Monthly Archives: March 2015

Can Charity Excuse Injustice?

Short answer: No.

Augustine brings this question up in his City of God. But let’s precise the question, for as stated it is sloppy.

Can I do acts which at least look charitable, and thus be excused my neglect of the divine or natural or ecclesial law?

This is the question Augustine is after in his great tome. The answer is a resolute “No!” Why?

Well, when you love someone, you seek to do their will, if that will is upright. God’s will is always upright. And his will is expressed in these various laws: Divine positive law, natural law, and ecclesiastical law.

At least divine and natural law are always “prudent”. It might be that some ecclesiastical law is less prudent than desirable. That is possible. It does not thereby become null. Take any change in ecclesiastical law that takes place. You could argue that the situation of 200  years ago justified law X and the situation now justifies law Y. However, laws Y and X are quite distinct. Yet, the situation gradually shifts. So, on the supposition the change is called for, we could say that the situation (past or present, we leave up for grabs) and the law surely, at some point, was not ideal (less than prudent). But at any rate, it remains law.

Back to the point: God expresses his will through all these laws. Now, then, for me to neglect one of these major laws is to neglect God almighty. How then can I really love whom I neglect? Whose express will I offend? Indeed, I cannot.

But then what about all those soup kitchens I helped out? What about raking the leaves for my neighbor? Yes, and what about feeling really pained at the sight of a little boy being excessively yelled at and scolded by his obviously negligent parents? These are all decent human acts and responses. However, I cannot be doing them out of true charity if indeed I am breaking God’s law by contraceptive intercourse, by eating meat on Fridays in Lent, by masturbating, by failing to do my family duties while working extremely long hours without necessity (because it is more peaceful there), by getting wildly drunk and driving home, by shooting into the woods without certainty that noone is there, etc.

Thus, we give the lie to the myth in Dostoevsky’s great novel, Brothers K. The myth that he propounds is that if I only did one unselfish deed in my whole life, then I shall be saved (provided I allow others to be saved by it also). This is pure nonsense. Nicely romantic. But nonsense.

There is one condition of salvation for the freely acting: Having died in the state in which I love God intimately and above all things (i.e., in charity). And that presupposes hope in God, not in my deeds. And that presupposes faith in him. And all of these imply the desire to be a member of the one and only Church instituted by Jesus Christ–the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church. This desire can exist in several forms: Real delight in being a member, explicit desire of those seeking membership, or finally, an implicit desire of those who seek to carry out God’s laws whenever they are made manifest to them. Hence, the demand that we go out and evangelize, so as to awaken those who sleep but long for all the saving graces Christ bestowed on his Church.

Another Alleged Papal Interview. More Confusion

Scalfari is once again writing things that cause confusion in the Catholic world. He reports yet another interview with Pope Francis. Scalfari claims the following…

 What about those with no faith? The answer is that if one has loved others at least as much as himself, (possibly a little more than self) the Father will welcome him. Faith is of help but that is not the element of the one who judges – it’s life itself. Sin and repentance are part of life [and include]: remorse, a sense of guilt, a desire for redemption and the abandonment of egoism.

Those who have had the fortune of meeting Pope Francis, know that egoism is the most dangerous enemy of our species. Animals are egoistic because they are prey to their own instincts, the main one being their own survival. On the other hand, man is moved also by conviviality and so feels love for others, and for the survival of the species to which he belongs. If egoism overpowers and suffocates his love for others, it darkens the divine spark within him and he is self-condemned.

What happens to that lifeless soul? Will it be punished? How?

Francis’ answer is very clear: there is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul. All the others will participate in the bliss of living in the presence of the Father. The annihilated souls will not be part of that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is ended and this is the basis for the missionary work in the Church: to save the lost souls. And this is also the reason why Francis is a Jesuit to the core.

Once again, we are left with Scalfari’s own word. Now for a theological assessment of the opinions Scalfari puts on Pope Francis’s lips.

First, “If one has loved others at least as much as himself… the Father will welcome him.” Well the statement is totally ambiguous. The condition of salvation is to die in grace. No one who dies without sanctifying grace in his soul is saved. Period. This grace entails, as its proper effect, a habitual orientation to love God out of charity for his own sake, and in consequence to love the self and the neighbor in God. Now, love is always oriented to a good. I can love the bowling club partner by willing his success. Perhaps I will his success more than my own. But what is the “good” I will? Bowling success. Is that getting me into heaven? Absurd. In short, loving my neighbor “more” than myself or “at least as much” does not identify the proper condition of salvation. In fact, outstanding doctors of theology state that I have a duty to love myself more than my neighbor. That is right, more. They say the order of love is as follows: Love God first of all, your own soul next, your neighbor’s soul next, your neighbor’s body next, and your own body last. That would be the proper order of a loving mother for her children. And why self love in terms of spiritual goods first? Because I do not will my neighbor to have a good unless I appreciate, love, that good too. Moreover, unless I love God and love my loving God, I would not consider it a value to will for my neighbor. Hence, good love of neighbor requires good love of self. In sum, Unless I love my neighbor in God, and because of God, I cannot get into heaven. Thus, the statement as it comes from Scalfari by no means indicates a sufficient condition of salvation.

Second, charity cannot exist without faith. So, if I am  not a believer, I cannot have the charity I need to have be saved. I must be converted to the one true God in faith in order to have charity so as to please him. Heb 11.

Third, what does “that [faith] is not the element of the one who judges” mean? It is an absurd statement. God does not have or need faith. Of course. Yet, God does demand faith of the soul. See Heb 11; Rom 3-4; Council of Trent, Session VI. If anyone says the opposite, anathema sit.

Fourth, “There is no punishment but only annihilation”. This is heresy. Everyone who dies without sanctifying grace goes straight to hell. And the soul cannot be punished in hell if it doesn’t exist. Whoever says the opposite states heresy.

Scalfari is leading people away from the truth of Catholic faith. It is lamentable that he carries on like this without being rebuked. Well, a Catholic must form his or her faith and conscience not from the whims of rumor but from the solid teaching of Scripture and Tradition.

The Litany of St. Joseph – Lex Orandi Lex Credendi on Headship

Among the many important titles of St. Joseph is one that can inform our sex-lost society.

“Head of the Holy Family”.

St. Joseph was charged by God to be Head of the Holy Family. Surely Mary had greater prudence and holiness than he. Surely Our Lord had greater prudence and holiness than he, even as a very young boy. And yet, Almighty God entrusted to him this role, headship of his family.

We learn something from the great Litany of St. Joseph. It is not an old-fashioned thing. It is not a teaching limited to one narrow pontificate, that of Pius XI. It is part of the perennial teaching of Holy Mother Church.

In what does that Headship consist? Does it consist in tyranny? In not seeking counsel? In machismo? Of course not. It consists, ultimately, in accountability and responsibility. It is the charge to direct the parts of the domestic society to the common good. As such, it involves genuine authority.

In these days of confusion, though they are not without new insight, we must turn again to the clear teaching of Holy Mother Church. I recommend again Pius XI’s Casti Connubii. How can we lose sight of such clear and simple, close to nature, insight of the great pontiff? Naziism and the Soviet Socialism both downplayed the importance of nature for person, and of sex for nature.

St. Joseph, Head of the Holy Family, Pray for us.

Why would an Atheist or Agnostic or a non-monotheist do the Good?

It seems impossible for many seriously religious monotheists to believe that an atheist or agnostic would do the good. Not the supernatural good; rather, the natural good. The good for the sake of the other. Even at cost to oneself. On one specific occasion, to do a genuinely naturally good deed. Such as take off his coat for his freezing neighbor in the midst of a storm.

The argument, so it seems, is: What benefit for the one sacrificing? It seems there would be no benefit. Hence, why should he do such a thing?

On the other hand, others would say that the motive of the theist in doing the sacrificial good must be selfish. For it seems that the theist is virtuous only for the sake of delayed gratification. The theist is the real hedonist, a careful, calculating hedonist. An investor. Instead, proponents of this perspective claim, one should simply do the good. One is obliged to do the good. “Oughts” do not follow “what is”, do not follow the “desire for happiness”. They just are.

But perhaps both perspectives are wrong.

If The Good is attractive and draws us, and if to act in the above manner is indeed good, then the sacrificing man is indeed being drawn towards the good. Don’t confuse The Good with private welfare, with treasure that grows old and rots, which thieves can steal and moths eat. The Good transcends us and draws us into communion with itself – with himself. With the Blessed Trinity.

Now, in acting on any particular occasion for the good, the atheist is being drawn towards The Good. He is seeking it, knocking on its door. Not for the sake of some crass reward tomorrow. Rather, for the sake of its higher excellence today. He knows that this is better than to hole up in his own limited good. He knows that man is relational. Thus, he undertakes on this occasion to enter into this claim his nature makes upon him in a personal way (since this is rational nature).

We could say then that “even if there were no tomorrow” he would enter this door of The Good. He would do that sacrifice, even without the promise of a better tomorrow.

Yet, on the other hand, we should observe that in entering the door of The Good, he would be seeking The Good. But in seeking The Good one must seek for it the more, for ever. For it is The Good. Its years do not grow old, nor does it change like the grass in the field. It is its own goodness. It does not have it on loan. In approaching then The Good one wants it the way it is. One wants it forever. Thus, even the atheist wants it forever.

Hence, that postmodern belief – superstition – that the genuine pursuit of true good must not be for any end, must be for the isolated individual moment, the gift that no one saw and all shall forget – that belief is foolish nonsense. It betrays The Good not because it rightly denies the sufficiency of a crass reward tomorrow to justify a righteous sacrifice today. No. But it betrays The Good because it refuses to allow it to be as it is. It turns genuine love into a tease.

Are the Damned Beloved of God?

No.

That sounds harsh, but how can it not be true?

Let’s meditate on what “love” is. It is “to will the good of the beloved”. Now, what is the good of man? It is to reach God, to be in God, to participate in the divine life and see and love the Blessed Trinity, and consequently, to be in loving communion with all his fellow men.

Now, is that good possible for the damned? It is not. They cannot have it. They have ironed their wills against God’s.

Now, does God do things that are pointless? Meaningless? Fruitless? Well, he offers his love to those who might repent, even if they don’t. That they might repent makes the offer of love meaningful.

But Question: After the woman you are courting definitively tells you that she will not marry you, do you go on proposing? How could God go on wooing the definitive rebel in hell?

There are those who want to make hell a bed of roses that the damned simply can’t stand. So that, their hell is that they don’t like the good things being proffered to them. But to suggest that there is grace in hell, which is what this amounts to, is to suggest that a necessary failure is what God wills. It seems abhorrent that God would will a necessary failure, but grace in hell would necessarily fail.

Rather, the Scriptures indicate that the damned must “depart from me you wicked!”, that they are “cast out”, etc. The language of distance is used, conveying a definitive abandonment by God.