Category Archives: Eucharist
My Internet Stalker guy, who berates me for being young (younger than him!) and having no memories of anything pre-Vatican II (so he thinks), apparently knows nothing about me, or, if he knew it, would hate me all the more for it I’m guessing. He should read these two posts which I published relatively long ago as far as social media goes. And yet I hope that I think he will be inspired by them. Perhaps he will remember good things of his own childhood days and not be so dismissive of Jesus, the Church and priests. Perhaps he will have some hope.
The presence of Jesus changes everything.
This is an official picture of the Charlotte Diocese’ Catholic News Herald of the banners for the Eucharistic Procession of the Eucharistic Congress we just had on 8-9 September 2017 in Charlotte. You can see the two Black Lives Matter banners behind and to the left and right of the Immaculate Heart of Mary banner on the left of the picture. Here are some close-up shots:
The quote — “…and then they came for me...” — is, of course, from Protestant minister Martin Niemöller, the thing about not defending others because they are not oneself until one realizes that oneself is finally among those others and so also needs defending, but now it’s too late. Sounds nice as a critique of our weakness, but it is a principle of anarchy and fascism if it is cut off from reason and justice. Black Lives Matter, as it itself says, will stand up for a cause regardless of its value as long as people with lots of pigmentation are involved. Thus, just a few bits from the official website of Black Lives Matter:
TRANSGENDER AFFIRMING: We are guided by the fact all Black lives [matter], regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location
QUEER AFFIRMING: We are committed to fostering a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.
BLACK VILLAGES: We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.
BLACK FAMILIES: We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.
In other words, black lives don’t matter at all to Black Lives Matter, for they don’t respect black people enough to do right by them, tearing them down to the lowest common denominator of bullying ideology and self referential congratulations, attacking the family, attacking the upbringing of kids, attacking the image of God in marriage, making it all about pigmentation and pigmentation alone. Well, with one exception. Black Lives Matter are against all Law Enforcement Officers, including those who are black and, in that case, because they are black. So, we know what this really about.
BLM is a terrorist organization. I specifically disagree with their absolute hatred of our public safety officials and the extreme violence of their movement.
- “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”
- “Pigs in a blanket. Fry em like bacon.”
I could multiply those kinds of videos of this hate group in their own words from all around these USA. This is who they are. This is what they do. Extreme haters.
“But Father George, can’t you open your heart and understand where they are coming from? After all, there are high emotions after a ‘police killing’ when some black man points his gun at police, or when there is black on black violence.”
No. There’s no excuse. And this is not all black people, so many of whom are upset that they are all included by BLM in BLM just because they are black. No. People are people not because of any pigmentation or lack thereof. It’s because they are people. I’m offering Holy Mass today for all the victims of violence among black people, including and especially Justin Carr.
I doubt very much whether these banners were approved by anyone official for the Eucharistic Congress though they are certainly the long advertised banners of the parish specifically promoted on the parish website to be carried in the Eucharistic Procession of the Eucharistic Congress. It’s not that they “snuck in” as some tried to assert. Parishes simply come with their banners and join in the procession. These were their parish banners. The banners did, however, stay put in the main hall throughout the day, until the end. No big deal. But hey! Maybe nobody noticed. At all. All day. But…
As surely expected by those who carried these banners in the procession, the abuse of the Most Blessed Sacrament as a means to legitimize a controversial political ideological movement stirred some emotions among the other participants of the Eucharistic Congress. Such abuse of the Most Blessed Sacrament is, of course, both blasphemy and a sacrilege and is not to be tolerated. I’m wondering if the disgruntlement was actually pre-planned so as to cause a stir on purpose. I saw three police officers rushing to and then standing around the banners as what appeared to be an incident of emotions unfolded just off to the side of the stage where adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament was proceeding in front of ten to twenty thousand people. The police were peaceful and exemplary in keeping good order at that time and during the entire Eucharistic Congress. We thank them for that. I, for one, support the thin blue line. I later thanked the police officer who seemed to be in charge of security.
I should offer the disclaimer that I’m a “white priest” and also Jewish and Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy, and I was a participant at the Eucharistic Congress and I feel that the fact of my presence and that of other priests, including black priests, and brown and yellow, was hijacked and speciously used in support of a movement with which I, with which we do not agree.
But, wait a minute, no disclaimer is necessary. I’m a person. Period. That’s why I disagree with Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter is entirely racist and by definition anti-Catholic, by definition an anti-Semitic political movement. Catholic means universal, and Black Lives Matter is specifically not that. It’s all black, everything black and only black, no matter what they otherwise say with the saccharine presentation of the local parish. No room for any universal. No room at all for Jesus. It’s them and only them, alone. BLM is separatist, segregationalist. Like the old South Africa in reverse. To say that the parish means well (and maybe they do ever so incredibly naively) and to add, however, that that makes it all O.K., is as bogus and dishonest as saying that Planned Parenthood loves black people, and therefore it is all OK that Planned Parenthood is also in an all out genocidal war against black people, placing the vast majority of their clinics in poor black neighborhoods with the explicit purpose of getting rid of the black population through attrition. Remember Hitleresque whitey-white Margaret Sanger, their ultra racist founder?
Here’s the deal: Jesus loves all of us. He’s redeemed us all. He wants to save us all. Not one of us is better or worse, more entitled or not. Jesus loves all of us whatever the pigmentation levels in our skin happen to be. I feel personally offended when I see Jesus’ love being abused for the racist reductionism vaunted by Black Lives Matter. I disagree with the discourtesy of that parish for having it seem that I am in solidarity with their terrorist ideology.
Having said that, I have a legitimate question. With that being my opinion, could I ever be transferred to be pastor of that parish in Charlotte? You have to know that I already offered this to the bishop long before I was sent to keep the parish in Andrews open. Would there be loud and unending protests and media coverage? I suppose. That’s O.K. The message the world would hear is Jesus’ goodness and kindness and love and… and… truth. Not such a bad result. It seems one has to start over with many aspects of that parish.
I love challenges, and the one and only real challenge is always to bring people closer to Jesus, whether or not they are closer than I am. Jesus is the One. Not us. It’s all about Jesus. I would go in a heartbeat to help lead this parish closer to Jesus, to go from reductionism to universalism, to go from what is self-referential to that which is consonant with natural law and God’s law of goodness and kindness and… and… truth. And if that crowd supporting the banners wanted to be forgiven in the Confessional for their promotion of the ideological terrorists making up Black Lives Matter, I would of course do just that, with joy. And I tell you this, I love every one there in that parish, including and specifically those who carried the banners. I want them all to get closer to Jesus, to His goodness and kindness and love and… and… truth.
From a Black Lives Matter scene elsewhere:
I wonder if the terrorists antifa will be in next year’s procession, along with more explicit promotions of LGBTQ and anti-law-enforcement activities. I suggest that this all be stopped in the bud, and now. I notice that, now days later, the advertisements about the banners are still up on the website at the parish. In fact, an album of pictures of the banners in the procession has been added to the parish website as I write this.
Update: Charlene Duline, whose career in the State Department skyrocketed because of her obvious love and service for all, has, as one might expect with her vast experience in some of the most diplomatically sensitive places on the planet, come up with a solution for us all: Turn Black Lives Matter into All Lives Matter. If the parish were to do that, they would be leaders in the country and the world for a social justice that is truly Christ centered and which is then poised to bring goodness and kindness and… and… truth to all. Thank you dearest Charlene! See her fantastic book on Amazon: HERE.
Update: Just to say: I challenge the pastor, who I know – he used to be the pastor of the parish in Brevard in which territory I lived for a number of years – I challenge him and the Black Cultural Commission of his parish to invite me to preach on Mercy at all the weekend Masses of his choice. After all, I am a Missionary of Mercy of Pope Francis, and we are personally bidden by the Holy Father to preach on mercy. It’s a mercy challenge. Can they take it up?
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are commemorated every year in Charlotte on the same day we have the Eucharistic Congress (not always September 11), right where the Eucharistic procession begins in front of Saint Peter’s Church before going through the city to the Convention Center for the day. I get to go to both. Great!
One of the photographers of our Catholic newspaper couldn’t resist taking this picture. The editor said: “Here’s that photo we took — to me, the moment perfectly captures one of the most important aspects of the Congress.” Mercy…
I have to agree about Jesus’ goodness and kindness, of course. Meanwhile, there were lots of great events besides the procession and holy hour, at which a friend, Msgr Schreck, gave a great talk. There were a zillion venders of everything Catholic possible, and vocations booths, and pro-life stuff, and lay movements of all kinds, including the Knights of one kind and another. Here’s the Schreckness with yours truly taking up the last places in the procession before Jesus (photo by a parishioner). Msgr Schreck sponsored me for membership in the CBA:
There were a zillion parish banners which remained on display in the main convention hall after the procession was over. Really nice. This reminded me of all the banners one can see at the Eucharistic and Rosary processions in Lourdes.
I left Andrews about 12:40 AM Saturday to pick up some friends going to the Eucharistic Congress as well, who live out in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We were in time to get some breakfast and go to the Holy Hour before the procession. I got back really very late, and was up again for Holy Hour at 6:00 AM back in the parish, as we have that every Sunday. Then it was non-stop hospital and hospice and Communion calls till evening. It was all totally enjoyable, well, except for one bit, but I’ll save that for another post. The overwhelming aspect of the Eucharistic Congress is Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s all about Jesus.
Today is the Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte, NC.
Goodness and kindness.
See you there.
Your Grace: Why did the Malta Times take down their article about you? Were they wrong? Did they misrepresent you? Really? Since you invite dialogue, as a Missionary of Mercy I will put some questions before you for the sake of, you know, promoting justice, for the good of the Church, pro bono ecclesiae. So…
- Your Grace: You say that the teaching of the Church — let’s just call it by the name of the encyclical Humanae vitae — is only for married couples which you say can be constituted only of one man and one woman, but that you don’t judge other couples, though you insist that extramarital sex is sinful but at the same time insist that adulterous couples can receive Holy Communion if they are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Jesus’ teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: does this mean that you are making a sacrament of sinful behavior?
- Your Grace: Lest anyone think that is a sarcastic question, let’s provide an analogous question regarding your longstanding promotion of the civil celebrations of homosexual love in civilly recognized homosexual unions, as long as there is no sexy hanky panky going on, though all love including homosexual love, you say, is given by God and is good and holy: are you saying with your recent statements about peaceful consciences for adulterous couples that homosexual acts are also a kind of sacrament, objectively sinful as they may be, as long as the homosexuals involved are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Saint Paul’s teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church?
- Your Grace: You seem to be throwing a tantrum that the Malta Times got it wrong, but would you say that — you know, in being honest here — that they had a good instinct about your utter hypocrisy regarding sexual morality, so that anything whatsoever is just fine, including contraception also in marriage as long as those involved are at peace with their consciences?
- Your Grace: Do you put condom dispensers in your Catholic parochial school bathrooms for those who judge their consciences to be at peace? Or do you put those dispensers out, say, in the lunchroom along with free copies of the Qur’an which you let be taught in your parochial schools?
- Your Grace: Jesus warned those who teach people to break the commandments, so are you going to spit on Jesus while you continue to teach people to break the commandments?
- Your Grace: You slit the throats of those seminarians who wish to follow the teaching of Jesus and Paul, that is, those seminarians who do not reject Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: so do you think that Jesus, who is calling them to His priesthood, is happy with your violence against them?
- Your Grace: Your close friend (Monsignor) Edward Arsenault, at the epicenter in so many ways of the abuse crisis, just got out of prison and is in home confinement, where he just received the news that he has been dismissed from the clerical state (laicized): is what you are doing with your not so ambiguous and inconsistent but really very clear statements related somehow to demands of his, you know, because he could spill the beans about how things have actually gone in these USA, over in Europe, and at the Holy See?
When demonic hatred and lust for demonic power is admitted into the heart of man, creating terrorists where there was none before, there seems to be no possible limit to the lusting hatred that is thought to be absolute power.
One calls to mind the mountains of dismembered bodies of the Sinaloa cartel, the burning, beheading and crucifying of children by ISIS, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and on and on in the entire history of fallen mankind.
The terrorist latches onto a perspective attractive to him, the idea that he is in control on a universal scale, a conceit deceitfully appearing not to be constrained by time. It is eternal. Killing by way of terrorism those who otherwise live forever is a reality which cannot but suck one into this ever so violent self-referential vortex in which one pretends that one is not spinning about, but one is rather orchestrating the surrounding disturbance.
Until the unexpected comes about. One’s bluff is called. The terror of the terrorist in that moment cannot be equaled by all the other moments of terror had by innocent victims of terrorism. When the terrorist is caught out, the jaws of eternal hell yawn open, and the begging begins. When the Suffering Servant said, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit!” the demon terrorists cried out in terror…
“NO, DON’T DO IT! Don’t die! Come down from that cross! Don’t actually go ahead and die, calling our bluff! No! That’s not what we wanted! Remaining on the cross you will save them and manifest the Love of God! No! We just wanted to terrorize you into caving in to us! Don’t call us out! Don’t die! Save yourself for this world and save us from eternal hell!”
And He did die, victorious by dying, immediately entering hell to reprimand all the fallen spirits, providing them with irony that would make them writhe in frustration for all eternity. The Son of Man will now rise from the dead. Terror, for the innocent victim, in view of eternity, becomes a blip, a nothing. No power in that terror. Hah!
And then, the terrorist, the Roman Soldier who thrust his sword into the side of Christ Jesus, seeing that this battle was between God and Satan, immediately recognizes that the real terrorist is Satan, that the real Conqueror is Mary’s Divine Son. He, the soldier, the “enemy”, now says: “Truly this was the Son of God.”
“Do not fear those who can kill the body,” says Jesus. “Fear Him who can cast body and soul into hell.” That would be God, for only God is the One who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire, judging justly the true terrorists, Satan and those who remain with him, judging with mercy those who come back through redemption and salvation, like the Roman soldier who had been so good at provoking terror becoming the megaphone of believers throughout the ages: “Truly this was the Son of God.”
A reader sent this in from EWTN/CNA:
A priest’s stunning theory on why Juarez is less dangerous now
by Bárbara Bustamante — Juarez, Mexico, Jan 26, 2017 / 04:59 am
Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.
However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.
Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Fr. Patrico Hileman – a priest responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America – there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
“When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.
The priest told Radio María Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”
It was the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, whose former leader Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.
Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn’t ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”
One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”
The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.
Fr. Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a state of siege, a lady was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading.
When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her what place, because everything was closed at that hour. Then the woman proposed they accompany her to see for themselves.
When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at the 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.
At that moment the lady said to the soldiers: “Do you think you’re protecting us? We’re praying for you 24 hours a day.”
One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon,“crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.
Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor “calls us and says to us: Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it’s been two months since anyone has died.”
“We put up ten little chapels in a year,” Fr. Hileman said.
As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians and now there are 88. The bishop told me me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”
Fr. Hileman pointed out that “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”
He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning. “
The early morning “is when you’re most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart is more tranquil, you’re there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you,” Fr. Hileman said.
+CJ Scicluna’s Amoris laetitia usurps papal authority, rejecting dialogue, discernment, accompaniment
The Archbishop of Malta, C.J. Scicluna has high praise for dialogue, discernment and accompaniment in a document directed to priests which he published in the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano (Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia), but he rejected all of this, including papal authority, by adding this:
10. If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).
The words “cannot be precluded” are directed at the priests, telling them that they have no real voice in dialogue, discernment and accompaniment, undercutting their priestly ministry and, quite frankly, threatening them with what would have to be removal from active ministry if they wish instead – knowing well the smell of their sheep – to prolong the process of dialogue, discernment and accompaniment for the good of those very sheep.
The Times of Malta reports that “Archbishop Charles Scicluna refuted the criticism, insisting Bishop Mario Grech and himself had decided not to engage with individual bloggers on the matter.” “Decided not to engage” is also not a dialogue. The “criticism” refers to Ed Peters, a canon lawyer whose blog entries on this topic can be found HERE and HERE. Ed Peters has a serious analysis. I’m amazed that +CJ Scicluna, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, dismisses Ed Peters so readily, since Peters is a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See’s top tribunal.
Archbishop Scicluna then turns his attention to those he might think are a more vulnerable class of people, the priests: “I am saddened by the reaction from certain quarters and invite priests who may have concerns to come forward and discuss them directly with us because we want to be a service to our people.” I’m sure the priests want to be of service to their people as well. But here’s the problem. If any priests go to him with their concerns they are merely self-reporting that which is absolutely intolerable, reporting that they are precluding or envision precluding that which Archbishop Scicluna says cannot ever be precluded. If they open up a dialogue with him they will simply have their heads cut off. That’s another example of what he really thinks about dialogue, discernment and accompaniment. Moreover…
The threat to impose sanctions that is inescapably implied in the absolutist phrase “cannot be precluded” goes so far beyond Pope Francis’ direction in this matter that Archbishop Scicluna is de facto usurping the authority of Pope Francis to guide the Barque of Peter. And that I find disgusting.
The direction Pope Francis gave to us Missionaries of Mercy began by all of us singing together the Salve Regina with Pope Francis. I’m sure he remembers the exuberance:
Pope Francis brought all of us Missionaries of Mercy together and brought us through, with incisive distinctions, refined moral and sacramental theology, using anecdotes some of which were terribly sad and some of which were hilarious. He did his best to form us priests into being good confessors, those who would dialogue with, discern with and accompany penitents on their journey to know the will of Christ Jesus in all of their unrepeatable circumstances.
But Archbishop CJ Scicluna rejects that effort of Pope Francis. Sad, that. Sad for him. Sad for the penitents. Sad for the priests who are treated as his robots, not as Jesus’ fathers of their parish families. And this is also the point: CJ Scicluna rejects the unrepeatable circumstances of people, ideologically putting them all in one group.
Much more could be said about anthropology, psychology, grace, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, etc., with some saying I say too much and others too little. What I’m writing about in this post is just this one aspect of what is happening:
the ministry of priests is unimportant in the Church because + Scicluna said so.
I love and respect both Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke.
You have heard that it was said by the latter:
“My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.”
This Missionary of Mercy says in response:
- Amoris laetitia cannot yet be spoken about as if it were a document already published by the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, for it is not.
- Amoris laetitia, even if published as is, is not an Apostolic Constitution or even an Encyclical, but simply an Apostolic Exhortation, whose author, mind you, goes way, WAY out of his way in articles 3-4 of Amoris laetitia to assert that Amoris laetitia is simply a conglomerate of opinions for the sake of encouraging more dialogue on the matters at hand. Pope Francis completely disowns this having anything whatsoever to do with any kind of Magisterial intervention of the Church whatsoever, whether ordinary or extraordinary. If it’s published as is in the Acta, well, that just doesn’t make any difference, to wit:
“Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. […] The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.
- To say that Amoris laetitia would be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to agree with its contents but that it cannot be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to disagree with its contents seems to me to be saying that the Pope has no authority to teach on matters of faith and morals to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. That, of course, would be quite wrong. Amoris laetitia is not part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever not because of anyone’s opinion, however well founded, but because Pope Francis himself denies that it is part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever, insisting as he does on dialogue, etc.
A question might be asked as to whether Pope Francis has a good understanding of Papal Infallibility. Let’s analyze his extensive statements on the matter, and then compare that with what Scripture has for us. This is from Pope Francis’ speech on October 17, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synods of Bishops:
On the eve of last year’s Synod I stated: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”.(14) The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak [chiamato a pronunciarsi=called to pronounce (a word used for ex-cathedra statements)] as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)
The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)
14) FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Synod on the Family, 4 October 2014.
15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.
16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.
17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.
Impressive. This makes us wait for an infallible pronouncement by:
- The Bishop of Rome precisely as the Successor of Peter
- pronouncing on a matter or many matters of faith and/or morals
- especially deciding a matter or many matters of controversy
- directing the instruction to the entirety of Christ’s faithful.
Just to say the obvious: This has not happened to date (this being written on December 9, 2016), and, just to repeat, Amoris laetitia has been excluded from any consideration of it as any kind of teaching of the Magisterium of the Church by the indications of Pope Francis himself.
Meanwhile, I do believe I understand what Pope Francis is doing in not answering various theologians and Cardinals, to wit, he is trying to emphasize Matthew 18:18 (the voice of some of the laity and some of the Synod members) more than Matthew 16:19 (the lone voice of Peter, the Rock), at least for the moment. He is interested in the richness of dialogue, but we see from that October 17, 2015 speech cited above, he is also interested in what can be provided by infallible Peter. Let’s analyze these passages and see some surprising take aways:
Let’s review Matthew 16:19 in utterly pedantic translation
“Whatever you may bind at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”
What do the verbs mean in this context?
- Second person singular subjunctive aorist active – The second person singular refers to Peter alone. The subjunctive here is not so much a kind of conditional or wishfulness, but rather depicts the state of actually choosing an option; from the perspective of the actor, there is freedom to the choice: “Whatever you may bind at any give time.” The aorist time frame, whatever delusion your introductory Greek grammars insist on providing to you, is literally “without borders”, that which can happen in the past, present or even future (as is the case here: see below), though usually something which itself happens in a defined time frame, such as the choice to bind. Active simply refers to something actually being accomplished.
- Third person singular indicative future middle – The third person singular refers to any given object of the action, its state of being. It will simply be what it is (indicative) at that time (future). The middle voice is here used to indicate the status quo to which the actor is also subject, that is, retroactively to his decision to bind something, the truth of that which is described by the following verb, which this singular indicative future middle (“will”) helps to describe.
- Nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive: The nominative neuter singular refers to the object which is being bound (passive), that is, in an ongoing fashion (participle) in a perfect manner (perfect); mind you, in Greek, “perfect” never refers to a perfectly accomplished action at one point in time, but rather to an action which is perfectly ongoing in a perfect manner since its inception: it always was and will be this way, perfectly, with no change: “already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way.” This “perfect” action structures the capacity of the actor, Peter, to act subjunctively, preempting all choices of Peter except for the one which is consonant which the truth which has always been this way in the heavens. Whatever he may choose to bind at any given time will already have been the case, is the case, and will always continue to be the case in the heavens. Peter cannot choose anything which is not already perfectly established in the heavens. What is in heaven is not an affirmation of what Peter might pronounce; what is in heaven simply is what it is, absolute truth, so to speak. If Peter is wrong about what he intends to pronounce upon, he simply will not be able to pronounce upon it.
Indeed, the part of this equation that people always forget about when trying to figure out the tenses, is that there is a part of this equation which is utterly expendable: Peter. If he is going to get it wrong, he will either die or be incapacitated, but he will not be able to work against what is in heaven already. Being the Successor of Peter isn’t so much an honor as it is a service that may involve laying down his life, for, after all, what do we know? The Orthodox or any others should never be envious of infallibility.
The bit about loosing is exactly the same, verbatim:
“Whatever you may loose at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”
Let’s review Matthew 18:18 in utterly pedantic translation
“Whatever ye may bind at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”
“Whatever ye may loose at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”
There are some differences besides the plural heavens and singular heaven. Matthew 18:18 is addressed also to the laity about any number of things that may be under dispute. But the verbs and their meanings are exactly the same. But the context removes any infallibility from this other crowd. Let’s see how:
Firstly, in Matthew 16:19, where Peter alone among the Apostles is addressed, only Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens. There is no reference at all to such keys for anyone else in Matthew 18:18. That they have the same access to the understanding of the faith as does Peter is contingent for them in agreeing with Peter, for, as we see in context, the process of a dispute will bring them right back to the Church, that is, as differentiated from Christ’s faithful in general so as to refer to Peter in particular. They are not infallible, he is.
What if Peter is wrong? He can’t be wrong. That’s the point. But say that it could happen, that wouldn’t mean that we ignore him, correct him, unseat him, burn him at the stake, say that he’s not a nice guy or something like that; that would mean that there is no such thing as the Church at all. It can’t happen. Period. Is “dialogue” among the faithful expected by our Lord? Yes. He explicitly speaks of it. But then there is a process to follow. But there is a richness to be expected among so many. That richness is not to be ignored, calling the faith provided to the faithful useless, thus insulting the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis knows this. He respects it. After Matthew 18:18 we go to Matthew 16:19. We are still in the Matthew 18:18 phase.
Might Pope Francis choose to go to Matthew 16:19, to pronounce in an infallible way on the matter? Sure. That is yet to be seen. He surely has set up a scenario in which it seems he truly wants to pronounce an infallible statement. He surely has prefaced this with a great deal of dialogue. To the degree that he is insisting on dialogue, that is the degree he may be incisive in pronouncing an infallible statement.
Have some perhaps jumped the gun? Perhaps. Can it be said that all involved may well be filled with Apostolic charity, that is, both the four Cardinals and the Holy Father? Yes. Are they merely asking him to move from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19? Perhaps. Again, I don’t like the statement of one of the Cardinals who said: “My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities…” His opinion is not why Amoris laetitia is not magisterial. It is not magisterial because Pope Francis said it is not magisterial. Otherwise, how many popes do we have? So…
We pray. That is to be expected and desired by all involved, right? Yes. We pray.
Does my having written this article mean that I don’t have my own concerns which happen to be well stated in the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does the present non-answer of Pope Francis mean that he doesn’t agree with the intent of the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. What it all means is that we haven’t yet moved from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19. That’s all. Might I say to Pope Francis that I sure do hope for the good of the Church that our Lord’s desire that our present dialogue with Matthew 18:18 will move to Matthew 16:19? Sure. But the timing is the judgment call of Vicar of Christ, not mine or anyone else for that matter. Again, might we ask him politely to move to Matthew 16:19? Sure, and I think everyone has been polite, although, again, that bit of one of the Cardinals about why he thinks Amoris laetitia is not magisterial is, I think, out of place. And in view of that, I must defend the fact of the papacy itself. Might that make me lose many friends. I suppose. That saddens me. But I am also filled with fortitude. Hier stehe ich and all that. Amen.
This is the tabernacle door above the ad orientem altar in my little rectory, which is so tiny that some of the parishioners call it “the hut.” It is a great consolation to be allowed to have a suitable chapel dedicated to our Lord. I know not all priests have this consolation. I think of those unjustly imprisoned by the self-congratulators such as wrongfully convicted and imprisoned Father Gordon MacRae. I think of the priests and bishops faithful to the Church in China being smashed down in labor and reeducation camps. I think of the priests imprisoned by Saudi Arabia because they dared to say Mass in a locked bedroom of a locked apartment.
On this Sunday when most Catholic parishes around the world celebrate the great solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus, Corpus Christi, I bring you a personal confession of a dark and dirty secret. Perhaps it speaks to a bit of insanity on my part, and I’m making myself rather vulnerable to commentary by my fellow priests and those who for mere sport shoot their words of slander at me, but, nevertheless, here goes
When I was a teenager, just 16 years old, and had my driver’s licence, I would take my heap of rust that might politely be called a vehicle, and drove up to another part of Lake Wobegon in my native northern forests. I would park my car behind the beautiful church with its gorgeous German imported (1800s) stained glass windows, and make my way up into the sanctuary with it’s massive hand carved wood ad orientem high altar with it’s moving Calvary scene, take a left into the priest’s sacristy and a right into the little corridor behind the altar that would make its way over to the other work sacristy. But then I would stop halfway across, open a little broom closet door to my right, squeeze myself in to the little space, close the door after me, and rest my head against the wood box that was jutting out into the ever so dark and dirty closet, knowing that an inch away was the glorious tabernacle with the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, seated upon His throne, God Most High, shining His mercy upon the universe.
And there I would stay, my little version of being hidden with Christ in God. I mean, what’s a 16 year old know about the spiritual life? I would think about the Trinity, going through, with and in Jesus to our dear Heavenly Father by the fiery love of the Holy Spirit, perhaps thinking I knew some theology but knowing I am missing everything there is to know nonetheless. And there I would stand in my dark and dirty closet, knowing that my dark and dirty soul couldn’t possibly grasp the glory of the Most Blessed Sacrament right next to me, but wanting to be there anyway, close to Jesus, hoping he didn’t mind my boldness, my silliness, my idiocy, my lack of decorum. And there I would recite the Angel’s prayer of reparation for those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not love Him, Jesus, God’s own Son. Yes, I would also just sit in the pews, but I wanted to be close to Him who is coming to judge the living and the dead and world by fire, hoping that that fire would purge me first of all that which is dark and dirty.
Confession, by the way, is a favorite sacrament, where such intimate joy is to be found. Be not afraid. Any dark and dirty secret, like lack of trust in God, can be revealed before the fiery love of Jesus, even as He brings your heart close to His. That’s a love that all can see, and yet it is also hidden away, a treasure that we carry in our souls, in our hearts, by that grace which will turn to glory, please God, in heaven. Jesus is good and kind. He also has a sense of humor about our little attempts to be close to Him. How silly I was! But, when I pray, I’m like the tiniest little boy playing before Jesus, apologizing that before Him, I just don’t know how to grow up. I’m glad He said something about it being necessary for us to be like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom of the heavens. He is good and kind.
Praised be Jesus! Praised be the Most Blessed Sacrament!
Today’s the Solemnity of Corpus Domini, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. I remember many times walking in procession with Pope John Paul II from the Lateran Basilica to Saint Mary Major down and then up the Via Merulana. In the early years of his Pontificate, the sainted Pontiff would, on foot, himself carry the monstrance with our Lord, no mean feat for any man for such a distance. Pope John Paul spoke much about his prayer life. He wanted so very much to encourage his priests right around the world. I looked forward to his messages, his letters to priests on Holy Thursday (the special day for priests what with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper), which were good to get out again on this Thursday, when the joy of the feast is fully expressed. Let’s take a couple of snippets from his letter of 2005, published just ten days before he died:
Jesus said: “Do this in memory of me”. The Eucharist does not simply commemorate a fact; it commemorates Him! Through his daily repetition in persona Christi of the words of the “memorial”, the priest is invited to develop a “spirituality of remembrance”. At a time when rapid social and cultural changes are weakening the sense of tradition and leading the younger generation especially to risk losing touch with their roots, the priest is called to be, within the community entrusted to him, the man who faithfully remembers the entire mystery of Christ: prefigured in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New, and understood ever more deeply, under the guidance of the Spirit, as Jesus explicitly promised: “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26).
“Mysterium fidei!” Every time he proclaims these words after consecrating the bread and wine, the priest expresses his ever-renewed amazement at the extraordinary miracle worked at his hands. It is a miracle which only the eyes of faith can perceive. The natural elements do not lose their external characteristics, since the “species” remain those of bread and wine; but their “substance”, through the power of Christ’s word and the action of the Holy Spirit, is changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ. On the altar, then, Christ crucified and risen is “truly, really and substantially” present in the fullness of his humanity and divinity. What an eminently sacred reality! That is why the Church treats this mystery with such great reverence, and takes such care to ensure the observance of the liturgical norms intended to safeguard the sanctity of so great a sacrament.
Beautiful, no? Yes! It is good to remember such good encouragement of priests in these days. Saint John Paul, pray for us!
Benedict, of course, has put great emphasis on the liturgy, being found, if you will, by the Triune God there. Here’s a bit from Sacramentum Caritatis (a most wonderful post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation):
The Eucharist reveals the loving plan that guides all of salvation history (cf. Eph 1:10; 3:8- 11). There the Deus Trinitas, who is essentially love (cf. 1 Jn 4:7-8), becomes fully a part of our human condition. In the bread and wine under whose appearances Christ gives himself to us in the paschal meal (cf. Lk 22:14-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26), God’s whole life encounters us and is sacramentally shared with us. God is a perfect communion of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At creation itself, man was called to have some share in God’s breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7). But it is in Christ, dead and risen, and in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given without measure (cf. Jn 3:34), that we have become sharers of God’s inmost life. (16) Jesus Christ, who “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb 9:14), makes us, in the gift of the Eucharist, sharers in God’s own life. This is an absolutely free gift, the superabundant fulfilment of God’s promises. The Church receives, celebrates and adores this gift in faithful obedience. The “mystery of faith” is thus a mystery of trinitarian love, a mystery in which we are called by grace to participate. We too should therefore exclaim with Saint Augustine: “If you see love, you see the Trinity.”
Seeing Love: seeing the Trinity. Yes.
Pope Francis has, as well, given us something upon which to be nourished. Fear not! He has! Behold:
The Eucharist is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us. To nourish ourselves with him and abide in him through Holy Communion, if we do it with faith, transforms our life into a gift to God and to our brothers.
I’ll take that. This goes right to the Sacred Heart of it all. Jesus has come to give Himself as a gift to us so as to give us as a gift, through, with and in Himself to our Heavenly Father.
It’s all about Jesus. We must never forget.
I recall a Cardinal, a good friend, who would always stop me as I was walking away after we said our goodbyes after a bull session high atop San Callisto or up in Saint John’s Tower or at the Casa Santa Maria or wherever. He would say: “George! Remember!” I would turn and stare at him, always wondering to what this could possibly refer. To my great shame – shame I tell you – I have only figured it out, decades later, right now as I type this. He was, of course, speaking to me of the Most Holy Sacrifice during which Christ bids us to remember Him each time we offer the Last Supper. Thank you Jesus! So: