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  • The Synod 2015 Final Report: Just how good is it? | Catholic Culture
    the document is perfect that there were no compromises which reduced its effectiveness or that every point was fully developed After all it covers a huge territory and is ultimately the work of a giant committee But as Weigel rightly insists T he final report was a massive improvement over the Instrumentum Laboris and illustrated just how significantly the cardinals letter Cardinal Erdo s introductory intervention and the debates in the general assembly and the language groups had changed both the dynamics and the content of Synod 2015 Points of Improvement Here are the improvements Weigel enumerates While the working document was biblically anorexic the final report was richly even eloquently biblical The working document s seeming embarrassment over Catholic teaching on chastity fidelity and worthiness to receive Holy Communion was replaced by an impressive reaffirmation of the possibility of living virtuously in the postmodern world At the same time the report called the Church to a more effective proclamation of the truths it bears as a patrimony from the Lord Jesus himself and to more solicitous pastoral care of those in difficult marital and familial circumstances Children were largely missing from the IL Instrumentum Laboris or working document The final report describes children as a great blessing praises large families is careful to honor children with special needs and lifts up the witness of happily and fruitfully married couples and their kids as agents of evangelization The working document s confused discussion of conscience as a kind of get out of jail free card was replaced by a far more serious explication of the Church s understanding of conscience s relationship to truth The working document was full of ambiguities about the relationship of pastoral practice to doctrine The final report makes it clear that these two realities are closely linked and there is no such thing as local option Catholicism The working document was also ambiguous in describing the family The final report underscores that there can be no proper analogy drawn between the Catholic understanding of marriage and family and other social arrangements no matter what their legal status Mercy and truth were sometimes put in tension in the working document The final report is far more theologically developed in relating mercy and truth in God which means that mercy and truth are inseparable in the doctrine and the practice of the Church The working document was dull and dispiriting The final report will enrich the lives of those who read it whatever their disagreement with this or that formulation in it All in all I cannot improve on George Weigel s analysis here which is why I have quoted so heavily Of course there is much more in the First Things article The greater part of it explains what the Synod was up against and how it managed to turn out so well it also looks forward to what is likely to come next in synod management His treatment of the absurd coverage of the Synod

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1349 (2016-02-11)
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  • Tastes in spiritual reading and devotional books (mostly mine) | Catholic Culture
    is ideal for spiritual reading of course But the abundance is so clear that one old preacher put the matter this way Of making many books there is no end and much study is a weariness of the flesh The end of the matter all has been heard Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man For God will bring every deed into judgment with every secret thing whether good or evil Ecclesiastes 12 12 14 This was a man who had a dim view of human vanity but crotchety as he was he did have a point Nonetheless I must demur Perhaps a more helpful point is that each person must find the type of spiritual reading which is most helpful to him or her in doing exactly what the preacher commanded According to the mind of the Church this is an important responsibility It so happens that new books designed for spiritual reading tend to roll off the presses at this time of year I am sure that many of them are worthwhile Once again I recommend keeping up with publishers such as Ignatius Sophia Institute and Scepter among others to watch for useful titles But today I will mention only the one book from the current crop which has passed the acid test of being of immediate interest to me A Keeper You may already know that Christopher Blum of the Augustine Institute has been busy translating the writings of the great seventeenth century French Bishop Jacques Bénigne Bossuet and arranging his thoughts into brief meditations I called attention to Bossuet s Meditations for Lent back in early 2014 Bishop Bossuet Get him before Lent begins Now Sophia Institute Press has released a new collection entitled Meditations on Mary This makes an excellent companion during the Advent and Christmas seasons I suppose Bossuet appeals to me because there is nothing breezy and self helpish about his writing Call me a snob but I abhor semi literate texts that are broken up by highlighted points which communicate the lessons the author insists that I get through my thick head In spiritual reading we are not primarily summarizing a subject still less preparing for a quiz By contrast as with magnificent writers such as Augustine and Newman the quality of Bossuet s prose is surpassed only by the depth of his insights Happily this comes through clearly in Blum s fine translation Here then is a brief sample from the very first meditation entitled The True Eve These sentences follow immediately upon Bossuet s citation of the Fathers of the Church on the importance of Mary We must not think that such faithful servants of Jesus Christ wanted to lessen the honor due to their Master by associating Mary with him in this way Truly we misunderstand God if we think that his glory would be diminished by being shared with his creatures God is not like us in giving away a part

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1348 (2016-02-11)
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  • Can we accommodate a refusal? The limits of mercy | Catholic Culture
    They seem to me rather more of an endangered species But I will say that we are all sinners and not a day should go by that we do not thank God with all our hearts that Our Lord always leads not with judgment but with love Who are we after all if not for mercy The Nature of Mercy Now stick with me The foregoing describes only the first half of the problem that mercy faces in our time and to some degree in all times Typically this sort of judgmentalism is our half of the problem a likely tendency of many seriously committed Catholics who value CatholicCulture org But the other half is far more widespread today I am referring to the abuse of mercy by those who think that it does not involve any judgment at all The key to this bigger half of the problem today is that mercy is always an invitation to which the one who has been shown mercy must choose to respond Mercy is always an invitation to enter into God s love to enjoy a closer relationship with Him But our relationship with God is forged primarily through growth in faith And faith as St Paul so beautifully teaches has three aspects It is at once belief in the truths God reveals obedience to His commands and confidence in His promises Without growth in faith we cannot grow closer to God And without a willingness to grow closer to God we cannot experience His mercy We must always remember that mercy and justice are two sides of the same coin of Divine love As mercy is an invitation to live in the love of God so a refusal of mercy leads to the hardships failures and isolation of a life without love By rejecting God s invitation we choose our punishment We choose to be locked within ourselves Pushed far enough the result is despair Unfortunately the problem with so much easy talk of mercy today is that it describes a counterfeit This counterfeit mercy showcases a grandiose suspension of judgment without presenting mercy s special defining quality that is its invitation to a deeper relationship with God Authentic mercy always seeks our acceptance of God s saving love our willingness to cling to the Beloved What is called mercy today too often fails to awaken and facilitate that response This means it is not mercy at all It is mere accommodation a form of selfishness designed primarily to remove the tension of Divine love from our lives The Destruction of Mercy We need to recognize that mercy just like God Himself is powerless against refusal O Jerusalem Jerusalem killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you would not Mt 23 37 Lk 13 34 Modern culture deliberately inculcates this refusal very deeply into all of us with

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1347 (2016-02-11)
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  • How do we know we are transcendent beings? | Catholic Culture
    especially the brilliant proof developed by the Thomist Bernard Lonergan a proof for the existence of God based on the intelligibility of reality This is one of the denser chapters detailing a powerful philosophical argument which by the very nature of its focus on intelligibility is necessarily quite abstract not to say unintelligible Not all readers will want to push through it but we can at least notice that the very nature of intellectual abstraction is itself a powerful argument for human transcendence The only embodied beings we know of that demonstrate a capacity for abstraction are of course humans Significant studies of more advanced animals demonstrate this point The fourth chapter explores the transcendentals truth goodness beauty and love which again quite demonstrably all normal people value aspire to and sometimes mistake for the highest spiritual experience But when such confusion enters in it results in a disappointment which spurs the person to look for something even more beautiful more loving etc Human experience of the transcendentals is as the very nature of the word suggests evidence that the human person is a transcendent being Chapter five is quite straightforward Fr Spitzer simply reports the results of the extensive formal studies that have been done of near death experiences These provide a unique confirmation of the transcendence of which human nature is capable Not only are out of body experiences quite common but careful studies of what people report they have experienced in these near death experiences provide verifiable evidence that they must have been in fact out of their bodies These are cases in which their brains had essentially shut down People claim to have moved to different locations and to have seen specific persons and objects during these experiences which really were exactly as they saw them to be but were not within the range of their bodily sensory perception even if that perception were in working order which it was not In addition they hear verifiable conversations that they should not have been able to hear and in studies of near death experiences among the blind it has been found that they enjoy visual images which their bodies are incapable of producing or transmitting Transphysical Self Consciousness The final chapter studies the uniquely human issue of self consciousness Scientific studies have established that even the highest animals while aware of themselves to some degree cannot reflect on themselves reflecting on themselves as humans can Only humans can so to speak see themselves from outside or abstract into an idea whatever it is they are thinking about such that this idea can be explored in ways independent of the immediate use that is being made of it in a particular situation A very simple illustration is the difference between a chimpanzee which can pick up a stick to extend its reach the kind of thing that very high order animals can do and a human person who can conceive of making some tool that will work very

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1346 (2016-02-11)
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  • If you hope to see us in 2016, please act now. | Catholic Culture
    frank We will either cover our expenses or we will not If we do we will continue But we have no financial angels so if we don t well then we won t Measuring our impact CatholicCulture org reaches five million people directly each year with Catholic news commentary and spiritual resources at the incredibly low cost of just eight cents per person served We reach perhaps ten times more readers as our original material is very widely used by other websites blogs newsletters bulletins radio TV and social media Our mission emphasizes fidelity to the Magisterium and balanced Catholic judgment We avoid personal hobby horses unwarranted accusations and useless complaints What is important is to think with the Church During our Fall Campaign I have been using my emails to quote testimonials from priests religious and lay people around the world We receive such comments year round but I won t include any in fundraising that have not been received within the past few weeks But we do make a huge difference to many To take just one example Fr James Kubicki SJ is the US Director of the Apostleship of Prayer the Pope s own prayer network Fr Kubicki wrote in October that he relies heavily on CatholicCulture org He called it an invaluable resource for our ministry What I ask of you Here is what I very much need you to do Don t be annoyed If you cannot contribute use my appeals as a reminder to say a quick prayer for the Church as you hit DELETE Decide how important our work is to you to others and to the Church as a whole If you have not yet given all you can to our Fall Campaign make your largest possible donation now while it can

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1338 (2016-02-11)
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  • A response to my critics: Has Pope Francis poisoned the well? | Catholic Culture
    rule in response to this challenge is to emphasize the silver lining that is to seek the increase in understanding and grace that is always possible whenever we receive even unjustified criticism in a spirit of generous self examination Could we be further along This time perhaps my remarks were simply too much out of sync with the prevailing mood of my readership While I stand by what I wrote and I continue to hope it contains insight into the reasons Eucharistic discipline can and does change from time to time there are other things I could have said about the challenge Pope Francis presented After all are not the most faithful among us also smoldering wicks and bruised reeds perhaps especially in these times Pope Francis frequently speaks as if these alone lack the balance proper to a Christian or as if he alone possesses this balance Is this a mark of humility in the Vicar of Christ In my lifetime it has been the pope who has claimed the greatest humility and the greatest affinity for the marginalized who seems to have the sharpest tongue for those who most want to love him Let me be frank In today s culture spiritually speaking faithful Catholics have cornered the marginalization market And yet it is always fruitful to deflect our emotions into the contemplation of God and so the intrinsic tension in the Eucharist remains for us to more fully consider The Eucharist is at once both the means and the end the source and summit of our lives It belongs to the pope and bishops to decide whether to strengthen or weaken the disciplinary emphasis on either pole in accordance with the needs of each place and time By raising this issue Pope Francis has once again opened a Christian mystery to reflection and prayer But I will close with a strong caution Such reflection can bear its fruit only if it is rooted in the truth How much more might we have gained if Pope Francis did not so often appear to be sniping at what orthodox Catholics would call the mind s conformity with reality Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph D in intellectual history from Princeton University A co founder of Christendom College he also pioneered Catholic Internet services He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture org See full bio Read more from On the Culture Next post Previous post Sound Off CatholicCulture org supporters weigh in All comments are moderated To lighten our editing burden only current donors are allowed to Sound Off If you are a donor log in to see the comment form otherwise please support our work and Sound Off Show 15 Comments Hidden Hide Comments Posted by FrHughM Dec 27 2015 2 28 PM ET USA I agree with Jeff paradox of food versus fulfilment is a key issue most ignore this But the crucial development which must show their interdefinition has been begun in Familiaris Consortio 84 A

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1345 (2016-02-11)
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  • The consecrated life really is a love story. | Catholic Culture
    Sacred Heart Last year she made her final vows committing the rest of her life solely to Jesus as a cloistered Dominican nun The first seven years of Sister Maria Teresa s religious life leading up to her final vows are documented by photographer Toni Greaves in Radical Love out recently from Chronicle Books Greaves who was granted rare access to the monastery in Summit NJ where the five youngest novices had all found their calling via the Internet says she found more than a mere quiet place there She found a place that was filled with joy because it was filled with women very much in love This radiant joy is what is most striking about Greaves s book especially with the youthful energy of its main subject Sister Maria Teresa There are all the solemn images of prayer and worship one would expect in a book about the contemplative vocation and Greaves captures these beautifully But playfulness also pervades the images of community life both work and recreation Greaves says she encountered there a happiness and fulfillment not commonly encountered in the world and it comes through in her work along with a sense of lightness and freedom made possible only by total commitment The nuns pray certainly that is what they are there to do They also garden they play guitar and sing they wash dishes they catch a glimpse of fireworks being set off from the nearby town they pack soap the sale of which helps to support their monastic life Sister Maria Teresa looks for baby fish in the pond she has built She trains the community s golden retriever Sabina She laughs with a pair of visiting friars She lies prostrate face down on the floor for her solemn profession of vows She sits

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1344 (2016-02-11)
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  • The Pope's advice to a Lutheran woman with a Catholic husband on receiving the Eucharist | Catholic Culture
    question mark after his title More to the point here does this decision of Pope Francis justify headlines about the baby the bathwater and the horror of heresy Presumably it would if we were talking about the unbaptized and or those who do not believe in Christ s Presence in the Eucharist But in the specific case at hand given the principles the Pope enunciated for its resolution the answer is No Such headlines such alarms are not justified Moreover I think we may have here a rather interesting specific example of the type I requested a few days ago when I wrote The Pope on Christian Humanism To understand we need concrete applications Is this an example of what Pope Francis means when he says the Church must transcend mere rules If so this example makes it clear that he does not mean the Church should transcend the principles of her Faith I refer to the preference I stated at the outset But it is also essential to recognize that in this particular case Pope Francis seems to have kept the relevant principles of faith very firmly in mind Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph D in intellectual history from Princeton University A co founder of Christendom College he also pioneered Catholic Internet services He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture org See full bio Read more from On the Culture Next post Previous post Sound Off CatholicCulture org supporters weigh in All comments are moderated To lighten our editing burden only current donors are allowed to Sound Off If you are a donor log in to see the comment form otherwise please support our work and Sound Off Show 14 Comments Hidden Hide Comments Posted by VICTORIA01 Nov 24 2015 9 36 PM ET USA Stpetric you expressed very concisely what I was trying to put down in a comment Thank you The nuances and distinctions you make are going to be lost on vast numbers of people both in and out of the Church It s awfully wearying to have to dig through the pope s pronouncements in order to find the Catholic teaching in them And to be left with an empty shovel Posted by Jeff Mirus Nov 18 2015 10 06 AM ET USA Randal Mandock I was using ordinary speech I assure you You are quite right to note that no Protestant denomination constitutes a Church in the theological sense of the term Sometimes however I find it easier to get to the issue at hand without belaboring this point In common parlance all of the sects worship in churches all go to church and all are called and usually call themselves Church Such shorthand is all I intended Posted by claire5327 Nov 18 2015 3 22 AM ET USA Pleaase pray for our Pope he is only a human like we are Whoever is his Spiritual Director or Father Confessor should tells him with love and companssion for the Kingdom of Heaven

    Original URL path: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1343 (2016-02-11)
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