Monthly Archives: July 2015

What if My Professor Spouts Heresy?

People ask themselves all the time, “What if my professor, who knows so much – and who is so kind and generous in many ways – spouts heresy? What should I do? How should I know what to say? He’s so smart. I can’t really argue against him. I don’t know what to say!”

Or Mothers and Fathers worry, “My child is going to get heretical professors at that school. I know it’s a good school generally, but it houses heretics as well. Even if they mean well, these heretics will mislead them, take them down wrong paths. My children, whom I love, over whom I have labored these many years, how will they find out the truth?”

How can you defend against this? I am sure, in many ways.

But one new way: Email me the specific problem, and I will, at some point (hopefully quickly), post on the issue in general. If you want, you can be very specific and state professor and course and institution and date. I probably won’t post any of that information. But, I will deal with the claim made, and possibly also the text by which it is supposedly justified, and I will give ample resources and arguments whereby to counteract this deception, this bullying, this predatory recruitment of the City of Man unto the contempt of the City of God.

If I get enough emails on these matters, and enough blog posts, then I’ll start pumping out “How to Refute Your Heretical Prof” books.

Why should we worry so much about orthodoxy?

For this reason at least: You cannot have charity if you do not have orthodoxy. I might fail to have charity while striving to have orthodoxy, that is true, and God forbid the lack of charity! God help us all, for the gate is wide and the road is easy, that leads to eternal perdition. But I cannot have charity if I have not faith. And if I am a heretic, I have no faith. Hence, heresy kills charity. And spreading heresy kills souls. The professors of heresy out there are legion. They prey upon minds less intelligent than theirs. God will grant the student who seeks truth the nose to smell out a rat. However, many rats are very very subtle. The battle is fierce and very real.

Send me the complaints. But you must identify yourself in the complaint email. I will not put your identity on the post, of course, and probably won’t identify the errant professor. But I need to make sure the complaint is real.

Modernism – Part 1

I have a number of irons in the fire. Here’s another set.

Modernism is a plague afflicting the Church violently and virulently today. We must understand what we are up against. Pope St. Pius X, declared saint under the most stringent standards of assessment for canonization, can teach us what we are up against. The portrait of the “modernist” that he paints will call to mind recent theologians, very influential on prelates today.

Today’s podcast is 28.5 minutes. I thank my good friend and brother-in-law Stephen for the awesome microphone. Much better than my previous use of the built-in computer mic.


Rightness, Differentiation, Judgment, Anger

“When all are one and one is all.” A memorable clause from Led Zeppelin. “And everything under the sun is in tune.” A memorable clause from Floyd.

If I embrace all that is, that is not under my control qua permitted or willed by God, as handed down from the Father of Lights as gift to me, I am a saint. This is to carry one’s cross in the fullest sense of the term, whether it be the minor illness, the irritating co-worker, the heat, even the pseudo-tranquility of society that I know is a sham. How hard it is to embrace the given!

And yet, there is another way of embracing the given. A way I think gotten at, however differently, by the above-cited statements. These ways are not ways of picking up the cross. They are ways of defining it out of existence. How?

Take Zeppelin. If “all are one and one is all,” then “I am he as you are he as you are me.” Which is to say that I am not and you are not. That is, that there is really only one person. And since I know I am not “The Person,” (The Man, so to speak), therefore, I am not. This is pantheistic swallowing up of all distinctness into the one that is the all, the pan. But, my dearest daughter, who could have died from that fall, over whom I have cried because of that fall, I know that you are. My friend, as you go your way carrying that load, knowing your family would need you and not have you, as you lay dying, I know that you are not I. We see now. Though through a mirror, dimly, yet we see each other. If I see you, and you see me, and if each of us knows the other knowing himself, there is a we. If there is a we, all is not I. Pantheism is loneliness. It is dreaminess. The dream of being in a field, and being one with the field. The dream of drifting – but no-where.

Take Floyd. “All is in tune.” I have had the day when everything under the sun is in tune. I have had the day when it breaks down. The former is real only to be battered by the latter. The former awakes on the shoals of the latter. If I take drugs, I lose my balance. I cannot see your face or hear you, though your lips move and you speak to me.

When these are my models, I shrink from every upturning of the tables. I flinch when you raise your voice at me. I shrink from a challenge. I cower in the cage of unknowing.

We are all being lulled to sleep. We know something is up, we know something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is. We fall asleep, not differentiating, not discriminating, not discerning, – not judging. Our minds grow dull, ground down by piles of data.

We think that everything that is must be and so everything that shall be must be. We have confused matters. Everything qua not controlled by me is, relative to me, a gift from God. Even when you sin against me, this is God’s gift for me. But it was under your control, and no gift to you for you to close your heart to God in that sin. Yet again, now that you have survived, even your reckless past is a gift to you. So you have children out of wedlock, some venereal disease, some mental disorder because of those drugs: This is now your cross to embrace. Embrace it, you are a saint. Shrug it, you continue the path to ruin.

But not everything that is to come must be as it shall come to be. There are possibilities that shall not come to be. For one, there is my decision. Either I shall, or I shall not, embrace the cross. For two, there is God and there is me. I know I need him to be. I am. So is he. I know I am not he, for I need him. Hence, there are two. And I know I am not you. So, there are three. The real is, and many there are who are real. If all was one, I would need no path. If all is not one, and I am not all, I need a path. I need a way. There is a right way, and a wrong way. There is health, and there is sickness. All is not one.

The modern west is asleep in a pantheistic diffusion of being and dissolution of personality, dissolution of discrimination. Perhaps because we are living at the level of the senses. But even the deer knows that it is being chased. We seem to have fallen asleep like a fool on a hill, relaxing, unwinding, minds turned off, sold down the river. If the animal can judge its enemy, why are we sleeping soundly in the undifferentiated “all is one”?

I went sailing yesterday and caught myself yelling at the crew. (Relatives!) Had I not yelled, we would nearly have capsized. Not gotten back. Someone might have been thrown over. Is it wrong to yell? Is there ever a crisis?

But when I have eaten well, I sleep. All is in tune.

The satiated culture has trouble judging the real. In its smooth, “all is one,” it has no idea what the real is. I might protest injustice as a college student, thinking I have found the real. But actually, Mom and Dad have paid for my lunch. I eat well. I sleep. I wear Birkenstocks. I think that my banner and protest makes me real. I haven’t a clue what “the real” is. Because “all is one”. Because I am “in tune”.

But none of this “in tunedness” is saintliness. It is mindless un-differentiation of the sleepy, half-dead. Wake up from your sinfulness, you sinner. Your enemy, the devil, goes about prowling around. “But when the Son of Man comes again, will he find any faith?”

Anger depends on recognition of me and you, two. It depends on recognition of injustice. Not just “pain” but injustice. I cannot grow angry at the shark. Only at someone. Perhaps the One who made the shark that ate my child. Thus, anger speaks of otherness.

And I cannot know injustice without some awareness of justice. Justice is giving another his due (and I am another to me, in some respect). I must know what is due, and what is opposed to what is due: That is right! That is not right!

If we are all asleep in a satiating pantheistic sleep, we cannot rouse ourselves to wonder, to knowledge of justice, and hence to anger. Who cannot get angry, cannot be just. Since we cannot get angry, we cannot be just. This surely is one of our sins, and it may well be that our satiating non-differentiating sleepfulness is the cause. If no one can be wrong, then all is right. We all know that with this something is not right.

A little asceticism here, a little tragedy there, might wake us up from this dreary dream, that we might set things to right.

What is Liberty?

If man is haphazardly here, an accident in the night of the universe’s thoughtless dream, I suppose liberty is being unfettered, choosing one’s own way, determining one’s own meaning, taking advantage of the time, carpe diem.

So little time, so many options. Gold? Guns? Girls? Metric asks, “Is it ever gonna be enough?” This is our society. The song is brilliant in its pace and in its sudden ending. The mad rush for more, relentless, suddenly terminated. Oh, perhaps it flutters out in old age. But the sudden death of a young man madly pursuing the things that pass away, whose consumption makes him sleepy and presently sated – only to be thrown back into the state of desire for another round – the sudden death of such a man paints the madness, the pointlessness of his….

But if man is greater than the beasts yet less than the heavens above, if man is a seeker of a higher good, if his dream in the higher room is yet to be read, if the shadows paraded before him by marketers on the walls of his concern are but distant many-echoed copies of The Real, then perhaps he is in chains here before the marketers and gobbling profiteers, and equally before the sloganeers chanting in mindless unison against the consumers and in favor of the oncoming collective. Perhaps his life of optionism or collectivism is in chains.

Would not liberty, then, be unfettering oneself from the endless onslaught, waking to the higher dream, turning to face a man, seeing him smile or cry, entering a relationship?

But all men are dust!

If we hold hands today, and today is all, what was it we were after? Why this dread welling up within me as I seek your face, O fellow friend? Why should joy and dread go hand in hand? Why tears that you love me? Tears of uneasy delight. Why did you befriend me? Why did I befriend you? I knew it was right, but confusedly, to take care of you, and you of me. All of this was as a kiss, a first kiss.

A kiss is a promise. A promise has a future of completion, lest it is a tease only. The deep kiss that has no completion is a tease.

Is life a tease for those who wake to its promise, who shuffle off the coils of the consuming mindlessness of the shadowed cave? This wakefulness has only caused me dread, in such case. Better never to have been born again to this expectation without fulfillment, planting without sowing. Is this higher life deadlier then, the living of dying?

Or is all that passes a sign of what does not pass? Is every good moment a sign of what just is Good? Are all my discoveries just here and there bits of knowledge, interlocked and interdependent – this stack here, that stack there: choose as you may your truth for the day? Or is every truth a sign of a Truth that rests not on another but is itself its Anchor? Is everything that is fragile, unstable, resting on yet another? But if this rests on that, and that on another, and that other on yet another – on what does it all rest? Is the universe a meaningless dance of dust, drawn in mindless patterns? Or is every pattern a display of Mind? And is every order a sign of completion to come? Is there is completion to come, genuine fulfillment, where union with the Beloved does not weary me to sleep, or fill my eyes with seeing and my ears with hearing, but refreshes the very eyes in the seeing? Is there Love?

I seek a Good that does not promise only. I seek a Truth that depends on no assumption. I seek a Beauty that is the reason for all beautiful bodies. This I seek. If I sought only you, my good friend, who keeps me company and sings songs with me, who eats with me, if you were all I sought, you who are but dust and ashes, would you not, sensing this higher promise, know I have mistaken you for another? Would you not run from me, if I drunk in every breath you take as my way of being? You know this: All we are is dust.

Liberty requires sight. But sight dawns only for those who study its coming. Study requires faith, for where shall I look for the coming of dawn? But nor is faith blind, for the creatures tell of your Glory – O Lord, and your friends repeat the witness. You bled, and your hosts bleed. You scatter the forest of our confusion with the signs that lead homeward.

I knew you but did not seek you. I sought you but did not know you. You came quietly into my life. To my endless pursuits I clung for some time. But you stole away the stolen goods of my heart, for you are a Jealous God. Take us out of our captivity, O God. Free us from our chains. Let the sinner leave his place of sin and come to the higher realm, where the true dream of the heart sings reality in melody without weariness or end.

On the Final Document of the Synod of Bishops 2014 – Part 10

(Continuing from where we left off….) The final Relatio of 2014, in art. 52, states:

52. Some synod fathers maintained that divorced and remarried persons or those living together can have fruitful recourse to a spiritual communion.

This really sounds great. Who could be against it? But we must examine the matter more closely. A true spiritual communion involves uniting our hearts to the Lord in the Eucharist. When we rightly receive him sacramentally or bodily, he increases his presence in our hearts by granting us a greater share in sanctifying graces, forgives our venial sins and takes away some of our debt for sins past. Some of these benefits can accrue to us through a spiritual communion, namely, a greater share in sanctifying graces and the indwelling of Christ in our hearts.

But are there any conditions for God dwelling in our hearts? It might sound neat and cool to say,  “No! Because God loves us unconditionally.” But the answer would be heresy. It seems that a post refuting Protestantizing heresies is way overdue. Our age of “mercy without law” or “mercy opposed to the law” or “mercy in dialectical tension with law” is precisely a Protestant Heresy. (A future post on that.) Thus, together with a godless, paganizing de-mystificaiton of our religion there is a Protestantization going on. A synthesis of heresies! But a synthesis of dialectically opposed errors does not a truth make! Summarily, God’s presence in me is not a change in God – lest he fail to be God! Rather, it is his opening my heart and mind to him – may he be Blessed and Praised for opening once hardened, and ever-weak, hearts! That “opening” is the faith by which we believe, the hope by which we trust and lean, and the charity by which we cleave with our whole soul to God above All. Hence, if I have not charity, though I have all faith and all the cardinal virtues, I am a noisy gong and a clanging symbol.

Wisdom Flees an Evil Soul! (Wis 1). Where the soul has not charity, God dwells not! He is preparing to dwell in the pilgrim who does not have charity; he is calling such a pilgrim home; but the pilgrim has not yet allowed God to soften his heart of stone. Hence, God as yet dwells not in this heart of stone. So, there most certainly is a condition for the indwelling. That means there is a condition for true spiritual communion. Spiritual communion can take place only when true charity exists in the soul.

But true charity cannot exist in any soul that is committed to mortal sins. Now, those who are living together but not married, or are married but are living with someone not their spouse, are by their very lifestyle committed to commit gravely evil acts. They are so committed with deliberation. Hence, they will these acts to which they commit their lives; thus, these acts are imputable to them (CCC 1736). It is not likely that they are ignorant of God’s law in this matter. Did they forget the “I do” of their youth? Are they riddled with Down’s Syndrome? Are they drugged up constantly? Were they brainwashed? Hardly likely. They may be faint of mind and hazy about the law. This is something to consider and may well constitute the kind of fog of today, a fog that seems to mitigate culpability.

However, another thing to consider, precisely with respect to such a fog, is the First Precept of Natural Law: DO GOOD, SHUN EVIL. That precept is pretty generic. Anyone who wishes to follow through on it will ask himself, “What good must I do? What evil must I shun?” The ignorance one feels within oneself immediately calls for a formation of conscience. One must seek out the True Religion. There are seekers out there who have not yet found. Thus, there are inculpable people out there regarding some of these issues. However, they are probably not many. It seems more likely that many people are not seeking God at all. They are contented with the pleasures and plans of the day. They even shun thoughtfulness. How few were the philosophers in Socrates’s day. How few are those who examine life these days! But the unexamined life is refuse. It is not “inculpable”. Hardly. It is culpable in the very first framework of its liver’s choice: Me!

Hence, most people are quite aware of the law and of what they are doing. Which is why they don’t enjoy the company of John the Baptist.

The result: Those who are living in sin cannot make a spiritual communion. They can assist at Holy Mass in their state of confusion and inner disturbance. Such assistance can assist them if they allow themselves to be disturbed out of their slumber. But what if such assistance were allowed to create a false “equanimity” of self-acceptance of their sin? What if pastors were to tell the person living in an objective state of sin that this state could be a permanent solution, a permanent resting place in his pilgrimage? The person would then be left to remain in his sins! This would not be to shepherd him to happiness, but to leave him in death.

But, “Let the dead bury their dead,” says the Lord, and “He who turns his back is not worthy of me!”

In short, to encourage their assistance at the Holy Sacrifice is not to carve out a long term solution for these people. If it were, it would surely be the spiritual death of them and of those who would attempt to carve out this place of transition as though it were a lasting home. What is required is great pastoral balance with a clear direction. But I fail to see the compass rightly aligned in a consistent manner in this document.

On the Final Document of the Synod of Bishops 2014 – Part 9

(Continuing from where we left off….) The final Relatio of 2014 has problems at art. 51. I quote in full:

51. The synod father also considered the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Various synod fathers insisted on maintaining the present discipline, because of the constitutive relationship between participation in the Eucharist and communion with the Church as well as her teaching on the indissoluble character of marriage. Others proposed a more individualized approach, permitting access in certain situations and with certain well-defined conditions, primarily in irreversible situations and those involving moral obligations towards children who would have to endure unjust suffering. Access to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop. The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances, given that “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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1735).

This paragraph has problems. First, it describes certain objectively immoral situations as “irreversible”. This smacks of despair, though it may be ambiguous.

So “sinful situation” is “irreversible” for the simple reason that no sin is inevitable. One can always avoid sins. However, what are the Fathers after? The text should make the very clear distinction between (a) a falsely married couple that plans to continue having adulterous sex, and (b) a falsely married couple, with children, which couple jointly makes a firm resolution not to commit adultery again and yet to continue raising their children. Such a decision is painful and difficult, this is no doubt true. Yet it is the Cross; it is the path of salvation at this point. It is the divinely appointed path of salvation for those who have freely travelled to their current situation. Even with such a heroic path to trod, this couple must take every effort not to cause scandal or even to reduce scandal, however this is not completely in their control. As much as possible, it should be known that this man and woman are living as brother and sister. This is the kind of distinction that can rightly guide souls in difficult situations.

Second, the Church’s insistence that those in an objectively grave situation not receive Eucharist is described in the Synod as a “discipline,” as though it were variable at the decision of prelates. But whether or not Sacrilege is permitted is not under the power of ecclesiastical law. And it is Sacrilege for a person in the state of sin to receive the Eucharist. Further, living in an objectively evil situation, or “living in sin,” is living in such a way that one is committed to acts gravely evil. So living is thus diametrically opposed to that kind of firm resolution of amendment required to receive the grace of forgiveness. Hence, if it is Sacrilege to receive the Eucharist after having committed a random act of adultery without having thereafter honestly repented with a firm purpose of amendment and received valid absolution in Confession, a fortiori is it Sacrilege to receive the Eucharist when committing oneself to a life of gravely evil acts.

We are all weak sinners, this goes without saying (I should hope). But to live in a situation geared towards the commission of sin is not simply a matter of weakness.

Someone interjects: You speak of the objective situation, but you cannot judge the subjective guilt. Response: The matter is not so simple. As John Paul II made clear in Veritatis splendor, the very commission of gravely evil acts is often called, and rightly, by the Church and theologians mortal sin. Reason: Such clear public pronouncements set the compass correctly for the poor souls who might labor in ignorance. For those who are “invincibly” ignorant that adultery is evil – what a sad state of affairs if this is even possible in our degenerate society – the response is to reveal the fullness of the truth ASAP, so that they can abandon their sad ways of living that cannot bring lasting happiness and will bring real grief.

Thus, it is quite unfortunate that the Synod would go on to speak of culpability as follows: “The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances, given that “imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished.” Why is this so problematic? Because the Catechism is stating a matter of possibility in the static order regarding the past: It may be the case that person X has been invincibly ignorant about sin Y. This static point is not an Archimedean principle whereby to repel the Gospel truth and power! It is a simple consideration which should be utterly secondary with respect to the actual preaching of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help us O God!

Static and secondary! Why? Because the Son of God came, and comes, with truth and the power of grace. The point of Almighty God sending Jesus Christ into the world was not to leave the world statically in its sins. The point was to give the real and redeeming help, together with the real fullness of the truth, to those who lived in ignorance and darkness. But now the Relatio’s implication seems to be that that truth need not be promulgated, or that it is not urgent to promulgate it.

We need to lift a finger to help these people with their heavy burden. Sin is a great burden. The commission of gravely evil acts is a great burden. Bodily action that contravenes God’s law is a great burden. It is heavy. We sinners labor much. It is mercy to direct us in the path of peace; it is mercy, the first mercy: Instruction of the ignorant.

O Wicked Silence! Why do you let the lamb go off, wandering waywardly by the wolves and the waters beneath stone cliffs?