Monday, May 24, 2010


We are all conscious of Christ sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day. What we have not noticed is that Christ sent the Holy Spirit to His apostles twice. The first time was around 50 days before Pentecost when He breathed on them and said: "Receive the Holy Spirit." The second time is on Pentecost when Christ send the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire. The second is more spectacular that is why we remember it. But the first is the foundation without which the second would not occur.

Christ sent the Holy Spirit twice to His Church. So the Holy Spirit is IN the Catholic Church and will lead the Church from the beginnings of her Faith, Hope and the maturity of the same virtues as on Easter.....and to the perfection of those same Virtues on Pentecost Day.

We celebrated Pentecost recently with petitions asking the Holy Spirit to come down again and with requests for New Pentecosts. The Holy Spirit has already been sent twice by Christ for two different good reasons; the Spirit is already down here and dwells within the Church. One can pray to the Spirit but He won't come a third time. The celebrations asking for the Holy Spirit to come down to each individual or come down in a new Pentecost is futile. If we want to find the Holy Spirit who had been sent twice we just have to enter into the inner sanctum of the Catholic Church were the Spirit dwells as the Church's uncreated soul. When the Popes call for a 'New Pentecost' they are not wishing that the Holy Spirit descend upon the Church once again. The Spirit is in the Church already and won't keep on coming up and down. What the Popes are trying to say is: why are the Catholics not finding the Spirit within the Church where it dwells? Is it because they are outside the door of the Church? They will never find the Spirit there no matter how much they lay hands, dance, scream and shout for it to come down. To experience the abiding of the Spirit one must enter the Church through Faith and grow into the perfection of Charity within her. When we pray 'Come Holy Spirit,' we are asking the Spirit to come and guide us from the outskirts into the inner sanctum of the Church where we may receive the Holy Spirit from the laying of the hands of those within the Church. Not from outside.

To experience the Holy Spirit that is within the Church we just have to do what the apostles did to be worthy to receive the Holy Spirit. Remember Pentecost was their graduation. What did the apostles do to deserve to receive the Spirit on Pentecost?

Firstly, they repented as taught to us during Advent and Lent. Secondly, they had the beginnings of Faith, Hope and Charity when they left all things (their boats, nets and parents) which most of us haven't done. Thirdly, their theological virtues matured during the Passion of Christ. Fourthly, their virtues were nearly perfect after Easter( it was just before this that Christ breathed on them the first time to receive the Holy Spirit). Fifthly, their virtues were perfected with the Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (the second giving of the Spirit).

But why did Christ send the Holy Spirit twice? The first time was for them to receive the power to 'love their neighbor' in preparation and leading to the 'Love of God'.. The second time is to give them the power to 'love God.'

We cannot love our neighbor, like our husband, wife, parent and children in a christian way without the first breathing from Christ. We love them only 'carnally' i.e. because they are our family and we love the poor because we pity them. But with the first breathing of the Holy Spirit, we love our family and the poor because it is the command of Christ. With this love we are conscious that our neighbor has a soul and all our relationship with them is to benefit their souls even at the sacrifice of their bodies.

The love of neighbor is in preparation for the second sending wherein we receive the power to love God for His own sake. Without these two sending we cannot love neighbor nor God. This occurred when the apostles had mature infused virtues a rare occurrence today even among religious.

The first giving of the Spirit is the foundation of the second. The second cannot be without the first. In the Liturgy of the Mass for Pentecost the Gospel reading was when Christ breathed on them sending the Holy Spirit to His apostles when He was still on earth. The First reading was about Pentecost when Christ sent the Spirit down when He was in Heaven. Note that there was a gap of 50 days between the two sending. Christ could have sent the Spirit one day after. But no, He was teaching the apostles to learn how to wait just as they would wait for the second coming because Pentecost was a preparation and would be the sign for the end times. And the way they would wait is by prayer and living in unity.

The first sending of the Spirit enabled the Apostles to preach repentance unto the forgiveness of sins. The second sending enabled the Apostles to preach the life of Faith, Hope and Charity.....the journey the Apostles had accomplish that made them worthy to experience Pentecost. St. Thomas of Aquinas described the first sending as a brief, temporary visit of God in the soul. The second sending is the permanent abiding of God within the soul.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin Mass

The debates are getting hotter but more between the followers of Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass. Hints are thrown around that one is a Catholic Mass while the other is not. If I recall the sign of Catholicity is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic and not the way Mass is celebrated. If the priest and congregation are One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic then they are Catholic. If they don't show the four visible signs whatever Mass they are celebrating they are not Catholic. And these 4 visible signs are the state of the souls of the members of the Church and has nothing to do with the rubrics.

This is a tragedy because both sides seem to miss the whole point. So the arguments are getting more emotional than ascetical. One complain raised is that a priest was using a glass Lalique cross for Mass when it should be a Christ figure crucified on a wooden cross because Christ died on a wooden cross and not in a glass cross. Aren't most crosses made of metal or plastic? We can also raise the issue of the chasuble used by St. Phillip Neri (on the picture on the left) as neither being Traditional nor Novus.

The issue should be an ascetical one. The question is which will bring souls better to heaven, the Novus Ordo or the Traditional Mass. After all this is what Catholic truths and practices all about. And we raise two points here. If 'ex opere operato' both will bring us to heaven. Because the Vatican explicitly said that both are valid. The question is in the 'ex opere operantis.

Which mass will more effectively bring us to heaven: the Novus Ordo or the Traditional Mass. We have no proof for either. We cannot say that St. Therese went to heaven because she attended the Traditional Mass and mother Teresa of Calcutta is probably not in heaven because she attended the Novus Ordo. Both are in heaven being canonized saints. So which Mass mattered more?

In my puerile efforts to encourage my bishop and priest friends to celebrate the Pope's version of the Mass, I have noticed that all agree that the Latin-laden Pope Benedict Mass encouraged more piety in the celebration than the Novus Ordo. As one priest noticed he had just begun his Novus Ordo Mass and before he knew it it was over. He felt he whisked through the Mass before he was even conscious of celebrating Mass. The conclusion is: if the Mass is being celebrated by one with Faith the kind of Mass is immaterial. He will celebrate any Mass with great piety because of the state of his spiritual life and not because of the kind of Mass. But for priests and congregations whose piety and Faith need to be increased the Traditional Latin Mass is more helpful.

Has the Church decreed that the requirement to enter heaven is to attend one Mass and not the other. None that I remember. What I know is that the requisite to enter heaven is to have the infused virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Which makes me wonder. Which Mass would be more pleasing to God: the Novus Ordo celebrated by a priest with Faith and attended by a congregation with Faith or a Traditional Mass celebrated by a priest and attended by a congregation without Faith. Or vice versa. Obviously, the presence of Faith in the priest and congregation is more important than the Mass being Novus or Traditional.

The debate has become petty and emotional thus causing more gall than wisdom. The sainted Padre Pio used to celebrate the Traditional Mass and his mass was most edifying. When he was obliged to celebrate the Novus Ordo because of Vat. II his Mass was no less edifying. So the kind of Mass celebrated has absolutely no effect on the piety of those concern. It is the holiness of the celebrant and the piety of the congregation that count.

Earlier we mentioned the fact which everybody will agree that a priest celebrating with great Faith, no matter what kind of Mass, will edify the congregation more and is more pleasing to God. A faithful priest reciting the Angelus is more edifying than a faithless priest celebrating a Novus or Traditional Mass.

But what would be a sign of Faith? From the Catechism......If a priest celebrates according to the tradition of the Church and as interpreted by the Magisterium in the person of the Pope. That is a faithful priest. And the Pope had declared that a combination of the two Masses is all right. The man of Faith, therefore, is the one who celebrates the Mass according to the instruction or example of the Holy Father. All sides if they are children of the Church should rest their case.

Monday, May 17, 2010

OUR LADY OF FATIMA and Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict had always viewed Fatima and everything he sees from the context of the theology of history as influenced by St. Bonaventure. Referring to the third secret of Fatima, he commented that it is all found in Scriptures. And indeed everything that Our Blessed Mother ever said in her approved apparitions confirm what is only in Scriptures. The Marian messages are 'per se' unnecessary; but due to the forgetfulness and laziness of men in studying Scriptures it has become a necessity. Since her messages are confirmations of what is already in Divine Revelation then it is part of Divine Providence prophesied and, therefore, will be fulfilled.

Like Christ, Mary often speaks only in parables to unbelievers and gives the deeper explanation in the form of secrets to believers. It is futile to give the deeper meanings to unbelievers. Like the early Jews they will just scoff at it and become guiltier in their unbelief. All parables are found in Scriptures. And Mary's parable-messages like her call for Repentance from LaSalette to Fatima are found all over Scriptures. This is a message for sinners and unbelievers. But the deeper meaning of the parables which Christ shared only with his Disciples, because they were believers, is also found in Scriptures but impossible for unbelievers to understand. The deeper meaning of Mary's messages are found, also, in Scriptures but difficult to understand that is why Mary usually instructs seers to tell the Pope to interpret the deeper messages as Christ interpreted the deeper meaning of His messages to His apostles. Sometimes even the seers, like St. Bridget, could not understand her own visions.

The messages of Our Lady in Fatima fell under the category of parables but withheld for a time because they fell under the species of prophesies that could only be better understood when they happened. When they happened they were easily understood by unbelievers, like the wars.
But there was a little problem with the third secret. As revealed it looked like a parable in the form of a story. As usual believers tried to find out what is the deeper meaning of the story as the disciples of Christ did every time they were faced with such a situation. There seems to be a deeper meaning that is why the Blessed Mother gave instruction that the Pope should interpret it. Pope Benedict in this trip to Fatima expressed that everything has not yet been revealed. The suspicion that there is a deeper meaning explains why all the Popes who read it did not divulged it being meant only for believers.

If I were a curious unbeliever who wish to cross over the realm of believers to find out this deeper meaning what would I do short of believing?

I know that Scriptures described the beginnings of the Church in the life of repentance, her growth is described in the life of Faith, Hope and Charity, and her perfection is described in the maturity of the three infused theological virtues aided by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. But there is a split as the history of the Church approaches perfection. One part of the Church proceeds to 'perfection' as portrayed in the Apostles' fishing trip in Lake Tiberias; while the other part loses its Faith in what St. Paul described as the 'Great Apostasy'. That is why Christ asked the rhetorical question: shall the Son of Man find faith at his Second Coming. The insinuation here is that the image of the Church sometimes around this era would be exactly the way it look at the time of Pentecost.......a few people but all were infused with the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and perfected by the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the perfect picture of the Catholic Church while surrounded by unbelievers. Because Catholic spirituality is eschatological the event of Pentecost is God's way of showing how the Church should look like when she is prepared for the Second Coming of Christ for the grand wedding.

Pentecost is the beginning of the Catholic Church and at the same time the way she should look when finally she becomes perfect. After Pentecost she begun to get all kinds of souls and gradually did not look like the original Church of Pentecost. As she approaches the day of the grand wedding with Christ, she will be purified again and look exactly the way she looked at Pentecost.

There are two views of the Church. One from the outside, the other from the inside. From the outside it is like viewing the inside of the Church through a keyhole. You can see part of the altar, pews or the floor. From the inside the entire church is seen. Nothing is left to the imagination. From the outside we can see the marks of the Church, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. But from the inside we can see the internal functioning of the Church, how it works that makes it produce the 4 visible signs. This latter is the view of a believer.

When the Church was just a small group of apostles the command of Christ was for them to preach repentance unto the remission of sins which is necessary for others to acquire Faith that makes them members of the Catholic Church. That command was given for a world that was completely devoid of Faith as an invitation for their conversion.

After many centuries of existence when the Faith, Hope and Charity of the Church should be matured and therefore, enhanced with knowledge, understanding and wisdom.... why does the Blessed Virgin Mary appear and begin to exhort the world again to 'Repent,' the same command when the world was devoid of Faith? And most of her apparitions seem to always contain this same exhortation. Even in Fatima the message was 'repentance' mentioned in three different ways: to repent, to have a conversion of heart and to be devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If we analyze these three messages it is essentially a description of the life of repentance because repentance is a change of heart or as mystical theologians would describe it "the first conversion."

Repentance was the same topic the apostles preached at a time there was no Faith in the world. This is a topic preached to unbelievers, pagans and sinners. And Pope Benedict XVI repeats the same message for unbelievers (as he spoke to the reporters) in Fatima.

Has the prophesied great split occurred in the Church; a small part leading towards perfection while the vast majority losing their Faith? The deeper positive message of Fatima is for us to see if we are of that small part leading towards perfection or that vast majority losing their Faith.

Mary, the mother of the Church, came to Fatima to prevent the split and keep the Church one, a visible sign of the Church.

The world is sustained by God because of the Oneness of the Catholic Church. Mary was trying to gather enough souls to maintain unity beginning with the seers. Pope John XXIII tried it when proposing the example of St. Maria Gabriellla Sagghedu on his encyclical on the unity of the Church. And Pope Paul VI wrote on the Woman clothed with the Sun. Both Pontiffs were trying to convey the deeper message of Fatima to an unbelieving no avail.

In Fatima Mary said that she had tried many times to prevent the arms of her Son in bringing the judgment of wrath upon the earth. But men refused to repent and appease her Son. Our Lady in Fatima, after a few more attempts to convince an unbelieving world to repent had finally declared that the split had taken place. She could no longer hold on to her Sons arms. The world, because it was unable to repent cannot believe and therefore devoid of Faith.

The absence of Faith was the description of those outside the boat. Positively all those in the boat trip in Tiberias had perfect Faith, Hope and Charity....a very rare occurrence in the Church as a Church. Fatima decried the absence of Faith in the world due to the inability to repent. But it did not describe the true Church where Faith, Hope And Charity were perfect because of the great presence of the Holy Spirit. The negative picture was for unbelievers. The positive picture was for believers.

The curiosity of my unbelieving mind further investigated the thesis of the then Father Joseph Ratzinger on the Theology of History according to St. Bonaventure. And there we find in Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church the deeper meaning of the third secret of Fatima away from the eyes of unbelievers. Confirming the fact that everything Mary said is found in Divine Revelation.

The deeper meaning of the third secret of Fatima consists in the internal image of the Catholic Church in a very particular stage in her history. One can begin by looking at the very place where Mary appeared, Fatima, and look at its physical characteristic and then interpret it mystically. Everything has to be interpreted mystically. If we put all these together we get a picture of the Church as described in the Gospels, the Apocalypse and as interpreted by the Fathers and Doctors. And it is the picture painted by St. Bonaventure as studied by Pope Benedict in his thesis as a student. The picture painted by the Seraphic Doctor taken from ancient monastic writings and interpreted by the Fathers, specially St. Augustine's commentary on the Gospel of St. John....and further confirmed by hard to find interpretations of the Apocalypse show that most Catholics do not conform to that image and, therefore are outside the Church. St. Grignon de Montfort, whom Pope John Paul loved, came close to the same idea. So if we put the two minds of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI together, they would certainly get the deeper message of Fatima.

When Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger spoke in Fatima disclosing the third secret, they gave the meaning meant for believers. That is why nobody understood it. But they gave it. They gave it the way Divine Revelation gave it to us but short of the way interpreted by the Fathers. It was a picture of the internal mechanism of the Catholic Church at a very specific time in her history.

That is very important because we have to look exactly like that to go to heaven. But how can this be shown to those who do not have the 4 visible signs of the Church.

On his trip to Fatima, the Holy Father, talking to reporters gave a message about repentance, faith, Hope and Charity. This is based on his thesis on St. Bonaventure. Mary spoke about repentance. Pope Benedict added Faith, Hope and Charity. Mary was speaking to an unbelieving world. The Pope was speaking to his church that has lost her faith. He is looking for the Church described by St. Bonaventure so that like Christ he can discuss with them in private the mystical meaning of the third secret of Fatima.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

YEAR OF THE PRIEST - Meditation 12 - The Catholic Church

Man because he has a soul and a body grow both in soul and body. And while the body grows from childhood, adolescent and young adulthood the soul should grow into the beginners , illuminative and unitive stages of the spiritual life. Similarly the Catholic Church grows into three stages : infancy, adolescents and young adulthood. This is portrayed by the three Biblical descriptions of the fishing trips of the apostles. Though there are many types of the Church in Scriptures let us concentrate on the above 3 fishing trips.

The first stage of the Church is when the apostles were in the boat, they were not yet fishing because they were infant members of the Church and had to be trained before they went fishing for other souls. This was the boat scene where the apostles were caught in a storm. Weak or infant in their faith they feared. Nevertheless these apostles were described as having finished their life of repentance (thus having their past sins forgiven) and have entered into the theological virtue of Faith (though still weak) when they left all things (an act they could only do if they had Faith.) Faith is what enables us to enter the Church. So by this time the Apostles may be described as sinless and faithful but still with the relics of sin which they had to remove by perfecting their Faith, Hope and Charity.

By the very essence of Faith, the Apostles continued their life of Repentance though sinless and with Faith because that is the way Faith is preserved. And so, 'Poor in Spirit,' they continued to keep their remitted 'sins always ever before their eyes.' Those with Faith are continuously conscious of their once being sinful. Not because they still have sins but because of their humility as Sts. Peter and Paul were continuously aware of their sins against Christ up to the end of their lives.

Their repetitious consciousness of their forgiven sins (which Psalm 50 reminds us to do) gives us the impression that they are still sinners and that the Church is sinful. This is not the case. It is only an impression but not the fact. Having finished their repentance they had obtained the remission of their sins and regained the state of grace with the accompanying virtue of Faith that makes them members of the Church.

Christ commanded the Apostles before His Ascension, that they should go and preach repentance unto the remission of sin that will enable their listeners to receive Graces together with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity that will make their souls members of the sinless Church, a sinless Church where each member has their former sins always before them. This must be clear before we can describe the Church in her second stage as portrayed in the fishing scene in Lake Genesareth.

The second image of the Church in her adolescent is portrayed by the apostles fishing in Lake Genesareth. This time they were mature enough in their faith to fish for other souls and bring them inside the Church. The catching of both good and bad fishes into the same net would give the impression that both good and bad fishes are part of the Church. In which case the danger of saying that the Church is made up of both good and evil. However, the parable of the Cockle and the Wheat should clarify the picture. Here we see Tares and Wheat together. But it was clear that the wheat was planted by the husbandman while the Tares was planted by some evil agent. We cannot say that Satan can plant souls inside the Catholic Church. He cannot do that. He does not have supernatural Faith. How can he bring anyone inside the Church? Obviously, this is only a physical presence and not a spiritual presence. The Tares were only physically inside the physical confines of the Church but not spiritually inside the Church through Faith.

Note also the fact that the apostles offered to remove the Tares. So they can be removed because they are not part of the Church. And when Christ said 'no' because of the danger of removing also the wheat Christ said that at the end times, the angels, themselves will remove the Tares which shows they can be removed because they are not part of the Church. No one can remove someone with Faith, Hope and Charity from the Church. They are the Church!

The Liturgy of the Lenten season precisely showed this. During the Last supper when Judas was still with the apostles they symbolized the Church in her second stage made up of saints and sinners. But there is a portion of the Last supper when Christ expelled Judas out of the Church without him knowing it. Suddenly we have the image of the Church in her third sinless stage.

When Pope John Paul apologized for the sins of the Church he was not apologizing for the true Church that is sinless but for those who are outside the Church but are perceived to be inside the Church. The true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and of which Mary is a type cannot be sinful. The Pope is the head of the sinless Church. He has nothing to apologize for. But because of the confusion caused by the countless souls outside the Church who think they are Catholics, call themselves Catholics and are perceived by others as Catholics, Pope John Paul had to speak based on the false perception of others and apologize.... like a father apologizing for the mischief of his neighbor's children, which is a charitable act. Pope Benedict is faced with the same universal ignorance of Catholic theology. And the ignorant are forcing him to apologize for the sins of children that are not of the Church. He could very well say: "Those are not my children." But due to the defective ecclesiology among so-called Catholics and even worst theology of outsiders the Pope had to adjust his language to guide them slowly to the truth of even saying: " these are caused by sins within the Church." When he wants to say: the Church has no sin. These are the sins of those outside the Church. They do not know my voice and I do not know them.

This is the reason why Pope Benedict is treating those who think they are Catholics but who are not, as Gentiles and unbelievers. Note his address to the Irish Catholics. He was telling them to repent and forgive. This is an exhortation for Gentiles and unbelievers, not for Catholics.
Catholics have repented, have been forgiven and believe. They have regained the state of grace with its accompanying virtue of Faith that makes them Catholics. 'Holy' is the visible sign of the true Church. Not sin.

Since the beginning of Christianity, the Church had been trying to weed out the Tares from the wheat field of the Lord. That time Christ said 'No.' But he said one day, at the end times, He will command the angels to remove the Tares planted by the evil one. Keeping the pure wheat alone within the Church. And this is the third image of the Church as a young adult and portrayed in the last apostolic fishing trip in Lake Tiberias that occurred after the Resurrection.

The 7 apostles fishing caught 153 big and good fishes. The Fathers of the Church, specially St. Augustine, describes the ones running the Church (represented by the 7 apostles) as perfect fishers of men. And the 153 fishes representing the Catholics within the Church as perfect Catholics. What do we mean perfect? Those who have the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity which means they have repented, their sins had been remitted and now they have the infused theological virtues perfected by the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is no blemish in them because they are on the way to wed the bridegroom.

In the Year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict is encouraging the lay people to see if they correspond to the description of the 153 fishes caught in the net of the Catholic Church. In the Year of the Priest, the Pope is asking the priests and bishops if they are as perfect as what the 7 apostles represent.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

YEAR OF THE PRIEST - Meditation 13 - FAITH

The Liturgy of the Mass teaches us that there are four steps we must take to go to heaven. We must live a life of Repentance according to the Old Testament (Advent), perfect our life of Repentance according to the New Testament (Lent), make an act of Faith (portrayed in the lives of the Apostles when they left all things and followed Christ), increase our faith (Passion Week), perfect our Faith (Easter) and finally perfect our Charity (Pentecost).

These steps are portrayed in the life of Christ thus: He spent 30 years of hidden life (showing us how to live a life of Repentance according to both the Old and New Testament), He was baptized in the river Jordan ( showing us the need for grace together with its accompanying virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity), He spent forty days of fasting in the desert (showing us how to activated the newly acquired theological virtues by obedience to the so-called commands of Jesus in the N.T.), He had His bout with the devil (showing us that we can be victorious if our Faith, Hope and Charity has matured), then he lived His public life saving souls (showing us that we can be instrumental in saving soul if we have matured theological virtues.) Of course Christ did these for our instruction. He did not have to do these because He was God.

The above two paragraphs describe exactly the same steps towards salvation. The former using the Liturgy of the Church, the latter from the life of Christ as commented by St. Thomas of Aquinas on the Lenten Liturgy.

In Scriptures Christ emphasized only the first two steps: to repent and believe. Because from there God takes over. Pope Benedict had been doing exactly the same thing. Specially this Lenten season he had been stressing the need for conversion (another word for repentance)... AND faith that comes with grace after one's repentance. The more important word is "Faith" which Christ in instructing us received at His baptism and activated in his sojourn in the desert. This is the reason the first Christians were attracted to the desert. The desert or the monastic life was the place to repent and activate the virtues of Faith (Hope and Charity.) After Baptism most Catholics do not know how to activate the virtues they have received, therefore, easily loosing it.

Faith brings us into the Catholic Church but activating it is what makes us grow in maturity uniting us to the created soul of the Church (Jesus Christ) and to the uncreated soul of the Church (the Holy Spirit) that eventually makes us a good Catholic.

Let us see how repentance and faith can be applied to solve the current problem of the Church with her priests. When a priest commits that much publicized sin, he loses the virtue of charity which he received at Baptism ..... and his Faith and Hope becomes dead. He becomes a dead member of the Church. That's like saying he is out of the Church. Repentance washes away his past sins. As a consequence of his repentance he regains the state of grace with its accompanying virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. These virtues aside from helping remove the last traces of sin will immediately help him by imbuing in him the opposite virtue of chastity to enable him to overcome the vice of unchastity (or bestiality, incest or child abuse.) If the virtue of Penance is attained the past vice is removed and supplanted by its opposite virtue. That is how the virtue of Penance that should accompany the Sacrament of Penance works. So the priest sins only once and never sins again.

If that priest approaches me for confessions all I have to do is teach and guide him to repent and reach Faith. And see to it that he does what he is told. There is nothing else to be done. If the priest repents and reaches Faith, he would be a saint in no time. If he refuses to repent he won't reach Faith and remains outside the Church (or remains a dead member of the Church) to the embarrassment of the Church.

There is no need to report them to the authorities or be judged by their peers or any other futile procedure that goes contrary to the nature of the virtue of Penance and of the seal of confession. The priest should be treated just like any sinner...with justice but with mercy. Everything else is vaudeville which the Pope refuses to dignify. This should bother neither the Pope nor anyone. We all know that all men have sinned. What should shock us is if priest don't sin.

The so-called 'victims' should, on the other hand, be treated in exactly the same way: teach them repentance that leads to Faith. Though victims they also have their own personal sins (for all men have sinned). Their inability to forgive their seducers (thus unable to pray the "Our Father" devoutly) is due to their lack of Faith because they are unable to repent (usually due to ignorance just like the priests.) It is Repentance leading to Faith that enables the victims to forgive those priest. Their inability to do so shows the lack of repentance and the grace with its accompanying virtue of Faith.

We seem to have the victim and the priest in the same boat. But we have the same Catholic solution....repent and believe....taught to us every year in the Liturgy and in the vast treasures of the writings of the Fathers and the saints (like the Shepherd of Hermas, and the writings of St. Ambrose and Augustine on the same topic.) The existing deplorable ignorance is difficult to explain.

Occasionally I would read the right solution in ecclesiastical notices: 'send them to a monastery.' That worked well before. St. Benedict decreed that monastic life is a perpetual Lenten observance of a life of Repentance leading to the theological virtue of Faith. St. Peter Damian, a Benedictine, in cooperation with Pope Gregory VII, also a Benedictine, collaborated in combating this same sin prevalent among the clergy and among the monks in Benedictine monasteries in the 1000 A.D. simply by imposing the monastic life to rehabilitate them. And it worked but only as long as St. Peter Damian was alive. When St. Peter died the problem remained unresolved up to the present and no one seems to know the successful solution used that era.

Today, 'sending them to a monastery' no longer works shown by the prevalence of the same vice among the monks, even among the abbots and recently even among the Abbot Generals (notably one consecrated Bishop in the US). The reason is that they had watered down the repentance element of monastic life. As a pill that should be taken 4 times a day, today's monastic repentance is only a once a day pill. It is under prescribed and it does not work. True Faith as defined in the Compendium of the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict is a rare commodity today.
If Christ came today He would not find Faith here on earth.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

YEAR OF THE PRIEST - Meditation 13 - The priest in the Church

The priest, the Bishop and the Pope must be within the Church; with the Pope as the captain of the boat and the bishops and the priests as his lieutenants.

We all know that there are three stages in the growth of the Church in her history leading to the Second Coming. These three images had been mystically shown in the three boat incidents in the lives of the apostles. The first is during the storm wherein the apostles themselves were still being trained and they have not gone fishing. The second is the Genesareth fishing trip where this time they lowered the net and hauled in all kinds of fishes (both good and bad) and where the net was in danger of breaking and the boat was in danger of sinking. The third is the Tiberias fishing trip where this time they lowered the net specifically on the right side, where they caught 153 fishes and there was no danger of the net breaking nor the boat sinking.

Obviously, the first fishing trip was an image of the Church at her beginnings where the apostles were still being trained. The Genesareth trip was when the apostles had entered the Church through Faith and began to get new members into the Catholic Church, getting all kinds of people and experiencing heresies and schisms as shown by the breaking net and the near-sinking of the boat.

But I would like to focus our attention on the third fishing trip in Lake Tiberias which occurred after the Resurrection of Christ. The scene was a boat with seven apostles who had lowered the net on the right side (where the predestined are) and had caught 153 large fishes (symbol of those who have perfectly learned and obeyed the 10 commandments, have attained the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and had perfected these virtues with the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit) and was now approaching the end of the sea, the beach (the end of the world) to deliver all to Christ who was standing on the shore. This is the image of the Catholic Church when approaching the end times, prelude to the Second Coming of Christ. Christ was on the shore (in heaven) waiting to receive the whole Church. There were seven apostles. Not to discredit the absent apostles, the mystical meaning is that the bishops and priests in the Boat were with faith, hope and Charity perfected by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e. they were all 'perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect' as symbolized by the number seven. They have reached the perfection of Charity and are all contemplatives. Those ruling the Church at this time are leaders who had undergone the 8 stages mentioned by St. Thomas of Aquinas as required before one can preach. They must have contemplated the truths of the Church and, therefore, have the gift of wisdom, an almost perfect knowledge of Christ's teachings possible to man on earth. The Church have to be perfect at this time because there is no purgatory after the second coming.

Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, wrote a thesis on the 'Theology of the History according to St. Bonaventure.' This was a treatise on how the Church looks like from her beginning up to the end of the world corresponding to the 7 days of creation. The Church look different during each day of creation but is essentially the same like a child who grows up is essentially the same child but has some differences. St. Bonaventure thought that the Church was in the 6th day of Creation during his time, that is, just before the 7th day, the day of rest, which is the Second Coming. His description of the Church prior to the end times was perfect. And he thought that his times was the End times, as every good christian should think. But it was not yet.

Pope Benedict had studied this description and feels that the Church today is on the 6th day by analyzing the events of his early priesthood up to the present. He wants to be sure because he is supposed to head and guide this ship. And in announcing the 'Year of the Priest' he is in fact guiding the Church based on this assumption. The words he used in the 'Year of the Priest' is taken almost verbatim from his thesis. His actuation and movements shows him guiding the boat in Lake Tiberias, the Church, towards the shore where Christ is waiting in heaven. And he is clearly pushing the Church to be what the 153 fishes symbolized as clearly shown in his 'Year of St. Paul' but more so in his 'Year of the Priest.' In any classical treatise on Mystical theology, the 153 fishes (the members of the Church) caught by the apostles are clearly those who have reached the perfect life or the perfection of Charity, i.e. contemplation. This is the only boat that will enter heaven.

Like most of St. John's writings his Gospel is difficult to understand, specially chapter 21 where the Tiberias fishing trip was discussed. Here he hinted that he is writing this at the end of his Gospel because after this there is nothing else that follows, sort of saying that after this chapter it is the end of the world. But the same John continues to write the Book of Revelation which describes the details of the end times. And both the book of Revelation and the Gospel of John are the readings in the Masses after Easter up to before Ascension where the Church of the end times is described.

After describing the Church prior to the Second coming as portrayed in the fishing trip in lake Tiberias, John further describes it in the Book of Revelation, which St. Bonaventure picked up having studied St. Augustine's commentary of the Gospel of St. John and enriched by his knowledge of the original spirit of St. Francis. John writes about the image of the Woman of the Apocalypse who went to the desert. Now we have a confusing picture that we have to put together; a boat calmly sailing towards the shore packed with 153 sizable fishes and a Woman with two giant wings being flown to the desert to a place specially prepared by God. Bonaventure was able to integrate these two biblical figures and described how the Church and her members would look like. Fr. Ratzinger saw this, too, and noted it in his thesis. Now he wants to study further his thesis and actually put his finger on this Church where the members will have the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity perfected by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, would all be contemplatives in their knowledge of the Catholic religion. It is a picture of a boat of 7 sailors hauling 153 fishes being perfected in the desert (a little similar to the picture above.) In the Holy Father's search I am afraid he might by-pass many Dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, seminaries and many so-called catholic organizations.