Archives for October 2013

Elsewhere: stripping away truth

Satan has an enemy and that is Jesus Christ and His Church. Ultimately of course, Satan loses. Until then he wishes to gather as many souls as possible to accompany him to his eternal defeat. The success of that mission is directly at odds with the Church and so the Church must be dealt with.

How to do that is the question? The Church is formidable, contains the fullness of truth and is protected by the Holy Spirit. It will never be defeated. The key for Satan is to peel people away from the Church. Ideally to coax them – and very importantly their future generations – to abandon the Church altogether, separating them from truth, sacraments and ultimately God.

Satan’s challenge is this can not be done in 1 step. It must be done slowly, taking orthodox believers step by step off of the narrow path of salvation to the wide path of destruction. During this process, the Church might be viewed as “two Churches.” There is the faithful, orthodox one – consistent from the time of Jesus – and there is the other church-inside-the-church community. The latter consists of those who, often unbeknownst to themselves, are slowly separating from the Church.

This phenomenon is described well by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski in his recent piece for Corpus Christi Watershed:

IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY, we see a broad trend: at first, believers are focused on God, who alone is their hope and salvation; then, on themselves as rational beings who can know the truth; thereafter, on themselves as free agents who can choose their way in life; lastly, on themselves as emotional narcomaniacs. God, reason, will, passion. When each new stage arrives, the former one is jettisoned. It is a descent from the apex mentis, the still point of the soul touching eternity and infinity, to lower and lower levels of the soul — discursive reasoning, freedom of choice, concupiscence.

In keeping with this trend, it is possible to discern the lineaments of the two churches — the true Church of Christ, having its concrete existence in the Catholic Church, and an anti-Church, which represents and does the gruntwork for the anti-Christ, the anti-Word (to use the language of Karol Wojtyla). The profound difference between these two can be gleaned by considering a list of things that are found to be regularly associated with each:

THE CHURCH: a serious view of the sacraments as efficacious actions of Christ; recourse to acts of penance and the sacrament of penance; worship of the most holy Eucharist; emphasis on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; obedience to the Pope; an attitude of adoration, quietude, and humility in prayer; monasticism; support of celibacy and the male clergy; large families; natural and teleological view of sexuality and its place in human life, with traditional roles for the sexes; high and rich cultural history (e.g., in music and architecture); liturgical majesty and reverence; vehement hatred of heresy and schism; perception of the deep differences between Catholics and all others who call themselves Christians; willingness to fight for and even die in defense of the truths of the faith (like the peasants of the Vendée); knowledge and support of the whole system of papal bulls, decrees, encyclicals, and Church councils with their clear statements of doctrine to be embraced by every Christian throughout the world; the assumptions behind missionary work and the ultimate fruit sought from this work, viz., the expansion of the one true Church from east to west; the very idea of the necessity of converting to the Catholic faith for salvation; the belief that outside of the Church there is no salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus); a holistic understanding of the union of man’s soul and body. Most telling, of course, will be the devout worship of the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worthily offered.

THE ANTI-CHURCH: here, the community worships the community; penance is downplayed or forgotten; the Eucharist is a “love-feast” that affords an occasion for people to be friendly with one another; sermons are typically on “love and forgiveness,” without any reference to faith or morals; there is widespread ignorance of Church teaching, contempt for or indifference to papal decrees, agitation for radical changes in doctrine and practice; one finds various mutations of feminism, and a tacit approval or vociferous defense of contraception, abortion, and homosexuality; there is the mushy nouveau muzak, a complete severance of present liturgical art from the past, distrust of and even attacks against traditional forms of piety and devotion; the liturgies are “spontaneous” and informal feel-good gatherings; an accommodating attitude is extended towards “separated brethren,” downplaying or even denying the importance of any differences in doctrine or practice between Catholics and other Christians (after all, everyone is trying to do their best, and that’s basically good and pleasing to God); heresy and schism are cruel or intolerant ideas, martyrdom is an emotional aberration or the result of unfortunate nervous excitement (for there could be no reason not to compromise a little bit when the government tells you to do so); religious life and monasticism are irrelevant carryovers from a dark age; premarital sex is not only normal and unobjectionable but de rigeur; the serious purpose of life is not working out our salvation in fear and trembling by penance and recourse to the sacraments and constant prayer, but rather, enjoying all the good things of this world with a clean conscience according to our technologically bolstered appetites. And one could throw an uncritical acceptance of the historical-critical method and its application to the infallible and inerrant Word of God into the mix.

Read Peter’s whole piece: The Two Churches: Which One Do You Belong To?.

IMHO, a big part of the problem is catechesis and internal evangelism. The collapse of quality instruction in the faith after Vatican II is legion and the fruits of that are now apparent. Fortunately, that is beginning to turn around. Internal evangelism is the other big piece. Catholic in name only does not apply only to those seen once or twice per year but to many more. To one degree or another, to all of us. Leading the internal evangelism charge must come from the pulpit.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #116)

This week: A new documentary about the War on Humans is in the works. Plan B is an abortion inducing drug – that is how it “works.” How do you respond when the Church is attacked? Fr. Barron looks at violence in Holy Scripture. A true hero and some of the many people he saved. Everyone, especially those who have made it to college, knows about the Holocaust – right? Children who are brainwashed by their parents – one speaks out.

— 1 —

We are not animals I wrote recently. Days after I published that, I found (via CMR) this trailer for an upcoming documentary from the Discovery Institute:

— 2 —

Plan B is not a contraceptive. It is an abortifacient. That is, it causes a conceived human being to be ejected from his or her mother’s body (a/k/a abortion).

— 3 —

Wake up Catholics! The Holy Catholic Church is increasingly under attack. How do you respond? Wilson Orihuela is very blunt, but makes a powerful point:

— 4 —

Fr. Barron has just published a pair of videos on the topic of violence in Holy Scripture. He tackles how to make sense of it and what it represents.

— 5 —

Nicholas Winton is a Christian convert (from Judaism) and quiet hero who is credited with saving 669 children from the Nazis. Yet, no one knew – until his wife discovered his scrapbook in 1988. That led to his invitation to attend the BBC show That’s Life! later that year, just as an audience member as far as he knew:

Spotted by Matthew Archbold

— 6 —

Rhonda Fink-Whitman is appalled how little Pennsylvania high school graduates know about the Holocaust. To prove the point, she interviews kids on PA college campuses:

Spotted by Elizabeth Scalia

— 7 —

Has Ethan Metzger been brainwashed by his parents? Does he do what he does and think how he thinks because of their manipulative influence? This victim of parental brainwashing speaks out:

Spotted by Marcel

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Doing God’s Will

2013.10.22 Doing God’s Will [guest] Author: Ed Trego

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”” (Matthew 21:38-31)

Did you ever think about how parables Jesus used nearly two thousand years ago are as fresh and applicable today as they were then? The world has changed incredibly in the time since Jesus walked here but the issues that we deal with daily remain the same.

The chief priests and scribes of the day believed they were doing God’s will because they answered yes to his calling. They answered yes with their lips but not with their actions. This was the point Jesus was making to them. Simply saying yes isn’t following God’s will. Today we might say, “You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

Jesus made it very clear what his opinion of the chief priests and scribes was in this example. Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31) This must have been quite a shock to those listening to him. It was also this kind of honesty that helped convince the religious leaders of the time that Jesus must die. They could not allow their position and power to be threatened by this simple Galilean. Over and over Jesus used parables to point out the errors in their religious attitude and practice. Not once did they listen to him. Of course, there were a few of the Scribes and Pharisees who secretly believed in Jesus and took his message to heart but as a whole the religious establishment rejected and condemned him.

Today we see the same thing everywhere we look. We see those who pervert the faith that Jesus taught and twist it to their own use. There are the preachers who preach that God wants everyone to be wealthy. But many of them seem to believe that God wants them to be the first to receive the gift of wealth. Simply contribute to them and your life will improve. Actually it seems their life is the primary one they want improved.

I saw a TV evangelist who claimed that if his viewers would send him a thousand dollars he would virtually guarantee the blessings of God, to include tremendous wealth of course. Really — the kingdom of God is for sale at a thousand dollars a share? That seems quite different from a faith that was built on belief in God with little care for the day to day issues of life on earth. Do you think there might be some tax collectors and prostitutes entering heaven before this minister”

How successful are we in doing God’s will? First of course, we must have an idea of what God’s will is for us. How often do we stop and pray before making decisions? Do we seek to know what his will for us is or do we pray for him to approve our will? I have found that it’s very easy to convince myself of what God’s will is for me while not really turning the decision over to God. I’ve seen a ministry or a plan that pleases me and fits in with what I’d like to do for God. But it’s really my will that I am praying for. I find it much harder to open myself up to God and to honestly seek his will for me.

For several years I was convinced it was God’s will that I become a Deacon in the Catholic Church. I was certain that was what God wanted of me and I sought to fulfill God’s will. After three thwarted attempts at entering the Diaconate, I finally realized that I was pursuing my will, not God’s. While the path to God’s will may have hardships involved, when it is completely blocked that should be a clue that maybe He has a different path in mind.

Am I certain of what God’s will is for me now? No, not really. But I do know that he will guide me on the path he has for me. My responsibility and mission is to pray for understanding so that I may know what that path is and to make every effort to allow God to lead me on the chosen path.

There was a common bumper sticker around for several years. It said “God is my co-pilot.” One day I saw a sticker that said “If God is your co-pilot; you are in the wrong seat.” The more I thought about that the more I realized the truth in it. God isn’t supposed to be our co-pilot; he is supposed to be the pilot. We should be the co-pilot, willingly following the direction of God.

Understanding that simple fact has made a big change in the way I approach everything from daily life, to prayer, to spiritual study, and in the expectations of each. I used to pray for God to walk with me each day. But just like the bumper sticker, that is backwards. If God walks with me we won’t get very far along his chosen path for me. Why? I really don’t know the path to follow without His guidance. I’m just as likely to lead us astray as I am to discern his path. My prayer has changed to asking God to let me walk with him each day. He knows the way, my job is to follow his way.

In many, and perhaps most, cases it is our pride that gets in the way of looking to God for our path in life. Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have a hard time giving up control, even to God. From early childhood we are taught independence and self-reliance. We should “stand on our own two feet.” Don’t let anyone control you or your life. Live your own life.

From a purely human standpoint, perhaps these bits of advice are useful. Certainly we should not allow others to control our lives in such a way as to discourage us or deny our abilities. It is within those abilities that we all have that we are most likely to find God’s will for us. For our abilities are gifts from God and he has a plan for the use of those gifts.

Great musicians, artists, writers and thinkers have a gift. While not all of them will acknowledge the source of their gift, they will almost always recognize the gift. Technical ability in all of these areas and most others can be taught, but the truly great ones have something more. The source of that something more is God. I’ve often wondered how much greater some could have been had they realized that the gift was of God and had allowed God to use their talents to their full capacity. You see, I think when we shut God out of our lives, our ability to use God’s gifts are lessened. For every great composer or musician, how many others have wasted or lessened their gift by claiming it as their own.

Satan convinced Eve, and Eve convinced Adam that God’s plan for them was not in their best interest. They chose to turn from God and seek the wisdom and knowledge that the serpent promised them. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) Had they followed the path God had planned for them, how much pain and suffering would have been spared humanity. Of course, if it hadn’t been Adam and Eve, someone else would have fallen to the temptation. One thing we humans have always been good at is succumbing to temptation.

While it is difficult for us to give control to God and we must consciously seek the will of God in our lives, the rewards are incredible. The Holy Spirit will lead us if we will allow him. Jesus promised that he would be with us forever. The question is; will we be with him”

“… and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)


The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #115)

This week: A new documentary on our Holy Father airs this Sunday. Peter Kreeft on God and suffering. Three vocational videos: Sr. Mary Immanuel of the Sisters of the Immaculata, the The Poor Clares, and Sr. Faustina of the Sisters of Life. Obamacare’s impact on young women, seniors and doctors. The all-new, ground-breaking, must-have one-more-thing from Apple: the iPhone 5 (again; a/k/a “S”ame).

— 1 —

The Knights of Columbus have produced a new hour-long documentary on our Holy Father: Francis: The Pope from the New World. It airs on Sunday at 5pm EDT (2pm PDT) on the Fox Business channel.

— 2 —

Peter Kreeft discusses God’s existence vs. human suffering. His work is, as always, excellent:

— 3 —

Sr. Mary Immanuel speaks about her vocational calling (Sisters of the Immaculata, Sydney Australia):

— 4 —

Another vocational video, this one for The Poor Clares, Galway (Ireland):

— 5 —

Sr. Faustina of the Sisters of Life talks about her vocational call. This is a bit longer, about 15 minutes, but quite engaging.

— 6 —

Obamacare is going to have a significant impact, unfortunately a very bad one. New revelations are apparent every day. The question is: will we be able to undo it once everyone finally understands how bad it is? One list, for example: Top 8 Ways Young Women are Hurt By ObamaCare. Another is Side Effects: Seniors Will Lose Big Under Obamacare. Prepare too for the big *reduction* in the number of doctors willing to practice. Here is how one is impacted:

— 7 —

Dog or cat? Android or Apple? Preferences. I know many of you are different than me (dog / Android), but you (Apple fanbois) must still see the truth in this:


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

We are not animals

How often do we hear that people are just more highly evolved animals? This is often presented as an indisputable fact in support of other false claims. As animals, our embryos are nothing special. Our rights must also be balanced against those of other animals.

If we were animals, that would make some sense. We are not! While we share some physical characteristics, there remains an immense and uncrossable chasm between us and animals so claims built on our alleged “animal nature” are in fact completely false.

God, the creator of everything, has endowed all living things with a soul. Angels, people, animals and plants. These things all have a nature as God created them and that nature is distinct and never changes. The souls of angels and people are immortal. Those of animals and plants are not. Mortal death does not end the existence of a person’s soul as it does for an animal.

People, not animals, possess reason and self-control. People, not animals, are endowed with an intellectual, rational soul. People are beings who are ends in themselves while animals are beings for the perfection of other beings. People have moral and legal authority of possession and corresponding related duties (i.e. rights). Animals may be possessed by people whereas animals may not possess people nor may people possess people. In possessing animals, we have a moral duty of humane treatment but may otherwise use them for service and food.

Holy Scripture begins by explaining this relationship between people and animals. On the sixth day, God created the animals:

Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.

Then, separate from creating the animals, He create man:

Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.

God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened.

Notice the difference between people and animals: people are (1) created in God’s image and likeness and (2) given dominion over all animals.

The second creation narrative similarly shows people and animals made separately:

then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

and

So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.

Notice that both people and animals were formed out of the ground, but for people alone God “blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Notice too that in naming the animals, we are given dominion over them.

Secularists are correct in one ironic sense. When we do not recognize human dignity, we can indeed act like animals!


UPDATE: The Discovery Institute has just announced a new documentary:

See also Wesley J. Smith’s excellent blog on this topic: Human Exceptionalism.

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