Fresh from a week of quiet spiritual exercises during the Papal Lenten Retreat, the Holy Father acknowledged the cheers of over 35,000 craftsmen and women in St. Peter's Square and he called on their patron Saint Joseph to be with them, and all fathers globally as well as with the humble Vicar of Christ in his journey to the holy carpenter's homeland as the Pope begins his weeklong "Jubilee Journey" beginning in Jordan today. The Pope also called on the Virgin Mary to be with him on this historic, spiritual pilgrimage. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. Before concluding this solemn Holy Mass, we prepare ourselves to recite the prayer of the Angelus in spiritual union with St. Joseph, Mary's husband and guardian of the Redeemer. Although this year his liturgical feast is postponed until tomorrow, it is in honor of the Patron of workers that you, dear craftsmen, celebrated your Jubilee today. I greet all of you with much affection and ask you to take my blessing to your homes and your work places.
The feast of St. Joseph also invites us to special remembrance of fathers, who find in him a high evangelical model. I want to assure every father of a family of my special prayer, from the older ones, who has known the joy of becoming a grandfather, to the young ones, perhaps apprehensively awaiting their first children. Like Joseph, may all fathers be good men, ready to make whatever sacrifice for the good of their family. May the love of their wives and their children be a recompense for their every effort!
2. I would like to ask you now, dearest brothers and sisters, to pray for some specific intentions. Next Friday, March 24, we will remember the missionaries who have spilt their blood for the Gospel with a special Day of prayer and fasting. 1999 was also marked by the sacrifice of another 30 brothers and sisters: priests, men and women religious, seminarians and lay people actively involved in evangelization. From their witness we raise an invocation to God for forgiveness and reconciliation; may their examples be a stimulus and support for all in the Holy Year road of conversion. Let us remember them in prayer together with those who with great courage continue to work in the front line of the frontiers of evangelization.
Moreover, I ask you to pray for my Jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which will begin tomorrow. In a special way, I invoke the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph in this apostolic trip, which is so rich in meaning. With profound emotion I will go to the places where the Word was made flesh, lived and died and rose from the dead for our salvation. May this visit, inspired only in religious motives, bring auspicious good fruits for the entire Church!
The preface of heretical beliefs can begin when one opens his mouth, leaving the fortresses of faith and fact vulnerable to one's own whims and satan's pass to souls!
In his column today, Pat Ludwa traces the cause of much of the dissent in the world and Church today to three dangerous words that can preface heresy after heresy: "Well, I think..." Those three words open the drawbridge around fortresses of faith and fact to allow doubters, rationalizers and unbelievers to storm the ramparts of reason and launch the flaming arrows of presumption and political correctness that weaken the strong bastions of hallowed traditions. Whereas the Church discerns Sacred Scripture through the guidance of wise, holy saints, Fathers and Doctors of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit, Protestants and, recently, dissatisfied Catholics, resort to their own interpretations which open and leave vulnerable a phalanx of faults by letting down their guard with those three words. For his column today, Three very dangerous words , see VIEW FROM THE PEW
It's one thing, when working on car, to say, "Well I think the carburetor is sticking." Or "Well, I think they should have run a passing play." Or, "Well I think Freud was right and Jung was wrong." Etc. In most things, we can think. The Church encourages this, but many think they're the final say on what is right or wrong. "If there is no branch of teaching, however humble and easy to learn, which does not require a master, what can be a greater sign of rashness and pride than to refuse to study the books of the divine mysteries by the help of those who have interpreted them?" (St. Augustine, ca. 400 AD)
When trying to discuss the Scriptures and how they relate to the Church with non-Catholics, one will hear, "The Holy Spirit within me teaches me the correct translation of the Scripture." This stems from Luther's thought that any nine year-old could read and understand Scripture. A belief he later bemoaned when, after the Scriptures were being interpreted 100 different ways by 100 different people, he stated that every scullery maid in Germany thought herself a Biblical scholar.
Of course, we Catholics recognize this 'gift' as the gift of infallibility. However, if the Holy Spirit is with them to guide them in the mysteries of the Scriptures, why are there so many different interpretations? And, how do they know it's the Holy Spirit guiding them, if He didn't guide them in the initial reading of the Scriptures? How could they be sure they correctly read it the first time? "The heretics do away with the true doctrine of the Lord, not interpreting and transmitting the Scriptures agreeably to the dignity of God and the Lord... For neither the prophets nor the Savior Himself announced the divine mysteries so simply as to be easily comprehended by all persons whatever...All things are right to them that understand, says the Scripture: to those, that is, who perfectly preserve His revealed interpretation of the Scriptures, according to the Church's rule." (St. Clement of Alexandria, ca. 150 AD)
Now, for our Protestant brothers, this is really no big deal. This was how they were raised, this was how they were taught. Unbeknownst to them, they too rely on 'teachers' who have interpreted the Scriptures for them, according to the rules of 'their' church.
But more and more, Catholics are being led to believe that they don't need anyone to tell them what is right or wrong, true or false. If one discusses artificial birth control with such a one, we may hear, "Well, I think the Church is wrong in that teaching. I've come to a rational decision on it and do not agree with the Church." In the least, they're relying solely on the mercy of God, that He'll understand and accept their objections, at worst, they're in open rebellion.
The Church has no authority to ordain women priests..."Well, I think that's just patriarchal sexism." "Well, I think Ordinatio Sacerdotalis isn't an infallible or valid teaching of the Church." The Church teaches that sexual contact between unmarried couples, or couples of the same gender, is a serious sin. "Well, I think the Church has no business telling me how to live my life." "Well, I think it's perfectly natural and the Church..." Well, you get the idea. Often, if you challenge them on it, they'll tell you that "The Spirit in me guides me." Or "God gave us a mind to use. I'm not going to blindly follow an ignorant, sexist, homophobic, patriarchal Church."
Whereas our Protestant brothers and sisters rely on their teachers to guide them to a part of the truth, we see here that these 'enlightened' Catholics rely on themselves, their own minds, to seek for 'their' truth. They may tell you that the Bible is full of errors brought about by politically motivated men and the passage of time. Some may even try to tell us that the Bible is just a fictional book written by men trying to create a Church and make themselves powerful. "No error is to be admitted in the Bible, not even concerning things of but little importance…..If any statements should 'seem' contrary to truth, we must not accuse the Author of the Book (God) of falsehood: we should rather conclude, either than (a) the text is defective; or (b) that the interpreter has mistaken the meaning; or (c) that we misunderstood." (St Augustine, ca 400)
We may read in Acts: "One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us" (Acts 16:14-15). Somehow, from this, we're supposed to think Lydia was a priestess? Or this: "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well" (Romans 16:1-2).
In one translation, it reads that she's in a ministry of the Church. We know there were deaconess', and that they were usually widows who assisted the priests in dealing with the women of the parish. But they were never an ordained office. In fact, it was because many of them began to act as though it was that it was closed. But here, we see that Phoebe assists Paul and others. Nowhere does Paul call her a presbyter, a fellow Apostle, or any such thing, only that she assists him and others.
In many areas, we see Church teaching and the Scriptures, distorted with "Well, I think.." Some of these are a) St. Paul condemned male prostitutes, not homosexuality; b) the sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not sexual sins. c) the Apostles (or someone) purposely wrote the women out of the Last Supper. d) Mary Magdalene was an Apostle.
There is no Scriptural evidence for these assumptions, they come from 'rational' thought, "Well, "I" think..." "The science of the Scriptures is the only one which all persons indiscriminately claim as their own! This science the babbling old woman, the doting old man, the wordy sophist, take upon themselves; they tear it to pieces and teach before they have learned…..Rather they accommodate to their interpretation the most incongruous passages, as if this were something great instead of a most faulty method of teaching, distorting sentences and forcing the reluctant Scriptures to their own whims." (St. Jerome ca 400)
As I said before, some say that the Scriptures are tainted by men who translated them erroneously or for political purposes. Yet, they turn around and try to reword the Scriptures for...political purposes. Inclusive language is making inroads for no other reason than political purposes. "There are also theological problems with so-called 'horizontal' inclusive language. We can subtly change the meaning of the text. With inspired writings like Scripture, that's dangerous business. The Old Testament, for instance, prefigures Christ. When the psalmist says 'Happy the man who walks in the way of the Lord' he's speaking on two levels. He speaks of all of us. But he also is writing about Christ. When we say 'happy is the man or the woman' we're losing that. Also, when we replace the term 'sons' with 'children,' we get into trouble. They don't mean the same thing. A 'child' is primarily defined as the opposite of an 'adult' -- a small person. A son is primarily an heir, offspring. I heard this done recently. The reading was Galatians 4: 'So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.' The reader changed it to '. . . you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then an heir.'" ("Inclusive Language" Undermines Beauty, Meaning; by Mary Beth Bonacci)
The whole inclusive language thing is so blatantly political that one has to wonder how we ever got suckered into it? Man, mankind, have always been associated with both man and women. Seriously, it take someone with a serious mental deficiency to think that, when use din general terms, it refers only to men. "In this case, I am voting firmly with the majority. On the most basic level, I have always found such efforts to be awkward, unattractive, and very condescending. I'm not stupid. I know that the term "mankind" refers to men and women. I know that the song 'I Will Raise Him Up' isn't saying that only males will enter the kingdom of Heaven. True story: A friend of mine was in a liturgy meeting where this topic was being argued. One nun said that the term 'man' didn't include her. A priest said, 'Sister, if I told you there was a man-eating tiger outside, would you feel safe?' (Ibid)
"St. Augustine himself confessed that there was more that he did not know than that he knew, so, if he should come on anything that seems incapable of solution, he must take to heart the cautious rule of the same holy doctor: 'It is better even to be oppressed by unknown but useful signs than to interpret them uselessly, and thus to throw off the yoke only to be caught in the trap of error' "(Pope Leo XIII; 1893).
If we could enter into the mind of a fly, he might see a ripe, red fruit, smelling of sugar. "Well, I think I'll go a get some lunch." And landing on the Venus Flytrap, dies, trapped by his own error.
We have to remember, that no rule, no teaching in the Church was ever made to secure power, but to secure a path for her children to enter Heaven. When we hear the Church teach, using the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, it's God teaching us through Her. "He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me" (Luke 10:16).
What are we saying when we respond to that teaching with "Well, I think...?" Think about it and you, too, will realize the impact of those three very dangerous words.
Pax Christi, Pat
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. Today we present the first part of the catechesis on Occasions and Sources of Sin as explained in My Catholic Faith and how all need to be aware of these temptations and strive to avoid them at all costs and cling to the Cross. For part two in the 134th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
2. We must avoid occasions of sin as soon as we perceive them. If one goes to the theater and sees that the play is an indecent play, he must stand up and leave at once. Otherwise he commits a sin. He will fall into further sin, and commit besides the sin of not avoiding the occasion. He or she can always ask for a refund if the production is truly offensive. Remember "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" but always in charity.
The chief sources of actual sin are: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, and these are commony called Capital Sins or the Seven Deadly Sins. They are called capital from the Latin caput which means "head," because they are the heads or sources of all sins. Thus they originate sins of luxury, gossip, excessive ambition, etc.
They are called capital sins, not because they are the greatest sins in themselves, but because they are the chief reasons why men commit sin. They are the origin of every sin, all others sins arising from them as from their fountainhead. These sins are termed deadly, because they are either mortal of their own nature, or may easily become mortal. They may be mortal or venial according as the matter is serious or less serious.
These sins are called vices, because they produce permanent disorders in the soul. They are the seven fatal diseases of the soul, which end in death. He who will be a friend of God must divest himself of these vices. Before we can plant the beautiful garden of virtues, we must root up the thorns and weeds growing out of these deadly sins.
Yes, God punishes sin, partly in this life, but chiefly after death. In this life sinners suffer from remorse of conscience, fear, and unhappiness. Their sin often brings upon them disease or death, the hatred and scorn of their fellow-men, and other temporal punishments. Even on earth, "the wages of sin is death." Thus, the robber or murderer is ever afraid his crime will be detected. If it is discovered, he is sent to prison or to the electric chair or the gas chamber even though capital punishment is another area of argument in the Church.
The punishment of the sinner is fully meted out to him only after death. Then the unrepentant sinner is punished in hell. Justice is not always done in this world, where the wicked often prosper and the just are made to suffer. On earth, God rewards the sinner for whatever good he may do. It is only in the next life that the evil he does is given its full and just punishment
Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the beloved Foster Father of Jesus and Protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tomorrow we return to the Lenten weekday liturgy. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and vignette on St. Joseph, see DAILY LITURGY.
"But while he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying 'Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit...So Joseph, arising from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife."
Special Prayer for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that Thy household, while aflilicting the flesh by fasting from food, may follow after justice by abstaining from sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.
For the Daily LENTEN REFLECTION for Monday, March 20th and the STATIONS OF THE CROSS, see LENTEN DEVOTIONS.