Friday, September 29, 2006

Upcoming retreat

You have heard it said...

But I say unto you...

More impressions from Burnett

Burnett expresses the need for a judicary as the court of last appeal, and that judiciary, in the civil arena, is by definition, infallible, as there is no recourse beyond it. Although it is admitted that the supreme judiciary can err, it is a judicial infallibility by the very fact that there is no further recourse after its decision is rendered.

Now this applies to the laws of this world, but what of the laws of God? There is a whole exploration of the fact that all civil law, in order to even be law, must be derived from the law of God (ie: the natural law). Thus, if a judiciary must be infallible in judging acts (the external forum) alone without regard to belief or assent (the internal forum), then the laws of God, which require both belief and assent as well as acts (internal and external forum), it is even more essential and necessary to have a judiciary posessing actual infallibility, empowered and capable to construe the Divine Law, as the consequences in this realm are of such a higher order than in the merely civil realm.

The thesis, which Burnett wishes us to consider, is: would God create a system inferior to the systems of merely human construction?

Let’s see if I can paraphrase Burnett and get his point across.

Suppose God, the Supreme Lawgiver, had created a system which did not include a judiciary as the final court of appeal, capable of construing the intent of His Law. Then, when appearing before the tribunal of the final Judge for the disposition of one’s life, to the charge of violation, the individual would answer, “How did I know I was supposed to do this, and not do that? Where was I supposed to find out?” To the retort, “from the plain words of scripture,” the defendant again could honestly answer, “Plain to you perhaps, because it was you who wrote it, but to me, an unlearned man who cannot even read the law in the language of promulgation, there is nothing plain at all about it. In fact, there are many learned men as well who claim it is plain, yet cannot come to agreement about the meaning of that which is supposed to be plain. So therefore I have done whatever I thought was right, since you left me without sure guidance.”

HPR Review of The True Church

Homiletic and Pastoral Review has placed their review of "THE TRUE CHURCH" online at

Burnett’s keen legal mind presents these New Testament truths with forceful logic. Brownson was right when he described The True Church as worth more than all the gold taken out of California.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Burnett's rules of scriptural interpretation

OK, finished transcribing them. Thanks due to Dominic Colvert, Solas Press, for permission!

Here are the rules

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A proper method of inquiry

I've received the publisher's permission to post the portions from Burnett's book, THE TRUE CHURCH (see post below), that establish the rules of biblical inquiry.

"The investigation of truth, the art of ascertaining that which is unknown from that which is known," says the profound and philosophic Starkie, "has occupied the attention and constituted the pleasure as well as the business of the reflecting part of mankind in every civilized age and country."

I've only started, but you can read the introduction and first rule here

Friday, September 22, 2006

Upcoming retreat

Blessed are the poor in spirit...


More from Burnett...

Did Jesus condemn "traditions of men?" Many protestants throw this charge at the Church, that it substitutes the "traditions of men" for the word of God. So, what gives here?

Jesus condemned specific traditions of men (Mt 15) that He said "make null the commandments of God." Herein lies the source of confusion, and my hat is off to Burnett for making this abundantly clear; may God grant me the grace to pass it along to you.

If I wish to destroy the tradition of the income tax, I must attack the income tax in general. If, however I attack the income tax exemption of the investment tax credit, I actually am attacking a particular, and thus affirming the general! If I argue thusly, I argue agains my own stated purpose. This is a immemorial standard of law familiar to legal minds, pity the rest of us.

Thus, when Jesus attacked specific traditions of men that make null the commandments of God, he affirms tradition of men in general.

Here's the kicker. If he were condemning all traditions, the pharisees and the rest of the Jewish community could have justly called Him a hypocrite, as he erected His own traditions and bound His followers to them (Mt 28:19-20).

The whole law

Synopsis of thought from Burnett's "The True Church"

Nowhere in the bible is it recorded that Jesus commanded a written code to be produced. On the contrary, he commissioned his apostles to transmit an oral tradition:

28:19. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Ghost.

28:20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even
to the consummation of the world.

For one code to be replaced by another requires no less authority, than that of the Lawgiver. Thus it was proper for Jesus to suspend portions of the Old Law, and institute a new one (hence Mt. 28:20). That this new code was delivered orally and spread orally, prior to the writing of the books of the bible, no one will dispute. Hence the first Christians were bound by a law delivered by oral tradition, as St. Paul severally testifies.

Now if it was the lawgiver's intention to entirely replace the law as orally proclaimed and transmitted, with one that was entirely written, it must be done with the authority of the lawgiver Himself, and be promulgated clearly so that there will be no confusion. Yet this evidence is entirely lacking in the biblical and historical record; if one code is to replace another entirely, we must be informed of such by the Lawgiver.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Upcoming retreat

There will be a retreat on Saturday, October 7, at the Dominican Chapter House in Homedale, Idaho. It will run from 10AM to 4PM, and close with (newly ordained Fr.) Carlos Enrique Camargo Porras' first mass at Our Lady of the Valley, Caldwell.

The theme of this retreat will be meditation on the Beatitudes, which have been part of our study curriculum this last year. We will alternate between readings from Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D., with periods of reflection/meditation. The readings deal with the connection between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the beatitudes.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will also be available during the retreat.

For a map and directions, click here

You have heard it said...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Food for thought: Law

Burnett states that the Law stands in relation to the Lawgiver, irrespective of the mode of promulgation. Now a lawyer is versed in this, but this comes as a new articulation of what we all have lived with, but most have never heard explicitly stated.

Because law must cover the general, and deal with the particular (ie: exceptions, extension, etc), a twofold system exists. Written law (statuatory) contains the general case, while the unwritten (as with common law) resides in the record of decision. All must be used together to arrive at a just extension in each new case of particular fact, each is delivered from the lawgiver.

The French, after the revolution, attempted to throw out accumulated body received decisions, and only have simple statutes. The folly of this, Burnett observes, is that within 20 years the French had an additional 50 volumns of law, and by 1828, over 100! As GKC says, when you throw out God, you don't get freedom; you don't even get anarchy. You get the little laws. One is inclined to observe that our propensity for regulation is an unfortunate following in these footsteps.

If you have trouble following what I've just written, then I highly recommend Burnett's book; he's far more articulate!

Jumping ahead of Burnett's thought, it seems clear to me that what he's on to is that God as Lawgiver, delivered not only statute law, but a record of decision; and there is a long record of it in Holy Scripture. We see this record of decision in the work of Judges, Prophets, our Lord, and the Apostles. Yet the protestant wishes to apply as statute the scriptures, without the authoritative application of the record of decision, a record existing unbroken to this day. In this he makes himself judge of the law.

The twofold system Burnett discusses makes more sense to me when I recall that the basis of law is the articulation of the natural law, and as such, it's particulars are constant; hence a statute, or what is received through common law, have one and the same source, of which the first cause is God Himself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Book Recommend!

Received a new book last night, and from the little bit I've read so far, it is an amazing book!


It's a reprint from an 1860 account of the conversion of California's first governor. Examining the evidence, he came to the conclusion that the supreme lawgiver, in fulfilling the old covenant, had been reduced to below the level of a civil legislator by protestantism. Burnett has chapters on all the protestant controversies.

About The True Church
Peter H. Burnett’s The True Church is a model for ecumenical dialog. He was in turn an unbeliever, a Deist, a Disciple of Christ, and a Catholic. He thus does not assume any particular faith in his reader. Burnett adopts the practice of treating evidence like figures in the jurisprudential tradition such as William Blackstone, Thomas Starkie, and James Kent. On this rigorous basis he develops positions on the truth of Christianity and uniqueness of the Catholic Church. In the process, he meets the arguments of a group of notable believers and un-believers. As the occasion demands, he marshalls sources such as Hugo Grotius, David Hume and Samuel Johnson, as well as a vast array of Divines.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Benedict XVI on the Liturgy of the Hours

On Aug 31 the pope spoke to the priests of the dioces of Albano, where he made these comments on the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary).


The interior life is essential to our service as priests [...] It is the mark of a pastor that he be a man of prayer, that he stand before the Lord praying for others, even taking the place of others who perhaps do not know how to pray, don’t want to pray, don’t find the time to pray. [...] The Church gives us, almost imposes upon us – but always as a good mother – free time for God, with the two practices that are part of our duties: celebrating Holy Mass and reciting the Breviary. But more than reciting, carrying this out as a listening to the word that the Lord offers us in the Liturgy of the Hours.

We must interiorize this word, be attentive to what the Lord is saying to us with this word, then listen to the comment from the Fathers of the Church or from the [Second Vatican] Council in the second reading of the Office of Readings, and pray with that great invocation that is the Psalms, through which we take our place within the prayer of all ages. The people of the Old Testament pray with us, and we pray with them. We pray with the Lord, who is the real subject of the Psalms. We pray with the Church of all ages. [...]

Today we had [in the Breviary] that marvelous commentary from Saint Columban on Christ as the spring of living water from which we drink. [...] The people are thirsty. And they try to respond to this with various amusements. But they know well that these amusements are not the living water that they need. The Lord is the spring of living water. [...] So let us seek to drink it in prayer, in the celebration of the Holy Mass, in reading: let us seek to drink from this spring, that it may become a fountain within us. And we will be able to respond better to the thirst of the people of today.

English language article on the pope's discussion is found at

As Dominican laity, we also live under a rule that includes the recitation of the Divine Office. May we unite our liturgical prayers with those of all priests, religious, and laity, that our interior lives will blossom for the conversion of our neighbors, to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Dominican tradition: the Salve Regina

When Fran Griffin visited in the fall of 2005, she made the observation that our chapter should learn to chant the Salve Regina, in the Dominican tradition, at the end of our chapter meetings. To this end she later sent a CD. There is now a web page (click here) with this version and one from the central province, as well as an image of the sheet music in Gregorian notation. Listen and gain familiarity, we will be learning this!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another take on "private judgement"

An interesting discussion at the PONTIFICATIONS blog that also continues the subject I recently discussed regarding private judgement.

Sitting in the Ruins
by Alvin Kimel

The claim of the Catholic Church to be the Church offends. Her demand to surrender one’s private judgment to her infallible teaching authority scandalizes. Yet every sinner needs to make this surrender, this submission of mind and heart. Only by this surrender are we saved from our ideas of who God is, from our ideas of what Church is, from our ideas of what salvation is, from our ideas of what truth is. The Catholic Church saves us from our ideas and gives us the reality of God and his salvation.

In a very real sense, Protestantism cannot save humanity because Protestantism is private judgment. Please do not misunderstand. I am not suggesting that God is not present and active in powerful, saving ways in Protestant Christianity. I could not suggest that without denying my own salvation. I am not denying the millions of souls who have been saved through the witness of committed Protestant believers and preachers. I am not denying the liberating work and presence of the Holy Spirit in Protestant congregations. But the fact remains that no Protestant is ever asked to surrender his judgment to an infallible living authority. No Protestant is ever asked to believe in the Church. Even the most patristic Anglican retains the right to adjudicate between the competing testimonies of Scripture, tradition, and reason. Even the most devout fundamentalist retains the right to his private interpretation of Scripture.

New blog link!

Newly received member Anita Moore has a blog!

You'll want to bookmark V for Victory! and keep up to date on Anita's entries

Nice blog, Anita!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Love and suffering

From "Man, the Saint" by J. Urteaga Loidi (1959)

Love, and you will suffer much. I wish you - and you know how much I love you - pain and suffering. Love and suffering are two bright stars that will show you the way. On your left you will leave all the other loves that are petty or dirty; on your right you will leave despair. Prayer ant the Cross show you a new way, a solid foundation on which to base your life.

Do you still believe the lie of Satan?

Perhaps without knowing it, you do.

It is John Paul II's assertion (DOMINUM ET VIVIFICANTEM) that most Christians still believe the lie of Satan to Eve, not really knowing what the lie is; missing it entirely. It is not "you will be like God" for we are made in the image of the invisible God, it is not "you will not die" because they did die after eating. No it was...

"knowning good and evil" - in other words, having the last word, deciding for oneself, being the final arbiter who submits to no man. I connect this to the sola scripturist for such an individual interprets scripture based on his knowledge and the written word, but reserves the final judgement to himself, believing he has the divine assistance to do so, and the divine assurance that he is right. Suffice to say, the evidence is clear; as there can be only one truth, not many, then the evidence is against the claim of the sola scripturist, in the following analysis.

if a sola scripturist is guided by the Holy Spirit, by definition he will agree with all others who are guided by the Holy Spirit with respect to the meaning of scripture. If he does not on a particular item, then it means one of two things: that either one and/or the other holder of differing positions is in error, or disagreement is permissible because it is a non-essential. In both cases, he has admitted that he is not being guided by the Holy Spirit, who only guides to truth.

The criteria for identifying essentials would be agreement, the evidence for non-essentials would be disagreement. No sola-scripturist camp can be disregarded in this division, since all claim the same premise. In the final analysis, virtually every established belief of Christiandom falls here, because there is a camp somewhere which rejects each and every bit of the faith. Jesus' divinity falls, the Trinity falls, the virgin birth falls, the resurection falls, it all goes away. There is one item of agreement. No Catholic Church & no pope.

Since all disagreeing parties claim the exact same justification for being right, then the inescapable conclusion is that there is no way to know if you are actually being directly guided by the Holy Spirit in your individual understanding of scripture. The result is that protestantism based on sola-scriptura and it's derivations provides no sure path to salvation; litterally there is nothing that can be known with certainty with regard to what is necessary for our eternal salvation.

pretty sad. What kind of faith is summed up only by a negative assertion?

Satan always wraps a lie in a vernier of truth, because the soul of man is drawn to truth, a reality which God built into us.

To hunger and thirst for justice

from Divine Intimacy, an exellent reminder of what this means in the beatitudes:

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice Mt 5:6.

Hunger and thirst indicate imperious needs which cannot be suppressed, it is a question of life and death. As food and drink are absolutely essential to the life of the body, so justice is absolutely necessary for a life of virtue, and its duties are so compelling that no motive can exempt us from fulfilling them. If an act of charity for the neighbor should impose on us great inconvenience or cause us serious har, we would not be obliged to do it, but the same inconvenience or harm chould not excuse us from fulfilling a duty of justice.

It is thus appropriate to speak of hunger and thirst for justice, not in the sense of vindicating rights, but in the sense of cultivating in ourselves such a lively desire and imperious need for justice in all our relations with others, that we do not feel satisfied until we have completely fulfilled all the duties stemming from this virtue.

In other words, if you haven't noticed, the hungering for justice spoken of in the beatitude which makes one blessed is not the desire to see others act in justice, but the overwhelming desire to act with justice yourself.