Father John A. Hardon was born on June 18th, 1914 in Midland, Pennsylvania. When he was just a few months old, his parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio. One day while at work, his father John Sr. noticed a beam of steel dangling over the heads of his coworkers who were eating lunch. He scrambled up the scaffolding, thinking only of their safety. The scaffold gave way and he fell to his death. Johnny was only one year old when his father died.
Johnny's mother, Anna Hardon, was a Third Order Franciscan, a very devout women. She taught Johnny to kneel before he was able to walk. As she often said, your knees are for kneeling to pray before God. When he was four years old, he went to his first all night vigil at Our Lady of Consolation parish in Carey, Ohio. His mother made a bed for him on the first pew. Anna prayed on her knees throughout the night while Johnny slept.
John was blessed with a Catholic school education. From his sixth birthday he can remember going to daily Holy Mass with his mother who worked hard to keep a roof over their head and John on the straight and narrow. Anna worked as a cleaning women in an office building nights and also took in two girl boarders who were Lutheran. Young Johnny asked his mother why the girls didn't have to fast from meat on Fridays. His mother took this as a sign to have the girls request permission from their minister to fast from meat on Fridays. Their Lutheran minister gave them permission and again peace reigned in the Hardon household.
John was an intelligent boy and the sisters at the Catholic school could see he had a flare for acting. While in sixth grade he put on a one-man show called "Pockets." For one solid hour he kept the audience laughing with his explanations of what he carried in his pockets. John sat next to a girl named Jo, and for the most part through school until college, she remained a pretty constant person in his life. Jo was a very intelligent girl and good competition for John, sharing many of the same interests.
John attended John Carroll University in Cleveland for four years of college during which he and Jo kept in contact the entire time. As time passed, Jo was making plans for them to marry. But John's mother told him if the reason he was going to marry was so that she would not be alone without anyone to care for her, he was not to be concerned. God would take care of her with His divine grace as He always had. With that, John's decision to enter the Society of Jesus was made. He had only one more hurdle to jump. How to tell Jo? He already had the date set to enter the Order. John and Jo went out to a fine dinner on a Sunday evening. Just after ordering the meal, John told Jo that he was entering the Society of Jesus on the following Wednesday. Jo cried all through the meal. But Jo's loss was the Church's and world's gain!
At the age of 22 years old, John Anthony Hardon embarked on the road to the priesthood in the Jesuit Order. He studied hard and achieved excellent grades. John was ordained on his 33rd birthday, June 18th, 1947 at West Baden Springs, Indiana. His mother, Anna, was there to see this fulfillment of her prayers and good example.
When John was 43 years old he wrote his first book which has yet to be published, but ensuing works have found their way around the world and inspired and educated millions. Father Hardon has been a member of the Society of Jesus for 63 years and an ordained priest for 52 years. Father Hardon holds a Masters degree in Philosophy from Loyola University and a Doctorate in Theology from Gregorian University in Rome. He has taught at the Jesuit School of Theology at Loyola University in Chicago and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Catholic Doctrine at St. John's University in New York as well as helped organize and publish the series of catechetical books for youth and adults. A prolific writer, whose works have appeared in leading religious and educational periodicals as well as various collections, he has authored over forty books, including The Catholic Catechism, Religions of the World, Protestant Churches of America, Christianity in the Twentieth Century, Theology of Prayer, The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and recently two question and answer catechisms on the Holy Father's encyclicals The Gospel of Life and The Splendor of Truth. In addition, he has been actively involved with a number of organizations, such as the Institute on Religious Life, Marian Catechists, Eternal Life and Inter Mirifica, which publishes his catechetical courses.
Only God will slow down this dedicated priest of God for at the age of 85, Father Hardon is still giving classes in person and by teleconference. He is actively giving days of recollection and retreats. Father Hardon has just published a book called the Prophet for the Priesthood, the story of the life of Father Gerald Fitzgerald. He is the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete and the Handmaids of the Precious Blood.
Father Hardon has been spiritual director to countless souls including the beloved "saint of the gutter" Mother Teresa of Calcutta and has taught the Missionaries of Charity around the world. He has worked for the Vatican for 33 years and was an advisor to the Second Vatican Council. If anyone knows what should be or shouldn't be in the liturgy in America today, it is Father John. We can only pray that more bishops would strive to know more of the Vatican documents in order to curb the abuses today, especially in the liturgy.
If you would like to know more about how to order his books or the courses that Father John A Hardon, S.J. has produced, contact Inter Mirifica at 1 301-942-9577 or write to 2812 Jutland Rd., Box 241, Kensington, MD 20895. Eternal Life can be reached by calling 1 800-842-2871 or you can look up Inter Mirifica at www.intermirifica.org
More and more people are realizing that Father John Hardon, S.J. is the man that God ordained to be our help and our educator in this time of great confusion and our true father in Faith. May the Lord bless us with his presence for many years to come.
"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:25-26).
And with these words, all sorts of interpretations have come.
Taken as is, it implies that God will send the Holy Spirit to everyone. (Or at least, that is what many think it implies.) So we have the 'infallible' evangelical fundamentalist who knows what the Bible says because the Holy Spirit guides him (even though another evangelical fundamentalist says just the opposite.) In fact, from various groups, it appears that God has given the Holy Spirit to teach and guide to everyone BUT the Pope and the Magisterium. But this interpretation is no longer found just within Protestant fundamentalism.
Today, we hear how 'WE' are the Church, that the laity is the teaching authority of the Church. "The Holy Spirit is present first of all in the community of God's people, and those who fail to reflect the consensus of this community damage the effectiveness of the Church's mission." (Curran; "World-Wide Reaction Reflects Urgent Concern"; The Pilot, Aug. 3, 1968; pg. 8)
So the Holy Spirit, first and foremost, resides in the consensus of opinion within the Church?
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets'" (Matthew 16: 13-14).
Well, if we were to believe Curran, the people of God goofed here. Or did Christ? Since the Holy Spirit is first and of all in the community of God's people, maybe He was John the Baptist or Elijah, or Jeremiah? If we were to accept Curran's statement, then St. Paul is wrong in 1 Corinthians for chastising them for eating food offered to idols. Evidently the 'will' of the people felt it was okay before he wrote his letter correcting them.
Even in history, we can see the fallacy of this 'consensus of the people'. If we were to accept this notion of Curran's (and others) then the Germans were okay to kill the infirmed, the handicapped, the Jews, since this was evidently the 'consensus' of the people. In fact, the persecution of Jews throughout history by 'good Christians' would have to be seen as okay then.
But can this be so? Is the Holy Spirit found in the " community of God's people"?
" Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God Who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good... All these are inspired by One and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit... Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts" (1 Corinthians 12: 4-7; 12-13; 27-31).
The Holy Spirit is present within the people of God, but not as a teaching authority. Each member of the Church is given a gift for the good of the Church. Not all are priests, Pope, bishops, nuns, teachers, etc.
If we look closely at the opening Scripture of John 14:25-26), we see that Christ is talking to His twelve Apostles, not to all His disciples and followers.
Again, in John 16: 12-15 to His Apostles He says, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."
Then Christ prays for them: "I have manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word Now they know that everything that Thou hast given Me is from thee; for I have given them the words which Thou gavest Me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from Thee; and they have believed that Thou didst send Me... While I was with them, I kept them in Thy name, which Thou hast given Me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17: 6-8; 12-14).
Then He prays for us, "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one" (Ibid 20-22).
That they teach with Christ's authority is evident for Jesus aid to them the remaining eleven Apostles, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28: 18-20).
So that, "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). And the one who holds a primacy within this teaching authority is St. Peter, and his successor, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. (ref. Matthew 16:13-19; Lk. 22: 31-32; Jn. 21: 15-17).
So, it's clear that Scripture shows that Christ established a Church and set the Apostles, and their successors (the Bishops) to teach and guide His Church in His name with His authority. Not the consensus of the people of God.
In fact, this notion that the Holy Spirit is manifested through the consensus of the people is nothing more than a revision of a second century heresy, Montanism. Montanists felt that they were given the Holy Spirit to make a 'new' Church of the Spirit. That they, and not the bishops or the Pope, were the prophets of God's will. This is, of course, a very appealing notion. But what is really at work here? Are the people of God really 'following their conscience'? Or are they merely replacing one Magisterium with another?
Curran said it himself: "As Roman Catholic theologians, we respectfully acknowledge a distinct role of hierarchical Magisterium [teaching role] in the Church of Christ. At the same time, Christian Tradition assigns theologians the special responsibility of evaluating and interpreting pronouncements of the Magisterium in the light of the total theological data operative in each question or statement." (Text of the Statement by Theologians" New York Times, Aug. 31, 1968, pg. 16. [This was the infamous statement, with the signatures of over 200 theologians which condemned the Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae"])
Curran, and others, set themselves up as the watchdog of the Magisterium, an ecclesiastical 'Supreme Court' through whom all Church teaching must pass and be accepted.
So, Humanae Vitae is not an infallible, nor authoritative teaching of the Church because a handful of theologians say it isn't. Just as "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" (that the Church has no authority to ordain women as priests) isn't an infallible teaching because they say so. In short, instead of the teaching authority being the 'consensus' of the " community of God's people" it's rather " the special responsibility of (theologians) evaluating and interpreting pronouncements of the Magisterium". They have set themsleves, and only a select few, as a counter magisterium, the final authority of the Church.
The people of God' may 'think' they have come to their consensus through the Holy Spirit (though we know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit is given for the building of the Church, not the tearing it apart), but in fact, they are merely following what 'their' magisterium is teaching them.
"A new consensus could only come about if this traditional power [the Magisterium] could be deposed, and the Church restructured on conciliar, democratic lines accountable to the people. . . . This is what Kung is really calling for: that the academy replace the hierarchy as the teaching magisterium of the church. . . . It entails the equivalent of the French Revolution in the Church" (Rosemary Reuther; "Consensus in Theology" edited by L. Swidler (Westminster, 1980; p. 65).
They'll quote Curran, Kung, Sheehan, Schnackenburg, Raymond Brown, Roland Murphy, Pierre Benoit, John Meier, J.A. Fitzmeyer, David Stanley, Rudolf Pesch, Walter Kasper, David Tracy, Edward Schillebeeckx, Rosemary Ruether, and others. But not one Pope, Cardinal, Doctor of the Church, Early Church Father, or any other 'faithful' theologian.
They'll rattle off quotes from Gnostic writings but not one verse from Scripture unless they can distort it's meaning. (i.e. Lydia is commended for her charity, NOT that she was priestess. Phoebe assisted in the ministry of the Church, not that she was ever ordained a priest.)
Where is the Holy Spirit really found to guide, and protect the Church founded by Christ? " Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age'" (Matthew 28: 16-20).
"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).
As Cardinal Bernardin wrote: "It is true that people must form their conscience, but it is equally true that they have a responsibility to form a correct conscience." ("U.S. Bishops Ask Acceptance"; National Catholic Reporter; Aug. 7, 1968, pg. 4) To form that correct conscience one can either follow the authentic teaching of the Church's Magisterium, or they can form an incorrect (or dead) conscience by following those teachers and theologians who tell them what they want to hear. (ref. 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
In a debate on CompuServe's Catholic On Line, Dr. Joyce Little, a theologian at St. Thomas University in Houston asked, "Where were the priests, the theologians, the catechist?...I think the sowing of that confusion was in very many instances unconscionable and the responsibility for that confusion and the ensuing grief is one for which many will be held accountable, if not in this life, then in the next."
Truly, it is proven Christ has established His Magisterium and no other quasi magisterium can usurp it, no matter what drabble they concoct.
Pax Christi, Pat