Sunday, September 30, 2012

'CONVERSION' - Pope Benedict's first step.

                  'CONVERSION' - the first step in the 'New Evangelization' that leads to 'Porta Fidei.'

"Conversion' that leads to Faith. Another way of saying this is 'Evangelization' that leads to Faith. Pope Benedict referred to it as "New Evangelization" that leads to Faith. And the steps of Evangelization that leads to Faith are: Conversion, entrance to the Kingdom of God, encounter with Jesus Christ and Union with the Holy Spirit. The result of all these is attainment of 'Eternal Life.'

Christ came to earth to teach us the way to eternal life. And this Way of life had been entrusted to the apostles and eventually to the Catholic Church through her official spokesman the Pope. And the present Pope, like all other Popes is doing his duty of making sure that all the souls under his Pontificate know exactly 'The Way' without error.

Specially today where everything seems to be on the decline, and as the Pope mentioned, 'there is no way of stopping it.' The only imminent thing that we can look forward to is OUR DEATH, either through the revolt of nature against rebelling mankind or man's inhumanity to men. And there is no way to prepare for such eventuality except to assure that we have FAITH that leads to Eternal Life. With the ways things are going there is no other future.

Pope Benedict had not stopped repeating  this topic in all his talks to show the importance of FAITH. In fact if we gather all his addresses on the subject there was no need for a Bishop's Synod. He had spelled out everything necessary for the attainment of Faith. Pope Pius XII, when confronted with the suggestion to call an Ecumenical Council to face the enormous problems of his Pontificate, including a raging global war, his answer was NO. God has given the Popes the light to give the solution. Whether men will accept it or not is another question. Pope Benedict had given us the solution to all the world's problem today 'New Evangelization' that leads to Faith. FAITH that conquers the the solution. Without Faith, there is no other solution and the world's total decline is inevitable. And since the Holy Father sees that the world will not listen, not even amongst the Catholics, his last advice  is: 'Stop saving the world. You can't. What is happening is Divine Justice. Just concentrate in preparing your souls by taking the proper steps necessary that leads to FAITH.

But the evil spirits are also active. In fact, too active. Dark clouds are appearing at the horizon  of the Bishop's Synod. The Lineamenta issued from the Vatican to the Bishops is sounding an unclear bugle call, as St. Paul would describe it. The Instrumentum Laboris, a compilation of the responses of all the Bishop's of the world is also an unclear bugle call.  An ordinary soul,  by reading both documents would not even suspect where to begin and where to end. Even bishops who have began preaching the 'New Evangelization' are airing unclear bugle sounds. Some of them are even expert theologians invited to advice the Bishop's Synod.

But yesterday, a glow among the dark clouds. The Holy Father issued a list of other advisers to the Synod and they seem to be his picked men. We can only hope for a fine weather on those days in Rome.

The dark clouds omitted the two most important topics in Pope Benedicts schema, namely, first, 'conversion' and secondly 'entrance into the kingdom of God.' Let us leave for a moment the lengthy and the difficult to understand Lineamenta and Instrumentum laboris which Bishops are already preaching these days,  and concentrate on what Pope Benedict had already said.

Last March, the Holy Father addressed some priests and deacons. His message is 'on the importance of Conversion.' He said it was the most important element of the 'New Evangelization.'  He calls it the "motor" that makes the soul go through the steps of evangelization that leads to Faith. It is the motor that makes holy souls that will renew the Church. Without it we go nowhere.

The instrumentum laboris for the Bishop's Synod next month, however, mentioned that we don't need conversion. Contradiction? Maybe we are not agreed on the definition of conversion. Let us clarify the word.  Since Pope Benedict is highly influenced by both St. Augustine and Blessed John Newman, let us see what the two had to say about "conversion."

A soul must undergo complete conversion before he can deserve eternal life. Christ said: "Repent, believe." Repent is conversion and Christ showed how this is done by living for 30 years a hidden life. That is how long it ordinarily takes......unless God has  very special plans for you. Faith is received immediately after conversion. It might take someone a shorter time  but one has to undergo all the necessary steps. What are the steps and at what point does Conversion begin?

The three general steps that lead to Faith, using the words of St. Augustine are:

A. for the mind to return and discover the self as the image of God and at the same time see the God who gave us that image...and how God stands in reference to us as creature. This is a critical initial step. This is where a soul begins to be a saints or begins to be a pagan.

B. if a soul does well in the above first step, his mind will realize that he is much inferior to God who is above all and Creator of all, .....and as a consequence will submit himself to this Almighty God in all things. This is still in the level of the mind but with the cooperation of the free will....which we shall describe later. This is accomplished by a right Conscience, says John Newman.  This is humility that makes a soul disposed to receive the beginnings of grace. God gives the soul grace here. Conversion begins here. But it is only a beginning. It has a long way to go.

C. After the soul has re-entered into his mind and discover both his mind confronted by God..........  AND realizing he must subject himself completely as creature to Creator......which is conversion....he begins to discover through revelation the Will of God.....not all of them immediately. He learns is slowly beginning with the commandments of God in the Old Testament  (10 commandments of the Father thus coming to know the Father as reflected in his own mind). Then he proceeds to study all the commands of Christ in the New Testament (specifically numbering more than 80) and how to obey them.....thus encountering Christ. This is the beginning of Faith in which the souls knows the Father and the Son. Faith will mature depending on how much of God's commands he learns.Faith is when he has learned WHAT are all the commandments of God the Father in the Old Testament and WHAT are all the commandments of God the Son in the New Testament. To perfect that Faith the soul must also learn HOW those commands must be obeyed. Strictly speaking this is Evangelization. This is the contents of the Apostolic Commission given by Christ to the Apostles in the last chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew in the 'commissioning of the disciples'.

We cannot do C, which is to have Faith and develop it into mature Faith unless we have done B, that is receive the grace of Conversion.....which is not given to all because of a defective letter A.

When by the grace of God we know all WHAT are the commandments of God, both in the Old and New Testament and, also the HOW all those commandments are to be obeyed,  this is mature Faith. When we put into practice what our minds have learned through Evangelization, this is the virtue of Charity. With Faith and Charity we would be deserving of Eternal Life.

The main reason why there is a great lost of Faith seen all over the Church from the sands of Africa to the Bishop's palaces, from the priests to the chambers of the Pope, from the nuns to the because of a defective A...... a  defective first step.

Monday, September 24, 2012


                                                        Pope Benedicts XVI's main point.

In 6 Sundays in Ordinary time, ( 19 - 25 Sundays in Ordinary time) the Gospels taught an important lesson missed by most seminaries  that caused them to teach theology wrongly which became the main reason for the crisis of Faith in the Church today.

There are two levels of knowledge in man. The first is natural;  the second is supernatural. The first, natural knowledge is everything man can naturally learn, like everything learned in schools and everything learned by the senses. This knowledge can be learned by man and can be taught by man or books.  There can be different degrees in this level of knowledge; we can have grade school, high school, college, masters and so on. But they all remain in the natural knowledge. That Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary living in a human knowledge the same way we know Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Edison.

Then there is the supernatural level. In this level are the truths of Divine Revelation, the truths about the Catholic Church, who is Jesus, the teachings of Christ, the way to Union with God and happiness. Man in his natural faculties cannot learn any of this and neither can any man teach these truths. Only God can teach these truths. That Jesus is the Son of the Living God which is the mystery of the Incarnation is a supernatural knowledge and Christ said::  ' No flesh and blood can teach this truth but My Father in Heaven.'  This truth falls in the supernatural level. Only God can teach this. The listener must also be in the supernatural level....or must have the supernatural  and theological virtue of Faith.

Note that in the Gospel in the 25th Sunday in Ordinary time the CROWD knew Christ as a prophet just like the prophet Jeremiah. They were in the natural level and their knowledge of Christ was in the natural level. But when Christ questioned them on the mystery of the Incarnation, "And who do you say I am?" They, led by Peter, answered correctly: "You are the Son of the Living God." And Christ complimented them: "No man had taught you this but My Father in Heaven."  Knowledge of the Incarnation, a supernatural truth,  showed that the apostles had Faith and where in the supernatural level (in which all of them were since the time Christ called them to follow Him). But the apostles were NOT  high enough in the supernatural level so they could not understand Christ when He presented to them the mystery of the Redemption : 'The Son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men who will put him to death.' And the Gospel states: "And they failed to understand His words." The Apostles had Faith, they were in the supernatural level, how come they did not understand His words? Because Christ had not yet explained it to them! Christ had to teach them. Christ had to explained it to them before they could understand it. They had not gone high enough in the supernatural life to be able to understand the mystery of the Redemption. How can they go higher and thus make Christ, not the theology professor, explain it to them?

Let us go back to the Mystery of the Incarnation. The crowd because they remained in the natural level  recognized the historical Christ only. The Apostles recognized the supernatural Christ, the God-Man because they had done something that raised them up from the natural level to the supernatural level. What is this? Christ, Himself said in the Gospel (24th Sunday in Ordinary Time), to understand the Incarnation "he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."  Note that Christ did NOT  say "Teach them the Mystery of the Incarnation." He, in effect, said: if you want to rise from the natural level and go up to the supernatural level and understand the mystery of the Incarnation......"deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me." Note  WHAT is taught and WHAT is learned.  "Deny yourself..."is taught.  "The Incarnation" is learned.

So in Theology class, I must not teach the Mystery of the Incarnation....because the seminarians will not understand it being still in the natural level. I must teach them "to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Christ." That is what I must teach. If I do it well, the seminarians will be raised to the supernatural level, received the supernatural theological virtue of Faith and will KNOW Jesus Christ, the God-man. And that is Faith.......but a weak or small Faith. Faith must increase and be perfect.

The Gospel continues and states that Christ presented the Mystery of Redemption to the Apostles, "and they will put Me to death,"  and the Gospel says "they failed to understand His words." So Christ said: 'for you to understand the mystery of Redemption, I should NOT explain it to you. What you must do is to go higher in the supernatural level. To do this you must 'Welcome this child for My sake.'  Notice what I did not teach, namely "Redemption." Note what Christ wants me to teach "To welcome children for Christ's sake." If I teach this latter well, then the seminarians will understand the mystery of Redemption and know how the Sacrifice of the Mass can save souls.

In the Gospel, the Apostles remain ignorant of the Mystery of Redemption... why Christ had to go and be crucified. And Peter showed his ignorance as something out of place that made Christ call him 'Satan.' It will still take some time before Christ tells them why He should die. See, you cannot rush studying theology because God is the teacher and He loves to take His time even when He is in a rush. This will explain why Pope Benedict keeps on repeating the word 'contemplation' in his 'New Evangelization."

Evangelization does not consist in teaching natural truths. Neither does it consist in teaching supernatural truths.  Evangelization is teaching HOW to rise from the natural level and go up to the supernatural level.  As the Gospel states: 'unless the Father draws us up....'  To rise up to the supernatural level is an act of grace and it is up there where God teaches us.  No flesh and blood can teach up the school of the Lord's service.

In his 'New Evangelization' Pope Benedict noted that the method by which seminarians studied  Divine Revelation was wrong. We should  not teach seminarians the Mystery of the Incarnation. We teach them 'to deny themselves, to take up their crosses and follow Christ.'  If they obey they will know the mystery of the Incarnation, they will know  the supernatural Christ and believe in the True Christ, (not the mere historical Christ). In the New Evangelization Pope Benedict does NOT want us to teach seminarians the Mystery of the Redemption, why Christ had to suffer, why we have to suffer and how the Sacrifice of the Mass saves souls. He wants us to teach souls how to "welcome children for the sake of Christ."

But where can we get the knowledge on how "to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ"  and how 'to welcome Children for the sake of Christ?'   From the Fathers of the Church. Nowhere else! And the Holy Father had re-written all these information for us today. And so we have no good reason to Evangelize in the wrong way AGAIN as what has been happening for the last 400 years......unless we are overcome by the spirit of DISOBEDIENCE.......and still use the "wrong method" and "wrong contents" as he mentioned in his address on the year 2000 in Rome to catechists.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


 Why is it described as "New Evangelization" that leads to "Porta Fidei?"

When Christ begun His public ministery His preaching was: "Repent, believe." Another word for 'repent' is repentance or more completely 'a life of repentance.' This way of life was lived by Christ during His 30 years of hidden life. After His hidden life He showed signs of Faith (though Christ had this virtue from the beginning but we like to show how Christ was instructing us on what steps to take that leads to Faith.) This hidden life was followed by His sojourn in the dessert where He overcome all the temptations of Satan.....this is the sign of Faith. So Christ demonstrated to us through His 30 years of hidden life the  'life of repentance' that leads to the 'door of Faith.'

The apostles, too, lived their lives of repentance when they were followers of St. John the Baptist. John the Baptist's preaching was 'Repentance' as taught in the Old Testament. After their repentance, Christ called the apostles to follow Him. Their ability to leave all things and follow Christ showed they had Faith. Faith enabled them to leave all things to follow Christ. Christ gave them first the virtue of Faith that enabled them to leave all things.

So the words of Christ "Repent, believe" is Pope Benedict's Pontifical call to the Church during this "year of Faith.'  The Church is calling all bishops and priests to evangelize themselves by 'repenting and believing' and then  evangelize the rest of the Catholic World by calling them to a life of 'repentance' that leads to the 'door of Faith'. Pope Benedict's 'New Evangelization' corresponds to Christ's "Repent" and the Pope's 'porta fidei' corresponds to Christ's 'Believe." So far, there is nothing new in what the Holy Father had said. And He mentioned the fact that there was nothing really new here. It is the same classical, traditional evangelization mentioned by Christ in the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

So what is NEW in the 'new evangelization?' Nothing! Except that IT was forgotten for the last 400 years up to the present and if priests are reminded of it they will ALL find it so new. So we might as well call it 'NEW.'
If we study all the addresses of the Pope on the 'New Evangelization", which we shall review, it will be very clear that there is nothing new. It is exactly the same 'evangelization' instructed by Christ to the first Apostles, it is the same one used by the Fathers of the Church, it has been the same one used by the Catholic Church from 60 AD up to the 1500 AD but suddenly forgotten after the Council of Trent up to the present. Nobody today remembers how it was before that is why the Pope just allowed himself to fall into calling it 'NEW.'

Our problem is that the 'Lineamenta' and 'Instrumentum laboris' did not follow the schema already made by the Pope which is according to the teachings of Divine Revelation and expanded by the Fathers of the Church. The two documents omitted the first two steps enumerated by the Holy Father. If a preacher followed the Liturgical calendar he would be on track if they wanted to prepare their parishioners ahead of the 'Year of Faith." The bishops of China had begun preparing their faithful by praying the rosary and by studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church....they are on track. But a bishop-theologian gave a talk on TV to a huge audience on the "New Evangelization" and said that the first step was to be docile to the Holy Spirit. The way he described it he was explaining the third step of Pope Benedict's schema. But he said it was the first step omitting the first two steps. The new Bishop of Scotland addressed his new diocese with the same message: that in the "new Evangelization" the first step is 'encounter with the person of Christ."  This is not the first step. It is the third step in Pope Benedict's schema. The first two steps were omitted. Without the first two steps no one can  reach the third or fourth step.

The schema in the 'Lineamenta' and 'instrumentum laboris' has not yet been imposed. It can still be modified or changed during the Bishop's Synod this October. But most bishops are already using it with it's important omissions....omissions that will prevent the faithful from reaching the 'Porta Fidei.'

A cardinal who just passed away described the Church as several hundred years old and tired. He was looking at the wrong church. He was looking at a cloned Church who like the cloned sheep suddenly grew very old and died. That was not the Church. The Church is young and alive.  She is growing slowly to maturity and, so, a few minor improvement, fruit of the development of Christian Doctrine as penned by Blessed John Cardinal Newman is expected. This  is what is 'new.' It is the OLD that has grown slightly to maturity and so slightly different but essentially the same. .....the same tree but slightly bigger and more expected in a living Church.

Monday, September 10, 2012


                                                                      What Caused the Crisis of Faith?

We have seen the "New Evangelization" introduced first by Pope John Paul II and expounded by then Cardinal Ratzinger in a speech to Cathechists in Rome. Cardinal Ratzinger's outline consists of four steps: 1. Conversion,  2.the Kingdom of God,  3. Jesus Christ and  the Holy spirit, 4. Eternal Life. As Pope  Benedict XVI he emphasized the first, 'Conversion' that will lead to Faith. Christ, Himself emphasized, also, the first "Repent'  that will lead to "Believing," "Repent, believe."  The entire Scriptures is mostly about 'Conversion.' And so with the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Because it is only in 'Conversion' that men can contribute something in the work of his own salvation.  The rests is God's role.

The second step,  the Kingdom of God, the third, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the fourth, Eternal LIfe are supernatural topics and we usually leave them to God, because He alone can explained these to us "I will teach you all things." "Flesh and blood had not taught you this but only My Father in Heaven." In effect we never study  truths pertaining to the Catholic Church  and how to go to heaven because these fall under the supernatural level. And Pope Benedict explained that the Method of Evangelization consist in teaching others, NOT the doctrines of Divine Revelation, but to teach others how to rise from the natural level to the supernatural level. Christ's apostolic commission in the Gospel of Matthew confirms this.

Then we noted that the 'Lineamenta,' a document issued by Rome addressed to the Bishops of the world  for their reactions, had deliberatly removed the need for "Conversion" which both Christ and Pope Benedict  declared as the only way towards Faith. And the 'Instrumentum Laboris', which contains all the reactions of the bishops around the world  did not touched upon  " Conversion"  following the instruction from the  'Lineamenta.' If this defective outline is given to the whole Catholic World on October, which is the beginning of the Year of Faith, the ignorant Catholics would follow the outline and because "Conversion" is not taught, they will never reach Faith and lose their souls. But if the few who have the right knowledge because they have read some of the talks of Pope Benedict ......and hear the Bishops and priests omit the need for "Conversion" and follow suit, they, too, will not reach Faith and would be lost.

What is the Church confronted with?  With the words of Pope Benedict, most Catholic Bishops, priests, nuns and faithful are without Faith. The Liturgy of the Mass alone teaches us more than 30 signs of the presence or absence of Faith, during what we call the Sundays in Ordinary Time.  So any honest Catholic can just sit down during Sunday Mass and ask  themselves if they have Faith or not. With more than 30 signs in the Liturgy  it would be easy for anyone to find out if he has faith or not. And because these signs are external signs we can even discern if others have faith or not ......and if not evangelize them.

The problem facing the Church today is this: that because of the wrong method of instruction in the Faith, which Pope Benedict mentioned as the first defect, most do not have Faith.  The second point is the more serious problem.  The supernatural truths which only God can teach and explain well were spoken by God to men in the form of WORDS..... and this is the contents of Divine Revelation. St. Thomas states that the deep, penetrating meaning of the Words of Divine Revelation can only be explained and interpreted by God and cannot be taught by human professors even in seminaries.  But these words have sounds which the natural man can hear. So the natural man can try to learn the natural, dictionary meaning of the words of Divine Revelation without being able to learn the deep penetrating meaning of the same. And because they study the human, dictionary meaning of the words of Divine Revelation they think they know the supernatural teachings of the Catholic Church. They don't! Because those teachings are so deep only God can teach them.

So we are faced with an almost impossible task......of trying to Evangelize Catholics who do not have Faith but who firmly believe they have Faith. Priests, seminarians and religious nuns and brothers think they have Faith because of their status. All members of lay communities think they have Faith because they belong to this or that Catholic organization. In fact, we believe that all Catholics who die go to heaven. Even Protestants believe they have Faith. And all pagans believe they go to heaven when they die. All converts believe they have Faith just because they converted. Writers and publishers in the internet think they know the Faith. Then here comes Pope Benedict and tells all of us to check if we have the true Faith on the 'Year of Faith.' And the Lineamenta' says, we don't have to discuss 'Conversion' that leads to Faith because we are already Catholics. What we have is natural Faith, a faith in which we only have a natural understanding of Divine Revelation though we use the sophisticated language that gives the impression we know supernatural truths but we do not have the supernatural, deep  and penetrating meaning of Revelation.....which is given to us by God with the supernatural theological virtue of Faith.

Conversion is a work of grace. Today, there is so much human efforts to convert, efforts on the verge of Pelagianism. Is this why such efforts seems futile?

The "New Evangelization" is meant for such a chaotic situation: where we have a 'catholic' population that has no Faith but who think they have Faith. And where human efforts have supplanted Divine Mercy. This is the backdrop of Pope Benedict's 'New Evangeliation' so that we shall only understand his description of it with this backdrop.

Though a better understanding of the steps he had spelled out will be more appreciated if we have a background of St. Augustine's treatise on Conversion , the Pope's favorite Father of the Church; St. Bonaventure's  theology of history  and St. John Newman's 'Development of Christian Doctrine'. This we hope to clarify first to ourselves and express it in the next articles.