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This was a hard sermon, but one I really needed to hear September 24, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, priests, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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And, to be quite truthful, I don’t think it’s sunk in nearly enough yet, because I still have the same recourse to pride and –  I don’t think it quite sitting in judgment, but perhaps beine excessively self-assured – I lack a sense of humility.

This sermon comes to mind when I write sometimes, especially when I have written about Pope Francis. I have deliberately tried not to draw too many conclusions in any writing I’ve done about him of late, and I’ve tried to counsel much prayer and mortification, but I still feel like I’m not really in concert with the excellent moral guidance given below.  I would like to thank God for blessing His Church with priests such as these.

You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about. In the sermon below, the priest specifically challenges his audience to, in a phrase, shape up.  To get over their pride. To be much more charitable. To stop patting themselves on the back for being one of the fortunate few who has found the TLM and a traditional Catholic community, and all the huge benefits that flow from that.  To stop any tendencies towards that kind of smug superiority exhibited by the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the penitent sinner. I should note, I don’t think there are too many at this priest’s parish that do exhibit that kind of pharisaical behavior (save, perhaps, for a certain blogger), but I think there is a strong temptation towards elitism in that environment.  It’s a trap satan lays for all of us who take this glorious Faith of ours very seriously, when we see so many who don’t.  We must not think it’s because we’re special in any way, but only because God has blessed us with Grace that we’ve perhaps cooperated with a little better than some, but I certainly know that I, at least, am very, very far from being a Saint.

Humility begets love, which begets faith.  If we are assured we’re so awesomely special (and I look back just on what I’ve written in the past few days, and I go……uh oh) because we pray 3 Rosaries a day and read the Bible and go to Mass and Confession regularly and all that, we’re severely misconstruing things.  We need to be humble and thank God for all those things we do, because they are all a gift from Him. The best we can do is to cooperate with HIs Grace.

This is a very hard sermon to hear, which makes it the best kind of sermon – challenging, to the point of discomfort. Hopefully that will move us (especially me!) to being better, more virtuous, more charitable souls.


He’s got a great voice, doesn’t he?

THE Biblical Proof for Catholic belief in the efficacy of works September 24, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Bible, Ecumenism, error, foolishness, General Catholic, sanctity, self-serving, Society, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
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A couple of weeks ago, I had an evangelical type drop by the blog and ask some pointed “questions,” which really seemed like accusations, regarding “erroneous” Catholic beliefs.  One of his questusations was just silly, claming that Catholics had “done away with” the 2nd Commandment because the Church typically numbers the 10 Commandments differently from protestants (but, they retain all the same points, and the Church’s numbering scheme is much more ancient, a significant proof of authenticity in terms of historical accuracy).  But the most serious questusation was the claim that Catholics were all wacked out because we know that our good works are meritorious of salvation.  I replied with a quote from James chapter 2 that stresses how good works are so critically important, and then I sent the guy on to a better expert than me to get a more detailed response, if he wanted to.  He came back with a 4000+ word reply, which went to spam, because the filter rightly recognizes that it is ludicrous to spend hours on a comment on a blog!

In doing so, I made two mistakes, because I didn’t send him to the best resource possible – John Salza – and also because I left out the absolutely foundational text for Catholic belief in not only the merit of good works, but their absolute necessity for salvation.  Before I begin, I will clarify, we are not Pelagians, we know that we cannot “work our way to Heaven” independent of Grace, and we know that the best we can do is to cooperate with Grace in order to do good things, but even that cooperation is a work.  Even faith is a work, silly protestant semantic games aside.  The text is, of course, Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and the goats:

[31] And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. [32] And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. [34] Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

[36] Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? [39] Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? [40] And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

[41] Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. [42] For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. [43] I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. [44] Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? [45] Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

[46] And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

To immediately rebut one possible exception, there are only trivial differences between the Catholic Douay-Reims version and the “sainted” protestant King James Version (which derived significant material from the earlier Douay-Reims).  Both versions start with Christ making a contingent affirmation: “Come……possess the kingdom prepared for you………For I was hungry…….”  And both have Christ clearly damning those who fail to observe His command to constantly engage in corporal works of mercy (which reminds me…….I need to engage in MORE corporal works of mercy!).

Now, a protestant might try to reply with one of their favorite Scripture quotes taken out of context: Eph 2:8-9, wherein St. Paul says that we are saved by faith, and not works, so that we may not “boast.”  Obviously, this is a problematic statement, because not only does this appear to make St. Paul contradict St. James as mentioned above, but it would be very difficult to reconcile St. Paul’s claim with Matt 25:31-46 as noted above, or even St. Paul with himself in Romans 2:5-8 (and this is a key bit, that underscores that Paul is only condemning a certain kind of works, not claiming that ALL works are never meritorious). In reality, this is all Calvinist total depravity nonsense, but let’s play along and see what is really going on here (the below draws from John Salza’s website and his great book The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith.

When dealing with St. Paul, one always has to be very careful to understand the context in which he was writing.  St. Paul was incredibly brilliant/filled with Grace, and wrote on a very deep level, but always had a certain objective in mind. One of his major objectives in the period that he wrote several of his Epistles was against the Judaizers, recent Christian converts from Judaism who wanted to foist the practices of the Old Law on the new Faith Christ had founded.  So, when St. Paul writes against “works,” he is really writing against the works of the Old Law.  This is most obvious in Galatians, but is true in Ephesians, as well. The Jewish understanding of “works of the law” was a contractual-type system wherein if they did certain works, God was obligated to do various things for them.  This was a perverse understanding to begin with, and something I’ll return to at the end.

What Paul is teaching is that, after the Resurrection, we are saved by Grace through faith in Christ, and not by any works of the Old Law. Once we accept Christ and receive Baptism and are active in the Faith, we have Grace flowing into us, which, if we cooperate with, makes our works meritorious (see Rom 5:1-5). As St. James says, faith without works is dead. What the Jews believed in, was a sort of contractual system, a system of “legal obligations” where, if they performed certain prescribed acts, God was obligated to respond in a certain way.  Far from eschewing the Old Law, the Calvinist-protestant system of “grace alone” reduces what should be a loving, two-way covenental relationship back into a legalistic, contractual one!  In a covenent, there is a constant two-way exchange, a person loving God and through that love, his fellow man, and doing good works is part of that, with God sending Grace to permit the love/good works and then following with still more Grace as good works accumulate (and, of course, sin interrupts, or even shatters this process).  Protestants reduce God, instead of being a best friend and intimate companion, to a distant contract partner, who is “obligated” to “save” someone who receives baptism or makes a profession of faith.  Ironically, the profession itself, is a work, as is faith itself, but protestants of the Calvinist/presbyterian/evangelical types pretend not to see this.

Catholics approach God as a Father who loves us, and rewards us based on that love, not an employer who “owes” us good crops, salvation, or whatever, based on our reciting some magic formula one time.

So, when St. Paul says one time in Ephesians that “we are saved through faith, and not of yourselves.” he is referring primarily to the Mosaic law (e.g., circumcision) or any work where we try to obligate God. This is to be distinguished from works performed under the auspices of Grace. There is a difference between “works of law” and “good works.” This is why James says that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24).  Also, St. Paul explicitly embraces the efficacy and NEED for good works in Romans and Corinthians.  Protestants have to make St. Paul contradict himself in order to support their erroneous belief.

Paul’s teaching that we are not justified by works of law and James’ teaching that we ARE justified by works appear to be inconsistent with each other, until you recognize that they are talking about two different systems: law and grace.

And, I think, when you couple Matt 25:31:46, the Catholic system of belief becomes quite reasonable and clear. Christ Himself made works of charity a critical aspect of our salvation, directly indicating that our salvation is dependent on those very works.  This section – taken completely in context, part of a whole series of parables regarding Heaven and salvation in Matt 25 – is very much like John 6, the famous exegesis on the Blessed Sacrament, the reception of which (If you do not EAT my flesh and DRINK my blood you shall not have life within you) Christ makes a firm requirement for salvation – yet another work!

There are numerous other examples that can be pointed to that demonstrate that works, done always in cooperation with Grace and requiring Grace to be meritorious, are necessary for salvation.  These include the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30), numerous statements in Revelations (Rv 2:5, 14:13, 20:12, 22:12), Matt 10:22 (he who endures until the end will be saved – well, perseverence is certainly a work), 1 COR 3:15 where St. Paul talks of how we will be judged based on our WORKS done in this life, James 2:14 (without works, you CANNOT be saved), and many others.

I also don’t believe God has allowed Scripture to become so polluted and erroneous that we all have to dig back through 1700 year old codices and have a mastery of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic in order to comprehend His intent from Scripture.

I hope your enjoyed your latest round of ecumenism, Tantumblogo style!

Amazing story of St. Michael in Action September 24, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, priests, sanctity, Society, Spiritual Warfare, Tradition, Virtue.
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Are you continuing your St. Michael Novena, or the Novena to the Holy Guardian Angels?  Perhaps this amazing story from TFP Student Action (which group – they have some issues) will help inspire you to start the Novena, even if a bit late.  The below is from a letter written from a Marine in Korea in 1950 to his mother back in the states, after he had suffered an injury in combat.  The story is verified by Fr. Walter Muldy, a US Navy Chaplain who knew the Marine and unit involved.

Dear Mom,

I am writing to you from a hospital bed. Don’t worry, Mom, I am okay. I was wounded, but the doctor says that I will be up in no time.

But that’s not what I have to tell you, Mom. Something happened to me that I don’t dare tell anyone else for fear of their disbelief. But I have to tell you, the one person I can confide in, though even you may find it hard to believe.

You remember the prayer to Saint Michael that you taught me to pray when I was little: “Michael, Michael of the morning,…” Before I left home for Korea, you urged me to remember this prayer before any confrontation with the enemy. But you really didn’t have to remind me, Mom. I have always prayed it, and when I got to Korea, I sometimes said it a couple of times a day while marching or resting.

Well, one day, we were told to move forward to scout for Commies. It was a really cold day. As I was walking along, I perceived another fellow walking beside me, and I looked to see who it was.

He was a big fellow, a Marine about 6’4” and built proportionally. Funny, but I didn’t know him, and I thought I knew everyone in my unit. I was glad to have the company and broke the silence between us:

“Chilly today, isn’t it?” Then I chuckled because suddenly it seemed absurd to talk about the weather when we were advancing to meet the enemy.
He chuckled too, softly.

“I thought I knew everyone in my outfit,” I continued, “ but I have never seen you before.”

“No,” he agreed, “I have just joined. The name is Michael.”

“Really?! That’s mine, too.”

“I know,” the Marine said, “Michael, Michael of the morning….”

Mom, I was really surprised that he knew about my prayer, but I had taught  it to many of the other guys, so I supposed that the newcomer must have picked it up from someone else. As a matter of fact, it had gotten around to the extent that some of the fellows were calling me “Saint Michael.”

Then, out of the blue, Michael said, “There’s going to be trouble ahead.”

I wondered how he could know that. I was breathing hard from the march, and my breath hit the cold air like dense clouds of fog. Michael seemed to be in top shape because I couldn’t see his breath at all. Just then, it started to snow heavily, and soon it was so dense I could no longer hear or see the rest of my outfit. I got a little scared and yelled, “Michael!” Then I felt his strong hand on my shoulder and heard his voice in my ear, “It’s going to clear up soon.”

It did clear up, suddenly. And then, just a short distance ahead of us, like so many dreadful realities, were seven Commies, looking rather comical in their funny hats. But there was nothing funny about them now; their guns were steady and pointed straight in our direction.

————–End Quote————

Go to TFP Student Action to read the end of this amazing story.  God works in mysterious ways, and He and His agents sometimes intervene in human affairs in ways that are inexplicable to us.  But, we shall know the full Truth when we behold the Beatific Vision in Heaven.  Accept this story or not, our Faith is proved by the innumerable miracles that have been granted to numerous Saints and other souls to establish its veracity.  It was great miracles that first converted the Jews, some Gentiles, and then an entire great empire to the Faith. The world may scoff, but the world’s eyes are clouded by the darkness of sin, whereas we see with the light of faith.

Oh, and the little Michael, Michael of the Morning prayer is below. I never knew it before!

Michael, Michael of the morning,
Fresh chord of Heaven adorning,
Keep me safe today,
And in time of temptation
Drive the devil away.


One final thought on the Latin Mass at St. Mark September 24, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, North Deanery, persecution, sadness, secularism, Tradition, Virtue.
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I will be glad to put this subject to bed, as it has, over the past 2+ years, been the focus of far too much sturm and drang than I had ever considered possible. But I have had a thought lingering in my head for a while that I think worthy of some consideration.  I have said, and I still fully believe, that this NO Latin Mass at St. Mark and its failure to attract sufficient attendance (of course, we were never told what sufficient wasTuy_Vision – 100 a Mass?  200?  500?  This was always a ready-made excuse to cancel the Mass no matter how many attended) is NOT an indication of the overall interest in Latin Mass in the northern part of the Diocese. I think that is pretty well proved by the many people who travel long distances for NO Latin Mass at Greenville, and of course Mater Dei’s continued, explosive growth.  But I do think, as a sort of contrary sign, the failure of this Mass does indicate how far we have to go in terms of getting people to understand the great value of reverent Liturgy and its importance not only for their own sanctification but also in the life of the entire Church and even the world.

The contrary indicator is this: St. Mark has somewhere between 9 and 14 or even 15-16 thousand families listed as being members of the parish.  Now, probably at least half of those, if not more, are either double listings (people registered at more than one parish), people who have left the area, and people who have little or no practice of the Faith.  It may be a lot higher than that.  But based on Mass attendance at St. Mark, it is probable that at least 3000 families are at least somewhat active in attending Mass and other parts of the Faith.  3000 families might be 9000 people.  Now, we also know this Mass was never advertised very well, that while it was in the bulletin it was almost listed as a private Mass, and that probably the majority of St. Mark parishioners never knew of it’s existence, and of those that did, fr magdala first mass (9)probably most of those thought the Mass went away during the period of many cancellations.  And then you have to also pare down the number of people who would even attend a daily Mass in the first place.  The numbers are getting pretty speculative here, but were there 200 or 300 famillies that sometimes attend daily Mass, knew of this Mass, and didn’t bother to attend?  I really don’t know.

But the simple fact of the matter is that, first week aside, when I guess there was some promotion that there would be this new, “experimental” Mass beforehand, I don’t think we ever got more than 10 or 20 regular St. Mark, non-Latin Mass type people at any individual Mass.  On an average night, knowing most of the people in attendance, I would say that the number of Sunday Mass St. Mark people there was generally less than 10. I guess at some of the Requiem Masses that number went up a bit, which is odd.  I know a fair number of folks at St. Mark who profess an interest in a more reverent/traditional liturgy, but they rarely came. I even took to sending our reminders to different groups on Mondays, but rarely did any come.

I think we that love a traditional, reverent, Christocentric Liturgy have to face facts: we are a tiny minority.  A minority that I think has been growing of late, but still a tiny minority.  There just aren’t many fellow Catholics, even among daily Mass attendees (or, perhaps I should say Gold_Spaingiven the geriatric nature of most daily Mass attendees, ESPECIALLY among them) who are willing to step outside their comfort zone or put out some extra effort to help support liturgical renewal.  What ones there are have for the most part already moved onto the TLM, and they look on the NO Latin as “why bother?”

That is why in this country and around the world, there are many times more TLMs than there are NO Latin Masses – the interest is just not great for that form of the Mass, and most people who do wind up assisting at NO Latin Masses do so only as a sort of transition from the vernacular happy clappy liturgy they are running from to the TLM.  Once they taste the exalted sweetness of the Mass of All Ages, few want to mess around with the Novus Ordo in any form.  I know there are exceptions, and I’m not criticizing those who love a very good, traditional, Latin Novus Ordo at all – I’ve been there, and it helped me and my family tremendously (to say a bit more – if all parishes had Masses like this, we in all likelihood would have never gone looking and eventually found the TLM).  I also know some folks have had bad personal experiences at TLM parishes, which is a great shame.  But overall, most people I know who went into NO Latin Mass came out to move onto the TLM.

prob7You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.  You can bring a NO Latin Mass to a conservative-ish NO parish, but you can’t make the people come.  And it is difficult to argue that a special Mass that only drew 30 or 40 a night is worth continuing.

So, after two years of hopes and disappointments and sometimes serious, mostly half-hearted efforts at promotion (and I speak for myself, too), I think the conclusion I’ve drawn is that the Novus Ordo Latin Mass, and the whole “mutual enrichment” meme, is a dead end.  Most people, even the most “devout” daily Mass attendees, like their vernacular Novus Ordo just the way it is. They enjoy the “symbol” of the Eucharist, the guitar music, the sappy protestant hymns, and the 3 minute, completely non-threatening homily.  Some like it a shade more traditional with some incense and traditional hymns, and others like it full-on evangelical with guitars, video boards, and shorts and flip-flops. It is a very small minority that will learn a bit more, look around and say “How can this be?” and try to find something better.

The past two years have really said to me, the future of the Liturgy in the Church will not be a NO-TLM hybrid, or gradual movement of the NO towards the TLM, but a stark choice: either full-on protestant hootenany “mass,” or the TLM.  This may take 200 years to play out, but one or the other will emerge victorious and be re-instilled as the sole, universal Mass of the Roman Rite.

And I know which one it will be.