Category Archives: Commentary

Reason for Joy

We delight when what we love (our good, our perfection) is with us.

When we love another, we delight when our beloved has his good.

Now, those who have charity love God.

But God is always Infinitely Good and Perfect, Resplendent in Communion, Truth, Beauty, etc.

Hence, if you love God, you always have reason for joy.

But being joyful is good for the soul and even the bodily health.

Hence, be good to yourself: Love God.

Where Has Justice Gone?

If we try using the word “just punishment” these days, people cringe. It sounds like an act of hatred. Almost across the board, people want to erase the word “punishment” and substitute the word “consequence” or “training.”

I have been puzzling over this for a while.

Some immediate thoughts.

The Bible abounds in the word “punishment.” Should we abandon the Bible?

Tradition abounds in the word “punishment.” Should we abandon Tradition?

Justice calls for retribution, that is, reward for good action and punishment for the evil action. Should we reject Justice?

The Redeemer took on our punishment, so as to pay for our sins. Should we reject his Redemption?

This rejection of “punishment” lurks in many places. It requires deep thought to try to counter this error. It is a heresy brewing. It is linked with a spirit of entitlement. Suddenly, we are all entitled to forgiveness and charity. We operate out of this entitlement mentality. That spells disaster for our view of God: He owes us! Also, if we have any faults, they are not our fault. They just need to be “trained” out of us. Thus, we reject free will and responsibility. Ultimately, why am I evil? Because my role models were evil. And they were evil because their models were evil. Trace this back to The Creator! Freud fingers God.

Thought needs to be given to this error. To call it out on the spot. If we keep glossing this over, by trying to highlight the beauty of redemption and mercy, we will be missing the very essence of redemption and mercy. Redemption and mercy are premised on just punishment. For they involve God’s taking this on. If we deny justice, we deny the redemption’s true essence.

We must stay focused and not be distracted. This is a great heresy, running rampant in the world. It is a great force behind all those who hate hell, not because they fear going there, but because they think it is an evil thing.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Grace Builds on Nature? But Don’t You Do So!

Some urge us to first work out a natural plan of action, a natural goodness, a natural way of life, before turning to grace and things that are higher. This is very bad advice.

The theological virtues rank above the cardinal virtues, since the theological virtues order one to the ultimate end. True, grace builds on nature. STILL, we should not think that because grace builds on nature we should first work on a purely natural foundation only subsequently to establish a supernatural foundation. Such would be a mistaken conception, misleading in its direction and founded on pride.

We must found our lives on Christ’s foundation. He chose us. We must first accept Him and build our whole foundation on him. Enough talk of natural virtues as the starting point! Christ and the theological gifts he gives us are the starting point. Faith and Baptism; Charity and the Eucharist.

You give them Food in Due Season

Two things to note in this marvelous verse.

First, God feeds. He does not withhold food, except to the incorrigible (the damned) and, for a reason and a time, for the hard-hearted, for He draws them back through good discipline.

Second, God feeds in due season. It would not be “in season” for a person not in the state of grace to be fed. Hence, the Church’s constant and irrevocable Tradition of not granting those in the state of sin to receive the Holy Eucharist. When my child is sick, and vomiting up good food, I wait a while, offering just a very little drink (and one that goes down and stays down). This is to accompany the sick person. To feed the sick person the Eucharist would not be accompanying.

This little verse teaches us, gives us much to reflect on.

Send us Good Shepherds, O Lord

Shepherds we do not deserve, for our sins are many and our confidence wanes. We are like sheep, wandering without direction. Each of us would fail the Truth if we simply pointed to the one “whom You gave to be with me” as the reason for our confusion, sadness, and lack of faith.

Yet wandering we are, weary, wanting for solid food, wanting for firm direction, wanting a word of confidence in us: “You can do this, because with Christ, all things are possible,” wanting in ourselves the fulfillment of the Law by your gift (Rom 8).

Send us Shepherds who do not write mercy with the erasure of Law, who call not cancer development, who hack not apart the tree of life imagining a rotting “newness” with lowly thoughts so far from Yours.

Send us Shepherds who pander not to our basest wants, but call us to the measure of your pure riches.

Send us Shepherds who edify and unite around the Perennial Truth that is Ever Ancient, Ever New, and always Beautiful.

Before you consume us in your Anger, and we be destroyed.