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  • 10/24/2016 4:08 PM | James Doan

    What do the Governor of California, the Vice President of the United States and the 2016 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate all have in common? They each claim to be Catholic, yet at the same time tout a "moderate pro-choice" position on abortion.

    Similarly, numerous "Catholic" senators voted against the ban on Partial Birth Abortion and opposed defunding Planned Parenthood (notwithstanding irrefutable documentary evidence of its complicity in trafficking in baby organs). Moreover, the Platforms of the State and National Democratic Parties, voted upon by teams of ostensible Catholics, establish as a bedrock principle a woman's unfettered "right" to terminate a pregnancy, never mentioning the spiritual elephant in the room; the unborn child.

    The point of the story is that Governor Jerry Brown, Vice President Joe Biden, Vice Presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine, numerous U.S. senators and large segments of an entire political party, consider themselves "Catholic" and yet preach and act contrary to Church teaching and Church doctrine.

    Let there be no mistake, misunderstanding, or even polite legal sophistry on the issue of abortion: If you are "Catholic,” you are by definition against all procured abortion...

    (the death of an unborn when attempting to save the life of a mother is not an abortion exception, but rather has never been defined as an abortion). The Church has been unwavering and crystal clear on the issue of abortion since the first century. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, hereafter "CCC,” § 2270, et seq)

    "Since the First Century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.  Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law….” (CCC § 2271)

    "The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and political authority.  These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person  took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."

    "The moment the positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law…" (CCC § 2273)

    You cannot be Catholic and support abortion as either lawful or just.  Such positions are irreconcilable, like being Catholic and anti-Eucharist. A person is either Catholic and opposed to abortion, or in favor of "abortion rights" and not Catholic. On the issue of abortion, you can't have it both ways - we have for too long allowed such confusion to erode the consciences of the faithful. The propriety of procured abortion is simply not debatable within the context of communion with the Catholic Church.


    "The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end… Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether fetus or embryo, an infant or adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease…" (Saint John Paul II - Evangelium Vitae §57).

    The merits of abortion as birth control, population control, sex selection, economic efficiency, and myriad of other "societal goals" is certainly debatable.  However, such debate must be outside the moral constraints incumbent upon us who profess a radical commitment to the Good News, both Cross and Empty Tomb.  It is our very identity as Catholic Christians which is under assault when the "Pro-Choice Catholic" nonsense is promulgated.  Every person should note that with respect to one's eternal destiny there is no First Amendment right to deny Christ and still be with Him in Paradise. But alas there is the awful truth that each of us do have the free will to be "pro choice".  

    Critics will argue that such position is outside the openness encouraged by Vatican II, simply not "Big Tent" Catholicism, or just plain unchristian. Neither the author nor the Church seeks to make the Church some exclusive club (I'm in and you can't join).  The Catholic Church is the most  non-exclusive club in the world, all of mankind is joyfully invited but not on our terms but HIS -- alas still the narrow gate.

    Other critics argue that on the issue of abortion the Church is improperly impinging on our right to follow our conscience. Without belaboring this point, one may support and defend abortion on grounds of conscience, but in light of  the inherent barbarity of abortion and the crystalline nature of Church teaching regarding abortion, it is difficult to conceive of a well formed conscience taking such a stand - be my guest but be prepared for very warm weather.

    Joe Parishioner: "I know that the Catechism is absolutely clear, the Magisterium is absolutely clear, and every canonized Saint has been absolutely clear on the issue, but Father McGillicuddy (our very intellectual “I-know-the-principle-of-double-effect and took-moral-theology parish priest) implied in his homily last week that I can vote for the pro choice candidate because abortion is only one of many social issues."

    Respectfully, horse manure!  The Church recognizes that we cannot love the jailed, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger/immigrant, the naked or the sick if they have already been brutally and selfishly dismembered. Life is the quintessential FIRST RIGHT.

    Our response as Catholics to abortion proponents must be the most simple yet profound available: Jesus would never harm these little harmless innocents. 

    Yes, Our Blessed Lord will/does forgive post-abortive women. Yes, Our Lord will take the aborted little ones to His bosom. Yes, an integrated Catholicism demands us to full Matthew 25 and love and care of all our brothers and sisters (BTW I note with no irony the simple observation that pro life people are also the most active in loving the weak, poor and oppressed. I don’t see many Planned Parenthood supporters at our food banks, in our prison ministries etc... hmmm?).  Our Lord's  Church has for 2,000 years stood as a bulwark against the exploitation of the helpless, innocent and oppressed and such position will not change to conform to a quite dubious 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion and its silly progeny.

    The American Catholic bishops in their statement "Living The Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics," wholeheartedly adopted their pastoral responsibility under Evangelium Vitae.  "As chief teachers in the Church, we must therefore explain, persuade, correct and admonish those in leadership positions who contradict the Gospel of Life through their actions and policies.  Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the inviolability of the human person directly collude in the taking of innocent life….they do not do this [open their hearts] by unthinking adherence to public opinion polls or by repeating empty pro choice slogans, but by educating and sensitizing themselves and their constituents to the humanity of the unborn child."  (Section 29)

    For those public officials, judges and lawyers reading these remarks who are troubled by their oath to support and defend the Roe v. Wade Constitution - be troubled.  It is a clear teaching of the Church and also our founding fathers that a positive law which conflicts with the natural law need not be complied with, and indeed should be opposed.  

    "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.  There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.” (Evangelium Vitae §73)  

    So much for our "personally opposed, but…" politicians.   

    Hmmm, a "grave and clear obligation to oppose {such laws}".  Like St Thomas More, who was saddened to see his young protege betray his integrity  "for Wales" {perjury in exchange for an appointment as Attorney General of Wales}", the Church is wounded to watch political leaders exchange the eternal for some petty political office. Blasé Pascal, the author of the "great wager" would certainly speculate that such politicians wager unwisely.

    But lest we forget, the actions of these "pro-choice" Catholic opinion leaders and politicians result in the brutal deaths of millions of innocents. They  are morally complicit in these crimes against humanity, man's war on himself, as are we who sit idly by like German civilians during the Holocaust.   

    In the words of Our Lord, "It does a man no good to gain the whole world and lose his soul". As we continue to test the infinite mercy and tremendous love of our Heavenly Father, may He grant each of us the courage and wisdom to speak out for the weak, helpless and oppressed, especially the unborn in their time of brutal persecution. 

    Taking the Church by Storm... See Why This Brave Priest's Homily on Catholic Voting Has Gone Viral!

    Gregory Weiler is a pro-life activist/author, married father of four grown children and two grandchildren, a founding member and former president of the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County, and a member of the Irvine law firm of Palmieri, Tyler, Wiener, Wilhelm & Waldron.

  • 02/24/2016 9:23 AM | James Doan

         Justice Antonin Scalia was the only Supreme Court Justice with whom I had a personal conversation. For a number of years I was upset with the Justice after he candidly said that the Declaration of Independence had absolutely no bearing in his Constitutional analysis. What, didn’t he appreciate the significance of the Declaration, didn’t he believe in the Natural Law? He calls himself a good Catholic and would relegate us to whims of the positive law.

         So when I was able to speak to Justice Scalia directly at a Federalist Society function, I was ready: “Justice, Scalia, is it true — that you don’t consider the principles of the Declaration in your jurisprudence?” Answer: “No.” “What if there was a properly adopted Constitutional amendment, three-quarters of the states and two-thirds of the Congress adopted clear text that all Catholics and Jews were to be imprisoned and executed, you would enforce such a Constitutional provision?” He responded, “I would either enforce a properly adopted amendment, or resign and join the opposition on the ramparts.” WOW!

         Hmm, enforce the positive law or if sufficiently repugnant to conscience , resign and exercise the God given right to resist evil. In other words, he knew that the raw application of the Natural Law by human judges had the same potential for abuse and subjective interpretation as the view espoused by proponents of the “living Constitution” that the Constitution should be interpreted in light of ever-changing circumstances.

         Justice Scalia was a Catholic jurist who appreciated the limits on human judging and his oath of office, while at the same time reserving the right to resist unjust law in light of individual conscience—things right out of the Catechism and the Declaration.

         Like St. Thomas More, Justice Scalia was loathe to lose the protections of the law against the caprice and avarice of mankind, expressed well in the exchange between St. Thomas More and his son-in-law, William Roper in Bolten’s play A Man For All Seasons:

    Roper: So now you give the Devil the benefit of the law?

    St. Thomas More: Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    St. Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide?

    Roper: The laws all being flat?

    St. Thomas More: This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think that you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of the law, from my own safety’s sake!

    Hence, Justice Scalia remained on a court which issued holdings repugnant to our Faith, Casey (Roe), Romer, Laurence and Obergefell because I believe he felt that our imperfect system held back a greater evil. As was proven in 1776, and certainly in the great terror in France, revolutions are messy affairs with unpredictable results, whose victims are more often than not innocents.

         It is comforting to know that one of the most brilliant men to ever sit on our Supreme Court could humble himself before the Tabernacle, could humble himself before the teachings of the Church (nine children, steadfast Mass attendance and brilliant exposition of the dignity of every person) and lastly, humble himself to refrain from the intellectual hubris of those who impose their will, untethered by constitutional text or context, by whim, presumed clairvoyance or intellectual arrogance, on us the people.

         Justice Scalia, Requiescat In Pace.

  • 02/16/2016 10:51 AM | James Doan

    Our tendency as Christians (perhaps due to a human tendency) is to deflect the appalling violence described in the Old Testament, rather than reflect on the very deep mystery it represents. The relationship between the Old and the New, we are told by Jesus himself, is one of continuity and fulfillment, rather than one of rupture. Yet the Old Testament must be faced and wrestled, as Jacob wrestled with the Angel of God. It speaks, posing a riddle it seems, and we cannot fail to answer.

    One might answer that the Old Testament violence is the vocabulary spoken by the people of those times. No one who wishes to convert a people can fail to speak their language. Only by that means can their eyes be opened to truth, or, more precisely, to the One who is himself truth.

    But is the violence depicted in the Old Testament no more than the vocabulary of its time? The horrors depicted reveal the horrors of sin, of its deadly grip, and the profoundly darkened vision that burdened all of humanity in those days, still utterly dedicated to a rule of its own making. Is it a cruel God who allowed such grotesque barbarity? That God is love was as true then as it is now. And he is only love, and loves his creatures foolishly and even madly, and wills for his creation only good. Yet where in the Old Testament is there the slightest evidence of this? On every page, if only we look with open eyes: Humanity, by its sin, had forged a path into the Valley of Death. And the only route of egress was the route by which we had entered, the route of our own choosing, our own making. But only on this very path would we face the visible, physical, and truly infernal effects of the sin that created the path in the first place, reaping the fruit of the seed we’d sown. And though all this suffering was necessary, it was not sufficient. It would finally be necessary for God himself to step into this history of appalling violence and injustice, because by that means alone could he lead us from the grave.

    Had there been any other path, then God who is love would have led us by that route. But it was God who made of this path--the path of our choosing--the path of our salvation, and it was God who took our place at Calvary. Was it then a cruel God who allowed the atrocities of the Old Testament? The very idea is absurd. A cruel God would have left us utterly alone, to die in our sin. But the God of mercy led us out of the Valley of Death, suffering with us and for us, and finally answering the great riddle of the Old Testament. 

  • 08/25/2014 12:20 PM | James Doan

    As we await a determination by the California Supreme Court whether Judges can participate in the Boy Scouts of America (and by clear implication the Catholic Church), an Orange County Religious non-profit serving minor girls has been advised that it MUST dispense contraceptives (to the minor girls who agree to abstinence and cannot lawfully consent to sex), another California political appointee has “discovered” that a 1975 law and the California Constitution mandate abortion coverage in every Health Plan offered in the State of California.

    Unfortunately the Federal statute that protected Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor does not apply to the State of California and we are left to challenge this latest affront to our Religious Liberty without the benefit of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.

    As such participation by Catholics and Catholics Institutions would be immoral, such Catholics are forced to choose between forgoing health coverage (which itself may be illegal) or violating their DEEPLY held religious beliefs. 

    This decision by the Director of the State Department of Managed Health Care comes after several months of loud protests by pro-abortion advocates, of Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount Universities offering Health Coverage that excluded the morally offensive services. 

    The decision is so patently politically motivated, its legal rationale so contrived, that once again the Rule Of Law in this great land is brought into question, leaving us all to the whim of political power. 

    We will keep you apprised and STMS lawyers are reviewing legal remedies. St Thomas More, Pray for Us.

    - Greg Weiler, President

  • 08/19/2014 10:48 AM | James Doan
    In a recent discussion regarding a prominent well-respected attorney who had recently died (not “passed away” – nobody just passes away), I was struck by a judge who said about the deceased: “I didn’t know he was Catholic.”

    WOW. To live one’s entire life - school, family, legal career - have the community not know of your animating force? If I die today, what will people say? What will Our Dear Lord say? “Good and faithful servant” or “ I didn’t know he was Catholic”?

    There is the old cliché: If you were arrested for being Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Most of us have plenty of evidence for conviction of sinning (our spouses are probably prime witnesses). Therein is our challenge, to bear witness to the goodness of a personal God, to a relationship with Him that makes us quicker repenters, quicker forgivers and consistent lovers of our brothers and sisters.

    To be known as a Catholic, and to be public about it in a quietly authentic way, should be our goal, the object of our prayers. Once again, only possible by the Grace attendant to a sacramental life, steeped in the Word, a life of prayer and service. I pray that on our deaths we hear: “I knew him/her to BE a strong Catholic.

    PAX ~ GNW
    Gregory N. Weiler is a partner at Palmieri, Tyler, Wiener,
    Wilhelm & Waldron LLP in Irvine.

  • 07/11/2014 10:31 PM | James Doan

    As our Culture careens around seemingly irreconcilable poles and shrill voices surround us, it seems pretty hard to keep one’s peace. Is it just me or does Afghanistan, Iraq, student murder/suicides, so called “gay marriage,” craziness at the Border and 5 - 4 Hobby Lobby type cases make you question if this Nation - conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created… equal - can long survive? When in doubt, quote Lincoln.

    It is at these times in particular that we are called to discipleship. During a recent homily, Mon. Michael McKiernan reminded us that during times like these, being polarized, angry, shrill and unforgiving of our opponents, is simply “not Catholic.”

    Should we not be different in our discourse?  Unyielding in both Truth and Charity?  Simply remarkable in our courage and compassion? These are the paradoxes of Discipleship, only possible with the Grace attendant tothe Word, the Eucharist and self-surrendering service. Not up to the challenge? Me neither - on our own - but there is a certitude in the midst of this crazy world, and HE is the means and end.  PAX G 

    - Gregory N. Weiler, Esq.

  • 03/17/2014 2:44 PM | James Doan

    Josh McDowell coined this phrase when he wrote his Christian apologetic classic in the 1980’s,  Evidence That Demands a Verdict.    Is there evidence that supports the case that Jesus Christ really was  fully man and fully God and that he rose from the dead?  This question has been debated endlessly over the centuries.   In our present day culture it is still a controversial subject.

    In the quest for an answer, the Shroud of Turin has once again obtained the spotlight.   A new book written in Italian, The Mystery of the Shroud, by Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, states that by measuring the degradation of cellulose in linen fibers from the shroud, two separate approaches show the cloth is at least 2,000 years old.   Previous carbon dating suggesting the Shroud was only 700 years old has been debunked by tests that confirm that the areas of the Shroud that were previously tested had been contaminated by the carbon remnants from a fire in the 14th Century.  The fire was caused by an act of sabotage.  We have moved past the 700 year old carbon dating theory.  It is no longer accepted in scientific circles.

    In pursuit of the answer to the mystery of the Shroud, we have a world class full length exhibit of the Shroud here in Orange County. The Shroud Center of Southern California was established by Dr. Gus Accetta, M.D. in 1996.   Dr. Accetta was raised a Catholic.  During his college years he fell away from the faith as has happened to so many before him.   In 1996, Dr. Accetta became curious about the Shroud upon reading an article which sparked his scientific curiosity.  His interest soon grew into an obsession.   He has assembled one of the world’s finest exhibits of the Shroud.  His work continues today. 

    Recently, Dr. Accetta conducted some MRI studies that disclose another secret within the Shroud.   The white illuminations in the area of the mouth can be duplicated.  The duplication study suggests the image of full size teeth.  In other words, the teeth were imprinted on the Shroud when the image was created. 

    How could this occur?   The explanation comes from the evidence that the Shroud offers us.  First of all, the Shroud is a heavy linen cloth with a herringbone pattern.  The fancy pattern and expensive linen cloth are more consistent with the use as a table cloth, not a burial cloth.  The Jews had burial traditions but only if the deceased died a dignified death.   Death by crucifixion did not meet that criteria.  Jesus death as described in scripture would not have qualified for traditional Jewish funeral rite.  The body of a criminal under Jewish law would not have been washed and would have been wrapped in a sacred burial cloth.   The Shroud is stained by blood, type AB or universal receive.  The body was in the state of rigor mortis.   Rigor mortis develops and then declines within 3 days of death, therefore; the imprint on the Shroud occurred within 3 days of death.

    The fibers of the cloth were imprinted by an image, but not one that was man made.   Microscopic analysis reveal the underside of the linen fibers have been scorched by a powerful light source.   The light caused an image on the fibers but only on one side of the fiber.  There is no evidence that the image was created by some a form of pigment at the hands of a man.    When a light is shown through the Shroud from front to back, the light proceeds completely through the fabric with no obstruction.  There is no man made pigment or substance that has caused the image.  The scorching is likened to a negative image similar to how a Kodak film strip is created by light when the lens of a camera is opened.

    Modern computers have delivered the final statement in support of the authenticity of the Shroud.  In recent years, a team of secular scientist examined the Shroud by computer analysis.  The scorch marks were assembled and analyzed by a computer.  

    The computer study revealed a shocking truth.  The scorch marks on the underside of the Shroud, when analyzed, are three dimensional.  In other words, the image on the lined cloth has three sides as if the image was created when the cloth fell through something.   That something is consistent with a resurrecting body.   As the body mass was transformed from solid to light, the cloth dropped through and to the floor of the tomb, thus creating a three dimensional image. 

    In summary, the Shroud is made up of a negative image caused by a powerful light source that burned an image on one side of the fibers of a linen cloth that when analyzed by a computer is three dimensional.    It is not difficult to understand why Dr. Accetta and so many other scientist continue to be enthralled by the Shroud of Turin.

    Dr. Accetta continues with his work on the Shroud.  The facts discussed in this article are just a few of the total findings that support the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.   The Catholic Church has not made a formal statement on the authenticity of the Shroud.  The closest claim to authenticity was a statement by Blessed John Paul II who referred to the Shroud of Turin as “the greatest relic in Christendom”.  

    The Shroud will continue to draw interest from Christians and non Christians alike.   Certainly, it continues to draw controversy.  As the evidence grows, the reality of a most incredible miracle grows, the evidence that demands a verdict that Jesus Christ existed and that he rose from the dead.     

    Albert Einstein, a religious man and believer in God, was once quoted as saying, “there either are miracles in which case everything we see is a miracle, or there are no miracles at all”.    The image on the Shroud represents a miraculous event, the greatest miracle in the history of man.   Albert Einstein would have been happy to know that now we can believe that everything is a miracle.

  • 12/21/2012 12:37 PM | James Doan

    Dear Cardinals, Brother Bishops and Priests, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    It is with great joy that I meet you today, dear Members of the College of Cardinals, Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, for this traditional event in the days leading up to the feast of Christmas. I greet each one of you cordially, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his kind words and for the warm good wishes that he extended to me on behalf of all present. The Dean of the College of Cardinals reminded us of an expression that appears frequently during these days in the Latin liturgy: Prope est iam Dominus, venite, adoremus! The Lord is already near, come, let us adore him! We too, as one family, prepare ourselves to adore the Child in the stable at Bethlehem who is God himself and has come so close as to become a man like us. I willingly reciprocate your good wishes and I thank all of you from my heart, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the generous and competent assistance that each of you offers me in my ministry.

    Once again we find ourselves at the end of a year that has seen all kinds of difficult situations, important questions and challenges, but also signs of hope, both in the Church and in the world. I shall mention just a few key elements regarding the life of the Church and my Petrine ministry. First of all, there were the journeys to Mexico and Cuba – unforgettable encounters with the power of faith, so deeply rooted in human hearts, and with the joie de vivre that issues from faith. I recall how, on my arrival in Mexico, there were endless crowds of people lining the long route, cheering and waving flags and handkerchiefs. I recall how, on the journey to the attractive provincial capital Guanajuato, there were young people respectfully kneeling by the side of the road to receive the blessing of Peter’s Successor; I recall how the great liturgy beside the statue of Christ the King made Christ’s kingship present among us – his peace, his justice, his truth. All this took place against the backdrop of the country’s problems, afflicted as it is by many different forms of violence and the hardships of economic dependence. While these problems cannot be solved simply by religious fervour, neither can they be solved without the inner purification of hearts that issues from the power of faith, from the encounter with Jesus Christ. And then there was Cuba – here too there were great liturgical celebrations, in which the singing, the praying and the silence made tangibly present the One that the country’s authorities had tried for so long to exclude. That country’s search for a proper balancing of the relationship between obligations and freedom cannot succeed without reference to the basic criteria that mankind has discovered through encounter with the God of Jesus Christ.

    As further key moments in the course of the year, I should like to single out the great Meeting of Families in Milan and the visit to Lebanon, where I consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation that is intended to offer signposts for the life of churches and society in the Middle East along the difficult paths of unity and peace. The last major event of the year was the Synod on the New Evangelization, which also served as a collective inauguration of the Year of Faith, in which we commemorate the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, seeking to understand it anew and appropriate it anew in the changed circumstances of today.

    All these occasions spoke to fundamental themes of this moment in history: the family (Milan), serving peace in the world and dialogue among religions (Lebanon) and proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ in our day to those who have yet to encounter him and to the many who know him only externally and hence do not actually recognize him. Among these broad themes, I should like to focus particularly on the theme of the family and the nature of dialogue, and then to add a brief observation on the question of the new evangelization.

    The great joy with which families from all over the world congregated in Milan indicates that, despite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations – especially in the western world. It was noticeable that the Synod repeatedly emphasized the significance of the family as the authentic setting in which to hand on the blueprint of human existence. This is something we learn by living it with others and suffering it with others. So it became clear that the question of the family is not just about a particular social construct, but about man himself – about what he is and what it takes to be authentically human. The challenges involved are manifold. First of all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth suffering for? Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.

    The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.

    At this point I would like to address the second major theme, which runs through the whole of the past year from Assisi to the Synod on the New Evangelization: the question of dialogue and proclamation. Let us speak firstly of dialogue. For the Church in our day I see three principal areas of dialogue, in which she must be present in the struggle for man and his humanity: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – which includes dialogue with cultures and with science – and finally dialogue with religions. In all these dialogues the Church speaks on the basis of the light given her by faith. But at the same time she incorporates the memory of mankind, which is a memory of man’s experiences and sufferings from the beginnings and down the centuries, in which she has learned about the human condition, she has experienced its boundaries and its grandeur, its opportunities and its limitations. Human culture, of which she is a guarantee, has developed from the encounter between divine revelation and human existence. The Church represents the memory of what it means to be human in the face of a civilization of forgetfulness, which knows only itself and its own criteria. Yet just as an individual without memory has lost his identity, so too a human race without memory would lose its identity. What the Church has learned from the encounter between revelation and human experience does indeed extend beyond the realm of pure reason, but it is not a separate world that has nothing to say to unbelievers. By entering into the thinking and understanding of mankind, this knowledge broadens the horizon of reason and thus it speaks also to those who are unable to share the faith of the Church. In her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions. Along with other forces in society, she will wrestle for the answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition. The values that she recognizes as fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition she must propose with all clarity. She must do all she can to convince, and this can then stimulate political action.
    In man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue of religions has various dimensions. In the first place it is simply a dialogue of life, a dialogue of being together. This will not involve discussing the great themes of faith – whether God is Trinitarian or how the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures is to be understood, and so on. It is about the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for society, for the state, for humanity. In the process, it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and the otherness of his thinking. To this end, the shared responsibility for justice and peace must become the guiding principle of the conversation. A dialogue about peace and justice is bound to pass beyond the purely pragmatic to an ethical quest for the values that come before everything. In this way what began as a purely practical dialogue becomes a quest for the right way to live as a human being. Even if the fundamental choices themselves are not under discussion, the search for an answer to a specific question becomes a process in which, through listening to the other, both sides can obtain purification and enrichment. Thus this search can also mean taking common steps towards the one truth, even if the fundamental choices remain unaltered. If both sides set out from a hermeneutic of justice and peace, the fundamental difference will not disappear, but a deeper closeness will emerge nevertheless.

    Two rules are generally regarded nowadays as fundamental for interreligious dialogue:

    1. Dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at understanding. In this respect it differs from evangelization, from mission; 

    2. Accordingly, both parties to the dialogue remain consciously within their identity, which the dialogue does not place in question either for themselves or for the other. 

    These rules are correct, but in the way they are formulated here I still find them too superficial. True, dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding – that is correct. But all the same, the search for knowledge and understanding always has to involve drawing closer to the truth. Both sides in this piece-by-piece approach to truth are therefore on the path that leads forward and towards greater commonality, brought about by the oneness of the truth. As far as preserving identity is concerned, it would be too little for the Christian, so to speak, to assert his identity in a such a way that he effectively blocks the path to truth. Then his Christianity would appear as something arbitrary, merely propositional. He would seem not to reckon with the possibility that religion has to do with truth. On the contrary, I would say that the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes, fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity. To be sure, we do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is the truth, has taken us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of our quest for knowledge. Being inwardly held by the hand of Christ makes us free and keeps us safe: free – because if we are held by him, we can enter openly and fearlessly into any dialogue; safe – because he does not let go of us, unless we cut ourselves off from him. At one with him, we stand in the light of truth.

    Finally, at least a brief word should be added on the subject of proclamation, or evangelization, on which the post-synodal document will speak in depth, on the basis of the Synod Fathers’ propositions. I find that the essential elements of the process of evangelizing appear most eloquently in Saint John’s account of the calling of two of John the Baptist’s disciples, who become disciples of Jesus Christ (1:35-39). First of all, we have the simple act of proclamation. John the Baptist points towards Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God!” A similar act is recounted a few verses later. This time it is Andrew, who says to his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). The first and fundamental element is the straightforward proclamation, the kerygma, which draws its strength from the inner conviction of the one proclaiming. In the account of the two disciples, the next stage is that of listening and following behind Jesus, which is not yet discipleship, but rather a holy curiosity, a movement of seeking. Both of them, after all, are seekers, men who live over and above everyday affairs in the expectation of God – in the expectation that he exists and will reveal himself. Stimulated by the proclamation, their seeking becomes concrete. They want to come to know better the man described as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist. The third act is set in motion when Jesus turns round, approaches them and asks: “What do you seek?” They respond with a further question, which demonstrates the openness of their expectation, their readiness to take new steps. They ask: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus’ answer “Come and see!” is an invitation to walk with him and thereby to have their eyes opened with him.

    The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord. His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better. As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is his body. That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we walk.

    “Come and see!” This saying, addressed by Jesus to the two seeker-disciples, he also addresses to the seekers of today. At the end of the year, we pray to the Lord that the Church, despite all her shortcomings, may be increasingly recognizable as his dwelling-place. We ask him to open our eyes ever wider as we make our way to his house, so that we can say ever more clearly, ever more convincingly: “we have found him for whom the whole world is waiting, Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and true man”. With these sentiments, I wish you all from my heart a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.

  • 12/20/2012 7:45 PM | James Doan

    Click to purchase a copy.An excellent booklet on the Mass by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan O.P.,

    In his admirable little treatise on Daily Mass, Father McDonnell writes: "The earnest wish of the Pope (Pius X) that the faithful should receive the Blessed Eucharist daily is an obvious and implicit expression of his desire that they should assist at Mass daily. The connection between daily Mass and daily communion is clear. Moreover, for such as have not as yet taken up the practice of daily communion, daily Mass will be a step, and a very important step, in the right direction.

    "Many persons urge that they have not time to go to Mass every day. I am afraid in the vast majority of cases this is a mere excuse. They have time to read the newspapers, time to visit their friends, time to amuse themselves, to go to places of public entertainment, to spend, perhaps, hours together in useless or idle conversation, and yet, they say, they have not time to give one half-hour in the day to what is immeasurably the most important occupation it could possibly be devoted to!

    "Others assert, and with some show of reason, that domestic duties render it impossible for them to leave their homes in order to hear Mass. No doubt there are cases where this is true; a mother must see after her husband and children, and attend to the breakfast arrangements at home. Yet there is an old saying, 'Where there's a will, there's a way.'

    "Again, it is a common excuse to say: 'Well I should be only too happy to go to Mass every day, if I could; but really it is beyond my power. I have to earn my bread, to support my family, and, even, as it is, it is as much as I can do, by constant attention to business, to make ends meet, without sacrificing an hour, or half an hour, of my day to hearing Mass.' To this I reply: 'What about the help that God would give you, my friend, and the grace and blessing that would go with your work in return for the little sacrifice you make in going to daily Mass? Do you think God will allow Himself to be outdone in generosity, or that He is not able, by the blessing and the success He will grant to your efforts, to make up to you, a hundredfold, for the hour or half hour that you give to His service? You are in business, or in a profession, or otherwise occupied; can not and will not God, in return for the homage you do Him, by hearing daily Mass, make your business or your profession or occupation a thousand times more successful than your own unaided efforts could possibly make it, even if you were to slave from morning till night? Can not He ward off a thousand sources of failure? Is He likely, in return for your fidelity in His service, to allow you and your family to starve or fall into penury? Listen to His own words on the subject: 'Be not solicitous, therefore, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? . . . For your Father knoweth you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore, first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.' (Matt. 5: 31-39)

    "Our one and only real business on earth is to 'seek the kingdom of God and His justice,' and we may assume that, if we do so, God will never allow us to suffer, even in temporal affairs; on the contrary, He will bless us and give us a certain measure of prosperity even in these temporal matters. However, even granting that you did suffer some small diminution of earthly prosperity by devoting an hour to Mass, or did gain some advantage by the saving of time, yet 'What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world if he suffer the loss of his own soul?' Against this awful misfortune there is, with the exception of daily communion, no greater safeguard than the hearing of daily Mass."

    Upon asking an elderly couple why they left their warm cottage on winter mornings to attend daily Mass, the reply was: "To thank God for creating them and redeeming them and making it possible for them to spend an eternity of happiness with Him. To ask God's blessing on all their loved ones, to whom they can only leave spiritual wealth, having little else to bequeath them. To make reparation for their own failings, those of their loved ones and the leaders of nations and all others who feel no need of God. For the welfare of Holy Mother Church and because of the tremendous, priceless value of one Holy Mass."

    "You will gain more from one single Mass than you would from distributing all your goods to the poor or making pilgrimages to all the most holy shrines in Christendom." (Saint Bernard, 1090-1153)

    "All the glory all the angels by their homages have ever given to God, all that men by their virtues, penances, and martyrdoms have ever done to glorify Him, all these together could never give Him as much glory as one single Mass. For all the honors of creatures are finite honors, but the honor given to God in the Holy Sacrifice, because it proceeds from a Divine Person, is infinite." (Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, 1696-1787)

    The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alan: "My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they have heard Masses."

    For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death. (Revelation of Our Lord to St. Gertrude the Great).

    Padre Pio, the stigmatic priest, said that the world could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass.

    The Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney, said that if we knew the value of the Mass we would die of joy.

    A great doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death. St. Leonard of Port Maurice supports this statement by saying that one Mass before death may be more profitable than many after it.

    "The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death." (Pope Benedict XV).

    Once, St. Theresa was overwhelmed with God's Goodness and asked Our Lord, "How can I thank you?" Our Lord replied, "ATTEND ONE MASS."

    The following quotes are taken from the life of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (the greatest visionary in the history of the Church).

    "Mass badly celebrated is an enormous evil. Ah! it is not a matter of indifference how it is said! . . . I have had a great vision on the mystery of Holy Mass and I have seen that whatever good has existed since creation is owing to it." (V.2, p. 182)

    "She said what is most painful for me to repeat, that if only one priest offered the Unbloody Sacrifice as worthily and with the same sentiments as the Apostles, he could ward off all calamities from the Church." (V. 2, p. 239)

    Click here to purchase a copy:

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