Wednesday, December 26, 2012

EVANGELIZATION - On the 'Year of Faith.'

The  Elements of the 'Act of Faith.'

The most important theological virtue that leads us to eternal life is NOT Faith but Charity. "Even if you have Faith that can move mountains but do not have Charity....your Faith is useless." One cannot have Charity without Faith and we cannot Hope to have eternal life if we do not have Faith. So Hope and Charity are founded on Faith. And the Holy Father knows it is hopeless for us to reach Charity and Hope unless we first have Faith. Thus the 'Year of Faith.'

But most PRESUME they have Faith just because they are baptized, just because they are ordained priest, just because they are consecrated bishops, just because they belong to well-known international ecclesial communities and just because they are holding a bible. This shows ignorance of 'Act of Faith' that is a sure sign of the absence of Faith.

During this 'Year of Faith' the Holy Father wants all of us, without exception to find out if we have the virtue of Faith. If we analyze the 58 proposals made by the Bishop's Synod in Rome which will be the schema to be applied on the whole Catholic World this year, the proposals presume that all Bishops and priests have Faith and are just supposed to share it with others.  In Philosophy we call it 'deny the supposition'. The Pope did not say share your Faith with others. He said check first if you have Faith because the probability is great that you, whoever you are, does not have Faith.....many do not have the signs of Faith taught in the Liturgy..

All the problems of the Catholic Church is because of the absence of Faith. The problem of priests all around the world is due to absence of Faith. That problem could have been easily solved by simply sending them to a few chosen monasteries to make their neglected  personal 'Act of Faith.' And the whole world could have been made better because of the Faith of believers. But the whole world is now in complete deterioration because the Catholics whose Faith should have conquered the world have no Faith. It boils down to 'the inability to make the Act of Faith'. All the other problems as enumerated in the 58 proposals are just ramification caused by the absence of Faith. And none of those proposals can be acted upon unless we first receive the gift of Faith from God. And this is the rationale for the 'Year of Faith.'

Let us again further describe the proper disposition needed for God to give us the virtue of Faith. This proper disposition is the end-goal of 'conversion,' which the Holy Father had  described as the first step in evangelization without which the next steps, entrance into the kingdom of God, encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and Eternal Life, are impossible.

Let us look at the picture of a person about to receive the grace of Faith from God. Let us look at his proper disposition that will make him deserving to receive the virtue of Faith from God. He has two images before his mind. On one side is the teachings of the Catholic way of life and on the other side is one's own personal life. The two images are contradictory to each other. The image of the Catholic way of life might not be perfect or complete. But the person  has no doubt that that is the way of life taught by Christ as explained by the Catholic Church. On the other hand the personal way of life though  not described completely  is clearly seen as disobedience to the Catholic way of life. This view is similar to St. Augustine's City of God and City of man. This is the most neglected element in the 'Act of Faith'..... the choice in the midst of a conflict.

The knowledge of the Catholic way of life must be a natural but complete understanding of the commandments of Christ as given by the Lord in the New Testament and as explained by the Catholic Church through her Vicar the Pope. One's personal way of life, on the other hand,  is a description of the disobediences of the soul against the Catholic way of life.

So the soul, still without Faith is standing in front of these two choices between  two ways of lives.  At this point a severe crisis will take place. The soul will be torn to pieces as he chooses between the two,  on one side,  the service of God that leads to Eternal Life but at the price of completely giving up one's personal way of life of disobedience.  Making the choice can tear apart a soul as described in the lives of St. Augustine and Blessed John Newman. But it is only in making the choice in favor of the Catholic way of life that the soul will have the proper disposition to be worthy to receive the supernatural virtue of Faith together with everything that comes with it.

St. Augustine described this as a 'total horizontal change of direction in life'  made possible only by the grace of God. The life of the soul becomes totally unrecognizable because of the the change. Note that the soul progresses in his knowledge toward  making the choice. Everything after the choice is the work of the grace of Faith that comes from God. It is reaching that crossroad that is the goal of the 'Year of Faith.' And the way before we can reach that crossroad is so rough as described by St. Augustine and Blessed John Newman it would  be almost impossible for many because of the state of the world today. Just because it is very rough shall we just sit down and endanger the eternal salvation of our souls?

The crisis of St. Augustine was that he had come to love the Catholic way of life and he wanted to choose that way of life. If he chose that way of life he would have received the gift of Faith from God. But he could not give up his personal way of life which was in disobedience to the commandments in the Catholic way of life. And this conflict prevented him from making the 'Act of Faith.' He had to struggle in giving up his personal way of life to have the strength to choose the Catholic way of life. In the case of Blessed John Cardinal Newman the giving up of his personal way of life was easy though he also found it difficult but what prevented him from having the proper disposition to deserve to receive the virtue of Faith from God is the many non-Catholic doctrines that he had accumulated during his being Anglican, Anglo-Anglican, Evangelical, Libertarian, and via media. This made some of his well learned  Anglican doctrines heretical thus he could not make the  proper choice prior to conversion. His knowledge of Catholic doctrines were defective.  He was faced with two defective choices. Fortunately, Pussey and Froude led him gently to the true Catholic Faith...he made the right choice, the Catholic Church, after correcting his erroneous doctrines around 1840....the day he 'deconverted' from Anglicanism and converted to the Church of Rome.The mind must be well-informed by these two choices and the free will must make the choice of one and completely abandoning the other. Thus when St. Augustine and Blessed John Newman made their 'Act of Faith'  they also made their vow of chastity.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Where is the Catholic Church?

St. Thomas of Aquinas reminded us the importance of having the final goal in mind before we begin a journey. On the 'New Evangelization' Pope Benedict was very clear in his schema on what is our proximate goal and what is our final goal. The proximate goal of  Evangelization is Faith or entrance into the Kingdom of God (or the Catholic Church) while our final or ultimate goal is Eternal Life.

In this Year of Faith, the Pope wants us all to concentrate on our proximate goal -  Faith .....or entrance into the Catholic Church. Where is the Catholic Church and how does she look.

The Holy Father had already expressed many times the problem of the Catholic Church today.  In his popular book 'Ratzinger Report'  he described it as 'a crisis of Faith.' This does not consist in the lost of Faith but in the total inability of most souls  to make the 'Act of Faith'. We have described the 'Act of Faith' in a previous posts and we saw that it truly is impossible for many to make the 'Act of Faith'..... though we had postponed giving the reasons why.

Basing it on the reasons already hinted  by Pope Benedict and further elaborated by theologians like Fr. Pinckners, the cause of this universal inability to make an 'Act of Faith' is due to an error in teaching Catholic
doctrine in seminaries that probably happened as early as the 16th century. Its domino effect through the centuries up to the present is devastating to the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ratzinger described it as  "wrong method and wrong contents" in Evangelization. That is like saying everything went wrong.

This is how it happened. There are two levels of knowledge available to men; natural and supernatural. Natural knowledge is what man can ordinarily learn and what man can ordinarily teach. Supernatural knowledge is what man cannot ordinarily learn and what man cannot ordinarily teach to men. The latter can only be taught by God and it comes along with the grace that God gives man.  All the teachings of the Catholic Church are supernatural knowledge.....though it is built on natural knowledge.

How can natural man learn supernatural knowledge? By ASCENDING the steps beginning from natural knowledge and going up to the supernatural knowledge. This process of ASCENDING from the natural to the supernatural  is called CONVERSION. And this process of conversion is taught to men through 'evangelization.'  'Conversion' and 'Evangelization ' is what Jesus Christ commanded in His Apostolic Commission when He said: "Go to all nations, Baptizing them....and teaching them all that I have commanded and how to obey them."  'Conversion' and  'Evangelization ' is WHAT to  "teach all."  Notice that WHAT to 'teach all ' are commandments and NOT  doctrines. We learned the same thing when the young rich man went to Christ and wanted to have eternal life. Christ said: "Go home, sell all your things and give it to the poor."  Notice again that Christ did not give him doctrines. Christ gave him 'commandments.' The grievous error in seminary courses from the 16th century up to the present is that they are not teaching 'how to ascend from the natural to the supernatural.' In effect they are not teaching conversion of life.  They are not evangelizing the seminarians according to the teaching of Christ as shown in the Apostolic Commission and in the advice given to the young rich man.

So what happened to those studying for the priesthood from that time up to now? St. Augustine says that Scriptures has two levels of interpretation. Scriptures has words with dictionary meanings like if I say 'This is a word,' every human can understand that in the natural level. But if Scriptures says : 'This is the WORD,' those words still has  a dictionary meaning BUT it also has a deep, hidden, supernatural meaning, i.e. that this is the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Ordinarily those in the natural level can understand the dictionary meaning of the words of Scriptures. But only those in the supernatural level, those with Faith,  can understand the deeper, hidden and supernatural meaning of Scriptures.

Seminarians in seminaries, because they were not taught how to ASCEND from the natural to the supernatural,  learned only the dictionary meaning of the words of Scriptures  but did not learn the deeper, hidden and supernatural meaning of the teachings of the Catholic Church as found in Scriptures.  Remember that they learned the meaning of the words of the Doctrines but not the meaning of the Doctrines. In short, they learned Scriptures like Protestants. Having failed to ASCEND they failed to make the Act of Faith.  Imagine the domino effect that would have from the 16th century up to the present. We can almost conclude that no graduate from those seminaries who would later become priests and bishops, and no future pupil of those priests would have Faith.  All the problems of the past Popes was not the 'lost of Faith' but that many priest never even made the 'Act of Faith.'  This was evident from the Pontificate of Pope Pius IX up to the present . And Pope Paul VI in an Advent homily described this situation as 'total ignorance of Christ.' And that precisely is how Pope Benedict is describing the present state of the Church. The consequence is that the world has lost contact with the face of the Catholic Church. Of course she is still in the world but many bishops and priest, do not know her and could not show her in their lives to the world. The world  could not find the Catholic Church anywhere.

Unable to rise from the natural to the supernatural level (which is the level of Faith) some priests and Bishops showed ignorance of supernatural doctrines of Scriptures.  And since the documents of an Ecumenical Council are also in the supernatural level because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, they continued to know the Dictionary meaning of the documents but not the deep, hidden and supernatural interpretation of the same documents.    Some bishops and priests, impatient to wait for the Holy Spirit to interpret Vatican II,  gave merely the natural- dictionary interpretations of the documents of Vatican II thus establishing a ' new' man-made catholic church.  All of the books written immediately after Vatican II are of this kind. The Holy Father had been condemning this tendency in many of his exhortations but it had persisted up to the concluded Bishop's Synod and its tentacles can be found in the 58 proposals of the Synod. Theologian-Bishops had been preaching this new man-made catholic church both during the Synod and now in their dioceses and even dared described it as the goal of the 'New Evangelization' of Pope Benedict.  Fortunately, the CDF had recently declared this erroneous interpretation of Vatican II as 'HERETICAL.'  Every description of this church shows it is man-made. This tendency was rampant even during the Council's discussions specially between the Germans and the French fathers where the then Bishop Ratzinger took a middle ground. Seeing how the document on 'ecclesiology' had a difficult time being formed the Pope decided to clarify today the image of the Catholic Church.....the proximate goal of evangelization. 

To understand the  image - picture of the Catholic Church painted by  Pope Benedict we must know why he mentions St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure, Blessed John Cardinal Newman......and surprisingly St. Thomas of Aquinas. Let us leave for a while the important topics of the 'ACT of Faith', the elements of conversion and  the necessity for the evangelizer to be a contemplative.  We will return  to them shortly. In the last posts we discussed the proximate goal of the 'New Evangelization' which is entrance into the Catholic Church and we begun discussing how the  Catholic Church looks TODAY.

One of the papal audience was held in St. Peter's square and not in the Pope Paul VI auditorium where it was usually held. And Pope Benedict XVI said it was because he wanted to point to two statues on top of Bernini's collonades. These are the statues of St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas of Aquinas.  We saw that Pope Benedict quoted these two saints in describing the Catholic Church today. St. Bonaventure described her as an 'ecclesia contemplativa' (from St. Bonaventure's 'Theology of History') while St. Thomas described her as a Church that has perfected the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (from St. Thomas' commentary on the Gospel of St. John).  And we briefly expanded those description. The two saints described the Catholic Church not during their times but TODAY  in exactly the same way but in two different angles.

Now let us add a third description of the Catholic Church using  Pope John Paul II's words. Pope John Paul II had earlier described the face of the Catholic Church as 'Marian' as he was highly influenced by St. Grignon de Montfort in his youth. Then later declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the 'New Evangelization' together with St. Therese of Lisieux. Why did he chose these two? First, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a representation of the Woman of the Apocalypse which is the Catholic Church. Now notice where she was at first.  She was in the WORLD where she could lower her nets and get both the bad and good fishes.   Now see where she was transfered. God gave her two wings and brought her to the desert where He had prepared a 'special place for her' where only good fishes can be caught. Let us stop there for a moment and note that the Catholic Church was once upon a time in the world getting both good and bad fishes. Then God transfered her to a 'special place' where she could harvest only good fishes. And this is in the desert. This coincides with the commentary of St. Thomas of Aquinas on the Gospel of John.  The fact that the Woman flew with two wings given by God to the desert coincides with St. Bonaventure's comment on the 'ecclesia contemplativa' which he described. Note, also, that the Apocalypse is written by St. John and he was only continuing his unfinished fourth Gospel. Here we have St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas of Aquinas and the imagery of Our Lady of Guadalupe as portrayed in the Apocalypse describing the Catholic Church of today.

Since the Woman in the Apocalypse, a figure of the Catholic Church, was tranferred to another place 'out of the world,'  there are two things we must learn; first how does that Church look today in that 'special place prepared by God'  and where is 'that place?' And secondly; what is the 'new way' that leads to her 'new' location.

It is the same identical Catholic Church. But She has a 'new'  look...She has virtues in their perfection and personified by Mary. She is NOW in a 'new' place specially prepared by God. And there is a 'new' way of going to her shown by the two 'giant wings given to Her by God to transport her to the new place.....these make up the 'New Evangelization' that Pope Benedict is teaching us. It is indeed 'NEW.'   If the Bishop's Synod deputized to teach the whole Catholic world, does not adjust their 58 proposals according to the Pope's 'New  Evangelization',  we might end up entering a man-made catholic church.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


'New Evangelization' is, indeed, 'NEW' because it is entrance into a New, Grown, Mature Church.

The Catholic Church is a living institution. It is like a child that grows up. When a child becomes a grown mature man, he is still the same child. But he is quite different from when he was a child.  The Church was once upon a time  a child..  But now she is a grown up, a young girl. Let us compare again the Church to a classroom. There was a time when the classroom was for kindergarten children. But now the Church is a classroom  for spiritually young adults. A soul that is about to begin his entrance into the Catholic Church must first enter the classroom for kindergarten souls.  And a soul that has been studying for a long time should be in the classroom for young adults. Let us take another similitude.  Christ came to heal and save souls. A soul seeking healing and salvation should first go to a hospital room... the Church. When he has stayed long enough in his hospital room he should be better after a time and should be ready to be discharged. No one within the Church ever gets worst. As Pope Benedict says quoting St. Bonaventure, the 'Seraphic Doctor.': the Church has 7 stages of growth. She grows forward and never regress backward. So she is more perfect now than before. And her knowledge of God's teaching are deeper now than before. In fact, by now the Catholic Church should have reached the heights of her perfection, a perfection that she had never experienced before. Most souls never saw the way the catholic Church look today. And most do not know how to enter this perfected Church today. This is the reason for the 'New Evangelization' invitation to unchartered territory. It is new to us all. It was never been taught in seminaries or school of theology. Only the Pope with the advice of St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Cardinal Newman seems to have an inkling on how she looks and how join her. The results of the Bishop's Synod shows that they had no idea what the Pope is talking about. They discussed many things, in fact too many things. But did not discuss the 'new evangelization' that leads to Faith (the entrance to the kingdom of God that has a new face) which the Holy Father mentioned in his 2000 AD address to catechists.

Let us now present some problems which Pope Benedict is trying to solve. What if a soul wanted to enter the Church as a kindergarten pupil but the only available classroom is for young adults? What if a  patient is very serious and needs a 'trauma emergency room' but the only room available are rooms for those who are already well and ready for discharge? What if the applicants to the Catholic Church are young rich men but the Church only accepts those who go home sell all their things, give them to the poor and follow Christ?

These questions can be answered if we know the background of the Holy Father's instructions with regard to the 'new evangelization' that leads to 'porta fidei.' As a young priest Pope Benedict's thesis was on the 'Theology of History according to St. Bonaventure.' St. Bonaventure is the 'Seraphic Doctor,' and he described the history of the Catholic Church as she progresses to perfection in six stages as related to the 7 days of creation, the sixth day being the day of Sabbath.  The Holy Father believes that the Catholic Church have reached the sixth day, her mature state.  That she is the 'ecclesia contemplativa'. From her birth on Pentecost day, the Catholic Church had grown and become as perfect as her founder and have become a contemplative Church. The Catholic Church was never stagnant in her growth. She continuously  grow spiritually towards her goal of perfection.  Her members TODAY, according to the Seraphic Doctor,  should be contemplatives, meaning they have the four moral virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude),  they have the three theological virtues (the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity) and they are  perfected by the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord). That is asking too much from a soul but that is the description of the members of the Church TODAY, described by St. Bonaventure as 'Ecclesia Contemplativa."  Only God can do this and at this age God has done it. Except nobody knows where it is. Only those with Faith can find her that is why the Pope had called the 'Year of Faith'  to enable us to  find the Church and be a part of it.

For this reason the Holy Father had been repeating that Evangelizers should be contemplatives because they must recruit members for a contemplative Church. But none of the seminaries both diocesan and religious train contemplatives. Which is understandable because only God can make contemplatives. And this is the reason why one of the Patroness of the New Evangelization is St. Therese of Lisieux because she was a contemplative by the work of God and not by the work of her order or convent.

This image of the Catholic Church as 'Ecclesia contemplativa' was also confirmed by  St. Thomas of Aquinas in his commentary on the last chapter of the Gospel of St. John where he mentioned that this is the last chapter of the last Gospel because this is the last image of the Catholic Church on earth. It was the last boat trip of the apostles in Lake Tiberias. The 7 apostles were in their boat fishing (The Church) and were now approaching the shore (Heaven) where Christ was waiting.  The Catholic Church was now approaching her final destination... eternal life with Christ standing on the shore. St. Thomas described the Church as having become perfect and where her evangelizers are perfect and where her doctrines are now perfectly understood. Note that there were only 7 apostles indicating the perfection of the evangelizers. Note that they were told where exactly to lower their net, which is possible only to contemplatives (unlike in the other boat trip where they were told to lower their net anywhere.)   They were told to lower their net in a place where they only caught good fishes, only perfect fishes. The Church is perfect, the members inside are perfect symbolized by the number of fishes 153, and the 7 evangelizing apostles were the symbol of perfection.

Where is that 'ecclesia contemplativa?' It is here now.... the perfected Church, with contemplative members and contemplative evangelizers? They can be found in the supernatural level. Those who have remained in the natural level  will never find them. Pope Benedict gave us the strategy. To find and enter this Church we must first rise from the natural and go up to the supernatural level. This is done by a life of conversion (which both Pope Benedict and the International theological Commission had emphasized.) If we finish our conversion we shall receive the gift of Faith which is entrance into the Catholic Church......where at the beginning we would probably have imperfect Faith. But it is only when we have the beginnings of this theological virtue of Faith can God, Himself, guide us towards the perfection of Faith (which is the contemplative life), then lead us towards the perfection of Hope and Charity together with which God will grant us the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit thus perfecting  and making us amongst the 153 fishes that were hauled into the perfect Church to be brought to Christ in heaven.

This 'ecclesia contemplative' is a NEW, mature image of a Church that was once upon a time a child. Most would not recognize her. And the way to enter her is a NEW way which is a perfection of the old way of entering her....shown to us  by the first apostles but much watered down through the centuries.  This is the 'New Evangelization' that leads to 'Porta Fidei' a NEW EVANGELIZATION that leads to a 'Contemplative Church' which most of us had never seen and which most of us have never been. Our Holy Father has to lead the way and he is doing so. But most of us like children led by our parents in a shopping Mall are infinitely distracted by the hundreds of shops catering to worldly concerns.

In the next post we shall describe this Church as described by the Seraphic Doctor and as quoted by Pope Benedict and we shall describe the process of evangelization as described by Blessed John Cardinal Newman and as quoted by Pope Benedict. ...two favorite authors of the Holy Father.