Tradition, Traditionalism and Modern Theologians

Two pieces posted recently by our friend, Bishop Rene Gracida of Texas:

First is a marvelously titled piece by Rod Dreher – with commentary by Bishop Gracida. It speaks for itself.

The second is a piece on modern theology. At its best, theology helps refine and define our faith with greater precision. But just as the qualities of our character can be properly ordered or disordered, so theologians can easily fall prey to vanity. On one hand, they can convince themselves that God is actually their creation – and start attacking any action by God that does not fit into the intellectual box in which they sometimes think they have captured Christ. On the other hand, they can use their intellect to erect sophistical arguments that undermine the foundations of faith. We are deeply indebted to the Church which has produced such marvelous theologians as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, who have rigorously enriched the faith with their deep insights and proofs. But we also have the spectacle of the trial of St. Joan of Arc, headed by the corrupt Bishop Pierre Cauchon – but with 62 gifted theologians acting as her judges – and all but a handful not the least bit interested in judging righteous judgment, but only seeking to use their training to find the blemish with which they could condemn an innocent woman sent from God. Theology is in crisis today. We need it as much as ever, but we need theologians who judge righteous judgment. All of us, when we pronounce judgment in these times, are more often pronouncing it on ourselves than on those we seek to destroy.

Now the first piece:

TRADITION IS THE LIVING FAITH OF THE DEAD, TRADITIONALISM IS THE DEAD FAITH OF THE LIVING.

!!!!

The Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Kyrylo Glivin / Shutterstock.com)

The Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (Kyrylo Glivin / Shutterstock.com)

The Fragility of Historical Memory

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Psalm 137, verses 4-6

*********

[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

A new Pew religious landscape survey is out today, and it shows that 1) overall, America is becoming a less religious country, and 2) the devout are in some ways becoming more devout, and the secularization is coming from the large number of Millennials who are losing their faith.

{I have little patience with Catholics who, on being informed of Pew statistics, reply that Pew statistics cannot be trusted “because Pew is anti-Catholic.”  Such thinking is equivalent to the Ostrich Syndrome, i.e. burying one’s head in the sand of wishful thinking and thinking with Dr. Pangloss that this is the best of all possible worlds and Pew is just wrong.  The evidence is in plain sight before us:  Millennials (including Catholic Millennials) are losing their faith.}

The clear conclusion is that Christianity in America is dying because its culture is dying. Do not forget sociologist Philip Rieff’s dictum: “The death of a culture begins when its normative institutions fail to communicate ideals in ways that remain inwardly compelling, first of all to the cultural elites themselves.” The faith is not being passed on to the young. This is measurable. So many of us Christians think that yeah, our kids may not be so observant, but they’ll come around in the end. The faith will always be here. I think this is extremely naive, because it does not take into account the fragility of historical memory in modernity.

In a sermon he gave earlier this week, on All Saints Day, the Baptist theologian Timothy George said:

In our culture today, saints have been replaced by celebrities. We know a lot about celebrities. Movie stars, sports figures, icons of politics and business. Celebrities have something about them that attract our attention: they are wealthy, they are glamorous, they are charismatic—they are celebrities! But saints are not celebrities. Saints are those whose lives, shaped by holiness, have been given freely in service for others. True, some of the great saints in the history of the church have become well known across time: St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Francis. Yet most of the saints were not well-known in their own time. Some of them were little known at all. Perpetua was a mother pregnant with her child when she was called to witness to her faith in the arena at Carthage. Patrick, the apostle to the Irish, was a slave, taken away from his homeland to a foreign land. He declared, “I was like a rock stuck in mud until God by his grace lifted me up and gave me a new life.”

A little closer to our time is Jim Eliot, who, with his four friends, was speared to death in the jungles of Ecuador, where he had gone to share the message of Jesus Christ and his love. Or Maximilian Kolbe, a forty-seven year old Polish priest, number 16620 at Auschwitz, where he offered his life in exchange for another prisoner whom he hardly knew. In their own day, saints often received little reward, little applause. But now in glory they shine.

In my Benedict Option talk in Colorado Springs last weekend, I spoke of the importance today for us Christians to thicken our ties to the stories of the saints. We need to bring the narratives of the lives of these Christian heroes of ages past into our imaginations today, in part so we can know what we are to do by reflecting on what they did. We need to remember who they were so we can know who we are. Their stories are the stories of the Christian people. Christians who do not collectively remember their stories will lose their identity.

I have spoken of the Benedict Option as a project of remembering as resistance. The urban theorist Jane Jacobs was not a religious person, but she described our time as the beginning of a “Dark Age” in that it was characterized by mass forgetting. We have deliberately cut ourselves off from our own history; the past has no hold on us. We have maximized our own freedom by minimizing any narrative that tells us who we are and what we must do. We think of ourselves as self-created. There is no “Great Chain of Being” to the modern American, no order extrinsic to ourselves that we belong to. I think again of Rowan Williams’s remarks on Dostoevsky, which I highlighted in this recent post on the novel Laurus:

RW: Dostoevsky famously said: “If there’s no God, then everything is permitted.” It’s a view the west might consider more often. Dostoevsky’s not saying that if there’s no God then no one’s watching us and we can do what we like. He’s really asking: what’s the rationale for living this way and not otherwise? If there’s no God, then there’s no shape to our lives. Our behaviour needs to be in tune with something. If there’s no divine tune, how do you know where to go, what to do? To believe in God is not a business of rewards, but an ability to make sense of things.

[Interviewer]: And this ability can’t come from our experience of love and art, say?

RW: How do you see to it that one thousand flowers bloom and not one thousand weeds? The problem is one of the irreduceable divergence of moral ideals.

This is our condition. The contemporary Christian may look at this and thank God that he is not like those poor lost secularists, but he is not nearly as free from this trap as he thinks he is. In the many conversations I had over the weekend in Colorado Springs, it came up several times, in several ways, that Evangelical Christians are especially vulnerable to the shifting winds of culture, and tend to fall for faddishness. Evangelicals told me over and over that there is little or no consciousness of church history among their tribe. If any non-scholarly person thinks about the history of the Church at all, they said, it’s as if the Church took a big leap from the book of Acts to the Reformation.

Thing is, there may be some particularly Evangelical aspects to this phenomenon, but I don’t believe (like writing out 1,200 to 1,500 years of Church history), but I don’t believe American Catholics are much better in practice (the same may be true of US Orthodox, but I don’t have enough experience to say). This is not, obviously, because they are Catholics; Catholicism is a form of Christianity that in theory is profoundly shaped by history and maintaining the living continuity of the Church from Pentecost till today. This consciousness is barely present in contemporary American Catholicism, not because Catholics are Catholic, but because they are Americans, which is to say, they are moderns.

To be an American is to live in the present (“What do I want Now? What works for me Now?”). I would have said at one point that to be an American is to live in the future too, always looking ahead to the next new thing, but it seems to me that we don’t seriously plan for the future now, as in projecting ourselves imaginatively forward into the next generations, and allowing our present choices to be guided by a consideration of the effects they are likely to have on our children, their children, and their children’s children. To do so would limit the Self, and that is one thing we cannot have.

A reader of this blog, considering the long, much-updated post about my Colorado Springs experience, wrote to offer a thought about dissatisfied Evangelicals:

I find that most such folks hunger for a “traditional” Christianity but ONLY on their own terms. A “traditional” Christianity, but one which leaves them as the sole authority and judge over what that “tradition” actually is. For example, on such foundational things as church authority, worship, sacramental life (eucharist, particularly the major stumbling block of “closed communion,” confession, ordination (particularly women’s ordination, and which I believe will inevitably include homosexual as well), and such fundamental paradigm shifts such as what it means to be the “Body of Christ”, with respect to membership thereof (most of the members of these congregations move freely in and out of “traditional”, or on to the next fad, depending on their needs and desires of the moment).

The reader went on to express sympathy with Evangelicals who see value in expressions of traditional, liturgical Christianity, but also doubt that Evangelical dabbling in the trappings of Tradition will work without submission to the actual Tradition.

I think the reader is on to something, but I think this is very much a lesson that Catholics, Orthodox, and other Christians with deeper roots in liturgy and historical Christianity must ponder as well. I’ve mentioned many times before the testimony of my ex-Orthodox friends who say that all that rich liturgy and roots in the early church did nothing to hold them, because in their experience, it did not point them to a deeper relationship with God. It was all about worshiping the ethnos. And, there is a temptation easy to fall for within Orthodoxy, one identified by the late Russian Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann, in his posthumously published Journalswhich is a marvelous book:

Since the Orthodox world was and is inevitably and even radically changing, we have to recognize, as the first symptom of the crisis, a deep schizophrenia which has slowly penetrated the Orthodox mentality: life in an unreal, nonexisting world, firmly affirmed as real and existing. Orthodox consciousness did not notice the fall of Byzantium, Peter the Great’s reforms, the Revolution; it did not notice the revolution of the mind, of science, of lifestyles, forms of life. . . . In brief, it did not notice history.

The temptation is to mistake Traditionalism for Tradition. As theologian Jaroslav Pelikan memorably phrased it,

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”

Now, I know plenty of Catholics who have little if any regard for their faith’s traditions, and who treat their Catholicism like people who have cabinets full of beautiful china and drawers full of silver, but who choose to eat off of paper plates and with plastic forks — and who see no difference. Metaphorically speaking, they would rather eat McDonalds for Thanksgiving and say there’s no difference between that and the traditional turkey-and-dressing feast. It’s all ballast anyway, and besides, the only thing that matters is to eat what makes you happy. Most Catholics like this are not hostile to Catholic tradition, only indifferent to it. And then you have those Catholics, especially theologians, who are downright antagonistic towards it, and who want to destroy it (read this; it will unnerve you).  {I have posted the article Rod Dreher links to as the next post on Abyssum.org:  THE HORROR, THE HORROR, LIFE AS A GRADUATE STUDENT AT A JESUIT UNIVERSITY}

The point is, tradition — including liturgy and institutions — are necessary, but not sufficient to guarantee the passing-on of the faith. Last night, I finished reading the galleys of an excellent new book coming out in the spring, by the Evangelical writers David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, in which they confront the hard challenges of living faithfully in post-Christian America. One of the things they point out, based on research data, is that among Evangelicals, the authority of Scripture is slipping.

Based on my purely anecdotal research (= talking with a diverse number of Evangelicals around the country), this is happening in part because Evangelical institutions are failing to teach Scripture as they once did. That, and, as an Evangelical who had been raised in a strict fundamentalist family told me last weekend, some of them are teaching it in a way that is so rigid and thoughtless (e.g., as a divine rulebook) that it cannot withstand the clash with culture outside its confines. The example this particular Evangelical used is the way many conservative churches within that tradition argue against homosexuality by citing decontextualized Bible verses, and fail to explore the deeper teaching in the Bible about sexuality, purpose, and human nature. If the only understanding a young Evangelical has about homosexuality is that ten or fifteen Bible verses condemn it, and that’s the extent of the Bible’s message about it, she will be susceptible to the Levitical sophistry of pro-gay antagonists, e.g., taking commandments from the book of Leviticus and saying, “If you take Leviticus seriously on homosexuality, then you are bound to take Leviticus seriously on not wearing wool and linen together. If you don’t take fashion advice from Leviticus, you shouldn’t take advice of sexual morality from it either.”

But I ramble. Lord, don’t I ramble.

Here’s a really interesting 1986 NYRB interview with Czeslaw Milosz. The interviewer (“G”) is Nathan Gardels. Excerpts below; emphases are all mine:

G: You’ve written about civic virtue in the West declining to such an extent that “the young generation ceases to view the state as its own, worthy of being served and defended even at the sacrifice of their lives.” Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet and essayist, says similar things. “The real evil of liberal capitalist societies is the predominant nihilism, not a nihilism which seeks the critical negation of established values, but a passive indifference to values.”

Where does this come from in the West?

M: The indifference, even the anti-American posture, which I have observed while teaching at Berkeley is very shocking. It is very hard to understand. Probably it means that still I come from a very traditional world as far as values are concerned. I have been witnessing in America the subversion of the ethic of the working class which was God, my country, my family.

As to the causes for all this, one can go back infinitely. I link it with a very profound transformation as far as religious imagination is concerned. There are some people who are optimistic about the state of religion today, but I am rather pessimistic. I consider that both believers and nonbelievers are in the same boat as far as the difficulty of translating religion into tangible images. Or maybe we can say that the transformation that is going on in religion reflects something extremely profound in the sense of nihilism. I am inclined to believe that only when profound shifts appear, for example a new science, will there be a basic change.

What do I mean?

At the present moment science is in the process of transition from the science of the nineteenth century to a new approach, in physics particularly. The whole society, as we observe in America, lives by the diluted “pure rationalism” of nineteenth-century science. What young people are taught in high school and the university is a naive picture of the world.

In this naive view, we live in a universe that is composed of eternal space and eternal time. Time extends without limits, moving in a linear way from the past to the future, infinitely. Functionally speaking, mankind is not that different from a virus or a bacteria. He is a speck in the vast universe.

Such a view corresponds to the kind of mass killing we’ve seen in this century. To kill a million or two million, or ten, what does it matter? Hitler, after all, was brought up on the vulgarized brochures of nineteenth-century science.

This is something completely different from a vision of the world before Copernicus, where man was of central importance. Probably the transformation I sense will restore in some way the anthropocentric vision of the universe.

These are processes, of course, that will take a long time.

G: In your writings, you link nihilism to memory. “The eye of the nihilist,” you quote Nietzsche writing in 1887, “is unfaithful to his memories; it allows them to drop, to lose their leaves.” In your Nobel lecture, you said that our planet is characterized “by the refusal to remember.”

M: If nihilism, as Nietzsche says, consists in the loss of memory, recovery of memory is a weapon against nihilism. There is probably no other country as full of historical memory as Poland, and somehow that memory provides a foundation for values. There is a link, a feeling of profound affinity and identity with past generations. With memory, classical virtues once again acquire value. In Polish poetry, memory goes back to Rome and Greece. There is a feeling of the continuity of European civilization. We find that a certain moral, even natural, law is inscribed in centuries of human civilization.

I feel that the greatest asset that my part of Europe received in the history of the twentieth century, the privilege of our being the avant-garde of inhumanity, is that the questions of true and false, good and evil, became operative again. Namely, good and evil, true and false, have been discovered not through philosophical discourse, but empirically, like the taste of bread.

In my opinion this is one of the secrets—maybe the main secret—of the mass participation of the Poles in religious rites today. One can say that this participation is purely political, that religion is popular because it marks political opposition of the nation to the state. But there is more than this. Nonbelievers and believers alike take part in the pilgrimages because they share the same notion of good and evil. And, the Church maintains, there is a convergence between believers and nonbelievers. Here is good, here is evil. This affirmation of basic values of good and evil brings people together.

G: Do we have a truthful way of thinking, of judging good or evil in the West?

M: Yes, but under the condition that intellectuals and writers do not insist on forcing nihilism in their descriptions of the world as the only valid image from the point of view of the literary establishment. Of course, every period has its fashions. To break away from fads is extremely difficult. Nihilistic presentation of the world is a fad today. And if there is an original talent, like Singer, who doesn’t care about it, he immediately grows in stature.

I feel great affinity with Singer because we both come from religious backgrounds, I from Roman Catholicism and he from Judaism. Constantly, we deal with similar metaphysical problems.

I have taught Dostoevsky for many years. And I have been fascinated by his prophetic insight into what was happening at that time in Europe and in Russia. He evinced a very deeply seated fear of the future, of the nihilism that would appear.

For me, the religious dimension is extremely important. I feel that everything depends on whether people are pious or not pious. Reverence toward being, which can be formulated in strictly religious terms or more general terms, that is the basic value. Piety protects us against nihilism.

But what happens when that very piety is infected with nihilism, in the Nietzschean sense that Milosz indicates? That is, what kind of condition do we enter when our religion embraces wholeheartedly the modern refusal to remember? Can a religious sense so construed possibly be an effective bulwark against nihilism?  {Worse yet, what is one to do when the leadership of the Church embraces the “hermenuetic of rupture” and denounces the “hermenuetic of continuity” which was so evident in the just concluded 2015 Synod of Bishops ???}

I do not think it can.Piety that is based on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is worse than no protection at all, because it lulls parents into thinking that they are giving their children what they need to carry on the tradition in an embattled age. In fact, they’re giving them armor made of paper and paste, and a sword forged from Play-doh.

Yet Christians who think they are doing better by their kids by enmeshing them in the aesthetic trappings of historical Christianity without committing to the spirit and substance of same are only embracing a more vivid and interesting illusion. If you go deep into the Pew numbers out today, you will see that on nearly every measure of piety, Evangelicals are much stronger than Catholics and Orthodox Christians. As someone who was once Catholic and is now Orthodox, I believe strongly that Catholics and Orthodox have ecclesiological advantages over Evangelicals when it comes to holding onto the faith in the long run. But the truth is, right now, Evangelicals are putting us to shame with their devotion.

For example, when asked what they look to most for guidance on questions of right and wrong, 52 percent of Evangelicals say “religion,” but only 22 percent of Catholics do, and 25 percent of Orthodox (the latter two favor “common sense,” by 57 and 52 percent, respectively). Unsurprisingly, I guess, only 28 percent of Evangelicals support same-sex marriage, while a majority of Catholics (57 percent) and Orthodox (54 percent) do. On abortion, 33 percent of Evangelicals say it should be mostly or entirely legal, while 48 percent of Catholics do, and a disgraceful 62 percent of Orthodox do. It would be nice to report that Americans with feet planted in the ancient church traditions were more likely to be historically orthodox on key moral issues addressed by the faith, but it’s not true. This is why I strongly believe that Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox interested in the Benedict Option have to work it out together. Evangelicals have to learn how to embrace the Christian past, the “tangible images” of historical Christian culture, and the stability of historical forms — or the passionate conviction that keeps them relatively strong now will dissipate. Catholics and Orthodox are going to have to learn how to revive their inherited forms with much more passion and conviction, or they will wither.

I had never heard of the I.B. Singer novel The Penitent until I read it mentioned by Milosz. I read the Author’s Note on the Amazon.com page (yes, of course I ordered the book), and found a truth that is central to the Benedict Option. Singer says that there is no “final escape from the human dilemma, a permanent rescue for all time.

The powers that assail us are often cleverer than every one of our possible defenses; it is a battle which lasts from the cradle to the grave. All our devices are temporary, and valid only for one specific attack, not for the entire moral war. In this sense I feel that resistance and humility, faith and doubt, despair and hope can dwell in our spirit simultaneously. Actually, a total solution would void the greatest gift that God has bestowed upon mankind – free choice.”

This is the same truth Dostoevsky presents us in the parable of The Grand Inquisitor. There is no Benedict Option that can unfailingly defend us from nihilism, unless we refuse the divine gift of freedom, and choose slavery. Still, if we want to preserve our Christian freedom, and not be slaves to our passions, and to the present moment, we have no choice but to remember who we are, and pass on that memory effectively to the young. Teaching doctrine matters, but it’s not the most important thing. Creating a thick culture of Christianity is. Please do not fail to take seriously the words of church historian Robert Louis Wilken:

But Christ entered history as a community, a society, not simply as a message, and the form taken by the community’s life is Christ within society. The Church is a culture in its own right. Christ does not simply infiltrate a culture; Christ creates culture by forming another city, another sovereignty with its own social and political life.

… Material culture and with it art, calendar and with it ritual, grammar and with it language, particularly the language of the Bible—these are only three of many examples (monasticism would be another) that could be brought forth to exemplify the thick texture of Christian culture, the fullness of life in the community that is Christ’s form in the world.

Nothing is more needful today than the survival of Christian culture, because in recent generations this culture has become dangerously thin. At this moment in the Church’s history in this country (and in the West more generally) it is less urgent to convince the alternative culture in which we live of the truth of Christ than it is for the Church to tell itself its own story and to nurture its own life, the culture of the city of God, the Christian republic. This is not going to happen without a rebirth of moral and spiritual discipline and a resolute effort on the part of Christians to comprehend and to defend the remnants of Christian culture.

That is the reason for the Benedict Option. Resistance requires remembrance. Remembrance requires enculturation. The culture of modernity, of modern America, annihilates memory, sees memory as its enemy. If we forget Jerusalem in our exile in American Babylon, we will be assimilated and cease to exist. If we small-o orthodox Christians in the West do not lay claim to the past, and make it a living, vital part of our present, we are not going to have a future.

****************************************************************************************************************
And now the second piece:

THE HORROR !!! THE HORROR !!! LIFE AS A GRADUATE STUDENT AT A JESUIT UNIVERSITY

by abyssum

!!!!

St. Ignatius Gate entrance at Boston College (Photo: Boston_Starbucks_Rebel / Wikipedia)

Once, I was a theologian.

 
The brain-blowing combination of asserting that what is not Catholic teaching is somehow Catholic teaching and then shrieking like a frightened schoolgirl when the word “heresy” is uttered is what the American Catholic/Jesuit theological academy is all about
Dorothy Cummings McLean

October 31, 2015

THE CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT

But, to tell you the truth, as a believing Catholic who seeks to understand what it is she believes, I am still a theologian. I was taught this on the first day of my “Method in Theology” class in Toronto, and it wrote itself permanently on my heart. All believing Catholics who seek to understand what it is they believe are Catholic theologians, which means that Ross Douthat is a Catholic theologian. His academic critics are … academics. Some of them may be Catholic theologians, but I wouldn’t assume that—especially not if they got their training at Boston College.

“Own your heresy” tweeted Douthat, and Father James Martin, SJ seemed to throw up his hands in holy horror. Oh, how irresponsible! Oh, how potentially damaging to a career! Oh, how the CDF will swoop down like a wolf upon the fold. Except it won’t, and it almost never does—and they’re too busy packing up Monsignor Charamsa’s office right now anyway.

The brain-blowing combination of asserting that what is not Catholic teaching is somehow Catholic teaching and then shrieking like a frightened schoolgirl when the word “heresy” is uttered is what the American Catholic/Jesuit theological academy is all about, and I should know. I was in it for two of the most miserable years of my life.

As the Affair Douthat unfolds, I keep attaching faces to the names I hadn’t heard or seen for many years. One of them belongs to an active homosexual who brought his boyfriend along on the departmental retreat and shared a room with him. Another belongs to an active unmarried heterosexual who brought his girlfriend along on the departmental retreat and shared a room with her. They were both very pleasant and cheerful men. I liked them very much—which does not erase the facts that they did not believe the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning sexual morality and that today they are professional Catholic theologians.

Boston College. It’s been ten years since I first turned up for “Accepted Students Day”, and eight years since I left with my professional hopes in tatters, but the very name still plunges me into depression. The contrast between the loving, thoughtful environment of my Canadian theologate and the neurotic, boastful, overrated, double-faced snake pit that was the Boston College theology department transformed me from one of the “rock stars” of my Canadian college—successfully juggling coursework and three jobs, graduating magna cum laude—into a hysterical wreck, unable to read print.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola composed a prayer that begins, “Take, Lord, my liberty, my understanding, my entire will”. In the post-Vatican II era it was set to a jolly tune, and I had sung it blithely in Toronto without the slightest clue what losing one’s understanding might mean. In my case it meant forcing myself, in agony, to make the little black marks on the page make sense and then exploding in fury when the document before me was merely some speculative nonsense about a “Markian” community that may or may not have existed. “Might”, “should”, “it could be”: the weasel words of academia.

I had worked enormously hard to get to Boston College—three years of busting my brain and non-stop reading, writing, volunteering, ministry placements, jobs—and I had loved it. When I got the phone call on February 24, 2005 telling me I had been accepted for the Boston College PhD program in theology, my heart ached with joy. My life—I was still a single woman then—was finally on track: I would finish my PhD, get a job in a Jesuit college, walk forever in the groves of academe, well paid, serving God doing what I loved best.

Reality slapped me in the face when I arrived for “Accepted Students Day”—April 1, I believe. April Fool’s Day. The Holy Father, John Paul II, was dying. This was uppermost on my mind, and when, at a meet-and-greet, I found myself face-to-face with a celebrated (in the USA and Canada, that is) professor, I said something like “Isn’t it sad about the Holy Father?” and he said—to me, whom he had just met—”I think he’s dead already and they’re just covering it up.”

I was staggered. I don’t know what I replied, but no doubt it was Canadian-polite. At one point I was mysteriously whisked away by a plainclothes nun-professor who had a conspiratorial air. She chatted about her own time in my hometown, and I had the impression I had been singled out stealthily. But why?

That was what it was like for the next two years. Outrageous gossip about professors and theologians I respected as heroes. (“So, Dorothy, does X have AIDS?” “Y was a drunk, of course.” “I hope it’s true Z had a mistress.”) Conspiracy. (“Tell me, Dorothy, what does Professor Q say in his classes about….”) Outrageous remarks. (“Bishops are thugs!”) Boasting. (“And I said, ‘Senator…’”) And paranoia. Insane paranoia. (“Dorothy, don’t write that down!“)

To my amazement, I discovered that a professor I admired was nervous of me because he thought I was “conservative”—not a good thing to be in the Boston College theology department, let me tell you. (“But I thought I was center-left”, I wailed to a friend from home.) And after a visiting priest-professor had a neurotic hissy fit aimed at me before all my classmates—because I questioned his view that the ordained priesthood and Sunday Mass attendance were ultimately doomed—and I complained to the priest-professor in charge of this class, he suggested that this man, too, was afraid of me.

Me: a small 35-year-old graduate student from Canada, a PhD student far from home, completely dependent on my stipend, my future career dependent on the goodwill of my professors. Him: a tall, 50-odd year old American Jesuit priest with tenure at an insanely wealthy American Jesuit university. But somehow I was the scary one, as if I spent my evenings on the phone denouncing all my professors to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As if the CDF really had the time to chase every random American professor in Catholic academia. As if these professors were actually that important or influential. Of course, Benedict XVI was the pope then, and my stars, how the hissy-fit throwing professor hated him.

What I did not know, when I blithely applied to study with them, was that the Boston College professors whose books I had admired did not publish what they really thought. I had no idea, for example, that one woman professor was all in favour of women’s ordination until I turned up in Boston and saw a Charles Dana Gibson cartoon of an elegant Gibson Girl wearing preaching bands stuck to her office door. The delicate balance I had admired, the appeal to both liberals and conservatives while sticking to the bounds of orthodoxy, was just a clever trick.  The profs would say what they liked in class to their students; tape recorders were, of course, banned.

There was also a lot of theological arm-twisting. In one scarring incident, a pastoral theology professor showed up to my PhD seminar class with two large female henchmen-students and photocopies of an article about Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s obedience to the Roman directive not to allow Catholic adoption agencies to give children to same-sex couples. The topic of the seminar turned out to be, “How do we convince the Archbishop to disobey Rome?” As I tearfully (stupid tears!) defended a child’s right to a mother and a father, priest-colleagues stared silently at the table.

U.S. Senators—particularly Catholic Senators—consulted the moral theologians of Boston College on a regular basis. One of my Jesuit professors, to the dismay of another Jesuit professor who ranted to me about it, testified that opposing gay marriage was not in keeping with Catholic tradition. This, I imagine, was technically true, since there had never been gay marriage to oppose before. But, naturally, that was another clever trick.

My theologate in Canada was run for the students; the theology department of Boston College was run for the professors. Students were pawns to be collected and either groomed to continue the professors’ intellectual legacy at other Jesuit colleges, pumped for information about other professors, or bored senseless by Big Names sitting firmly on their laurels.

The emotional damage wreaked on students was certainly not confined to me. One M.A. student from the American South, a Protestant fan of Flannery O’Connor, had come to Boston College to learn about Catholicism. Within weeks she was terribly confused. She asked different students what Catholicism was and cried a lot. She told me she had been told, by a “liberal”, it was better to be a Protestant than a “conservative” Catholic at Boston College. I wonder if she ever did become a Catholic.

You will have noticed that I have not named names. I do not name names because I will not honor my professors’ paranoid fears about me, the “conservative” who came to Boston College thinking she belonged there. I thought I belonged there because I thought it was a Catholic college with a Catholic theology department.

“We don’t like to call it a ‘Catholic’ theology department,” said a professor to me while I was there. But, yes, they do. They do when it’s convenient.

I was very cross with God, naturally. I couldn’t understand why He had allowed me to go to Boston College but not equipped me with the mental strength to survive the PhD. I was furious and frightened when He took away my ability to read print. (I could always read the internet, I discovered.) I couldn’t find Him anywhere on campus, save—occasionally—during the Benediction organized by the undergrad Saint Thomas More Society. I used to visit the (uber-modernist, ragged metal) statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola to ask Saint Ignatius what was going on, but I couldn’t find Saint Ignatius either.

What would Saint Ignatius have thought, I always wondered, of the one million dollar building named after him? What would he have thought of the $40,000-a-year undergrad tuition-and-board? What would he, who told his Jesuits not to take money for their teaching, have thought about the millions made off the bodies of the football players? Boston College was founded for the poor Irish Catholics of South Boston, but the only Southie accents I heard came from the lips of one ancient retired Jesuit, a secretary and the groundsmen toiling over the landscape so beautiful, manicured and dead.

Today I believe God sent me to Boston College not to become a professor at a Jesuit university, as I then believed, but to meet my housemate Ted, who was a traditionalist Catholic and a blogger. Thanks to Ted’s influence, I too became a blogger, and that has shaped my whole post-academic life. It has also made me more relevant to contemporary Catholic discourse, which is no longer confined to the privileged few who are courted and developed by their professors, but—thanks to the internet—is open to all Catholics who can—and will—read and write.

About the Author
author image

Dorothy Cummings McLean

Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian writer living abroad. Her first novel with Ignatius Press is Ceremony of Innocence. She has been a regular contributor to The Catholic Register (Toronto). Her first book, Seraphic Singles: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Single Life, is a popular work of nonfiction.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
This entry was posted in Church Governance, Discernment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

181 Responses to Tradition, Traditionalism and Modern Theologians

  1. anthonymullendivineantidote says:

    Faith and Reason are both important, but this reminds me why I would in an instant and every time rather have 300 of Gideon’s less intellectually gifted men who had incredible Faith in God! It is the little ones, the childlike who are the greatest in the Kingdom…our Lord went to some length to reveal that Truth to us…..being Himself completely rejected by the wise and learned of the day. Can you imagine a theological Conference today on the Rosary of the Mother of God and the Consecration and Flame of Love Grace? This would not even be suggested among the top 150 topics! Yet, this is what will save the world!

    >

    Liked by 10 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Man, you got it, Tony! I keep trying to emphasize to people that we will be judged on the quality of our love, not our knowledge. But God has a plan – and all will see it soon enough. Woe to those who have abused their gifts to flatter their own vanity!

      Liked by 6 people

      • Matthew says:

        Charlie:
        I must admit that some of this attitude troubles me. God gave me both a head and a heart. The Church has condemned BOTH Fideism and Rationalism. To say “oh I am a simple believer I don’t need to understand” is as much a problem as to say “oh I am intelligent, I don’t need the Church or Revelation.” We speak of loving God but how can we love what we do not KNOW – knowledge here being of the intellect since the spiritual life by its nature is not something essentially sensible.
        Perhaps I am being overly sensitive but I have certainly come under fire from both sides, in my own experience, more from the Fideist side.
        I certainly respect Dorothy McLean’s harrowing experience. I had to survive my own four years of undergrad at Notre Dame in the late 1980’s
        PAX,
        Matthew

        Liked by 3 people

        • charliej373 says:

          You are at least partly right, Matthew. We will be judged on the quality of our love – and that quality is shown by how we use our gifts. If we are gifted with intellect, God calls us to use it in His service out of love for our fellows. So I expressed my enthusiasm a little clumsily. If God gifts you with intellect, it would be wrong not to use it faithfully in his service – but it is a dangerous gift because it is so easily turned to self-serving abuse. Thank you for your corrective – it refines it in a way I should have been more careful about.

          Liked by 3 people

    • audiemarie2014 says:

      Thank you, Anthony, for your comment. God bless you.

      Like

    • taralorai says:

      You put the perfect words to my thoughts 🙂 Fiat!

      Liked by 1 person

    • JG says:

      Hi Charlie,
      This may be a bit off topic – maybe not. I just read an article in Crisis Magazine from a MD , David McKalip, who intellectually didn’t speak up against abortion so he could be a force for other issues in the AMA now he’s talking the right step and speaking out. He’s asking Catholics to pray for him for there is a meeting in Nov.14-17 in Atlanta, GA, where they, the AMA, will vote on federal funding of Plan Parenthood. He believes he will fail but he admits it’s about doing the right thing. Here’s the link:http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/help-doctors-fight-planned-parenthood-at-the-ama
      I consider myself the less intellectually gifted so I rejoice when I read a brain surgeon is moving forward and doing the right thing.
      Thank you for reminding us that we will be judged on the quality of our love – not our knowledge. It helps to stay focused on what really is important. I have a child in the Catholic schools and it’s really irritating to her when the ” brainiacs” get all the attention and are very smug to those who don’t do as well on their tests. She gets very discouraged for she works very hard for her “C”s. I remind her just because they are smart doesn’t mean they will do the right thing when push comes to shove. The mission in life is think “Is this pleasing to God the Father”, then act accordingly to the situation.
      May God bless all here!

      Liked by 5 people

      • charliej373 says:

        Some men are physically very strong. It is a tool, a gift of God…and they can choose to do good or evil with it. What a betrayal is the strong man who uses his gift for evil. What a hero is the strong man who uses his gift for the good of all. We each have gifts…and are called to use them in the service of God and neighbor. That is the key to it all.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. YongDuk says:

    And here sometimes I complain to God about being in a “holding pattern”!

    That second piece gave me a headache just even skimming it… (meaning the theological climate at BU, GU, Fordham, CUA, etc.)

    On a happier theological note, Doug, was the Baptism of Desire addressed enough?

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Katherine says:

    Absolutely! I was lucky to study under one of America’s top Thomistic theologians, you should have heard him talk about the things that people could think up! I wrote my senior thesis in defense of defining the DOGMA of transubstantiation in Aristotelian terms as opposed to trying out the language of another, more contemporary philosophy. Some theologians actually wanted to play around with the definition of the most central belief of the Church in hopes of making some kind of “progress” and a name for themselves. It reminded me strongly of an artist who just can’t stop adding things to their painting . . . long after the perfect balance and effect was achieved. Anyway, theologians must be humble! After all, our faith centers around a RELATIONSHIP with SOMEONE, it’s not primarily a formula. Yet, I have found so many exciting things while studying, so many wonderful helps to meditation and prayer. Because our faith is primarily a relationship, it makes sense that if you love that someone, you’d want to learn more about them. For me, studying theology is a way of learning more about the One I love.

    Liked by 9 people

  4. Anne says:

    I just skimmed both articles. Too much for me. Charlie….. Look forward to hearing from you soon .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. NancyA says:

    Only read the Dreher one so far, and it was FABULOUS!! Thanks so much for sharing it here… I don’t browse the Internet much at all. Would not have seen it if you didn’t share here, Charlie. Really makes me realize my personal responsibility to my own… all so very true!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. CrewDog says:

    As I read these latest articles from Charlie, not only the “End Time” admonitions from Scripture come to mind but the below did as well:

    “The vision of Pope Leo XIII” – 1884
    http://www.stjosephschurch.net/leoxiii.htm

    I’m sure there are a few oldsters here, besides me ;-(, who remember these books/movies of 60+ years ago? Their content should sound very familiar to you in this ever oppressive Age of PC and over-reaching God-Free Government and it’s “Free” Un-Education “Systems”:

    “1984” – 1949
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

    “Fahrenheit 451” – 1953
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451

    President Reagan’s speech below could easily be re-written to just address the RELIGIOUS Freedoms being flushed away:

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 9 people

    • Kim sevier says:

      Yes CrewDog. Right there with you— but sometimes I forget I am in my sixties. It kinda snuck up on me! In my head I am half that age until creaky joints bring me back to reality!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. gettimothy says:

    “I was very cross with God, naturally.”

    And then, over time, she quieted, trusted God, took the next right step and is now a sign of hope to those around her.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Katherine says:

    Oh my goodness, I had to put the kids to bed and hadn’t read the second article yet; I just did and WOW, I didn’t know it was so bad out there! I went to a very small Catholic college called Christendom. One of the founders, Dr. William Marshner was my theology professor, he was unique, I am finding. A friend of mine went on to seminary, naively believing that once he got there, everything would be holiness and brotherhood embarking on an exciting journey exercising the mind and heart. He went through much, and more, of what Dorthy describes, and eventually it drove him right out of the seminary. Learning isn’t everything, knowing everything isn’t the point of life, but shame on those whose job it is to preserve the deposit of faith when they fail in such a spectacular way. We will never end in full understanding in this life in Theology, just as we will never fully understand how God made the world in science, but we must preserve the integrity of the depth of our understanding, for it is meant to enrich our lives and our faith. Shame on those who fail in this. I tell you, the most religious experience I ever had was during a lecture on the structure of the relations within the Trinity. I think it may have been an intellectual vision, because I can’t remember anything about it but for an instant I remember it being so clear and so beautiful and so perfect, I remember colors. Then it was gone and I was so moved by it that I had to excuse myself. God speaks to us in different ways. Theology and philosophy is just one way in which God reaches out for us, and it’s potent. It’s certainly not necessary for salvation, and will never ever take the place of love for one’s neighbor, but I consider it a gift that God has given us out of His overabundance, because it’s our nature to be curious about things that fascinate us. It’s a tool to help us to love Him more deeply. I believe that the “fullness of time” in which He chose to become incarnate was chosen partly because it was a time where a competent philosophy had arisen to handle His Church, because He knew we’d like to think more on His mysteries and that it would flesh out the richness of His Church. God’s major revelation to humanity is that He is Trinity, exploring this revelation with humility and wonder and awe is exciting. Well, maybe for geeks like me, but we’re members of the Body of Christ too. 🙂 I’m rambling a little. And I probably shouldn’t have had a glass of wine while typing this. I just get a bit passionate about this. Studying theology should imply responsibility and I am waiting happily for the Rescue so that perhaps we can start with a clean slate, where theology and theologians will serve God and the faithful instead of themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SanSan says:

      THERE ARE SOME GREAT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OUT THERE AND YOU WERE PRIVILEDGED TO ATTEND ONE

      EXCUSE CAPS>>>>SATAN TRYING TO TAKE OVER MY KEYBOARD AGAIN 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Katherine, that was eloquently stated straight from your heart. I read a daily scripture book that cites this prayers to be prayed after each reading that seems to sum up your reflection.

      Let me not,
      O Lord,
      be puffed up with worldly wisdom,
      which passes away.
      Grant me that love which never abates,
      that I may not choose to know anything amon
      human beings
      but Jesus and him crucified.

      I pray you, loving Jesus,
      that as you have graciously given me
      to drink in with delight the words of your knowl-
      edge,
      so you would mercifully grant me
      to attain one day to you,
      the Fountain of all wisdom,
      and to appear forever before you face.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Linda says:

    So sad but so true.

    Like

  10. Donette says:

    The best thing you ever did for me, Charlie, was put me on to the web site of Bishop Gracida of Corpus Christi. He’s the best.

    Like

  11. Mack says:

    With the Rescue coming in two years, hopefully we won’t need the Benedict option, and so called Catholic colleges will clean up their act.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Colleen DeRose says:

    Peter Kreeft said there were good parts to Boston College, but to beware the theology department. It stirs righteous anger to be aware of so much weakness and subterfuge.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bob says:

    I’d say the first article is a bit too wordy for me and I prefer getting to the point sooner. the one about being in a Jesuit school is sad and shows why some Jesuits have lost their place in being an important part of God’s army. Thank God for those like Fr. Pacwa and for other good priests, like the ones who used to hear my confessions. There were some wise old Jesuits back then and there still are some, but I do believe many need to redue their Spiritual Exercises” and again consider the exercise of Jesus gazing at them from His Cross .

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Beckita says:

    WOW! Thank you for this, Charlie. Rod Dreher’s article took some chewing and it was worth it. I already thank God and our Mother for the gift of final Rescue in just about two years. Dreher’s ideas are worthy to hold, ponder and bring to life as we live through the crash and then engage in the rebuilding process. I think about Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who both wrote and spoke about building a Civilization of Love. By God’s Grace, we surely will.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. El ingeniero de Tepeyac says:

    It appears that people get wrapped around the axle about the wrong things. That there is heresy in the Church I can believe it.

    I have gone to a priest and confessed my sins and instead of getting absolution he gave me a blessing instead, saying that what I had confessed weren’t sins and that anyways all those things were mitigated at the first part of the Mass. My wife had a similar experience with a different priest.

    I always thought that purpose of Confession was to try to clean all the blemishes (sins) from your soul and receive the fortifying Graces from God to fight the wiles of the devil.

    But at the end of the day, to use a contemporary cliché, one needs to remember the words of the Word Incarnate:

    1. Love God above all else
    2. Love your neighbor as your self.

    I am not a Traditionalist, I can see the beauty and reverence of the Mass in the vernacular but at the same time for me there are many non-negotiables

    1. Marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman which both unifies them and allows them to express God’s Love for humanity through the gift of children.
    2. Divorced and re-married Catholics without a Catholic annulment can NOT receive Communion
    3. Abortion is always an evil
    4. Women have a valuable place in the Church (as evidenced by Our Blessed Mother, the Virgin María) but the Sacrament of Holy Orders is NOT a sacrament for them
    5. The only place for physical intimacy is within the bounds of marriage. Catholics not in a sacramental marriage but in an intimate relationship whether it be same-sex or opposite-sex are directly contravening the words of Jesus in the Gospels.

    Liked by 3 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Sounds pretty solid foundation to me, ingeniero.

      Like

      • Donette says:

        Fiat and Amen to that, Charlie, ingeniero has it right on. Now please tell me what ingeniero means.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donette says:

        I didn’t say that very clearly, Charlie. His name El Ingeniero de Tepeyac means something. It is the ingeniero that I need explained.

        Like

        • El ingeniero de Tepeyac says:

          Miss Donette, You are right. It does mean something.

          As Mr. Johnston has surmised, I am an engineer. Secondly, I have been able to use my engineering knowledge and skills in the service of Our Lord. Thirdly, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Tepeyac) appeared to me in a dream once. It was a dream that was more real than life. She was a brown-skinned, a morena, not white skinned as I had been raised to believe. She spoke to me and I understood her. She was so pure she glowed. Mere words can not convey what it was like to be in her presence. A warm pure love radiated from her. At the same time I felt the ugliness of my sins and felt so unworthy and I was ashamed to look at her. Tan pura, Tan bella es Ella. There was a strong smell of roses with her.

          A thought crossed my mind, ” if this is what it is to be in the presence of God’s Mother then if I would be in the presence of God, I would die.” I understand now why there is a purgatory, why we as sinners need to have the sins burned out of us like the dross burned out of gold so that we can be pure to stand in the presence of God and live. When I awoke my pillow was soaked with tears. For weeks all I wanted was to fall asleep and go into the dream again but she never came back.

          Even as I write this many years later the memory of it still causes strong emotions in me and tears to flow down my face.

          If what I experienced in that dream was a small bit of heaven then truly my troubles and travails in this life are a small price to pay to experience such a pure love forever.

          I love Mi Señora de Guadalupe like a son loves his mother. Ella es todo para mí.

          I apologise if what I have written offends anyone on this site but you asked and there it is.

          Liked by 6 people

    • 1.2012 says:

      I am truly sorry you had that experience in the confessional. Persevere brother, persevere – the Rescue is coming! Pax et bonum.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Claire Reiss says:

    Theology is simply to love God and live as Jesus lived in His Words! “The word was made flesh and dwelt among men.” The Word of God made Jesus the God-Man. The flesh of Jesus the Man lived every word He spoke. In order to understand Theology one must lives one’s life in the words which one speaks as in the Words of God which one prays daily. If one made a vow, the words in that vow which one proclaimed during the vow must kept through the length of that vow. If is a life time marriage vow or vocation vow, then they, too, are to be lived for a life time! If not, how could anyone ever be able to understand God Who is Father of the Fullness of LIFE by not living in His Will? One must experience every particular point in God’s Word in order to Know and Understand Who God is! Theology is a Living in the Lord experiencing God daily event. If one can’t live within the Words which one spoke, then, how could one possibly understands What Theology is? Theology is to know God daily base upon one’s Experience of living in His Words! As one follows the directions of one’s profession daily by doing it! All the saints lived in the Words of God! They are Doctors of the Church, not by books, but by Living in the Word.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. rdlafleur says:

    I tend to stay away from theology discussions. Not because they are wrong, but because most of them are above me. I have a very simple way of looking at things. In most theology discussions, there are words that I have no idea what they mean. In my simple mind, I go about my daily life with a simple way. I live my life always trying to please God. I try to live in His will not mine. I seek Him and through seeking and loving God, I love those around me. My life isn’t as much about what I want as to what God wants for me. No big words, no funny sounding words. Just love of God and the desire for his love.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dorothy says:

    Charlie,

    My daughter attends catholic high school, few days ago she came home confused and asked me if I knew that God created hell out of mercy because it is better and merciful to exist and go to hell then not exist at all.
    That is what she learned in teology class .
    I did not study theology but in my heart I knew this is odd and wrong I have never heard such a teaching in cathoilc church. I wrote to the teacher expressing my concern he wrote me back giving me quotes from church doctors trying to convince me he standing is correct. I spoke with my parish priest who said the teacher is confusing God’s mercy and justice.
    The priest told me to drop it since I will not win.
    I am not looking for winning but fir correction so our children In Catholic schools are not being thought watered down teology. Please pray for me so my simple letter will help … Or should I just drop it ?????

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      No, you send that letter. You owe it to your daughter to give her meat – and in charity to this poor teacher to engage in fraternal correction. I am so weary of the “Google theologians,” people who take a snippet that supports what they want to believe – and then shop around for more snippets to prove they are right, with no depth of study or knowledge. They are like a monolingual English speaker with a French dictionary who delude themselves that because they have the dictionary, they are fluent in French. they can fool themselves, but as soon as they open their mouths, everyone who actually is fluent knows the truth about them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • NancyA says:

        i understand your sentiments, Charlie, but this is not a case of a “google theologian,” but rather a high school theology/religion teacher, who has been formed by training. It’s rampant in Catholic High Schools. I agree with “send that letter,” but also agree with the priest who says you will not win. It’s a weariness, and a disheartened resignation. Dorothy, you do well to speak your truth, even if it will not be accepted, but more: teach your daughter the truth! btdt. I’m sorry for you and all of us who have such dismal pseudo-Catholic educators for our children. (I removed mine. Better to receive a secular education and MY religious instruction than poor religious instruction posing as Catholic, which is slipping in under the cracks. The kids don’t always have the discernment necessary to bring the questions forward.)

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Sadly, there are a whole heap of Google theologians with advanced degrees today. On three occasions while my kids were in school, I had similar battles. I persisted. I won two and settled for a stalemate in the third – but they were a lot more “polite” and careful after the stalemate. I may choose to let error directed at me slight, but when someone I love is being assaulted or misled, I do not. I don’t always win – but the perpetrator always knows they have been in a battle. Rarely do they want a rematch, so it has always been a success.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kim Sevier says:

            Our whole education system is a hot mess—look how they are rewriting American History. Common Core is shameful. Of course, matters of faith are most important. I agree Charlie–always fight for right—it is not about winning–it is about doing the right thing. We are not in charge of the results.

            Liked by 1 person

      • DanJ says:

        This is a question I have been pondering for a long time. It would seem to make sense that it is “better” to exist even in hell, than to never have existed at all. If that were not the case, wouldn’t it be cruel for God to have created beings that can potentially end up in hell?

        Like

        • jaykay says:

          I’m no theologian, DanJ, but all I can say is: God also created the Angels, and look what happened! So are we to say He should have created nothing, and continued in His own infinite perfection? He certainly could have done. But He did choose to create Angels and Men, so surely it comes back to His gift of free will for all His creation? Therefore we have the potential to exercise our free will, even to the utmost of choosing to self-annihilate by rejecting Him. I believe that we can choose that, God preserve us. He cannot be cruel, being perfect. Anyway, like I said, I’m no theologian and surely far better minds have answered your question. Blessings to all, J.

          Like

          • jaykay says:

            Umm… just realised, I went off on a tangent and didn’t really address the fundamental point: “is it better to exist in hell than never to have existed”? My gut feeling is, no, it can’t be, but I’d better cede place to those who can really give a better answer, and sincere apologies for the diversion. Blessings (again) to all. J.

            Like

          • Mick says:

            ‘Salright, Jaykay; I always enjoy reading what you have to say (even when you go off on a tangent). 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            I too have pondered this. I have asked myself “is an infinite God lonely?”. He may have had to create about 10 billion people to keep him company and our company works only with free will. Otherwise, we would be robots to him. The other side is WOW! We all get to experience life! What a great gift and treasure!

            Like

        • YongDuk says:

          DanJ:

          I propose that the question really is about the Vulnerability of God, in other words, the perspective of your question should be changed from the creature as the subject to God.

          Would God really chance the creation of a creature that He loves infinitely knowing that the creature would choose not to reciprocate that Love?

          Would stink to be that creature! …in my opinion… but what I know, I hope never to be in that position–pray God!

          We know the answer from both perspectives: Infinite Love gave of Itself; self-love refused to give of itself: non serviam.

          I want to get to know that God Who took that risk, in a sense, and Who desired/desires to Love and Love and Love and keep creating creatures with Free Will, so that they can make that choice to be or not to be: to love or not to love… as I said a few screens ago: given, received, shared.

          Glory!

          The problem for most people is that they don’t understand–don’t easily and truly comprehend–the radical choice against Love that mortal sin is. To be in Hell, one has to be perfectly evil. Just as to be in Heaven, one has to be perfectly good (ergo, the Mercy that Purgatory is in healing our defects).

          So, in that perfection of evil that the creature chooses radically, yes, I suppose there is the self-satisfaction of self-love that is perfected as an end unto itself (as opposed to God as the Final End), that that creature is “happier” to have existed unto to that end, as a choice for an apparent good.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Mick says:

          I’m definitely no theologian, but I can’t see how it would be better to exist in hell than never to have existed at all–especially given that our Lord said of Judas (who, since our Lord, in John 17:12, called him the “son of perdition” and said that he had been “lost,” is presumably in hell), “It would be better for him if he had never been born.” (Matt. 26:24)

          My brother taught at my Catholic high school. I had him for Western Civilization, which was a religion course. My brother, who was a non-practicing Catholic at the time, was a good teacher and did the best he could; but he had no formal training or credentials to teach religion. He was a History major. I had the varsity basketball coach for another religion course, and my track coach for yet another religion course. I also had a priest (with whom I had a fourth religion course) say during class that Mormons are Christians, just like Catholics and Lutherans and Baptists.

          My hope and prayer is that after the Rescue, Catholic schools will as a general rule teach the Truth again.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Dorothy says:

        Charlie, I did write a letter to the teacher .. I hope he will respond.!
        Thank you and all readers for words of advice I really appreciate it !
        I truly am hoping for a positive resolution to this problem.
        You are my second family .. … Thank you all so much !!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Beckita says:

      As a retired educator, Dorothy, I think the letter you send will benefit not only your daughter but many other students as well. Even if the teacher does not respond in a way that acknowledges the correction, he will be affected. Actually, it will also send a ripple of truth drawing down grace for the entire Mystical Body. I am praying for you and your letter to be infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as praying for the teacher to receive it with an overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Dorothy says:

        Dear Bekita thank you for your prayers!
        I wrote a letter and am happy with it, my parish priest saw it and approved it.
        You are a sweet angel, giving everybody here words of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you for that and God bless you and your family !

        Like

        • Beckita says:

          WOW, Dorothy! Thank you for your courage which inspires and blesses us all! I will continue to pray for your daughter’s teacher and I look forward to the time when the ongoing Rescue corrects each and every one of us willing to admit to one of my favorite prayerful lines from the Divine Office: We all have seceret fears to face; our minds and motives to amend.

          Liked by 1 person

    • YongDuk says:

      Dorothy, it is easy to confuse Mercy and Justice. It is too long to get to in here and all the nuances of Mercy.

      Justice regards God’s Goodness, His being Good.

      Mercy regards God’s going beyond just Goodness to heal or make up for defects as St Thomas posits in several places extends from His Love and pity.

      God’s Justice regards then establishing Hell as a place for the Fallen Angels to exist outside of Him.

      One problem is that most people don’t make careful distinction between Justice flowing from God’s Goodness, Liberality, and Mercy.

      The other problem your High School Teacher is possibly having or is most likely referring to (and which I have been referring to for several pages — albeit several pages back) is the NeoPlatonic influence on the Early, mostly Eastern, Church Fathers. They are confused in their nonConcrete, nonScholastic, [nonScientific], Platonic/NeoPlatonic language that most modern people expect.

      So, while this maybe a bad understanding of Church Theology, the Teacher is likely confused on the distinctions and the clarifications given by the Church on these speculative theologies and the weight to give these speculative theological positions.

      Liked by 1 person

    • YongDuk says:

      I probably just confused things.

      1. Early Fathers were influenced by Neoplatonism which saw varying degrees of falleness and the eventual restitution of all things. Thus, even St. Augustin posited one could pray for souls in Hell to lessen their pains.

      2. Terms were fluid and nonconcrete. They did not use specific terms as the Scholastics did and tried to distinguish and also they often changed terms between writings or even within the same writings.

      3. People get confused who try to apply Scholastic precision to Neoplatonic influenced theologians and even more when they try to proof text based on the Early Church Fathers.

      4. The Church throughout the Ages corrected most erroneous speculative Neoplatonic theology, but that takes good resources to parse out between what is good in one writing by one Early Father and another. (e.g. St. Augustin contradicted himself a lot if not read carefully or just did.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is true that God’s choice to not eternally force His presence upon those who reject Him is essentially an act of mercy, for indeed His presence for such souls would be a greater torment than hell itself. But God did NOT create hell! The demons (chiefly Lucifer) who rejected God made hell.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sr Lorraine says:

      It’s possible that the teacher was conveying something in an unfortunate way. He or she may have been thinking about what St Thomas taught, that God in his mercy and goodness does not annihilate anything he has created. Things exist only because God wills that they should. Once anything is created, God does not withdraw his creative will (ie. does not annihilate anything). So not even the souls in hell are annihilated. In that sense it is better for the souls in hell to exist than for them not to exist. It is a bit of a mystery. Here is what St Thomas said:
      http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1104.htm#article4

      Liked by 1 person

      • YongDuk says:

        I had to laugh at your excellent answer, Sr Lorraine, which inevitably mixed mercy and goodness, which in other places Aquinas makes great distinction as I mentioned between Justice, Liberality, and Mercy. The Respondo of Question 21 Article 4 of the Prima Pars, Whether in every work of God there are mercy and justice?, shows how moot it can be to parse out those differences. Yet, St Thomas does with such alacrity that only after several hours of reading him straight in English does what seem convoluted become un-convoluted. (Of course, supposedly the common English translation available was done by Latin students and therefore is convoluted in being wooden.)

        Personally, I would have started and stopped with this great line: Opus autem divinae iustitiae semper praesupponit opus misericordiae, et in eo fundatur

        Liked by 1 person

      • Or as I used to teach my students, “God does not un-create.”

        Like

      • Joseph77 says:

        Sr. Lorraine,
        Rom 11:29 “For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable”….. Apply here? God cannot deny Himself. “Indeed, could anything at all exist which had not been present with You from all eternity?….Everything that is and can be is eternally present to you.” (Karl Rahner cf. Encounters With Silence, pgs 1, 11) Therefore, since He willed to create humans and angels out of infinite love who are with Him from all eternity, God cannot annihilate those who reject Him. If my conclusion is in error, I am open to correction.

        Like

    • Petra says:

      Dorothy: Get a copy (or maybe you already have one) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (promulgated by John Paul II) and when things like this come up, find the true teaching of the Church on the topic, and correct the error they put in your daughter’s head. Make sure she has access to the book to she can look up things on her own. I wish this had been around when I was a teenager. It would have saved me a lot of trouble. 🙂
      God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

    • JeanE says:

      Hi Dorothy, just wanted to say to you that..wow, this really hit a cord in me! I would send the letter and then, if possible, you could look into homeschooling your kids. I pulled my own children from a Catholic School due to so many errors in teachings – exactly like what you have stated and there was no good response to my fight with them or acknowledgment of the Truth the Church teaches. They did however manage to belittle me and my children and punish my children..in front of the other children. They were sent out of the class and humiliated… I prayed and cried and God saved us from those wolves in sheep’s clothing. My spiritual director, on hearing this, stopped, prayed and suggested I home school…and off we went. It had not occurred to me until then! I trusted God would give me what I needed for their sake and so He did!
      Lord have mercy on those who would lead children astray! Do not fear them- God will show you a way to preserve the Faith for your children, for all. And instead of fighting and worrying, you will have peace, love, truth and time with your kids! And your children will be able to actually be children. I found out very quickly, God will do anything He can to protect His little ones- especially with parents who love them and are seeking His protection!
      Homeschooling was one of the most beautiful experiences we have ever had. To this day I still thank God for allowing this and my kids still thank me for doing it. I was just wonderful and so much fun! God bless you and your family!!

      Liked by 4 people

  19. Michael King says:

    Thank you Charlie for this collection of articles from people with open eyes and sharp minds. I’ve always liked Dreher and pray he’ll find his way back to the Catholic Church, perhaps in one of her eastern rites (truth be told, since my youth I have always prefered the Byzantine liturgy and the eastern articulation of the one faith. The local Ukrainian pastor has encouraged me to get permission to switch rites but I have a lousy singing voice and would never be able to manage the chant). I read his book on Dante’s Divine Comedy while on vacation last summer and heartly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. nicky says:

    Great post. Much to reflect on. On another note, I just saw on drudge report that China tested an anti satellite missile. Wondering what statement this makes. They took pictures for all to view.

    Like

  21. Patricia says:

    Charlie,
    Everything you need to know about the hierarchy in the Boston Archdiocese is in the second article.
    Decades ago, Malachi Martin wrote “The Jesuits” and the betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church. Enough said.

    Like

  22. Judith says:

    Oooohh. My head hurts. I’ll revisit this posting….later. After taking something for my headache!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thanks for sharing these two articles, Charlie. They each helped refine my meditations that began earlier on the mountain yesterday. Very relevant and thematic for me.

    I usually prefer to head out to some remote desert wilderness area, but chose to climb the north face to Tom’s Thumb yesterday where I knew I would also encounter a number of other climbers. Maybe that resulted from a little prodding… at any rate, I was enriched from the whole experience.

    As expected, I did encounter a great many people on the mountain, from the seasoned to the very casual, as well as some first-timers. There was a young family with two children that barely reached my thigh in height. I crossed paths with them near the top and truly marveled to see the young ones there. I paused briefly to chat with the mom. “Wow, did both your kids make that tough climb on their own?” “Yes they did,” replied the mom. I was sure to congratulate both kids and let them know what an impressive accomplishment that was. Even more impressive was the humility they showed at my praise.

    I also chatted it up with a couple of seasoned climbers who had just rappelled down the ‘thumb’, which consists of about 80 meters of steep vertical boulder. They also exuded a great deal of joy, but a surprising amount of humility as well.

    There were all sorts of other folks including another conspicuous family, talking animatedly almost the entire way. No matter where I seemed to be on the mountain, I could always hear them. When I finally seemed to get out of earshot, I suddenly heard them again, belting out the theme song from Indian Jones which echoed loudly through the canyons.

    I also remember passing three other families, briefly, who appeared to be foreign tourists. It was a quick passing with no chatter. No greetings (because everyone was strained and winded). Heads down. No eye contact from the groups. The brief encounter left me with the impression that they were carrying out the climb with a sort of detached efficiency. A simple task to be accomplished. Who knows. Maybe they were just humble, shy, or both. Only God knows, and I had remind myself repeatedly not to judge based solely on appearances.

    I encountered a great many others of all flavors. Young, old. Flashy, simple. Families, single. Some had dogs. I passed one more family at about the halfway point on my way down. Honestly, this is the encounter that has stuck with me most persistently. There were two young kids who were both very energetic and happy to be attempting the mountain, but mom and dad both appeared to be struggling mightily with the exertion. I smiled at both parents. Their faces were flush and pouring with sweat, but I could also see the resolved determination. Not entirely sure if they eventually hit the top, but I was definitely pulling for them.

    I’m a big fan of both St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux. In a sense, I guess I found a little bit of both out there, as well as inklings of other saints. I’m also going to keep praying for all those who haven’t reached the ‘mountain trailhead’ yet, plus those who can’t find anything better to do than burden their neighbor’s pack with rocks once they get there.

    God Bless,

    MP

    Liked by 2 people

    • YongDuk says:

      That does it, Michael Patrick, I shall get Doug to belt out the Latin version of Kumbaya on our Field Trip!

      Loved your insight on the Mountain! Took me back to the Adirondacks… Funny how Americans say “Hello” to each other on a trail, but not on a sidewalk.

      Like

      • They also wave at strangers in passing cars while driving down a secluded country road. But not while driving in the city. At least we do here in Texas.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Doug says:

        Kumbaya in Latin! Yes! I have got to learn this. Thank you Yong Duk!

        Like

      • Sure, YD, a wilderness trail, country road, small town square, etc. are virtually free from the typical distractions (it’s also helpful to ignore the cell phone when you’re in these settings). That’s not to say that cities are all bad, I think we just need to better learn how to properly ‘see’ in that environment so as not to get so easily distracted.

        Friends, how exactly do we expect the little flame to catch and grow into the blaze?

        I think once we start ‘seeing’ more clearly in all the setting we find ourselves in, we’ll start attending more to all the ‘flowers’ there, bent, broken, and struggling though they may be. O.K., we know to (and many do) simply stop and provide them with a little sunlight, water and TLC (or maybe better to say “TDL”). Eye contact and a smile. A kind word. Some small courtesy. A silent prayer. A sigh. Folks, whatever we can muster, and wherever we can apply it.

        I think we too often have unrealistic expectations and goals for ourselves (i.e. – we skip the simple because it’s… well, painfully simple, and try to tackle something that’s more epically heroic). Hm. I think that if God had to wait on most of us to become that kind of hero, He would be waiting a long time. Further, I think we know from experience that this can result in losing heart and feeling like we’ve failed on some level. It can be humbling experience, but a good lesson nonetheless.

        I was contemplating this as I watched the sun rise this morning. What is the light of a single candle to the sun? Oh, nearly nothing really, but what is the flame of a single candle to the darkness? St. Francis answers that for us nicely.

        In this pregnant pause, I considered the little candle that is Charlie (and other individuals). O.K. See what happens when you join the little flames of two candles. Now three… How many candles does it take to make a blaze? Well, I’m not sure, but it seems like we’re trying to find out in earnest.

        I was also remembering my wife’s pregnant pauses in the birthing cycle of our kids. Honestly, I felt mostly useless attending to the smallest of things. Funny, but she also likes to remind me often, “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.”

        Ah well, perhaps I’ve added nothing here (but I’m not going to sweat it). Just file this under “homespun.” If nothing else, I reminded myself once again what a difficult time I have with practicing the most simple, common sensical things. I don’t have time to waste fretting about the storm, considering how much care it takes to protect my tiny flame and how important it is for me join it to others. If I happen to help light another wick along the way, then Praise God!

        Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, SPREAD THE EFFECT OF GRACE OF THY FLAME OF LOVE OVER ALL OF HUMANITY…

        MP

        Liked by 3 people

  24. Stephen Maresch says:

    All wisdom begins with humility, which is the foundation of all understanding. So many get their degree and suddenly they believe they are above all other persons, a class set apart. Some unlearned also can have spiritual pride believing they have the key to Gods actions judging those around them because they may hold key roles within ones parish, or ones parish Priest. True humility guides ones heart to know all that I have and all that I will be comes from God, as Saint Paul said,” so how can we boast of our gifts” as if they came from us. Boast in Christ and let your love for one another speak volumes.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Mary-Louise says:

    Charlie,
    I have the distinction of being told to leave the confessional after encountering a Boston College professor/Jesuit. I had asked a question; he answered; I responded citing Cardinal Burke and canonist Ed Peters; he told me we had nothing more to discuss. Stunned, I just stopped and walked out. I hadn’t known going in he was substituting at a parish I sometimes went to. Anyway, I found out who he was, googled him and discovered he was famously in favor of same-sex marriages. If you want to find out about the current thinking at BC, you might look at the resource book published by a center at the theology center there. It’s called C21 Resources. It includes an article on a ‘Catholic’ gay family. Link:

    https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/top/church21/pdf/C21%20Resources%20Spring%202015%20Catholic%20Families.pdf

    Like

  26. Julia says:

    How in the name of God could anyone confuse the difference between Mercy and Justice.

    Mercy (Divine) is the means to escape hell for all eternity.

    Justice (Divine) is the means that purifies (Purgatory) souls who in some or many cases would otherwise end up in hell for all eternity.

    Who needs a phd in Theology to work that one out.

    Like

    • YongDuk says:

      Lol…

      I answer that a theology student who had to read the following might:

      On the contrary, It is said (Psalm 24:10): “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth.”

      I answer that, Mercy and truth are necessarily found in all God’s works, if mercy be taken to mean the removal of any kind of defect. Not every defect, however, can properly be called a misery; but only defect in a rational nature whose lot is to be happy; for misery is opposed to happiness. For this necessity there is a reason, because since a debt paid according to the divine justice is one due either to God, or to some creature, neither the one nor the other can be lacking in any work of God: because God can do nothing that is not in accord with His wisdom and goodness; and it is in this sense, as we have said, that anything is due to God. Likewise, whatever is done by Him in created things, is done according to proper order and proportion wherein consists the idea of justice. Thus justice must exist in all God’s works. Now the work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy; and is founded thereupon. For nothing is due to creatures, except for something pre-existing in them, or foreknown. Again, if this is due to a creature, it must be due on account of something that precedes. And since we cannot go on to infinity, we must come to something that depends only on the goodness of the divine will–which is the ultimate end. We may say, for instance, that to possess hands is due to man on account of his rational soul; and his rational soul is due to him that he may be man; and his being man is on account of the divine goodness. So in every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears mercy. In all that follows, the power of mercy remains, and works indeed with even greater force; as the influence of the first cause is more intense than that of second causes. For this reason does God out of abundance of His goodness bestow upon creatures what is due to them more bountifully than is proportionate to their deserts: since less would suffice for preserving the order of justice than what the divine goodness confers; because between creatures and God’s goodness there can be no proportion.

      Sed contra est quod dicitur in Psalmo XXIV, omnes viae domini misericordia et veritas.
      http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/sth1015.html

      😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just as we pray to the Divine Mercy we can also pray to the Divine Justice. Justice does not only mean retribution for wrong doing. It also means reward for right doing. I often invoke Divine Justice for someone who has done something extraordinarily kind, sacrificial or brave. I have witnessed extraordinary graces in response to such prayers.

        Liked by 2 people

  27. Doug says:

    And this is why my daughter did not go to BC and chose Franciscan University of Stuebenville. It was a wise choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia says:

      It sure was. Everyone I know who went there are not only still faithful they are leaders in the faith. One of mine went to Georgetown and what a disaster that place is.

      Liked by 2 people

  28. Lots of influence from BC to many surrounding communities that send parishioners there for Adult study. Some good stuff….a lot close to heretical. My younger years were heavily influenced by the thought of Jesuits, and Bishop Cupich of Chicago represents their Relativism well. Good mixed with bad is a lot more confusing than pure evil. Grateful for all here and the truth so many live out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Doug says:

      When my daughter was investigating BC and went on a tour with my wife, they boasted about having certain gay representation in a particular area along with Hillary Clinton and George Sorros as recent guest speakers. We crossed this college off our list very fast. As parents, if we subsidize tuition, then we have a say in where they go. If they don’t like it, no problem, they can go where they want, but we also don’t have to subsidize.

      Liked by 2 people

  29. Phillip Frank says:

    “The Church maintains, there is a convergence between believers and nonbelievers. Here is good, here is evil. This affirmation of basic values of good and evil brings people together.”
    I think the above quote from the first article is why Pope Frances is opening wide the churches doors. He sees that as evil constricts humanity, a precipitation of those seeking divine truth are making their way into the remnant camps.
    As the line written in the sand between good and evil becomes more and more clear and the enemy makes his case more and more obvious we will see more people come back to their moral senses, which is written in their hearts.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Linda2 says:

    Hi Charlie and Family,
    I have been here for about a month and I have enjoyed myself and learned so much already that I would like to continue on with you. But I fear I haven’t much to contribute to theological discussions so, in all fairness to those who are here and contributing, I’m not sure if I should remain. (I find my mind wandering to such things as, “Where did Beckita get that incredibly beautiful picture of Our Lady? I’m so jealous!” LOL) I actually took a masters course in theology years ago (taught by liberals, unfortunately, which just left me angry and frustrated, but I picked the chicken and threw away the bones, as they say) and I remember very little now of what I learned then. I find myself on here drinking it all in but I am not contributing except to pray for those who request prayer as intercessory prayer seems to be my calling in these, my retirement years. So, I apologize for not being a more active, critical member of the family, and I thank you for all you have given to me. I went into the archives last night and noticed a Linda who was here before me, so if I should log in with a “hi” in order to receive your comments in my email, I will edit my name to Linda2. The choicest of blessings to all of you, and know that my prayers are with each and every one of you as I move on to Adoration this morning.

    Liked by 6 people

    • charliej373 says:

      You hang in with us, Linda. We have all sorts of flowers in this garden – theology, mysticism, traditionalists, homespun types, prayer devotions. To lose any that try to take the next right step, regardless of what type of flower they are, would impoverish this garden. Keep it blooming, whether you are a daisy, a rose, an orchid, or a violet.

      Liked by 7 people

      • Linda2 says:

        Thank you, Charlie. I know it would have been a great loss if I had not discovered the TDL family and the NRS way. Your wisdom and the love and respect evidenced on this forum are of great support to me in these times. God bless you abundantly.

        Liked by 1 person

    • YongDuk says:

      On the other page, we are planning a non-Theological, non-Kumbaya trip… ALL are welcome. (Oh, Doug and Michael Patrick, that’s another song we are NOT allowed to sing or hum.)

      Sorry if I seemed heady on this one [I wrote you a comment above] .

      🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Linda2 says:

        Thank you, YongDuk. The trip sounds exciting and I think soon you will have all of us wanting to go along, but I don’t think you would want me. When Kumbaya gets stuck in my head there’s no going back. It just goes on and on and on and on and… It’s just so catchy, you know? Kind of like “It’s a Small World”. Now get that one out of your head if you can. 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          Linda, I love that one too! Let’s add, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, and Jesus Loves The Little Children. Let’s not forget our favorite folk songs. If I Had a Hammer by Peter, Paul and Mary is on the top of my list. I’ll bring the marshmallows! 🙂

          Like

          • Linda2 says:

            And I’ll bring the little children – lots and lots of them so we’ll have plenty of hugs to go around.

            Liked by 1 person

          • YongDuk says:

            Love, it!

            Doug, is this increasingly mass-outing okay?

            And Michael Patrick, if we can get you to be the Field Trip leader after all, just make sure every one holds hands around caves! Sounds like we have some good motherly chaperones to keep us men from leaving anyone behind!

            Liked by 2 people

        • YongDuk says:

          Now that’s a song worth having in your head… but that Michael Patrick is aiming for the so-called Delta Quadrant. (Star Trek reference.)

          My maternal grandmother was responsible for my conversion with all of her hidden Rosaries. I received a great grace on the anniversary of her death as a confirmation. Be bold and proud: Love! Thank you for bringing that memory back to me with your responses. Little things are so huge! (Similar to what St. Faustina wrote on the Sixth Day of her Novenna to Divine Mercy!)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Linda2 says:

            You are most welcome, YongDuk. It’s good that you remember your grandmother so fondly. She must have been a wonderful person. I received my beautiful Divine Mercy book this summer after a 4-month wait which seemed like forever. Perhaps because it is leather bound, I’m not certain. But it was so worth the wait. I have to discipline myself put it down in order to reflect. It’s a page turner.

            Like

          • Doug says:

            Hmmmm. New theme for Star Trek…. To Boldly Love where no man has Loved before….

            Liked by 3 people

        • That and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Linda2 says:

            Oh, that’s a killer, Singingflowers. See what you have started, YongDuk! On another note, I am happy to see there are singingflowers in this family as well as prayingflowers. Some day we will get together and sing our prayers.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Beckita says:

      Welcome, Linda, and Hear Hear to what Charlie wrote!!! Thank you for your prayers – a true treasure. We’re tag-teaming today with you adoring in the morning and I in the afternoon.

      Your comment about Our Lady’s image made me laugh aloud as well. I actually walked the halls of the Holy See about twelve years ago, as part of a team seeking a new commission to investigate an alleged series of apparitions. With documentation delivered and statements declared, we’re waiting on the Lord and His Church now.

      Please keep posting, Linda. You addressed us as family. Please remember, you’re part of this family!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Petra says:

      Linda2: I hope you’ll contribute whatever thoughts you have as you feel led to do. I know I get a lot out of all kinds of comments, the theological as well as the just common sensical ones; the humorous and the ones that point to a good website or article, and even ones that express some difficulty or challenge.
      The comments here seem to ebb and flow. Sometimes they are very intellectual and theological, sometimes they are practical and down to earth. Whatever the case, I guarantee someone on this site will benefit from what you have to say if you should feel led to speak up, and I know we will all benefit from your intercessory prayers. I’m so glad to know you’re here.
      God bless.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Linda2 says:

        Oh, thank you, Petra. So nice of you to take the time. And I know you are right. For example, last night when my weary bones needed a bit of a massage, mmbev had me laughing until tears were rolling down my cheeks, and my whole body felt so much better. I know you and Charlie are right and I think right now I may just be going through “old lady syndrome” of not feeling as useful as I was in days gone by. I thank God every day for what I have – including my intellect – but it is really hard sometimes to watch oneself age. I often wonder what my husband – who is now partially disabled – and I would be able to contribute during the Storm, but I do believe there is something for everyone to do.

        Liked by 3 people

        • charliej373 says:

          My maternal grandmother told me once that getting old wasn’t so bad – but it was terrible watching your kids get old.

          Liked by 3 people

        • Doug says:

          Linda, on this blog you are ageless; just like in heaven.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Linda2 says:

            Music to my ears, Doug! Thank you for your very warm welcome, and for your prayers as well. Seems you have been doing a lot of that lately. Welcome back from Medjugorge. Although from what I have heard, I am in doubt as to whether anyone really “comes back” from Medjugorge. It is nice that you can go and take everyone’s petitions with you to Our Heavenly Mother. She loves her children so much.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            Thank you Linda. Yes. I do not think I have come back yet. I went more with an attitude of wanting my circumstances in work and some things in life to change and have come back with more of an attitude of me changing. Maybe this will reflect on the other things. So much peace and love there.

            Like

          • Linda2 says:

            I have heard so many people express that same thing upon their return. And they truly are changed. God is good, isn’t He? We have a perfect mother.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Whitney says:

        Glad to know you are here Linda2. We all make a difference! It’s the little way from St. Teresa.

        Your prayers are very important, thank you!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • NancyA says:

      Linda2, of course you should remain! Charlie knows the numbers, but many, many people are ‘here’ who do not chime in and they are really no less members of the family here than those who comment often. (and you are just one who admits to the wandering mind… you’re far from the only one who has one!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Sevier says:

      Hi Linda2–please stay and keep contributing– I am amazed at the depth and insight contained in the posts of our family–and mine are always simple minded little thoughts and feelings or questions I may have. But this is a place of unconditional love and acceptance, so I don’t worry that my contributions are not heavy duty. I just want to be in the community and involved. Anyway, I bet your thoughts are much more substantial than you think!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Oh, Linda2, please do stick around! It’s OK if you’re not a frequent poster; it’s just great having you as a member of the family. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Linda, I am grateful for your prayers. I tend to be more of a prayer flower myself. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda2 says:

        “prayer flower” – I love it! We are “prayer flower” sisters! Oh, I think our Mother must love that, also. It is my pleasure to pray for you, jlynnbyrd.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome, Linda2! I had to smile because it reminded me of a small episode on the climb I recounted earlier. I noticed some ‘little thing’ towards the top and wandered off trail onto a narrow game trail to investigate. It was nothing, really, but it was a good place to rest and water up. When I turned around, I discovered that about a dozen other people had followed me, including the “Indian Jones Theme Musical Quartet. I was so flummoxed, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Finally, one big guy asks, “is this the way?”

      Well, the narrow path back looked to be jammed with people, so I did the only thing I could think of. I improvised. One step, then another, then the next thing I know I’m blazing a trail through some boulders behind me, leading through various twists and turns (Lord, please help) until I eventually came upon some wonderful caves formed by all the overlaid boulders. Naturally the Quartet was delighted with the ‘caves’, so stayed to explore. About 30 yards later I thankfully emerged on the west side of Tom’s Thumb, but with only one guy in tow. Apparently, the rest of the group was still having fun in the caves, but they all eventually emerged as well, thanking me for showing them a cool feature they otherwise would have missed. True story, but I still felt like a bit of a numbskull.

      Oh, and I never look at someone’s prayers as a small thing. That’s something truly big to bring to the group.

      God Bless,

      MP

      Liked by 1 person

      • charliej373 says:

        Nah, you were just in “Sherpa” training. Tougher than it looks, eh? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • YongDuk says:

        Michael Patrick, my initial reaction was to nominate you to be our Field Trip leader, but then it occurred to me that you lost all them people in those caves.

        What would Jesus say if we came back to our Spots from which to Stare at the Beatific Vision having lost a bunch of Saved Souls in some Caves in the middle of nowhere in the Universe??!!

        (Doug, I dare you–if you aren’t one of those Michael Patrick lost, that is–to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”)

        “Dad” will be angry!

        Like

        • Doug says:

          Some how I think if I sung Kumbaya, I would be intentionally left behind in the caves…..

          Liked by 1 person

          • Problem solved. Young Duck already added his list of banned songs to the Mission Ops Manual, and while no one was looking, I slipped my “Roadtrip Mix” into the main com. It’s already queued up, so I hope no one minds opening with a rousing pipe and drum version of “Amazing Grace” and ending with “The Notre Dame Victory March.” If all else fails, I’m sure the Angelic Host will show us how it’s really done. Hm. Let’s just hope they don’t launch into “kumbaya” to prove once again how little any of us know.

            Liked by 3 people

          • Doug says:

            Laughing hysterically. ……..

            Like

        • I never aspired to be the mission’s navigator. I figured I’d just stow away, then try to blend in later on the observation deck while everyone was ooooh’ing and aaaah’ing at God’s mighty works.

          Liked by 2 people

          • YongDuk says:

            You caught me, Michael Patrick! I too like to blend into the back ground either trailing or being in front of the group while hiking to enjoy the silence… LOVE your nature stories; thank you! Yellow shafted what???

            Liked by 1 person

      • Mick says:

        Great story, MP! 🙂

        Like

      • Linda2 says:

        Thank you, Michael Patrick, for your kind words of welcome. And for the “cliff-hanging” story. Everyone loves a good story, and you are a good storyteller!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Doug says:

      Welcome here Linda. Your reply is wonderful. Anecdotes of life experiences are just as valuable as theological discussions. A nice story and light heartedness bring joy to the soul. Also, your prayers are quite coveted!

      Liked by 3 people

  31. Christene Bartels says:

    Before I type out my comment, I am going to ask your forgiveness in advance. I guarantee this will come out messy and clumsy and probably all wrong. Please bear with me
    There is one verse in the Bible that is the clarion call that pulls at every fiber of my being; “Now this is eternal life; to know You, the one true God and to know the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” Jn 17:3.
    Jesus does not say we are to only know ABOUT God and ABOUT Him, although that is certainly a part of it, but we are to KNOW Him and KNOW God. The difference? I can know a lot ABOUT someone, I.e. I can know what hobbies my neighbor down the street has, which sports team he roots for, where he grew up, what job he has, what kind of beer he drinks, and who he had voted for in the last 10 presidential elections, his accomplishments, his failures, but do I KNOW him? Do I know what pains him? What wonders him? What brings him joy? What makes him afraid? Can I see a little of the world through HIS eyes?
    Knowing is intimate, personal, it is connection and authenticity, trust in and joy at being in each other’s company. It is not whether we kneel or stand at the consecration, receive on the tongue or in the hand, say prayers in Latin, ring bells, use incense, or play the right music at Mass. It has nothing to do with parsing and judging the words of the Pope, Cardinals, or Bishops. It it not about apparitions, signs, or wonders. It is not about conservative, liberal, progressive or traditional and it is not about academia.
    There is a brilliant book by Frank Sheed that I have read more times than I can count called To Know Christ Jesus. In the beginning of the book, he asks 3 questions to illustrate the difference between knowing and knowing about:
    1. At the Transfiguration, Jesus has a conversation with Moses and Elijah. What were they speaking about?
    2. Once, and only once, the Bible speaks of Jesus being joyful. What were the circumstances?
    3. Do you know where in the Bible Jesus speaks more times about hell than any other place? The Sermon on the Mount.

    I don’t want to know how to be a “good Catholic”. I don’t want to know how to be the “right kind” of Catholic. And I don’t want to drown in the ocean of minutiae that seems to be swamping the Church right now. I can lose myself in all of that and lose Jesus in the process. I know. I did it once. So I will do what I have done for the past three years. I will grab my rosary and pray. I will grab my Bible and read. I will grab onto the hands of the Blessed Mother and my guardian angel and begged them to hold me tight. And I will pray for and listen to the Pope and the Church the Holy Spirit leads through him, because folks, that is all we have. And I will come here every day, because Charlie, this blog speaks to my heart and gives me strength in my struggles and in these crazy days.

    I hope, after this post, I am still welcome.

    Liked by 11 people

    • charliej373 says:

      You are very welcome, Christene. But you fibbed: you said this was going to be messy and clumsy, yet it seems rather refined to me. Thanks.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Petra says:

      Still welcome? Are you kidding???? Please, come sit next to ME!!! 🙂
      God bless, Christene. I think you are spot on!

      Liked by 1 person

    • narnialion54 says:

      Christine,
      Can I sit next to you too?! 🙂 You say it so beautifully. Reading you is like a balm for my soul.
      (you too, Charlie!)
      Love, Narnia

      Like

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Christene, I love that! Thank you for sharing your witness and humble simplicity.

      Like

    • ignatius75 says:

      Christened, thank you very much for your thoughts which have given me a great deal of peace and clarity. I agree with Charlie–your words are very refined.
      God bless you!

      Like

    • ignatius75 says:

      Christene, I also really appreciated you sharing about Frank Sheed’s book, To Know Christ Jesus. That sounds like a very fruitful book to read and ponder.

      Like

      • Christene Bartels says:

        From Theology and Sanity, A Map of Life, Christ in Eclipse, The Church and I, and so many more books, Frank Sheed’s writing is brilliant, eloquent, profound and deep but yet somehow so down to earth. The first time I picked up one of books, I felt like I was sitting down for coffee with some brilliant professor who just wanted to chat away the hours, sharing his brilliant insights with whomever wanted to pull up a chair and join him. To Know Christ Jesus is, in my opinion, his masterpiece. It is like he transports you back in time and you are seeing Jesus through the eyes of those who were encountering him in those days. I literally have to close the book while I am reading at times because an insight he has just shared is so breathtaking that I have to pause and just soak in it for awhile. Just exhilarating!!!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Mick says:

      Yowsers, Christene! That was both elegant and eloquent. Bravo!

      I bet that when you were in school, you were the kid that all the slackers wanted to cheat off of… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  32. justsayin392 says:

    Yes. Gratitude is key. The more I remember to ‘thank God’ the more the God’s-eye view ‘happens.’

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Elizabeth K. says:

    As a professor at a Jesuit institution, I can really relate to the second article, sadly. Each year, I am more and more conflicted about my job. It doesn’t bother me that my institution welcomes those of other faiths, and no faith, in both the professoriate and the student body. What bothers me is how many of those in the professoriate, especially, are actively and openly hostile to Catholic teaching. I do my best to show, through my words and deeds, that it is possible to be a woman, a professor, and a faithful Catholic all at the same time, because it seems so many of our students are being taught that being smart=being an atheist, or that Catholic women are downtrodden or some such nonsense. But I am often sad, and discouraged.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. weathertop says:

    God Bless. Can someone point me to a comprehensive description of The Rescue somewhere on this site? I’d like to understand what is known about it. Thanks!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Just use the search feature near the upper right. Type in “the Rescue” and it will pull up all related articles.

      Like

      • NancyA says:

        Charlie, do you have any control over a possibility using the search feature on comments? It’s unfortunate that we cannot search for items of interest that we remember reading in comments, nor for particular persons who comment.

        That said, this is as good a place as any I suppose, to inquire if The Quiet Person is about? You are missed…

        Liked by 2 people

        • charliej373 says:

          I don’t know of a way to search comments. I have such a thing on my administrative page but it is still hard as there are now about 32,000 comments.

          Like

          • Petra says:

            I’ve wished for the same thing (to search comments) but haven’t found a way either. The best I can do is to open the posting I think the comment was in response to, and search for a keyword that may have been in it using the *Find* key on the computer (Cntl + F) (on a P.C. Searches the page on the screen for the keyword. Search box appears in the lower left of the screen.) If someone knows a way to search comments, please let us know.
            God bless.

            Like

          • You can use a Google search feature to do the trick. When you add the following in the search field:

            site:charliej373.wordpress.com

            you get a list of all the pages of Charlie’s website matching your search, comments included. Just open one of the listed pages and then do a search with your browser to find the words you’re looking for within the page. You can search for an exact sentence by putting the words between “”.

            For example, when you Google the following:

            site:charliej373.wordpress.com “I don’t know of a way to search comments”

            the list returns the URL of this page here.

            Liked by 2 people

        • I have long wished for the same thing. Any programmers out there who can design an app to search blog comments?

          Like

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          Nancy, I have been keeping our NRS emails in a separate folder vs. deleting them. I use my email account’s search tool to refer back to a prior email on any subject. 🙂

          Like

          • NancyA says:

            That is a great organizational plan! I would want to change the email address that is linked to it. Hmm.

            I feel pretty silly because I have only just realized how I can use the notifications button to find any replies that may have been made to me. I don’t have the comments emailed to me, except for the prayer requests page. So, periodically, I would haphazardly try to return to comments I may have made, by using my admittedly spotty memory! Lol!!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Petra says:

            NancyA: Regarding email comments coming to you…I set up a totally separate email account (I used Yahoo, but I think several other providers like Gmail and Hotmail provide free email accounts) to receive the email comments from this blog. Then I can use the search function in the email account to try to find something I wanted to look back at (still not foolproof. Using a key word like “prayer” is useless. Too many hits!)

            You could try this, but I haven’t looked into how or if you can change the email associated with your WordPress account, or if you’d have to establish a whole new account in WordPress to use a new email. Maybe it’s not worth it to you to do so. But I find it convenient to get all the comments in email because then I know I’m seeing everything. Maybe. I have noticed sometimes there are entries on the actual webpage I don’t remember seeing in the email comments, so I expect there are even flaws with that. I guess it’s whatever works for you and your level of interest and time available to follow comments here.

            God bless.

            Liked by 2 people

  35. Gary says:

    (The temptation is to mistake Traditionalism for Tradition. As theologian Jaroslav Pelikan memorably phrased it, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”)

    Traditionalism and Tradition both have a bad name in modernist Catholic circles. Traditionalism
    if anything seeks to return to the Faith that so many martyrs died for in their love and faith in Jesus.
    I resent this idea that is proposed that defines Traditionalism as a dead Faith of the living.
    It as if all these neo-con Catholics think they are hipper than than the modernist and closer to the Truth than Traditionalists. One has to wonder how Novus Ordo Catholics can accept this term
    taken directly from the pages of the free masonic bible which the 60’s hierarchy was heavy influenced and even members of lodges, when they created in their own image the new Mass.
    Well the neo-cons and the modernist all look their noses down at Traditionalists, so be it. When
    Christ comes back he will find so few with Faith and that remnant will be Traditionalists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Good to hear from you, Gary. You do know that that piece was taken from the site of a profound, traditionalist Bishop, don’t you? I admire non-sedevacantist traditionalists for their fervent piety. They are true Catholics. I only get annoyed when they venture into thinking they are the only Catholics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gary says:

        Ma,y Traditionalist are a pain in the neck in that regard. But it has to give one pause when one considers that many private revelations talk about the Mass being attacked and becoming not the Mass of the apostles.

        “New Celebrations’ and a ‘New Mass’ and a general lack of morals, the loss of children’s souls before reaching the age of reason, all of which will bring about the degradation of the human race and various chastisements from Heaven in attempt to bring mankind back to its senses –
        See more at: http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2015/07/marie-julie-jahenny-breton-stigmatist.html#sthash.MrquXqP4.dpuf

        Like

        • YongDuk says:

          Without ignoring the many liturgical abuses that have occurred, as my Soviet-exiled Monk friend once said to me: The “Novus Ordo” is a blessing as it can be said in times of persecution / in gulags/stalags/etc. much easier / faster than the Tridentine rite!

          I don’t think you were going that direction, Gary; I am simply tangential when not working or as a respite while working.

          Like

  36. Gary says:

    To the point of Mark Mallet and Charlie: ” we are headed to a painful purification” Crdl Müller

    http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/vaticans-head-of-doctrine-a-painful-purification-is-in-course

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Mary says:

    Just want to follow quietly

    Like

  38. The essay about secularism and religion is exceptional.

    It really shows how in a continent which can gain nothing from technology (it’s too mountainous and densely populated) and acquires a large comparative disadvantage in agriculture as economic farming shifts to flatter and cheaper land, there may be a natural tendency towards nihilism and/or radical egalitarianism – which as anyone who knows even faintly what “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” was and is, is utterly contrary in its spirit to traditional Christianity. This is because with a large comparative disadvantage in agriculture, it is difficult for communities insofar as they exist to have any memory.

    Instead, as jobs move to more and more skill-intensive industries – skills created by past advances made possible by Europe’s young, fertile soils – people lose any touch with their past history and see only the future. often, this future tends to be highly pessimistic, especially regarding job security which is limited with the vast majority of the globe’s nations and peoples increasing their comparative disadvantage in agriculture – and the few with comparative advantage there also possess almost all the un-exhausted minerals to boot.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

TheLiberative

Exploring the Many Aspects of Liberation

pelianitoblog

God speaks to us on every page of Scripture

Godversations

Extraordinary lessons in ordinary moments

Veil of Veronica

A Catholic Mom's Spiritual Journey

The Next Right Step

Abraham's Journey

ABYSSUS ABYSSUM INVOCAT / DEEP CALLS TO DEEP

Commentary on all things Catholic, Roman that is!

Cafe con Leche

An American/Caribbean Catholic couple keeping it real!

thepeppyprepper

Christ based, indepenent, sustainable living

%d bloggers like this: