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“This blog is like a fusion of the Baroque ‘salon’ with its well-tuned harpsichord around which polite society gathered for entertainment and edification and, on the other hand, a Wild West “saloon” with its out-of-tune piano and swinging doors, where everyone has a gun and something to say. Nevertheless, we try to point our discussions back to what it is to be Catholic in this increasingly difficult age, to love God, and how to get to heaven.” – Fr. Z
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Grant unto thy Church, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, that She, being gathered together by the Holy Ghost, may be in no wise troubled by attack from her foes. O God, who by sin art offended and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy people making supplication unto Thee,and turn away the scourges of Thine anger which we deserve for our sins. Almighty and Everlasting God, in whose Hand are the power and the government of every realm: look down upon and help the Christian people that the heathen nations who trust in the fierceness of their own might may be crushed by the power of thine Arm. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.
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Daily Archives: 10 December 2006
St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) beat up some Donatist heretics and dismantled their argument that all clerics ordained by a sinful bishop would be automatically stained in the same guilt. He used imagery like that of our prayer today (Ad Donatistas post collationem in CSEL 53:19.25, p. 123 my translation): Ã¢â‚¬Å“The sludge (lutum) their feet are stuck in is so thick and dense that, trying in vain to tear themselves out of it, they get their hands and head stuck in it too, and lingering in that sticky mess they get more tightly enveloped.Ã¢â‚¬Â The Donatist argument was based in worldly, not heavenly, wisdom.
Sticky lutum is a metaphor of worldly life. Neglecting God, who speaks in the Church and our conscience, we weak sinners can convince ourselves of anything, over time: down becomes up, back is made front, black turns into white, and wrong is really right. We justify what we know, or knew, to be sinful. Once this becomes a habit, it is a vice in more than one sense of that word. Occasionally our consciences will struggle against the grip of self-deception, but quite often the proverbial Ã¢â‚¬Å“StruggleÃ¢â‚¬Â, Novocain for the conscience, supplies permission: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I really Ã¢â‚¬ËœstruggledÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ with this, Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ before I did it!Ã¢â‚¬Â If we go off the true path into the murky twisted woods, thoroughly mired in sticky error we will not escape the Enemy, the roaring lion seeking whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). Nor will we elude Christ the Judge, who will come through dark woods by straight paths. Advent reminds us to prepare for the coming of both the Enemy lion and the Lion of Judah who will open the seals and read forth the Book of Life (Rev 5:5). Continue reading
Salvation is a gift freely given by God through the merits of ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sacrifice, but salvation is not a free gift in the sense that we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to do anything to obtain it. We must cooperate. Christ died Ã¢â‚¬Å“for allÃ¢â‚¬Â. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ManyÃ¢â‚¬Â will be saved, thanks be to God. We have through Christ the free opportunity of salvation. Good works cannot merit salvation in themselves, but we are required to perform good works to merit salvation. In todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s translation I used the phrase Ã¢â‚¬Å“favorable points of meritsÃ¢â‚¬Â but never imagine God as a celestial accountant Ã¢â‚¬Å“up thereÃ¢â‚¬Â keeping books on what we do or havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t done. Salvation is not based on a ledgerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bottom line. How God disposes all things is mysterious, though He has revealed something of His plan through the Catholic Church. Until our final judgment God alone knows what our good works merit and how they balance against our sins. In fact, the Church hazards to offer indications of only Ã¢â‚¬Å“partialÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“plenaryÃ¢â‚¬Â indulgences for works we perform. The only thing we can be sure of is that we must not become lax or presumptuous. If we want salvation, God must be appeased by our prayers, sacrifices and works, which all must be joined to ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sacrifice. At Holy Mass we join all we do and are to the Sacrifice being renewed in GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sight by the priest. The priest raises the paten with host and then the chalice with water tinged wine. He prays: Ã¢â‚¬Å“In a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart may we be accepted by Thee, O Lord; and may this sacrifice today be of such a kind in Thy sight as to please Thee.Ã¢â‚¬Â Place yourselves and your needs in that chalice, on that paten, to be transformed. Continue reading