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.


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.