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Feb 6 – Japanese Martyrs

I’ve been sick and feverish a few days so this post is a bit late. Anyway, here goes.

As Fr. Linsky discussed Japanese Sts. Paul Miki and his companions, I remembered a book of historical fiction I had read maybe 25 years ago while living in Japan. I don’t remember it well enough to discuss the details and don’t have time to tackle it right now, but do remember it being an impressive book popular within the Christian community in Japan. If you are a fan of historical fiction and have any interest in Japanese culture and Christianity in Japan, this may be of interest to you. Below is what Amazon has to say about it.

I will warn you that at least one Catholic blogger finds the theology in Silence to be “sinister.” I recommend reading his blog post before deciding whether to read the novel. But, the book is, after all, historical fiction and not theology and may provide good food for thought and meditation and self examination. I guess one alternate understanding of what the protagonist did was that he laid down, not just his mortal life, but his spiritual life, for the sake of his companions. I have a copy of the book around here somewhere. I’ll get it out and put it on the to do list.

Apparently the movie has been out a couple of years and is available on Amazon Prime.

Sacrosanctum Concilium – 1963

 


The Office of Readings today includes a brief excerpt from the document in the title, the explanation of what Vatican II was all about. Here is the brief excerpt:

From the constitution on the sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council

Christ is present to his Church

Christ is always present to his Church, especially in the actions of the liturgy. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the person of the minister (it is the same Christ who formerly offered himself on the cross that now offers by the ministry of priests) and most of all under the Eucharistic species. He is present in the sacraments by his power, in such a way that when someone baptizes, Christ himself baptizes. He is present in his word, for it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Finally, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he himself promised: Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.

Indeed, in this great work which gives perfect glory to God and brings holiness to men, Christ is always joining in partnership with himself his beloved Bride, the Church, which calls upon its Lord and through him gives worship to the eternal Father.

It is therefore right to see the liturgy as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, in which through signs addressed to the senses man’s sanctification is signified and, in a way proper to each of these signs, made effective, and in which public worship is celebrated in its fullness by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and by his members.

Accordingly, every liturgical celebration, as an activity of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a sacred action of a pre-eminent kind. No other action of the Church equals its title to power or its degree of effectiveness.

In the liturgy on earth we are given a foretaste and share in the liturgy of heaven, celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, the goal of our pilgrimage, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, as minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With the whole company of heaven we sing a hymn of praise to the Lord; as we reverence the memory of the saints, we hope to have some part with them, and to share in their fellowship; we wait for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, who is our life, appears, and we appear with him in glory.

By an apostolic tradition taking its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day, the day that is rightly called the Lord’s day. On Sunday the Christian faithful ought to gather together, so that by listening to the word of God and sharing in the Eucharist they may recall the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God who has given them a new birth with a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Lord’s day is therefore the first and greatest festival, one to be set before the loving devotion of the faithful and impressed upon it, so that it may be also a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations must not take precedence over it, unless they are truly of the greatest importance, since it is the foundation and the kernel of the whole liturgical year.

I thought that was pretty interesting so looked up the whole document, about twenty typewritten pages, printed it, and read it. I know it is not without controversy but found it enlightening. I especially liked the last sentence in item 69:

69. In place of the rite called the “Order of supplying what was omitted in the baptism of an infant,” a new rite is to be drawn up. This should manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant, baptized by the short rite, has already been received into the Church. And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.

If you are inclined to read the whole document, it is HERE.

Oops, Wrong Link. Here is the correct link to “A Tiptoe Through Tulip.”

Occasionally the issue of different theologies among Christian churches comes up in our Wednesday morning discussions. It seems to me that it is possible to clearly understand and be able to defend Catholic theology only if the other major positions and some of the history are also understood. I ran across a 1993 EWTN This Rock Magazine James Akin article which gives the best short explanations I have read of the differences, clearly explaining Catholic beliefs in each case, and with lots of citations and scripture references. So, if it is the kind of thing that interests you, here is the link to A Tiptoe Through Tulip. It’s pretty short (if you don’t read the footnotes).

If it doesn’t interest you, ponder this:

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15b-17 (NABRE)

And, to quote Akin from the linked article:

It is important for Catholics to know about these subjects: First, Catholics are often attacked by Calvinists who misunderstand the Catholic position on these issues. Second, Catholics often misunderstand the teaching of their own Church on predestination. Third, in recent years there has been a large number of Calvinists who have become Catholics [8]. By understanding Calvinism better, Catholics can help more Calvinists make the jump.

Theological Tipping Points

Occasionally the issue of different theologies among Christian churches comes up in our Wednesday morning discussions. It seems to me that it is possible to clearly understand and be able to defend Catholic theology only if the other major positions and some of the history are also understood. I ran across a 1993 EWTN This Rock Magazine James Akin article which gives the best short explanations I have read of the differences, clearly explaining Catholic beliefs in each case, and with lots of citations and scripture references. So, if it is the kind of thing that interests you, here is the link to A Tiptoe Through Tulip. It’s pretty short (if you don’t read the footnotes).

If it doesn’t interest you, ponder this:

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, 16 but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15b-17 (NABRE)

And, to quote Akin from the linked article:

It is important for Catholics to know about these subjects: First, Catholics are often attacked by Calvinists who misunderstand the Catholic position on these issues. Second, Catholics often misunderstand the teaching of their own Church on predestination. Third, in recent years there has been a large number of Calvinists who have become Catholics [8]. By understanding Calvinism better, Catholics can help more Calvinists make the jump.

January 9th – Courage and Fear (and Church Trends)

Brainy (Secular) Quotes on Fear and Courage

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/courage

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. Mark Twain
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/courage

Courage in the Catechism

I found four instances of use of “courage” in the Catechism:

  1. Paragraph 1299 –  In the Roman Rite the bishop extends his hands over the whole group of the confirmands. Since the time of the apostles this gesture has signified the gift of the Spirit. the bishop invokes the outpouring of the Spirit in these words:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

2. Paragraph 1532 –  The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
– the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
– the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
– the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance;
– the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul;
– the preparation for passing over to eternal life.

3. Paragraph 1520 – A particular gift of the Holy Spirit. the first grace of this sacrament is one of strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the frailty of old age. This grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who renews trust and faith in God and strengthens against the temptations of the evil one, the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death.134 This assistance from the Lord by the power of his Spirit is meant to lead the sick person to healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God’s will.135 Furthermore, “if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

4. Paragraph 1805 –  Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. “If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom’s] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage.” These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture.

“Courage,” “Courageous,” and “Courageously” in the New Testament

An explanation of the Greek NT word translated as “courage” or “courageous” or “courageously” can be found HERE.  And here is a snip from the reference material in BibleWorks.

Depending on the English version of the NT, it may also be translated as “heart,” “cheer,” “boldness,” “daring,” or “confidence.” I found the words used 26 times in the New Testament, most often the imperative as an expression of encouragement. In the 21st century, it seems we most often think of it as a synonym of bravery, a somewhat different or at least narrower slant. Here are the examples I found.

NAB Matthew 9:2 And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
NAB Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured.
NAB Matthew 14:27 At once (Jesus) spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
NAB Mark 6:50 They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
NAB Mark 10:49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”
NAB Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
NAB John 16:33 I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
NIV Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
NAB Acts 23:11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
DRA Acts 24:10 Then Paul answered (the governor making a sign to him to speak): Knowing that for many years thou hast been judge over this nation, I will with good courage answer for myself.
NAB Acts 27:22 I urge you now to keep up your courage; not one of you will be lost, only the ship.
NAB Acts 27:25 Therefore, keep up your courage, men; I trust in God that it will turn out as I have been told.
NAB Acts 28:15 The brothers from there heard about us and came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul gave thanks to God and took courage.
NAB Romans 5:7 Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
NAB 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.
NAB 2 Corinthians 5:6 So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
NAB 2 Corinthians 5:8 Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
ASV 2 Corinthians 7:16 I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you.
ASV 2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you:
ASV 2 Corinthians 10:2 yea, I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some, who count of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
NAB Ephesians 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
NIV Philippians 1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
ESV Philippians 1:20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
NRS 1 Thessalonians 2:2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.
NIV Hebrews 3:6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
ASV Hebrews 13:6 So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?

On Another Subject – Permanent Deacons

Given the happy announcement about the upcoming ordination of Brian, I mentioned (during a brief absence of Fr. Linsky) a tabulation of Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate data on trends in numbers of priests, parishes, deacons, etc. Here is a link to the article and data. Below is a graph of some of the data over a 45 year period.

 

 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

I was fascinated by the writings of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in today’s readings (“With all Your Mind” for example) so did a little research on her. She is the first native born American to be canonized, and the details of her life and ministry, entangled with early American history, are well documented and very interesting.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Ann_Seton

Heresy!

Some definitions from The Catechism Paragraph 2089:

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Father Linsky led an interesting and informative discussion on heresies and the struggles of Church leaders to battle them and arrive at “correct if incomplete” understandings of The Triune God.

List of Heresies

Below is a link to a blog post I did in 2011, the same year I was received into the Catholic Church. It includes a list of 2000 years of heresies and comments I had about them at the time. In view of Father Linsky’s helpful comments this morning, I should modify the second sentence to omit “correct” and simply say, ” From a Catholic viewpoint, possible explanations that were rejected by the church carry the label, “heresy,” meaning that while we have no complete explanations of God, those particular rejected explanations have been judged to be wrong.” And, if I were publishing it today, I would change the title to suggest a struggle to “Defend the Faith” rather than to “Explain the Unexplainable.” But, that is what I wrote and think I shouldn’t revise history.

You will have to click on the chart listing the heresies to get a readable version. If you want a hard copy, let me know. Here is the link: HERESY!

Recent Heresy (1940’s)

In case of interest in digging into the most recent heresy on the list, Fenneyism, here is an analysis of it published on the EWTN website.

More on Nestorius

You can read a well organized summary of Nestorius and the Nestorian heresy on Encyclopedia Britannica.

I wish I could more often recommend the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (link to Nestorius), but I just can’t deal with those 500+ word fine-print paragraphs and abundant distracting hot links.

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

And, below is more detail on heresy from The Catechism of The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  This is from the section on The Creed about The Church, in particular the word, “One…” This is from the Vatican website.

Wounds to unity

817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.”269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 – do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers …. All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”272

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth”273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.”274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”276

Toward unity

820 “Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.”277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.”278 The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279

821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:
– a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;280
– conversion of heart as the faithful “try to live holier lives according to the Gospel”;281 for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;
– prayer in common, because “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name ‘spiritual ecumenism;”‘282
-fraternal knowledge of each other;283
– ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;284
– dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;285
– collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.286 “Human service” is the idiomatic phrase.

822 Concern for achieving unity “involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.”287 But we must realize “that this holy objective – the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ – transcends human powers and gifts.” That is why we place all our hope “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”288