instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I for one welcome our New York Times overlords

Objection. It would seem that a lifetime ban, however just or prudent, isn't really altogether what you would call an act of "tolerance" as such.

I answer that, Shut up.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two for the chorus

I might add:
Yay for the Church! Yay for Good Saint John!
I don't have a special devotion to either new papal saint, and that's okay. My litany of personal patron saints runs to twenty-two -- including a pope, if that matters (St. Soter, whose feast day was last week) -- and I will grow in the image of Jesus no faster by bandwagonning onto Sts. John or John Paul.

Still, two of my patrons (Sts. Katherine Drexel and Faustina Kowalska) were canonized after my devotion to them began, so I can appreciate and celebrate the joy devotees of these holy popes have today.

Standard Disclaimer: I'm the one who claims my patron saints as my patrons. What they think of the arrangement is for them to say (though I have obtained some of the things I've asked for through their intercession). And my "devotion" to my patron saints is on the same scale as my "love" for God and neighbor. Don't think of me kneeling next to little old ladies lighting candles before statues, think of me saying, "Rats, wasn't his feast day last week?"



Has it really been nine years since I wrote:
What was shown to two billion people today wasn't only a funeral Mass, it was also an act of canonization.
And today the paperwork has finally caught up.

Yay for the Church! Yay for Pope St. John Paul II!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Lift up your gates, O ye princes

Two things of note happened during the Easter Vigil Mass at my parish this year.

First, thirteen people were confirmed, of which nine received their first Communion, of which five were formally received into the Church and four were baptized:

Something like this drawing might've helped the folks in the cheap seats figure out what was going on between all those readings and when Mass finally got normal.

Second, Jesus returned in His sacramental presence to our church. Yes, He was present in the assembly, in the priest, and in the Scriptures. And yes, He was present in the other sacraments celebrated. But Jesus' body, blood, soul, and divinity were not Eucharistically present in building until the priest spoke the words of consecration.

At the time, I was struck by the fact that, after two hours of talking and singing about how Jesus is risen, His return in the Blessed Sacrament comes about by shifting right back to His death. "This is My body, which will be given up for you."

We only celebrate the fact that Christ is risen because of the fact that Christ died. And we only celebrate the fact that Christ died because of the fact that Christ is risen.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Looking back on Lent

I did not have a particularly fruitful Lent. You get out of it in proportion to what you put into it, and what I put into Lent this year wasn't what it should have been. The one upside is that my annual Eastertide backsliding will be relatively mild.

I mention this for fellowship sake, in case anyone else who likewise squandered the season happens upon this post in a despondent funk after reading blogs of more successful Catholics. We shouldn't feel good about piddling away Lent, but neither need we feel alone.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

In the land of the universalists

Pelagianism is, to summarize crudely, the doctrine that man can achieve salvation by his own actions, without God's grace and apart from Christ's sacrifice.

In a culture that assumes everyone and their pet goldfish goes to heaven, Pelagianism is an odd affectation. If salvation isn't a question of whether God, man, or goldfish acts, if it's not really a question but a fact of creation, then talk of man's actions being salvific don't make sense. To the universalist, it's not what he does that saves man, it's what he is.

Yet, though Pelagianism is in this way contrary to universalism, there is something with the spirit of Pelagianism that is a natural consequence of universalism. If I am saved because of what I am, then what I am must be good. If I am saved without reference to God, then I can live without reference to God, and in particular I can answer the question, "What am I?" without reference to God.

Some part of my answer may be, "I am an individual who does this, that, and the other." If I were to go on to ask, "Is doing this, that, and the other good?," how would I go about answering that question?

Right. Without reference to God.

Having concluded that everything I like to do is good to do, I am ready for the Church to try to sell me on what she has to say about God.

The Church had better not start with, "Doing this is good, but doing that and the other is evil." We have parted doctrinal company a long time before that point.

The Church is going to have to face down the ambient universalism before what she has to say about this or that sin -- that is, about this or that way we damage our relationship with God -- comes across as anything but old-fashioned jibber-jabber. For that matter, she has to face down the ambient universalism before what she has to say about Jesus makes any sense. If we're all saved anyway, what does it matter to me -- unless I'm a keener hoping for VIP seating -- whether we're saved through Jesus' death or through God saying, "Alakazam!" at the moment the universe winked into existence?

Ambiance, whether physical or spiritual, is determined a whole lot more by the local conditions than by anything that happens in Rome (exception: when in Rome). The prevalence of ambient universalism indicates that the local conditions generally accommodate it, which means the Church at the local level is going to have to change something if she has anything to say other than, "Carry on."


Thursday, April 10, 2014

"But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?"

Maybe that wasn't a rhetorical question.