“People can do just about whatever they want.”

The events of the last few days prompt me to go back to something I read at LifeSite waaaaay back on 8 July (which in blog years is about a decade).

Bp. Thomas Tobin of Providence nailed it when he said, concerning the ambiguity in Amoris laetitia:

The good news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want. The bad news is, that because of this ambiguity, people can do just about whatever they want.

We don’t have to single out Amoris laetitia.  There are any number of indicators that contribute to the fact that, these days, many Catholics are doing pretty much whatever the hell they want…. and they think that’s okay.

In the past, when people sinned or disagreed with the Church on some point (usually moral), they knew that they were sinning and they knew that disagreeing with the Church wasn’t acceptable.  They knew they were off base, but they didn’t claim that they were actually on.  This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  Sinners deny that sins are sins and dissenters think they are perfectly fine as they are.  And the many of Holy Mother Church’s official teachers do either little or nothing to correct them.  Heck, some even prompt them with a toothy smile and a now obligatory hug.

Look, friends, sinful behavior is one thing but faith is another.  We are all sinners, but we repent and confess our sins.  Sometimes we are bad Catholics, but we’re Catholics.  But if we don’t believe what the Church teaches….  are we still Catholic?

We now have a bunch of different religions going on side by side in what we call the Church.

May I suggest, dear readers, that, if you don’t know it already, you memorize this and recite it frequently.

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I believe that Thy Divine Son became Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.

We have sure references for our Catholic Faith.  We have her Catechisms and we have her Cult, that is, the texts of her sacred liturgical worship.

If you don’t have one… get one before it gets revised.


And there’s this…


And also…


I like Kindle versions of certain books, but there are some that we need also in concrete, pageable, form.  When the lights go off, we’ll still be able to read them by candlelight.

Moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acmeaviator says:

    To those I would add “Ott’s fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” (amazing book) HERE

  2. entirelyuseless says:

    “In the past, when people sinned or disagreed with the Church on some point (usually moral), they knew that they were sinning and they knew that disagreeing with the Church wasn’t acceptable. ”

    I’m not sure you’re right about this. For example, when people disagreed with the Church about dueling, it seems they thought this was fine. Likewise, when people disagreed with the Church about charging interest (or a high rate of interest) on loans, it seems they thought this was fine.

    I think the general principle would be this: when both the Church and the culture condemned something, people agreed they were sinning when they did it. When the Church condemned something, and the culture did not, people did not agree that they were sinning.

    So we don’t have a new situation: then and now, people have always thought it was fine to agree with the culture, and bad to disagree, and never cared what the Church thought if it disagreed with the culture.

  3. bethv says:

    Thank you for this article and prayer. I plan to add The Act of Faith to my daily prayers, and purchase a few more copies of the Catechism before it is changed. These are such difficult times and I never thought I would have to try to figure out who is the good shepherd and who is the misleading shepherd, but I do. I am exceedingly glad to have sites such as yours to go to to keep my faith and resolve to follow the True Word of God to the best of my ability and to grow in faith through God’s grace.

  4. MBinSTL says:

    An excellent edition of the Roman Catechism is freely accessible online via HathiTrust – it’s the same one reprinted by TAN, Frs. McHugh and Callan’s translation. The front matter includes a helpful essay on the history of catechisms:

    Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests (1923 translation)

    short link:  http://j.mp/CatechismOfTrent

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    Also excellent:

    Fr. John Hardon, SJ, The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday, 1975

    From a review: “Hardon’s Catholic Catechism remains a standard work on Catholic orthodoxy even to this day.” (Perhaps enough to raise the question whether the great Fr. Hardon was a typical Jesuit. Or to imply that he clearly was not?)

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I would also add the “Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”, which will be the required handbook for when it once again falls to us to rebuild society and civilization.

    Also worth noting is a new edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church recently published by CTS in the UK. It has been revised and updated to reflect the recent liturgical re-translations.

  7. Mike says:

    When I hear reference to the catechism and our contemporary trials and difficulties in regard to the Faith, I often think of a remark of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, who said in the early 70s, “don’t throw away those old catechisms”.

    I tend to think he got a preview of what we’re dealing with now. (Of course, the 70s were no cake-walk either.)

  8. Mike says:

    Even in the “enlightened” years of 1969-70, I had to learn (at the age of seven) the Act of Faith and other basic prayers before I could receive my First Holy Communion. I shudder to think how low the bar might be set now.

  9. mike cliffson says:

    I think Fr some years back (7?9?)you either linked to or printed then Bishop of Denver Bishop Chaput’s list of orthodox points that lay folk had to swear to before undertaking pastoral work in the diocese? things like not just no abortion but rejection of weasel words and wiggle room too.
    (I kept it on computer but that was three or four crashes ago) I can’t find it on internet.
    Anyhow, reprintable?

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    This is an interesting topic. Where do people really learn about the Catholic Faith? Ideally, it would be on their parent’s knees when they are but wee tykes, but, nowadays, one cannot take for granted that the parents know the Faith. Do they learn it from horrible Catholic schools or equally horrible CCD classes? Do they read books (ha!) or surf the Internet (and how would they know if a site is orthodox if they don’t know the Faith to begin with)? Do they just trust their parish priest (a hit-or-miss proposition, to be sure)?

    Has anyone really looked at the modern modes of transmission of the Faith with any good statistics?

    Yes, there may be liberal bishops, but evangelization in the modern age has ways around them. So, if the authentic Faith is not getting reliably transmitted, where is the breakdown?

    This has implications for mathematical analysis.

    The Chicken

  11. un-ionized says:

    Henry Edwards, Read about what his Order did to Fr. Hardon. His prayer book is great. It has a nice Stations of the Cross in it.

  12. Father K says:

    Interesting how words have different meanings and connotations depending where you live. Where I live ‘tyke’ is an incredibly insulting and disrespectful way of referring to Catholics. Much like the ‘n’ word.

  13. Kerry says:

    Here: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/07/appeal-to-cardinals-text-revealed.html#more

    “The ‘National Catholic Reporter’ of Kansas City, Missouri, recently published, without authorisation, the names of the signatories of a letter to the College of Cardinals and Eastern Patriarchs; equally without authorisation, The Australian, an Australia-based newspaper, has recently published the full text of the letter and the accompanying document. The latter is a theological critique of the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, and requested that the cardinals and patriarchs petition Pope Francis to definitively and finally condemn certain propositions. In order to protect the signatories and the critique from misrepresentation, the organisers of these documents wish to offer some further comment and explanation of them.”
    There are links to pdf’s of their letter and argument. Their reasoning is impeccable! The theological censures resolute. And the names of the signatories has not some few readers here know.

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