Friday, January 29, 2010

Boise kid makes good!

This is the son of Bob and Connie Mortensen of Holy Apostles. Way to go, John!

US Lay Theologian Wins Pontifical Academy Prize

ROME, JAN. 26, 2010 ( A lay theologian from the United States has been selected for a €20,000 ($28,189) prize for his doctoral thesis, "Understanding St. Thomas on Analogy."

John Mortensen, a Wyoming Catholic College professor, was selected to receive the prize given by the Coordination Council of the Pontifical Academies. This was announced today by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Archbishop Ravasi, also president of the coordination council, added that Mortensen will receive the award Thursday at an audience the Pope will have with representatives of the academies.

The archbishop explained that the prize recognizes "young investigators, artists or institutions that have distinguished themselves in the promotion of Christian humanism."

Mortensen earned his doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome in 2006.

From 2002 to 2007 he was assistant professor at the International Theological Institute, an institute of papal right in Gaming, Austria, teaching courses in logic, natural philosophy, metaphysics, fundamental theology, and Trinitarian theology.

The prize given by the Coordination Council of the Pontifical Academies was instituted by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

ZE10012612 - 2010-01-26

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Complaints about the post Vatican II Church?

I started reading one of my new books; it's good, stayed up way too late last night.

When reading the following, one might think they were reading a critique of the post Vatican II Church. Have a go:

And what is this new idea of religion? It is briefly a religion without God, that is, God as traditionally understood. Religion, according to the twentieth century philosophers and theologians, centers not about God but man. “It is man first and not God,” says one of the exponents of the new notion; “it is as much God only as man may seem to suggest or prove. Above all, it is God revealed by man and not man by God. Our revelation today is from earth to heaven, from clod to God- not vice versa as in the old days.”2 “The Scientific interpretation of natural phenomena,” says another, “has made the interest in God more remote, God’s existence more problematical, and even the idea of God unnecessary. Mathematics and physics are making it increasingly difficult to assign a place for God in our co-ordinations and constructions of the universe; and the necessity of positing a first cause or of conceiving a designer, a necessity which seemed prima facie obvious to a pre-scientific generation, does not exist for us.”3 the word “God” may still be retained in this new idea of religion, but that word takes on an entirely new meaning; it may even reach such a volatile state as to become identified with almost anything from a psychical complex to an ideal. It may even be ignored altogether as it is, for example, by one for whom “new religion will be an outcome of the wants, the hopes and the aspirations of these our times and the near future.”4

However, that my hypothetical contextual position of this passage is not the case. Well, maybe, but the book is "Religion Without God" by Fulton Sheen, published in 1928. So now that you know the source, here's the footnotes:

2 John Haynes Holmes, The New Basis of Religion in “Essays towards Truth,” 1924.
3 H.W. Carr, “Changing Backgrounds in Religion and Ethics,” 1927.
4 C. A. F. Rhys Davids, “Old Creeds and New Needs,” 1923.

My thanks to Fr. Brian Mullady OP for the book recommend!

Words to live by

Words matter:

Language of liturgy meant to remake us in God's image
By Bishop Robert Vasa

In recent weeks an article in America Magazine titled, “Why Not Wait?” has received a bit of national attention.

The article expresses reasons to resist accepting the new translations of the Roman Missal that have been completed and are awaiting final approval by the Holy See. That article and its posited reasons will not be commented upon in this article but I mention it because it provides the occasion to comment on a couple of much older America articles.

An article in the December issue of the Adoremus Bulletin titled, “Translating the Liturgy: Finding Words to Express the Ineffable” caught my attention and it is in this article that excerpts of older America articles are found. The era was the 1960s and it was an era when new translations were likewise being discussed. In an Oct. 22, 1966 issue of America we find this suggestion: “If the Church wants to sweep the world like the Beatles, it must use language as contemporary as theirs.” This was a mindset, perhaps not different from that posited by a very recent America article. Fortunately, the answer now is the same as the answer provided then by Jesuit Father Walter Ong, then professor of English at St. Louis University. He is cited as saying: “Let us not think that we have made revelation available to contemporary man by making it sound like something else he hears — a schoolboy’s idiom, the Beatles, Huntley and Brinkley, or even Senator Dirksen — The liturgy is related to our ordinary lives, but it is always also different from them and it is the expression of God’s judgment on them just as well as His love for them. No viable liturgical usage can merely ape secular practice: it must both assimilate secular practice and judge it.” (“Let Us Pray — But How?” America, Dec. 3, 1966).

The new translation includes changes to the preface dialogue between the priest and the people. We are familiar with it:

The Lord be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give Him thanks and praise.

The future dialogue is a little different.

The Lord be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

The changes are small. Almost subtle. Yet, important. Our present colloquial language may be easy but it is lacking. Recently at a confirmation the exchange of peace between the bishop and a student immediately after having been confirmed went like this: Bishop: Peace be with you. Student: Ya, you too. The “schoolboy idiom” was common, homey, maybe even well suited to the candidate but it could be questioned whether it was well suited as a formal liturgical response to a bishop in the context of the administration of the sacrament of confirmation. I do not for a moment suppose that this candidate’s response would have been different if the formal liturgical response had been “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you” but I do know that “Ya, you too” is closer to “And also with you” than it is to “And with your spirit.” Perhaps, just perhaps, our previous desire and attempt to bring liturgical language down to a much more common form of expression has allowed something even more common to invade the realm of the sacred.

Because “And with your spirit” is both a more accurate translation and a less common form of expression, it has the capacity to be seen as something a bit set apart. It is set apart, unusual, uncommon, unique, reserved for the sacred. At the same time, these characteristics make this revised translation of the expression thought provoking and even challenging. After having received the response from the people, the next expression by the priest flows more readily and beautifully. The priest, because the language is of a different nature, can now more readily say, “Lift up your hearts.” Uncommon language, unique, unusual, reserved for the sacred, set apart. Language matters. The priest continues: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” This is ordinary enough but the revised people’s response again gives us additional reason for reflection. “It is right and just.” Remember the current response: “It is right to give Him thanks and praise?” In our most common and routine form we might be tempted to simply say, “Right.” But when we say “It is right and just,” we acknowledge not only what is proper, what is right, but also that which is owed to God in justice. The change is small. Almost subtle. Yet, important. The dialogue lifts us out of the common (i.e. “Hi, how are ya? Fine.”) into a liturgical, formal, spiritual realm.

Father Ong, in 1966, continued: “Our efforts to accommodate modern English to God’s word, to put the meaning of the Scriptures and the Church’s teachings into our own language, thus entails an interior reorganization of our own lives. In the process we have to let God’s grace do its work on our own modes of expression and thought processes in their native English-speaking habitat. All this means that in finding how to use 20th century English liturgically and doctrinally in the way the teachings of the Church and the economy of language both demand, we shall have to remake our very selves and the culture around us. But this is only what the Gospel has always called on us to do. We want to make the liturgy meaningful to us not to have it fit our ways of thinking but in order to change our thinking and our lives. Change in us is both the pre-condition and the measure of success.”

How we understand the meaning and purpose of our liturgical celebrations is of critical importance. On one hand the desire to bring the Liturgy down to the people has some merit provided this attempt does not diminish the sacredness or solemnity of the Liturgy. On the other hand the desire to lift people up in the context of the Liturgy is more consistent with what Jesus came to do. He did not come to us so that we could remake Him. Jesus came to us so that we could be remade more perfectly into His image. This requires that we be stretched. Thus, stretching our common use of language seems most appropriate. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Lift them up to the Lord.

© 2010, Catholic Sentinel

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just a theory

When I was young (OK, late ‘60s), it perplexed me that my grandparents and their generation, and even many of my parent's generation, had plastic flowers in their homes and extolled the virtues of the imitation over the real. At one time my soon to be mother-in-law explained the great effort that had once to be made to care for the rose bush to produce a bloom that could only be enjoyed for a day or so, but now it could be enjoyed all year, and year in and year out, with only dusting as the necessary labor. Not raised around rose gardens or a television, at the time I found the plastic roses far less interesting than the color television they rested on.

Last night, listening to a group of my seniors discussing their less than fond memories of the traditional mass, I recognized that perhaps the two are connected and stem from the same source; exhaustion with the labor that beauty requires? Perhaps that is why the old appeals to the young, because they are not exhausted with beauty never known, but with the banal imitations.

Perhaps that is also why, although I find it difficult and daunting to learn, I’m captivated with the Dies Irae which I hope to learn by Saturday for the funeral mass of the mother of one of our Dominican Laity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Boise March for Life

The March for Life in Boise had a good turnout despite cold and rain, and the speaker, David Gibbs, was outstanding.

Photo by Idaho Press Tribune, article here

While public awareness and rejection of abortion has been growing, unfortunately, public acceptance of death at the other end of the life spectrum has been growing as well. While folks have become aware of proposals for health care rationing and gutting Medicare to pay for the so-called health care reform, what they are probably unaware of is that killing the disabled and elderly has gone mainstream in America.

Photo by Anita Moore OPL

From the Blog Not Dead Yet, A Disability Perspective on the Issue of Physician Assisted Suicide - Disability and Health Journal, the following is quoted:

When assisted suicide is legalised most of the people who will die are disabled. And American disability advocates take a very dim view of it. This is the theme of a hard-hitting series of articles in the latest issue of the Disability and Health Journal.

The editor, Suzanne McDermott, of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, writes that she changed her own mind after studying the issue. At first she believed that assisted suicide was solely a personal autonomy issue. But eventually she was persuaded that it is at the heart of the movement for disability rights: "Almost all people at the end of life can be included in the definition of ‘disability’. Thus, the practice of assisted suicide results in death for people with disabilities."

The special issue is a response to a controversial 2008 decision by the American Public Health Association (APHA) to back "aid in dying" (ie, assisted suicide). This slipped almost completely under the media’s radar, but it means that the official policy of the "oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world" – 30,000 of them – is to support assisted suicide to the hilt. Or, as they prefer to call it in Oregon, "patient-directed dying" or "physician aid-in-dying".

Rather than worrying about some ambiguous language in the Obama administration’s health reform legislation or scrutinising the publications of his health advisors for a few indiscreet phrases, the elderly and their relatives ought to be worried about the 30,000 members of the APHA. They are the ones who could be sitting on the "death panels". The authors of the articles in the Disability and Health Journal certainly are worried.

That quote above is taken from Is death better than disability? by Michael Cook.

When assisted suicide is legalised most of the people who will die are disabled. And American disability advocates take a very dim view of it. This is the theme of a hard-hitting series of articles in the latest issue of the Disability and Health Journal.

so now we've reached the heart of the matter:

Assisted suicide: Why this is an important issue for the Disability and Health Journal, Suzanne McDermott (Editor), Disability and Health Journal.

I encourage you to read this important issue of Disability and Health Journal with an open mind. The APHA did not support the Disability Section's opposition to an assisted suicide policy. The aid in dying policy was approved by APHA in November 2008, and in 2009 Washington became the second state to have a law legalizing aid in dying. There will be many states in the next decade that introduce or consider the introduction of laws to legalize assisted suicide. The issues are complex and the evidence is not robust. Some of the readers of Disability and Health Journal can use the manuscripts in this edition of the journal to help them understand the issues that will be debated in their state legislatures. We know there is another side to the debate, and this volume does not present the proponents' arguments, which have been presented in other journals. We thought it necessary to focus on the unique perspective to the disability community.

This assault on life has almost been completed. Apparently the difference between where we are today and where Germany was in the 1930s when it executed all the handicapped and other "worthless eaters," is that instead of the state doing it, we have become so hard hearted, that we are be doing it to our own ourselves.

Here's what Carol Gill wrote in the close of her article,

No, we don't think our doctors are out to get us: Responding to the straw man distortions of disability rights arguments against assisted suicide

In the end, those of us who oppose assisted suicide on political, economic, and cultural grounds are not afraid of the explicit and concrete menaces that proponents imagine we fear and then scoff at us for fearing. Nonetheless, as the movement to legalize assisted suicide gains support in our country's respected institutions and organizations, my sleep is definitely disturbed. No, I am not worried about doctors eagerly lining up to kill me, or family members plotting to get me out of the way. I do not imagine that a new Hitler will order my death in gas chambers or sadistic experiments. Please do not reduce my concerns to caricatures and stereotypes.

What I fear more than premeditated malice and any scheming executioner is the distant and off-handed dismissal of my quality of life that is seeping into our culture, simultaneously reinforced by and finding expression in the assisted suicide movement. It trickles down into the attitudes of everyday folks, people regarded as harmless, even powerless. If the legalization of assisted suicide continues, I believe the rank and file will some day see nothing wrong with hastening the deaths of many people. They will stand by and do nothing to stop it and will endorse the policies and institutions that advance it–not because they are evil people but because it will no longer be evil in our culture to do so. It will be compassionate, respectful, routine. Whom do I fear? I am afraid of the TV news copywriter who describes every disabled person as suffering, and of the HMO staff person who casually denies a critically needed support with the stroke of a computer key. I am terrified by the seemingly innocuous wide-eyed little medical student who interviews me when I enter the hospital—the one who exits our meeting filled with pity and curiosity, wondering how in the world someone like me can live. I fear the legions of these unlikely villains. Call me paranoid.

Anita offered the following thought on moral culpability:

Reminds me of an old law school hypothetical: if a guy jumps off the roof, and you shoot and kill him as he rushes past your window, are you guilty of homicide? Answer: yes. Even though his death was immanent and inevitable, you unjustly deprived him of the remaining seconds of life he would otherwise have had; and the cause of his death was directly traceable to your unjustified action.

Catholic/Orthodox relations

heads up!

Jim Likoudis will be on EWTN's "Bookmark" to discuss his book on Catholic/Orthodox relations.

Wednesday- 5:30 p.m.

Thursday - 1:00 p.m.
Friday - 11:30 p.m.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reading table

Anita (V-For Victory)recently asked me what I was reading. Since the answer includes more than one title, I had a hard time remembering all of them. So here's what my reading table next to the rocker has on it:

On the upper left is Cdl Ratzinger's "Salt of the Earth" given to me last year by Tony Galati OPL, who is president of the Dominican Lay Provincial Council and of KBVM in Portland. Fascinating read which I just finished. Also working on Credo for Today which is a bunch of Ratzinger essays going back to the 60s. Most of them are quite insightful. I'd recommend the first unqualifiedly, the second ... not quite as much. He did change, after all.

In the center lower is Robert Hugh Benson's Mystical Body, which apparently was a condensed version of Christ in His Church; I've finished the first and hope to start the second. Under the white book is one you can't see the title to, that is Fulton Sheen's "Religion without God (1928)". I ordered that at the recommendation of Fr. Brian Mullady OP after I told him I was reading Etienne Gilson's "God and Philosophy," a recommendation of Fr. Philip Neri Powell on his blog Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!. I thoroughly enjoyed the Gilson book, and also ordered Edward Fesler's book for Aquinas dummies (me). I still haven't bridged the gap between GK Chesterton's "The Dumb Ox" and the books by "philosophers" on Aquinas; and Aquinas himself confuses the snot out of me. mea culpa.

buried under the books are my 3 magazine subscriptions: Inside the Vatican, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and Social Justice Review. I've subscribed to SJR for about 10 years, HPR for maybe 4 years, and added Inside the Vatican last year.

Then there are the daily reads: "Liturgy of the Hours" and "Divine Intimacy."

Missing from my books at home is one at the office;

I'd recommend this and Jim Likoudis' companion volume "Ending the Byzantine Greek Schism" to anyone and everyone who wants to get past the most superficial understanding of the Eastern schism.

so many books, so little time!

Last night I finished "Credo for Today" and the final essay, "Why I am Still a Catholic" makes the book a thumbs up and a recommend. Written in 1971, it addesses those who stay in the Church without believing any of the Church's doctrine, in order to make over the Church in their own image. He also addresses the tendency to view it as "our church" instead of "His Church" - a balkanization into protestantized self-focused irrelevent and pointless congregations. A remarkable essay.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why doubt is incompatible with faith

There is a general misconception today that doubt is compatible with faith. here is part of the introduction of an excellent short essay which explains why this is not the case; read the whole thing!

Discourses to Mixed Congregations
John Henry Newman

Discourse 11. Faith and Doubt

[...]It is, then, perfectly true, that the Church does not allow her children to entertain any doubt of her teaching; and that, first of all, simply for this reason, because they are Catholics only while they have faith, and faith is incompatible with doubt. No one can be a Catholic without a simple faith, that what the Church declares in God's name, is God's word, and therefore true. A man must simply believe that the Church is the oracle of God; he must be as certain of her mission, as he is of the mission of the Apostles. Now, would any one ever call him certain that the Apostles came from God, if after professing his certainty, he added, that perhaps he might have reason to doubt one day about their mission? Such an anticipation would be a real, though latent, doubt, betraying that he was not certain of it at present. A person who says, "I believe just at this moment, but perhaps I am excited without knowing it, and I cannot answer for myself, that I shall believe tomorrow," does not believe now. A man who says, "Perhaps I am in a kind of delusion, {216} which will one day pass away from me, and leave me as I was before"; or "I believe as far as I can tell, but there may be arguments in the background which will change my view," such a man has not faith at all. When, then, Protestants quarrel with us for saying that those who join us must give up all ideas of ever doubting the Church in time to come, they do nothing else but quarrel with us for insisting on the necessity of faith in her. Let them speak plainly; our offence is that of demanding faith in the Holy Catholic Church; it is this, and nothing else. [...]

Vatican II speaks of "The religious assent of faith" which I have often encountered in people who should know better as a public "yes" with a reserved private "no." The expression "Roma Locuta Est – Causa Finita Est" far better conveys the meaning of the religious assent of faith, for the Church speaks in the name of Jesus Christ (Lk 10:16). To him who would beg to differ with the Church speaking in Jesus' name, let them hear the voice of the Lord saying "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." (Mt 16:23)

Lord, please don't hear this prayer-yet again

The following article is from the Denver Catholic Register

Lord, please don't hear this prayer-yet again

By George Weigel

One This past Dec. 28, I was jolted out of my morning fog at 8 a.m. Mass when the deacon offered this petition:

“For those who are considering abortion: may our prayers and the intercession of the Holy Innocents whom we honor today help them choose life as the best option, let us pray to the Lord.”
I can’t remember whether I blurted “What?” loud enough to be noticed by my faithful companions at daily Mass—many of whom wear hearing aids—but I know I certainly didn’t answer with the prescribed “Lord, hear our prayer.”
The best option? Oh, so the decision whether to carry a child to term is a pragmatic calculation, and we’re to pray that those concerned get the calculation, er, right? How did this morally degrading nonsense get written? How did it get past an editor with any theological grain of sense?

It happened because the parish I was attending, like many others, uses canned general intercessions for weekday Masses, bought from a “liturgical aids” service: the daily intercessions come with a tacky binder in a tear-‘em-out-after-you-use-‘em format, they fit neatly inside the ambo—so why not? Well, Dec. 28 illustrated why not: because more often than we’d like to admit, these intercessions are thoughtlessly written, reflecting the ambient cultural smog rather than the truth of Catholic faith. Moreover, they’re typically organized to suggest that the world of politics is, somehow, the real world: after a brief intercessory nod to the pope, the bishops, or both, we’re immediately invited to pray for sundry social and political causes, never identified as such but wrapped in the gauziness of Feel Good Prayer.

And what gets omitted is often as instructive, and depressing, as what gets addressed. How often last year did you hear a general intercession petition for Christian unity? For the relief of persecuted Christians? For the conversion of non-believers? For victory in the war against terrorism? (Eight years and four months after 9/11, I’m still waiting for that one.) But I’ll bet you heard a dozen or more exhorting you to environmental responsibility.
In parishes that take their liturgy seriously, the canned intercessions usually disappear on Sunday, to be replaced by intercessions composed locally by responsible parties, sometimes with the aid of thoughtful resources like Magnificat. The solution to the weekday problem, I suggest, is to regularize and routinize the petitions at daily Mass, making them serenely formulaic and thus immune from the temptation to political or cultural homiletics.

Here’s one possible scheme for such a “reduction:”

For the holy Church of God throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord.
For Benedict, Bishop of Rome, and the bishops in communion with him, let us pray to the Lord.
For this local Church of [name of diocese], for [name of bishop], its chief shepherd, and for the priests and deacons of [name of diocese], let us pray to the Lord.
For this parish of [patron of other name], its pastors and its people, let us pray to the Lord.
For an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, let us pray to the Lord. For the unity of all Christians, for the relief of those suffering persecution for their Christian faith, and for the conversion of their persecutors, let us pray to the Lord.
For the civil authorities, that we may be governed in justice and truth, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who are sick, and for all those with special needs, let us pray to the Lord.
For our beloved dead, let us pray to the Lord.

That, I suggest, covers the most important bases. Such a scheme also locates the local parish within the broader Christian community of the diocese, and locates the diocese within the ambit of the universal Church: facts about which Catholics in America often need reminding. And such a formulaic schema avoids politics while making clear that we should pray regularly that the politicos recognize both the responsibilities and limits of their power.

Try it. It is, if you’ll permit me, the best option.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3215.

Hat tip to Fr. PNP at Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!

"Wisdom preacheth abroad, she uttereth her voice in the streets: How long, ye little ones, love ye childishness, and fools covet what is hurtful to them, and the unwise hate knowledge? Turn ye at My reproof; behold, I will bring forth to you My Spirit, and I will show My words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused, I stretched out My hand, and there was none who regarded, and ye despised all My counsel and neglected My chidings; I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared; when a sudden storm shall rush on you, and destruction shall thicken as a tempest, when tribulation and straitness shall come upon you. Then shall they call on Me, and I will not hear; they shall rise betimes, but they shall not find Me; for that they hated discipline, and took not on them the fear of the Lord, nor acquiesced in My counsel, but made light of My reproof, therefore shall they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices." (Proverbs 1:20ff)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Consequences of messing with nature?

and playing God...

From The Sunday Times January 10, 2010
IVF babies ‘risk major diseases’
Jonathan Leake

Scientists have discovered that the DNA of babies conceived through IVF differs from that of other children, putting them at greater risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity later in life.

The new research could explain why IVF babies tend to be at higher risk of low birth weight, defects and rare metabolic disorders.

The changes are not in the genes themselves but in the mechanism that switches them on and off, the study of which is known as epigenetics.

“These epigenetic differences have the potential to affect embyronic development and foetal growth, as well as influencing long-term patterns of gene expression associated with increased risk of many human diseases,” said Professor Carmen Sapienza, a geneticist at Temple University in Philadelphia, who jointly led the research.

There is a possibility that such changes could be transmitted to the children of IVF babies, meaning they could spread through the human gene pool.

In their findings, published in the Human Molecular Genetics journal, Sapienza and his colleagues took blood samples from the placenta and umbilical cords of 10 IVF children and 13 children who were naturally conceived.

They studied the DNA of cells taken from the blood to see if there were differences in the level of methylation. This is the process by which molecules known as methyl groups are attached to genes to shut them down when they are not needed.

The results showed that the level of methylation in the cells taken from IVF babies was significantly lower — implying that some genes were becoming active at the wrong times.

“We have shown that in vitro conception is associated with differences in gene methylation and that some of these differences may affect gene expression,” said Sapienza.

The findings could have serious implications for the booming industry in assisted reproduction.

About 40,000 women a year undergo IVF in Britain, often paying tens of thousands of pounds in the hope of conceiving. Some 15,000 IVF babies are born each year — about 2% of all births — so they are a significant component of the UK gene pool.

Sapienza, however, was unable to ascertain the actual cause of the epigenetic changes he observed.

One possibility is that couples who are infertile may have naturally higher levels of epigenetic changes than the rest of the population, perhaps explaining the cause of their infertility.

Monday, January 11, 2010

PSA: CDU and EWTN - Radio Seminars

CDU and EWTN - Radio Seminars

Between January and May of 2010 CDU will host an informational radio series called 'CDU Presents' on EWTN radio. Fr. Bramwell is the author and speaker for the first series of talks, and his topic focuses on the teachings of Vatican II. - If your area has no EWTN radio station, turn on your computer and go to and select the third tab - 'Radio'.

- CDU broadcasts are aired at 9 pm (eastern standard time) on Sunday evenings.

- "Listen Live" is (Live Radio / Audio links are there).

*The first lecture (Jan 3) is available in the EWTN Archive at:


We'll keep you informed about what's coming up for future programs!This page on CDU website has more info on Graduate and Undergraduate Credit for these Radio Seminars:

Hat tip to Catherine Liberatore OPL,

Truth Be Told issue #8 - Newsletter of the Laity of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

The eighth issue of "Truth Be Told," the newsletter of the Laity of the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus has been posted to the web.

The newsletter is available for download at the provincial web page here:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"The Mystical Body and its Head," Robert Hugh Benson

Here is the second installment (Chapter 2) of this fine little book:


Christ at Work in the Church

We have described the claim of the Catholic Church to be the mystical Body of Christ in which He lives, speaks, and acts. We have not yet advanced any arguments, beyond a few suggestive sentences of Scripture, and a physical analogy or two, in defense of that claim (the time for that will come later); we have merely stated the position. But before passing on to these arguments it will be illuminating to notice how two or threw further claims made by the Catholic Church, and usually considered as obstacles to her acceptance by the world, are, as a matter of fact, inevitable consequences of her fundamental position.

1. It is perfectly plain that if the Catholic claim to possess Christ in what may be called His “Church Body” be accepted hypothetically, exactly the same authority must be predicated of the voice of the Church as the Voice of Christ. (I do not mean by this that Catholics hold that the Church is capable of giving new truths to the world unknown to the Apostles; only that in declaring authoritatively what was that Revelation originally given by Christ, she is as unerring as was He.) This is nothing else than that supreme stumbling block which Protestants know as the doctrine of the Church’s infallibility.

That such a transcension of the sum of component cells is possible – that is to say, that the judgment of a number of persons acting in concert is universally recognized as being at least of more value than the mere sum of their votes – this fact is illustrated by the jury system in use in most civilized countries. We give without hesitation to twelve men acting in concert a power over life and death which we would not willingly give to any one of the men taken by himself. It is true that we do not attribute to a jury actual infallibility, since we have no reason for believing that their united judgment has a promise of being ratified and safeguarded by a higher tribunal than that of human opinion, though we believe that that method of decision arrives as nearly to perfection as is possible to obtain; but, ex hypothesi, Catholics believe that the consent of the Church does rise to that higher plane – that the sum of Catholic opinion as expressed, let us say, through a Council, does actually rise to a superhuman level of consciousness, that the sum of the human cells mounts up, as in an organic body, to a new unity of life, and that that life is identified and united with a Divine One. “He that heareth you, heareth Me … As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” “I am he Vine: you are the branches.” Infallibility, then, on the Catholic hypothesis, is inevitably an endowment of that Body in which there thinks and speaks the Mind of God. If there be such a Body it must be infallible.

2. A second point illustrated by this belief is the extraordinary importance attached by Catholics to actual external membership in this Society. It is perfectly true – and we are not in the least ashamed of it – that we will compass the whole world to make on proselyte; it is true also that we regard with the most extreme horror those unhappy persons who, once members of the Church, are no longer so. To the Catholic who sees in the Church a human society (often terribly human), but also a Body in which God dwells, an organism composed of countless individual cells, but indwelt by a Divine Personality – a Catholic who believes that this Society is actually redemptive of the human race, as well as the actually Divine Teacher – more than a school of thought, more than the best religious club in existence, more than the Ambassador of God, more than the Bride of Christ – to the Catholic who believes that the Church is not one among ten thousand, but One, unique, singular and final, between who and other religious bodies there is no more comparison than between the creature and the Creator – to him, membership in that body, the position of a cell in that organism, is the one thing to which no other can be preferred; and the loss of that membership the one supreme catastrophe or crime. Certainly the Catholic holds that it is possible to belong to the Soul of the Church without external membership in the Body; it is possible, where there is no fault on the individual’s side, that he may be united inwardly to the Person who inhabits that Body; but such is not God’s primary intention, and to forsake the Body is to forsake the soul. In any case the individual loses enormously by being forced to stand alone, without that grace and strength of unity which external membership in the external body alone can confer.

3. A third point we must notice is the following: We have present upon earth in the Catholic Church that same personality and energy as lived upon earth two thousand years ago in the Figure of Jesus Christ. And we have the same environment – namely, the human nature of the world, human ambitions, interests, virtues, vices, circumstances, strengths and weaknesses, now as then. We should expect to find the same results now as then. So far as Jesus Christ was accepted or rejected then by the world into which He came, so will He be accepted and rejected now, and by the same kind of people for the same kind of reasons. It resembles the repetition of a chemical experiment. If there is brought to bear under certain circumstances upon certain elements a particular force, the same results will always be obtained. It will be a proof of the identity of the force that, given the same conditions, the same result is so produced. If, then, we find in the history of the Catholic Church the same psychological situations as those recorded in the Gospels continually reproduced under similar circumstances – if we find that the same comments are made, the same paradoxes generated, the same accusations leveled, the same criticisms, the same bursts of flame and thunder – if we fine the lepers healed, the dead raised, the devils cast out, and the same explanations offered of these phenomena by the incredulous – if we find the same amazing claims uttered to the world, and the same repudiations, demurrings, and acceptances of those claims – if, in short, we find in the Catholic Church only, the endless intricacies and phenomena recorded in the Gospels reproduced on the stage of human history, the conclusion will be practically inevitable that the same Personality that produced those phenomena then is reproducing them now; and that the Catholic claim to possess Jesus Christ in a unique manner in herself is not unwarranted. If the circumstances are the same and the phenomena are the same, the force must be the same.

A further point must also be noticed in this connection.

There are certain arguments drawn from the Gospels in defense of the Divinity of Christ; for example, the story of the resurrection. Now, if the narrative of the Resurrection could once be accepted as literally true, as it is there recorded, I imagine that very few persons would be found to deny the Deity of Christ. But it is exactly the apparent impossibility of proving that the narrative is true which holds many minds back from the acceptance of the full Christian position. “That is all very well” – says such a man – “but how can I be certified that He did rise again? It was a credulous age, full of expectation of the marvelous. Those who are reported to have seen Christ risen are not altogether satisfactory witnesses; there are at least superficial discrepancies in the Four Gospels; further, there are innumerable difficulties of Biblical criticism. I am not, therefore, prepared to stake my whole existence on a doctrine which I cannot possibly verify. He may have risen; He may not have risen. I was not there, I did not see it. On the whole, however, it seems to me more likely that the Evangelists deceived or were deceived, than that Christ was very God. Both alternatives are perhaps unlikely; but I prefer that which seems to me the less unlikely of the two.” So, too, with other similar arguments drawn from the Gospels in defense of Christ’s Divinity.

Now the method I propose to follow in these pages meets, I think, at any rate indirectly, the difficulties of such a critic. It is true that I cannot demonstrate to the senses the physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ; but if it were possible to show that the phenomenon of Resurrection is characteristic of Catholicism; that Jesus Christ does, not once or twice, but repeatedly, rise again in the Catholic Church, rolling away stones far greater than that which lay on His sepulcher in the garden – if it were possible to see Him passing through doors more tightly closed than those of the upper room; coming through gardens in the dawnlight to lover after lover – if, in a word, this “sign of the Prophet Jonas” were a sign of Catholicism everywhere and always, it would create the strongest possible presumption that the Gospel narrative was nothing less than sober fact. And if, in addition to this, it were possible to show that all those other symptoms of His Divinity recorded in the Gospels were present in Catholicism – if His progress through the ages were seen to be accompanied by bursting tombs, opening eyes, the feeding of multitudes, and, above all, that strange aroma of Divinity attributed to Him, then the argument would be vastly increased in significance. Somewhat parallel to this observation made by Mr. Mallock in one of his books. “I can understand,” he says, in effect (though he is not a Christian), “I can understand the Catholic claim, though I cannot understand any other. The Church says to her children, you must believe these things because I tell you that I witnessed them myself, and you know that I am trustworthy. I do not refer you merely to written books, but to my continues consciousness that is called Tradition. You can believe the Resurrection securely because I was there and saw it. I saw, with my own eyes, the stone rolled away; I saw the Lord of Life come out; I went with the Maries to the tomb; I heard the footsteps on the garden path; I saw through eyes blind with tears but clear with love, Him whom my companions thought to be the Gardener.” This, says Mr. Mallock, is at any rate an intelligible and reasonable claim.1

Now this, more or less, is an illustration of the way I am attempting to argue. I am not referring simply back to written records, even though personally I may believe those records to be utterly trustworthy; but it is my hope to present, so to speak, the Catholic Church as I know her myself, that you may examine her for yourself. It is my hope to draw attention to what may be called a “personage” now living upon earth whose consciousness runs back for two thousand years one who has certain characteristics, instincts, and methods that are among her best credentials. And it is my further hope that, comparing what you can see of her with the written papers she holds in her hands, you may identify her for what she really is, and see in the persistence of that character for so long, as well as in her other credentials, at least a strong presumption that she is as unique as she claims to be; and that no hypothesis, except her actual Divinity, will adequately explain the phenomena of her life. In this manner, too, it is possible to fill up even what appear lacunæ to some minds in the written record. If you have two old manuscripts, and find that where they are legible they agree perfectly, you are tolerably save in filling up the illegibilities of one from the clear writing of the other. If you find that in numerous points the Living Church reproduces perfectly the clear testimony of the Gospels, you are justified in accepting the wetness of the Church on further points in which the Gospel appears to you doubtful or difficult.

4. Finally, let it be observed that in Catholic Christianity alone is such a claim even made as that which as been described. It may be said, without the possibility of contradiction, that in not one of the great world-religions, in not one of the smallest and most arrogant sects, has the proclamation ever been made that the Founder lives a mystical but absolutely real life in a Body composed of His followers. There have been mystical phrases used occasionally, in certain forms of Buddhism, for example, faintly suggestive of this presence of a Master with His disciples in a very intimate and transcendent manner; but never has it been asserted, in Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Confucianism, in any form of Protestantism, in any savage creed, that the great bulk of the faithful compose a living organism whose Dominican personality is Divine. Never, except in Catholic Christianity, has the assertion been solemnly made and deliberately acted upon – “I am he Vine – you the branches”; “He that heareth you, heareth Me.”

It is sufficiently remarkable that the Catholic claim is a unique one. “I have read,” says St. Augustine, “all the sages of the world; and not one of them dares to say ‘Come unto Me.’” I have looked, the Catholic may say today, upon all the Churches of the world, all the world-religions, and all the sects, and not one of them dares to take upon her lips the words of very Deity. Many say, “I possess the truth I teach the way, and I promise the life”; but not one, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” None, except one, and that the Catholic Church, claims to be actually Divine and to utter the Voice of God. The Anglicans dare not excommunicate for heresy; the Nonconformists do not wish to; the Oriental Christians out of communion with the Holy See, though they utter brave words, yet do not exhibit by proselytism and missionary enterprise that confident self-consciousness which Divinity must always show. There is but one body in the world, and that the Catholic Church, which behaves, moves, and speaks as only a Society conscious of Divinity can behave, move, and speak.

But the significance of the uniqueness of this claim is multiplied an hundredfold if in any way it can be justified. If it can be shown that the claim is a Catholic commonplace, that all the Church’s actions are based upon that supposition, that the success of her policy depends on it, that the unique phenomena of her life spring from it, that, in fact, the very heart of her life is the very assertion itself; if, finally, that assertion made by her, and made by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, produces the same results, and those results impossible of production on any other hypothesis, then, so far as moral proof can go, the claim is vindicated. If, in short, Jesus Christ has succeeded in producing such a Society as this, giving her a confidence that is more than human, and a success unparalleled in human history – if He is able to present to the doubter such a Body as this in which He lives, able to extend hands and side to the touch of skepticism, in proof that it is indeed Himself, risen again and again from what is more final even than death to all merely human energies, then it is hardly possible to imagine any other response but that which Thomas made – “My Lord and my God.”

For the appeal of the Church is in is essence an extraordinarily simple and direct one. Certainly it is possible to state that appeal in elaborate and intricate terms, to describe, justify, and indicate by illustrations, metaphors, and the rest, until the case seems too utterly complicated to be true. Yet the appeal itself is as simple as that of a mother to a child. I believe there are very learned books written on the motherly and filial instincts; it is possible to describe a smile in terms of muscles and sinews, and to analyze tears into lime and hydrogen and other elements; yet for all that, smiles and tears are the simplest things we know. And the appeal of this intricate Society, claiming to possess as she does the wisdom of the Eternal and the Source of all love, is for all that as direct and as simple as the glance of a woman’s eyes into the eyes of her child. All the eloquence of her orators and the learning of her divines, and the elaborateness of her worship, may be summed up on that single sentence that can only adequately be pronounced by the lips of Divinity – “Come unto Me.”

1 Cf. the whole argument of Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption (Mallock).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Excommunication is a declaration of acts that severs ties - Bp RF Vasa

A combox ranter has left horrid insinuations against the Catholic Church at Anita's V-For Victory post The Crucifix versus the Swastika. The poster seems to think that a statement of excommunication is necesssary for every baptized apostate individual whom has publicly declared their opposition to faith, morals, reason, and the dominion of Christ, even if they have never been a practicing Catholic! That this is not necessary in the slightest, the following essay from Bishop Robert F. Vasa makes clear. Today's problem is of a different nature, and his excellency does a wonderful reflection on that.

Excommunication is a declaration of acts that severs ties
By Bishop Robert Vasa

During the course of this past year there have been a number of occasions when bishops have hinted to laity that being Catholic involves a bit more than claiming the title. This has been done, in particular, with regard to politicians who may, in their own way, love Jesus, who may attend Sunday Mass and who do identify themselves as “faithful” Catholics. The press usually hints at the big “E” word, excommunication. The question of when a Catholic should be excommunicated has even been asked quite frequently and very seriously. While bishops are extremely reluctant to take the seemingly dramatic step of excommunication, I think there is very good reason for us to explore more thoroughly what excommunication really means and why it might be considered in certain circumstances.

The press would undoubtedly accuse Bishops who talk or even think about excommunication as being tyrannical power mongers but this is unfair. Excommunication is a declaration, based on solid evidence, that the actions or public teachings of a particular Catholic are categorically incompatible with the teachings of the Church. It is intended primarily as a means of getting the person who is in grave error to recognize the depth of his error and repent. A second reason, while somewhat secondary but no less important, is to assure the faithful who truly are faithful that what they believe to be the teaching of the Church is true and correct. Allowing their faith to be shaken or allowing them to be confused when Catholics publicly affirm something contrary to faith or morals, seemingly without consequences, scandalizes and confuses the faithful. This is no small matter. The Church, and particularly bishops, have an obligation to defend the faith but they also have an obligation to protect the faithful. We do not generally see the dissidence of public figures as something that harms the faithful but it has a deleterious effect upon them.

I find, very frequently, when I speak a bit more boldly on matters of morality or discipline, there are a significant number of the faithful who send messages of gratitude and support. It is their gratitude which stirs my heart for it makes me realize how much there is a need to support and affirm the clear and consistent teachings of our Catholic faith for the sake of the faithful. While the press may caricature such bishops in rather uncharitable fashion, I trust that they are men devoted to true compassion and to the truth itself. Their compassion extends to those who are misled and to those who, while not misled, are discouraged when their faith is attacked without rebuttal. This discouragement of the faithful is not insignificant. When we look at the word itself we see that its root is “courage” and allowing someone’s courage to be dissipated, or “dissed” as the young might say, is harmful to the person. En-couragement, by contrast, builds up the courage of the faithful and increases their strength for doing good. It is life giving and revitalizing. Allowing error, publicly expressed, to stand without comment or contradiction is discouraging.

When that moral error is espoused publicly by a Catholic who, by the likewise public and external act of receiving Holy Communion, appears to be in “good standing” then the faithful are doubly confused and doubly discouraged. In that case, the error is certainly not refuted. Furthermore, the impression is given that the error is positively condoned by the bishop and the Church. This is very dis-couraging to the faithful. In such a case, private “dialogue” is certainly appropriate but a public statement is also needed. In extreme cases, excommunication may be deemed necessary.

It seems to me that even if a decree of excommunication would be issued, the bishop would really not excommunicate anyone. He only declares that the person is excommunicated by virtue of the person’s own actions. The actions and words, contrary to faith and morals, are what excommunicate (i.e. break communion with the Church). When matters are serious and public, the Bishop may deem it necessary to declare that lack of communion explicitly. This declaration no more causes the excommunication than a doctor who diagnoses diabetes causes the diabetes he finds in his patient. The doctor recognizes the symptoms and writes the necessary prescription. Accusing the doctor of being a tyrannical power monger would never cross anyone’s mind. Even when the doctor tells the patient that they are “excommunicated” from sugar it is clear that his desire is solely the health of his patient. In fact, a doctor who told his diabetic patient that he could keep ingesting all the sugar he wanted without fear would be found grossly negligent and guilty of malpractice.

In the same way, bishops who recognize a serious spiritual malady and seek a prescription to remedy the error, after discussion and warning, may be required to simply state, “What you do and say is gravely wrong and puts you out of communion with the faith you claim to hold.” In serious cases, and the cases of misled Catholic public officials are often very serious, a declaration of the fact that the person is de facto out of communion may be the only responsible and charitable thing to do.

Failing to name error because of some kind of fear of offending the person in error is neither compassion nor charity. Confronting or challenging the error or evil of another is never easy yet it must be done.

The adage usually attributed to Edmund Burke was correct: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

The Lord has called bishops to be shepherds. That shepherding entails both leading and protecting. In an era when error runs rampant and false teachings abound, the voice of the Holy Father rings clear and true. The teachings of the Church are well documented and consistent. Bishops and the pastors who serve in their Dioceses have an obligation both to lead their people to the truth and protect them from error.

© 2010, Catholic Sentinel

Saturday, January 02, 2010

"The Mystical Body and its Head," Robert Hugh Benson

I found this 99 year old book at the Goodwill store for 99 cents. Since I haven't found it online, well, I'll remedy that! Enjoy the first chapter. Direct. Clear.

The Mystical Body and its Head

Robert Hugh Benson


The Doctrine

of the Mystical Body


The Church is Christ’s Body

The work of Redemption and Revelation was accomplished through Human Nature assumed into union with the Divine – that God did not, so to speak, act merely in virtue of His Deity, but through Humanity as well – that, first a nation, then a tribe, then a family, and then a person, were successively drawn from the world as a whole – Israel, Judah, the line of David, and, finally, Mary – and then, by a unique act of the power of the Holy Ghost, a created substance was produced so perfect and so pure as to be worth, in a sense, of becoming the vehicle of the Deity; that this substance was then assumed into union with God, and used for His Divine purposes – in short, that they Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, by which He lived and suffered and died as man, was the instrument of both Revelation and Redemption; that by a human voice He spoke, that human hands were raised to bless, that a human heart loved and agonized, and that these human hands, heart, and voice – broken, pierced, and silenced as they were – were the heart, hands, and voice of Very God. Consider that claim carefully. Though the Person was the Person of God, the nature by which He was accessible and energetic was the nature of man. It is by union with that Humanity that Christians believe themselves redeemed. Thus in that last emphatic act of the life of His Humiliation He took Bread, and cried, not Here is my Essential Self, but “This is my Body which is given for you,” since that Body was the instrument of Redemption. And, if the Christian claim is to be believed, this act was but a continuation (though in another sense) of that first act known as the Incarnation. He who leaned over the Bread at that “last sad Supper with His own” had, in another but similar manner, leaned over Mary herself with similar words upon his lips. God, according to the Christian belief, used in both actions alike a material substance for His Divine Purpose.

Catholics go a step further – a step in a certain sense parallel to, though not identical with, the act of the Incarnation – and believe that He further takes into union with Himself the Human Nature of His disciples, and through the Body thus formed, acts, lives, and speaks. Let us sum it up in one sentence. Catholics believe that as Jesus Christ lived His natural life on earth two thousand years ago in a Body drawn from Mary, so He lives His Mystical Life today in a Body drawn from the human race in general – called the Catholic Church – that her words are His, her actions His, her life His (with certain restrictions and exemptions), as surely as were the words, actions, and life recorded in the Gospels: it is for this reason that they give to the Church the assent of their faith, believing that in doing so they are rendering it to God Himself. She is not merely His vicegerent on earth, not merely His representative, not merely even His Bride: in a real sense she is Himself. That in this manner, as well as in another which is not our business at present, He fulfills His promise to be with His disciples all the days, even to the consummation of the world. To express the whole position once more under another aspect, in order to make clear what is the position on which I purpose to enlarge, it may be said that God expressed Himself in terms of a single life in the Gospels, and of a corporate life in the Church. The written Gospel is the record of a past life; the Church is the living Gospel and record of a present life. Here He “looks through the lattice,” visible to all who have eyes; here He reproduces, in century after century and country after country, the events and crises of the life lived in Judæa. Here He works out and fills up, on the canvas of the world’s history, that outline laid down two thousand years ago: He is born here, lives, suffers, dies, and eternally rises again on the third day. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

1. Before passing on to consider the possibility of this position, as well as a very startling analogy supplied to us by recent scientific research, it is suggestive to consider how extraordinarily strong is the support given by the Scriptures to the Catholic claim that the idea which I have described was the idea of Jesus Christ Himself and of His contemporary disciples.

The position could hardly be put more explicitly than in the words “I am the Vine, you are the branches,” or “He that heareth you, heareth Me: he that despiseth you, despiseth Me,” or “As My Father sent Me, even so I send you.”

For the only distinction possible to draw between the Vine and the branches lies in saying that the Vine stands for the whole and the branches for its parts. The branches are not an imitation of the Vine, or representatives of the Vine; they are not merely attached to it, as candles to a Christmas tree; they are its expression, its result, and sharers of its life. The two are in the most direct sense identical. The Vine gives unity to the branches, the branches give expression and effectiveness to the energy of the Vine; they are nothing without it; it remains merely a Divine Idea without them. You cannot, that is, apprehend the Vine at all in any real sense as vine except through the branches. So, again, in passage after passage of St. Paul’s writings, phrases are used that are practically meaningless, or at the best wild and furious exaggerations, unless this identity of Christ and His Church is assumed to have been in the writer’s mind. Again and again souls living in union with Christ are named His Body considered as a whole, or as members considered separately; they are said to possess the “mind of Christ”; they are described in a mysterious phrase, lucid only on the Catholic interpretation, as filling up what is “wanting of the sufferings of Christ” – carrying out, that is to say, on the stage of the world’s history, the agony and death recorded in the Gospels, extending before the eyes of the world today – and, indeed in every period of history – the bloody sweat, the nails, and the scourge seen in Gethsemane and Calvary. The instruments of the martyr’s passion are the instruments of His. It is impossible, I think, for those who at any rate regard the New Testament as an adequate record of the intentions and words of Christ and His friends, to deny that the idea which I have attempted to describe was the idea of the Founder of Christianity as understood by those who heard Him speak.

2. Now, what has been said up to this point may well be regarded by some critics as being nothing more than a rather forced and metaphorical statement of what is really an impossible position to maintain literally – a presentation, possibly rather picturesque, but hopelessly idealistic, of a mere illustration. I mean, however, a great deal more than that.

Every organic body – the body, let us say, of a man or a dog – may be regarded under two aspects. First, it possesses its one single and unique life, that may properly be called the life of the body, beginning before birth and ending at that moment called death. Yet, sheltering, so to speak, under this unity – in fact contributing to it – are lives whose number is beyond computation – viz.: the lives of the innumerable “cells” that compose the body. Those cells are continually coming into being, living each its life, and finally dying and passing away with the destruction of the tissues, yet in no sense interrupting by these changes the one continuous life of the body as a whole. The body of a full-grown man has no single cell, at any given moment, which it possessed at the time of his birth; yet his body, we say, has lived continuously from his birth up to that given moment. The cells are indeed individuals, but they are a great deal more, in virtue of they mystical cohesion.

Now this physical illustration my perhaps appear a little forced; yet surely the analogy is too remarkable to be passed over. We considered just now whether it was possible to speak of the Life of the Church as identical with the Life of Christ – of the identity, that is, of the myriad consciousnesses of Catholic Christians with that Divine consciousness of Christ; and we see that recent research supplies us with a parallel, exact, so far as we have considered it, with the entire Catholic claim on the point. We see how it is not only possible, but essential, for an organic body – that is, for the highest form of physical life with which we are acquainted – that it should consist from one point of view of a myriad infinitesimal lives that lose themselves, and yet save themselves, in the unity of the whole, and that the unity of the whole, while it transcends the sum of the individual cell-lives, is at once dependent on them and apart. If this is true of physical life, literally and actually, it is surely not unreasonable to expect that it should be true also of spiritual life; and the coincidence is the more remarkable when we remember that the science of cell-life is of very recent date.

3. Jesus Christ still lives upon earth as surely, though in another and what must be a “mystical” sense, as He lived two thousand years ago. For He has a Body in which He lives, a Voice with which He speaks. As two thousand years ago He assumed one kind of Body by which to accomplish His purposes, so He has assumed now another kind of Body in which to continue them; and that Body consists of a unity of myriad cells – each cell a living soul complete in itself – transcending the sum of the cells and yet expressing itself through them. Christianity, then, to the Catholic is not merely an individual matter – through it is that also, as surely as the cell has individual relations with the main life of the body. But it is far more: it is corporate and transcendent. The Catholic does not merely as a self-contained unit suck out grace through this or that sacramental channel; the priest to him is not just a vicegerent who represents or may misrepresent his Master; a spiritual life is not merely an individual existence on a spiritual plane. But to the Catholic all things are expanded, enlarged, and supernaturalized by an amazing fact; He is not merely an imitator of Christ, or a disciple of Christ, nor merely even a lover of Christ; but he is actually a cell of that very Body which is Christ’s, and his life in Christ is, as a matter of fact, so far more real and significant than his individual existence, that his is able to take upon his lips without exaggeration or metaphor the words of St. Paul – “I live – yet it is no longer I that live; it is Christ that liveth in me”; he is able to appreciate as no separatist in religion can appreciate that saying of Christ Himself, that unless a man lose his life, he cannot save it. Still, to the eyes of the Catholic, there moves on earth that amazing Figure whose mere painted portrait in the Gospels has driven men – artists, seers, and philanthropists – mad with love and longing – and he is part of it. There still sounds on the air the very voice that comforted the Magdalene and pardoned the thief: the same Divine energy that healed the sick and raised the dead is still active on earth, not transmitted merely from some Majesty on high, but working now, as then, through a Human Nature that may be touched and felt.

I see through her eyes, the Eyes of God to shine, and through her lips I hear His words. In each of her hands as she raises them to bless, I see the wounds that dripped on Calvary, and her feet upon her altar stairs are signed with the same marks as those which the Magdalene kissed. As she comforts me in the confessional I hear the voice that bade the sinner go and sin no more; and as she rebukes or pierces me with blame I shrink aside trembling with those who went out one by one, beginning with the eldest, till Jesus and the penitent were left alone. As she cries her invitation through the world I hear the same ringing claim as that which called, “Come unto Me and find rest to your souls”; as she drives those who profess to serve her from her service I see the same flame of wrath that scourged the changers of money from the temple courts.

As I watch her in the midst of her people, applauded by the mob shouting always for the rising sun, I see the palm branches about her head, and the City and Kingdom of God, it would seem, scarcely a stone’s throw away, yet across the valley of the Kedron and the garden of Gethsamane; and as I watch her pelted with mud, spurned, spat at and disgraced, I read in her eyes the message that we should weep not for her but for ourselves and for our children, since she is immortal and we but mortal after all. As I look on her white body, dead and drained of blood, I smell once more the odor of the ointments and the trampled grass of that garden near to the place where He was crucified, and hear the tramp of the soldiers who came to seal the stone and set the watch. And, at last, as I see her moving once more in the dawn light of each new day, or in the revelation of evening, as the son of this of that dynasty rises and sets, I understand that He how was dead has come forth once more with healing in His wings, to comfort those that mourn and to bind up the brokenhearted; and that His coming is not with observation, but in the depth of night as His enemies slept and His lovers woke for sorrow.

Yet even as I see this I understand that Easter is but Bethlehem once again; that the cycle runs round again to its beginning and that the conflict is all to fight again; for they will not be persuaded, though One rises daily from the dead.

if anyone knows of this book in an online form, let me know. thanks.