Happy Earth Day… according to the One who created it

God createth Heaven and Earth, and all things therein, in six days.

[1] In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. [2] And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. [3] And God said: Be light made. And light was made. [4] And God saw the light that it was good; and he divided the light from the darkness. [5] And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night; and there was evening and morning one day.

[6] And God said: Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters: and let it divide the waters from the waters. [7] And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament, from those that were above the firmament, and it was so. [8] And God called the firmament, Heaven; and the evening and morning were the second day. [9] God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done. [10] And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

[6] “A firmament”: By this name is here understood the whole space between the earth, and the highest stars. The lower part of which divideth the waters that are upon the earth, from those that are above in the clouds.

[11] And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done.[12] And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [13] And the evening and the morning were the third day. [14] And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: [15] To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth. And it was so done.

[16] And God made two great lights: a greater light to rule the day; and a lesser light to rule the night: and the stars. [17] And he set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth. [18] And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good. [19] And the evening and morning were the fourth day. [20] God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven.

[16] “Two great lights”: God created on the first day, light, which being moved from east to west, by its rising and setting, made morning and evening. But on the fourth day he ordered and distributed this light, and made the sun, moon, and stars. The moon, though much less than the stars, is here called a great light, from its giving a far greater light to the earth than any of them.

[21] And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. [22] And he blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea: and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth. [23] And the evening and morning were the fifth day. [24] And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds. And it was so done. [25] And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and every thing that creepeth on the earth after its kind. And God saw that it was good.

[26] And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. [27] And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. [28] And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. [29] And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: [30] And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done.

[26] “Let us make man to our image”: This image of God in man, is not in the body, but in the soul; which is a spiritual substance, endued with understanding and free will. God speaketh here in the plural number, to insinuate the plurality of persons in the Deity.

[28] “Increase and multiply”: This is not a precept, as some Protestant controvertists would have it, but a blessing, rendering them fruitful; for God had said the same words to the fishes, and birds, (ver. 22) who were incapable of receiving a precept.

[31] And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:1-31

You have to love how God, right up front, wanted to show us how awesome He is, by creating light a full three days before He got around to creating the sun, moon and stars. So the essence of light comes first, then the physical manifestation of light comes later. He then goes on to create man, first with the soul or spiritual substance of man in His own image, then later (in Chapter 2) the physical manifestation in the form of Adam and Eve.

And it is immediately following the creation of the soul of mankind, before even the creation of the body, that God commanded that we should have DOMINION over the whole earth. Verse 26, bada bing. Could He make it any more clear? The root of dominion is dominus. That’s the opposite of earth-worship… it means we are lord over the earth.

Happy Earth Day!

 

 

God, being God, could have chosen to redeem the world in any way He pleased

Exactly. His emptying of self was not an accident, nor a sideshow. It’s the keystone and the model we are supposed to follow as best we can.

The Keystone of True Conversion

As happens occasionally but not often, Good Friday fell on March 25 this year, the Feast of the Annunciation.  In the Catholic Church, at least the Latin Rite, the Annunciation is transferred to today, April 4th, the first day after the Easter Octave. But despite the transfer, the fact remains that they actually occurred on the same day this year.

Much has been written on this occasional convergence.  We are concerned here with the central theme that runs through the events of these two days, and it is THE concept that is the keystone of true conversion: Emptying of self.

keystone

You could say that emptying of self is the pathway, or the doorway, or even the ladder of true conversion, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  But keystone is more accurate, because emptying of self isn’t just what gets you there, it is what keeps you there. It’s the thing that holds everything else in place.  The stone that the builders rejected, which has become the Cornerstone, desires that we embrace the keystone.

Let’s break down the events of the day.  God provides models in Our Lord and Our Lady.

The Annunciation and Mary’s fiat:  The angel announces what is about to go down.  How often, as I contemplate this mystery, I try to get inside Mary’s head.  This angel just delivered the single biggest mind blowing message of all time.  And it wasn’t over; a response was required, because God imposes His will on no one.  Scripture reveals her response was immediate, and it was a complete emptying of self. “Be it done unto me.”  Complete trust in the Lord.  No qualifying questions back to the angel before she said yes.  Just total self-denial and acceptance of God’s will.  Has there been a better example of Prudence and Courage in all of human history?  How far we would advance if we could each practice these virtues just a little bit every day.  God, being God, could have chosen to redeem the world in any way He pleased.  But because His love for us is so intense, He chose the way that would best help us understand and obey.

The Incarnation:  Now it’s God’s turn.  The Incarnation is the literal outpouring of God Himself into our humanity.  In this instant, He became one of us in all ways except sin, by emptying Himself in a way that we can scarcely contemplate. His Divine Nature was united to His (our) human nature in a way that was real and substantial, yet not commingled, with each retaining its own properties HERE. This is the John 3:16 moment.   If Mary’s fiat was a demonstration of Prudence and Courage for the ages, Christ’s Incarnation is the model of Humility par excellence. Anything less would not have been good enough for our sake, so what excuse have we?

The Agony: Fast forward 33 years. We arrive at the Garden, where Christ’s anguish is NOT METAPHORICALLY demonstrated in His sweating blood.  Bursting capillaries caused by human stress.  And no, our Lord was not a coward in any way. “Let this cup pass” was not some cowardly request from a fraidy cat Jesus who suddenly changed His mind about the whole deal.  While it is possible He did experience fear of physical pain, in so much as He was fully human, and fear of physical pain is a natural human emotion, He was not trying to “get out of it”.  He was, at this moment, contemplating what was to come, while at the same time bearing the weight of every sin ever committed and ever to be committed. Not only that, but it seems likely that Jesus in this moment was contemplating in a particular way the souls of the damned.  Here he was about to undergo this tortuous death, and yet a multitude of beloved souls through the ages would choose to ignore it.  That had to hurt, don’t you think? HERE“Yet not my will, but thine be done” is a complete emptying of Jesus’ human nature in subservience to His Divine Nature and God the Father.

The Way of the Cross:  From the anguish of the Garden, we pass to the relative serenity of the Via. Not that it was a serene scene; it was brutal every step of the way.  Rather, I’m referring here to Christ’s demeanor, His bearing. It was one of relative serenity compared with the Garden and the contrast is worthy of reflection. Isn’t it likely that His focus here shifted from that of the damned to those beloved souls He was about to save?  Here he becomes the Lamb, His total submission was in His emptying.  Emptying at the beating, at the trials, at the pillar, at the crowning, at the stripping, at the mocking, at the carrying, at the falling, and at the nailing.  If you can watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, I don’t care if you’re watching it for the tenth time, and I don’t care what kind of bad ass you think you are, I don’t care if you are Marine Infantry EOD… if you can watch that movie without sobbing like a four year old girl, you have not sufficiently emptied yourself.

The Crucifixion:  For this He was born, for this He came into the world.  The Annunciation, Incarnation, Passion and Death of Jesus Christ are all tied together on His lips. Nearly dead at this point, Jesus is hoisted aloft.  If you’ve never read a physical account of the Crucifixion, you need to HERE  As the tree was the instrument of our fall, so it is the instrument of our redemption, with the complete emptying of Jesus upon it.  A spiritual emptying of the God-man, and the physical emptying as well. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

I repeat: God, being God, could have chosen to redeem the world in any way He pleased. But because His love for us is so intense, He chose the way that would best help us understand and obey.

True conversion can only begin when you take the decision to empty yourself.  It cannot be conditional.  It must be total submission.  That’s when God will begin His work in you.  And it’s the most liberating thing you will ever experience, like chains being thrown off.

It’s not just a path, a door, or a ladder.  It is the keystone you must work to perfect everyday.

Tuesday in Holy Week: The dual betrayals of Judas and Peter offer to us some instructive lessons on culpability.

The dual betrayals of Judas and Peter offer to us some instructive lessons on juridical culpability – a topic that you might say has been in the news lately as it relates to marriage, adultery, fornication and the like in Chapter 8 of AL. The differences are grounded in motive, intent, premeditation, and remorse.  Really only the first three play into culpability, but the fourth is worth noting for contrast as well.  Let’s examine these elements as they apply to Judas and Peter.

Remember, we are only comparing culpability, not gravity.  The sin of Judas would seem to be far more grave, in that he actually handed over the Son of God.  Peter’s thrice denial and swearing of oaths would not seem to be as serious, but it is no light matter. Regardless, what we are contrasting here is only culpability. Also, I’m not a lawyer, canon, civil, or otherwise. You don’t really need to be; the concepts just aren’t that hard. This is going to be a bit of a mash-up of moral theology and civil law, but hopefully you will get the point.

Motive:  Judas was motivated material greed, and probably revenge.  Peter was motivated by primal fear. Do you see which is worse?

Intent:  In secular law, this is known as the concept of mens rea (“guilty mind”) and refers to what degree the perp personally desired the bad outcome. In moral theology we would speak of giving our assent to the sin. Judas directly intended the result he orchestrated, which makes his culpability very high. Peter was acting/reacting to events as they unfolded, and, overcome with fear, may not have even been conscience of the seriousness of his actions, which reduces his culpability potentially to zero.

Premeditation:  This refers to weather the action was planned out in advance.  The fancy term is “malice aforethought.”  Remember I said Judas was motivated by greed but also probably by revenge? That’s because it’s likely he started plotting all the way back in John 6. At the very height of Jesus’ popularity, and therefore the popularity of His apostles, He delivers the Bread of Life discourse, and the multitude desert Him. It’s at this very moment that the betrayal of Judas is mentioned (John 6:65, 71-72). Judas was probably both embarrassed at the teaching and enraged over the lost popularity and prospect for riches. It seems appropriate it was in this moment he began to plot his revenge. Contrast this to Peter, who only acted in the heat of the moment. Do you see which is worse?

Remorse: In the moral realm we would call this “contrition.”  Whether or not you are found culpable for a crime/sin, you can’t be forgiven for it without contrition. This means not only being truly sorry, but it’s also bound up in the idea of having a firm purpose of amendment – to not want it ever to happen again. Judas is sorry, but he’s not sorry about what he did nor the end result of his actions.  If he was sorry about the result, he still had time to try to intervene, but he didn’t. No, Judas was sorry FOR HIMSELF. He was sorry about how the result affected him. Selfish to the end, he commits the ultimate act of selfishness and hangs himself.  In sharp contrast, Peter’s contrition is like a bolt of lightning.  As the cock crows, he is made acutely aware of what he has done, by remembering the words of our Lord, and he is devastated by his own betrayal, and he is fully contrite, and all of this happens in the same instant.

I’m out of time, but let me just tie this back to Amoris Laetitia. Someone who willfully commits mortal sin (all three conditions are present), is not contrite, and does not intend to amend their life, is 100% culpable for their actions. There is no such thing as “concrete situations” by which “accompaniment and discernment” can mitigate the facts of the matter. There is no such thing as God’s laws being impossible to keep. There is no such thing as God’s laws changing to confirm to “differing cultural norms”. There is no such thing as objective, intentional, repeated mortal sin being reduced to zero culpability and actually becoming (!) a moral good “for the sake of the children.”  This is simple situational ethics, and it’s always wrong.

denial of st peter
The Denial of Saint Peter, Caravaggio, 1610

Monday of Holy Week: Notice anything different?

Sometimes the strange cha- cha- changes just slap you in the face in a way that brings such clarity, there is no need for further comment. I have written a few times about the gutting of the Breviary as a most devastating development for the faith, as all the powerful prayers/Psalms calling down God”s vengeance have been expunged. So 95% of the world’s religious are no longer saying these prayers. Do you think that might have something to do with something?

Every Catholic in the world who attended Mass today and prayed the Communion Antiphon made an effort to get God’s attention and action. Which of the two forms do you think appealed more to God?

Mass propers for Monday of Holy Week:

2017 COMMUNION ANTIPHON  Cf. Ps 102 (101): 3
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear towards me; on the day when I call, speedily answer me.

1962 COMMUNION ANTIPHON (Ps. 34:26)
Let all who rejoice at my misfortune be put to shame and confounded. Let those who speak maliciously of me be clothed with shame and disgrace.

Just sayin’.

Palm Sunday and Good Friday are the best days of the year to evangelize. Don’t blow it.

You have a duty to fish for souls, whether you like it or not. We have to pick and choose our spots. Francis isn’t making it easy, but that’s no excuse.

The Passion and death of Jesus Christ is a historical reality. It is easily verified through secular non-biblical sources. It requires zero faith to accept this reality, so it’s a really good starting place for evangelizing.

Here is what I put on my personal facebook status today. Maybe you can try something similar to grab the attention of all your pagan friends.  You kind of owe it to them.

Happy Palm Sunday!  The Passion and death of Jesus Christ is not a fairy tale.  It is a historical reality and easily verifiable from many non-biblical sources of the time, including non-believers. You can choose to ignore it, but you can’t claim it didn’t happen.  Why did it happen? Because Christ willed that He would take on the punishment due for your sins, so that you might someday enter heaven to be with Him forever.  No one ever merits heaven on their own. There is no such thing as being “good enough” to get there, apart from Christ’s sacrifice.  Think about how enormous the weight of the sins of all humanity past present and future, that the appropriate counterbalance to blot out this guilt was for God Himself to come down from heaven and be executed.  It is only by the merits of the Cross, and by uniting your sufferings to it, and finally amending your life by cooperating with the sanctifying grace which God is offering to you every second of every day. Stop trying to do it all on your own, and admit that you can’t.  How many more years are you going to waste trying to focus on “positive energy”, being “true to yourself”, or following the gospel according to Whitney Houston, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Please stop.  The way out of this is exactly the opposite: You empty yourself. Dying to self and having that singular moment of clarity where you finally hand it all over to Christ, even while knowing you still aren’t really ready. You don’t need a plan, you don’t need to know how to be “holy”, and you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission.  Be advised that it’s a life-long project, and you will still fall many, many times.  We all remain sinners on the journey, and no one ever out-holies the need for a Savior. I know it’s scary, but you have to work up the courage. It’s only scary because you don’t know what comes next. Let Him take care of that for you. Prayers to all who read this; have a blessed Holy Week.

Happy Anniversary! Maybe we can have a key party to celebrate the sacrament of adultery.

Amoris Laetitia was published one year ago today.  In the dumb way we in the States write the date (month first, then day), it was 04/08/16, which always seemed to me to have some weird numerology thing going on.

We knew it was going to be bad, we just didn’t know the exact words. What many of us expected was ensuing war, and the fact that this hasn’t happened is the saddest part of the whole saga.

Here is what I posted on the eve of the release of the document. How silly of me to expect SOME bishops to stand up for the truth.  How many would be willing to wage total war for the sake of Christ and His Church? Could we expect at least one percent of the episcopacy to stand and fight?  Well, no, that would have been aiming too high. I’m still astonished to the point of not being to admit naivete.

The situation cannot be hyperbolized

Meaning, its seriousness on several levels cannot be overstated.

On Friday morning, each and every Catholic bishop in the world will need to rise, put on a strong pot of coffee, read the Exhortation, and make a series of decisions which will directly affect the vector of many, many souls, foremost his own.

He must decide whether or not  his diocese will endorse the sacrilege, which presumably would entail erecting structures and programs to circumvent the reality of Matthew 19:9. If he chooses to not overtly endorse it, but rather stay quiet and do nothing, well, that’s nearly the same thing as endorsing it. Inaction is action.

Or he could publicly denounce the document and call out its authors and endorsers.  How many will?

Beyond the particular issue at hand, Communion for those guilty of obstinate unrepentant mortal sin, and the horrific sacrilege being demanded from bishops and priests, we have another problem.  Leaving the solutions up to each individual diocese isn’t collegiality, it’s anarchy.  Have these people learned nothing from the Anglicans?

Matters of Faith and Morals are the Truth itself.  Truth cannot vary from diocese to diocese.  This is third grade catechism.

Pray intensely for your bishop.  Pray for your priests.  War is coming.

Lies are ugly, while Truth is so simple and so beautiful. God made it this way.

Ah, yes.  We come to the central dogma of the new religion: Inculpability. The idea that while mortal sin remains, objectively, mortal sin, God’s mercy demands we view these sins through the lens of their “concrete situations”, so we can see that the guilt has been expunged by the weight of the circumstances, always and everywhere.

Such a wonderful evolution of discipline, eh? How did it ever take us 2000 years to properly apply God’s boundless mercy? Such a mystery how He let us languish through the centuries under such rigid justice.  That wasn’t very nice of Him.

Nope nope nopey nope. Not only does God never cause you to sin, God never even permits you to be put into a situation where you are incapable of resisting sin. In ages past, a third grader could teach you this.  When you sin, it is ALWAYS because you make a conscience choice to do so. Yes, it’s true that culpability can be reduced by mitigating factors, but how Francis twists it here is to literally make it a different religion. Once again, the devil is in the footnotes. If you read the whole post, I lay out the Catholic teaching at the end.  Truth is so simple and so beautiful, it speaks for itself.

Part Two: Fancy Footnotes and the Diabolical Inversion of Truth

#AmorisLaetitia

300. If we consider the immense variety of concrete situations such as those I have mentioned, it is understandable that neither the Synod nor this Exhortation could be expected to provide a new set of general rules, canonical in nature and applicable to all cases. What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since “the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases”, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same.336

Footnote 336 This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists. In such cases, what is found in another document applies: cf. Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 44 and 47: AAS 105 (2013), 1038-1040.

The footnote is footnoted.  +Francis references EG 44, 47 (which isn’t a reference at all, since he wrote it himself). So what do these two paragraphs say?  Before your read them, you should know something.  He is so in love with these two paragraphs, he comes back to them multiple times, with direct quotes and more footnotes, in subsequent sections of AL.  This is really the heart of the matter; the battlefield before us.

44. Moreover, pastors and the lay faithful who accompany their brothers and sisters in faith or on a journey of openness to God must always remember what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches quite clearly: “Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors”. Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur.  I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy which spurs us on to do our best. A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties. Everyone needs to be touched by the comfort and attraction of God’s saving love, which is mysteriously at work in each person, above and beyond their faults and failings.

47. The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself “the door”: baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

Get it?  Mortal Sin is nullified by inculpability always and everywhere.  It’s not just the possibility of a reduction in culpability depending on the circumstances, which the Church does teach is possible, and is already dangerously close to Situational Ethics.  It’s also that this reduction in culpability, up to and including inculpability, occurs in EVERY CASE of Mortal Sin, and this includes future intended sins! That’s the only way “there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” squares with the issue at hand. Since no one is really guilty of their faults, no one is deserving of the punishment God’s justice would require.  Because “God’s saving love is at work in each person”, when someone sins, it must mean that they have some burden or defect which cannot be overcome and is not their fault.

This is a different religion.  A properly catechized ten year old can explain that, not only does God never cause you to sin, He also never puts you in a situation where you are incapable of resisting sin.  Sin is an action taken through free assent of one’s own free will that goes against God’s will.  God cannot will something that goes against His own will.

The three conditions necessary for Mortal Sin:  Grave Matter, Full Knowledge, and Deliberate Consent.  God made it simple, so that simple people can know the score.  That quote from the Catechism in EG44 is CCC 1735.  Now take another look at the Catechism, at the bits immediately preceding and following CCC1735:

1734 Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.

1736 Every act directly willed is imputable to its author:  Thus the Lord asked Eve after the sin in the garden: “What is this that you have done?” He asked Cain the same question. The prophet Nathan questioned David in the same way after he committed adultery with the wife of Uriah and had him murdered. An action can be indirectly voluntary when it results from negligence regarding something one should have known or done.

Twisting CCC1735 by selectively quoting it in isolation from the context which surrounds it. This is not merely willful ambiguity, nor merely deliberate obfuscation. This is diabolically inverting the truth.  And he is not being misquoted, mistranslated or misunderstood. No, he is obstinately clinging to these notions, time after time, after numerous charitable corrections, after petitions, after the Thirteen Cardinals Letter, etc etc.

And that’s how you attempt to destroy the One True Faith. By holding the Bride of Christ at fault, and holding Her children blameless.  If the children are blameless, Christ died for nothing. And when the children have nothing required of them, have nothing Supernatural to strive for, for whom nothing is transcendent, they dedicate themselves to attacking the First Commandment by worshiping environmentalism, vegetarianism, and animals.

Oh, I haven’t even gotten to the bad parts yet.