church has had a pivotal role in shaping Western civilization for the last two thousand years.

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization uncovers the lost truth of the Church’s contributions to our history, including:

  • How the father of atomic theory, the father of aviation, and the father of Egyptology were all Catholic priests
  • How Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith
  • How the Catholic Church was the great defender of the sanctity of human life and the individual against the state
  • How the Church invented charitable work—and the charitable spirit—as we know it in the Western world
  • How the Church bestowed the most unique gift to the World—what we now know as the university

In this magnificent volume, students and faithful alike will come to comprehend the Catholic Church’s monumental impact on society and western civilization as a whole.

“Prof. Woods has put the Catholic Church squarely back where it should be: at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization.”

—Dr. Paul Legutko

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Stanford University

 

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Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, goes through the Scriptures and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome. He tackles the tough issues in an attempt to expose how the opposition is misunderstanding the Scriptures and history. He uses many Protestant scholars and historians to support the Catholic position. This book contains the most complete compilation of Scriptural and Patristic quotations on the primacy of Peter and the Papal office of any book available. It has over 500 footnotes with supporting evidence from Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and non-Christian authorities.

“This book defends Catholic teaching against the opposition, using current Church teaching on the Old Testament foundation for the primacy and succession of Peter. A rich documentation, a fine study.”
-Cardinal Christoph Schönborn

“A veritable tour de force on behalf of the Petrine ministry, bringing together exegetes, the Fathers of the Church, the witness of history, and even Protestant scholars. The work is scholarly, objective, and accessible to all readers. Recommended wholeheartedly and unequivocally.”
– Fr. Peter Stravinskas

Stephen K. Ray was raised in a devout and loving Baptist family. His father was a deacon and Bible teacher, and Stephen was very involved in the Baptist Church as a teacher of Biblical studies. After an in-depth study of the writings of the Church Fathers, both Steve and his wife Janet converted to the Catholic Church. He is the host of the popular, award-winning film series on salvation history, The Footprints of God. Steve is also the author of the best-selling books Crossing the Tiber, and St. John’s Gospel.

 All these books are available from Ignatius Press

Sin, An Act of Personal Freedom

In 14 Book Corner on 2014/01/10 at 12:00 AM

A true humanism must recognize that sin is “an integral part of the truth about man” because human beings are moral actors.  Men and women can, and do, commit evil acts, and those acts open up a double wound in the sinner, and in the sinner’s relationships with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, even strangers. (13.1., 13.2, 15.4)

To take sin seriously is to take human freedom seriously, John Paul suggests, and that is why the personal character of sin can never be diminished.  Psychological, cultural, and social factors condition the way people make their moral choices.  those factors, if strong enough , can constrain freedom and limit moral responsibility.  But these facts of life could not be understood in ways that erode a deeper truth – that sin is a result of an act of personal freedom, which is a crucial dimension of human dignity.  (16.1)

John Paul II : “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia” signed on December 12, 1984 as a  Post-Synod inspired document.

Cited in Weigel, George WITNESS TO TRUTH (biography of Pope John Paul II)

Recommended books

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/12/06 at 12:00 AM

Recently, I read these three  inspirational biographies:

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He Leadeth Me is the moving personal story of one man’s spiritual odyssey and the unflagging faith which enabled him to survive the horrendous ordeal that wrenched his body and spirit to near collapse.
Captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy,” American Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent some 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia.  He here recalls how it was only through an utter reliance on God’s will that he managed to endure.  He tells of the courage he found in prayer–a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustrations, the anguish, the fears, the despair.  For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him.  Learning to accept even the inhuman work of toiling in Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God, he was able to turn adverse forces into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.
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Here is the astonishing true story of the harrowing experiences of a young German seminarian drafted into Hitler’s dreaded SS at the onset of World War II. Without betraying his Christian ideals, against all odds, and in the face of Evil, Gereon Goldmann was able to complete his priestly training, be ordained, and secretly minister to German Catholic soldiers and innocent civilian victims caught up in the horrors of war. How it all came to pass will astound you.

Father Goldmann tells of his own amazing experiences of the trials of war, his many escapes from almost certain death, and the diabolical persecution that he and his fellow Catholic soldiers encountered on account of their faith. What emerges is an extraordinary witness to the workings of Divine Providence and the undying power of love, prayer, faith, and sacrifice.

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The son of Czech immigrants, Fr. Kapaun grew up on a Kansas farm.  This seemingly ordinary farm boy became one of the most inspiring heroes of the Korean War.  His cause for canonization has been opened by the Diocese of Wichita, and two medical miracles attributed to him are being investigated by the Vatican.

In this documentary, learn his inspiring life story, his heroic work as a chaplain during battle, and his leadership and comfort of fellow American prisoners after capture and torture by the Communists.  The film features interviews with the soldiers who were imprisoned with Kapaun.  A man of incredible courage and faith, he is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of prisoners, instilling them with hope when all hope seemed lost.
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The film FOR GREATER GLORY is available on Netflix

People of faith today are asking, “What is the price of religious liberty?” In the 1920’s many Catholics in Mexico answered this crucial question at the cost of their very lives. This major motion picture, For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada tells the epic tale of Mexico’s heroic struggle for religious freedom in a little-known conflict called the Cristero War – but many questions still remain. Now you’ll go much deeper into the exciting history behind the movie with this fact-filled companion book – and gain important insight into the on-going fight for religious freedom today. This is the Official Companion Book to the epic film. Lavishly illustrated with photos from the film and with historical photos.

As you read you’ll discover:

• Who were the Cristeros?
• What drove the Mexican government to ruthlessly persecute Catholics?
• Can a priest “wage war”
• What role did groups like the Knights of Columbus play in this armed resistance?
• Why did thousands of Catholics – priests, religious, lay people – willingly give their lives in the Cristiada?
• What role did the U.S. play in ending this bitter conflict?
• What did the Pope do to support the Church in Mexico?
• Which characters in the movie went on to become Catholic saints and blesseds in real life?
• Why is this dramatic episode of history so little known today?
• What is the lesson of the Cristiada for those struggling for religious freedom today?

Other recommendations:

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In the new paperback edition of bestselling author’s Thomas E. Woods, Jr.’s How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, Woods describes how and why the Catholic church gave Western Civilization some of its most integral and distinctive characteristics. It comes now with a new introduction by Spanish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church Antonio Canizares. Ask someone today where Western Civilization originated, and he or she might say Greece or Rome. But what is the ultimate source of Western Civilization? Bestselling author and professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr. provides the long neglected answer: the Catholic Church. Woods goes far beyond the familiar tale.

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This may well be Belloc’s most interesting work. It includes Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, St. Thomas More, Cranmer, Calvin, Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”), Mary Stuart (“Queen of Scots”), Cardinal Richelieu and many others–23 in all. Belloc analyzes their strengths, weaknesses, motives, and mistakes; and shows how this or that seemingly insignificant factor actually changed the course of history.All available from Adoremus Books.

Descriptions re-printed with permission Adoremus Books owner.

Classic Catholic Books

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/10/31 at 12:00 AM

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FROM PAULIST PRESS: This remarkable book brings together several powerful spiritual realities – all of them important to the believing Christian, and all of them apparently so diverse as to superficially appear unrelated: the end of the world and the daily Mass; the Apocalypse and the Lord’s Supper; the humdrum of daily life and the Parousia, the coming of the Lord.” (from the forward by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R.). In The Lamb’s Supper, Scott Hahn explores an amazing interpretation of The Book of Revelation that has been almost forgotten over time. He reaches back to the second through sixth centuries to the teachings of the early Eastern Fathers of the church. In his study of their writings, Hahn shows us the link between the celebration of the Eucharist and the end of the world. He illustrates how the heavenly worship found in the Book of Revelation is really an account of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb – a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Beautifully written in clear, direct language, this book by bestselling Catholic author Scott Hahn will help readers see the Mass with new eyes, pray the liturgy with a renewed heart, and enter into the Mass more fully, enthusiastically, intelligently, and powerfully than ever before.

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FROM IGNATIUS PRESS: This modern spiritual classic by Frank Sheed, the renowned author, publisher and lecturer, is brought back into print for the benefit of new generations of readers to develop a deeper, more profound knowledge of Jesus Christ. Sheed’s concern with the Gospels is to come to know Christ as he actually lived among us, interacted with all the various people he encountered from his infancy to his passion and death–the God-man who was like us in all things except sin.

Sheed has tried especially to see Our Lord in his effect upon others–seeing how they saw him, trying to see why they saw him so. There is much about Mary and Joseph in their task of bringing up a baby who was literally adorable; about John the Baptist; about Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalen; about Nicodemus; about people we meet only for a moment, like the man born blind and the owners of the drowned swine; and why the Pharisees, not only the worst of them but some of the best, would not accept Christ.

Faith, doctrine, prayer, worship–all the content and consequences of Christian belief–rest on the person of Christ Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. In this classic study, Frank J. Sheed employs wide learning, theological sophistication, spiritual insight, and a lucid style to bring the reader to a personal encounter with the living Lord. To Know Christ Jesus has been justly called “one of the most satisfying studies of the Gospel ever made.”

Frank J. Sheed had a distinguished career as a publisher, lecturer, street-corner evangelist, and popular writer. He and his wife Maisie Ward were the founders of the publishing house Sheed & Ward. His many books include Christ in EclipseWhat Difference Does Jesus Make?Theology and Sanity, and A Map of Life.

“My concern with the Gospels is to see the Face which through all the centuries has looked out from them upon men. The object is not to prove something but to meet someone–that we should know Christ Jesus, know him as one person may know another. As Christians we love him, try to live by his law, would think it a glory to die for him. But how well do we know him?”

— Frank Sheed, from the Foreword

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Foreword by Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

Widely proclaimed a classic work of Christian faith, Life of Christ has been hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton J. Sheen’s many books. The fruit of many years of reflection, prayer, and research, it is a dramatic and moving recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ, and a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and most of all the Savior, whose promise has sustained humanity for two millennia. With his customary insight and reverance, Sheen interprets the scripture and describes Christ, not only in historical perspective, but also in exciting and contemporary terms, seeing in Christ’s life both modern parallels and timeless lessons. His thoughtful, probing analysis provides new insight into well-known Gospel events.

The Question of Authority in the Church

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/10/24 at 12:00 AM

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/fr.-robert-barron-on-protestantism-and-authority

Note: If you click on the above link, it will take you directly to the source of this article where you can HEAR LIVE what is written below.

Mark Shea

Fr. Robert Barron on Protestantism and Authority

Readers familiar with me will know that I think the world of Fr. Robert Barron’s creative and intelligent witness to the Faith.  Here he is addressing the problem of the Protestant approach to authority as it is articulated by one of its smartest representatives, Alister McGrath:

It will not come as a shock to know that I agree with Fr. Barron on the problems inherent in sola scripture and, in fact, have had more than a little to say about that myself:

But beyond the common and extremely-hard-to-deny point being made about the need for an umpire or referee in the “game” of the Christan faith (the core point made by apologists for the Catholic Faith like Yr. Obdt. Svt.) I think Fr. Barron makes an interesting and thought-provoking point when he notes that, while an umpire is essential to the game,  the game is not about the umpire.  It’s about the game.  The point of the Catholic faith is not about ecclesial politics or the minutiae of what the Pope and bishops are doing today.  It’s about the relationship of Jesus Christ and the human person.  The gospel is not a mere set of moral precepts.  You can get that from any religion and from a dozen philosophies. It’s not a mere collection of liturgical practices or religious rites (again, you can find these in most religions).  It’s not about authority for the sake of authority (you can find that, not only in many religions and political ideologies, but in chemical purity in totalitarian states).  All these things are found in human society apart from the gospel.  They can be, when exercised reasonably, good things. But in our idolatrous fallenness, all of them are latched on to by human beings as possible means of salvation in and of themselves and invariably become evils when this happens.  Apart from Jesus Christ, they are all idols and cannot occupy the throne in which he alone can sit.  All of them, separated from him, are just one more grab at some form of money, pleasure, power, and/or honor as the perennial substitutes for God.

This is, I think, one of the reasons that Pope Francis is confusing so many people: they have lost sight of the fact that the game is not about the umpire.  His emphasis, over and over, is on the game itself: on directing us back to the relationship between Jesus Christ and each human person.  But lots of us want him to be about an idol: power. They imagine that the faith is about something other than Jesus Christ crucified for our transgressions and raised to life for our justification.  It matters little what.  For some, it’s the attempt to reduce the faith to economic justice.  For others, it’s the attempt to reduce the faith to the proposition “Opposition to abortion taketh away the sins of the world”.  Both are examples of idolatry: of putting some good creature in the place of God. A,lot of people want the Umpire to kick out of the game anybody who fails to make their idol the goal of the game.  But Francis is not primarily about exercising power and throwing players out of the game (though that will occasionally enter into his duties). More than that, he is not about the worship of idols. Instead, he’s directing our attention to the game itself: to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, who goes out into the highways and byways and calls in the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind–including people we might feel are too spiritually blind to be allowed into the game.  And so the cry goes up that “The Ump is blind!” when it is we who are blind to the fact that, well, we are not the Ump and our idol is not the object of the game.  Jesus is the object of the game.

That doesn’t make every call the pope will make infallible.  But here’s the thing: it doesn’t make every call we make infallible either–including the ones we make about his prudential and pastoral judgments.  And the most fallible call we can make is to assume we are the Ump or that the point of the game is the Umpire or our favorite idol.  The point of the game is our relationship with Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, and the love of God and neighbor.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/fr.-robert-barron-on-protestantism-and-authority#ixzz2iI8cfbOl

Notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/10/17 at 12:00 AM

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today published a “Notification Regarding the Book ‘Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics’ by Sister Margaret A. Farley R.S.M”. The document warns the faithful that the work in question “is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counselling and formation, or in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue”. The English-language Notification is signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been approved by the Holy Father.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Sr. Farley in 2010 enclosing a preliminary evaluation of her book and indicating the doctrinal problems it contained, however her answer failed to clarify those issues in a satisfactory manner. The Congregation therefore proceeded to examine the volume following the procedure for “examination in cases of urgency”. In June 2011 a commission of experts confirmed that the “book contained erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful”. Sr. Farley was sent a list of the erroneous propositions and invited to correct them, but her response “did not adequately clarify the grave problems contained in her book” and the Congregation decided to proceed with the publication of this Notification, extracts of which are given below.

“The author does not present a correct understanding of the role of the Church’s Magisterium as the teaching authority of the bishops united with the Successor of Peter, which guides the Church’s ever deeper understanding of the Word of God as found in Holy Scripture. … In addressing various moral issues, Sr. Farley either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. … Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law”.

“Among the many errors and ambiguities of this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage”.

“Sr. Farley writes: ‘Masturbation… usually does not raise any moral questions at all’. … This statement does not conform to Catholic teaching: “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. … For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved”.

“Sr. Farley writes: ‘My own view … is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same sexual ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities’. … This opinion is not acceptable. The Catholic Church, in fact, distinguishes between persons with homosexual tendencies and homosexual acts. Concerning persons with homosexual tendencies, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “they must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” . Concerning homosexual acts, however, the Catechism affirms: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved””.

“The Church teaches that the respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of … homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognise, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. … The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it”.

“Sr. Farley writes: ‘My own position is that a marriage commitment is subject to release’. … This opinion is in contradiction to Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage: “By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement ‘until further notice’. The intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them. … The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law”.

The Notification also assesses Sr. Farley’s opinion that divorced people may remarry, saying: “This view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce. … In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, … the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognised as valid, if the first marriage was'”.

“With this Notification, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expresses profound regret that a member of an institute of consecrated life, Sr. Margaret A. Farley R.S.M., affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality. … Furthermore the Congregation wishes to encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine”.

 VIS

Christians Persecution Today in Islamic World

In 14 Book Corner on 2013/08/30 at 12:00 AM

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Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians is a shocking and thorough expose of the new wave of persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, and by radical Muslims worldwide. Raymond Ibrahim combines a wealth of examples with the historical context of Islam’s anti-Christian sentiment to demonstrate the urgency of this human rights crisis.

The following paragraph appeared in Drudge on 5/7/2013 and is from Human Events:

While it is easy to confuse the recent jihadi attack on Egypt’s St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo as just more of the usual, this attack has great symbolic significance, and in many ways bodes great evil for Egypt’s millions of Christians.Consider some facts: St. Mark Cathedral—named after the author of the Gospel of the same name who brought Christianity to Egypt some 600 years before Amr bin al-As brought Islam by the sword—is not simply “just another” Coptic church to be attacked and/or set aflame by a Muslim mob (see my forthcoming book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, for a comprehensive idea of past and present Muslim attacks on Coptic churches).  Instead, it is considered the most sacred building for millions of Christians around the world—above and beyond the many millions of Copts in and out of Egypt.  As the only apostolic see in the entire continent of Africa,  its significance and evangelizing mission extends to the whole continent, including nations such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, to name just a few.  As an apostolic see—the actual seat of an apostle of Christ—the cathedral further possesses historical significance for Christianity in general.