Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Luther just misunderstood?

A Catholic deacon in my diocese stated in a homily that Martin Luther was misunderstood, as if to imply that what he really taught was orthodox. In this blog, I will place some quotes from Martin Luther which shows how the deacon's claim is rather absurd.

Luther was excommunicated. To pretend his excommunication was the result of some misunderstanding is revisionism run-a-muck, given the many heretical claims of Martin Luther from his very own writings.

Here are some quotes from Martin Luther which don't seem to admit to an "orthodox" understanding...

"No other sin, manslaughter, theft, murder or adultery is so harmful as this abomination of the popish Mass" (Luther's Works, Weimar edition, 15, 774).

Hmmmm...perhaps I misunderstood, however it seems Luther called the Divine Liturgy of the Catholic Church an "abomination" more sinful that "manslaughter, theft, murder or adultery." I wonder if the Catholic deacon mentioned above would argue against this claim?

"Be a sinner and sin boldly,  but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world]  we have to sin. ... No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day." (LW 48:281)

Here's one of the most disturbing quotes from Martin Luther:

"Christ committed adultery first of all with the woman at the well about whom St. John tells us. Was not everybody about Him saying: "Whatever has he been doing with her?" Secondly, with Mary Magdalene, and thirdly with the woman taken in adultery whom he dismissed so lightly. Thus even Christ, who was so righteous, must have been guilty of fornication before He died." (D. Martin Luthers Werke, kritische Gesamtausgabe [Hermann Bohlau Verlag, 1893], vol. 2, no. 1472, April 7 - May 1, 1532, p. 33)

According to Luther, Jesus deserved eternal damnation...

"[Christ's] human nature did not behave differently from that of a man who is to be condemned eternally to hell. On account of this love of God, God at once raised Him from death and hell, and so He overcame hell." [Commentary on Romans (1515-1516); edition of J. Ficker, Leipzig: 1908, 218 ff.]

I find it difficult to imagine an "orthodox" context for the above quotes. Perhaps it isn't a simple case of "misunderstanding" after all, but instead, Martin Luther should have been more careful and kept his blaspemous assertions to himself.

God bless,


Monday, August 28, 2006

Improvised liturgical prayers?

Question: Can the priest give his own rendition of the approved liturgical texts so as to express, in his own seemingly improvised words, the prayers of the Roman Missal? It would seem the editio typica of the Roman Missal as approved by the Roman Pontiff went through a thorough process of being authored and approved such that Roman Catholics have a right to expect the Roman Catholic liturgy they participate in to be in accord with the approved liturgical texts. Is that not a reasonable expectation? In fact, isn't that a right that the Catholic faithful possess?

Answer: The Catholic faithful have a right to expect the priest to celebrate the Mass in accord with the approved liturgical texts. The priest is not permitted to "improvise" the liturgy, or to give his own "rendition" of the liturgical texts.

The texts as approved in Latin by the Roman Pontiff is the official Roman Missal. Proposed adaptations and translations into the vernacular must receive recognitio by the Holy See before they are authorized for use.

The practice you describe has been explicitly reprobated by the Roman Pontiff, according to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, in their Instruction on Certain Matters to be Observe or to be Avoided Regarding the Most Holy Eucharist (Redemptionis Sacramentum). This instruction was prepared by mandate of John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was approved by him 19 March 2004. It states:

"All of Christ's faithful likewise have the right to a celebration of the Eucharist that has been so carefully prepared in all its parts that the word of God is properly and efficaciously proclaimed and explained in it; that the faculty for selecting the liturgical texts and rites is carried out with care according to the norms; and that their faith is duly safeguarded and nourished by the words that are sung in the celebration of the Liturgy." (no. 58)

"The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy." (no. 59)
Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, affirms:

... in some countries and religious congregations, small additions have been made to these prayers with proper authorization from the Holy See.

The general principles involved are those announced in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 24-26. No. 24 reminds priests that while some adaptations of the liturgy are possible these "consist for the most part in the choice of certain rites or texts, that is, of the chants, readings, prayers, explanations, and gestures that may respond better to the needs, preparation, and culture of the participants and that are entrusted to the priest celebrant. Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass." Nos. 25 and 26 refer to other adaptations reserved to the
diocesan bishop or to the episcopal conference which often require the definitive ratification of the Holy See.

The recent instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" has also weighed in on the topic of unauthorized alterations in No. 31: "In keeping with the solemn promises that they have made in the rite of Sacred Ordination and renewed each year in the Mass of the Chrism, let Priests celebrate 'devoutly and faithfully the mysteries of Christ for the praise of God and the sanctification of the Christian people, according to the tradition of the Church, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.' They ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions. For as St. Ambrose said, 'It is not in herself ... but in us that the Church is injured. Let us take care so that our own failure may not cause injury to the Church.' Let the Church of God not be injured, then, by Priests who have so solemnly dedicated themselves to the ministry. Indeed, under the Bishop's authority let them faithfully seek to prevent others as well from committing this type of distortion."

[Fr. Edward McNamara, "Sustituting the 'Lamb of God'," Zenit News Agency Liturgy Questions, July 13, 2004, http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=56780 ]

Fr. McNamara goes on to quote from Redemptionis Sacramentum no. 58 & no. 59 (cited above). He furthermore asserts:
What is important to consider in the case presented is not so much whether the additions involved are theologically correct -- they might well be -- but the fact that an individual priest takes upon himself the role of changing what the Church has established. By praying in words of his own choosing, and not those chosen by the Church, he, in a sense, betrays the "we" of the presidential prayers which make him the Church's representative before God and obscures the faithful's right to join through his ministry in the prayer of the universal Church. Such acts are probably often done with the best of intentions and even spring from pastoral motives. But they are objectively acts of theological egotism that transform the common patrimony into an individual's private domain.

As mentioned above, this does not mean that the liturgy is totally untouchable; however, any changes must be made according to the proper procedures. To take the present examples, some episcopal conferences, above all in Latin America, have, with the Holy See's approval, added the words "Jesus Christ" to the Agnus Dei so as to strengthen the people's faith in the real presence. The priest thus says: "This is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins ..." Other episcopal conferences, such as the Italian, have composed alternative opening prayers reflecting the readings of the day for the three Sunday Cycles. Such concessions are particular and may only be used within the confines of the countries for which they have been approved. All the same, they give an idea of the real possibilities for liturgical adaptation when done according to the mind of the Church.


God bless,


Sunday, August 20, 2006

"They must be lacking in holiness..."

Pope St. Pius X: "If one loves the Pope, one does not stop to ask the precise limits to which this duty of obedience extends… one does not seek to restrict the domain within which he can or should make his wishes felt; one does not oppose to the Pope’s authority that of others, however learned they may be, who differ from him. For however great their learning, they must be lacking in holiness, for there can be no holiness in dissension from the Pope. " (Pope St. Pius X, allocution of 18 November, 1912, AAS vol. 4 (1912), 693-695. Selection from p. 695)

This man is out to deceive
Catholics—and get them to vote pro-abortion.
Here's how you can help us stop him...

His name is James Carville. He says he is a Catholic. And yet he is:

  • pro-abortion,
  • pro-euthanasia,
  • pro-homosexual “marriage,” and
  • he endorses human cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

He also happens to be the top man in charge of “re-positioning” pro-abortion candidates so they can appeal to the Catholic voters.

... See

Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pius XII an anti-semite?

Quote from a non-Catholic at Theology Review:
"...Well look to the Nazi's and how the Pope turned a blind eye to the destruction of the Jews back then. "
I have looked, and what you affirm is incorrect, according to even the Jews themselves.

The day after the election of Pope Pius XII, the Nazi newspaper Berliner Morganpost stated: "the election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism." (March 3, 1939, emphasis added).

The New York Times (December 25, 1942) stated regarding Pius XII's stance against the Nazis: "The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas...He is about the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all."

Even the Nazi's themselves understood Pius XII to be their enemy. After the Pope Pius XII's Christmas message, a Gestapo report asserted: "in a manner never known before...the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order [Nazism]. It is true, the Pope does not refer to the National Socialists in Germany by name, but his speech is one long attack on everything we stand for. …Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews."

In September 1945, Dr. Joseph Nathan—who represented the Hebrew Commission—stated "Above all, we acknowledge the Supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who, executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized the persecuted as their brothers and, with great abnegation, hastened to help them, disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed."

In 1958, at the death of Pope Pius XII, Golda Meir sent the following message: "We share in the grief of humanity. …When fearful martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."

God bless,


Friday, August 18, 2006

Search for something more

Interview With Benedict XVI (Part 1) [ 2006-08-17 ]
"We see how in young people there's the search for something "more," we see how the religious phenomenon is returning, as they say. Even if it's a search that's rather indefinite. But with all this the Church is present once more, and faith is offered as the answer....

Reawaken the courage to make definitive decisions: They are really the only ones that allow us to grow, to move ahead and to reach something great in life. They are the only decisions that do not destroy our freedom but offer to point us in the right direction. Risk making this leap, so to speak, toward the definitive and so embrace life fully...."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Deduction: (Lat. de ducere, to lead, draw out, derive from; especially, the function of deriving truth from truth). Inference by which from general truths already known we advance to a knowledge of other particular truths necessarily implied in the former.

The typical expression of deductive inference is the syllogism. Granted the truth of the antecedent judgments, the consequent must follow; and the firmness of our assent to the latter is conditioned by that of our assent to the former. An example of decution is as follows...

  1. Everything that has a beginning, has a cause.
  2. The Universe has a beginning.
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause.
Induction: Induction is the complement of deduction. In other words, it is inference by which from particular truths already known we advance to a knowledge general or universal truths supported by the former. In this form of reasoning, the premises of an argument support the conclusion but do not ensure it.


  1. All observed crows are black
  2. Therefore all crows are black

The conclusion is reasonably supported by the premise, but not absolutely proven in the strict sense. Unless we are certain that we have seen every crow (which is impossible), there may be one of a different color. Consequently, with inductive reasoning, the premises--at best--may predict a high probability of the conclusion, but do not absolutely ensure that the conclusion is true.

For example,

  1. All observed beginnings have a cause
  2. Therefore, all beginnings have a cause

Is an argument based upon inductive reasoning. Unless we have observed everything that had a beginning (which is impossible), we can only predict with high probability that everything which has a beginning has a cause. It is a reasonable conclusion, based upon the preponderance of evident. The "law of gravity" and other scientifc postulates such as the "Big Bang" theory of cosmology is also based upon inductive reasoning, as it infers a general conclusion from particular observed evidence.

Formal logic is deductive rather than inductive. However, inductive reasoning is cogent, and it is used in decision-making in all fields of study, such as civil and criminal law, philosophy, science, economics, politics, military studies, and theology.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Exhaustive Catholic Bible commentary?

Question: "Why doesn't the Catholic Church publish an official, exhaustive Bible commentary so we can know what each passage of Scripture really means according to the Church?"


Firstly, the intent of the Sacred Author was not that Holy Writ should be taught in bits and pieces as you imply. The Bible should be understood as a whole, in the context of all the other passages of Sacred Scripture, and also in the context of the tradition (Gk "paradosis") of Christ's Church. Thus, any "official commentary" on the deposit of faith should attempt to describe what Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition teach as a whole. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is that kind of commentary. You can read it online here: Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Secondly, the Catholic Church does not view Scripture passages as having one and only one definitive meaning. The revelation of God, both in the things He has made, and in his sacred deposit of faith, is often ambiguous and difficult to understand. I believe this ambiguity is purposeful, so that we will never presume to have exhausted the grand fountain of God's holy Revelation. With every fresh discovery, new questions arise.

The view of the Catholic Church is better expressed by St. Ephraim the Syriac, a deacon from the 4th century...

St. Ephraim the Syriac, 4th century:
Lord, who can grasp all the wealth of just one of your words. What we understand is much less than what we leave behind. Like thirsty people who drink from a fountain, for your word, Lord, has many shades of meaning, just as those who study it have many points of view. The Lord has colored his word with many hues, so that each person who studies it can see in it what he loves. He has hidden many treasures in his word, so that each of us is enriched as we meditate on it. The word of God is a tree of life that from all its parts offers you fruit that is blessed. It is like that rock that is open in the desert, which from all its parts gave forth a spiritual drink. He, who comes into contact with some share of its treasure, should not think that the only thing contained in the word is what he himself has found. He should realize that he has only been able to find that one thing from among many others. Nor, because only that one part has become his should he say that the word is void, empty, and look down on it. Because he could not exhaust it, he should give thanks for its riches. Be glad that you are overcome and do not be sad that it overcame you. The thirsty man rejoices when he drinks, he is not downcast because he cannot empty the fountain. Rather let the fountain quench your thirst, than have your thirst quench the fountain. Because if your thirst is quenched and the fountain is not exhausted, you can drink from it again whenever you are thirsty. But if, when your thirst is quenched, the fountain also is dried up, your victory will bode evil for you. So be grateful for what you have recieved and don't grumble about the abundance left behind. What you have received and what you have reached is your share. What remains is your heritage. What at one time you are unable to receive, because of your weakness, you will be able to receive at other times, if you persevere. Do not have the presumption to try to take in one draft what cannot be taken in one draft. And do not abandon out of laziness what you may only consume little by little.

[St. Ephraim, cited by Dr. Scott Hahn, The End: A Study of the Book of Revelation, (St. Joseph Communications, audio series)]
With that said, Catholic Bible commentaries can be purchased and read online which provide the student of Sacred Scripture with the result of study by many Catholic Bible scholars. They are not issued officially by the Holy See, but by other scholars and publishers, so they are not "official" in the former sense. Some Catholic Bible commentaries are better than others.

I recommend:

Basic Scripture, by Fr. William Most
Other Commentaries by Fr. William Most:
Haydock's Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, by Fr. Geo. Leo Haydock
A Catholic Commentary of Holy Scripture, Fr. Dom Bernard Orchard, et. al., Ed.
Inside The Bible, Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.
St. John's Gospel: A Bible Study Guide And Commentary, Stephen K. Ray
Navarre Bible & Commentary

Ignatius Study Bible Series:
I also recommend the following articles and texts, which warn against the "new" Biblical theorists...

Biblical Interpretation in Crisis by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
A Wayward Turn in Biblical Theory by Msgr. George Kelly
The New Biblical Theorists by Msgr. George Kelly
Crisis in Scripture Studies by Fr. William Most
Critique of the Documentary Theory by Fr. William Most
Traditional Catholic Scholars Long Opposed Fr. Brown's Theories, by Henry King
The Modernist, Secularist Historicism of Raymond Brown and Brian Tierney, by Dave Armstrong
Historicity of Gospels by Fr. William Most
Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism by C.S. Lewis

God bless,