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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Bishops' letter affirming Church teaching on marriage!

This is a letter from the Bishops of Minnesota that was sent to all Minnesota parishes, and was to be read in all parish Masses in Minneapolis/St. Paul today. In this letter, the bishops take a united stand for upholding traditional marriage in our society, and call upon all the faithful to do likewise!

(So much for the Rainbow Sash folks thinking that Flynn was their best buddy, see their "rebuke" of our Holy Father...)

(Note: I transcribed this letter from a copy I received, as I could not find it online yet. Any errors are mine. Also, I have emphasized some lines in the letter that I thought were especially important.)

Feast of the Holy Family
December 26, 2004

We have just celebrated the wonderful feast of Christmas and the minds and hearts of believers everywhere are focused on the love of God made present among us in the birth of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. With Simeon in today's Gospel from St. Luke, we give thanks for the fulfillment of God's ancient promise which our eyes have now seen: "A revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel."

Renewed in that 'revealing light' and motivated by God's "glory" made manifest among us, the Bishops of Minnesota take the occasion of this Feast of the Holy Family to reflect on the profound importance of marriage and family in our society. We do so with a two-fold hope: first, encouraging the great number of families who witness daily to the permanent reality of the state of marriage and secondly, sharing our concern over growing social influences that aim at the breakdown of the marriage bond and threaten the well-being of family life.

As Catholic leaders, our message is directed primarily though not exclusively to the members of the Catholic Church. The good of marriage and family life redound on the total human community in providing the basic building blocks for a stable social environment in which each person's growth and happiness are fostered and encouraged. All men and women of good will have a stake in the proper understanding of the role that marriage and the family have for the social, political and economic order.

God is the author of human marriage (cf Gaudium et Spes, 47.2) and God's own Trinitarian life exempliefies what married life should be like. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father so completely that this mutual self-giving is the personal bond of the Holy Spirit. It is from the Church's contemplation of God's own revelation of himself that she defines marriage as a union that is total, exclusive, faithful, fruitful and indissoluble. In the act of creation, God made man for woman and woman for man (cf Genesis 2:18), so that their love would result in their own mutual good and in the gift of new life in their children. For this very reason, God commanded husband and wife to "be fertile and multiply; fill the earth." (Genesis 1:28) The proper ordering of marriage, therefore, is destined for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, raised this understanding of marriage between the baptized to the level of a sacrament, that is to say, an "efficacious sign" of God's love, dispensed to us through the action of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1131).

Jesus did so by recalling the plan of the Creator "in the beginning," namely, that husband and wife are to be two-in-one flesh. (cf Matthew 19:6). This beautiful vocation of man and woman, intended "in the beginning," was distorted by sin, which resulted in the subsequent experience of discord, domination, jealousy, infidelity and separation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1606). Regrettably those same forces are still present in society today to such an extent that they appear to be receiving a legitimacy and acceptances that is detrimental to a right understanding of marriage fromt he viewpoint of Scripture and Tradition. Here we refer to divorce, contraception, cohabitation and same-sex unions as social realities that undermine the sacredness of the marriage covenant and thwart its God-given potential. While the Church's voice may be rebuffed in a culture imbued with secular values, she must continue to address the evils that are present in society in order to protect the inherent dignity of each man and woman as well as the understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

As our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, said so succinctly last November: "The family, founded on marriage, is a natural, irreplaceable institution and a basic element of the common good of every society. Whoever destroys this basic fabric of human coexistence, not respecting its identity and distorting its duties, causes a deep wound to society and provokes often irreparable damages."

We, as pastors, must never fail to affirm, encourage and seek to strengthen the hundreds of families who remain bound together in Christian love and who demonstrate through the weal and woe of daily challenges their determination to live the voews they have made and to fulfill the obligations that they have assumed.

To these faith-filled believers, we offer as our own the advice of St. Paul in today's second Scriptural reading: "...clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect."

Confident in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about conversion in our lives and finding in the Holy Eucharist the source of strength for fulfilling God's intended plan for our salvation, we, the Bishops of Minnesota, offer our collective prayer for the promotion of loving, faith-filled families. We also pray for a resolve on the part of all Catholics and persons of good will to support public works and legislation that will secure the dignity and integrity of marriage and family life throughout our society.

May God's choicest blessings be yours throughout this Christmas season!

- The Bishops of Minnesota:
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn (Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis)
Bishop Victor H. Balke (Diocese of Crookston)
Bishop Bernard J. Harrington (Diocese of Winona)
Bishop John F. Kinney (Diocese of St. Cloud)
Bishop John C. Nienstedt (Diocese of New Ulm)
Bishop Dennis M. Schnurr (Diocese of Duluth)
Bishop Richard E. Pates (Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis

Friday, December 17, 2004

The *Other* "Five Ways"

Finals are finished!! Whoo-hoo! Christmas vacation here I come!

To celebrate, I thought you might enjoy this rare philosophical document, recently unearthed and forwarded to me by one of my philosophy professors... :)


We proceed thus to the next article:

Objection 1. Presents may be given to us by the good elves, and so there is no need for Santa Claus.

Objection 2. If Santa Claus existed, there would be no chimneys too narrow for him. But there are chimneys too narrow for him, and sometimes none at all. Therefore, Santa Claus does not exist.

On the contrary, Kay Starr says, “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus.”

I answer that the first and most manifest way of proving the existence of Santa Claus is the argument from the existence of Christmas trees. It is certain and evident to our senses that some things in this world are Christmas trees. Now no fir tree becomes a Christmas Tree unless it is trimmed. But to be trimmed means that one receives an ornament. And since one cannot go to infinity in the passing on of Christmas tree ornaments, there must be a First Untrimmed Trimmer, and this everyone understands to be Santa Claus.

The second way is from the giving of Christmas presents. In this world we find the giving of Christmas presents. Now he who gives Christmas presents either made them in his workshop, or got them from someone else. And since, if no one makes presents in his workshop, there will not be the giving of Christmas presents, there must exists a First Giver, to which everyone gives the name Santa Claus.

The third way is from the plastic images of Santa Claus. In all department stores we see plastic images which represent Santa Claus. Now these are representations of Santa Claus either because of Santa himself, or because of some other image of Santa. Now there can be no infinite regression in representation, so there must be something which is like Santa Claus because it is Santa Claus.

The fourth way is taken from the degrees of Christmas Spirit. We see that people in the world have more or less of a Christmas Spirit. But “more” or “less” is said only in reference to “most.” So there must be someone who has the most Christmas Spirit, and this someone we call Santa Claus.

The fifth way is taken from the conduct of children who, though lacking intelligence, act for an end, which is shown by their always, or almost always, being good. But children would not be good for Christmas, unless someone insured that they are good. This someone is known by all to be Santa Claus.

Reply Obj. 1. Since the god elves got the presents they give from someone else, they must be, at the very most, Santa’s Helpers; and without someone to help, viz., Santa Claus, there can be no Helpers.

Reply Obj. 2. It is not impossible that Santa Claus use the door like everyone else.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Bring Back the Sanctus Bells!!

Ever wonder what happened to those glorious bells, raising a "joyful noise" unto the Lord during the Mass? Many of us no longer hear these beautiful instruments, due to many misconceptions about the purpose and suitability of the use of bells in this post-Vatican II era.

Well, for those of you who would like to see the ringing of the bells once more, there is a great new resource for you online by Matthew Herrera. Below is his announcement of the new booklet --

"If you like bells as much as I do -- particularly Sanctus bells, please take a moment and download a copy of the monograph I have written on the history and use of Sanctus bells in the Catholic Church:


If you wish to (re)introduce Sanctus bells to your parish, I suggest you print the booklet (or have someplace like FedEx/Kinko's do it for you) along with the cover letter I have also placed on the above site and send them to your pastor.

I believe the monograph is well crafted. It relies on Church documents like the GIRM, the Bible and some pretty good Catholic scholarship, rather than personal opinion. It also looks quite snazzy when printed-out, folded and stapled in a booklet format."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The "Tolerant God" is a Myth

This is a great article by a Presbyterian regarding the myth of tolerance in our society today, on the individualistic desire to create "personal truth" and abolish any notion of "sin" from our consciousness -- written by a Protestant, but when read through the eyes of the Catholic Church and her history, it is even more powerful in my opinion!

Read it online at http://www.pfrenewal.org/publications_details_articles.asp?q_publicationid=45&q_articleid=36&q_areaid=6

Here are some excerpts:

"...The tolerant god is a myth. It is an idol crafted by human hands in the image of individual autonomy and personal choice, the same “virtues” the serpent suggested to Eve as a preferable alternative to servitude to God. Indeed, in some theological circles, Eve’s choice has made her a heroine for rejecting the patriarchal oppression of a God who would impose his truth on her right to choose. As our culture defines the term, the God of the Bible is not tolerant. That is why God must be re-imagined...

...The real God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—is the God who flooded the earth (Gen 6:3), rained fire on Sodom (Gen 19:3), and sent Assyria and Babylon to chastise his own people (Isa 3). He is the God who told Eve the truth: “If you sin, you die” (Gen 3:3 nasb). This is the true God who became incarnate and gave his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28). It was this Holy Father who sent his Son into his own creation to die on a cross. God made him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21). The real God canceled out his own decree of judgment against us by nailing it to the cross of his only begotten Son, the Lamb of God, who paid the price we could not pay for a debt he did not owe (Col 2:14).

That is real love. The tolerant God who demands nothing and gives everything and calls it love is a worthless lie in the light of the Cross. Love is the Cross. For those who worship the tolerant god, the Cross is offensive. It is a stumbling block."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary...

Have a blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!

O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Pope to Bishops -- Teach the People!

Our Holy Father exhorted our American bishops this past Sunday to renew their commitment to teaching the laity, to leading the flock and properly catechizing the faithful. Worth a read!

Excerpt (emphasis added):

"3. It follows that lay men and women must be encouraged, through sound catechesis and continuing formation, to recognize the distinctive dignity and mission which they have received in baptism and to embody in all their daily activities an integrated approach to life which finds its inspiration and strength from the Gospel (cf. "Christifideles Laici," No. 34). This means that the laity must be trained to distinguish clearly between their rights and duties as members of the Church and those which they have as members of human society, and encouraged to combine the two harmoniously, recognizing that "in every temporal affair they are to be guided by their Christian conscience, since there is no human activity -- even of the temporal order -- that can be withdrawn from God's dominion" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 36).

A clear and authoritative reaffirmation of these fundamental principles of the lay apostolate will help to overcome the serious pastoral problems created by a growing failure to understand the Church's binding obligation to remind the faithful of their duty in conscience to act in accordance with her authoritative teaching. There is urgent need for a comprehensive catechesis on the lay apostolate which will necessarily highlight the importance of a properly formed conscience, the intrinsic relationship between freedom and moral truth, and the grave duty incumbent upon each Christian to work to renew and perfect the temporal order in accordance with the values of God's Kingdom. While fully respecting the legitimate separation of church and state in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 25) and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life.

Given the importance of these issues for the life and mission of the Church in your country, I would encourage you to consider the inculcation of the doctrinal and moral principles underlying the lay apostolate as essential to your ministry as teachers and shepherds of the Church in America. I also invite you to discern, in consultation with members of the laity outstanding for their fidelity, knowledge and prudence, the most effective ways of promoting catechesis and clearsighted reflection on this important area of the Church's social teaching.

4. An appreciation of the distinct gifts and apostolate of the laity will naturally lead to a strengthened commitment to fostering among the laity a sense of shared responsibility for the life and mission of the Church. In stressing the need for a theology and spirituality of communion and mission for the renewal of ecclesial life, I have pointed to the importance of "making our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged Pastors to listen more widely to the People of God" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," No. 45). Certainly this will involve a conscious effort on the part of each bishop to develop, within his particular Church, structures of communion and participation which make it possible, without prejudice to his personal responsibility for decisions he is called to make by virtue of his apostolic authority, "to listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks in the faithful" (cf. "Pastores Gregis," No. 44). More importantly, it calls for the cultivation, in every aspect of ecclesial life, of a spirit of communion grounded in the supernatural "sensus fidei" and the rich variety of charisms and missions which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the whole body of the baptized in order to build them up in unity and fidelity to the word of God (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 12). An understanding of cooperation and shared responsibility which is firmly rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology will ensure a genuine and fruitful collaboration between the Church's pastors and the lay faithful, without the danger of distorting this relationship by the uncritical importation of categories and structures drawn from secular life."

Complete address online at Zenit -- http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=63070

Fra Angelico's Annunciation