Oxford Comma Court Case? What about Faulty Parallel!

Earlier this year, there was a case concerning a law in Maine. The law exempted specific items from overtime regulations. The list is:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods.

The question was this: Is the exempt item just “canning, …, packing, and distribution of 1, 2, 3″ or is it rather “canning, …, packing for shipment or distribution (underlined as one ‘action’) of 1, 2, 3.”

The court argument when somewhat as follows. WERE an Oxford comma applied after “shipment,” THEN “distribution” would also be exempt from overtime benefit requirements. The Result would be: Those involved solely in distribution of 1, 2, 3, would not be given overtime benefits.

The LACK of an Oxford comma, so the argument went, allowed sufficient ambiguity so that those involved solely in distribution should not be exempt; that is, those in distribution should be given overtime benefits.

Protocol for writing law in Maine forbids use of Oxford comma.

IN FACT, ANOTHER GRAMMATICAL ISSUE WAS OVERLOOKED. Faulty parallelism. WERE the Law interpreted as having an implicit Oxford comma after “shipment,” the statute would suffer from faulty parallelism. All the actions governed under the law are described by participles (canning, storing, packing, etc.). But “distribution” is not a participle.

The rule of parallelism seconds the final judgment of the court that indeed those involved only in distribution should not be exempt from the law securing them overtime benefits.

Soul Annihilation: Heresy

It is heresy to hold that the souls of those who die in the state of mortal sin are annihilated. No, they are not annihilated. They are living a death, damned forever.

To put this thesis forth — soul annihilation — as consolation is to beg for human respect and to condemn a soul forever. Whoever does this condemns presently living souls to hell forever. How? Because he deludes them into thinking that there is no eternal damnation. Fact is: There is. False consolations are wicked.

Luther Prohibits Christ’s Judgment

Luther won’t allow true Christians to think of Christ as a coming Judge. In the Catholic Liturgy, we celebrate the coming of Christ the Judge. We hope for this, as he will indeed liberate us from evils. But we also fear this, since if we are without sanctifying grace when he comes, if we are in the state of mortal sin when he comes, we have rejected him, we have loved another more than God, we have clung to sin, and we shall suffer eternal damnation as a result.

The coming of Christ as judge is also integral to Catholic Faith, indelibly part of the Tradition.

But Luther rejects the coming of Christ as judge. We may only think of Christ as Redeemer:

“For us it is not at all permissible to return to the Christ who is to come, except insofar as we expect Him on the Last Day as our Redeemer, who is to liberate us from all evils.” (LW 26:239).

Heretic Bishop Uses Pope’s Letter to Defend Heresy

A heretic bishop used the pope’s letters to defend heresy. Granted, the papal letter was highly ambiguous. One could even reasonably argue that the letter itself was heretical. It was obviously ambiguous. And in the context of the culture, this ambiguity gave obvious cover to heretics and heresy.

In short, it was failure to act as pope. Failure to defend the truth clearly. That failure, in the context of the doubts about the faith raised widely in many quarters, opened the door for the promulgation of heresy.

So, when it came time for investigation into the matter, an outright heretic bishop claimed that he had the support of the pope. He mentioned the papal letters to another bishop.

Whether or not his own reading of the pope was accurate, we may now pass over in silence.

Of whom do I speak?

The heretic: Macarius of Antioch.

The pope: Honorius of Rome.

The results: Honorius was condemned as a heretic by the bishops in council. Of course, by this time the council’s Acts would not be promulgated unless approved by Rome. Back in Rome, Pope St. Leo II approved key portions of this council, though perhaps not that portion that condemned Honorius as being a heretic. However, Leo did himself condemn Honorius for failure to condemn heresy so as to preserve the true faith in time of crisis, thus for opening the door to the promulgation of heresy by the neglect of his papal office.

The heresy was about Christ: Whether he had one will only or two wills (one divine and one human).

The aftermath? Many of the lands of those Christians who defended the heresy were being taken over by Muslim conquest. If the imperial hand was too hard on such heretics (when it was actually orthodox, which was certainly not always), nonetheless, the heretics suffered far worse under their new rulers. Many lost the faith altogether.

Let us pray for the conversion of heretics and non-Christians to the one true faith. Let us pray for those in office in Christ’s Church to preserve defend and promote the true faith, in season and out of season, with gentleness of charity and firmness of conviction.

Leo XIII on FREEMASON PLANS

From his marvelous encyclical, Praeclara gratulationis:

There is likewise a great danger threatening unity on the part of that association which goes by the name of Freemasons, whose fatal influence for a long time past oppresses Catholic nations in particular. Favored by the agitations of the times, and waxing insolent in its power and resources and success, it strains every nerve to consolidate its sway and enlarge its sphere. It has already sallied forth from its hiding-places, where it hatched its plots, into the throng of cities, and as if to defy the Almighty, has set up its throne in this very city of Rome, the Capital of the Catholic world. But what is most disastrous is, that wherever it has set its foot it penetrates into all ranks and departments of the commonwealth, in the hope of obtaining at last supreme control. This is, indeed, a great calamity: for its depraved principles and iniquitous designs are well known. Under the pretence of vindicating the rights of man and of reconstituting society, it attacks Christianity; it rejects revealed Doctrine, denounces practices of Piety, the Divine Sacraments, and every Sacred thing as superstition; it strives to eliminate the Christian Character from Marriage and the family and the education of youth, and from every form of instruction, whether public or private, and to root out from the minds of men all respect for Authority, whether human or Divine. On its own part, it preaches the worship of nature, and maintains that by the principles of nature are truth and probity and justice to be measured and regulated. In this way, as is quite evident, man is being driven to adopt customs and habits of life akin to those of the heathen, only more corrupt in proportion as the incentives to sin are more numerous.

My, how successful the Freemasons have been. It is a call for one to plead to the Lord: “How Long, O Lord? Will you ever relent with your anger? How long will you allow sowing of confusion and despair, the worship of man and nature, ignorance of the Gospel, a chokehold on preaching? You proved the divine appointment of your Church for 2000 years. Now, will you abandon her? Tear open the heavens and come down from your mighty throne. Rescue the poor and wandering fold, lost and without guidance.”

Gregory Nazianzus Petitions Prelate to End Confusion

Context: The Bishop of Constantinople was allowing heretics to meet and present their views. The heretics were led by Apollinaris, who denied the Trinitarian faith (though in words he held some of it), denied the full humanity (though in words he deceived Pope Damasus and others for a while).

Gregory writes to Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople. Christology of the Later Fathers, p. 231

“Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your Wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours. For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side. For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true. How then could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil? But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious Emperor, that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.”

Nazianzus against Novelties; Pastoring in Truth

Another great text from Gregory of Nazianzus. This from his Second Letter to Cledonius, in Christology of the Later Fathers, pp. 228f:

O monstrous absurdity! They proclaim to us to-day a wisdom hidden ever since the time of Christ — a thing worthy of our tears. For if the faith began thirty years ago, when nearly four hundred years had passed since Christ was manifested, vain all that time will have been our Gospel, and vain our faith; in vain will the Martyrs have borne their witness, and in vain have so many and so great Prelates presided over the people; and Grace is a matter of metres and not of the faith…. Now, if anyone thinks that we write all this willingly and not upon compulsion, and that we are dissuading from unity, and not doing our utmost to promote it, let him know that he is very much mistaken, and has not made at all a good guess at our desires, for nothing is or ever has been more valuable in our eyes than peace, as the facts themselves prove; though their actions and brawlings against us altogether exclude unanimity.

Gregory Nazianzus on Good Pastoring in Times of Confusion

From his Letter to Cledonius (taken from Christology of the Later Fathers, pp. 223f):

But if anyone who thinks we have spoken rightly on this subject reproaches us with holding communion with heretics, let him prove that we are open to this charge, and we will either convince him or retire. But it is not safe to make any innovation before judgment is given, especially in a matter of such importance, and connected with so great issues. We have protested and continue to protest this before God and men. And not even now, be well assured, should we have written this, if we had not seen that the Church was being torn asunder and divided, among their other tricks, by their present synagogue of vanity. But if anyone when we say and protest this, either from some advantage they will thus gain, or through fear of men, or monstrous littleness of mind, or through some neglect of pastors and governors, or through love of novelty and proneness to innovations, rejects us as unworthy of credit, and attaches himself to such men, and divides the noble body of the Church, he shall bear his judgment, whoever he may be, and shall give account to God in the day of judgment. But if their long books, and their new Psalters, contrary to that of David, and the grace of their metres, are taken for a third Testament, we too will compose Psalms, and will write much in metre. For we also think we have the spirit of God, if indeed this is a gift of the Spirit, and not a human novelty. This I will that thou declare publicly, that we may not be held responsible, as overlooking such an evil, and as though this wicked doctrine received food and strength from our indifference.

Rahner’s Rhetoric: 2

Second podcast on Rahner’s rhetoric. Point is: Although Rahner’s thought is serious and needs serious treatment, his dismissals of prior tradition are sometimes totally unjust, misrepresentations, dismissals of caricatures. That is irresponsible. These instances are not worthy of an undergraduate paper.

Some ODD things about the Communion Controversy

The controversy: Whether person Q who is validly married to A, but having intercourse with B, may receive the Eucharist. Call this person QB.

Question: Are not all agreed that anyone who receives in the state of sin commits sacrilege? I think that all do agree on this. But I raise it as a question. I also premise it in what follows.

So, those who support QB receiving must be holding that he / she is in the state of grace. Let us pursue this. DOGMA: All those in the state of grace are able to fulfill the commandments of God. NOW: If QB may receive the Eucharist, he is in the state of grace. But if QB is in the state of grace, he is able to fulfill the commandments. Now, the commandment of fidelity in marriage is that one should not engage in intercourse with anyone other than one’s spouse. But QB is doing just that. Hence, he is doing what by God’s grace he is able Not to do, if that is, he is permitted to receive the Eucharist. That is, if he is in grace, he can quit B. Dilemma: If he cannot stop committing this objective sin, then it can only be that he is in a state of sin. All those in the state of grace are able to fulfill the commandments. By contrast, those in a state of sin are not necessarily guaranteed to have wherewithal to avoid every mortal sin (though they can avoid each). But if he is in a state of sin, he should not receive.

Another Oddity. The Bishops of certain nation have claimed that in the right circumstances QB may receive. What circumstances? If QB1 is unable to be faithful to the commandment and quit fornicating with B, but he would like to be faithful and quit B, then he may receive. Reason: QB does not have that much freedom. Conversely, if QB2 were able to quit B but doesn’t, then QB2 could not receive the Eucharist. This situation looks odd to me. Why? Because each of us is on a road to maturity. We are supposed to grow day by day. That growth should always take us nearer to the Eucharist. Now, if you fruitfully receive the Eucharist, you should be growing in freedom. Thus, if QB1 fruitfully received the Eucharist, he would be growing in freedom. Presumably, he would grow to the point at which he is able to quit B. At that point, if he quits B, great. If he does not quit B, he may no longer receive the Eucharist. Is it not odd that those with less moral freedom are permitted to receive?

Further oddity: If the goal of QB1 is to quit B, why are some praising QB1 precisely for engaging in intercourse with B, as though he is fulfilling the commandments of God thereby, doing what God is commanding?

In the midst of all this discussion back and forth, there are the countless poor souls who are losing sight of the real commandments and the real power of grace. For even those in the state of sin are objects of God’s love, which is presently calling them to ask him for the grace of conversion. But how can anyone seek grace who doesn’t think he needs it?

Another odd thing: Luther found sin everywhere. Too much sin in too many wrong places. He critiqued the presumptuous. And it is right to critique the presumptuous, those who deny that there is sin. But are we not in our age basically explaining away all sins? But if the sins are explained, they are not forgivable. Only the free evil is forgivable.