Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Francis Factor

I'm sure you've seen the great video with Pope Francis and the cute little kid that has been circulating around the Internet. If not, it's worth a watch...

The people I've talked to, fallen away Catholics especially, are very excited about our Holy Father and his care for, as one correspondent put it, his "warmth and humility" and his love for ordinary people. All of which, of course, is spot on. Francis is a compassionate man dedicated to serving all people, just like Christ commanded (cf. Matthew 23:11). I've even know Catholics, long lapsed, who are thinking of coming home to the Church because of Francis, Deo gratis!

Of course, as great as the enthusiam for Papa Francesco is, we can't forget that our Pope Emeritus also was (is) a kind and loving man, a servus servorum Dei and a lover of the "ordinary man." He even helped more than a few lapsed Catholics find their way home, including yours truly. So while we rejoice over the great humility and love shown by Francis, let's also thank God for Pope Benedict who also had a way with the little ones of Christ (cf. Matt 19:14). Enjoy...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How should we dress for Mass?

In times past our forefathers in the Faith recognized the importance of the Holy Mass in a number of ways, including dressing in nice clothing. 

Today, many feel okay coming to Mass in whatever they happen to be wearing on Sunday, shorts, sweats, jeans, even pajama pants. Which is better? Is it just a matter of preference?

Why should I dress up when I go to Mass?
Mass isn't just another community gathering, we are in the presence of God Almighty. Dressing appropriately shows the respect a creature owes to his Creattor.

I'm always in God's presence because He is omnipresent. I don't dress up all the time, why should I when I go to Mass?
At Mass we are in God's literal, physical presence. After the consecration what was once bread and wine has become Jesus, His body, blood, soul, and divinity. This means that at Mass the presence of God is a difference of kind not just degree from His presence in your everyday life.

Okay, so His presence is different at Mass. Why does that mean I should dress up? He is still always present to me and I still don't always dress up.
Although you are always present to God, you are not always offering formal, communal worship to God. Worshiping God is the most important thing we do each week (cf. Matt 22:36), we ought to dress in a way that shows we understand this.

Worship is about the spirit not the body, so it doesn't matter how I dress.
People are, by nature, psychosomatic unities. We are both body and soul and our worship, as Catholics, reflects this. That is why we kneel, sit, stand, pound our chests, and dress appropriately for worship.

But God, in Christ, is my friend, is my father. I don't dress nicely to spend time with my friends and family, why should I when I spend time with Jesus at Mass?
I bet you do dress up to spend time with family and friends for special occasions - eating at a nice restaurant, birthday parties, baptisms, graduations, anniversaries, and especially weddings. Would you attend your best friend's wedding in flip flops? If you did it would probably scandalize the wedding couple or others attending the ceremony by showing such a lack of respect for such an important occasion. Likewise, we don't want to scandalize others at Mass by dressing in casual clothing.

The Mass isn't like a wedding...
The Mass is the wedding. All other weddings are dim shadows of the Mass. That is why the priest, at every Mass, declares “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb”, which reflects the words of the angel in the Heavenly liturgy, in which we participate at Mass, when he says “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). Every Mass is a wedding.

Does the Bible directly have anything to say about how we should dress at Mass?
Yes. In fact, in psalm 29 we read, "worship the Lord in Holy attire." Also, Moses commanded the Israelites to "sanctify themselves" and to wash "their garments" (cf. Exodus 19:15) before coming into the Lord's presence at Mount Sinai. Here even nomads traveling in the desert are to put on their "Sunday best" (clean clothes) when meeting God.

That's the Old Testament, certainly Jesus didn't say anything about dressing nice for Mass. He'd accept us however we came to Him. Right?
Wrong. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, Jesus tells a parable which has many meanings, one of which is being properly prepared, and attired. We read, “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” As we saw above, the Mass is a wedding, in fact the wedding which all other weddings foreshadow. You'll also notice that the king (and remember Jesus is the King of Kings, cf.Rev 19:16) calls the informally attired man "friend." Being friends with Jesus, which we are all called to be (cf. John 15:15) doesn't mean dressing causally at the Heavenly banquet.

Jesus was poor and He didn't wear anything special when He worshipped God. Why should I?
The ultimate act of worship by Jesus in His Earthly ministry was the Last Supper and His Sorrowful Passion. In the Gospel of John we see that Christ was wearing, not just any old clothes, but a seamless tunic (cf. 19:23) which was nice enough that the Roman soldiers decided to cast lots for it rather than dividing it and destroying its value. Christ's tunic is reminiscent of the priestly garments worn by the high priest of Israel (cf. Lev. 16:4).

What if I don't own a suit and cannot afford one?
If you are like 99% of the American Catholics who regularly dress in jeans and a t-shirt for Mass, this isn't really the reason. Most of the same people who sit in Church week after week in gym clothes can be found wearing nice suits the next day at work. Of course, some people don't work in jobs that require business dress and these people may not have a lot of extra money to buy extra clothes. Our ancestors, who were on average poorer than we are today, would solve this problem by having a pair or two of "Sunday's best" clothing. They would wear the same same suit or dress each week to Church. Perhaps not the most fashionable idea, but certainly appropriate.

What if I can't even afford one nice Sunday outfit?
Of course, the idea isn't to go into debt to purchase a $1,000.00 suit for Mass. All we need to do is wear our best. A homeless person might only have one set of clothes all week. Fine, wear them to Mass - that is the best he has. A soldier on a battlefield might only have his fatigues. Again, wear them. It is about wearing the best you can, not dressing in a particular outfit, but if you dress nicer to impress your boss at work than you do for the Creator of the universe at Mass, your priorities might be screwed up.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quo Primum - Can the missal never be changed?

I attend both the forma extraordinaria (i.e. the "traditional Latin Mass" or "EF") and the forma ordinaria (i.e. the novus ordo Mass or "OF") of the Roman Rite. I do, however, love the EF. Because of my passion for the EF, I tend to follow some blogs of a more traditional bent. In so doing, I come, from time to time, across some crazy stuff, mostly of "the Church is in error on x, y, or z" type. One frequent myth is that Pope Saint Pius V, in his apostolic constitution Quo Primum, prohibited the kinds of changes Pope Paul VI made to the Mass after the Second Vatican Council. But did he? Let's take a look at what Pius actually said, with my emphases and comments as usual.



From the very first, upon Our elevation to the chief Apostleship, We gladly turned our mind and energies and directed all out thoughts to those matters which concerned the preservation of a pure liturgy, and We strove with God's help, by every means in our power, to accomplish this purpose. For, besides other decrees of the sacred Council of Trent, there were stipulations for Us to revise and re-edit the sacred books: the Catechism, the Missal and the Breviary... (I)ts most becoming that there be in the Church only one appropriate manner of reciting the Psalms and only one rite for the celebration of Mass... (using one rite shows the catholic, the universal, nature of the Church.)

Let all everywhere adopt and observe what has been handed down by the Holy Roman Church... and let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever (powerful words)

This new rite alone is to be used …unless there has prevailed a custom of a similar kind which has been continuously followed for a period of not less than 200 years, in which most cases We in no wise rescind their above-mentioned prerogative or custom… (If a rite of the Mass had been in use prior to 1370 it was okay to continue to use it. Those rites in use from 1370-1570 were no longer to be used.)

All other of the churches referred to above, however, are hereby denied the use of other missals, which are to be discontinued entirely and absolutely; whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever (there it is again), We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure…

Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity (and again) that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely…We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified

Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

Given at St. Peter's in the year of the Lord's Incarnation, 1570, on the 14th of July of the Fifth year of Our Pontificate.

Pope St. Pius V

So the question remains. Did Saint Pope Pius, in 1570 with Quo Primum, disallow the kind of changes made to the Mass by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1969? All those "now and forever's" seem like it, at least on the surface, but only on the surface of it.

In fact Pius V could not have prohibited Paul VI from making changes to the Mass. Why? Because Pius lacked the authority to do so. A pope can, as Pius V did, bind all lesser authorities than himself, but he could not bind an equal authority, such as another pontiff. Pius himself went on to make lesser changes to the missal after he published Quo Primum, as did many other popes, up to Paul VI's much larger changes after the Second Vatican Council. Remember, Quo Primum is dealing with (changeable) Church discipline, not infallible (and thus unchangeable) Church doctrine. No future pope could change the Church's teaching on faith and morals, but all popes have the power to change the Church's disciplines as they see fit. As a Catholic, you are free to think the changes introduced into the Mass after Vatican II were great or terrible ideas and remain a good son of the Church. You cannot, however, fail to recognize the right of the Church to make these changes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

All Hallows Eve (Halloween)

In the Catholic blogosphere there seems to be two minds regarding the proper celebration of Halloween by Catholics.

In one corner we have Catholics arguing for kids trick-or-treating as all manner of ghouls, goblins, and ghosts. This position is best summed by by Dr. Taylor Marshall thus...

"Don’t be turned off by the ghoulish-ness of Halloween. Every great Catholic cathedral has gargoyles carved into its stone work. Illuminated manuscripts are also full of ghouls in the margins. Catholics are into this kind of stuff. Why? Because Christ has conquered death and the devil. After Christ, death has lost its sting." (read the rest of his argument THERE).

The other side of the debate is best captured in the following meme...

So, which is the "faithful" Catholic position? Should we, who seek to be saints, send our kids out as devils or ought they to dress as St. Patrick or Mother Teresa?

Perhaps, we ought to heed the advice of a soon-to-be canonized Saint, Pope John XXIII, "in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas" - "in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity." (Ad Petri Cathedram, 72)

Instead of debating people online over something where faithful Catholics are at liberty to disagree, let your youngster decide for himself. Just make sure he understands why we celebrate the Eve of All Hallows - to honor our Catholic forefathers that fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith until the end (cf. 2 Tim 4:7). More importantly still, make sure you don't miss Mass on November 1 (All Saint's Day is a Holy Day of Obligation).

Oh, and don't celebrate a generic (and secular) "fall festival" or, worse yet, "Reformation Day!" These celebrations grew out of a decidedly anti-Catholic misreading of the history of Halloween.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Life - Oct 25, 2013

The Source and Summit
This week we are heading to our local parish for Mass in the ordinary form. We are meeting up with our  youngest's godparents afterward, so no vetus ordo this week.

The Job
This week was a rough one. A real rough one. No sales came in, which means I made no money. I only had a very few leads to work on, which means its going to be a lean winter - one the business might not survive. Our website,, still hasn't recovered from the body blow we took back in July in Google. If things continue at this pace, I doubt I'll still be employed by January 1, but we're only a good sale away from turning things around.

The Family
The wife and kids got into a moderate car accident this week. Our minivan has to be put on the injured reserve list and the wife is staring down rehab from a viscous case of whiplash. The kids came through intact and uninjured, Deo gratis.

The Future
I'm still hoping to get more into evangelization, catechisis, and apologetics. To that end, I'm greatly enjoying teaching CCD. I've gotten back into writing, something I neglected over the last few years as I concentrated on getting a business up and running from scratch.

What I'm Reading
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Father who Keeps His Promises by Dr. Scott Hahn
A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins
The Bible - Proverbs, & Psalms

What I'm Watching
The Blacklist
Around the Horn
Pawn Stars
 30 for 30 on ESPN 
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
The Adventures of Curious George
Holy Hereos Inside the Sacraments, The Holy Eucharist

What I'm Listening To
Taylor Marshall's Podcast
Catholic Answers Live
Backup by Jovanotti

Future Plans
I'm considering going on a men's retreat with a local priest I'm friends with. I haven't decided, no surprise there as I'm incredibly indecisive these days, but I'm leaning toward going. I'm loath to go off without the family, but I've drifted from ennui to borderline depression throughout the week, so I might need a spiritual boost.

Goals for this Week
I'd like to keep working on this blog and find a way to generate some more business.

Feast of San Miniato

One of my two favorite cities in the world is fair Firenze. I spent my honeymoon there, my family hails from neighboring Pistoia, and my conversion to the One Faith took a major leap forward while walking her storied streets. Suffice it to say, I have a major soft spot for all things Florentine. With that in mind, I had to share this today from Gregory Dipippo at New Liturgical Movement...

"Today, the Italian city of Florence keeps the feast of Saint Miniatus, (or Minias; San Miniato in Italian) who was martyred there during the persecution of Decius in 250-51 A.D. The authentic story of his martyrdom is now lost to us; he is traditionally said to have been the son of an Armenian king, who served in the Roman army, and was beheaded for being a Christian after various torments. He was buried on the large hill that looms over the city on the far side of the Arno river; a small shrine was built over the site of his burial, but replaced in the early 11th century by a magnificent basilica, one of the finest examples of Romanesque art in all of Italy..."

Read the rest, with great pictures (inside and out) of this beautiful church, over THERE.

Hmmm... I wonder if the wife would object to naming our next son, if God so wills us to have another son, Miniato...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Humani Generis Part 2 - On Watered Down Catholicism

Yesterday on the blog we looked at what Pope Pius XII had to say, in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, about the Theory of Evolution. Today let's see what Pius has to say about "watering down" the Faith. Pius saw two major groups of Catholics who were distorting the Faith for different ends. The first group, those with "an imprudent zeal for souls" were the forefathers of a certain type of ecumenism, the kind of ecumenism that seeks to ignore, or altogether abolish, the real differences that exist between Catholics and those Christians outside of the Church. The other group are those who were seeking to water down the Faith to paper over the differences between Catholic doctrine and the fads of modern thought, these are the proponents of the "new theology". These errors are still very much with us today, perhaps even more so than in Pius' day. Let's see what advice Papa Pacelli can give us as we continue to struggle against modernism.

Venerable Brethren,
Greetings and Apostolic Benediction...

11. ...There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an "eirenism" according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptive enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods... should... be... completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation of the kingdom of Christ everywhere throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion. (this is a false ecumenism, which wants to water down the Faith in order to unite those Christians separated from the Church.)

12. Now if these only aimed at adapting ecclesiastical teaching and methods to modern conditions and requirements, through the introduction of some new explanations, there would be scarcely any reason for alarm. (It is okay to update the way we explain the Faith to better suit modern men.) But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent "eirenism" seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction.

14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas... They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped... it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents. (the idea being that the truth is somewhere between what the Church has always taught and what the "dissidents" teach.)

15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system...

16. It is evident... that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism (what Pope Benedict XVI called the "dictatorship of relativism"), but that they actually contain it.... It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation (especially St. Thomas and the Scholastics). These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things.... (relativism is counteracted by building on the faith of our ancestors, not trying to start over from the beginning)

18. Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science. Some non-Catholics consider it as an unjust restraint preventing some more qualified theologians from reforming their subject....this sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith...

20.  .... if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter... cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians. (women priests for example)

21. God has given to His Church a living Teaching Authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly. (the Church is mater et magistra today, not just in the documents of her past) This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church...

22. To return, however, to the new opinions... a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to... put forward again the opinion...which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. (this amounts to nothing less the Gnosticism) In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the analogy of faith and the Tradition of the Church...

23. Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church's vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual. By means of this new exegesis of the Old Testament,... they say, all difficulties vanish, difficulties which hinder only those who adhere to the literal meaning of the Scriptures (i.e. only those who actually believe the Bible).

25. It is not surprising that novelties of this kind have already borne their deadly fruit in almost all branches of theology. It is now doubted that human reason... can... prove the existence of a personal God; it is denied that the world had a beginning; it is argued that the creation of the world is necessary...; it is denied that God has eternal and infallible foreknowledge of the free actions of men - all this in contradiction to the decrees of the Vatican Council.

26. Some also question whether angels are personal beings, and whether matter and spirit differ essentially. Others destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision. Nor is this all...some pervert the very concept of original sin, along with the concept of sin in general as an offense against God, as well as the idea of satisfaction performed for us by Christ. Some even say that the doctrine of transubstantiation ... should be so modified that the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist be reduced to a kind of symbolism, whereby the consecrated species would be merely efficacious signs of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful members of His Mystical Body.

27. Some say they are not bound by the doctrine... which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing (Stop and re-read that line. This is still Catholic teaching today. Vatican 2 did not, in fact could not, change that.). Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith.

32. ...While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma...

43. ...finally, let them not think... that the dissident and the erring can happily be brought back to the bosom of the Church, if the whole truth found in the Church is not sincerely taught to all without corruption or diminution. (That is the key right there. Not only is abandoning the truth for the sake of bringing people into the Church simply wrong, it also is destined to fail.)

44. ...We impart with all Our heart to each and all of you, Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, 12 August 1950, the twelfth year of Our Pontificate.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Humani Generis Part 1 - The Pope Speaks on Evolution

We sometimes tend to think of the 1950s as a golden age for the Catholic Church, an era before theological dissent erupted in the sixties and seventies (after the Council). But the seeds of that later rebellion were already well laid by the Modernists dating back to the nineteenth century. Eugenio Pacelli, the Venerable Pope Pius XII (reigned 1939-1958), took a long hard look at a few of the errors already infiltrating the Church in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis

Specifically, the Pope was concerned with the "Nouvelle Theologie" emanating from France after the War, which saw Catholic dogma as only relatively true. These theologians wanted to abandon traditional Catholic terms and to replace them with terminology drawn from modern philosophy. In the process of doing this they were changing the meaning of fundemental Catholic truths. In his encyclical, the pope also defined the Church's position on the Theory of Evolution. In relation to this, Papa Pacelli looks at two then popular ways of interpreting Genesis in light of recent scientific hypothesis, namely polygenism and an ahistoric reading of Genesis 1-11. In addressing these errors, Pius shored up the faithful against "false opinions threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic Doctrine."

Let's take a closer look at what Pius had to say on the topic of Evolution. Does the Church deny what science has to tell us? (with my emphases and comments)

Sin enters the world

Venerable Brethren,
Greetings and Apostolic Benediction

Disagreement and error among men on moral and religious matters have always been a cause of profound sorrow to all good men, but above all to the true and loyal sons of the Church, especially today, when we see the principles of Christian culture being attacked on all sides (If this was true in 1950, how much more so is it today?).

5. If anyone examines the state of affairs outside the Christian fold, he will easily discover the principle trends that not a few learned men are following. Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved (an important point to remember!) even in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution (the LCWR should read this at every meeting)...

8. In all this confusion of opinion it is some consolation to Us to see former adherents of rationalism today frequently desiring to return to the fountain of divinely communicated truth, and to acknowledge and profess the word of God as contained in Sacred Scripture as the foundation of religious teaching. But at the same time it is a matter of regret that not a few of these, the more firmly they accept the word of God, so much the more do they diminish the value of human reason (think: fundamentalists), and the more they exalt the authority of God the Revealer, the more severely do they spurn the teaching office of the Church, which has been instituted by Christ, Our Lord, to preserve and interpret divine revelation. This attitude is not only plainly at variance with Holy Scripture (cf. Luke 10:16), but is shown to be false by experience also. For often those who disagree with the true Church complain openly of their disagreement in matters of dogma and thus unwillingly bear witness to the necessity of a living Teaching Authority.

10. is apparent, however, that some today, as in apostolic times, desirous of novelty, and fearing to be considered ignorant of recent scientific findings, try to withdraw themselves from the sacred Teaching Authority and are accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealed truth and of drawing others along with them into error. (i.e. some fall into these errors out of fear of seeming "behind the times")

36. ...the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology (both scientists AND theologians need to weigh in on evolution), research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. (Catholics cannot believe the soul evolved, only the body.) However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.(It is the Church who has the last word on evolution, not scientists. The Church must take the research of scientists and theologians and reconcile it with both Sacred Tradition and Scripture.)

37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. (Polygenism is out. A single couple, Adam and Eve, were everyone's first parents.)

38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards (to protect us from error) established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament... (T)he first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters... in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents. (Genesis contains real history. It may be told in a poetic fashion, indeed in a way very different from the methods of modern historians, but it contains real history. Adam and Eve existed and sinned.)

39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers. (if the sacred author took anything from something like the Epic of Gilgamesh, he only took what was true and what God guided him to take.)

44. Relying on this hope, which will be increased by your pastoral care, as a pledge of celestial gifts and a sign of Our paternal benevolence, We impart with all Our heart to each and all of you, Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, 12 August 1950, the twelfth year of Our Pontificate.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Pray to your Guardian Angel!

My family had a trying day today. My wife was out with our three kids, ages 5 and under, when she was suddenly side-swiped by an inattentive driver. Our new (to us) minivan sustained some pretty ugly damage to the driver's side doors and possibly to the front tire and my wife has an aching neck. Luckily, the children weren't injured even though the baby's door took a lot of damage.

I say luckily, but was it really just luck? I don't think so. We all too often forget our guardian angels watch over us and protect us from harm. True, they are mostly concerned with keeping us out of the deep trouble Satan and his demons want for us, but they nonetheless can, and indeed do, protect us from physical harm as well - if it be God's will. The Roman Catechism (the catechism produced following the Council of Trent in 1545-1563) teaches that "By God’s providence angels have been entrusted with the office of guarding the human race and of accompanying every human being in order to preserve him from any serious dangers" and "Our heavenly Father has placed over each of us an angel under whose protection and vigilance we may be able to escape the snares secretly prepared by our enemy." (Section IV, 9).

Tonight, and always, remember your guardian angel.

Angel of God,
My guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day, be at my side
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.


P.S. Don't name your guardian angel! See more from Dr. Taylor Marshall on why HERE.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Life - October 18, 2013

The  Source and Summit

This week is looking like the High Latin Mass in the 62 rite. We've discussed heading down to the local Cathedral, something we've never done, but I don't see that happening this week.

The Job

Managed to get a few sales in this week (about 6 pieces or so), which isn't too bad. Not my best week ever, nor my worst. There are times, like this week, when the burden of self-employment weights on me. During those times, I try to thank God for the good things about working from home, like being able to pick my son up from kindergarten. That usually helps me break out of the doldrums being broke can put me into.

The Kids

#1 got a concussion at the Natural History Museum early this week. That was a nightmare. Thank the Lord he is okay. #2, with his brother being home most of the week, was particularly naughty, which was trying. #3 is still working on walking farther and farther.

The Wife

Had another RCIA class this week. I didn't get to go this time.

The Future


The Internet

I've done some blog reading and facebook checking in the mornings and at night, otherwise I've been cutting back on wasting time on the net.


No class this week.

Continuing Ed

I'm considering getting certified as a Master Catechist by my diocese. It would take 4 classes, each lasting 6 weeks with one class each week. It might be something worth doing, especially if I don't ever get off my lazy butt and try for the MA in theology.

What I'm Reading

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Father who Keeps His Promises by Dr. Scott Hahn
If your mind wanders at Mass by Thomas Howard
A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins
The Bible - Genesis, Gospel of John, Proverbs, & Psalms

What I'm Watching

Agents of SHIELD - I'm starting to wain on this one.
The Blacklist
Around the Horn
Pawn Stars
 30 for 30 on ESPN

What I'm Listening to

The Local Catholic Radio Station
Catholic Answers Live
And I pulled out an old CD from my youth, Late Registration by Kayne West - a blast from the past for me.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast day of a great early church father - St. Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius is a great source for what the early church looked like, for what the early Christians believed. He was a student of St. Polycarp who, in turn, was a student of the apostle St. John (yes that St. John!). In honor of this great feast day, let's listen to Ignatius.

First, to set the scene, Ignatius is the bishop of Antioch and is heading to Rome as a prisoner to be martyred by being mauled by lions. On the way from Antioch to Rome, Ignatius writes letters to the churches he is passing through. What he says is very interesting. Remember, this is only about 70 years or so after the Resurrection. Ignatius is a very early witness to what early Christianity looked like. Let's look at just two of Ignatius' most famous statements, both from his letter to the Smyrnaeans (with my comments and emphases):

Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church . It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid. (Ignatius uses the title "Catholic Church," already in the first decades after Christ's death in such a way that he assumes everyone will know what he is talking about. This means the term had already been in wide use to distinguish Christ's legitimate Church from heretical sects.)

Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.  (Here we see evidence that the earliest Christians believed 1. that the Eucharist really is the flesh and blood of Jesus and 2. that those who don't profess this belief should not be allowed to receive communion in the Church).

Ask yourself, which church still talks like this. If the church your attending doesn't, you might ask yourself why not.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Life - Oct 11, 2013

The  Source and Summit

We've yet to discuss where we will be attending Mass this weekend. I, as always, am hoping for the forma extraordinaria, but, with the start of RCIA and all, we might find ourselves at our local parish instead.

The Job

Our website,, which offers some great deals on American made strength equipment, has taken a bit of a penalty from Google's new algorithm. We're not quite sure why, so time has been spent talking with our SEO team and trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

The Kids

#1 has been enjoying himself greatly at Kindergarten where he is excelling greatly. He has taken to having me drive him to school each morning instead of riding the bus, which isn't too bad as I'd rather drive him over to the school (which is only 2 minutes away) than stand in the rain waiting for the bus to arrive. #3 started walking this week, which is always exciting.

The Wife

Started RCIA at the local parish, which is exciting. She is a great woman and a true inspiration, especially all the work she does around the house and with the kids.  The woman is tireless!

The Future

I have a couple interesting book ideas I'm currently supposed to be working on. So far, not much has gotten accomplished there.

The Move

We are considering taking a short trip southward to check out the possibility of moving somewhere with better climes. Moving there seems a stretch, but who knows? We also have an opportunity of moving out of town a bit, to a home that has opened up to us through the death of a loved family member. Either way, I don't see us staying in our current overpriced rental.

The Internet

I've spent some time over at the Catholic Answers forum, which always threatens to suck far too much time out of my day. I almost signed up for Dr. Taylor Marshall's New Saint Thomas Institute, but thought it looked geared more towards beginners and less for graduate level studies. At $20.00 a month it was tempting. I also spend too much time reading Catholic blogs!


This week we covered Cain & Abel, Seth's righteous line, Noah (flood & drunkenness), and the Tower of Babel. I've been preparing for next week - Father Abraham. 

Continuing Ed

I'm still hoping to someday work towards a Master's in Theology from Franciscan U in Steubenville, but I've yet to find a way to make that happen with everything else that is going on.

What I'm Reading

Fundemental Speeches from Five Decades by Pope Benedict XVI
A Father who Keeps His Promises by Dr. Scott Hahn
If your mind wanders at Mass by Thomas Howard
A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin by John F. Collins
The Bible - Genesis, Gospel of John, Proverbs, & Psalms

What I'm Watching

Agents of SHIELD
The Blacklist
Pardon the Interuption
Pawn Stars
Iron Man 3
Genesis to Jesus

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Missed Opportunities

Yesterday afternoon a nice looking, friendly couple came to our door. They asked us if we were concerned about child safety, especially about kidnappings. Having three kids under the age of 6, we, of course, said yes. The gentleman, a Mr. Hatt, told us he had a great "child safety kit" that would help rescue any of our kids that might happen to get lost or stolen from us, that this kit was something the police and fire fighters had asked him and his partner to go around the neighborhood distributing to people, to help protect families. Are we interested? he asked. Of course we are. Who wouldn't be! That was all Mr. Hatt and company needed to get in our front door, give us a worthless piece of paper (the "child safety kit") and launch into a 3 hour long life insurance sales pitch.

He was slick, I'll give him that, having every dirty sales trick in the book at his disposal. Videos about impending death, and financial ruin (for families without life insurance), a one-time only offer that had to be taken advantage of right then and there, an unwillingness to leave our home, and loads of guilt if we choose not to purchase. I'm not financial expert, but it seems like whole life insurance is a pretty bad investment for a young family and a sweetheart commission for the salesman.

Missed opportunities... did we miss out on a great life insurance plan? No, we were suckers and purchased, although we cancelled later that night, but we did miss out on a golden opportunity, one you might be missing out on as well, the opportunity to evangelize. Here this young couple is, sitting at my dinning room table, surrounded by pictures of the Creation of Man and the Last Supper and the only thing we are talking about is life insurance. What about eternal life insurance? Here we are watching videos of funerals, talking of what plans we have made (or not made) regarding the last things and the only thing we are talking about is life insurance. What about judgement, Heaven, and Hell?

 The last three popes have called all Catholics - you and me included - to evangelize the world, Christ Himself calls us to this as well, "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" (Matt 28:19-20). Here I was presented with a great opportunity to share the Good News with two people who, in our increasingly anti-Christian culture, may never have heard it and it didn't even cross my mind! There Christ is hanging on the Cross in my entryway and sharing His resurrection with these possibly lost souls wasn't a priority of mine. A priest once told me that the "Gospel according to Nathan" might be the only Gospel someone hears, and I fell mute, too busy wondering if purchasing life insurance would be a good investment in my family's future, when preaching Christ is the best investment any of us can make. Here I was, forced to serve God or mammon (cf. Matt 6:24) and mammon did I choose. I only pray that I might not miss such opportunities in the future, souls might be lost if I do, perhaps even my own.

The next time an annoying door-to-door salesman comes knocking, invite him in. Sit an talk with him. Offer him a glass of water or a cup of coffee and invite him to meet the Risen One. Invite him to Mass. Sell him eternal life insurance. The New Evangelization must start one soul at a time.