Sunday, July 24, 2011
1. Did you know? Of course not, otherwise you would have despaired. But anyway did you know that around the 14th century something horrible happened and nobody even knew it until now? That was around 600 years ago!
2. Well here it is. The Catholic Church had always known what was moral to attain happiness and beatitude that consists in union with God. It is written in the Old Testament, revealed in perfection in the New Testament, clearly explained by the Fathers of the Church and proposed to us by the Holy Father. And that was how things were from the early times in the Catholic Church up to the 14th century. And from his interior, a soul accomplished this, first; by an act of the intellect seeking the truth, secondly; by an act of the will desiring what is good, thirdly by an act of the free will in cooperation with the mind and the will that results into an act of choice. That is how a soul makes a morally good act that leads to Faith and Charity wherewith the soul believes and loves God.
From the beginning the evil one had tried many times to derail man's quest for God but he was no match against the God and the saints that God had raised to guide the Church.
The human act necessary in the process of salvation may be described as a perfect human act showing the quality of true and complete freedom. That is how God wants us to go to heaven in complete freedom. Briefly this consist in an assent of the intellect to the truths, the consent of the free will to the same truths, a choice made through the cooperation between the mind and the free will ......the result is a perfect human act done with perfect freedom. This leads to the attainment of Beatitude, which is the first degree of happiness and holiness desired by all men. When a soul does this, he will attain grace with the three theological virtues of Faith, hope and charity. These three virtues will further grow to perfection with the aid of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And as these three virtues in with the aid of the seven gifts grow, the soul grows in the life of Beatitudes.
That was how things were from the time of Christ and up to the 14th century in spite of attempts from the devil to destroy the process. Again, the Church was guided by the writings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the guidance of the Holy Father. The ark was unsinkable.
Then around the 14th century a philosophy altered the teachings of the Church that completely changed the concept of true Christian freedom. With this new heretical philosophy the intellect was left out and the free will was given free rein to control the body. This was total chaos. It is from this new concept of freedom that the reign of terror in France came from. This is where Democracy, communism, and all the evils in the world came from. This heresy has many faces but at that time it was called nominalism. Today it rules the whole world.
This heresy did not affect the Magisterium of the Church and neither did it affect the Holy Father, the Pope. It mainly affected the teaching of Moral theology in the seminaries. Suddenly what was moral and immoral became blurred. And the entire spirituality of the Catholic Church because it was based on Moral theology retreated back to the Old Testament, a spirituality of physical obligations. Remember that at this point the Church and the Pope were all right. The crisis was in the teaching of Moral theology in the seminaries.
Moral theology is based on Dogmatic theology and put into practice through Ascetical theology. Imagine how an error in Moral theology can do great damage in Ascetical Theology. The damage is unimaginable. Note how the number or saints dwindled from the 1400 to almost nothing by the 20th century. And religious houses who lived the ascetical life became spiritually stunted.
Of course, God was not remiss during all these times. He raised Popes, Holy bishops, holy priests and saints to correct this great defect. Every Pope with the help of saints corrected this error in every age. I see clearly Pope Pius IX, Pius X, Leo XIII and in my own time Pius XII up to Benedict XVI. And there are the saints, like the Cure of Ars, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis de Sales, etc. But this was a very thin 'Catena Aurea' of Bishops and priests.....and 'catholics' seldom read their writings. This went on from the 14oo up to the present. Imagine the consequence of such a situation. Ignorant of the true concept of true freedom, most bishops and priests would not know the reasons why certain things were moral and immoral. If this state begun at the 1400, imagine the state of the Church by the year 2000 A.D. I will put it another way: if they did not know the spirituality of the New Testament how can they lead anyone inside the Catholic Church.
However, this is how the Holy Spirit began to act in these our days. Pope Pius XII (the Pope of my youth) saw in the world war the descend of man back to barbarism. He tried hard to raise the world to the level of the New Testament through the Liturgy (Mediator Dei) but by the end of his life he was praying to God to call him back home in dismay at the state of the world.
Pope John 23 saw the problem from a treatise written by Blessed Rosmini entitled " The 5 wounds of the Church." The Church was bleeding to death with total ignorance of the New Testament. The highest form of morality was based on the 10 commandments of the Old Testament and not on the Beatitudes of the New Testament. He called a Council. It was emergency. Pope Paul VI worked under insurmountable obstacle as he tried to propel the Church during Vatican II into the era of the New Testament. When he tried to raise the morality of family planning up to the level of the New Testament the Catholic world rebelled against it. Then an international council of theologians was put together to advise the ecumenical council. And in their deliberation they discovered that many textbooks for seminaries were bleeding with heresies. I got the impression that they examined all the books on Morals used in seminaries. Fortunately one of the theologian in the group was a priest named Joseph Ratzinger who was to head the Congregation for the Faith. He had the power to act on matters of Faith. And he saw the crisis of Faith that has gnawed on the Church. He saw that with such a crisis no one would be entering the Church and no one would be entering heaven. What a alarming thought for a churchman.
So he outlined in a book entitled the "Ratzinger Report" the disease that had gnawed in the Church for the last 600 years. Around 1980 he wrote the document "new Evangelization" where he gave instruction on evangelization and stated that the teaching of the Catholic Faith had been wrong in the way it was taught both in contents and method. It was a very general statement and the defect to be corrected was not stated in it.
Then somewhere around 1993 Pope John Paul II issued "Veritatis splendore." It was obviously a work in collaboration with Ratzinger because it was an elaboration of his "New Evangelization." Here it was very clear that majority in the Church for the last 600 years were teaching Old Testament spirituality or even something worst. And that hardly anyone today is teaching the New Testament spirituality. In other words, the men of the Church were teaching only the morality of the 10 commandments and not the morality of the Beatitudes. Or worst they were teaching neither the Old nor the the New Testament. And "Veritatis splendor" outlined what was the spirituality and morality of the New Testament. It was a lengthy encyclical. Like all encyclicals I expected it to be addressed to the entire Catholic world. To my surprise it was addressed only to the Episcopate. Understandably so because it contained a complete summary of the New Testament and how to teach it correctly in a language only Bishops can understand and so they will have to teach it to their priests and subjects. But because of its length few seems to have read it or it was read carelessly. The effects of "Veritatis Splendor" was nowhere to be felt.
This neglect was obvious to the next Pope, Benedict XVI who called on a year of St. Paul where the spirituality of the New Testament according to St. Paul was laid down... again to no effect. Then he called the year of the priest where he enjoined all bishops and priest to return to the seminary and study "Varitatis splendor." I really don't think any one did it. I did not. Though I personally studied it. Knowing full well that no one returned to the seminary the Holy Father issued the "Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" which is a detailed explanation of "Veritatis Splendor." At least, now, we can study privately.
While the Old Testament motivated us to reach the Promised Land, the New Testament motivated us to reach the kingdom of God through Faith, Hope and Charity. Seeing that the state of affairs has not changed since the 1400, the Pope had finally directed the evangelization of the Catholic cities of the world and called a year of Faith in the year 2012. This is a call to live the New Testament spirituality. It is a call for those who are still in the dim light of the Old Testament or even the darker era of pre- Old Testament. It is a call for those who are still outside the Church. It is a call to live the New Testament. But since very few know how the New Testament spirituality looks like he called it the "New Evangelization." Pope Benedict himself clarified that this is not a new evengelization. It is the old, classical way of evangelization.