Saturday, October 21, 2006

About Phil...

Rich and I were dating in June, 1975. Phil Keaggy's WHAT A DAY album was the first Christian album I ever bought! We were together and he's always been a part of our relationship, our engagement, and our married life. We saw him when we got engaged. We traveled to Omaha in Sept, to see him and Barry McGuire at Burke High School. Then over the next 20+ years, we had the wonderful opportunity to see him again, many times. Mostly in California at our independent ROCK FELLOWSHIP. He even stayed the night at our pastor's house. This man is awesome, and I hope he's not left his Catholicism behind him. I don't read anything about his being baptized Catholic on his website. I know his parents were Catholic, and he's from a very large family. Phil, if you ever come across this blog, please, drop a line. Remember Rob Thompson in Fresno with Rock Fellowship? You were and still are the most amazing guitar man. If you ever get the chance, team up with Eric Clapton and jam for a while. THAT I would LOVE TO SEE! We knew Phil when he had hair and it was very dark. What a Day! What a life. What a MIGHTY, LOVING, GENEROUS, MERCIFUL GOD WE HAVE! I hope to serve Him well the rest of my days, and music sure does inspire this heart when it grows weary with the everyday trials of life. THANK GOD FOR MUSIC and THANK GOD for PHIL and his guitar!
Phil Keaggy

Salvation Army Band...

Heart to God, hand to man.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The sign of the Cross...

I love making the sign of the Cross every day at Mass and before meals, and prayers. It's like our "brand" that God has given us. I never did this as a protestant, and don't know of any other religions where it is done, unless the Eastern Orthodox. I love to make the sign because the devil just hates it! He received his death blow when Jesus was cruicified, and died on the Cross. When we make the sign of the cross on ourselves, we can rejoice in knowing ''we are Gods!" Of course, we must make sure we are living in His grace, but what a wonderul way to say, "I love you" to our Lord and to say, "Take that!" to our enemy, the Father of Lies!

Praying in words and signs:
The Sign of the Cross

by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
based on the New Catholic Catechism 1077-1109;
see also:
The Sign of the Cross - for children

Christian prayer is modeled after the prayer of Jesus. Like his, it should come from the heart. When he prayed Jesus used words and signs and sometimes cries, as expressions of his heart. And so do we when we pray; our hearts too look for an outward voice.

The words and signs that Jesus used when he prayed often came from his own Jewish tradition, from what he learned in his family and from others. As for ourselves, we turn to our Christian tradition for guidance in prayer. We believe it is a tradition inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it is also an outgrowth of the Jewish tradition of prayer that nourished Jesus himself.

The Christian tradition of prayer has a wisdom all its own, with many different forms and expressions. Some basic prayers of our Christian tradition, however, have a special place. The Sign of the Cross is one example.

In the Catholic church and other Christian churches the Sign of the Cross is an important part of personal and public prayer. It originated in the earliest days of Christianity and so it is centuries old. It is the first sign made on us at Baptism and the last sign made as we pass to our future life. It's a vital part of liturgical prayer and the sacraments. With the Sign of the Cross we begin and end our prayers.

A Blessing of the Triune God

We call it a blessing. We say we "bless ourselves." Tracing with our hand the figure of the cross on our forehead, our breast, our shoulders, we bless ourselves: Spacer

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Sign of the Cross expresses blessing. It symbolizes God blessing us, God embracing us with blessings. And in this same sign we express our belief in God from whom all our blessings flow. In the Sign of the Cross we embrace our good God with mind and heart and all of our strength.

God blesses. The Jewish scriptures describe God as, above all, the One who blesses. God blessed Noah and saved the world from the flood. God blessed Abraham and Sara with blessings more than the stars in the sky. God blessed the Jewish people, redeeming them from the slavery of Egypt. Life itself and all creation are God's gifts.

And so the Jewish tradition of prayer always approaches God as One who blesses. "I will bless the Lord at all times," the psalmist prays. As we are blessed by God, so we bless the Lord in return.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

EU....More like PEEEW....

The European Union and the UN fight against Christianity

Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Lucetta Scaraffia, co-author of the book 'Against Christianity. The UN and European Union as New Ideology', which was translated into Polish and published in the series 'Biblioteka 'Niedzieli'.

Last year the Publishing House Piemme published 'Contro il cristianesimo. L'ONU e I'Unione Europea come nuova ideologia'. This work, translated by Prof. Karol Klauza, is available for Polish readers (published by the editorial board of 'Niedziela', the Polish title: 'ONZ i Unia Europejska jako nowa ideologia'). The authors of the book, which is worth stressing, are three women: Prof. Lucetta Scaraffia (professor of modern history at the La Sapienza University in Rome, author of many books on the role of women in modern history and articles in Italian press), Eugenia Roccella (journalist, in the 1960s one of the leaders of the Women's Liberation Movement - Movimento per la Liberazione della Donna, at present she is very critical to abuses of radical feminism; the author of studies concerning feminism and a biographical dictionary of Italian women from Italy's unification in 1871 until modern times; she publishes articles in 'Ideazione' and 'Il Foglio', 'Il Giornale' and 'Avvenire') and Assuntina Morresi, University of Perugia, who prepared an extensive annex to the book.

The book is a well-documented accusation, directed against international organizations and institutions like the UN and the European Union, of promoting materialistic and utilitarian vision of man that is contrary to Christian anthropology as well as imposing new 'rights' and 'freedom' that are morally wrong and contrary to natural law. These organizations see the Church as the biggest obstacle to realize their new, utopian ideologies and that's why they use all possible means to destroy the Church.

I asked Prof. Lucetta Scaraffia, one of the authors of the book, to talk about the issues presented in the book.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - Why did you write a book about the war waged by the UN and the European Union against Christianity?

Prof. Lucetta Scaraffia: - For some time we were exchanging information about certain undertakings of the UN and the European Union and we reached the conclusion that actually nobody gave such pieces of information. Therefore, we decided to write a book on this subject in order to make people think. We embarked on this task although we are not specialists in this field. I lecture on modern history and Roccella is a journalist dealing with feminism. We asked Assuntina Morresi who searched the web pages for documentation, which was placed at the end of the book.

- Could you give us some examples of the anti-Catholic policy of the UN and the EU?

- A considerable part of the book has been devoted to this anti-Catholic policy. Many examples concern the European Union. It is enough to mention the accusations against the Church of not permitting women to priesthood and condemning abortion and 'marriages' of the same sex, which are recognized as inalienable rights in the EU circles. This is a form of discrediting the activities of the Church. Thus they try to convince people that the Church does not respect human rights and furthermore, it is an institution of the past and not a modern institution. The UN also attempts to discredit the Church but the United Nations act on different levels. One should mention that the Catholic Church is the only religious institution with a truly international range. Besides, it is headed by the Pope whose voice reaches everywhere. That's why, all those who want to destroy traditional religions regard the Church as the most dangerous religious institution. They accuse it of fundamentalism because it rejects equality of all religions, i.e. the Church maintains that the truth exists only in the person of Jesus Christ and his Gospels.

- What is the new ideology of international organizations that want to replace the Christian vision of man?

- First of all, I would like to stress that I do not believe in any theory of conspiracy. But I think new ideologies of utopian character have filled the vacuum that communism left. Since communism turned out to be a fiasco it was replaced by less 'aggressive' ideologies but they are not less dangerous. In accordance with these ideologies man can create a paradise for himself on the earth if he fulfils his desires. That's why all limitations that make this impossible should be invalidated. The most important desire is to control life and death, the matters man has never been able to interfere in. There is something mysterious about human life and although man has made great technological progress in genetic engineering, artificial insemination, etc., the mechanisms of life have not been known. But people do their best to discover them and are told that it is possible.

The second ideology of the present times is the utopia of equality, i.e. the conviction that the more 'equal' people are the happier they are. That's why, in the words of this ideology, we must abolish the differences between man and woman, and all things that highlight these differences are evil. Therefore, according to this logic there should be no differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. The problem is that heterosexual men and women can have normal families and children and the homosexuals cannot. Naturally, that does not mean that homosexuals must be discriminated but we should oppose the concepts of artificial equality.

- This explains why in the post-communist government in Poland one of the ministerial offices was taken by a specialist in liberal-left-wing gender ideology, the ideology that was promoted in media and that wants to abolish the traditional concept of sex...

- Gender ideology, which wants to blur the line between sexes, is actually an example of forcing this type of artificial equality. According to this ideology being a woman or a man depends on culture, i.e. the way children are brought up.

- That's why the Church, which repeats after the Bible that God created woman and man, becomes the main enemy of the 'followers' of this new ideology, an obstacle to progress...

- It is obvious that the Church, which claims that the difference between woman and man is blessed by God and consequently fertile in every sense, becomes an enemy that should be destroyed.

- Following the UN debates one can have the impression that the biggest problem women have in the contemporary world is their access to contraceptives and abortion. There are even attempts to acknowledge abortion as 'fundamental human right'. Why is it so?

- Because abortion means total domination over the most vulnerable human being. The will to dominate over defenceless life expresses the desire to have power. It is an expression of wrongly understood freedom that people, especially women, want to ascribe to themselves. The source of all these things is the false idea that women will be emancipated when they stop to acknowledge their biological roles: according to this logic women and men become equal when they are free, i.e. when women can control the fact of their motherhood.

- A forum on religion was created in the UN but its participants included people who had nothing to do with religion. How then can we evaluate this international inter-religious organ?

- The official aim of this organ is to support inter-religious dialogue and to prevent religious conflicts at this moment of history when such conflicts seem to be particularly dangerous. However, when you carefully analyse the statute of the organ you can reach the conclusion that the true reason is to destroy traditional religions and to replace them with one new international religion that does not assume God's existence and instead it accepts, widely understood, human rights as its foundation. That's why it proposes abortion, marriage of the same sex, etc. I would call these new 'human' religions humanitarianism or a humanitarian religion. Benson, the author of the book 'Lord of the World', foresaw that in 1907.

- Very influential ideological and political groups use the United Nations and the European Union so that in the name of progress and new human rights they can impose upon all nations their vision of human being and the world. How should particular countries defend themselves against this more and more pushy cultural and ideological aggression?

- One way of defence would be to inform people about all the things, which happen in the UN and the EU since the information in media is partial and bias. To tell you the truth, all items of information are available in the Internet; we have used that source. But who conducts such researches? So I repeat that one should inform people. Then we should expose the essence of the protests against such activities of the international organizations. If we do not explain the reasons of the protests the public opinion may seem to believe that they deal with actions of conservative and reactionary character and this is not the case. On the contrary I think that the attacks on Catholic morality are carried out by the new avant-garde, critical and active minorities, which are the ferment of the world. Evidence that things are going to change for the better was the vote in the European Parliament concerning the law on stem cell research. To be sure, the motion could not blocked but for the first time a proposed law did not received enough votes. We need to consider that 'the green' voted like the Catholic members. This is a sign that the Catholic organizations as well as certain non-Catholic circles make a kind of cultural revolution. This revolution begins by exposing the lies of the false progressives. Utopian ideas make people stop using the mind. When they believe that some utopian idea can be fulfilled they are ready to follow behaviour, which cannot be morally accepted. By unmasking false utopian ideas we give people a possibility to think.

- Recently international organizations have been used by strong, ubiquitous and aggressive lobby of homosexuals (it is enough to mention that a group of homosexuals coming from all political groups is the biggest 'club' in the European Parliament). This lobby carried out a frontal attack against the Catholic Church, which has been accused of homophobia. What are the true objectives of the stormy activities of the 'Internationale' of homosexuals and lesbians?

- Being a historian I see these problems as the fruit of 50 years of separation between the sphere of procreation and sexual life. The process of separation began when pharmacological contraceptives were introduced and thus women could break with their biological role. When sexual life is separated from procreation there is also discord between marriage and sexual life on the one hand and procreation on the other hand. In this situation homosexual forms of life become in accordance with new rules. Procreation is something sacred. If sexual life is separated form sexuality it becomes only a game that loses its depth and becomes something superficial. A game must be fun, so every form of sexual relationship, which entertains, is permissible. That's why homosexual acts become more common. Psychological researches say that people, who were not homosexual, choose homosexual behaviour for various reasons. For example, women who are disappointed with sexual contacts with men seek comfort in homosexual relationships, which become some kind of shelter, one of the reasons being that homosexualism gained prestige it has never had before.

"Niedziela" 33/2006

Men In Black...

Why do priests wear black?

Fr Andrzej Przybylski

I have read in some biblical dictionary that black is the colour of sorrow and mourning whereas white symbolizes joy and purity. Now I am wondering where the custom of wearing black cassocks comes from? Why do priests wear cassocks and why are they black, which is not the colour of joy and hope?


The day when I received a priestly dress was a unique event for me. Although I did not become a priest then (actually we received cassocks at our III year of studies in the seminary), we belonged to clergy in the eyes of the world and people. It was a marvellous day! Some people began greeting Christ when they saw me, and they began sharing their problems. Thanks to the cassock I became a visible sign of a special belonging to God. Therefore, I support the defenders of clerical clothing and although I know that it is not true that 'clothes make the man' I miss the times when wearing a cassock was a normal and daily habit. I like wearing my cassock very much.

Naturally, in the first centuries of Christianity (for over four centuries) priests wore the same clothes as ordinary people. The tunics were normal clothes. When it was fashionable to wear shorter robes some priests kept tunics, and thus they stood out from other people. The Synod of Braga, AD 572, ordered priests to wear different clothes when they went out. The tradition of wearing cassocks was established over a very long period. At the turn of the 15th and the 16th centuries there was a custom of wearing robes called 'révérend' (the word derives from Romance languages). In those times men used to wear robes, especially the gentry liked wearing long dresses: the zupan (a long coat lined with cloth of gold) and the kontusz (an overcoat with split sleeves) and belts. The clerical clothing was established in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The colour of the cassock was connected with the hierarchy of clergy, which has remained up till now: the pope wears a white cassock, cardinals wear red (scarlet) ones, bishops wear amaranth red ones and priests wear black ones. You are right that black is associated with sorrow but in the case of priestly robe this colour has another symbolic meaning. A black cassock is to remind a priest that he 'dies to the world' every day and immerses in eternity. Blackness also symbolizes giving up bright colours and thus giving up what the world brings, its glittering, honours and entertainment.

The clerical collar is an important item of clerical clothing. Our students used to ask me: why is this white belt on you neck called a clerical collar although it is not colourful (in Polish 'koloratka' means colourful)? The word derives from Latin collare meaning a collar (also called a dog collar). A white collar on a priest's neck should remind him of a ring and collar - his marriage to Christ and to the Church and giving his freedom to Christ, thus letting him control his life. We, priests, wear a collar because we want to be directed by Christ in all things. Please notice that our collars are white as opposed to our cassocks. In the background of a black robe it is a symbol of the light of resurrection. We go through the world giving up baubles and colours, living the hope of participation in the brightness of resurrection. This white collar in the background of our black dress is actually a sign of our desires and aspirations.

See how meaningful our robes are and therefore I am sad to see that priests wear cassocks less and less frequently since a cassock itself has proclaimed the most important truths of our faith. And by the way, we, priests, wear trousers under the cassock and it is not a rule that every cassock has 33 buttons.

"Niedziela" 39/2006

Documents of Vatican II...

Reading the Documents of Vatican II

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - Free Online Catholic Resourcesby: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Vatican II - Second Vatican CouncilSixteen ecclesiastical documents, written by a team of several thousand bishops and theologians, based on three years of preparation and four years of prayer and discussion. It should be no surprise that most people would leave the reading of these documents to the experts, assuming that only the learned could make any sense of them.

But that was precisely what the Popes and fathers of the council did not want. A decision was made before the first document was written that the audience of this council, the readership to which the documents were to be addressed, was not just the academics and clergy. No, the vocabulary of the documents was to be biblical, not scholastic, the style pastoral, not academic, so that the council’s teaching would be accessible to all literate Christians, indeed, even to all people of good will. The documents of Vatican II have since been poured over by experts of all kinds, and indeed should be. Their content is indeed rich and profound. Yet it must be remembered that first and foremost this is was a pastoral council and its documents are like pastoral letters written to encourage, nourish, and enlighten the sheep.

Where to Begin?

Vatican IIStill, the thick volume of council documents is, at first glance, nonetheless forbidding. Where is the best path of entry to this thick forest of words?

The first thing to point out is that the Church has given everyone an easy, topically organized collection of Council texts that is by far the easiest place to get our feet wet. I’m speaking, of course, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, one of the enduring achievements of the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Of course, this Catechism is not simply an anthology of Vatican II texts. It draws from all the councils of the church as well as from the entire Catholic tradition, citing church fathers, doctors, and saints. Yet it is thoroughly imbued with the true “spirit of Vatican II ” and includes substantial excerpts from the Council’s documents. It communicates the heart of the Council’s teaching, familiarizes us with the Council’s style, and introduces us to some of the most famous passages of the actual documents.

But of course, we should not be satisfied with this taste of Vatican II. This appetizer should just whet our appetite to feast on the full texts themselves. Each of the Council documents was written to be read from beginning to end. Serious Catholics and students of Catholicism should take up the challenge and dive in.

Dogmatic Constitutions

Which of the sixteen documents should be the first to tackle? The Council itself gives us guidance here by creating three classes of documents: the most important and generally longer are called Constitutions--of which there are four. The “middle-distance” documents, so to speak, are called Decrees and are nine in number. And finally the three documents briefest in length and most narrowly focused in theme are called Declarations

Among the Constitutions, two stand out and are given a special description. They are called “Dogmatic Constitutions” and cover two topics: Divine Revelation and the Church. Here we must stop and correct a serious misconception. Many rightly note that Vatican II did not define any new dogmas as did many previous Councils, such as Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican I. It is also true that Vatican II was primarily a “pastoral” council. Yet it is most decidedly NOT true that Vatican II offers us no serious doctrinal teaching and therefore its authority is not to be taken too seriously. Calling two of its constitutions “dogmatic” makes it very plain that this council does indeed teach doctrine in a most serious way. And while it does not define new dogmas, it passes on, reaffirms, clarifies and develops revealed doctrine in the most authoritative fashion possible short of an infallible definition. The response of the faithful must be “the religious submission of intellect and will” to this important expression of the Church’s Universal Episcopal Magisterium which is an expression of the Papal Magisterium as well, since the successor of Peter signed each one of its documents.

In my opinion, the very best of the dogmatic constitutions to start with just happens to be the shortest and the easiest to read. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, usually known as Dei Verbum (DV)” from its first two words in the Latin original, is like the stem which roots the council in the rich soil of Scripture and Tradition and draws up the necessary nutrients to make the real bud of the council blossom, which is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium” (LG).

The 26 paragraphs of Dei Verbum are divided up into 6 short chapters. You can either tackle the whole thing at once, reading it in less than an hour, or you can read a chapter a day as part of your prayer time. Yes, this document can indeed be approached as spiritual reading, as can Lumen Gentium, since they are moving meditations on God’s Word. Dei Verbum is really a proclamation of the basic gospel, as this quote from the prologue makes clear: “Following then, in the steps fo the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, this Synod wishes to set forth the true doctrine on divine Revelation and its transmission. For it wants the whole world to hear the summons to salvation, so that through hearing it may believe, through belief it may hope, through hope it may come to love.” (DV1)

Dei Verbum was the first Council document that I ever read. I was 19 years old at the time, and remember how shocked I was by how many Scripture quotes it contained. Expecting a dry academic exercise, I was equally surprised and how the document moved my heart and lifted my spirits even as it enlightened my mind. Regardless of our degree of biblical literacy, all of us Catholics find ourselves on familiar ground here as we read God’s self revelation to us through words and deeds passed on to us by means of both Scripture and Tradition. We read of the basic story of salvation history beginning in the days of the old covenant and leading up to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. The text reads so smoothly that you have to go back and read some passages another time or two to notice the clear and important nuances this document contains relative to the nature of Tradition, the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the role of the magisterium, and the rule for biblical interpretation. The last chapter of the document deals with the actual use of Scripture in the life of the Church and completely lays to rest the myth that the Catholic Church discourages its members from reading the Bible for themselves. In fact if there is any document you’d want to give a Protestant Christian to change their image of the Catholic Church, this would be the one.

Vatican II - Second Vatican CouncilThe Church: The Council’s Central Topic

Prepared by your reading of Dei Verbum, its now time to attempt the central document of the council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Lumen Gentium is a much longer document-- 69 paragraphs with several more explanatory notes tacked on afterwards. It is not quite as easy to finish in one sitting; reading one of its 8 chapters per day would be a great plan. It is equally biblical as the shorter Dei Verbum. In fact its first chapter, entitled “the Mystery of the Church,” begins with a meditation on the many images of the Church in the New Testament It reaffirms the teaching of Trent that the Church is organized in this world as a visible society, but emphasizes that the church is also an invisible “communio” or communion of persons and that many elements of the Church’s sanctification and truth are found outside her visible confines. This lays the groundwork for Chapter 2, the People of God, which develops the theme of the Church’s catholicity and universality. All people are called to enter into the unity of the Church, and this chapter describes the different ways people either belong or are related to it. Chapters follow on the hierarchical structure of the Church, the Laity, and Religious and their respective roles. In the midst of it all is chapter 5 on the Universal Call to Holiness, which many believe to rank among the most important chapters of all conciliar texts, indeed one of the central themes of the Council. The document closes with a meditation on the pilgrim church on earth, which in its living members is always in need of purification and renewal, and finally, on the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whom the Church already exists without spot or blemish.

Spokes from the Hub

Now that we’ve read the central document of the council, where do we go from here? Well, it depends on your interests, really. Lumen Gentium is like the hub of a wheel–the remaining council documents are like spokes from the hub. They each spring directly out of a chapter or paragraph of Lumen Gentium and provide directives for pastoral action based on the Constitutions teaching.

For example, the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (aka Apostolicam Actuositatem) flows directly from Lumen Gentium’s teaching on the universal call to holiness, the laity, and the charisms. It focuses, as would be guessed by its title, on the role of the laity in carrying out the mission entrusted by the Lord to his Church. Though it covers the assistance that laity are often called on to provide to the clergy in accomplishing their ministry, this document emphasizes more the work that is distinctive of and exclusive to the laity: “The characteristic of the lay state being a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs, laymen are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world.” AA 2. Without a deep spirituality and proper training, the laity won’t be able to rise to the occasion, so this document deals with both topics. It also identifies the key areas where the laity are to make their most distinctive contribution: evangelization through example and word (which includes apologetics) and the renewal of the temporal order, which means bringing influencing political and economic structures in our society in a more human and Christian direction based on justice and the dignity of the human person. Clearly, this document ranks among the most important for all to read–the laity, to know what is expected of them, the clergy, to know how to lead and train their flock. Likewise the Decrees on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, the Renewal of Religious Life, and the Training of Priests flow from what Lumen Gentium has to say about hierarchy and religious and should go on the reading priority list based on the reader’s state of life.

Second Vatican II - Second Vatican CouncilThe Church “Ad Extra”

Lumen Gentium and many of its related documents clearly deals with “family issues” and topics relating to those dwelling within the visible boundaries of the Church--the Church “ad-intra” as Cardinal Suenens, one of the four council moderators, called it. But the Council, as concerned as it was with Church Renewal, was also determined to address issues of how the Catholic Church is related to those outside its visible boundaries--the Church “ad-extra.” This concern surfaces in virtually all the council documents, and Lumen Gentium is no exception. In paragraph 15, the council notes that baptized members of Christian Churches and ecclesial communities who have not retained full communion with the successor of Peter and in many cases not preserved the fullness of Catholic faith, are nonetheless joined to us in the Holy Spirit. From this paragraph springs the Decree on Ecumenism, which draws out its practical implications. Everyone should read this document which provides an orientation on how to understand and view non-Catholic Christians from both East (the Orthodox) and West (Protestants) and on how to hasten the day when we can celebrate the Eucharist together as one flock under one shepherd.

In the next paragraph of Lumen Gentium, no. 16, the council considers the situation of people who have not yet received the gospel and therefore do not confess Christ. There is tremendous balance in this paragraph. First of all, the truth present in the religion of Jews, Moslems, and others is recognized and honored as “preparation for the gospel.” The council says that these peoples are “related to” or “oriented towards” (the Latin word is ordinarii) the Church in various ways. It also states that “those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience–those too may achieve eternal salvation.” But it often notes that often, “deceived by the Evil One,” such people come to serve creatures rather than the creator or fall into despair. Therefore the preaching of the Gospel is an urgent task and the Church should never neglect to foster the missions.

As if its careful wording were not enough, two documents are offered by the council as commentaries and continuations of this one paragraph. One, the Declaration on Non Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), is among the shortest of council documents. Nonetheless, it packs a very powerful punch. It lays aside once and for all the idea that Jews throughout history carry the guilt of the crucifixion of Christ and unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Semitism. It also contains important reflections on Islam that should be read by every Catholic in these days when Muslim terrorist organizations make the daily news. The Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes Divinitum) makes it impossible for any Catholic to conclude that since it is a technical possibility for those who never hear the gospel to be saved, we ought to forget about missionary activity. Although the document focuses on the duty of the entire Church to bring the gospel to unevangelized regions of the earth, much of what it has to say has direct bearing on the “new evangelization” or re-evangelization of the Western world in which all Europeans and North and South Americans are called to be directly involved.

Eastern Catholic ChurchesLast But Not Least

Other than Lumen Gentium, all the documents we’ve recommended so far have been rather short. So are four other documents that generally can be seen as springing from Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium or the latter’s related documents: the Decrees on the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Means of Social Communications, and Christian Education as well as the Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae), the distinctively American contribution to the Council documents. Of course these four are not to be missed.

I’ve recommended shorter documents first for a very practical reason–most of those reading this article are living busy hectic lives, and it is easier to fit shorter reads into such a lifestyle than longer ones.

But longer books are often the most rewarding ones, and should not be forgotten. So as the grand finale to your Vatican II reading plan, I’ll suggest the last two Constitutions, on the Liturgy and on the Church in the Modern World.

First of all, though the reform of the liturgy mandated by Vatican II remain, in some circles, quite controversial, we should note that the Liturgy Constitution (Sacrosanctum Concilium) was the very first Document to be approved by the council fathers since it was the easiest for them to agree upon. There was a tremendous consensus among the bishops, even before they arrived, that the liturgical life of the Church needed serious renewal. What is so valuable about reading this document is that the reader can see first hand what in fact motivated the bishops, the theological principles behind the reforms, and what in fact the council itself mandated or allowed as distinct from what it left to the post-conciliar church to decide and implement. There are two dimensions to this conciliar text: 1) theological principles of liturgical worship universal to all Catholic rites, Eastern and Western and 2) specific directives on liturgical reform that pertain to the Roman Rite alone. This Constitution, 130 paragraphs long, deals not just with the Mass but with all the sacraments, the calendar, the blessings or sacramentals, the liturgy of the hours, and the topics of liturgical music and art. Because it covers so much ground and includes practical directives, it does not read as smoothly as the other documents. I’d definitely recommend that you attack it in chunks.

The true “Grand Finale” of the council is the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes). Its 93 paragraphs are the ultimate reflection on the “Ecclesia ad extra” covering such topics ranging from atheism to economics, abortion, and war. It provides tremendous guidance to us who bump up against these issues every day in the press and often meet them in the course of our daily lives as well.

Accept no Substitutes

Vatican II - Light of the WorldI often hear people criticizing something because it is “pre-Vatican” or contrary to “the spirit of Vatican II .” On the other side of the spectrum, I find very traditional Catholics who blame Vatican II for the shenanigans that go on in their parish or Sunday liturgy.

What is so ironic is that many of those who mouth either praise or criticism of the Council have never read its documents. We can’t necessarily compel others to read them. But we can certainly read them ourselves, and allow ourselves to be nourished and formed by them. It dare say that reading the documents, for all Catholics who can do so, appears to me as a duty. The Good News is that those who seek to discharge this duty find, to their surprise, that it is also a delight.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gender Sensitivity Run Amok...

From the Daily Mail in England last week.

I sent this article to Dr. Ray, and like me, he had a hard time believing the idiocy of the times. This takes the cake for not only political correctness run amok, but this really does bounce into the lunacy arena. As Dr. Ray said, it makes me very thankful for the Catholic Church and Her authority to keep us on the right path and giving us SOUND doctrine, or we'd crumble into a million pieces and be tossed about with every wind of looney doctrine to come down the pike. This not only takes the cake, but also the "tea and crumpets!" ~ susie

Church of England leaders warned yesterday that calling God 'He' encourages men to beat their wives.

They told churchgoers they must think twice before they refer to God as 'He' or 'Lord' because of the dangers that it will lead to domestic abuse.

In new guidelines for bishops and priests on such abuse, they blamed "uncritical use of masculine imagery" for encouraging men to behave violently towards women.

They also warned that clergy must reconsider the language they use in sermons and check the hymns they sing to remove signs of male oppression.

The recommendation - fully endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams - puts a question mark over huge swathes of Christian teaching and practice.

It throws doubt on whether the principal Christian prayer should continue to be known as the Lord's Prayer and begin 'Our Father'.

It means well-loved hymns such as Fight the Good Fight and Onward Christian Soldiers may be headed for the dustbin.

The rules also throw into question the role of the Bible by calling for reinterpretations of stories in which God uses violence.

The guidelines also claim that abuse is common within marriage and says this is because marriage heightens a sense among husbands that they own their wives.

The document prompted an outcry from conservative clergy. They accused the Archbishops' Council, the CofE's cabinet that produced the guidelines, of distorting theology for a 'feminist agenda'. Rod Thomas, a Plymouth vicar and spokesman for the influential evangelical Reform movement, said: "There is a danger that this document has veered too much towards political correctness.

"The Bible says God has both female and male characteristics but it does not feel inhibited about referring to God as male." Simon Calvert of the evangelical Christian Institute think tank, said: "They appear to suggest seriously that we should ditch many centuries of Judaeo-Christian teaching because of some half-baked feminist theory." The guidelines - Responding to Domestic Abuse -say that centuries of Christian teaching have led to "questionable assumptions" about the Bible and moral teaching.

"Domestic abuse is fundamentally an abuse of power, and many conceptions of God derived from the Bible and the Christian tradition have portrayed divine power in unhealthy and potentially oppressive ways,' say the guidelines.

"There are particular problems in the attribution of violent actions and attitudes to God, chiefly but not solely in the Old Testament, which require careful interpretation." The document adds that Biblical violence, 'in combination with uncritical use of masculine imagery, can validate overbearing and ultimately violent patterns of behaviour'.

It quotes a feminist thinker that "If God is male, then the male is God". Calling for the Church to "correct this major imbalance", it says changes must extend to sermons, formal teaching and hymns. (and I add...OH BROTHER! or perhaps I should be more gender sensitive and say, OH SISTER!!)

There should, it recommends, be "imagination and sensivity in using potentially problematic language".

"For example, the idea of God as "Lord" may be used in harsh and domineering ways."

Our first meeting was a success...

This is just a quick post to say "thank you" to the 5 dear souls who were able to come to the inaugural meeting for RECON. It was so great to meet you Jan, finally in person, and to have Larry, Marilyn & Roger and Peggy come. Peggy, thanks for the delicious punch that kept us quenched, and Jan, thanks for the cupcakes, too! It was such a wonderful time. It sounds like there will be a few more coming for the November meeting, so we look forward to meeting others who have retuned Home with the joy of the Lord burning so brightly in their hearts. Rich and I hope to have this be a time to build friendships and support each other. We're confident that this will take place as the need is great for building community with like-minded brothers and sisters, on fire for the faith, the Truth, and the solid, unchangeable doctrine of the Church. We welcome anyone who also may be searching or thinking about Catholocism, so please let anyone know who is curious. We hope to have Father Frank Jindra, one of the priests with Pro Sanctity Movement, come and speak to our group for the January or February meeting. We hope to see you all soon!