Proslogion: Book discussion Ch. 8-11

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I am continuing with my analysis within Fariba’s awesome book discussion on St. Anselm’s Proslogion. In week two, which I am a bit late on supplying my analysis, the chapters that are examined are eight through sixteen. I will be examining chapters eight through eleven as St. Anselm explains how God can be both merciful and impassible.

I do enjoy St. Anselm’s examination on the topic of God being both merciful and impassible more than his examination of the existence of God. I do believe his ontological argument works better when attempting to understand an infinitely omniscient and all powerful being. In chapter eight, St. Anselm really just poses the question, “How can he be both merciful and impassible?” It’s interesting that I find St. Anselm’s response very simple, yet, complex to ponder. St. Anselm answers this question by stating, “ You are [merciful] according to our experience but are not [merciful] according to your experience.”[1] The short answer in explaining St. Anselm’s meaning is that God is simply a divine mystery. A deeper look into the theology of a merciful God that is supremely good is the understanding that humanity not being God cannot understand what is supremely good for humanity operates with the notion of natural rights created by God, but does not confine God. For if something existed that confined God, he would cease to be God. Furthermore, if humanity fully understood the mysteries of God, he would also cease to be God. So again, how is God both merciful and impassible? Many atheists challenge the idea of God because they view the world’s suffering and will not follow a God that allows the free will to commit such atrocities. Overall, this sentiment both St. Anselm’s posed question and the Atheist challenge reminds of the commonly asked question by nonbelievers, “Can an All Powerful God create an immovable rock?” The answer is “Yes, and Yes.” For God can create a rock that he cannot move, and yet, move it all the same because God is not confined to the understandings of humanity.

In chapter 9 of the Proslogion, the reader is met the basic question does a God of infinite goodness do evil by saving those who are evil or allowing evil to exist? St. Anselm writes, “Why, then, good God—good to those who are good to those who are evil—why do You save those who are evil, if [to do] this Is not just and if You do not do anything that is not just?[2] St. Anselm answers the question by stating that “You are also beneficent to those who are evil. For You would be less good if You were beneficent to none of those who are evil.”[3] The logic of St. Anselm here is convincing to me—unlike the logic of his argument for God—because God to be infinitely good must be a state of infinite goodness that is impassible for a supremely good being must good to all or they would be less good, or simply, not God.

In chapter 10-12, St. Anselm continues to develop the idea of how God can be merciful to those who are evil, and if by his will supply what humanity would believe is justice.  St. Anselm explains that in accordance with God’s justice that appears to contradict our own justice that when God spares those who are evil that “You are just in Yourself but are not just from our viewpoint.”[4] A servant of God cannot know His will unless it has been revealed to us through divine revelation, it is a sentiment explained throughout the Book of Job and Job’s conclusion to the events:

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees thee;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”[5]

The servant of God must simply have faith and trust that although there is suffering and that evil has been given mercy when it appears it deserves justice. We do not have the ability to discern what is for the greater good, because if we did have the ability, God would not be God because he would not be greater in this aspect. In this regard, it is perhaps the best to understand St. Anselm’s argument for the existence of God as a prerequisite to understanding God’s nature as both merciful and impassible—both good and just towards evil.

[1]  Anselm of Canterbury, trans, by Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson, The Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury (Minneapolis: Arthur J. Benning Press, 2000), 97.

[2] Ibid, 98.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 100.

[5] Job 42:3-6 RSV

Struggle and Victory

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No victory can be won without struggle and no struggle can be successfully waged unless victory is the goal. Struggle without a moral motivation or principle beyond worldly and mortal concerns is not worthy of disturbing our souls. Moral concerns and principles, which both informs and convicts our conscience, should drive our will and all our freewill choices. Thereby, being driven by convictions divinely inspired and revealed to us should give us great fortitude to stand against all odds. This is our preparation to show witness, suffer persecution even to the shedding of one’s blood and it should not dissuade us from the goal of gaining victory and to overcome great evil, even if we personally lose our own small participation in this struggle; for Christ has already won the victory . . . in eschatological terms . . . even though the battle is still raging on earth. It is therefore our duty to join Christ’s victory and risk all in His cause. For it is in the resurrection that we have our hope and our faith. Our love of Christ and our willingness to reject evil is a very small return for that unmerited gift which our Lord gave and His sacrifice which was nothing short of a giving of His all. We have His word and His promise that He will not fail us. And like our Lord, we must not fear the loss of reputation, derision, humiliation, persecution or even death; for death has no sting for us in our struggle for righteousness as it is motivated by a firm love of Christ and for the Souls for Whom He suffered and died.

To struggle needlessly without a vision of victory is a modern concept and is a new Christianity devoid of all manner of struggle; it is a false peace with the world, the flesh and the devil. Such an impotent concept of the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, is a joyless existential faith sustained by a rationalistic and relativistic tepidness but lacks that vibrant living faith that anticipates, expects and therefore prepares for these spiritual battles. For we are His and He has given us all we need to prepare and inform ourselves for the victory or for an heroic stand.

We need not be surprised or disheartened by the many types of cleverly designed obstacles that satan places in our way. Those that have lost all thought and understanding of the boundless joy of our Christian martyrs who died in the firmness of their faith are also those who have grown cold in faith and have lost their confidence in the powers of heaven. Such an attitude renders the Christian faith sterile and effete and have lost its virile sense of struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil. They have no sense of the gravity of this struggle or any motivation to join the struggle; victory is not defined in winning but in prolonging a false peace and finding a way to negotiate a truce; a way to live in a framework of spiritual detente with evil.

Christianity was never meant to be delivered from one generation to the next devoid of this living truth in regards to our struggle and our mission to participate with Christ in this our final victory; albeit ours is but an imperfect participation in His victory. You can be listed as a victor, a martyr, a wounded hero or a deserter, an indifferent intellectual who values a modicum of ease and comfort without entering the fray; an indifference that is sold to others as an expression of love for our enemies and of being more merciful and loving than Christ. Though we are never to lose our hope and our love for the souls of those who are enslaved by sin, neither are we charged to negotiate a false peace hoping to sleep through this battle to which each of us is called. For the principalities and powers with which we struggle are gathering many adherents who need be loosed from their mental and immoral chains and Christ is not content that we should leave them where they are.

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I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

We are extolled to ‘convince’, ‘rebuke’, and ‘exhort’ such victims who unwittingly aid and abet the enemy. We must use patience and never stop teaching the truths of our faith. For is this not the time when people no longer ‘endure sound teaching’ and ‘accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings’? They ’turn away from listening to the truth’. But we are charged to be steady, endure, suffer and to do the work of the evangelist; being a warrior for Christ not a negotiator for false peace or one to accommodate their whims and wishes . . . looking for some type of half-truth that might satisfy both them and Christ. For Christ recognizes no half-truths and the enemy reacts to appeasement as a wolf reacts to wounded prey. They smell the blood and they sense your fear and are driven into a rage or a feeding frenzy.

Struggle against those who would sell the Truth for a compromised truce with the world are warriors and are always at odds with the cowards of the world. You may not win your battle but you will die a man and can expect to win a crown of victory from the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The victory is His and yet He does not forget those who died in battle and gave their all for love of Him and for love of the souls that He suffered and died to save. We therefore should seek to share in this victory against all odds rather than submit to defeat and eternal shame.

Ask yourself if you find convincing, rebuking and exhorting the Truth no longer works. Then ask if it is far better to use a new nuanced approach of appeasement which forsakes convincing arguments, the rebuking of sin (a false adherence to the lies of satan) and a strong exhortation to free the captives and break the chains of the evil one. Is this the method which holds great promise in our modern age . . . or have we begun to soothe our itching ears due to our love of comfort and distaste for confrontation?

The Male Priesthood: Culturally Conditioned?

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In most discussions with proponents of a female priesthood there is invariably an argument that recurs quite often. This is usually inserted after it is pointed out that the Apostles were all men and that they only ordained men as replacements or additions to their priestly ranks. Then the familiar counter argument usually is made that sounds something like this: “Well, you must take into account the social and cultural conditions of the times because women were seen as little more than possessions. Also they were primarily Jews who only had a male priesthood but there is no reason to forbid women from the priestly ranks in our days.” And, of course, there is something to be said about the culture of the time in respect to modern Western European cultures which look much different to even the most undiscerning eye.

However, I have a hunch that Christ, Who came to do His Father’s Will, would not have let cultural standards of the day stand in His way. Christ was seen as a revolutionary who defied many cultural norms: He went against Moses and his writ of divorce, He allowed His disciples to pick wheat on the Sabbath, He healed on the Sabbath, He said that we must drink His Blood and eat His Flesh (which violated the prohibitions of Leviticus concerning blood as well as hinted at cannibalism), His Apostles would go on to loose the requirement of circumcision of men, He dined with sinners and spoke to women adulteresses and pagan Samaritans when it was culturally forbidden. So Christ would have been either frightened of the people, though he stood his ground with the sadducees and the pharisees, or was sensitive to the scandal that He might cause and left it for a more enlightened time to lift the male only priesthood requirements on His Apostles. I find it hard to accept that Christ, who would suffer and die, to do His Father’s Will would be frightened or fear causing scandal among His disciples. After all, after his insistence on eating His Body and drinking His Blood in John 6, He allowed many of His disciples to leave and He did not call them back or explain that it was just ‘symbolic’ language. He simply let them depart to walk with Him no more.

It seems that the Father who gave the Jews a male priesthood and Christ who mirrored that priesthood in His newly formed Church simply followed and in fact fulfilled and completed a true priesthood that would deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him . . . doing that which Christ did at the Last Supper. He appointed them to act as He had done, in the person of Christ, and share His Body and Blood with His followers for all time. The same, of course is true in the forgiving of sins which was also conferred on these same men. In both instances these priests acted as ‘other Christs’ and continue to do so even to the present day.

Cultural conditioning did not stop Our Lord from doing anything during His incarnation on earth nor has the Holy Spirit moved the Church to change what Christ established in His male-only priesthood. That which was begun in the OT Church and perfected in His NT Church is the Will of the Father and instituted by Christ Himself.

The Monks of Nursia

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I have always really enjoyed Gregorian Chant. Something about the voices of the men filling the old churches of their monasteries seems both ancient and filled with holiness. There’s not a lot of demand for Gregorian Chant with people of my age, in fact, the only person that I know personally who would take the time to pursue actively this music is a professor of History whose concentration is Early Christianity. However, the foundation of my interest in Gregorian Chant is because of my age. I am sure many of the members of the Latin Community can remember when the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos released an album in 1994 named “Chant” that was highly marketed, had a trendy album cover art, a book was also released with the album, and it became somewhat of a cultural phenomenon here in the United States.  I remember after that Gregorian chant being paired with electric guitars, drums, EDM on the radio. I dare say mainstream secular culture here in the United States treated this holiest of music with sacrilege.

During my college years, I did a few papers and presentations on Ambrosian Chant and Gregorian Chant. Gregorian Chant, which is also known as plainchant, takes its name from Pope Gregory the Great. One of the first posts of this blog was on “Veni Redemptor Gentium” from St. Ambrose, and is probably the predecessor to the style of Gregorian Chant that many are accustomed to today in traditional liturgies. My interest is always peaked when I hear monks chanting, so when I saw about a year ago that the Monks of Norcia (Nursia in Latin) released a new album “Benedicta” focusing on Marian chants with a bit good marketing. I was skeptical of the album from my experience with “Chant” in the 90s. 

However, after a bit of research on the Benedictine monks of Nursia, I learned that the Nursia monastery is located in the birthplace of St. Benedict in Norcia (The Italian spelling). St. Benedict was born approximately 480 A.D. in Nursia (Latin spelling), and is largely famous for being the Father of Western monasticism. The Benedictine community was founded in 1998, and over time, after several trials, the monks would finally be relocated to the Birthplace of St. Benedict. So I finally purchased the album. It is a fantastic compilation of Marian chants. What truly stands out is the recording quality of the material. The material was not recorded in the studio but instead recorded in the monastery’s Church where the monks normally chant. The acoustics of the sound are chilling as one can certainly hear the echoes of the sanctuary. 

The abbot of the monastery at Nursia, Fr. Cassian Folsom, gives another fantastic example of why the chant acoustics feel so sanctified and exudes a quality that appears lost on other albums. In a video interview on the show “World Over” on EWTN, he explains that “The monks believe what they are singing”…”And that they are young, and you can hear that in the voices.” A few members of the Latin Community, and readers, will find great joy that what Fr. Cassian explains is the reason that their particular monastery attracts young monks is that they practice traditional Catholicism. In the monastery, the monks celebrate the Tridentine which Fr. Cassian explains is a “patrimony, not a museum piece—but something that is alive. And it draws young people, because…it’s about God, and that’s powerful.” Fr. Cassian when challenged that these ways repel young people replies, “Come and See, check it out… the average age of the monastery is 33.”

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Fr. Cassian also explains another vocation that the Monks of Nursia that perhaps these monks are more famous for production is beer making in the Trappist monk tradition. The Monk’s beer is called Birra Nursia, and it appears if one is interested in the brew that you can buy individually, 6 to 12 packs, or join their brew club. For more information visit: https://birranursia.com/purchase/general-information/

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A person not familiar with the monastery traditions of brew making may ask, “Why would Monks make beer?” Fr. Cassian explains that the monks first started to produce the beer as a way to make a living for their community. He also explains it as a way of evangelization for those who may not have faith but enjoy exceptional beers. I have a lot of experience with evangelizing in this manner myself. I am a fan of the Trappist brew, Chimay,  which allows me to share with friends, and while I do, I often tell them about the history of the Scourmont Abbey and the monks vocations there. Fr. Cassian, in regards to the Benedictine Monks of Nursia, explains, “Beer, good beer especially, is a bridge between the monks and the rest of the world. So, even if people have no faith, and they love beer…we can start a conversation, and pretty soon they’re starting to talk about more serious things…It’s a tool of evangelization.”

The Monks of Nursia produce two great things that can help us as Catholics evangelize in the world, let us pray for their continued success and use them wisely to evangelize the world.

Full interview with Fr. Cassian here:

Moses: Fact or Fiction?

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Part One: The Importance of Moses and the Exodus.

I am beginning preliminary research on the subject for my thesis on the topic of a historical Moses. I began to be interested in the topic after conversations with several Atheists who make the claim that Moses isn’t real. In fact, these gentlemen would make the claim that the historical consensus has dictated that Moses is a myth.[1] In this regard, they would be correct; the historical consensus would indicate that the Exodus account didn’t take place. However, when presented with contrary evidence, the atheist scholar indicates that they will only accept ‘unbiased’ work, which means they will only accept a historical thesis by a none Abrahamic believer. The truth of the matter though is that all people have biases when it comes to forming the narrative and conclusions on historical events, a historian learns this in Historiography 101. It’s natural that the secular scholar will not actively search for a result that contradicts their beliefs, but expects scholars of faith to do so.

Where’s the evidence? Now, this isn’t a philosophical discussion that relies on the metaphysical like the discussion whether there is a supreme being or not. The thesis being discussed is whether Moses was a living breathing actor in the temporal world. The secular assertion is mostly based on the lack of archaeological evidence, notwithstanding, I personally, as one who has operated in the field of history, do not believe that archaeology has the final say on all events—especially ones where archaeological evidence would be hard pressed to find—in deserts spanning over three thousand years. This debate is as important, if not more, than the metaphysical debate about the existence of God. The ramifications, of course, are that those who wish to discredit the historicity of Moses expand their assertion to the understanding that if Moses is fictional, then Christianity is fiction, due largely to the Transfiguration of Christ, among other events. It’s important for our ability to make fishers of men refute such secular biased scholarship. Egyptologist K.A. Kitchen writes, “Throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is no single event (or theme, if the status of ‘event’ be denied) to which its various writers hark back so pervasively as the tradition of the ancestral Israelites being liberated from servitude in Egypt, then forming a community under their deliverer deity YHWH.”[2]

Scholars to fully consider whether Moses is truly a historical actor must understand that it’s certainly okay as scholars, and furthermore as the faithful, to disregard the consensus, especially if one is seeking to argue against it. There are other modern scholars who have argued for the case for a historical Moses and are basing their findings on archaeological evidence. One of them by the name of Gerard Gertoux, who is a Ph.D. candidate in France, who based on his biography at Academic.edu has been black balled by French academia, not by his dissertation on Moses and Exodus, but because he is a Jehovah Witness. Gertoux has published another essay on the topic writing:

“Some atheists refuse to take into account the Bible because that book states clearly the existence of God as well as miracles. However, in my opinion, searching the truth must be the fundamental purpose of any honest historian.“What is truth” Pilate said to Jesus (Jn 18:38). For honest and scientific historians, “truth” is based on two main pillars: 1) an accurate chronology anchored on absolute dates(Herodotus’ principle) and 2) reliable documents coming from critical editions(Thucydides’ principle)”[3]

 Again, as one who has worked in the field of history, I thoroughly support Gertoux on the above statement. After explaining what Gertoux considers truth he runs through a list of scholarly experts making claims that the Exodus story and Moses are fiction.

Here is an example:

Modern archaeology has shown that the concept of archives kept in Jerusalem with writings of the tenth century, is an absurdity based on a biblical witness and not on factual evidence. Bible stories would rank therefore among national mythologies, and would have no more historical foundation than the Homeric saga of Ulysses, or that of Aeneas, founder of Rome, sung by Virgil –Israel Finkelstein, Israeli archaeologist[4]
Gertoux makes a clear distinction in his essay by stating, “An objective reader should note that most reasons put forward by these prestigious scholars are ideological, not based on any verifiable factual data”[5]

Now it’s important to note that I am not necessarily endorsing Gertoux’s thesis if this were the case I wouldn’t be interested in researching the topic myself. However, I do agree with is introductory comments on the topic. Here is his thesis:

According to Egyptian accounts the last king of the XV the dynasty, named Apopi, “very pretty” in Hebrew that is Moses’ birth name (Ex 2:2), reigned 40 years in Egypt from 1613 to 1573 BCE, then 40 years later hemet Seqenenre Taa the last pharaoh of the XVII the dynasty and gave him an unspecified disturbing message.”[6]

However, there are two particulars of the debate that I would like to discuss, and one of them is the term myth. The modern understanding of this word often renders that anything labeled as a myth is fiction; however, this is an incomplete definition of the word. Most ancient oral traditions that would be considered myths effectively conveyed truth to folks who continued to tell the events–a method that was vital before the advent of writing.  The book of Exodus to be read as a historical account written by those from a different cultural standpoint, as well as many of the other books of The Bible. It is an account, albeit a cultural one that is a reflection of those who wrote it, of the revelation of God to man to his chosen people. Thus, it is the empiricists who have difficulty understanding that with those who continue to look to this collection of books that appear to reject empirical evidence for valuable information. Empiricists will do their best to dismiss the entirety of the Bible as a credible source, but they negate the fact that it was written by authors who would have recorded events from oral histories that predate the invention of modern historical research and writing. The second part, perhaps broken into subparts, is that does Christianity—due to the Transfiguration—require Moses to be truly historic, and how much of the account of Exodus has to be factual due to oral traditions? (An important point throughout the entire Exodus narrative)

 

[1] William G. Dever ‘What Remains of the House That Albright Built?,’ in George Ernest Wright, Frank Moore Cross, Edward Fay Campbell, Floyd Vivian Filson (eds.) The Biblical Archaeologist, American Schools of Oriental Research, Scholars Press, Vol. 56, No 1, 2 March 1993 pp.25-35, p.33:’the overwhelming scholarly consensus today is that Moses is a mythical figure.’

[2] K.A. Kitchen On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003), 241.

[3] Gertoux, Gerard. “Moses and the Exodus: What Evidence?” Moses and the Exodus: What Evidence? Accessed March 24, 2016. https://www.academia.edu/13001480/Moses_and_the_Exodus_what_evidence.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

Anglicans are not Catholics.

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Many in the Charity of Christ, Connor here at The Latin Community, long for a day when the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will be in full communion with each other. There does seem to be theological differences that are so ancient (The Filioque) that would make it appear that this division would never heal. Of course, the natural position for the Charity of Christ is to look at other Christian communities who are not in union with the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church. The first Protestant division was Lutheranism; however, Lutherans have split into so many different ‘Lutheran’ denominations that the Charity of Christ must address their faithful in pieces. If one continues through their historical timeline, it is most likely that the next most viable option is the Church of England—also known as the Anglican Church.

Although Martin Luther’s reformation altered the course of European history, Luther’s reformation was a theological dispute. The Church of England took a more aggressive route by deciding to rape the Catholic monasteries across the English countryside. Furthermore, it is difficult for even members of the Anglican faithful to understand how much their sense of Anglo culture is tied to their faith. Thomas Merton, having lived in England for a good amount of time, wrote about The Church of England saying, “It is a class religion, the cult of special society and group, not even of a whole nation, but of the ruling minority in a nation…There is certainly not much doctrinal unity, much less a mystical bond between people many of whom have even ceased to believe in grace or Sacraments. The things that hold them together is the powerful attraction of their own social traditions, and the stubborn tenacity with which they cling to certain social standards and customs…The Church of England depends, for its existence, almost entirely on the solidarity and conservatism of the English ruling class.”[1]

After observing how Anglicans think, I can certainly begin to understand what Merton means in his own observations. The Church of England may have a world presence but they’re certainly not unified under the Archbishop of Canterbury like the Roman Catholic Church is under the Pope of Rome. Furthermore, Merton explains several key points about the temperament of the Anglican faithful. Although, as it appears unaware, the English are so connected with faith culturally that elements of English culture like enlightenment thinking, empiricism, and liberalism drive many wings of the Church of England.
In regards to Anglicanism’s theology, the Church of England has 3 prominent wings or as Fr. Dwight Longenecker asks, “Or is it 300?”[2] Fr. Dwight on Catholic Answers has a fantastic explanation about the state of confusion that is exists in the foundations of the Church of England, he writes, “I attended an Anglican seminary of the Evangelical persuasion called Wycliffe Hall, and down the road was the Anglo-Catholic seminary called St. Stephen’s House. The two were totally opposed in theology, liturgical practice, culture, and ethos. In Oxford was an Anglican seminary which was “broad church,” or liberal. This third strand of Anglicanism has always been a kind of worldly, established, urbane type of religion that is at home with the powers that be and always adapts to the culture in which it finds itself.

These three forces co-exist in the Anglican church—united by nothing more than a shared baptism, a patriotic allegiance to the national church, and the need to tolerate each other.”[3]

So what occurs when a Church that is only really connected due to a patriotic allegiance? Mass theological confusion. You have members of the Anglican faith calling themselves Catholic when they are separated from Rome, and at the same time paving the way for women to be ordained in their faith, soiling the sanctity of marriage, and disgracing the theology of the Eucharist and the Body of Christ. The Church of England is so connected to its English culture that naturally it must be beholden to England’s adoption of both Liberalism and Socialism. Of course, as Father Dwight reminds us that many Anglicans will claim there is much division in the Roman Catholic Church, but to respond by saying, “”That may be, but we do not claim it as a virtue. We have one authority on earth. We have one clear teaching. We may not all obey it. We may not all unite around it, but it is there. It is one. It is holy. It is Catholic. It is apostolic. It is a rock on which to build, and the rock is Peter and his successor.”[4] Furthermore, our Church was indeed founded by Christ who gave the keys to St. Peter, it was not founded by a King who wanted to soil the honor of the bride of Christ by staining all his country’s churches with the sin of adultery.

[1] Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain ( New York: Harvest Books, 1999), 72.

[2] http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/what-catholics-must-understand-about-anglicanism

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

A Local Document Gives No Precedent.

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I have ceased my involvement with the blog All Along the Watchtower due to the now constant insidious polemics written by its founder towards the Catholic Church. I will not get into much detail about what was said; however, the topic that allowed me to conclude that my involvement with such a place is no longer needed was Women deacons in the Catholic Church.

Many of the opinions of those who do support the idea of women deacons present the evidence, which is minute, and interprets it in a non-sequitur way. The supporter will then demand the objector to provide evidence for their conclusion knowing full well that lack of any evidence. However, the blog, Canon Law Made Easy, breaks the evidence in such a simple way that one must conclude that if they interpret the evidence to make clear that women deacons in the early Church, they do so without any actual evidence to support them.

As Canon Law Made Easy explains, “A big argument that is often used in support of women ordination to the diaconate is the undeniable historical fact that the deaconesses existed in the early Church.” The most key piece of evidence for this is a document of church instructions called The Apostolic Constitutions. As I have read, from the Latin Community’s Servus Fidelis, these women’s role in the Church was to assist the conversion of other women in a time when a man had to have a woman present with another woman, and with nude baptisms.

The document makes references to the word “ordaining” with these women, which naturally the supporter of women deacons concludes that the case is now closed. Now it’s important distinction that Canon Law Made Easy explains that the Apostolic Constitutions was church rules specific to the region of Syria. Thus, this is why one cannot at all dismiss the contradiction found in the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., which involved the entirety of the Church.

However, regardless of how the Apostolic Constitutions are interpreted in error by declaring these women deacons were ordained clerics. Canon Law Made Easy clears this up by declaring it a moot point.  “Whether they were ordained clerics or not, in 411 A.D., A Local Council in Orange, France forbade deaconesses altogether (Canon XXVI)” The post also reminds us that any further documentation is often just reflective of local communities and often times are contradictory of each other. The Apostolic Constitutions, as a local set of rules, does not make it right or create a precedent as other councils like Orange and Laodicea had made the practice forbidden. Again, it sets no precedent.

I ask everyone to please visit the site (http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2014/02/06/could-women-ever-be-ordained-deaconesses/) to get a much clearer understanding of the role of women deacons in the Early Church.

The Destruction of Christian Civilization

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The Latin Community is gearing up to post a few essays on the cracking foundations of Christian civilization. As Christians, after assessing these cracks, we can ask, “How did we get here?” However, the answer is different and more serious depending on where you call home as a Christian. In the United States, we are victims of an ‘intellectual’ purge, a sort of quasi-McCarthyism for Christians. If any attempt to profess traditional Christian beliefs and creeds, well will be labeled as bigots and treated as an outcast in society—an intellectual and societal martyrdom. The danger, of course, is if we choose to “obey God rather than men”[1] when human laws violate the laws of God, we may lose our jobs, businesses, friends, social standing, education as well as being shamed in the public sphere. This is the reality of our ‘intellectual’ persecution in the United States. So what is the answer to the question, “How did the United States get here? Pope Benedict XVI begins to clarify this question in his essay “The Spiritual Roots of Europe: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” in the book Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam. He writes that the United States “Built the foundation created by free churches (Protestants), it adopts a rigid dogma of separation of church and state…it is characterized by a Protestant Christian consensus that is not defined in denominations, but rather in association with the country’s sense of special religious mission toward the rest of the world.”[2]

What Father Benedict is explaining is the foundations of what I call “The Golden Age of Christianity” in the United States. Of course, studying American history this had been founded on several “Great Awakenings.” Father Benedict explains in the United States’ foundation and early history that the “religious sphere thus acquires a significant weight in public affairs and emerges as pre-political political and supra-political forces with the potential to have a decisive impact on political. Of course, one cannot hide the fact that in the United States…Christian heritage is falling apart at an incessant pace.”[3]

Father Benedict’s essay is mostly about the destruction of the Christian foundation of Europe, which will be discussed in future posts, but what he explains clearly and concisely about the United States was that it grew into a nation that wielded political influence in the name of Christianity around the world—The Golden Age of American Christianity. Notwithstanding, there is a movement that has always and in recently quite successfully undermined this influence seeking to destroy these Christian pillars in American society. Father Benedict uses Europe as the example for his essay to show the erosion of Christianity in the West. I would imagine for various reason: One because Father Benedict is European and the second being that Europe has different issues. However, in many ways, what Father Benedict explains is happening in Europe can also be found in the United States. He says, “Today almost no one would openly deny the primacy of human dignity and of basic human rights.” (Ibid, 75.) The problem though with this idea is that ultimately it’s a political shibboleth. Everyone certainly agrees with the statement but what constitutes as human dignity and rights is often not agreed on. Father Benedict explains that the memories driven by Nazi Germany are still very much in the current mind of modern society, but still today, we’re strangely still employing the same type of Nazi ‘progress; in the name of science and medicine.[4]
Modern humanity, as Father Benedict explains, with its love affair with technology and scientific progress is continuing to violate the realms of human dignity by such actions as cloning, the storing of human fetuses for research and organ harvesting.[5] American society is also beginning to glamorize the idea of designer babies through the genetic manipulation. Recent examples of these types of actions are the recent Planned Parenthood scandal after the organization had been exposed by conducting less than legal activities, all the while the organization receives protection from the American government and media. The other example with attacking the dignity of humanity is the praise of celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen using scientific “progress” to choose the sex of her child. Modernists do not concern themselves with the possibility of creating two classes of people. The people whose parents were affluent enough to have them created versus those who are natural.

How did we get here? The enemies of Christianity have finally subverted the stronghold of the institution of the family in the 21st century. Of course, enemies of Christianity attempting to undermine the traditional Christian institutions such as the family is nothing new. Since the end of the 19th century, Friederich Engles wrote in Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884): “[The family] is founded on male supremacy for the pronounced purpose of breeding children of indisputable paternal lineage.” Now Engles certainly gets more in depth, but this quote although subtle illustrates the goal of the enemies of Christianity. In the course of the Soviet Union, the communist learned ultimately you could never have complete loyalty to the state if there were still traditional families, because more times than not, the children will always choose their parents over the state.

So how has the family been undermined in the West? Father Benedict explains that “the integrity of marriage has been undermined by easier forms of divorce and the practice of cohabitation between a man and a woman with legal marriage.”[6] Furthermore, marriage has been eroded by what Father Benedict infers a ‘demand’ for same-sex marriage—now more or less a reality. He explains that “such a development would fall outside the moral history of humanity. Regardless of the diverse legal systems that exist, humankind has never lost sight of the fact that marriage is essentially the special communion of man and woman, which opens itself to children and thus to family.”[7] Father Benedict goes on to explain that this not a matter of discrimination “but what constitutes the human person as a man or as a woman.”[8] As we, the Charity of Christ, has witnessed in recent years with the rise of gender theory in the world. It is no longer accepted in secular society to call what is man…man or woman…woman. The dangers of this movement are explained well by Cardinal Robert Sarah in his book God or Nothing.

Cardinal Sarah explains, “According to gender theory there is no ontological difference between man and woman. It claims that masculine and feminine identities are not inscribed in nature but are only a result of a social construct…for these theorists, gender is performative, and the differences between man and woman are nothing but oppressive norms, cultural stereotypes, and social constructs that have to be undone so as to arrive at parity between man and woman…A man will never become a woman, and she will never become a man, no matter what mutilations one or the other agrees to undergo. To say that human sexuality no longer depends on the identity of a man or woman but rather on sexual orientations such  as homosexuality, is nightmarish totalitarianism.”[9]

So again I ask, “How did we get here?” One of the ways that we arrived at our present situation has been from the promotion of the philosophy of multiculturalism, which is now rebranded as ‘diversity’ by many universities. The fundamental problem with the philosophy of multiculturalism is that its proponents insist on its principle of relativism over absolute truth. Marcello Pera in his portion of Without Roots quotes Pope John Paul II, “ belief in the true no longer exists: the mission of true is considered fundamentalism, and the very affirmation of the true creates or raises fears.”[10]

Many universities require their students to take ‘diversity’ courses as a requirement to graduate. These universities missions are to promote their philosophy of relativism and materialism throughout the world. In my own experience, when students, like myself, pushed back against the rhetoric in these classes, we were instructed by the professors that each person has an equal truth. This assertion is flat out false. Christians must begin to stand up and say so without fear of being called a fundamentalist, bigot, or whatever label relativists have created for those who oppose their ideology. The professors that ran this course methods, as Pera explains, is “to proclaim that there are no grounds for our values and no solid proof or argument that any one thing is better or more valid than the other.”[11] However, Pera shows this idea to be inherently false as he states, “The only thing required is that the members of [cultures] A and B wish to enter into a dialogue and submit to each other’s criticism…If a contextual relativist belonging to culture A, speak of error you are contradicting yourself because to recognize an error within Culture B, A and B would share a common criterion for ‘error; that makes possible to distinguish between the real and the apparent in both cultures…then the relativism of the contextualist collapses.”[12]

So how did we get here?

Christians have allowed it to happen by silently standing by in fear of intellectual persecution in the United States. Father Benedict explains,” one issue that is fundamental to all cultures: respect for that which a group holds sacred.”[13] However, those in the university setting, media, and public sphere no longer respect what is sacred to Christians, and as Father Benedict explains that “when this respect is violated in society, something essential is lost to the culture.”[14]

We, the Charity of Christ, must reject the assertions of the relativist in our midst. We must do so at some risk, but we must be comforted by the words of Christ, “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”[15]

[1] Acts 5:29

[2] Ratzinger, Joseph and Marcello Pera. Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 70.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 75.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 77.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cardinal Robert Sarah, God or Nothing (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015), 163-64.

[10] Ratzinger and Pera, 37.

[11] Ibid, 13.

[12] Ibid, 13-14.

[13] Ibid, 78.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Mt. 10:22

Proslogion-Book Discussion Answers-Ch. 1-7

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I invite everyone to participate in this book discussion hosted by Fariba, the author of Incarnational Catholic, She is producing a fine topic for us Catholics to discuss on St. Anselm’s Proslogion. I challenge everyone to challenge the text of St. Anselm’s when answering the questions that are posted by Fariba. Click Here, If you need them. Also, challenge my answers to Fariba’s questions. We’re promoting a discussion for a better understanding. I am certain that Fariba will object to some of my points, but through her objections I will gain a better understanding of St. Anselm’s message, this is the point of having these discussions.

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My impressions, so far, of this work of St. Anselm, are negative, but I will admit these feelings are based on a first impression of reading the text. St. Anselm appears to be hiding a rather weak argument for the existence of God in a rather tortuous scholastic maze. The text is filled with an abundant supply of tautologies that for the vast majority of the time spent reading the text, St. Anselm is saying very little. I will agree with Fariba that Anselm does seem to be “frustrated that he does not know God the way he should.” However, although I do agree that he seems influenced by St. Augustine, it appears that Anselm got to only this portion of St. Augustine’s Confession, “You arouse him to take joy in praising you, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”[1] (Book 1 Ch. 1) This makes me conclude by his famous definition of theology, “But I yearn to understand some measure of Your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand that he has failed to understand,”[2] St. Anselm does not have the same understand of the grace and of the mysteries given by God, which is fundamentally understood by St. Augustine throughout his Confessions. St. Anselm, would not make such a point, if he fully had vested belief in Christ’s words, “and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,[a] you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”[3]

However, St. Anselm by way of the text has concluded an existence of God; however, Anslem—as explained by Fariba—does appear to be upset by not understanding this distance from God and himself. He speaks of desolation and famine because of this exile that mankind must suffer away from God in exile. St. Anselm, perhaps, needs to fully reach the point of belief to understand the grace that God provides to properly reach the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the early part of the text in Chapter 1 of the Proslogion, it’s interesting that Fariba spoke of St. Anselm’s influence from St. Augustine’s On the Trinity because I felt like I was reading an influence from another text, On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. It appears that St. Anselm is really driving home the fact in the early parts of the Proslogion that the existence of God, our exile, and our hunger from him all hinge on the importance of the Creation story. St. Anselm writes, “He lost the happiness for which he was made and found an unhappiness for which he was not made…Man then ate the bread-of-angels for which he now hungers; and now he eats the bread-of-sorrows…while, alas, remaining empty.”[4]

The strange divergence between the two text, and rather I would assert the same divergence that occurs between St. Anselm and St. Augustine, is that Anselm doesn’t appear to be persuaded by the argument that Mankind’s betrayal of sinning against the Father is sufficient for this exile. St. Anselm asks, “Why did he take away from us life and inflict death?”[5] I would say to this question it is answered when St. Athanasius writes, “3. For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body. 4. Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves.”[6]

 St. Anselm asks, “Why did God take away?” St. Athanasius answers, “Mankind rejected God.”

In Chapter 3-7 of the Proslogion, one discovers St. Anselm’s argument for the existence of God after one wades through the tremendous amount of tautology to arrive at the argument. The basic argument is that “O Lord my God, You exist so truly that You cannot even be thought not to exist…For if any mind could think of something better than You, the creature would rise above the Creator and would sit in judgment over the Creator—something which is utterly absurd.”[7]

Frankly, I find Blaise Pascale’s argument of “wager” more convincing. St. Anselm’s argument is already laid on the foundation that a deity does exist, and that ontologically speaking if one were to argue that something is greater than God, that something would be God—and there goes the strawman. Perhaps, I feel this way because I know St. Thomas Aquinas’ argument for the existence of God, which St. Anselm did not have the pleasure to read. Fundamentally, one cannot assert the existence of God without proving that God existing is self-evident based on the cosmological argument rather than asserting a mere metaphysical acknowledgment that is ontologically speaking that God already exists and that there can be nothing greater. One must make clear that metaphysically there must be a First Cause before any such argument can be used: “If there is no First Cause, there is no second causes, or simply, nothing can cause itself to be.”[8]

[1] Augustine of Hippo, trans, by John K. Ryan, The Confessions (New York: Image, 2014), 1.

[2] Anselm of Canterbury, trans, by Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson, The Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury (Minneapolis: Arthur J. Benning Press, 2000), 93.

[3] Mt. 18:3 RSV

[4] Anselm of Canterbury, 91.

[5] Ibid.

[6] St. Athanasius On the Incarnation 4

[7] Anselm of Canterbury, 94.

[8] Peter Kreeft, Summa of the Summa ( San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990). 62.