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The best we can do is cooperate with God’s Grace August 29, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, General Catholic, Interior Life, Virtue.
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Because of our disfigured, fallen natures, willing to do good, supernatural good, is beyond us.  For that, we depend utterly on God’s Grace.  The best we can do is cooperate with that Grace as fully as possible.  From Divine Intimacy Chapter 266 “Baptismal Grace”

Certainly, Jesus has done all things well.  He has arranged everything in the best way possible for our sanctification. He has prepared for us all the graces we need, and not only in sufficient measure, but even superabundantly. Unfortunately, however, we do not always cooperate with His Grace;  many times pride, egoism, and all our other uncontrolled passions turn to evil what God has planned for our good. [I know this all too well, but apparently not well enough] If we had accepted lovingly and with resignation that difficulty, that trial, or disappointement which God had permitted for the sole purpose of providing us with an opportunity to practice virtue, we should have made great progress; but by giving way to impatience, by protesting and complaining, we rather added to our failures and infidelities. We should cooperate with Grace more readily and strive to maintain our soul in an attitude of open docility to all the invitations to virtue which God is contiually sending us by means of the different circumstances of life. [I frequently complain about some unpleasant or unwanted task, rather than accepting it freely as a Gift from God and asking how I might grow by whatever it is I must do. Unfortunately, I’d rather complain most of the time, at least to myself]

[In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:1-20)], St. Paul realizes that if he became an apostle, instead of the persecutor which he had been, it was not because of his own merits, but solely by the Grace of God; he attributes nothing to himself, but all to God. At the same time, he is conscious of his personal correspondence, the correspondence which is always the fruit of Grace, but which also includes, as an indispensable element, our free adherence to it. Consequently, we must have an attitude of profound humility as the basis of our correspondence to Grace, that is, we must clearly realize that whatever good is in us is due only to God. This attitude of humility must be accompanied by a voluntary, continual assent of our will to God’s invitations. We cannot give this assent without the help of Grace, and yet it depends on us [to say ‘yes’ to that Grace]; it is entirely in our hands. Therefore, like St. Paul, we can attribute nothing to our own merits, but should say with him, “By the Grace of God, I am what I am.” Our willing adhesion to Grace, however, will give us the right to add, “and His Grace in me hath not been void.”  But only steady, faithful, generous adhesion [to Grace] will give us that right.

St. Augustine adds: “I cannot even will what is good without You, nor can I do what I will todo if Your power does not help me; and what I can do, I often do not wish to do, unless You make Your Will triumph on earth as in Heaven. I implore but one thing of Your Sovereign Mercy: that You convert me entirely to You and keep me from resisting the Grace which leads me to You.”

Discussion question – while we are alive, can we be damned? August 29, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Interior Life, Saints.
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Since I can’t spell Quaeritur, or whatever it is Fr. Z uses to ask for discussion, I’ll just ask – is it the belief of the Church that a person can be damned while still alive?  I had always believed not – that we always had another chance to get right with God as long as we are on this earth.  But my friend Steve B presented me with a, albeit isolated, quote from Aquinas which states the following:

Catholic apologist, John Salza, points out in his book “The Mystery of Predestination” on pg. 135 that “As St. Thomas teaches, when God withholds His grace as a punishment for sin, ‘God is the cause of spiritual blindness, deafness of ear, and hardness of heart.’ ” (footnote #51 – ST, Pt I-II, Q79, Art 3).

But the Catechism implies rather strongly that, no, God’s infinite Mercy assures that we always have another opportunity for redemption through Confession and penance.  And that had always been my impression – indeed, with my habitual sinning, I probably rely on that belief – perhaps too much.

Could that be wrong?  Did God not harden Pharoh’s heart, so that God’s Glory could be manifested through numerous miracles in the Exodus?  

Does anyone know any other commentaries from Church Doctors on this matter?  Thinking of St. Therese of Lisieux, I can’t believe she would ever feel that God could damn anyone still living (and I think she had a hard time accepting that anyone would be damned, period, so focused was she on Divine Love, although late in life I think she came to understand that many people simply did not have the cooperation with Grace she had).  I have been told that St. Alphonse Ligouri may have outlined thoughts similar to Aquinas, that if we sin severely and habitually God’s Grace could be cut off from us while we still live, thus making repentance impossible.

Anyone have any comments?

More answered prayers – vocations spike in Diocese August 29, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, Eucharist, General Catholic, North Deanery, priests.
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I alluded earlier that focus on praying for an end to abortion could have been a cause for the disproportionate shuttering of Planned Barrenhood facillities in the Dallas Diocese  – could similar prayers have helped drive the spike in vocations? 19 new men are entering the seminary for the Diocese this year!

The Diocese of Dallas has a record number of 19 new seminarians, Bishop Kevin Farrell announced recently.

“Indeed the Holy Spirit has been working through parents, priests and our vocations staff to bring about this blessing for our diocese. The prayers of many have been answered,” the Bishop of Dallas said on his blog Aug. 19.

The number is an increase from last year, when 11 men entered seminary. Fifteen of the new seminarians come from the Diocese of Dallas.

“It is great to have some good news to report these days and a record number of 19 new seminarians is certainly good news,” Bishop Farrell said.

There are now 70 seminarians studying for the diocese, an increase from 56 in 2010.

Twelve of the new aspirants to the priesthood will attend Holy Trinity Seminary, two will go to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and two will attend Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.

There are 67 parishes in the Diocese.  Many have priests that are getting quite close to retirement age.  Every priest is a miraculous blessing, but to have these numbers at this time is incredible, and apparent fruit of Bishop Farrell’s focus on increasing vocations to the priesthood.  I pray all these men are ordained, and become very good, holy, orthodox priests.  Such men are the vehicle for so much Grace, the Grace that sustains all of us.  Pray for them!

President of Vatican Bank – high taxes cause economic problems August 29, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Society.
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I am coming to admire the writings of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi very much.  First, he rightly assesses that the ultimate root of the unsustainable welfare systems throughout much of the developed ‘West’ is lack of population growth.  Almost all the social welfare schemes of various regions are predicated on a steadily growing population, to provide an increased number of workers to pay for benefits to a steadily growing number of retirees and others needing benefits.  Further, he points out that increasing government spending, whether it be financed by taxation or debt, will only decrease the likelihood of an economic recovery – essentially, he is refuting the Keynesians (although the disastrous policies advocated by John Maynard Keynes and his disciples should have been thoroughly discredited by now).  And now, he states that higher taxation, demanded again by the Keynesians to pay for the huge levels of government spending they claim will somehow push the economy out of sustained recession, will in fact have the opposite effect and only prolong the recessionary period:

The president of the Vatican Bank is warning that higher taxes are not a solution to the current economic crisis.

“During a prolonged crisis, inheritance taxes, new forms of taxation or similar alternatives reduce or wipe out resources for investments, discouraging the trust of investors, penalizing the cost of the public debt and the possibilities of its renewal at its expiration,” writes Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. “In this context, imposing taxes on property and on income is equivalent to a suicidal anti-subsidiarity of the state to the citizen.”

“High taxes penalize saving, generate distrust in the ability to stimulate recovery, hit families and prevent the formation of new ones, as well as creating uncertainty and precariousness in employment,” he adds. “In short, they lay the foundations for another phase of unsustainable development.”

Wow, this guy sounds like an Austrian!   Although the policies advocated by John Maynard Keynes – using government spending to “jump start” an economy that has gone through a periodic correction – are still adhered to by many, that adherence is due more to political ideology than sound economic theory.  That last quote I bolded is especially interesting to me, because what Tedeschi is pointing out is that using government policy to force economic change always results in exaggerated periods of boom and bust.  In the (very mild, in retrospect) 2001-2 “dot com bubble” recession, noted Keynesian Paul Krugman actually argued that former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan create the economic conditions for a “housing bubble,” in order to stimulate economic growth.  Both through Greenspan’s actions, and incredibly stupid policies formulated by Congress (especially Barney Frank), a housing bubble resulted, and the result was the terrible crash of 2008.  But the dot com bubble itself was precipitated to a degree by telecom industry de-regulation in 1996, and government policy which favored large scale (and often foolish) investments of capital in very questionable ventures. 

The negative theory has worked as well – when government has lowered taxes (and, even better, lowered spending), the economy has tended to rebound – as in 1961, 1983, and 2002.

But Keynesianism remains ever popular among those with a certain political outlook, not because it works, but because it fits into their political world-view (socialism).  Keynesians are the type of folk who openly daydream that the US would be more like communist China, where a totalitarian government could implement their socialist dream projects without having to obtain that messy (if increasingly illusory) “consent of the governed.” 

I find these comments from the head of the Vatican Bank increasingly interesting, not only because they happen to align rather well with my own view of economic policy, but also because they run so counter to what we hear from so  many Church organs, especially in this country.  I am curious as to how much Tedeschi’s view of economic policy mirror Pope Benedict’s – while Caritas in Veritate is certainly revealing, it is also general and philosophical.  Tedeschi deals more in specifics. 

Sandro Magister has an interesting biography of Tedeschi here.  He is a traditional Catholic who assists at Mass daily.

Two local pro-life updates August 29, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sickness, Society.
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Update 1 –  The Dallas Catholic Pro-Life Committee is gearing up for a public witness against the local Planned Parenthood’s major fundraising event of the year – ‘Cocktails for the Cause’  on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Fashion Industry Gallery at 1807 Ross in downtown Dallas.  This location is just a few blocks from the Cathedral and on the same side of the street.  There will be signs with various messages about Planned Parenthood.  You can get more details by e-mailing the CPLC coordinator.

Update 2 – Via culturewarnotes, the fomer director of Planned Parenthood in Sherman, Ramona Trevino, left because of qualms over the abortion referrals and contraceptive focus, and is now pro-life?

In a story with clear echoes of the now famous conversion of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, four months ago a manager at a Planned Parenthood facility in Sherman, Texas resigned from her position with the abortion giant and is now speaking out about her pro-life conversion.

In a press release from 40 Days for Life-Dallas, Ramona Trevino explains that although the particular Planned Parenthood where she worked did not perform surgical abortions, she was struggling “with [her] conscience . . . on contraception, abortion and [her] role in it all.”

Just like Abby Johnson, Trevino credits a 40 Days for Life campaign outside her Planned Parenthood facility with helping her movement towards a pro-life way of thinking.

After the 40 Days campaign came to Sherman, she says she went from believing she was providing a service to women in need, to realizing that Planned Parenthood “treated women like cattle and how they only cared about making money” – a realization she says was “long overdue.”

Interestingly, Planned Parenthood closed its Sherman clinic (the clinic where Ramona was the manager) on August 23, 2011, after Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that stripped the organization of its funding, and prohibited the state government from contracting with any organization that provides abortions.

The fall 40 Days for Life campaign begins September 27.  I’m a little leary of the ‘stardom’ given to Abby Johnson and now, potentially, this later potential convert.  The pro-aborts are claiming that women are bailing out of fairly low paying Planned Parenthood jobs to go on to ostensibly lucrative pro-life roles.  These conversions are all very well and good, but the coverage Abby Johnson has garnered has been a bit….extreme, perhaps?  I don’t know…..something in the back of my head tells me to have some caution on this.  

Still, it is very good news that almost every Planned Parenthood facility closing this year is in the Dallas Diocese.  I pray that is a Providential development, and an indication of the amount of prayer being directed towards the end of abortion.