You can never really “leave the Church”.

I occasionally get an message from someone who explains in self-righteous high dudgeon that she is leaving the Church because of [INSERT FLIMSY EXCUSE HERE].

Over at his excellent blog, Ed Peters looks at a case of someone who said he left the Church.

This is instructive.

Is Magdi Allam still a Catholic?
by Dr. Edward Peters

Magdi Allam, “a prominent Muslim-born journalist baptized by Pope Benedict XVI” has now blogged about “leaving the [C]hurch because it is too ‘weak with Islam.’” Maybe it’s just me, but this modern proclivity to parade one’s spiritual angst in the blogosphere is wearing pretty thin. [It’s not just you, Ed.] Besides, as Chesterton remarked, there are a thousand reasons to leave the Church and only one reason to stay: It’s true. So, Magdi cited two or three reasons to leave the Church, and not reasons especially high up on the “Top 1000 Reasons To Leave the Catholic Church” list at that. Whatever.
Still I don’t know why some folks are so quick to assume that (a) Allam was not ‘really’ a Catholic, or (b) he was not adequate catechized, or (c) Allam’s abandonment of the Faith must be an embarrassment to Abp. Fisichella who shepherded Allam into the Church. If my sins cannot be laid at the feet of my parents or pastors why should Allam’s be charged to Fisichella? God has no grandchildren.
In particular, because of the indelible character conferred by Baptism (c. 845, and I’m presuming Confirmation, as Allam was baptized as an adult, c. 866), Allam will, for all eternity, be marked as a baptized and confirmed Christian. Now, one’s canonical identity is not easily turned on or off and nothing in the reports I’ve seen so far suffice for, say, schism or even formal defection. All I glean so far is one man expressing contempt for his obligation to conduct himself in accord with the requirements of communion (c. 209). But that does not make one a non-Catholic, that just makes one a bad Catholic.
Ultimately, Allam’s sacramental seal will either be a source of greater joy to him in Heaven (as, hopefully, he will repent of his deed) or of greater suffering for him in Hell (if his act is sufficiently imputable to him, as only God would know), but either way, Allam is, on these facts, still Catholic and should be regarded as a Catholic whose need for prayers is just a little more obvious than is ours.

The Second Vatican Council’s document Lumen gentium at par. 14 has sobering words for those who think they want to leave the Church or who refuse to join it, knowing and believing the Church’s divine origin and claims.

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

“… could not be saved”.

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44 Responses to You can never really “leave the Church”.

  1. Dan O says:

    I love the line, “God has no grandchildren.” Very clever.

  2. BLB Oregon says:

    “…if his act is sufficiently imputable to him, as only God would know…”

    When we pause to examine ourselves, we realize that there is one other who can possibly know the extent to which we do or don’t know to do better than what we do. Sometimes, let us face it, this is even why we avoid that pause in real time. It is sobering to realize that when our Judgment Day comes, we will not even be able to sell ourselves our own excuses, but will be left confronted by the capital-“T”-and-nothing-left-out Truth. May God have mercy on us all, and have compassion on us and the 1001 pathetic excuses we make for whatever we are allowing to keep us from sanctity.

  3. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Thx, Dan O. I think I heard it somewhere, years ago, but I have used it often. It’s crucial to understand. Also, btw, even if there are ways out of the Church, even juridically (lso), there are no ways out of baptism.

  4. tonesing says:

    “… could not be saved.” ???????

    So much for the “Spirit of Vatican II,” huh?

  5. racjax says:

    Mr. Allam may technically not be able to excise himself from the Church. However, to minimize his concerns and reasons as not even being relevant enough to include in the top 1000 reasons for defection is terribly insulting. Mr. Allam’s concerns are historically and morally valid. I can only imagine the pain and frustration that he must have had in coming to this pronouncement. What is more disheartening is that he felt driven to this as his only option. What does that say about how our Church is responding to its entire fold – not just the poor.

    The slaughtered, martyred, and victimized Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and among the other near east countries are crying out daily for the Church’s help – the type of help that shall NEVER come come dialogue with Islam. It is not coming. I find it shameful to dismiss these people as not worthy to be in the top 1000 reasons.

    The current attitude of Pope Francis regarding Islam may eventually contribute to the Eastern Catholic rites returning to the Orthodox family. The hoped for reunification may actually swing in a different direction than intended.

  6. Clinton R. says:

    This issue does provoke the question “What is the expected result of dialogue with Islam”? Is is peace? A conversion to the True Religion (Catholic Church)? If it is peace, then can there be peace without the Prince of Peace? It is very tragic Mr. Allam felt he had to leave the Church. His frustration is understandable. But where can he or anyone else go? The Catholic Church is the new Noah’s Arc. All outside her cannot be saved. This was promulgated by Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam. I know many of us have shaken our heads in bewilderment at times by the actions of the Post V2 popes. We may not agree when the Pontiff prays in synagogues and mosques, we may shudder at the antics of the 3 Assisi meetings but at the same time we cannot leave the Bosom of the Church. What is the option, sedevacantism? We know schisms only lead to a greater loss of faith. As Father Zuhlsdorf urges us, Pray for Pope Francis. May God Bless His Holy Catholic Church. +JMJ+

  7. BLB Oregon says:

    –“… could not be saved.” ???????

    So much for the “Spirit of Vatican II,” huh?–

    I do not understand this comment. After all, the Church instructs us “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives”, so also the Church instructs us that we ought not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who by exterior appearances have rejected the Church they know to be the one true Church. That is in no way in contradiction to the premise that willful rejection of the centrality of Christ and His Church or taking one’s own life are both the matter of mortal sin.

  8. dominic1955 says:

    When I read about Mr. Allam saying he’s “leaving” the Church, I thought about the real reasons to convert in the first place. It sounds like, to me, he joined the Church of the Crusades because he had a real beef with Islam and now after the honeymoon, he’s disgruntled because we aren’t marching on Constantinople or Jerusalem.

    Its never good to convert in order to get away from something. It is like with the Anglicans/Episcopalians-please do convert if you have been convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith but don’t just run away from women priests or gays. That sort of thinking engenders the whole “the grass is always greener” problem and one will never be able to be satisfied-even when they’ve found truth.

  9. Johnno says:

    BLB Oregon

    – Those of the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ are inclined to believe everyone is saved and there is no hell. Or at least only Hitler is there.

    As for ‘dialoguing with Islam’ I’m inclined to believe this is merely just 50 years of “Hello! How are you? I am fine. It sure is nice weather today. Your God and my God are the same. Well… almost. To certain degrees… but let’s not go there. Let’s go someplace else… I like going to the Falafel Hut. Israel is also a very nice place to go to. Boy, I sure do hope the United Nations ushers in a new era of peace in the Middle East and the world. Those guys work hard. Cut them a break! Well, see you next joint prayer session! Next time the Hindus will be offering up food and milk to their pantheon adn called us to join in. They’ll be using our altar and our sanctuary. We moved the Blessed Sacrament off to the side to facilitate this. You should come!”

    Somehow I get the feeling that the Muslims are smarter than us, and send their equivalents of Biden and Pelosi to these things. The real ones we should be reaching are busy actually devoting themselves to their religion.

  10. BLB Oregon says:

    “Mr. Allam’s concerns are historically and morally valid.”

    Why is that? Because history tells us that putting enmity between ourselves and the adherents of other religions is the best way to win converts and avoid putting souls in a near occasion of sin, both souls within the Church and those outside it?

    Let us say that some Muslim suffers from invincible ignorance, yet in all other ways seeks to know and follow the law of God as he has been given to know the law of God. Should the Church refuse to talk to such a person or to listen to them? Should the Church act as if such persons do not exist, when obviously they always have? Should the Church not be concerned that certain ways of expressing the truth will not lead such a person to the truth, but could lead such a person to sin? Should the Church deny that these persons do in fact seek to worship the God of Abraham, and in so doing worship the one true God, if imperfectly?

    It seems to me that 1 Corinthians argues in favor of dialogue, but with care taken that the faithful do not take the wrong message from it:
    “Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law – though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ – to win over those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” 1 Cor. 9:19-23

    “So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols: we know that “there is no idol in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth (there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist. But not all have this knowledge. There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled. Now food will not bring us closer to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do. But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak as it is, be “built up” to eat the meat sacrificed to idols? Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died. When you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin.” 1 Cor. 8:4-13

  11. PA mom says:

    What choice is there, aside from dialogue? What military might does the Pope command? What major world power is unquestioningly Catholic? If the word were given today to make war against Islam, who would raise their arms to the cause?
    Further, there is danger everywhere and at all times from the weaponry which has been created, which can destroy the whole world. It appears to me that, not only is dialogue the real way to win souls, however few, but the only way not to bring on unnecessarily quickly the death of us all.
    The plight of Christians in the Middle East is terrible, but what are we to do? I don’t trust that this Administration is likely to do anything helpful. Who would fix it?

  12. Allan S. says:

    “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.”

    If this be the official teaching of the Church, then how stands the position of such a person told by a cleric that they do not need to convert, but rather that the Church “needs” them to remain, say, Anglican? Has such a person received bad advice, and if so how does the matter stand – for the person, and the cleric? Or is a non-Catholic Christian somehow already within the “Catholic Church” as intended by the excerpt from LG 14, above?

    For it cannot be lost on us that, regrettably, some members of the Church do take a rather universalist approach, preaching what can be called religious indifferentism and eschewing the need for members of other “ecclesial communities” to join the Roman Catholic Church. For many of us converts, this positions seems to be a scandal, but if it is not then perhaps the air could be cleared on the question? I do not accept that my conversion was unnecessary, and I hate to think what the Church would have lost if other converts (like our host, Fr. Z.) actually received and followed such advice.

  13. Alexis says:

    But also the text says “…to enter or to remain in it” in regards to the Church.

    I would consider him an ex-Catholic. If he says he doesn’t believe, why shouldn’t we take his word for it? Whether he is an ex-Catholic or a bad Catholic, he needs our prayers either way, just as anyone who’s fallen away from the Faith, as much as we need it for ourselves.

  14. aviva meriam says:

    Wait…. I’m confused about something….. Dr. Peters mentioned formal defection but I thought that option was no longer available canonically. What if this person (or any person) formally defected? What would be the way for that person to return….?

  15. albinus1 says:

    You can never really “leave the Church”.

    Some once commented on another blog I was reading that Catholicism is the Hotel California of religions; you can check out, but you never really leave. ;-)

    Witness all the people who were raised Catholic but no longer practice, but who continue to describe themselves as “former Catholics” or, more offensively, “recovering Catholics.” Even though they loudly proclaim that they are no longer practicing Catholics, they seem to need to continue to define their sense of identity in relation to the Church.

  16. NoTambourines says:

    Fr. Z. posted a few weeks ago about the Sodality of St. Augustine of Hippo, specifically formed to join in prayer for our friends and loved ones who have wandered from the Church. I know I’ll be remembering Mr. Allam in my prayers:

    http://www.lms.org.uk/resources/the-lms-sodality-of-st-augustine-of-hippo

  17. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    aviva meriam: Setting aside the technical problems with the ruling(s), formal defection was not eliminated, rather, canonical consequences of f.d. for marriage were essentially eliminated. lso.

  18. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Allan S.,

    yes, such a person has reached extraordinarily bad advice. However, it seems not improbable to assume she does not know the Church was instituted necessary by Christ. After all, if the Church’s own personnel denies this upon question?

    Nevertheless, and allow the bluntness, it is important that you do not need your non-converting ex-brethren to rot in Hell for your conversion not being in vain.

    There is a reason for it that who knows the Church is the true one and does not enter it loses Salvation: because he has, then, rejected Salvation. May God give he has not. The reason is not that those who endured the pains of Catholicism (is it really so painful?) must not be at equal place with those who did not; for the latter, Purgatory is heavily sufficient.

    “Even if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows everything”. Let us not so quickly assume that knowing all must by necessity mean something bad for us.

  19. BLB Oregon says:

    “Nevertheless, and allow the bluntness, it is important that you do not need your non-converting ex-brethren to rot in Hell for your conversion not being in vain.”

    I trust you mean “need” in the sense of needing a premise to be true in order for a logical conclusion to follow. Heaven forbid that any of us feel some “need” that someone else suffer damnation in some literal sense in order to not resent that we have continued to do what we’re commanded to do by our Father in Heaven. We do not want to imitate the elder brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, the brother who found a way to resent having had the privilege to work side-by-side with his Father while his foolish brother squandered every good thing he had on his own self-destruction.

    Likewise, the truth that “by ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance”, as the catechism puts it, does not imply that no repentance will ever be required for those outside the Church to be saved. The prodigal son was met with gladness and forgiveness, but first he had to “come to his senses” and come home. That is not only necessary, but to be desired at the earliest possible moment, for the good of the one on the outside coming in.

  20. Allan S. says:

    Imrahil, thank you. In truth, I am not pursuing so much the question of the supernatural consequences for the salvation of those rebuffed, but rather the issue as to whether or not it can ever be acceptable for a Catholic to take the position that there is no “need” for a non-Catholic to convert to the faith.

    If it helps others to grapple with the matter, assume therefore a willing convert (or even a group of converts seeking to convert under Anglicanorum coetibus) who “knows that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ” (per. LG 14) but who are rebuffed by a Catholic cleric who instead states that the Church “needs” them to remain Anglican. Can this be a correct or defensible position? How would such a cleric stand? How would a lay person espousing such a position stand?

  21. aviva meriam says:

    So…. if any person formally defected (Mr. Allam or anyone) what would the process be for their return?

  22. totustuusmaria says:

    You can never really leave the Church? Well, sort of. Benedict XIV solemnly affirms the opinion of Suarez in his bull “Singulari Nobis,” to wit that heretics (and by extension schismatics and the excommunicated) are subject to the punitive power and the obligations of the Church, but are excluded from the benefits of unity. He likens then to traitors of the state. The Church is not merely an invisible collection of the baptized, so not everyone who have been “born again by water and spirit” belong to the unity of the Church, but all the baptized, whether Orthodox, Protestant, apostates, etc. are subject to the jurisdiction of the Church.

    The Church is both a visible and spiritual communion of faith, sacraments and governance (or “ecclesial charity”) (See, for instance, the Roman Catechism and Unam Sanctam). They are in the unity of the Church who have faith internally and confess it publicly in union with the Pope. Those who have lost faith in a private fashion have cut themselves off from spiritual communion with the Church which, nonetheless, can be restored through confession. Those who have committed public heresy need to have their excommunication lifted before they can be restored to the unity of the Church.

    According to Bellarmine, there are three ways to lose visible communion with the Church: (1) public heresy, (2) schism, (3) excommunication. Public heresy separates because it is clear that someone who has pertinaciously defended error against the dogma of the Church is not part of the Church. Schism is a sin rather against ecclesial charity than against faith. It severs because the Church is constituted as a visible society and thus those who set themselves outside of her are not part of her unity. Those really and in proper act severed from the unity of the Church might be part of her voto, or by desire (see Mystici Corporis, 103), but that does not give us the right to say that they are part of the unity of the Church.

    So is Magdi Allam still part of the Church re et actu? Yes. He has not apostacized. He has not expressed public heresy. He has not received the sacraments of initiation in another Church or attached himself to a schism. Right now he seems like a non-practicing Catholic rather than a heretic, schismatic, or excommunicate.

    But he could become one of those categories. Well, or least a heretic or schismatic. I’m not sure whether excommunication still separates from the union of the Church, though I’ve studied it a bit.

  23. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    aviva meriam: at this point, Confession suffices.

  24. totustuusmaria says:

    @Imrahel
    ” it seems not improbable to assume she does not know the Church was instituted necessary by Christ. After all, if the Church’s own personnel denies this upon question?”

    Opinions of this point differ. Suarez was of the opinion that anyone who had been sufficiently admonished and had mature use of reason should assumed to be responsible. We have a greatly diminished conception of the powers of human reason than previous generations of Catholics did. We assume that if someone does not convert, it’s a sign that he is invincibly ignorant of the necessity of the Catholic Church. Previous times assumed that if he had been admonished, given the opportunity to see the truth, and still didn’t believe, it probably meant he was wilfully ignorant.

    Only God can judge. We don’t know as a fact that anyone except Catholic catechumens who are not actually joined to the Catholic Church will be saved. That’s why Pius XII urges our separated brethren to ” seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.” It’s dangerous not being in communion with the Church. :/ Let us pray for everyone who isn’t and work for their salvation.

  25. totustuusmaria says:

    Of course we don’t know any given person, even full member of the Catholic Church will be saved. I didn’t mean to imply that.

  26. NBW says:

    Why would Allam renounce his Catholic faith publicly? Wouldn’t that give his former religion reason to gloat? His attitude is a far cry from the martyrdom of Roman Catholic Shabbaz Bhatti several years ago.
    Allam should view this video of Bhatti speaking about his faith; perhaps it will give him the faith he needs to stay Catholic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBTBqUJomRE

  27. Imrahil says:

    Previous times assumed that if he had been admonished, given the opportunity to see the truth, and still didn’t believe, it probably meant he was wilfully ignorant.

    In that case, previous times had a pretty little understanding for human psychology. (I use the latter word with hesitation and for want of a better one at my disposal: I do not mean the science “psychology”, but understanding, often intuitive, of how men’s thoughts work.) For one thing, you’d have to believe in the preacher’s authority for it. The very sensible reaction if someone approaches someone with something is, “I can’t think about all things at a time”. And if you did not believe, why believe in the preacher’s authority?

    Yes, at some time people would have said, perhaps, to give his arguments a chance, etc. But that does not mean he rejected them before – in the moral sense (which implies it being a sin to do so).

    And even so, let us get rid of the word “invincible”. I agree, in fact, that sufficiently educated people’s ignorance is very seldom in literal sense of the word (and what other sense is there?) invincible. As far as I see the Church, though, never has said that only invincible ignorance can constitute “virtual adherence” to the Church. It is obvious that you cannot “virtually adhere” to the Church if you fully knowing what she is outrightly, though perhaps only in secret, reject her. For all the rest, I do not see it declared somewhere that vincible ignorace excludes from salvation (in any other manner than sins do, and we know there that objective and subjective is not the same thing).

    A missionary who exposes them to the truth does not damage them, but gives them a benefit.

    Let us, anyway, not overlook the fact that it must be very difficult for the sinner outside the Church to get some remorse for his actual mortal sins (those he knows to be such) without falling into the despair trap. (Something I, for one, would think the real danger.)

    Still, this was not actually my point. (Though I was indeed tempted to say, “Fr Feeney was wrong”. I’ll stick to that.) My point was the following: Suppose “all people go to Heaven anyway”. This is wrong; but nevertheless, if people deduce from it the conclusion “becoming a Catholic is worthless”, then something has heavily gone wrong.
    And, as should be obvious, preaching possibility of damnation to convert people is the sourest sort of vinegar St. Francis of Sales could have possibly imagined.

  28. Imrahil says:

    That part beginning with “For all the rest” should not have been in italics.

    As to your question above about excommunications and separating from the Church: According to Ludwig Ott, excommunication ends membership in the Church if and only if it is incurred for apostasy, heresy, schism or with the (now long time not used) designation of “vitandus”.

  29. JacobWall says:

    Still I don’t know why some folks are so quick to assume that (a) Allam was not ‘really’ a Catholic, or (b) he was not adequate catechized, or (c) Allam’s abandonment of the Faith must be an embarrassment

    not adequately catechized? If I understand correctly, he has been exposed to Catholicism continuously since the age of 4. And he’s no simple-minded fool; he’s a “politician, journalist, author, columnist.” If he received bad catechesis, it’s no one’s fault but his own that he didn’t seek out something better.

    But like Dr. Peters, I don’t see any reason to assume any of the points are true. Doesn’t free-will mean anyone can freely choose to do wrong, and stumble – even the best catechized, even those deepest in the Faith? You would think those better catechized and with such a wonderful reception into the Church would ponder these things a little more closely, even in a time of weakness. But we are human after all.

    I’ve seen other converts go through something like this and then repent. Let’s pray for him.

  30. PostCatholic says:

    There’s no such thing as a lapsed Unitarian, either, but for different reasons. Anyway, you make a point that Irish comedian Dara O’Briain has featured in his act:

    “I’ve said this before: I’m not a religious man. I don’t even believe in a god. But still Catholic, obviously. Because there’s nothing you can do when you’re Catholic. Once you’ve started Catholic,frankly there’s no real way to stop being Catholic. Even not believing in God isn’t regarded as sufficient reason to get out of the Catholic Church. You’d think it would be fairly fundamental to the whole thing, but no! Catholicism: the stickiest, most adhesive religion in the world. There’s no website you can de-register online. You can’t cut up your membership card and go “Forget ya, I’m out of here” and walk away. You could join the Taliban: You’d merely be regarded as a bad Catholic.

  31. Giuseppe says:

    Allan S, I believe I know of whom you speak, although I believe that this story was told by the Anglican and not from the Catholic’s perspective.

  32. ocleirbj says:

    I have heard it said that claiming to be a lapsed Unitarian is like trying to commit suicide by jumping out of a basement window.
    :-)

  33. Giuseppe says:

    PostCatholic — Love the line: “You could join the Taliban: You’d merely be regarded as a bad Catholic.” So true!

  34. PostCatholic says:

    All right, in all seriousness: Are you out if you leave knowing that the requirement “that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ” is something of circulus, or at least begs the question?

  35. BLB Oregon says:

    “You could join the Taliban: You’d merely be regarded as a bad Catholic.”

    I say this as someone who thought to “leave” and then came to my senses….there is no more wonderful truth in the world than this! Once made a son or a daughter, you may remove yourself to a foreign country and squander the inheritance that you wrongly thought to take with you to be used by yourself as you saw fit for yourself, and yet eyes back home always sweep the horizon for you. That is the merciful truth, and what a profound mercy it is!

  36. PostCatholic says:

    What if I move to a foreign country, invest wisely in some land speculation and let’s say buy a few hog farms, do well, put some money away and send my dear old Papa a nice annuity every year I can afford it, grateful for the start in life he gave me? I mean, not every son is the little brat the prodigal was, right?

  37. Imrahil says:

    Dear @totustuusmaria,

    it is undoubtable that Magdi Cristiano Allam has publicly set an act of schism. May he not know what he is doing and may he be forgiven also if he is; but that’s plain that he has.

    (Schism does not only apply to joining an un-Catholic body.)

  38. Matt R says:

    “What military does the Pope have?” Reminds me of Stalin’s line: “The Pope? How many divisions does he command?”
    And the answer is…daily double!: “Give me a thousand people saying the Rosary, and I shall conquer the world.”-Bl Pius IX
    This is the key. Pray for Mr Allam, pray for the clergy especially the Pope, and pray for Christian unity.

  39. BLB Oregon says:

    –“What if I move to a foreign country, invest wisely in some land speculation and let’s say buy a few hog farms, do well, put some money away and send my dear old Papa a nice annuity every year I can afford it, grateful for the start in life he gave me? I mean, not every son is the little brat the prodigal was, right?”–

    Hog farms?!? What folly!! This is thinking like a servant or a total stranger, not like a son. The papa in the story did not want for wealth, but he searched the horizon every day to see his son freely choose to come back and share a life with him. Even from a “business” standpoint, yours is flawed thinking. As I used to remind my catechism classes, the father in the story had plenty of servants. So why would his sons have to work in the fields at all? Because doing the father’s work is the only way for them to become men like their father. You become like your father by doing what your father does, and doing it with your father. That is how you learn his ways. And what was that wealth doing before it was sold? It wasn’t sitting in a pile, doing nothing. It was giving a job with a good master to people who needed it, it was taking care of the land, it was doing good. It wasn’t there to enrich the father, but to enrich those in his care. There was no place else for it to be that was as good or as wise as right where it was.

    The prodigal son, even after he came back, had thrown that away. That is like the temporal result of sin. You can come back, you can repent, you can be reconciled, but that doesn’t magically make everything you destroyed by your selfish behavior come back like nothing happened. If you leave and come back, it is great to be back, it sometimes makes things dawn on you that those of us like the elder brother are too thick to realize, but it is impossible not to realize that the time lost and everything else lost is never coming back. There are repairs to be done. There is more rejoicing in heaven over one recovered sinner than over ninety-nine who don’t stray, but that is rejoicing over the return. It is far better that the first leg of that round trip be avoided!

  40. Therese says:

    Thank you, NBW, for posting the video of Shabbaz Bhatti. What a blessing it must have been to know him.

  41. PostCatholic says:

    I think you’re missing my point, BLB Oregon, but I do appreciate your enthusiasm for arguably the most beautiful parable in the bible.

  42. Dla says:

    I can’t talk. I’ve threatened to leave the Church numerous times over the fact that it often ignores single older adults like me (never married, virgin, never had a call to religious life), but I keep hearing St. Peter’s words to Our Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (Jn. 6:68)

  43. ocalatrad says:

    The man who saw the light in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave never went back into the cave to re-chain himself to the floor and watch the shadows once again. Once you’re in the fold of the Church, you’re in.

  44. PostCatholic says:

    Ocalatrad, which side is the cave and which is the light? That’s very much a matter of sharp disagreement, though I say that in the sunniest possible disposition.