Death of Arius

In his excellent Essays on Miracles, Newman recounts the death of Arius, one of the greatest heretics the Church has ever known.

Emperor Constantine had converted to Christianity early in the 4th century. However, he began to take up with Arius’s errors, despite the teaching of the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, AD, 325). He allowed him and his supporters to return from exile. They returned to Palestine.

Then, Constantine pressured Bishop Alexander of Constantinople to allow Arius to return to the Church and become Bishop. He brought Arius to Constantinople for this purpose.

Alexander spent several days in prayer and fasting, having confined himself to a Church. Then, he emerged and was ordered to appear before Constantine. He was commanded to accept Arius. Alexander refused, leaving the emperor’s presence and going to a Church. He fell prostrate and beseeched Almighty God:

“If Arius communicates tomorrow, then let thy servant depart, and destroy not the righteous with the wicked. But if thou sparest thy church, and I know thou sparest it, have respect unto the words of the Eusebians, and give not thine heritage unto ruin and reproach; and take Arius away, lest if he enter into the Church his heresy seem to enter with him, and henceforth religion be counted as irreligion.”

Meanwhile, Arius had been pompously parading around the streets, protected by the imperial guard. At last, one could see him thinking, I shall be vindicated.

That every evening, Arius suddenly took ill, violently. Some say terror seized him. He felt the violent urge to relieve his bowels. So, he asked to be directed to an appropriate place. When he let his excrement go, his very bowels left his body as well, his intestines having flowed out his anus, together with his spleen.

Thus ended Arius, perhaps the greatest open heresiarch the Church has known.

May God deliver us from heretics, whether seen or unseen. If the heretics do not repent and amend their ways, may God expose their hidden treacheries and expel them and grant the clarity of Truth prevail over hearts so that, freed from the slavery of error, we may return to him in tears that lead to joy.

Organic Development of the Liturgy

I’ve been reading a fine text by Alcuin Reid entitled The Organic Development of the Liturgy. Cardinal Ratzinger reviewed this text with favor.

In chapter 1, Reid narrates a certain failed attempt to reform the Liturgy and draws an important lesson from it. Humanist Pope Leo X (d1521) wanted Breviary reformed. He wanted it simpler and less burdensome for the clergy. Two legitimate desires.

He commissioned Bishop Ferreri, who produced a highly stylized Latin text, which was approved by Pope Clement VII in 1523. This text was roundly criticized.

So, Clement appointed Cardinal Quignonez to produce another. Quignonez tried to go back to ancient practices, jettisoning countless marvelous the traditions that were added to it over the centuries, organically. He changed the distribution of the psalms, etc. In short, it was radically different; not an organic development.

In 1536 Pope Paul III approved and promulgated it. There it was, officially promulgated. But this too was widely criticized. It was so violent a development that it could not be called a development. It was eventually rejected by Pope St. Pius V of immortal memory. Here is the very poignant lesson Reid draws from this episode in Church history.

“The repudiation of this breviary by rescript of Paul IV in 1558, and its subsequent proscription by St. Pius V in 1568, is the pre-eminent demonstration in liturgical history of the priority organic development of the Liturgy enjoys over approbation by competent authority. The prudential judgment of Paul III promulgating this reform in 1536 was an error, finally corrected some five popes and thirty-two years later, in the light of the evident dissatisfaction of the faithful and at the prompting of scholars,” Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, p. 29.

This text speaks for itself. That Ratzinger received it favorably is significant; the same Cardinal who spoke of the problems connected with current practices of the liturgy as “banal”. For the only copy of his remarks that I can find in full, see here.

Matrimony – Part 39 (Obedience within Marriage)

Part 39 Obedience in Marriage?

That wives should be subject to their husbands is also clearly taught by the great pope Pius XI in his clear and masterful Casti Connubii. He declares,

 ”26. Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”[29]

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Matrimony – Part 38 (Obedience within Marriage)


Part 38 Obedience within Marriage?

Some would pretend that Paul did not say this, or that he did not mean it. They cite his opening verse: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21) as though it undermines what he teaches about headship. This is unfortunate, since it introduces chaos into the familial society. For, to eliminate proper leadership is to introduce chaos.

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Matrimony – Part 37 (Obedience within Marriage)


Part 37 Obedience within Marriage?

There is a very important practical teaching that has woefully been neglected for over five decades. The Magisterium and Bishops and priests have been silent about this matter, much to the disruption of right order within the marriage.

The family is a society. It involves more than one rational agent. Plurality is part of the beauty of creation. But plurality is not good simply for its own sake, otherwise every example of plurality would be good. But chaos is an example of plurality. Ordered plurality is good; chaos is evil. A society without order is chaotic, tottering on collapse.

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Matrimony – Part 36 (As Sacrament of Christ)

Part 36 Marriage as Sacrament

Much of what we have discussed above regarded any marriage, sacramental or simply natural. In all that we have said, one read the realities in a twofold light: the light of nature and the light of revelation. The latter shows the heights to which Christ has elevated this sacrament.

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Rebuilding the Temple?

People sometimes wonder whether there may come a time in which an attempt is made to rebuild the Temple.

An attempt already was made. Under an Apostate Christian Emperor, Emperor Julian, the Apostate. In order to snub the Christianity he once confessed at least on his lips, he sought to rebuild the Temple. He threw lots of imperial money that way. Transferred Alypius from Britain to the Holy Land.

To no avail.

The pagan historian alive at that time, known for accuracy and learning, Ammianus Marcellinus, informs us that balls of fire burst forth from openings in the earth, so as to prevent the workers from finishing their job.

Christians at the time regarded this defeat as a fulfillment of a prophecy in Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures, written some ten to fifteen years earlier. Cyril had stated that when Antichrist comes, Not one stone shall stand upon another (15.15). From Christian accounts at the time, we gather that there was a great wind that made a mess of the equipment and that there was an earthquake. The earthquake apparently heaved up some of the foundation stones, causing the Temple to fall yet further into degeneration. Cyril’s pronouncement about Antichrist implied that Jesus’ announcement,  ”Not one stone…” had yet to be fulfilled, as there were, at the foundations of the altar, yet standing certain foundation stones.

Gregory of Nazianzus, writing his 5th Oration (not one of his 5 theological orations), denounced Julian and recounted this very event. He delivered this oration the very year of the event itself. Ammianus wrote his account also that same year. Gregory thus exposed himself to utter ridicule if there were testimony contrary to his account.

All accounts were agreed that marvelous a marvelous event of nature prevented Julian from accomplishing his task. Thus, even today, the Temple does not exist. The Christians are right, John Henry Newman is right: This event was the hand of God (Essay on Miracles).

The Old Covenant is fulfilled only in the new, lives on only in the new, as transformed and not as still expectant of the Messiah to come. The divine appointment of the Temple has ceased. The only divinely appointed worship presently is that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Matrimony – Part 35: Who constitutes a Marriage?

Part 35

We have seen all along what the Material Cause of marriage must be. Recall that the “material cause” is the “stuff out of which” the product is made. If the product is a marriage, the bond of spouses, then the material cause is the spouses. Since that bond is essentially procreative in orientation, the spouses must be sexual opposites. Man and woman are the material cause of marriage.

In sum, marriage is a sexual friendship; thus, its ingredients must be opposites, Male and Female. Any other relation is not genuinely sexual.


On Matrimony – Part 34 (Monogamy and Indissolubility Revisited)

Part 34

From the vantage point of the posts on procreation as the primary or defining end of the marital bond, we can from another angle appreciate the importance of the monogamy and indissolubility of marriage.

Children require an environment of the deepest personal maturity. Persons mature most deeply when they properly give themselves to each other. The natural way of totally giving oneself to another is through the friendship called marriage. This gift would require totality, love unto death. But such love can be very trying. At times, one might be tempted to give up. To bring out what is best in man and woman, God has decreed that this bond be indissoluble. And if a man is to lay his life entirely down in this relationship, he will have nothing left whereby to do it again for another woman. Therefore, the marriage should be monogamous and indissoluble.

John Paul II marvelously saw the signs of that totality in the very marriage act itself. There is an exhaustion that sweetly rests only with one another.

On Matrimony – Part 33 (Nuance on the Ends)

Part 33

A remaining and perplexing issue is the “Josephite Marriage”. This is a marriage mirroring that of Our Lady and St. Joseph. It is a marriage in which the spouses choose not to engage in the marital act. Note that we have said “marital act,” for this act is the act proper to marriage.

I believe that we see in a Josephite Marriage a sign of the Kingdom to Come, wherein there will be no death and no sex. (Bummer for Freud.) Yet, there will be the greatest intimacy, ordered reasonably and supernaturally by charity and the Holy Spirit. There will be affection. It will be as great and focused as if it were monogamous, and yet totally universal. However, it will not involve sexual intercourse and all that is ordered to that. It will be chaste, virginal love.

In the sacrament of matrimony there is or ought to be the foretaste of such self-giving. Yet, this foretaste has the pilgrim configuration of order towards procreation. In heaven, affections will not have that order. The affection and intimacy and depth, but not the carnal relations and the procreation.

If that spiritual love is the great good desirable not only on earth but also in heaven, and if procreation is desirable only on earth, then the Josephite Marriage indicates the Kingdom to come. So, even on earth, one may be joined in the bond that has its proper act and yet not use that proper act. Why? So as to anticipate more that of which marriage is a sign, Christ’s union with his Church and the spiritual fecundity that arises from that union.