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August 2020 Contents
Voting Catholic: What Is a Catholic to Do in November? (Brian M. McCall)
In the United States, the summer marks the opening of the general election campaign that will elect a president as well as determine control of Congress. What principles should inform Catholic voting decisions for candidates? Are Catholics obligated to vote? Are they obligated to vote for particular candidates? We will explore the principles that assist us in answering these questions and apply them to the circumstances we face in August 2020.
The Common Good and Authority
The starting point is the obligation to pursue the common good. Catholic teaching unequivocally condemns individualist liberalism, which places the liberty of each individual as the highest good. Individuals should be free, according to Liberalism, to pursue whatever goals they set for themselves; they owe nothing to other individuals except not to interfere with others pursing their own liberty. For Catholics, people are more than individuals. Man is a social and political animal, which means that he cannot attain the perfection of his nature alone. As Aristotle once remarked, a being that lives outside of society is ether a beast or a god. The lie that rugged individuals can ride off into the sunset and be happy on their own is wrong. Part of nature requires that we strive to practice virtue in society with others. This means we owe obligations to others more than simply not interfering with their liberty.
Whereas Liberalism sees authority as an evil, necessary at best, that interferes with liberty, Catholics hold that authority is good. Political authority was created by God. He chose to share His sovereign authority over the universe with His mere creatures. He so constituted human nature that some of us will be vested with His authority to make laws for our fellow men. Proceeding from God and reflecting an attribute of His own nature, authority can never be only a necessary evil. As St. Paul states in his Epistle to the Romans, “Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. … For he [the ruler] is God’s minister to thee, for good. … Wherefore be subject of necessity: not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake” (Rom. 13:1-2, 4, 5). Now, this does not mean that everything an authority figure does is good. They possess this great God-given power, but it is circumscribed within God’s law. They posses only the authority to enact and enforce laws to the extent they conform to the natural and divine law. To the extent they do otherwise, they exceed the scope of their delegated authority and are no law at all.
Thus, to participate in the government of any society – a family, a town, a state, or a nation – is a good willed by God. It is a participation in His divine kingship and therefore something that imposes itself upon all people to varying degrees depending upon their circumstances.
The particular virtue that obligates us to participate in the government of the societies of which we are a part (to the extent consistent with our station in life) is legal justice. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that justice always regulates duties to other individuals but legal justice considers debts owed to other individuals in their capacity as members of a common political community. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
Establishment Churchmen Rush to Defend Vatican II after Viganò’s Remarks (Stephen Kokx)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is generally regarded as one of the better, if not the best, Star Wars films. If you haven’t seen it already, the plot involves Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine (the “bad guys”) throwing down the hammer against the “rebel alliance,” a ragtag group of freedom fighters trying to bring justice to the galaxy, against all odds.
The various responses made by establishment Catholics in recent days to the blunt but undoubtedly true remarks made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about Vatican II mirror what played out in that movie.
The Knives Are Out
Up until now, Archbishop Viganò has largely been ignored by the power brokers who run what Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre originally referred to as “the Conciliar Church.” Catholic writers and media outlets have been content to dismiss him as a “conspiracy theorist” who touts absurd claims about homosexuality in the Church.
In recent days, His Excellency has received more attention than usual, undoubtedly because of President Trump’s tweet thanking him for his letter but also because of his increasingly stringent, nerve-striking assaults on the Second Vatican Council.
Predictably, conciliar authorities have leapt into action over the last two weeks (although Pope Francis has remained utterly silent) in order to prevent Catholics from thinking the Council was in any way discontinuous with the past, as Viganò suggests it was. Click here to continue reading
Editor’s Note: This month, in light of the ongoing debate over Vatican II led by Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider, we offer readers excerpts from Pope Pius XII’s 1950 Encyclical Humani Generis. This important document, issued twelve years prior to the Council’s opening, constitutes in the words of Professor Romano Amerio “a third syllabus” – the first being Pius IX’s 1864 Syllabus of Errors; the second, St. Pius X’s 1907 Syllabus condemning the errors of the Modernists, Lamentabili Sane (Iota Unum [Sarto House, 1996], p. 41).
Throughout the encyclical, Pius XII takes aim at several “new opinions” which were part of a movement known as Nouvelle théologie (“new theology”), one characterized by a “despising [of] scholastic theology” in favor of novelty. In short, the document aims at correcting neo-Modernist tendencies among certain Catholic philosophers and theologians, some of whom inexplicably went on to play significant roles as periti (“experts”) at Vatican II despite their continued adherence to false principles.
Let us pray that a future Pope will definitively condemn the errors identified by Pope Pius XII, some of which are present in the documents of Vatican II, and thus stamp out the influence of the Nouvelle théologie once and for all. Click here to read Pius XII’s Humani Generis
I have noticed that two subjects cause the most immediate, most visceral debates among those who disagree: economics and music. If I offer a critique of rock, pop, rap, praise & worship, or any other type of modern music, the floodgates of wrath open and the cataracts of indignation pour out. Similarly, if I say so much as one negative word about American capitalism, or the Austrian fantasy of a self-regulating free market that maximizes goods and services while minimizing vice and exploitation, I can expect lightning and thunder to fall on my head.
So it has proved with articles in which I have presented various arguments against capitalism as an ideal, a mentality, and an ideology. Nowhere did I speak a word against initiative, profit, or investment as such. As earlier columns in this series have shown, the properly political question is always about how the exercise of individual liberty pertains to, works with, or undermines the common good of the society, which in fact is the chief good even of individuals. If we do not guard the common good, we are injuring ourselves, since we are fundamentally not atoms but social animals. If we are Christians, we have a still more compelling reason to care about the fate of our neighbor.
The Root of Distributism
The economic philosophy known as distributism—the most famous proponents of which are Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) and G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), of whom Thomas Storck and John Médaille are well-known disciples today—is named from its most essential principle: that a society is successful in meeting the elementary needs of citizens in direct proportion to the equity and breadth of property ownership among them, and that it pertains to government’s responsibility to implement policies that aim at widespread distribution of property. In other words, it is premised on the assumption that the world’s goods are intended by the Creator for the benefit of all men, and that this benefit is realized chiefly through the well-ordered ownership, care, and use of those goods by families (my column last month was devoted to expounding this point). While there will always be corporate giants with considerable wealth and landlords renting to tenants, an economy is imbalanced to the extent that it is dominated by them.
Distributism is not as far-fetched as some people make it sound. For example, the incentives given in the United States to first-time homeowners, various tax breaks for larger families and for farmers, and tax write-offs for donations to charities are well-appreciated ways to encourage obtaining or preserving private property or, in complementary fashion, to see that it reaches as many of the needy as it can, without the inefficient and impersonal intervention of the State. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
Civilizational Warfare: Statues Are Only the Beginning (Stefanie Lozinski)
Tearing Down Statues
“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” The crowd chants, their cries filling the air like smoke, any hope of a civil word snuffed out before it can be spoken. The yellow rope falls neatly around the neck of the statue as the Confederate soldier stands high above the crowd, his face serene despite the chaos pooling beneath his boots. The crowd makes space in front of the statue, and the rope is pulled taught. “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” The screams grow louder and more intense, the words an incantation giving strength to those tasked with tugging on the rope. With what seems like little effort, the soldier is torn free, a chunk of his pedestal trailing behind him as he falls. In a breathless moment, he is airborne, his face calm as the crowd’s chant collapses into a wordless, savage cheering.
The remaining pedestal looks on. “In memory of the boys who wore the gray,” the embossed letters say. The crowd rushes at the fallen statue, still screaming. Some take pictures of themselves with the mangled effigy, the metal bent upon impact. Others began to kick at it, their toes smarting in their shoes as they manifest their violent rage. There can be no memory of this boy who wore the gray. His being already dead is not enough for them. He must be maimed. He must be spit upon. He must be erased.
This particular protest took place back in 2017, in Durham, North Carolina. No arrests were made. Indeed, other local governments throughout the United States took it upon themselves to remove other similar statues voluntarily, citing concerns that the public display of such symbols may foster divisiveness, inequality, and racism. This has become a bi-partisan issue. Many prominent conservative voices have defended the removal of these statues – albeit by what many would consider more “civilized” means – on similar grounds. Many Catholics are asking themselves similar questions: Do we compromise with the left on this issue and remove certain monuments? If so, which statues should be relegated to museums and graveyards? Do we have a moral obligation to destroy statues of historical figures widely recognized as evil? If not, must we then retroactively defend leaving statues of Adolf Hitler to stand in the streets of Berlin?
These are reasonable questions to ask, but the very fact that they are being asked at all cuts to the core of the problem: They are only being asked by those on one side of the issue. While the right ponders principles in the illustrious pages of The American Conservative, those who want to be rid of these statues are largely too busy to have a similar internal debate. There is little time to thoughtfully consider the complex matter of tearing statues down when you’re already gathering your friends and tying the noose. Sure, we may see some milquetoast calls for thoughtful consideration from the merely “liberal” rather than “leftist” faction of the left (the sort of people who are alright with murdering unborn children but who consider “ze, zim, zir” preferred pronouns a bridge too far), but it is naïve to think that such opposition will act as any sort of effective moderating force. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
St. John Bosco says that education is principally an affair of the heart. Its goal is to win the heart of the child to God and to what is true, good, and beautiful. The nightmare of a Catholic parent is surely not that of illness or of death, but rather that one of their children cast off the Faith as if it were a coat, declare, “I don’t want to be a Catholic anymore,” and plunge into a life of sin, of conformity with the world, and of misery – at every moment risking eternal death.
What has gone wrong? Clearly, it is possible for a parent to do everything that he should, and that the child, through a misuse of free will, turns away from everything that has been passed on. However, this is exceedingly rare. More likely, a parent – generally with good intentions – makes mistakes in winning the child’s heart. God wills that all children should know, love, and serve Him. His grace is working to lead all souls to Him. In the world in which we live, dominated as it is by the diabolical, parents could perhaps lose hope and think that they have a choice between their children conforming with the culture or having to be completely cut off. They must take hope! God is on their side. The parents bear the primary responsibility for the education of your children. God, the all-wise Creator, made it that those who love the children most should be responsible for educating them. Therefore, His Providence provides that they will have the grace to do all they need to do with His help. They must work out how to stay as close to Him as possible and to cooperate with Him. Here are a few ideas:
1. Parents must be saints, not canonized saints but souls for whom “for me, to live is Christ” (Philip. 1:21) is their daily reality. Sometimes, the temptation comes into our heads: “Most people don’t go to Mass. Going to Mass makes me an excellent Catholic. I don’t need to be fervent – doing the minimum is enough.” If this were ever true, it certainly is not now. In times of Catholic civilization, society led people to what was good. Even if one were not fervent oneself, one was still led to do the right thing, because everyone else was doing it. Now, society has long since turned away from God and leads souls to hell. As with many times throughout Church history, the Catholic must now be a hero. Being a hero does not mean doing strange and exceptional things; it simply means doing one’s duty faithfully each day in all circumstances. To do this by oneself is difficult. Divine aid is necessary, and it is available for the asking. Parents need to pray, do spiritual reading, frequent the sacraments, and be faithful to the grace of the sacrament of matrimony.
2. Teach your children to pray, to do spiritual reading, to practice charity and mortification. Much more, make your home a happy place where charity truly reigns. For this, you need much patience and focus on God and on your children. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
The Conspiracy of Antichrist and the Resurgence of Islam (Timothy Flanders)
Editor’s Note: In light of Turkey’s decision (announced on July 10) to convert Hagia Sophia, the famous 6th-century Christian cathedral in modern-day Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), back into a mosque after 85 years of serving as a museum, we offer readers this essay which summarizes the epic struggle between Christendom and various antichrist forces throughout history, in particular, Islam. Hagia Sophia, which was first captured by the invading Ottoman Turks at the Fall of Constantinople (1453), is perhaps the most prominent symbol of Christianity in the East. Despite present circumstances, we have hope that the magnificent church will one day be restored to Christendom when, in the words of Br. Louis Rocco (19th century), “In Istanbul (Constantinople) the Cross will replace the half-moon of Islamism….”
A Primordial Conflict
The conspiracy of antichrist began when Our Lord was rejected by the Jews. Our Lord told them of what spirit they were:
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.” (John 8:44)
The Jews who accepted Baptism went by a new name: Christian. They were signed with the sign of the king, whose title is Christ, meaning “Anointed King.” But the Jews who rejected their own king followed the spirit of antichrist, which is nothing less than the spirit of the devil himself. St. John, who recorded the above words of Our Lord, also distinguished the Antichrist – the end times figure, or “son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3) – with the those who follow this spirit:
“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. … Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also (I Jn. 2:18, 22-23).
These two passages of Scripture from the longest living Apostle, St. John, were copied and spread in the latter part of the first century A.D. when the antagonism between the Jews and the Christians was reaching its height. The first great heresy within the Church was also raging – the heresy of Judaizing – while the Jews had already been commissioning the murder of Christians, as St. Luke records (cf. Acts 9:1-2). Thus, we find immediately in the early Church the conspiracy of antichrist among the heretics and the Jews. This is what caused St. Paul to say of the heretics that “they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philip. 3:18) and of the Jews that they are “adversaries to all men” (1 Thess. 2:15).
Two Main Antichrist Hordes
But from these servants of antichrist within the Church we come now to the two groups serving antichrist from without the Church. The first are the pagans. These men were first the Romans, then the Armenians and Abyssinians, the Goths, Celts and later Rus and the Vikings. All of these pagans were conquered for the true King and became servants of His Majesty, forsaking their idols. Pagans, moreover, have always been only antichrist in an implicit sense. Their false worship of demons never explicitly denies Jesus Christ, and thus a certain openness to the Gospel is present among pagans that no other hostile force has.
But the second army of antichrist has proven to be perhaps the most implacable enemy of Christ and the most pernicious heresy from without: Mohammedanism. Under their false prophet Muhammad, they conquered the Arabian peninsula (622-632), then under the “Rightly-Guided Caliphs” (632-661) and the Umayyad dynasty (661-750) they invaded Christian lands and violently seized most of the Modern Middle East, from modern Turkey, Iran and Egypt, to Morocco and Spain. The great St. John Damascene (675-749), within a few generations of their rise to power, identified them with the spirit of antichrist:
“There is a superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist[.]…a false prophet named Mohammed…after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy.”
The heresy of Muhammad begins with the most central tenant, their “creed,” known as the shahada which states, “The is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” To Mohammedans, this creed is an explicit attack on the Blessed Trinity because of the concept of tauhid or “singularity,” which is essentially the assertion that God is “One God in One Person.” The opposite of tauhid is to Mohammedans the unforgivable sin of shirk, which means to “associate anything or anyone with God.” This antichrist creed is the heart of the shahada, which is proclaimed publicly and loudly by the call to prayer. Thus, in this simple phrase is the canonizing of the spirit of antichrist. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
The Canonization of Joan of Arc, Her Last Trial – Part III (Henry Ansgar Kelly, Ph.D.)
Second Devil’s Advocate: John Baptist Lugari
The next records of Joan of Arc’s process were published in 1901, in two volumes, both titled Positio super virtutibus, which I label 1901A and 1901B. The former contains two parts: first the testimony of 48 witnesses, dated July 6, 1898, reviewed by Alexander Verde, Subpromotor and Advocate of the Congregation, and second a Summarium additionale, with data taken from the nullification trial and other documents, mainly published by Quicherat, reviewed by Verde, and a brief Novum summarium additionale, containing the formal request of the new Postulator, Xavier Hertzog, the current Procurator General of the Sulpicians, to the new Promotor, John Baptist Lugari, for the “compulsation” (formal authentication and submission) of the rehabilitation trial records. The Promotor first requires the Postulator to take the “oath of calumny,” swearing he will act in good faith, and the Subpromotor, Verde, is present to examine all submissions for errors.
In the 1901B Positio super virtutibus, there is first a long Informatio on the dubium in Joan of Arc’s case, namely: “Is there certainty regarding the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity toward God and neighbor and also concerning the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, and associated virtues, to a heroic degree, in the matter and to the effect that is being investigated?” The account is dated August 8, 1899, and signed by the Advocates John Baptist Minetti and Angel Mariani, and also by Adolph Guidi, and reviewed by Subpromotor Verde. Next comes the Animadversiones of Promotor Lugari, dated 15 March 1901, together with a packet of documents, and finally the Responsio ad Animadversiones, dated 31 October 1901, signed by Minetti, Mariani, and Guidi. Both the Informatio and the Responsio are in the first-person singular, and I take it that Minetti is the speaker.
The new Promotor divides his attack in the same way as his predecessor: after a prologue, he speaks first of proofs, then of the main subject under investigation, virtues this time rather than fame, and finally of the obstacles that he sees in the way of a positive response. In the introduction, he willingly admits that Joan of Arc was a remarkable person who was moved by divine instinct to bring aid to her king and country. He, too, would rejoice if divine honors could be added to her earthly renown, but, unfortunately, it seems to him that the holy laws of the Church stand in the way of such a result, and that for a number of reasons.
In the first chapter, he says that the only valid proofs about the nature of Joan of Arc’s virtues, so long after her lifetime, can come from historical documents. But the trial of rehabilitation was no less political than the trial of condemnation, except that it was prejudiced in her favor rather than against her. He impugns it in much the same way as his predecessor (though he makes no reference to his account).
Further Scrutiny of Joan’s Practice of Virtue
In the next chapter, he runs through the texts adduced by her supporters to prove her various virtues, and he finds all of them inadequate to the standard of the saints. Granted, she died a pious death, but, to start with the theological virtues, what was heroic about her faith? As for her possession of the virtue of hope, almost nothing is alleged, and what is said about her love of God and neighbor contains nothing remarkable. The same with the first two cardinal virtues, prudence and justice.
He spends much time on the next cardinal virtue, fortitude. He admits that she suffered much but says that she did not do so willingly. One could, perhaps, speak of her tireless and unbroken fortitude in responding to her judges, but it would be more appropriate to praise her quickness of mind and wonderful memory. Moreover, since fortitude is the chief military virtue, it should be manifested especially in warlike deeds. But in Joan of Arc’s case there is no testimony in support of such, and much to the contrary. When she received a slight wound, she carried on in a way unbefitting a bellatrix. Her fear of imprisonment was different from the attitudes of the saints of history, who positively desired to suffer out of love for God. The Promotor accepts that she was receiving genuine heavenly revelations, but he holds that she misinterpreted what her voices were telling her about being imprisoned and being released from captivity. He concludes that her saints did not speak more openly to her because of her weakness (imbecillitas). Therefore, she was far removed from the fortitude of the saints. He ends by telling of her fearful behavior on her death day. “Certainly, I am not one to censure these complaints, these groans of the Maid who was soon to die. For who would not be moved to pity her misery? I maintain only that she did not manifest heroic fortitude.” To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
Our Lady of Fatima, Mother and Teacher: Part VII – An Implicit Prophecy for the Church (Marianna Bartold)
As covered in the last installment, Our Lady of Fatima spoke in July of three things which would for the three children, especially Lucia, lead to much suffering. At Lucia’s request, the Virgin had promised, “In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all see and believe.” She also gave them a secret, which she told them not to reveal to anybody. Due to these three predictions, word spread throughout Portugal like wildfire, attracting in the ensuing months even larger crowds. Not long before the expected August 13 apparition, their heroic acts, as well as those committed either in good or ill will toward these little ones, starkly but also movingly remind us anew of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, but they also suggest what I call an implicit prophecy.
August: The Lady’s Invisible Presence and a Boom of Thunder
However, for the three young children, the July events led to more interrogations and increasing persecutions, afflictions, and grief, which they offered to God in reparation for sins. What happened on August 13 is explained in the following section from my book, Fatima: The Signs and Secrets:
In the morning of August 13, the children were abducted by the Masonic mayor of their locality. They were, therefore, unable to meet the Lady at the appointed place and time. Certainly, Heaven knew that the children were not present at the Cova di Iria, where the Apparition appeared. But God deigned to grant certain signs to the throng of people, thus manifesting the Lady’s unseen presence.
Meanwhile, over the course of three days (August 13-15, 1917), the young ones endured a roller-coaster of interrogation, enticing promises, a malicious charade of facing death should they refuse to deny seeing the Lady from Heaven, and finally, imprisonment with adult malefactors. Through it all, the three children remained faithful to what they had earlier reported, but they refused to divulge anything pertaining to the Secret.
The little ones were released to their parents on August 15, the very day on which the Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into Heaven. (In 1917, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was a Church doctrine. It was not solemnly defined as a dogma until 1950.) Our Lady unexpectedly appeared to the children on Sunday, August 19. She again promised a miracle in the last month “so that all may believe.” She also told the children, “If you had not been taken away to the City, the miracle would have been greater,” thus emphasizing God’s revealed truth that all people are affected by every sin that wounds the Mystical Body of Christ.
Redemptive Suffering: “The Lady Will Help Us Always”
We recall that in July, after the Virgin gave the Great Secret of Fatima, the Lady said to the children (and through them, to the entire Church): “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times to Jesus, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
It cannot be a coincidence but rather a plan of God’s design that Our Lady gave this prayer almost immediately preceding the greater sufferings of the three little ones, who were already bearing much in reparation to God for sins. To continue reading, subscribe to the Catholic Family News E-Edition
*Roman Catechism Series* On the Sacrament of Penance (Matthew Plese)
After having carefully considering each of the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist), the Roman Catechism next turns its attention to the Sacrament of Penance. In contrast to Baptism and Confirmation, whose valid reception may occur only once in a lifetime, the Sacrament of Confession may be frequented often. Like the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the Sacrament of Penance is one which Catholics will most often experience. Yet, familiarity often breeds forgetfulness. Even lifelong Catholics can benefit from carefully reflecting upon the wisdom of St. Charles Borromeo and the writers of the Roman Catechism in its chapter on this remarkable sacrament.
Importance of the Sacrament
In its introductory remarks on the subject, the Roman Catechism asserts the paramount importance of proper instruction on the Sacrament of Penance (also known as Confession), emphasizing the necessity of this sacrament for those who sin after Baptism:
“If, therefore, the diligence of pastors should be proportioned to the weight and importance of the subject, we must admit that in expounding this Sacrament they can never be sufficiently diligent. Nay, it should be explained with more care than Baptism. Baptism is administered but once and cannot be repeated; Penance may be administered and becomes necessary, as often as we may have sinned after Baptism. Hence the Council of Trent declares: For those who fall into sin after Baptism the Sacrament of Penance is as necessary to salvation as is Baptism for those who have not been already baptized. The saying of St. Jerome that Penance is a second plank, is universally known and highly commended by all subsequent writers on sacred things. As he who suffers shipwreck has no hope of safety, unless, perchance, he seize on some plank from the wreck, so he that suffers the shipwreck of baptismal innocence, unless he cling to the saving plank of Penance, has doubtless lost all hope of salvation.”
This admonition is aimed not only at priests (to encourage them to preach often on the subject) but also at the laity, that they may rediscover the importance of Confession for their own spiritual lives:
“These instructions are intended not only for the benefit of pastors, but also for that of the faithful at large, to awaken attention, lest they be found culpably negligent in a matter so very important. Impressed with a just sense of the frailty of human nature, their first and most earnest desire should be to advance with the divine assistance in the ways of God, without sin or failing. But should they at any time prove so unfortunate as to fall, then, looking at the infinite goodness of God, who like the good shepherd binds up and heals the wounds of His sheep, they should not postpone recourse to the most saving remedy of Penance.”
Journeying Home to Rome Two Times Over, Part II (Amanda Evinger)
Discerning a Religious Vocation
Shortly after I became Roman Catholic in 2001, I served as a live-in volunteer at an emergency women’s night shelter with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s nuns) for about three years. I also spent time as a Postulant in a traditional Carmelite cloister, which held all of its offices in Latin, used the 1990 Constitutions (based on the original Constitutions written by St. Teresa of Avila), maintained profound austerity (complete with straw beds), and savored all of the pre-Vatican II Carmelite devotions, such as the Chaplet of the Holy Face, Gregorian chant, and novenas to the Divine Infant. I was also a novice in a contemplative community that was not specifically traditional.
During my time in religious life, I noticed a stark contrast between the three orders; not only because of their varying charisms, but also because of the spirituality in which they were grounded. I have looked back to my experiences in religious life and thanked God for all of the beautiful graces He gave to me in each community. Truly, He was alive and at work in each one, and many of the religious sisters I encountered in each community were inebriated with His love. Overall, however, I have noticed that the structure, rule of life, and traditional Catholic spirituality of the Carmelite cloister provided tremendous protection from the diabolical attacks that religious orders so often experience because of their zeal for sanctity—the praying of the 1962 Breviary in Latin, the chant, the extraordinary penances (which have been abandoned by the majority of modern religious orders).
When my mother superiors discerned that I was not called to religious life due to some serious health issues, I moved on and became a professional Catholic writer. In 2008, I married the brother of one of the nuns I was with in the convent. Given that Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum had recently been released, we requested to have the first Latin High Nuptial Mass in the Diocese of Fargo since about 1970. It was absolutely breathtaking.
For the first 10 years of our marriage, we were “just getting by” in our spiritual lives, going to our local diocesan Novus Ordo Mass. Although we made regular Holy Hours of Eucharistic Adoration, went to daily Mass often, prayed the family Rosary every day, and home schooled our children with a lovely Catholic curriculum, we both felt something amiss in our spiritual lives. No matter how many Novus Ordo Masses we attended or prayers we prayed, we still felt spiritually famished and immensely lonely. Regardless of our unsettled feelings, we just didn’t know what to do, so we kept trying to improve our local parish, while listening to traditional Catholic sermons online, and trying to travel the narrow road within the walls of our domestic church (it was too hard to travel this road when we were bombarded by “neo-Catholic peer pressure” at our local parish).
Over the years, I continued to work part-time from home as a professional writer. I conducted thousands of interviews with Catholics all over the country and perhaps did a thousand or more hours of theological research. All of these experiences gave me keen insight into the current state of the Catholic Church in America. I saw that there were so many generous Catholics who were serving at the parishes, praying often and going to the Novus Ordo Mass very regularly, and yet, their faith just seemed so stagnant. Their marriages were falling apart, their teenage children were refusing to go to Mass, their grown children weren’t marrying Catholics or pursuing the priesthood or the religious life, and the ministries they spent decades building were dwindling. Most of them had been told that eternal salvation was sort of an automatic thing given to people who attended Mass from time to time, and thus they didn’t have a holy fear of God (rooted in true charity) to inspire them to go further in their faith. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News E-Edition
Open Letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Editor’s Note: Below is the full text of an Open Letter addressed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Bishop Athanasius Schneider signed by an original group of 51 scholars, clerics, dignitaries, journalists, and others (many more have since signed) – among them, CFN’s own Dr. Brian McCall and Matt Gaspers.
First published online on July 15 by multiple outlets in several languages, the purpose of the letter is to convey “sincere gratitude” to their Excellencies for their “fortitude and care of souls during the ongoing crisis of Faith in the Catholic Church.” The signatories are “grateful for [their Excellencies’] calls for an open and honest debate about the truth of what happened at Vatican II and whether the Council and its implementation contain errors or aspects that favor errors or harm the Faith,” noting further, “Whether or not Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition is the question to be debated, not a posited premise blindly to be followed even if it turns out to be contrary to reason.”
The letter goes on to quote from some of the recent statements issued by Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider, respectively, emphasizing that the signatories “are united in the belief that [their Excellencies’] questions deserve honest answers and not mere dismissals with ad hominem claims of disobedience or breaking with communion.”
The text also recognizes an important difference of opinion between their Excellencies regarding the appropriate way to deal with Vatican II, observing that “Archbishop Viganò has argued it would be better to altogether ‘forget’ the Council, while Bishop Schneider, disagreeing with him on this specific point, proposes officially to correct only those parts of the Council documents that contain errors or that are ambiguous.” Ultimately, the signatories commend the two prelates for their “courteous and respectful exchange of opinions”, which they say “should serve as a model for the more robust debate” about the Council that is urgently needed and deeply desired.
Information about how to contact the organizers is provided below the list of signatories. Click here to read the Open Letter