Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faith and Private Judgment

This is a long post, but worth the read!

 Discourse 10: Faith and Private Judgment
(taken from Newman Reader)

by Blessed John Henry Newman

{192} WHEN we consider the beauty, the majesty, the completeness, the resources, the consolations, of the Catholic Religion, it may strike us with wonder, my brethren, that it does not convert the multitude of those who come in its way. Perhaps you have felt this surprise yourselves; especially those of you who have been recently converted, and can compare it, from experience, with those religions which the millions of this country choose instead of it. You know from experience how barren, unmeaning, and baseless those religions are; what poor attractions they have, and how little they have to say for themselves. Multitudes, indeed, are of no religion at all; and you may not be surprised that those who cannot even bear the thought of God, should not feel drawn to His Church; numbers, too, hear very little about Catholicism, or a great deal of abuse and calumny against it, and you may not be surprised that they do not all at once become Catholics; but what may fairly surprise those who enjoy the fulness of Catholic blessings is, that those who see the Church ever so distantly, who see even gleams or the faint lustre of her {193} majesty, nevertheless should not be so far attracted by what they see as to seek to see more,—should not at least put themselves in the way to be led on to the Truth, which of course is not ordinarily recognised in its Divine authority except by degrees. Moses, when he saw the burning bush, turned aside to see "that great sight"; Nathaniel, though he thought no good could come out of Nazareth, at least followed Philip to Christ, when Philip said to him, "Come and see"; but the multitudes about us see and hear, in some measure, surely,—many in ample measure,—and yet are not persuaded thereby to see and hear more, are not moved to act upon their knowledge. Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; they are contented to remain as they are; they are not drawn to inquire, or at least not drawn on to embrace.

Many explanations may be given of this difficulty; I will proceed to suggest to you one, which will sound like a truism, but yet has a meaning in it. Men do not become Catholics, because they have not faith. Now you may ask me, how this is saying more than that men do not believe the Catholic Church because they do not believe it; which is saying nothing at all. Our Lord, for instance, says, "He who cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he who believeth in Me shall never thirst";—to believe then and to come are the same thing. If they had faith, of course they would join the Church, for the very meaning, the very exercise of faith, is joining the Church. But I mean something more than this: faith is a state of mind, it is a particular mode of thinking and acting, which is {194} exercised, always indeed towards God, but in very various ways. Now I mean to say, that the multitude of men in this country have not this habit or character of mind. We could conceive, for instance, their believing in their own religions, even if they did not believe in the Church; this would be faith, though a faith improperly directed; but they do not believe even their own religions; they do not believe in anything at all. It is a definite defect in their minds: as we might say that a person had not the virtue of meekness, or of liberality, or of prudence, quite independently of this or that exercise of the virtue, so there is such a religious virtue as faith, and there is such a defect as the absence of it. Now I mean to say that the great mass of men in this country have not this particular virtue called faith, have not this virtue at all. As a man might be without eyes or without hands, so they are without faith; it is a distinct want or fault in their soul; and what I say is, that since they have not this faculty of religious belief, no wonder they do not embrace that, which cannot really be embraced without it. They do not believe any teaching at all in any true sense; and therefore they do not believe the Church in particular.

Now, in the first place, what is faith? it is assenting to a doctrine as true, which we do not see, which we cannot prove, because God says it is true, who cannot lie. And further than this, since God says it is true, not with His own voice, but by the voice of His messengers, it is assenting to what man says, not simply viewed as a man, but to what he is commissioned to {195} declare, as a messenger, prophet, or ambassador from God. In the ordinary course of this world we account things true either because we see them, or because we can perceive that they follow and are deducible from what we do see; that is, we gain truth by sight or by reason, not by faith. You will say indeed, that we accept a number of things which we cannot prove or see, on the word of others; certainly, but then we accept what they say only as the word of man; and we have not commonly that absolute and unreserved confidence in them, which nothing can shake. We know that man is open to mistake, and we are always glad to find some confirmation of what he says, from other quarters, in any important matter; or we receive his information with negligence and unconcern, as something of little consequence, as a matter of opinion; or, if we act upon it, it is as a matter of prudence, thinking it best and safest to do so. We take his word for what it is worth, and we use it either according to our necessity, or its probability. We keep the decision in our own hands, and reserve to ourselves the right of reopening the question whenever we please. This is very different from Divine faith; he who believes that God is true, and that this is His word, which He has committed to man, has no doubt at all. He is as certain that the doctrine taught is true, as that God is true; and he is certain, because God is true, because God has spoken, not because he sees its truth or can prove its truth. That is, faith has two peculiarities;—it is most certain, decided, positive, immovable {196} in its assent, and it gives this assent not because it sees with eye, or sees with the reason, but because it receives the tidings from one who comes from God.

This is what faith was in the time of the Apostles, as no one can deny; and what it was then, it must be now, else it ceases to be the same thing. I say, it certainly was this in the Apostles' time, for you know they preached to the world that Christ was the Son of God, that He was born of a Virgin, that He had ascended on high, that He would come again to judge all, the living and the dead. Could the world see all this? could it prove it? how then were men to receive it? why did so many embrace it? on the word of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, messengers from God. Men were told to submit their reason to a living authority. Moreover, whatever an Apostle said, his converts were bound to believe; when they entered the Church, they entered it in order to learn. The Church was their teacher; they did not come to argue, to examine, to pick and choose, but to accept whatever was put before them. No one doubts, no one can doubt this, of those primitive times. A Christian was bound to take without doubting all that the Apostles declared to be revealed; if the Apostles spoke, he had to yield an internal assent of his mind; it would not be enough to keep silence, it would not be enough not to oppose: it was not allowable to credit in a measure; it was not allowable to doubt. No; if a convert had his own private thoughts of what was {197} said, and only kept them to himself, if he made some secret opposition to the teaching, if he waited for further proof before he believed it, this would be a proof that he did not think the Apostles were sent from God to reveal His will; it would be a proof that he did not in any true sense believe at all. Immediate, implicit submission of the mind was, in the lifetime of the Apostles, the only, the necessary token of faith; then there was no room whatever for what is now called private judgment. No one could say: "I will choose my religion for myself, I will believe this, I will not believe that; I will pledge myself to nothing; I will believe just as long as I please, and no longer; what I believe today I will reject tomorrow, if I choose. I will believe what the Apostles have as yet said, but I will not believe what they shall say in time to come." No; either the Apostles were from God, or they were not; if they were, everything that they preached was to be believed by their hearers; if they were not, there was nothing for their hearers to believe. To believe a little, to believe more or less, was impossible; it contradicted the very notion of believing: if one part was to be believed, every part was to be believed; it was an absurdity to believe one thing and not another; for the word of the Apostles, which made the one true, made the other true too; they were nothing in themselves, they were all things, they were an infallible authority, as coming from God. The world had either to become Christian, or to let it alone; there was no room for private tastes and fancies, no room for private judgment. {198}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Resource Highlight: Institute of Catholic Culture

This is a great resource with a long list of FREE audio downloads!

From the Institute of Catholic Culture website:

"The Institute of Catholic Culture is a 501(c)3 non-profit Catholic educational organization dedicated to the re-evangelization of our society through educational and cultural programs offered to the public at NO CHARGE.  

 Through this important arm of our apostolate, Catholics and non-Catholics alike throughout the United States and throughout the world are able to learn the truth about Jesus Christ and his Church. In an age when the basic teachings of the Catholic Faith have been neglected and the faithful are in great need of intellectual faith formation, the Institute of Catholic Culture stands as a sign of hope. Taking our Lord's final command to the Apostles to "make disciples of all nations," as our own, the Institute of Catholic Culture was founded in answer to the Church's call for a "New Evangelization." To this end, the Institute hosts educational seminars specifically designed to build bridges of understanding, teaching authentic Catholic history, philosophy, and theology as a way of healing the wounds in the Body of Christ, and reaching out to those who seek knowledge of the Truth. Welcoming some of the most influential teachers of our time, the Institute offers participants an organic formation in the Catholic Faith while providing a social setting where the Faith is not only learned, but lived. All are welcome to join the Institute of Catholic Culture and seek the Truth revealed in our Lord and God, Jesus Christ."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Keur Moussa Senegal

"Music is among the many and great gifts of nature with which God, in Whom is the harmony of the most perfect concord and the most perfect order, has enriched men, whom He has created in His image and likeness. Together with the other liberal arts, music contributes to spiritual joy and the delight of the soul...

..Besides the organ, other instruments can be called upon to give great help in attaining the lofty purpose of sacred music, so long as they play nothing profane nothing clamorous or strident and nothing at variance with the sacred services or the dignity of the place

The following video demonstrates the proper implementation of "other instruments" that are relevant to a specific culture (1 min mark).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Word on Fire Blog: Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

Here are a couple of videos provided by the Word on Fire folks (please visit and support them):

Today is the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Take a look at Father Barron's video commentaries on the Cross, as well as a short reflection from Heaven in Stone and Glass.

There is a terrible interpretation of the cross that has, unfortunately, infected the minds of many Christians. This is the view that the bloody sacrifice of the Son on the cross was “satisfying” to the Father, and appeasement of a God infinitely angry at sinful humanity. In this reading, the crucified Jesus is like a child hurled into the fiery mouth of a pagan divinity in order to assuage its wrath. It is no wonder that many, formed by this cruel theology, find the Christian doctrine of the cross hard to accept: I once heard the objection that this sacrifice of the Son to the Father constitutes an act of cosmic child abuse.

What eloquently gives lie to this awful interpretation is the passage from John’s Gospel that is often proposed as a summary of the Christian message: “God so loved the world, that he sent his only Son, that all who believe in him might have life in his name.” It is not out of anger or vengeance or in a desire for retribution that the Father sends the Son but precisely out of love. God the Father is not some pathetic divinity whose bruised personal honor needs to be restored; rather God is a parent who burns with compassion for his children who have wandered into danger. Does the Father hate sinners? No, but he hates sin. Does God harbor indignation at the unjust? No, but God despises injustice. Thus God sends his Son, not gleefully to see him suffer, but to set things right.

St. Anselm, the great medieval theologian, who is often unfairly blamed for the cruel theology of satisfaction, was eminently clear on this score. We sinners are like diamonds that have fallen into the muck; made in the image of God, we have soiled ourselves through violence and hatred. God, claimed Anselm, could have simply pronounced a word of forgiveness from heaven; but this would not have solved the problem. It would not have restored the diamonds to their original brilliance. Instead, in his passion to reestablish the beauty of creation, God came down into the muck of sin and death and brought the diamonds up and polished them off. In so doing of course, God had to get dirty. This sinking into the dirt—this divine solidarity with the lost—is the “sacrifice” which the Son makes to the infinite pleasure of the Father. It is the sacrifice expressive, not of anger or vengeance, but of compassion.

Jesus said that any disciple of his must be willing to take up his cross and follow the master. If God is self-forgetting love even to the point of death, then we must be such love. If God is willing to break open his own heart, then we must be willing to break open our hearts from others. The cross, in short, must become the very structure of the Christian life.

Barron, Robert. Heaven in Stone and Glass, pg. 41-43. Quote of the Week: The Intercession of the Saints


The Intercession of the Saints

"[The Shepherd said:] ‘But those who are weak and slothful in prayer, hesitate to ask anything from the Lord; but the Lord is full of compassion, and gives without fail to all who ask him. But you, [Hermas,] having been strengthened by the holy angel [you saw], and having obtained from him such intercession, and not being slothful, why do not you ask of the Lord understanding, and receive it from him?’" (The Shepherd 3:5:4 [A.D. 80]).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Need More Church Bell!

Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres

The medieval Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, a Latin Rite Catholic cathedral located in Chartres, is considered one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. The current cathedral, mostly constructed between 1193 and 1250, is one of at least five that have occupied the site since the town became a bishopric in the 4th century.

What makes the cathedral special from an art historical viewpoint is its exceptional state of preservation. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century. The building's exterior is dominated by heavy flying buttresses which allowed the architects to increase the window size significantly, while the west end is dominated by two contrasting spires — one, a 105 metre (349 ft) plain pyramid dating from the 1140s, and the other a 113 metre (377 ft) tall early 16th century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Equally notable are the three great façades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and is under the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned as a monument of Christianity, of German Catholicism in particular, of Gothic architecture and of the continuing faith and perseverance of the people of the city in which it stands. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an "exceptional work of human creative genius". It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.

St. Colman’s Cathedral

St. Colman’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral located in Cobh, Ireland.

Aix Cathedral

Aix Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence in southern France is a Roman Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Aix. It is built on the site of the 1st century Roman forum of Aix. Built and re-built from the 12th until the 19th century, it includes Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic elements, as well as Roman columns and parts of the baptistery from a 6th century Christian church. It is a national monument of France.

Salzburg Cathedral

The Salzburg Cathedral is a 17th century baroque cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg in the city of Salzburg, dedicated to Saint Rupert of Salzburg. It is the site of Mozart's baptism. And the composer Anton Diabelli sang in the Salzburg Cathedral boys' choir in the late 1700s.

Catholic Answers Live Radio Preview - Sept 5-9