Monthly Archives: December 2015

Marian Coredemption

Mary cooperated with Jesus’ work of salvation on behalf of sinners. Of course, even today she cooperates in the distribution of the fruits of redemption. Not a single grace comes to us but through her intercession. However, she also cooperated at the foot of the cross in the work of the redemption itself.

This is established teaching.

Cardinal Pacelli, in a sermon about 80 years ago, Dec. 7:

After all, the application of the merits of Christ constitutes, together with their acquisition, a single, complete work: that of salvation. It was fitting that Mary should co-operate equally in the two phases of the same work; the unity of the divine plan demands it. Dec 7, 1937

Later, as Pope:

“As Christ the new Adam must be called a king not merely because he is Son of God but also because he is our Redeemer, so analogously the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God but also because as the new Eve she was associated with the new Adam.” See DS 3913ff

Who, then, were the detractors against this Marian Privilege?

First, Heinrich Lennerz, S.J. Then, Karl Rahner, S.J. And also the early, and rather late, Ratzinger (who embraced the substance as pope). Also M. de la Taille; Billot; et alia.

Condoms and Aids

Is there a dilemma here? It would be a dilemma if we had to choose to obey one commandment at the expense of disobeying another. Do we have to choose the 5th commandment, and disobey the 6th? Or vice versa? Must we, in obeying one, disobey the other? That would be the case if there were a moral dilemma?

There is no such thing as a real moral dilemma. Why not? Because by definition a dilemma says both options are wrong. A dilemma says you have to sin, no matter what.

But sin is an act that requires freedom, such that it is able to be avoided. But a dilemma cannot be avoided. Ergo, the notion of a dilemma contradicts the very foundational Catholic belief in sin. But the Catholic faith is from God Almighty, who is True and not Deceived. Therefore, Catholic faith is true. Whatever contradicts it is false. The positing of a dilemma contradicts it. Thus, all dilemmas are chimeras. QED (by Catholic Theology).

Of course, we want an explanation. What can we do in this situation? Or situations that look like dilemmas?

Take the horror of Sophie’s Choice. (Sophie has 2 kids; the Nazi doctor forces her to choose which to take, and he will kill the other.) If you read the situation rightly, she can choose to save one. She most certainly does NOT consign the other to oblivion. The guard does that. Period. End of Story. Of course, she might get so sick thinking of it that she collapses, in which case he would probably kill both.

But what if the guard said, “Choose which one I take!”? Then, if she gave one to him, she would indeed sin. She would have complied with a chain of events that he set up, causing the first domino to fall. So, what should she do if that is the question he poses? She should be silent. She should not act.

The Catholic “out” of any dilemma is this: We do NOT have to act. We can choose not to act. It is not the “result” that is the be and end all here, much as our worldly minds like to think. Ah! Here we have it. Here we put our finger on the source of “Dilemma” thinking. The source is consequentialism. Perhaps not in the strict sense but in a general or vague sense. If our minds are focused on the results only, there indeed are situations in which results are bad, either way. But this does not make our every option a sin.

Yes, both kids might die if she falls silent. But neither would die at her hands. That’s it. End of story. What does God do with innocent victims? He gives them rewards. What does the innocent sufferer do? Grow in holiness. Really cleave to God. This is good. This is the true path. We are not called to a bed of roses or a series of endless pleasures. We are called to union with God.

There is no such thing as a moral dilemma.

What about the condom issue? In the end, simple:

  1. All sex is immoral that is not heterosexual and that does not terminate in the vagina and that is not between husband and wife.
  2. So, all moral sex must terminate in the vagina. But condoms prevent this with heterosexual sex. Ergo, they render heterosexual sex immoral.
  3. If the sex is already immoral because so counter-natural as not to be heterosexual, then I suppose adding a condom does not add immorality. But if it does not add immorality, yet it does some preventative good, it can probably be used. Again, the sex committed is a mortal sin nonetheless. The idea is that the sex is already so egregiously evil, one does not aggravate its evil by this condom.
  4. But to do what is evil so that good may come is evil and not permitted. Hence, to use condoms in heterosexual sex is evil and not permitted, even if they were to prevent disease.
  5. What to do? Well, why don’t we try not having sex? Secondly, keep our soul before God, rather than our body healthy in hell. If we wear a condom and go to hell with a healthy body, what good is that for us? But if we die of a disease and don’t go to hell, although we should have used some self-control for crying out loud, at least we did not go to hell for the reason of wearing a condom.

JPII Stressed Absolute Truth

John Paul II, and the entire Catholic Tradition, believed in Absolute Truth.

The marvelous encyclical of JPII, Veritatis splendor begins with this joyful remark of a philosopher:

“In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it.”

Now, that seems so true. Children want the truth, the real truth. This is part of what is good and right about children. It is that aspect of them we are called to imitate – lest we be told by the terrifying words, “Get away from me, you evil-doers, I (Truth) do not know you.” If “knowledge” is intimacy and if Jesus is Absolute Truth, I suppose we all are called to be fundamentalists of a sort.

Why would anyone be worried about claims to absolute truth? 1. If the claims are false (e.g. false religions, false despotisms). 2. If the claims are true but they are made with arrogance: We are the ones who own the truth.

Our response. 1. Catholic dogmas are absolutely true. 2. True conclusions of philosophy are absolutely true. What is true is absolutely true. 2. It is not that we “have” the truth as though we were its Masters, its Creators. That would in fact make truth a product of will!  We know that it is Truth whom we embrace, for whom we die, before whom we kneel, whom we serve, for whose sake we serve our neighbor, to whom we come for real forgiveness, having accepted his gift of repentance that leads us to hate and leave the sin.

The encyclical continues:

“Today, however, it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching, with the precise goal of recalling certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine which, in the present circumstances, risk being distorted or denied” (art. 4).

There are certain “fundamental truths”? Really? Absolute certainties? And why was the pope recalling them? Because these were at risk today of being distorted.

The text continues:

In fact, a new situation has come about within the Christian community itself, which has experienced the spread of numerous doubts and objections of a human and psychological, social and cultural, religious and even properly theological nature, with regard to the Church’s moral teachings. It is no longer a matter of limited and occasional dissent, but of an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine, on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions. At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected; certain of the Church’s moral teachings are found simply unacceptable; and the Magisterium itself is considered capable of intervening in matters of morality only in order to “exhort consciences” and to “propose values”, in the light of which each individual will independently make his or her decisions and life choices. (art 4)

Values without truth. That is relativism, and relativism is heresy (or vegetation of the mind).

Let’s pivot from these initial remarks to some clear indications that we can and are bound to attain absolute certainty in certain matters of truth.

Doesn’t St. Paul teach us also that God wants to answer that “fundamental thirst” for “absolute truth”? I think he does:

“God wills that all be saved, and come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).

Doesn’t HOLY MOTHER CHURCH teach dogmatically, the following:

“Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false.” (Vatican I, Dei Filius.)

And aren’t we all as Catholics – every single one who is Catholic, without exception, have to give absolute and irrevocable assent to that declaration?

Doesn’t the same HOLY MOTHER CHURCH, who genuinely loves us in her dogmas, teach:

“9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.”

Absolute. Bound. Errors. Strong words. Are they from mean old grumpy Catholics? No. They are from loving pastors who want to shepherd souls away from the absolute destruction of Satan’s plan, to lead people along the high and narrow way, the way that is hard but rewarding, to defend them from wolves.

And then, in Pastor Aeternus, does not the same Holy Mother Church teach:

“4. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation”?

In Fides et Ratio, JPII consoles us that our thirst for knowledge has an absolute answer: Revelation!

“The truth communicated in Christ’s Revelation is therefore no longer confined to a particular place or culture, but is offered to every man and woman who would welcome it as the word which is the absolutely valid source of meaning for human life” (art. 12). A little later, in art. 15, he writes, “The truth of Christian Revelation, found in Jesus of Nazareth, enables all men and women to embrace the “mystery” of their own life. As absolute truth, it summons human beings to be open to the transcendent, whilst respecting both their autonomy as creatures and their freedom.”

But I think the best refutation of the false idea that a “fundamentalist” is one “who thinks he has absolute truth” is the words a little later in that very good encyclical Fides et Ratio, art. 27. The context: Man’s search for truth.

27. No-one can avoid this questioning, neither the philosopher nor the ordinary person. The answer we give will determine whether or not we think it possible to attain universal and absolute truth; and this is a decisive moment of the search. Every truth—if it really is truth—presents itself as universal, even if it is not the whole truth. If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times. Beyond this universality, however, people seek an absolute which might give to all their searching a meaning and an answer—something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, which refers to nothing beyond itself and which puts an end to all questioning. Hypotheses may fascinate, but they do not satisfy. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt.

JPII promotes absolute truth.

We should do the same.