Thursday, April 27, 2006

Laminated Maps

Lately there has been much discussion about the status of the so called Illegal Aliens or (migrant workers) in the nation and in our state. Recently both His Eminence Francis Cardinal Mahoney and His Excellency Archbishop Michael J Sheehan have spoken on this topic. Many people in the United States have different opinions on this issue and they hold their positions for various reasons. My purpose in this article is to address a point that I feel has not been a part of the discussion on illegal immigration in the national, state and ecclesiastical levels. The issue that I feel has been carefully neglected is the morality of violating the boarders of a viable state.

In objective morality a state is treated as a juridical person. This means for all intents and purposes a state is a person and has all the rights that a person has. A state has a right to life, it has a right to defend itself, it has a right to defend its allies and it has a right to defend its property. This list is of course not complete but is an example of the natural rights that must be accorded a viable state. Due to the subjective character that a state enjoys in the moral world it is the responsibility of all men of good will to help secure and protect these rights and take great care to not abridge these rights as they stem from the Natural Moral Law. The Natural Moral Law is derived from the Laws that have been posited by God in the very nature of Creation and this in turn is established by Divine Positive Law which is an expression of the very Will of God. While this has many ramifications we must focus our attention on how this effects the morality of the subject at hand.

If I own a piece of property that I live on I will have a house and a lawn and a backyard. I have a right to this property because I hold ownership of this property. I can nearly do anything that I choose on this property. I have the right to raise a family on it and invite family over. I can throw a party and invite friends and acquaintances to this party granting them the right to come on to my property. I could even go so far as the invite a friend to stay the night or take up residence in my home. However, do any of these invited guests have a right to claim my spare bedroom for their own without my permission? Does the passer-by on the street have the right to pitch a tent on my lawn without my permission? Does my neighbor have the right to use my bathroom even if his is broken without my permission? The obvious answer to these questions and all like them is a resounding no? If this were so, then my home would cease to be mine and I would lose control of that which is my legitimate possession. In a sense it would be a theft of my possessions.

This scenario of the homeowner is no different then that of the state. The State has a right to regulate its boarders, it has the right determine who it wants to invite into its “home” - so to speak. If the state desires it can open its boarders and allow all people complete free access to the country. However, the United States has determined, as a legitimate State, to regulate its boarders for the safety of the citizens and for the betterment of the country as a whole. This right cannot be violated. It is irresponsible to make a claim that the boarder policies of the United States are illicit and contrary to the dignity of the human person as so public figures have attempted to assert. It is irresponsible for public figures to support the actions of illegal immigrants because it is the support of an action that is objectively immoral. While it is true that for many illegal immigrants that situation in their native home is not as good as the life they could have in the United States, however, we must never forget the most basic of moral axioms – One cannot do an evil to bring about a good. To assent to the converse of this axiom is to assent to moral relativism that is not consistent with our Catholic faith.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

As Catholics we are taught that the form of our devotion and prayer effects the very essence of our belief. It is central to our Catholic identity to hold firm to prayer that evokes a sense of the sacred and possesses a deep Christological nature. The Christocentricity of our faith demands that our focus is on Him who is our Hope. When we shade our gaze or otherwise divert it elsewhere we begin to lose our identity as Catholics in communion with the historical reality of the Church.

In today's world the average and some not so average Catholics have divorced themselves from the historical continuity of their faith. Even though we are nearing the end of neo-iconoclasm much damage has been done to our religious praxis. Polling Catholics you will find that their liturgical, devotional, sacramental and ecclesiological memory only extends at most forty years in the past. It is as if the Church's advent came with the utterances of the Second Vatican Council. Yet to be counted among the faithful we must understand the “now” of our faith with the concept of organic outgrowth and not pure novelty. Unfortunately this has not been the case in the past half century.

In an attempt to posit particular agendas such as the feminist agenda, the race agenda or recently the gay agenda, among others, the form of our devotion in the local parishes have been directed away from the Christocentricity of traditional devotions such as the rosary, novenas, or processions. To fill the void caused by their absence “praise & worship” sessions and at worst nothing has taken hold of the parish devotional life. The liberal (or progressive if you will) lobby understood well that if one desires to change the beliefs of the faithful one must change their mode of prayer. For this reason we see gender inclusive language in the liturgy, the condemnation of Eucharistic Adoration as a medieval error and the rosary chided as an antiquated pious practice suited only for the unwashed. In effect the dimensions of an authentic Catholic culture have been wounded or eradicated.

Perhaps the most difficult of all the common deconstructions in devotion is that few of them are centered on Christ but are humanistic in nature and thus become banal practices akin to bacchanalian cults that seek transcendence through cathartic practices or take the axiom of Orens et Laborem to a level of absurdity citing the pure labor of life as a singular devotion in an of itself. While it is our mission to care for our fellow man it is not an acceptable practice to do violence to the traditions of the Church to fit the mold of the particular cause of the day. It is not sufficient to exchange the rosary for anagrams or solstice celebrations found in neo-paganism or the “New Age” movement. Such transformations cause our eyes to focus horizontally on creation in opposition to the Creator and the heavenly inspiration found in traditional devotional praxis.

It is our responsibility as the faithful to renew authenticity to our Catholic culture. In the history of the Church never has it been the faithful who have perpetuated error. Rather the faithful have remained as such so to urge the clergy to correct the errors of the time. Therefore, it is our responsibility to approach our parish priest and ask for Perpetual Adoration presenting him with at least half of the hourly time slots already filled. It is our responsibility to ask for a procession in honor of the parish patron with

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Defender of Orthodoxy

In His great goodness, God the Father has given us a Church to be the “Sacrament of Salvation” through which Christ continues His saving mission of sanctification. In this plan of salvation He has made this Church visible with a Head and a Body and Shepherds to govern His Church. The Bishop, being a successor of the Apostles is given this vocation and it is by this vocation that he is judged.

I have often asked myself the question; what does it mean to be a Bishop? When thinking about this question I had to investigate the very meaning of the word Bishop in the Christian sense. In the New Testament the word used for Bishop is Episkopoi which means Overseer in Greek. But what does he oversee? The name implies leadership or rather that he has a certain authority over something or someone. I believe that to understand this idea of Overseer that it is necessary to see the position in the same way that the early Christians would have understood it in perspective of the teachings of Christ.

Christ taught his Apostles that to lead is to serve. He taught this by His actions and his teachings to the twelve. However, most clearly, He presented the image of the Good Shepherd to his Apostles to teach them how to govern His flock rightly. It is in this image that Christ gives us the image of what it is to be a servant and a leader at the same time.

The Shepherd was charged with the care of a flock that was both his and not his at the same time. Usually the shepherd would serve a master to whom the flock truly belonged but also it was his own flock in a practical sense because he cared for it day in and day out. The Shepherd was charged with feeding the flock and caring for it and most importantly he was charged with protecting the sheep from their own faults or from predatory adversaries. He had to protect the sheep from eating the wrong food and insuring that they did not become the food of wolves. This, for Christ was the image of divine governance.

What do we learn from the shepherd? We learn that the Bishop is charged with the care of a flock that truly belongs to Christ the Chief Shepherd. Because of this the Bishop must be diligent in his work to please his Master and not necessarily the flock. It is from the authority of the Bishop that we find the Sacraments; in particular the Eucharist that feeds us and makes us strong. The Bishop must keep order among the flock and he must lead them through the world into their eternal home in God's Pasture. However, on the way the Bishop must wield his staff with authority to combat the dangers who desire to separate or devour the flock. This is perhaps the most important role of the Bishop. The Bishop must stand and fight to defend his flock even if it costs him his own life.

In our modern day we find that the vast majority of Bishops exercise their pastoral role as care givers well. Every Bishop works hard to comfort his people and provide them the Sacraments for the benefit of souls. However, it is in defending the flock that our modern shepherds have been lacking. It is not enough that we are fed but that we do not become feed to the enemy through heterodoxy. The great saintly bishops such as St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose have not been remembered by the kind words that they said or conciliatory attitudes that they held but rather for the faith that they defended with their lives. The good Bishop does not shrink from pressure but relying on Christ stands for truth no matter what the cost. To Bishops such as these every wolf was slain and every poison mended because they knew that in the pursuit of radical orthodoxy lay their true vocation. A Bishop worth his salt knows that in order to provide he must first defend his flock so that the enemies of orthodoxy both inside and outside of the flock may be dispersed and the ray of truth shine down upon his flock.

Neglect

I have been neglecting this blog for various reasons but I will be posting on here the unedited versions of my published articles. So not to cause a over flow of information I will post them a day at a time. Anything new will be added as they are written. Anything that is published with have a title that links to the site of the organization that has published the article.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Day to Remember

Today, history has been made. I am not speaking only about the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Rather it is the chain of events that have been put into motion by this appointment. So, not only has President Bush triumphed in getting a solid Strict Constructionist Judge on the High Court but he has effected a social change in this country that we will soon see in our daily lives.

Now, with a majority of conservatives on the Bench it is certain that the recent tyranny of the Judicial Branch will soon end and we will see interpretation and not legislation emanate from our Third Branch of government. Scenarios such as the Kelo v. New London case and others of recent memory demonstrate well that the recent presidential appointments are timely. If conservative ideals prosper we will see a return of rights to the people while at the same time a limit on spurious interpretation of imaginary constutional rights.

However, something has happened today that would put dread in the hearts of the Founding Fathers and many Americans throughout the passage of time. Today the majority of the Supreme Court is comprised of Catholics. Could anyone in the history of the world have seen that coming. Albert Pike is rolling his grave. This new surge of Catholics in public service is not only a good thing but it demonstrates. particularly in the judiciary, that Catholics are capable of influencing society in an honest way for the good of the nation. In time it will be seen if American secularism is ready for the objective morals of Catholic culture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quid Veritas

These words of Pilate I think sum up the errors of today. In that time Pilate looked upon Jesus the Christ and in the presence of Truth Incarnate asked for truth's definition. Because no punctuation was used in the original texts of scripture we are left to wonder it his statements were made in spite or if they were a true searching curiosity. Either way we all know the result - the Cross. However, the measure of the questions of Pilate are indeed the measure of the modern man in searching for truth and it is the measure of the modern man is his inability to understand or find belief in an absolute.

The enlightenment has done much damage to human civilization. While it is true that as a direct result we have such advances had never been seen before in the empirical sciences. As the grandchildren of the enlightenment we see the fruits which are present in all the things that we do every day. From brushing our teeth to hosting and posting on a blog we find the culture of the enlightenment. We live longer and we live better. The advancement of medicine and technology has been amazing and is a credit to the human spirit and the ability of man to reach for the stars. Yet at the same time there is something lost in the empirical emphasis that was given humanity in the enlightenment.

With all the good that has come from the enlightenment the one problem has been that we have lost a sense of truth. Truth has become something that is defined by the empirical sciences. If the touchstone of truth is empiricism then we have a serious problem. Now, many feel that those who begin with this line of speech are anti-science, however, the Mennonite approach is not a method that I can approve. Yet it must be said that since the the primacy of inductive reasoning was established over the traditional primacy of deductive reasoning we have made little human advancements and in many ways the human condition has remained flat.

Inductive reasoning is roughly what we call the scientific method. It is a method of having a proposition and systematically trying to disprove that proposition. Because of this - as it rests on a logical fallacy - it can only prove probability. Deductive reasoning is the process of moving from premise to premise to achieve a conclusion that proves ones original premise. Through this method one can prove absolutes. While this is all an over simplification we can say the reasons why these work the way they do is because inductive reason begins with a particular and trys to move to a universal and deductive reasoning begins with universals and moves to the particular. In essence this is the great divide of our time.

If one focuses all of their thinking in a way that does not transcend empiricism then one cannot enter into a knowledge of truth. We come again to this same problem that I have elsewhere discussed. Because of this we find a divorce of faith and reason. The empiricist cannot prove the existence of God therefore it must be a pure act of faith. However, the realist can both know and believe because his belief is founded in reason and he can be comfortable in his belief because there is no greater feeling than knowing that ones faith matches truth with absolute certitude.

The problem that I find is that to bridge the gap between those who can only believe in probability and those who believe in truth is nearly insurmountable. When I speak on this issue I am usually met with blank stares. This is not because it takes some esoteric system or language to understand deduction rather it is that most people today have not been given the tools to think in absolutes. The education of today espouses that what is good for you might not be good for me. So, when I say that what is good is good for all I am threatened with a white jacket and a rubber room. Yet it is an endeavor that is worth the time for it is only in establishing, once again, the primacy of deductive reasoning that we will find true advancement in the human condition and not just the conditions of humans.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

To What End

To steal a word from my days at Texas A&M I was cogitating the other day concerning the faith in general and why I remain a member of those who seemingly keep themselves beholden to rules of conduct even when impulses urge (scream) to follow another path. I was contemplating as to whether all this is worth it or not. For those who are more theologically minded I did not doubt the faith but rather wondered if it was worth the effort. I am sure that for many people this is a situation that they find themselves in on many an occasion.

It seems that in figuring on this simple proposition there are many things that pass by the synaptic corridors. The first is of course of the lower passions that are yet ungoverned by reason who exclaim with all their might that man is no more than a animal that walks upright. These passions claim that it is of the natural order that I indulge myself in all the base urges that they can extrapolate from their emotionally charged stew. While in theory this is the easiest internal argument to win it is, oddly enough, the one that requires the greatest will power to overcome. The ease in discounting this urge is found in the simple yet profound definition of man given by the ancient Greeks. Man is not merely an animal but is rather a "rational-animal." The addition of a single word inserts a chasm of infinite distance between us as man and the most intelligent of the beasts because only man is rational. Rationality gives man one thing that dashes the hopes of the base passions that man (I) will indulge in their whimsical urges - freedom. While the true definition of freedom is lost on the current generation of people in western civilization (which is to be a later topic to be taken up) I can say with the whole of my rational being that I am able to choose the moral good and am not bound to follow my impulses as if I were a dog, cat or duckbilled platypus.

Another portion of my person claims that the faith is just too hard to maintain and that it seems to be unaccepting of modern issues and that Christ placed the bar so high that it is impossible to attain His set goals. But, of course I then go back to thinking of more rational things because all in all these arguments against the faith are really just bi-products of my own sloth. However, not conforming to the times is a legitimate argument until one realizes that truth is truth and is not subject to time or culture (this too will be a topic taken up at a later time). So, in effect there points are pointless in and of themselves.

When all the little arguments have been exhausted and all of them have been found wanting there still remains the old faithful question that has been around since time immemorial. What if God doesn't really exist? But of course Paschal has the answer to that one. And as anyone knows the betting man always chooses to believe that there is a God because it is the only sure bet around and the consequences are dire. But more importantly there comes a time in a persons journey of faith that to deny the truth of God and the faith is no longer an option because aside from being able to prove to ones self that they are doing the greater good or following the higher path there is something else that motivates their perseverance in the faith. To fall away from the faith would be to fall out of love with the Lover himself and once one has experienced the love of God in their lives - not some trite emotional experience sold by televangelists - then to permanently turn away from Him would be as clawing out ones veins. There comes a point where you just know and when that point is met there is nothing (save ones self) that can separate you from God. For those who do not know of what I am speaking I urge perseverance in the faith and in time you will understand because you will know that God is Love and that Love is in it for you alone.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Papist Politicians

At the inception of this country long before the revolution there was a sense that people could come here from the old world to the colonies for the sake of religious freedom. Of course this only applied to those who were not of the Catholic faith. The bias against Catholics caused the foundation of the colony of Maryland. Yet, even then, eventually the Catholics were outsourced from Maryland to other places in the Northeastern part of the future United States. Even until the end of the Civil War there were places where Catholics could not legally live. There was a political party devoted to anti-Catholicism and there were times when being a Catholic separated you from getting a meaningful job or insurance. One of the primary targets of the KKK was all of the insidious papists. Today, after the civil rights movement one would think that something was different.

Unfortunately it seems that when it comes to anti-Catholicism in the United States not too much has changed save there are no signs in store shop windows stating that Catholics need not apply. This can be seen widely in the hype surrounding the appointment of Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court. It seems that it is still not considered to be very American to hold a high office and be a faithful Catholic.

Most of us thought that we were past the days when Catholic politicians would have to claim that their faith would not effect their judgment in their capacity as a public servant. However, those days are obviously not behind us. It could be said that it is a direct result of our nation abandoning its governmental system of a Republic for a more democratic form that has brought rise to this problem once again. In a republic we in effect elect our rulers. There is no real direct correlation between what the people necessarily want and what the politicians decide to do. This is because a pure democracy is “mob rule” and the masses are truly not able to rule themselves. Some may find this statement crude and defamatory to the average person, however, when the average person cannot tell you who the Vice President of the US is, then it is a valid point to state that the Republic form of government saves the people from themselves.

In any case, the relation with my point is that as the people feel that it is their right to determine their own course they feel that their freedom is violated by a politician voting for truth over what they desire. However, objectively it is necessary for the ruler to go against the will of the people when it is for the good. This is at root a problem with what is a common error in the United States and that is the confusion between license and freedom. This I will discuss in at a later date but it seems to be the root of most of our problems in the western world.

In effect this problem with individual license and freedom is brought to bare when a Catholic (a faithful Catholic) is elected or appointed to public office because this person knows that his role in the government requires him to go against the will of the people at times when the good is at sake. Due to the fact that some of the political forces of today exploit the modern subjectivism that is found “in the air” there seems to always be a reaction to a faithful Catholic seeking and attaining high office.

Some would argue that this may not be completely so because of some figures in the United States are Catholic such as Justices Thomas and Scalia and the former President Kennedy and the previous presidential candidate Senator Kerry to name a few. However I would contend that the struggle to appoint the two justices to the Supreme Court and their constant criticism is directly related to their Catholicism. President Kennedy and his family were among those Catholic politicians that were the first to, in a sense, renounce their faith in favor of their political office and most modern Catholic politicians like John Kerry et al are perfect examples of “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose their beliefs based upon the changing winds of polling data.

It is the hope of faithful Catholics that there will be a number of politicians who are Catholic that stand up for their faith even at the risk of their own careers. Perhaps soon we will find a politician who will stand as a martyr to the faith not in the spilling of their blood but in the loss of political capital. To compromise the faith for the sake of power is a troubling situation that some people find themselves in due to their choices. It is my hope that they will begin to choose the faith or else they may, in the end, find themselves associated not with a donkey or an elephant but with the goats at Christ’s left.