Monthly Archives: November 2017

Do not be conformed to this world

By Augustinus

One of the greatest temptations for the church and indeed for any Christian is to adopt the morals of the surrounding world instead of adhering to the divine law. When the whole world is saying you must burn incense to the emperor as that is what all right-minded people do; then there is strong temptation to do just that. When you look around and all of the best people, the decent, humane, citizens are burning the incense, then you ask yourself why can’t I and my church do the right thing and do the same? When upright, compassionate, right-thinking, civilized, forward-thinking, progressive, decent, smiling people are burning incense to the emperor, then there is a strong temptation for you to do so as well. When all of the leaders, all of the cultural leaders of the country say you must burn incense to the emperor or be seen as an anti-social, hate-monger, then there is a strong temptation to “burn the incense”..

After all, who wants to be seen as judgmental, backward-looking, retrogressive, hate-filled, condemnatory, indecent, uncivilized resisters to the simple act of burning the incense? How can one resist these decent humane people when they argue that morals have progressed beyond old testament superstitions? They point out that scriptures did not condemn slavery and yet the whole world now sees slavery as a gross immorality! Clearly, humanity can progress morally over the centuries and sometimes it must do so without the support of the divine law as evidenced by scripture.

Scripture, tradition, church fathers, church councils, doctors of the church, popes and saints alike have all condemned active homosexuality (the orientation is a different matter as that is not chosen by the afflicted individual) and none of these authorities have unequivocally condemned slavery (St Patrick was an exception). Yet the modern world celebrates homosexuality and condemns slavery. Members of the church from the Pope down to the laity in the pews wish that things were different. But the record is clear. What the church has historically condemned is now practiced as a liberatory virtue by the modern world. Something has to give. Should divine law bend to the sensibilities of modern bourgeoisie in their celebration of the sexual revolution? Or should the Church LEAD the modern world in observance of divine law?

The church is going through a phase where it wants to be liked by the modern world. The current Pope and much of the hierarchy and certainly most of the laity in the pews basically agrees with the modern world regarding the moral status of the sexual revolution. Masturbation is not really a vice, Homosexuality is not an intrinsic evil. Divorce is OK under many circumstances. Sex outside marriage is not always bad, in fact it is natural and OK.  Virginity and chastity are weird and anti-life. Married and homosexual priests are OK (especially when they are both homosexual and married!). Abortion is both virtuous and life enhancing. In fact it is a human right!

The church is in crisis partly because it wants to be loved by the right-thinking cultural leaders of our time all of whom have bought into the values of the sexual revolution. Unfortunately for the current Pope and the coterie of bourgeois bishops he has surrounded himself with, the church has to deal with the long record of scripture, councils, popes, doctors, theologians etc all condemning what the modern world praises.

I myself find some good in some aspects of the sexual revolution and much good in modernity itself (see my articles on Vatican II in this blog) but I despise the leaders of the church who would have the church kowtow, virtue-signal, apologize,  bow and scrape to the bourgeois cultured-despisers of religion in the modern world who are demanding and indeed shrieking that ALL must “burn the incense” or be considered retrogressive hate-mongers..

Albertus Magnus

 

By Augustinus

Today, November 15, is the feast day of Albert the Great. He is the patron saint of scientists. As I was trained as a neuroscientist it seemed fit to say a few words here in honor of the man. He was born just before 1200 AD near Cologne Germany and died some 84 years later. That was a tremendously long life to live for the middle ages (most people died by 40 years of age in those days) and it is no exaggeration to say that he spent it well in service to the Church and to science.besides authoring dozens of scientific and theological works he worked tirelessly as official administrative Church positions all his life.

Most people remember Albert the Great as the mentor and teacher of his more famous student St Thomas Aquinas. Albert was fiercely proud and protective of Thomas. He more than once defended Thomas against charges of heresy from the theologians at the University of Paris.  While Thomas surpassed his master in the area of theology, Albert was by far the better scientist than Thomas (and Thomas was the better theologian).

What is the significance of the man for us today? I hesitate to pronounce on so weighty a question as I have read only the De homine. How can you evaluate a man’s intellectual legacy after having read only a single one of his works? Answer: You can’t. So what I am about to share here are simply my impressions of Albert’s key contributions.

First of all Albert was the key figure who introduced all of the newly discovered corpus of Aristotle’s works to the church and the west. Since Aristotle was a man who was interested in everything he required a man like Albert 9who was also interested in everything) to appreciate the magnitude of Aristotle’s accomplishments and bring them to the intellectual foreground in the high middle ages. Aristotle’s interests included everything from minerals and geology to ethics and psychology. Albert produced small advances on Aristotle in several scientific fields including geology, mathematics, biology, astronomy and psychology.

Without the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works in the high middle ages it is likely that the scientific revolution in the west would have been delayed for centuries. It was Albert who made Aristotle acceptable to the Church and thus to the west. The battle within the church over Aristotle went on for over a century and continued even after Albert’s death but Albert’s intervention on behalf of Aristotle was certainly a turning point for the Church in its acceptance of the imago dei as reason or intellect.

The theologians were suspicious of Aristotle not just because he was a pagan philosopher but also because they interpreted him through the commentaries of Averroes-the famous Muslim philosopher. Averroes put a Muslim spin on Aristotelian concepts and thus Aristotle came off as incompatible with Christian doctrine. But Albert showed that Averroes interpretations of Aristotle were incorrect and that Aristotle’s basic metaphysics and categories were perfectly compatible with Christian doctrine. Averroes for example, tended to treat individuals as simple emanations from a larger agent intellect or world soul or God. Albert saw that that perspective destroyed individuality and pointed out that the doctrine could not be found in Aristotle’s treatment of the agent intellect. Thus, Albert preserved the long tradition in the west to favor the individual over group consciousness.

This accent on the individual could also be seen in his nuanced treatment of the problem of universals. Are general concepts like “whiteness” or “man” independent ideas that exist in a realm of eternal ideas or are there no eternal ideas and are these general ideas better understood as qualities that only appear in individuals? The nominalists denied existence to universal ideas and argued that the only reality existed in individual things while the universalists argued with Plato that only the universals were real and individual things simply manifested these eternal ideas. The problem will never be solved until we have direct access to an eternal realm to verify whether eternal ideas exist. Albert argued for a moderate realism and allowed theologians and philosophers to make a bit of progress on the issue by making some crucial distinctions. Albert suggested that we should distinguish 1) universals that pre-exist (perhaps in some eternal realm) the individuals that manifest them; 2) those that exist in individual things (i.e. particulars) and 3) those that exist in the mind when abstracted from particulars. In Albert’s scheme each position has some truth: there are eternal ideas and universals can also be manifest in particulars. They are sometimes in the eternal realm; sometimes in the mind only and sometimes in the substance itself, independent of the mind. These distinctions allowed later philosophers to preserve the integrity of the individual. The individual need not be seen as merely an instance of a larger group or abstract idea.

I find that one of the most interesting of Albert’s contributions to philosophy and theology to be his treatment of the agent intellect in De homine. The agent intellect is largely an idea of the western catholic philosophers in the middle ages with Albert being the first to make it central to his philosophical anthropology. The mediaeval philosophers thought they had found the idea of the agent intellect in Aristotle’s De Anima but if they had it was derived from a very cursory treatment of the idea. No. Aristotle did not produce the idea—the mediaeval philosophers (especially Albert and Thomas) did.

What is the agent intellect and why is it important? It is the imago dei; the essence of the human soul — the human intellect. It is our capacity to reason, to make free choices. The agent intellect spiritualizes all that it attends to. It extracts form and intelligibility from the particulars in the world out there beyond the mind. Complimentary to the agent intellect is the passive intellect which picks up sensory impressions and provides the raw material for the agent intellect to transform into spirit. Now Albert asked what happens if the agent intellect turned its powers on itself and the passive intellect? In that case the possible intellect can consider the intelligible forms of the mental images of the mind which are derived from the senses, thus spiritualizing consciousness itself. When the passive intellect operates under the sole influence of the agent intellect, the possible intellect undergoes a complete transformation and subsequently enhances the powers of the agent intellect. Then emerges what Albert called the “adept intellect” which then allows the human being to undergo mystical illumination by higher angelic intellects and this constitutes man’s natural happiness.

Saint Albertus Magnus pray for us!

 

The paradox of world marxism

By Augustinus

Although Karl Marx was a detestable human being, he was also a very smart guy. Heretics in general have always been smarter and more culturally sophisticated and influential than orthodox intellectuals. Marx was no exception. Although he was not Christian and did not work within the Christian tradition proper, his work should nevertheless be seen as a Christian heresy. We therefore need to take his ideas seriously. After all, marxism in some form or other has taken over the levers of cultural and political power in large parts of the world during this and the bloody 20th century. From China and Russia to Africa, South America and beyond. Marxism has captured the intellectuals across the globe who later become the political and cultural elite in almost every part of the world.

Why is that? After the revolutions against Marxism in the former USSR and eastern Europe, you would think that intellectuals in the rest of the world would have re-evaluated their commitments to marxist ideas given the evidence that people who actually had to live under those ideas for decades decisively rejected them as inhuman. But paradoxically just as marxism was rejected in the east, it finally won in the west! During the 1990s just after the fall of communism in 1989 in the east, the neoliberal consensus was forged among western elites with cultural marxism as its intellectual edifice. Neoliberalism is just marxism in its trotskyist internationalist form.

President Bill Clinton’s presidency marked the alliance of former liberals who moved right a bit and former conservatives who moved left a bit so that they could unite around the “new world order”. At that time the EU was solidified into a new neoliberal form as well. The business and financial community endorsed the new alliance as it would open up international trade without regard to national working class interests of national communities. The political and cultural elites of the world loved the new world order as it made them rich and gave them global audiences. It seemed everyone loved the new world order…EXCEPT for a couple of sticks in the mud–namely  traditionalist religious people all over the world.

It is often claimed that radical Islam came out against the new world order as well but that ain’t quite true. The radical Islamists re-appeared on the world stage at this point in history precisely because they too had a vision of world domination. It just happened to cast the caliphate in the form of the world hegemon rather than Washington.

International trade is good but it does not need marxism/trostkyism as its background rationale. it can just as easily run on some other more benign ideology. It is the tragedy of the West (and therefore of the world) that the cultural elites in the West chose marxism as its operating system as it will inevitably implode.

 

Fire From Yet Another Quarter!

The Catholic Herald reports today that:

“The US bishops’ conference has announced that Fr Thomas Weinandy has resigned as an advisor to their Committee on Doctrine after he published a letter strongly critical of Pope Francis.”

Here is the letter:

July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

Your Holiness,

I write this letter with love for the Church and sincere respect for your office. You are the Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock, the successor to St. Peter and so the rock upon which Christ will build his Church. All Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are to look to you with filial loyalty and obedience grounded in truth. The Church turns to you in a spirit of faith, with the hope that you will guide her in love.

Yet, Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate. The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions. This fosters within the faithful a growing unease. It compromises their capacity for love, joy and peace. Allow me to offer a few brief examples.

First there is the disputed Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia. I need not share my own concerns about its content. Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that. The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching. In Amoris Laetitia, your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching. As you wisely note, pastors should accompany and encourage persons in irregular marriages; but ambiguity persists about what that “accompaniment” actually means. To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it. Moreover, only where there is truth can there be authentic love, for truth is the light that sets women and men free from the blindness of sin, a darkness that kills the life of the soul. Yet you seem to censor and even mock those who interpret Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism. This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry. Some of your advisors regrettably seem to encouraged, particularly during the two past synods, all persons, especially bishops, to speak their mind and not be fearful of what the pope may think. But have you noticed that the majority of bishops throughout the world are remarkably silent? Why is this? Bishops are quick learners, and what many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it. Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express – at least publicly; privately is another matter – the concerns that your pontificate raises. Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.

I have often asked myself: “Why has Jesus let all of this happen?” The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops. Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness. In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew herself, and so continue to grow in holiness.

Holy Father, I pray for you constantly and will continue to do so. May the Holy Spirit lead you to the light of truth and the life of love so that you can dispel the darkness that now hides the beauty of Jesus’ Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

Another U.S. theologian bites the dust.  But, at least he got his “Parthian shot” off and sent the arrow home!  May it cause much discomfort to the unbelieving cabal within the USCCB and the Vatican!  It is the grain of sand that causes the oyster to bring forth a pearl!

-Allan Gillis

This is BIG NEWS locally here in Bostoniensis!

From Father Z’s Blog:

D. Worcester – Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary granted canonical status

My friend Fr. Jay Finelli let me know a while ago that Bishop of Worcester has granted canonical status to the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Still River, MA. He has this on his site:

Congratulations to my dear friends, The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Still River, Massachusetts. On 27 October, the Most Rev. Robert J. McManus granted them canonical status as a Public Association of the Faithful.

This is big news!   I want to get to the bottom of what really happened to Father Leonard Feeney.   Chicanery at the highest levels I suspect!   There is something rotten in the city of Brighton! (now Braintree – if ya catch my drift!)