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A prayer from St. Albert the Great on conscience August 23, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic.
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Since we’ve been talking about personal conscience, here’s a prayer from St. Albert the Great, Doctor of the Church, on this subject:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who seekest those who stray and receivest them when returning, make me approach to Thee through the frequent hearing of They Word, lest I sin against my neighbor by the blindness of human judgement, through the austerity of false justice, through comparing his inferior status, through too much trust in my merits or through ignorance of the Divine Judgement.  Guide me to search diligently each corner of my conscience lest the flesh dominate the spirit. 

So, St. Albert the Great advises, prays, that we will all diligently search our consciences to insure that our conscience aligns with the conscience of the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church.  This is not asserting our own conscience above Truth, but the submission of conscience to Truth.

Vincenzo is the king of photoshop August 23, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, General Catholic.
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That Vincenzo at Sancte Pater is the king of the photoshop.  He manages to invalidate the “prosperity gospel” of Osteen and so many other televangelists in one little image:

That’s almost as good as my all time favorite (not done by Vincenzo, to my knowledge):

Primacy of conscience August 23, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, scandals.
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One of the doctrines that seems to cause a great deal of confusion in the Church is the ‘primacy of the individual conscience.’  This was a statement, perhaps not very well worded, that came out of a Vatican II document entitled Dignitatis Humanae, “On Human Dignity”  There have numerous people in the Church, many of them I think striving to live some kind of faithful life, who take this idea that the individual conscience trumps all other considerations as the core part of their Catholic belief system.  In practical terms, what one frequently sees portrayed as a result of this is a statement that a certain person prayed about an issue, and came to the conclusion that Church doctrine on (abortion, gay marriage, contraception, et cetera ad infinitum) was something they could not accept.  But did Vatican II really “change” Catholic doctrine on the personal conscience, and could it even do so?  What does the Church really teach regarding how one should align one’s conscience with the Truth revealed by Christ? 

My friend Steve B happened upon a site that goes into this issue.  A first link provides a quick, allegorical sort of discussion of how to properly view the role of conscience:

God loves us and wants man to have great freedom.  However, he has mandated that man must not eat the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  Gen. 2:16.  Man must not establish the moral law.  If he does, history has proven over and over that he gets it all messed up.  So, man’s freedom under God’s plan for life has a definite limit.  This limit is for our benefit, our survival and our prosperity.  God knows full well that our enemy, Satan, is constantly trying to deceive us in order to destroy us.  To prevent that from happening, God instructs us to allow him to use His infinite wisdom to establish the moral law.  For example, he wrote the Ten Commandments.  He did not inspire Moses to dream them up.  He did not ask Moses to call a council of the elders and prophets to create them.  He wrote them himself in stone – twice, because the first tablets became broken.  Then, he says to us “choose.”  We have free will to choose what is good or what is evil.  If we over-step our boundary and decide to try to re-establish morals, we immediately participate in evil, which leads to more evil and finally destruction………

This author defines primacy of conscience as a heresy, arguing:

In order for a teaching or belief to be a heresy (heretical), it must simply and directly contradict a dogma.  The Primacy of Conscience Heresy is a heresy because it simply and directly opposes the dogma that man is not permitted to nullify, formulate or change the moral law.  The term “Primacy of Conscience” does not mean judgment of conscience, (which is permitted).  It does not mean obedience to conscience or to choose according to one’s conscience, which is necessary for a healthy Christian life.  It does not simply refer to the importance of conscience.  The Church supports the importance of conscience, exhorts man to follow his conscience and even declares that man should not be prevented by external factors from obeying his conscience.  (CCC Article 6 of Part III Life In Christ.)  However, the Primacy of Conscience Heresy goes much further.  To understand its full implication, it is necessary to look at the meaning of the word “primacy” in our culture and our time. The word “primacy,” according to Webster’s Dictionary means the state of being first in order, rank or importance.  It means chief.  So, the meaning of Primacy of Conscience goes much further than just freeing one’s conscience to act in accord with the demands of human dignity.  Primacy of Conscience is a heresy because it purports to place one’s conscience first in rank.  It is placed first before the Word of God, the Magisterium, the long-standing teaching of the Church and the witness or advice of others.  With this doctrine, conscience ranks first before the moral law with the inevitable intent to nullify or alter the moral law.  That makes Primacy of Conscience heretical.

 Pope John Paul II writes about this elevation of conscience to first rank in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor:

“Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist. The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and “being at peace with oneself”, so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment…” Veritatis Splendor #32

“…In the Book of Genesis we read: “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may eat freely of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die’ ” (Gen 2:16-17).

With this imagery, Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone.

There is more at a different link at the same site, here.  Fr. Darryl Jordan, who comments here, adds that the freedom of a Catholic’s conscience is founded on an a priori acceptance of all Catholic moral teaching (and, I should add, on all teaching on Faith and Morals).  So, one cannot legimitately form one’s conscience to come to a position antithetical to that of the Church and at the same time claim that position is somehow faithful to the Church’s doctrine!  Those who claim “I/we prayed about <contraception, abortion, etc> and we just found that the Lord was leading us to reject what the Church teaches” are improperly asserting their personal preferences above the Divinely revealed Truth. We cannot tell God “Sorry buddy, you it wrong on homosexuality, you’re out of date” anymore than we can say “Yeah, there was a guy named Jesus and he said some cool things, but, I don’t buy that he rose from the dead.”  Both are rejections of fundamental Church doctrine, and no appeals to claims of ‘conscience’ can somehow make these statements expressions of fealty to the Church.

Another link, posted by Fr. Jordan: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2006/wmay_authority_nov06.asp

El Paso bishop condemns priest defending Church doctrine August 23, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, Society.
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You may recall that I posted an interview of Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a priest with the Diocese of El Paso, last week.  Fr. Rodriguez gave a very clear exposition on Church doctrine regarding homosexuality.  In watching the interview and reading Fr. Rodriguez other words on the subject, I did not feel that he was acting out of judgement or malice, but that he was merely relating the clear doctrine of the Faith on this very misunderstood and abused subject.  His bishop does not agree with this approach.  Now, Fr. Rodriguez had stated the following in his original El Paso Times op-ed:

I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect.  At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.

Bishop Armando Ochoa replied:

I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church….The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn … Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them

When we talk about abortion and homosexuality, we are talking about human beings dealing with all kinds of concerns and unresolved challenges.  Our Church does not want to simply judge and condemn, but first to offer Christ’s love and compassion. God’s first and primary law is love and how love of others is at the same time our love for God.

As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. We believe that Christ offers this meaning.  The use of harsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to have toward one another. Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other….

Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness within the body of Christ. It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.

While it is important to offer a teaching on human sexuality which may not be popular in modern society, the Church, nonetheless, upholds that each person be treated with dignity and respect. I urge all of our pastoral agents to reach out to individuals with a homosexual orientation and their families with compassion. This can be done without compromising Church teaching in any way because our pastoral care demands no less from us.

Am I the only one who finds the bishops examination of Church doctrine on homosexuality strained?   Fr. Rodriguez did nothing more than provide a clear examination of Church doctrine – unchanging Truth.  For this, he is being termed “intolerant,” “arrogant,” and “divisive,” three cherished buzzwords of those who choose to ignore Justice and focus exclusively on Mercy.  We also see that the bishop provides a more “pastoral” understanding.  What does that mean?  First, whenever one reads a “pastoral” approach to anything related to Church doctrine, you’re about to see that doctrine muddied and reduced to complete impotence.  In this case, apparently, it means that one, in particular a priest, should not judge a person’s actions in the Light of God’s Truth, but should love unconditionally so that we can gain a deeper understanding of each other.  This “deeper understanding” is code speak for blind acceptance. 

The bishop is telling Fr. Rodriguez that, in order to love homosexuals, you cannot challenge, or at least challenge too hard, their actions.  You have to be accepting.  This is how you love, in the modern (yes, I will say it) liberal parlance (for the bishop of El Paso is widely known as very liberal).  In Truth, Fr. Rodriguez has been acting out of love – he loves those with a homosexual orientation enough to tell them the Truth, even a bit directly to shock them out of their sin – homosexual orientation is disordered and homosexual acts are sinful.  This is what the Church believes!  Allowing gays to go about believing they can engage in sinful acts and still be pleasing to God is not Charity, it is weak willed sentimentality, and it could lead to their damnation.  More, it could lead to the damnation of Bishop Ochoa or anyone else who so confuses the  Truth revealed by Christ through His Church.

This really gets back to the “gay outreach” ministry at Seton.   The problem is not having a gay outreach ministry, the problem is allowing that ministry, out of some misplaced understanding of unconditional love to use materials – materials the website indicated guided all discussions by the group! – that seek to deconstruct Catholic doctrine and replace it with some notion of active homosexuality as a blessing from God. 

Christ did not always “love” unconditionally.  He was brutally hard on the Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees.  He was also very hard on any of those who rejected His Truth!  God is both Mercy and Justice.  God can save whom He Wills.  But Christ also gave us the Bible and Sacred Tradition to guide our lives in a manner that will be pleasing to Him.  If we reject either or both, we are rejecting Him.  Absolutely, we love our gay brethren – we love them enough to tell them the Truth.  God has given everyone crosses to bear, and we all must repeatedly hear and conform to the Truth of Christ in order to stay on the long and narrow path to salvation. 

 It requires constant self-denial – perhaps THE most refused concept in modern American culture.   But Christ was clear – many are invited, but few are allowed in to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Fr. Z adds his thoughts.  He strongly supports Fr. Rodriguez, but takes a more generous view of Bishop Ochoa’s statements.  That is fine, in and of itself, but we have had such a dire lack of strong, clear expositions on doctrine from so many of our episcopal leadership, that I think being accomodating and “pastoral” has weakened understanding of Church doctrine to a very dangerous degree.

Novena to Our Lady of Czestochowa at St. Peter the Apostle starts tonite! August 23, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic.
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Many Dallas Diocese Catholics may not know about St. Peter the Apostle parish.  It’s a Polish Catholic parish located near downtown Dallas.  They are celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa starting tonight, Aug. 23rd with a Novean to Our Lady and continuing through to the Feast Day, August 26th.  Details below:


“Black Madonna”
Thursday, August 26th   7:00 PM   Bilingual Mass in English/Polish

Novena prayed at 7:00 PM, before the evening Masses on Monday, Aug. 23,

     Tuesday, Aug. 24, Wednesday, August 25, and on the feast day, August 26.

Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) – before weekday Mass: 6:30-6:55 PM

A book of intentions is available in the back of the church.

Parking lot next to the church and on Allen Street, in the Notre Dame School parking lot.

     Street parking available.

Convenient access from 75 and Downtown – located on Woodall Rodgers

off the 75 Central Expressway Service Rd. between Clark and Allen.

For more information, please call the parish office: 214-855-1384

St. Peter the Apostle is located on the southbound service road of Central Expressway (US75) as it bends to go westbound on Woodall Rodgers.