Sunday, March 18, 2012


The second part of Cardinal Ratzinger's speech on the New Evangelization is a correction of what was lacking in the contents of former Evangelizations. What should be preached? He mentions four general topics what should be taught and the correct order in teaching them. The first is "conversion." The second is "entrance into the Catholic Church. The third is "union with the created soul of the Church, Jesus Christ. Added to the third is "union with the uncreated soul of the Church, the Holy Spirit. And the fourth, is "Life Everlasting."

These are the classical complete and right order of teaching Catholic doctrines even before Vatican II. We can find these in all books of spirituality like in the books of Garrigou-Lagrange. It makes us wonder how the mistakes came in.

Let us take each topic. The first is conversion, often referred to as Metanoia or popularly described as 'repentance.' When Our Lady appeared at Fatima, she called for 'Repentance' three times. Though we had thousands of Bishops and priests at that time with all the treasures of the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church the world was not able to repent thus we were chastised two times and the third seems to be coming. Was the teaching of the Catholic Church on repentance so unclear that the world was not able to respond to Mary's call? Unfortunately that could only be the reason. Thus the Holy Father is clarifying it.

Let us look first at the concept of sin using St. Augustine's aversion from God and conversion towards the world. Man was created with a mind that has an innate tendency to know God and a free will with an innate desire to love God. When this potency becomes active wherewith the mind begins to try to know God and the will begins to love God ....we have a saint. And since this innate tendency can be activated in childhood, then Pope Benedict was right to declare that children who die without Baptism, precisely because of this God given innate tendency are highly probably saints in heaven.

Now sin is when a soul, due to lack of faith turns his mind away from the quest of knowing God because his mind is now more interested in the things of the world, like a car.....and when his free will turns away from loving God because it follows the mind and now loves a car. The sin is not in thinking and loving the car but in turning one's mind and free away from God.

When this happens the soul begins to walk away from God, just like the Prodigal Son. When the soul stops sinning or walking away from God, he stops dead on his track but he does not necessarily return back to God. Most Catholics believe that when they go to confession and receive absolution they have necessarily returned to God after going away from God. Of course, that is possible just like in the case of St. Peter when he denied Christ. But for most of us when we take ten steps away from God by our sins, we stop dead in our tracks but we remain ten steps away from God. We do not know that we have to turn around and begin to retrace our steps back to God, which the Prodigal Son did. This is achieved through the four moral virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude, which are not taught in most seminaries and are not taught by priests to the faithful. The absence of the four moral virtues prevents any soul from repenting well and reaching the theological virtue of Faith, Hope and Charity.

In the act of conversion we need to know all our sins as Psalm 50 states. But a soul cannot know his sins as long as he is still committing them. An adulterer cannot know his sin is adultery unless he first stops that sin. A thief will not know he is stealing unless he first stops stealing. And since everyone in the world due to their exposure to sin are constantly committing sin thus remaining ignorant of their sins, they are unable to repent because they are ignorant of most of their sins that they are still committing. In such a situation repentance becomes impossible....unless we tell the whole world to come into complete stop in committing sins so they can examine their conscience....which is not a bad idea.

Another problem is that confessions are done based on the Old Testament spirituality based on the 10 commandments given to Moses. We are in the New Testament. Confessions must be based on the spirituality of the New Testament Beatitudes.

In the act of conversion most do not follow the complete steps enumerated in Psalm 50 or in the parable of the Prodigal son. The sign that one is unrepentant is when he is still enjoying the world as shown by the prodigal son when he went to a far country to enjoy. This is in accord with the definition St. Augustine gave on conversion towards the world. The first sign of repentance is when suddenly all worldly things become worthless (which is the beginning of aversion from the world and conversion towards God). This step is what enabled the saints to leave all things. Thus St. Peter and Andrew left boats and nets, while James and John left boats, nets and their father. Without this step no one will be willing to leave anything.

The second step which is the result of the first realization is that the soul begins to see all his sins and is able to label them properly. While before he labelled them as good works, acts of kindness and acts of understanding now, he sees them for what they really are, act of vices, acts pride and acts of superiority. This is a very unnerving experience for all. A few are brave enough to continue to the third step, most are filled with fear on what is coming and retreat back to the life of unrepentance thinking "Oh, maybe, I don't have to go through this."

The third step is an experience of the real presence of a God demanding atonement. This is the first time that a soul experience the presence of a God outside of himself. God is not showing mercy but demanding atonement. The Prodigal son wants to go back to his father but he is afraid of what his father will demand. Maybe, I will say do not treat me as your son but as one of your paid servant. That was the lowest position he could think of at that time. If he knew of a lower place he would have asked for it.

The fourth does not sound well to one's ears. But this is what it really is: that the soul goes into despair because he knows there is nothing he can do to atone to an offended eternal God. Ok, see if that can be said in any nicer way. That is the truth. There is absolutely nothing a creature can do to atone offending an eternal God. And the Prodigal son knew that and we should realize that.

But that is no reason for despair because we know the mercy of God. We just have to bring our despair to God and let Him show what He had always wanted to show, His mercy. So the Prodigal son walked half of the way towards the father in despair and stops half way because he knows there is nothing he can do to be worthy to go closer. While remaining in despair, that is the time the Father approaches him making up for what the son could not do. And the son remain in great sorrow both for having sin against the father and not being able to atone for those sins. Ok. Stay there don't celebrate too soon. The conversion is not complete.

Then the father offers the son new robes and a ring. The son had left through his sins (aversion from God) and now he has returned (conversion towards God). Now it is time to celebrate.
Pope Benedict's critique of the former Evangelization is that we are celebrating too soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


1. The Holy Father had been repetitious about the importance of Faith, a theological virtue we cannot attain with our natural efforts, a virtue that can come from God alone. And his 'New Evangelization' is the way to learn to be worthy of it.
The treatise of Cardinal Ratzinger is divided into two parts enumerating the two defects of current Evangelizations; the first defect is in the structure and method of teaching and he gives the corrections. The second defect is in the contents of what is taught. And he also gives the correct contents.

Let us see the first defect and Ratzinger's solution. In the next article we shall see the second defect and Ratzinger's solution.

With regard with the first defect: The Holy Father had mentioned that a crisis had entered the Church around the 17th century as a result of the many catechisms of different nationalities that preached their own nationalistic, culturistic interpretations of Catholic Doctrines. Prompted by Nominalism and later on by Modernism, the training of all priests were corrupted so that the Doctrines taught were influenced by nationalistic cultures subjective in nature. Certain doctrines were actually eliminated like the theology of grace (which he said should be the first foundation of Evangelization,) the proper order of doctrines to be taught where changed....and with this jambalaya of Catholic doctrines, we are suddenly faced with a morality and asceticism that cannot bring us to engine that does not work.

This state of affairs was evident in the 17th century and vocally discussed during Vatican II specially during the discussion of 'Dei Verbum'. Archbishop Ganner during the discussion insisted on the OATH against modernism imposed on all priest during "Pascendi." The Oath that all seminarians were supposed to make before ordination. This was no longer observed during Vatican II. While the Council Fathers insisted that it should be revived....nobody seems to have done it. The Oath is an act of natural faith in which, hopefully, the supernatural virtue of Faith that makes us Catholics and guarantees our salvation may be built on. Remember, it is only a natural Faith that is required of all candidates for ordination. Is that too much to ask? The Popes were not even requiring supernatural faith because only God can give that.

Pope Benedict, in his 'Porta Fidei" wants us to check if we have supernatural Faith which we cannot have without natural faith. And during the Year of the Priests and several times afterwards, he insisted that priests, to be effective Evangelizers had to be contemplatives.....which means having not only Faith but also Hope and Charity.

The goal for this year is to encourage all Catholics to check if they have the one, true Catholic Faith. And the Holy Father is directing this to 'former Catholics' rather than to the missio ad gentes, for Charity begins at home. The success of missio ad gentes is completely depended on whether those preaching have the theological virtue of Faith. But the focus of the New Evangelization is directed towards Catholics who have lost their faith or had never made the act of Faith. And for the priest Evangelizers to have true Faith.

2. A truth we often forget is that the teachings of Christ are supernatural truths that can only be learned by souls who have received sanctifying grace, had received the gift of Faith from God and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit have learned the teachings of Christ.

3. The dynamics on how to reach Faith had not been taught in the seminaries. So there is the great possibility that many seminarians had been ordained faithless. The Pope mentioned that priests should be contemplatives. The words Faith and contemplative are the same.

There are two kinds of contemplatives. The theological contemplative and the infused contemplative that is the result of grace. The Holy Father is only insisting on being a theological contemplative because no one can become a contemplative by grace except by the work of God. And the theological contemplative is one who have seriously studied Dogma, Morals and Ascetical theology something the Pope required all priests to do during the "Year of the Priests'. If they study these in the proper way they could easily be worthy to receive infuse contemplation which, of course, is superior.

4. To deserve to receive the gift of Faith, a soul must have finished his repentance, developed the four moral virtues and received the gift of Faith that makes him a contemplative. A contemplative is often described as a prophet in the classical way. St. Thomas of Aquinas describes a prophet as one who had first undergone an interior experience of what he is to reveal. So the prophet leaves the secrecy of his contemplation to preach to the outside. The preacher must draw from contemplation what he should then preach to others. This is an act of Charity on his part. St. Thomas describes this as an act of friendship that is active and generous.

5. In the early times, the monks were the best missionaries, like St. Boniface, St. Augustine and St. Patrick. Essentially they were laymen who entered the monasteries to acquire the saving virtue of Faith by way of contemplation. So there is nothing new about the New Evangelization. Contemplation, however, is no longer emphasized in the training for the priesthood, neither in the diocesan nor in the religious. And so the complete ineffectiveness of former Evangelizations.

6. This is why the Holy Father through the New Evangelization had been exhorting us to pray. The prayer he is advancing is contemplation. Earlier the Pope described prayer as a friendly conversation with God in order to know Him. How can we preach Christ to others if we have not known him through prayer.

7. The New Evangelization is New because it is a secret that God would like to share with His friends, not His servants. So we have to receive the words of Christ "Now I call you friends" before we can share the secrets of the Father and the Holy Spirit which is the contents of the New Evangelization. These secrets are not found anywhere except through the personal revelation of God through Christ. And this is shared by God with friends only, i.e. with contemplatives.

The Pope added that in the "New Evengelization" the Evangelizer must be two or more united in Christ i.e. a community united in Charity. And the object of Evangelization must be one, not a thousand. That is two to one ratio; two evangelizer to one evangelized. The disciples were sent by Christ two by two, St. Paul always had a partner in preaching. But when Christ begun to lead each of his disciples into the life of Faith, He led them one by one. This was taught by Pope Benedict in Puebla, Mexico where he reminded the Bishops that Evangelization is a personal approach. A one to one basis. We should not be impatient, he said, in trying to bring in souls by the hundreds or thousands. That is not God's way. Though the one approached is one, the one approaching, the Evangelizer, must be two or more or a community.

The 'New Evangelization" requires this of the Evangelizer. He must be a soul who have reached Faith, Hope and Charity and, therefore, he loves God, himself and his neighbor. Since he had to preach the same message of love of God and neighbor, when he speaks he must show how to love his neighbor who must be around. The community whom the preacher loves and who in turn loves the preacher must be around to show how to love one's neighbor. Something the preacher cannot show if he preaches alone. Without this loved neighbor and the preacher who loves the Evangelization will be completely ineffective. St. Thomas of Aquinas demands at least the presence of benevolent or love of friendship, both of which are natural love, to exist between evangelizer and companion or community. When Christ preached, He had His Apostolic community whom HE loved and who loved Him so they could preach the love of God and neighbor....which many preachers today cannot show. "Two or three gathered in the name of Christ" must be the description of the preacher and his companion or community, and Christ promised He will be in their midst to accomplish the work of conversion.

This is the method and structure which Pope Benedict described as lacking into today's Evangelization rendering it useless and ineffective. And this is the first thing that must be observed in the New Evangelization.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


1. Evangelization
The Bishop's conference for this month had just ended and a few of them were my guests for a picnic. And they were talking about their meetings. No secrets were, of course, divulged. During the course of the conversation, I asked them about "Porta Fidei" and what plans do they have in the Diocesan level. When someone blurted out : what is the difference between the "New Evangelization" that everybody is talking about and the Old Evangelization. And they agreed: "We don't know the difference." Of course, I also did not know. In fact nobody should know the difference because there should be no difference between the Old and the New Evangelization. What we really have is the "new Evangelization" of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and the WRONG Evangelization which was the result of the bad implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent,... exactly what is happening now after Vatican II....there are so many bad post interpretation of the documents that Pope Benedict had to reform the reform.

2. Moral Theology after Trent
After the Council of Trent, one of the great Church councils, the fathers, like all other councils, made very good documents correcting errors or explaining truths for further clarification. After the Council, Commissions were assigned to interpret and implement the documents. But in the Council of Trent, though all the documents were orthodox, something went wrong in the implementation of the degrees on Moral theology, in which the catechisms are based. The suspect is the heresy of Nominalism that plagued the Church before the Council and which eventually influenced Moral theology. This corrupted all manuals of Moral theology during the implementation of the decrees of the Council. And since catechisms are based on Moral Theology, the error entered into the Catechisms of the Catholic Church.

The three branches of Theology, namely Dogmatic, Moral and Ascetical should be integrated as one whole, one greatly influencing the other. After Trent, the three branches were divorced from each other. Without one the other two would collapse. While each branch would not be able to attain its goal. Without Dogma Morals do not know why acts were immoral, without Morals Ascetical becomes meaningless and irrelevant. Without Morals and Ascetical one cannot believe the Dogmas. Without Ascetical and Moral Theology, a soul cannot believe in the Dogmas like that there is a God. And as Bishop Gasser said, explaining the importance in being able to believe in God, without this primal truth man becomes a moral pervert. Virtually the Catholic Church disappeared from the face of the earth. But this is impossible because in such situation God always intervenes in a direct way and teaches chosen souls personally and directly Dogma, Morals and Ascetical theology. And so we see saints raised by God whose incredible knowledge we don't know where it came from. This is how God maintains the existence of the Church in such situation. But with most of the bishops and priests part of this collapse, the faithful would be in the same situation. And this is, indeed, a very sad situation.

3. Cardinal Ratzinger points at the defect.
All the subsequent Popes noticed something was bugging the Church since that time but could not pinpoint it. And so all of them gave the right solution, as their office made them competent to do, without exposing the virus that was plaguing the Church. It was providential, only in preparing for Vatican II that a Commission of international brilliant theologians were gathered as advisers to the Council that they discovered the virus. One of the periti was Joseph Ratzinger. In 2001, addressing Religion teachers and catechists in New York, he first coined the word "New Evangelization". It was used before but Ratzinger popularized it. He pointed out there was a need for a "New Evangelization" because there was a defect with the way catechism was being taught. The defect was in the method and in the contents. Now wait a minute. If I had a recipe for 'Mexican tamales' which contains both the procedure or method of making it and a list of the ingredients.... and suddenly someone changes the method of cooking it and the ingredients it should contain, I'll be having a peanut butter sandwich rather than a 'tamales.' To modify both the method of teaching religion and its contents would produce a Protestant sect not a Catholic Religion. This was what Cardinal Ratzinger was saying.

4. True Evangelization based on the Apostolic Commission
The Catholic Church knows very well the way to Evangelize. It is found in the Apostolic Commission, the instruction Christ gave to the Apostles at the end of St. Matthew's Gospel. If we read the commentary St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Aquinas gave to that text, it is exactly the "New Evangelization" of Pope Benedict XVI. There is no difference. So why is there a "New Evangelization?" Because what had been used before and still found in Manuals of Moral Theology and Catechisms today is WRONG Evangelization. It is different from the Apostolic Commission that Christ gave the apostles.

5. The Traditional, Classical Evangelization.
In fact Cardinal Ratzinger, in his speech, mentioned the fact that this "New Evangelization" is nothing else than the classical or traditional Evangelization Christ taught the first apostles.
Before we discuss the schema Pope Benedict enumerated let us look at the three general points that he mentioned regarding the New Evangelization that is no different from a treatise of St. Thomas of Aquinas on Evangelization. Firstly, the Evangelizer should review his Dogma, Morals and Ascetical theology. Secondly, the Evangelizer must be a contemplative. Thirdly, the Evangelizer must have a 'new heart.' In the early times, these three always went together. But not now so the 'New Evangelization.'

First, Pope Benedict during the Year of the priests told all priest to go back to the seminary and review their Moral Theology. If something went wrong with the way priests learned how to Evangelize, it is but natural that they return to the seminary and relearn how to do it. "Veritatis Splendor" enumerated the right way and the wrong way of Evangelizing. A study of the Compendium of the Catholic Catechism by Pope Benedict would be a perfect text for study, the Pope reminds us. Moral Theology had to be relearned because Ascetical theology and the catechism are based on Moral Theology. An error in Morals will corrupt the ascetical life and the catechism used for strenthening the Faith. I wonder how many priest returned to the seminary during the 'Year of the Priests.' Dogma and Morals should be learned as roads that lead to Asceticism. The Evangelizing priest must be a Theologian and a Saint.

6. What is "New?"
Not the Evangelization but the Evangelizer must be new. He must have a "new heart", Pope Benedict states. All Evangelizers, should renew their minds so they can renew their hearts. If something went wrong in the curriculum the mind must be renewed. This is required of all laymen who love to preach. Acquired knowledge should be a minimum requirement. This includes learning the Theology of History ( just like the Pope's Thesis.) Though this is still very inferior compared to infused knowledge.

7. Only contemplatives should preach.
The third point Pope Benedict raised as necessary for the "New Evangelization" is that the Evangelizer should be a contemplative. His natural knowledge of the truth (this time correctly learned by integrating Dogma, Morals and Ascetical theology) must be consented to by his free will. This transforms his acquired knowledge into infused knowledge which comes along with infused Faith. The Pope mentioned this in the "Year of the Priests". "Contemplata, aliis tradere." It is based on the doctrine that the teachings of the Catholic Church are supernatural in nature and nobody can know, understand nor teach them unless they are in the supernatural level, that is in the level of least. That is the stage of contemplation where knowledge is infused and not learned from seminaries. And only after receiving the theological virtue of Faith can we share the Faith with others. Only contemplatives can share the Faith because they have it. The Dominicans had made this teaching of St. Augustine and St. Thomas as their motto. But most seminarians had never heard that they have to be contemplatives to Evangelize. They have not even heard how one can become a contemplative. The Pope is insistent the Evangelizer must be a contemplative. This had been the teaching of the Church from the time of Christ up to.......well, until it just dissapeared..... until the then Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned it. The Virtue of Faith and the contemplative life are synonymous. There goes the excuse of the Diocesan clergy that contemplation is not part of their training. Now it should be.

This is the heart of Evangelization and described by the Holy Father using the words of St. Augustine. What is New? The heart of the one who proclaims. He must be one who is totally in love with the Lord, one who has satiated his thirst in the Word of God. He must be acquainted with the One he is preaching about. And that acquaintance can only be attained by unceasing prayer. An Evangelizer has to be like a St. Thomas of 'Aquinas combining perfect knowledge of Dogma and Morals and putting both into practice into asceticism.....the result is holiness. In the New Evangelization, it is the Evangelizer who should be NEW.