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Monday, September 12, 2016

Just A Mild Case of Pneumonia?!

On Sunday, 68-year old Hillary Clinton collapsed from what her handlers claim was a case of pneumonia that was diagnosed on Friday. Despite video which clearly shows her essentially unconscious as she is being dragged into her van, she was not taken to a hospital.

Instead, 90 minutes after she was taken to her daughter's apartment (!), she was out on the sidewalk, bending over and greeting a small child. This is amazing, given that pneumonia causes low oxygen saturation in the blood, increases the probability of dizziness while standing or bending over, and therefore increases the risks of falls.

An elderly patient who has just collapsed from pneumonia will not be bending over to greet a small child. This sequence of events does not comport with pneumonia. Below are some medical website quotes about pneumonia in the >65 crowd. Links are at the beginning of the paragraphs:
A number of studies have confirmed that there is a high rate of morbidity and mortality associated with pneumonia in the elderly (Fig. 1).[1-5] These high rates have continued to impede the efforts of healthcare professionals, despite significant improvements in therapeutic options and public health practices. One-sixth of the six million pneumonia cases that are reported each year occur primarily in those individuals 65 years and older requiring hospitalization for pneumonia.[6] Over 90% of all deaths from pneumonia occur in this older population.
Community-acquired pneumonia is one of the most common reasons for admission to a general intensive care unit (ICU). Up to 22% of patients hospitalized with pneumonia are admitted to the ICU,[3–5] approximately 18–56% of whom will die during hospitalization. Appropriate delivery of critical care services for patients with pneumonia is particularly topical and important given how common community-acquired pneumonia is in elderly patients, with approximately one million cases per year in those ≥65 yrs in the United States.
Older people have higher risk of getting pneumonia, and are more likely to die from it if they do. For US seniors, hospitalization for pneumonia has a greater risk of death compared to any of the other top 10 reasons for hospitalization.
While successful pneumonia treatment often leads to full recovery, it can have longer term consequences. Children who survive pneumonia have increased risk for chronic lung diseases. Adults who survive pneumonia may have worsened exercise ability, Cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and quality of life for months or years. (emphasis added)
The pneumonia and influenza mortality rate is much higher for those aged 65 years and older compared to younger age groups. About 85 percent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths occur in this age group, and it represents the seventh leading cause of death in this age group.
Her people didn't seem to be very upset about her "pneumonia", nor did they treat it with very much concern. They certainly did not exhibit the level of concern that would be warranted if this were a recently diagnosed condition that had just rendered their candidate unconscious. And how does someone recover in 90 minutes from that level of incapacitation, especially if it were induced by pneumonia? How does a 68-year old woman manage that? Receiving no apparent medical care during or after the episode? Seriously?
Whatever Hillary has, it is:
  • deeply debilitating (obvious from the first video)
  • rapid onset with "halo" (victim can feel upcoming episode, thus she made it to the van)
  • transient (obvious from the second video)
There are a lot of things that can do that.
Pneumonia isn't one of them.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Aquinas and the Immaculate Conception

It is often said that Aquinas denied the Immaculate Conception, the fact that Mary was conceived without sin. This is incorrect.

Thomas built a theory of sanctification that assumed an underlying scientific understanding of conception and ensoulment that happened to be in error, but was common throughout all the centuries preceding his own.

No one knew that women produced eggs, and this knowledge would not, in fact, be confirmed until the early 1800s. Since all things are created in, by and for Christ, the operations of the natural world are properly a subject of theology. Further, since God took flesh and walked in the natural world, the operations of the natural world are also part of the necessary foundation to Christian theology.

Unfortunately for Thomas, none of the Christian theologians had a detailed or complete understanding of how conception worked. Thomas assumed that conception happened first, and the rational soul was infused at some later point. This was an error. Despite this error he pointed out an incontrovertible fact:
"The sanctification of the Blessed Virgin cannot be understood as having taken place before animation, for two reasons. First, because the sanctification of which we are speaking, is nothing but the cleansing from original sin: for sanctification is a "perfect cleansing," as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. xii). Now sin cannot be taken away except by grace, the subject of which is the rational creature alone. Therefore before the infusion of the rational soul, the Blessed Virgin was not sanctified.
Secondly, because, since the rational creature alone can be the subject of sin; before the infusion of the rational soul, the offspring conceived is not liable to sin. And thus, in whatever manner the Blessed Virgin would have been sanctified before animation, she could never have incurred the stain of original sin..."  (emphasis added)
All he said was, the Blessed Virgin HAD to have been saved from original sin or Christ would not be universal saviour - a perfectly correct statement:
"If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all. Consequently after Christ, who, as the universal Saviour of all, needed not to be saved, the purity of the Blessed Virgin holds the highest place."
And he even admitted that celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was not a problem:
"Although the Church of Rome does not celebrate the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, yet it tolerates the custom of certain churches that do keep that feast, wherefore this is not to be entirely reprobated. Nevertheless the celebration of this feast does not give us to understand that she was holy in her conception. But since it is not known when she was sanctified, the feast of her Sanctification, rather than the feast of her Conception, is kept on the day of her conception." (emphasis added)
So, he essentially admits that if his understanding of how ensoulment works is wrong, then the Immaculate Conception was properly a feast. He even admitted that his theory could be wrong when he agreed that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception could be licitly celebrated, since no one knew exactly when she had been sanctified. The reason no one knew was because no one knew exactly when the rational soul was infused.

He did not deny the Immaculate Conception, he only denied that Mary could have been sanctified before the infusion of her rational soul - a perfectly reasonable theological position. We don't baptize dogs because dogs don't have rational souls. We don't sacramentally anoint chairs or tables because they don't have souls at all.

If Thomas had known the infusion of the rational soul took place at conception - which is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception implies - he would have instantly agreed that the Immaculate Conception was a reasonable teaching:

Since he merely proposed a theory of sanctification, and since he agreed that the liturgy of the Church was of more importance than his theory, he did not teach error regarding the Immaculate Conception. Instead, he showed the proper humility towards the Magisterium which is so often lacking in Christians today.

Catholic Truth in Other Religions

For reasons beyond my ken, the memes and quotes below have been popping up in my newsfeed. These quotes do not mean what many Catholics think they mean.

“Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them.” ~ Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Notre Charge Apostolique, 1910:
The Magisterium cannot be broken. Whether we are discussing papal decrees, conciliar decrees or Scripture, we need to spend a long time thinking about how to reconcile all the different statements of the Magisterium so they do not contradict one another.

While composing the Summa Theologica, the greatest non-Scriptural work the Church has ever produced, St. Thomas Aquinas reportedly spent hours in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes beating his head against the floor in frustration as he tried to work out how to reconcile all the different statements in the Magisterium.

If this were easy, If the Catholic Faith could be meme'd this way, if statements could be taken at face value without any deeper contemplation, we wouldn't need Fathers or Doctors of the Church. As it is, we do.

Every religion is attractive to men ONLY because every religion has some seed of truth. Since God is Truth, insofar as any system has some seed of truth, that seed of truth is a reflection of God's glory and therefore must be respected to at least that degree.

That is a fact.
None of the facts represented in this article are in contradiction.
All of the facts in this article must be read in such a way that they do not contradict.
Only when you have succeeded in doing that can you say that you have arrived at Catholic Truth.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What Went Wrong At Baltimore?

Traditionalist Catholics who don't know very much about Catholic faith (such as this man) tend to set great store by the Baltimore Catechism (BC). The more ignorant the traditionalist, the greater their love of the BC. Oddly enough, the Baltimore Catechism is arguably a prime example of how American Catholics, raised in the TLM tradition, never really understood the Faith. It is a shining example of the pre-Vatican II rot that the council was trying to repair.

To understand just how bad the Baltimore Catechism truly is, consider the issue of "mixed marriages", that is, marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics. The Bible minces no words on the subject:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, (1 Peter 3:1)
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:14)
The early Church had no fear of the pagans. Every Catholic knew the Faith so well that each believer was expected to convert his or her unbelieving spouse. But how things change in just a couple of millennia! This is the BC's fear-filled command:
Q. 1327. Which are the chief commandments of the Church?
A. The chief commandments of the Church are six:
6. Not to marry persons who are not Catholics...  (Baltimore Catechism)
By the time the American Catholic bishops approached the problem, they recognized that they had stunk so badly at catechizing the faithful, and the faithful had stunk so badly at being catechized, that neither the ordained clergy nor their flock could risk associating themselves with non-Catholics, even via sacramental bonds. That is, the American bishops and their flocks didn't think even the saving graces of the sacrament of marriage, image of Christ's bond with the Church, would be sufficient to protect the Catholic from apostasy, much less convert the unbeliever.

Yes, in a battle in which the salvific graces of the Bridegroom contest with the pagan heresies of the unbeliever, the gates of Heaven could not be trusted to prevail. That's the Baltimore Catechism for you.

Now, anyone who has spent any time at all studying the precepts of the Church know that those precepts have changed wildly depending on geography and time period.
The Church in her supreme authority has defined nothing regarding the form and number of the Commandments of the Church (emphasis added). The Council of Trent while recommending in a general way in its twenty-fifth session the observance of these precepts says nothing regarding them as a particular body of laws. Neither is any specific mention made of them in the "Catechismus ad parochos" published by order of the council and known as the "Catechism of the Council of Trent" or "Roman Catechism". We have seen that St. Antoninus of Florence enumerates ten such commandments while Martin Aspilcueta mentions only five. This last number is that given by St. Peter Canisius. According to this author the precepts of the Church are: To observe the feast days appointed by the Church; to hear Mass reverently on these feast days; to observe the fasts on the days during the seasons appointed; to confess to one's pastor annually; to receive Holy Communion at least once a year and that around the feast of Easter. 
 It will be readily observed that the omission by French writers of the Commandment to pay tithes was owing to local conditions. In a "Catechism of Christian Doctrine" approved by Cardinal Vaughan and the bishops of England, six Commandments of the Church are enumerated. These are:
  • to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work;
  • to keep the days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church;
  • to go to confession at least once a year;
  • to receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts;
  • to contribute to the support of our pastors;
  • not to marry within a certain degree of kindred nor to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times.
This list is the same (????) as that which the Fathers of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1886) prescribed for the United States. (question marks and emphasis added)
Read that last precept, as presented by the Catholic Encyclopedia, again. Notice what is missing. Notice how the encyclopedia's version of the precept doesn't say a word about not marrying the unbeliever. In fact, you can read the entire encyclopedia article and you would search in vain for the BC's "mixed marriage" precept in ANY of the provided lists, all written by saints and Doctors of the Church. This all the more striking when one considers how little love the Catholic Encyclopedia's own article on mixed marriage exhibits.

Now, one could argue that this entire article is but an argument from silence. But that is precisely the point. The precepts of the Church have never been put under double-secret probation. The whole purpose of the precepts are to make quite clear and quite well-known bedrock ecclesial principles. If something is not listed as a precept of the Church in any list by any father, Doctor, saint or council of the Church, then it isn't a precept of the Church, no matter how much some random lay person, priest or even individual bishop might wish it to be.

So, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Baltimore Catechism did not just back away from the idea that Catholics should evangelize everyone concerning the Faith, even their own spouses. It would be bad enough if this were true, but it is worse. Instead, again, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Baltimore Catechism actively misrepresented the Third Plenary Council's summary of the Church's precepts. 

The Baltimore Catechism has many faults.
  • It is not logically structured, it does not begin with the Trinity as Aquinas did, but is instead structured almost haphazardly. 
  • It is a question-answer catechism that consciously imitates Protestant catechetical methods (few today realize that Martin Luther's 1529 Small Catechism was the first question-answer catechism in history). 
  • It is a catechism that teaches the sacraments in the wrong order, placing Confirmation after First Eucharist when all Magisterial documents clearly show the order of sacramental initiation is baptism, confirmation, Eucharist. 
  • It is a catechism that is meant to teach only small children, but continues to be sought out by adults who have clearly never gotten beyond a child's understanding of the Faith.
But even if all of those grievous errors were ignored, we now have evidence that the Baltimore Catechism actively mis-represents the Faith.  And even if it did none of those things, the Baltimore Catechism would not constitute a useful tool for adults.
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. (1 Cor 3:2)
When it comes to adult evangelization, the Baltimore Catechism is a hot mess. Due to its defects, it is really not any great shakes at teaching children either.
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.  (1 Cor 13:11)
It is time for Catholic adults to become adults in the Faith. Adults learn by reading the Fathers of the Church, the saints of the Church, the councils of the Church. Adults put away childish toys like the Baltimore Catechism. Indeed, given what we have seen here, adults would be better off teaching our children directly from the writings of the saints and the Fathers, and ignoring the Baltimore Catechism entirely.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ratzinger's Liturgical Commentary

Despite saying this as cardinal, once he was consecrated as Pope Benedict XVI, he NEVER offered the traditional Latin Mass.

That is quite telling.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On the Rosary

The Rosary is a great private devotion that has received praise from many Popes. It is a prayer currently enriched with an indulgence, and historically has had many indulgences attached to it.

However, all that being said and acknowledged, the Rosary is not a necessary prayer.
Liturgy is a necessary prayer - every sacrament is wrapped up in liturgy, and we cannot attain heaven without the grace of the sacraments. But the Rosary is not liturgy, nor is the Rosary a sacrament. The Rosary is not necessary to attain heaven.

Not one of the Fathers of the Church prayed the Rosary.
Very few of the Doctors of the Church prayed the Rosary.

In fact, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church who was dubbed the “greatest saint of modern times” by St. Pius X, had this to say about the Rosary:
“I feel then that the fervor of my Sisters makes up for my lack of fervor; but when alone (I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don’t succeed in fixing my mind on them.
For a long time I was desolate about this lack of devotion which astonished me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to recite in her honor prayers which are so pleasing to her. Now I am less desolate; I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my mother, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it. Sometimes when my mind is in such aridity that it is impossible to draw forth one single thought to unite me with God, I very slowly recite an “Our Father” and then the “Hail Mary”; then these prayers give me great delight; they nourish my soul much more than if I had recited them precipitately a hundred times.”
Eastern Catholics use the Akathist Hymn, not the Rosary. They get to heaven just fine. The Church got along just fine for over a thousand years without the Rosary. The Rosary is a good personal devotion, but it is not necessary for salvation.

The Liturgy of the Hours, precisely because it is liturgy, is infinitely more valuable than the Rosary. The Liturgy of the Hours actually extends the grace of the Mass through the day. The Rosary, because it is not liturgy, does not do this. It does not matter what any private revelation, such as Fatima, Lourdes, etc., has to say on this point. Private revelations might recommend private devotions to private individuals. Private devotions are never, under any circumstances, greater than the liturgy, even if the recommendation to use that private devotion comes from a private revelation. Liturgy is always greater than private devotion. Period. The Rosary is a private devotion.

"Catholic" means "universal." Catholics can have different personal devotional practices. That's why we have different religious orders: Jesuits practice different personal devotions than Franciscans who practice different personal devotions than Carmelites. There is nothing wrong with deciding that a specific personal devotion is not for you. The Rosary is a specific personal devotion. It is quite possible to be a faithful Catholic with a deeply Marian bent and yet not pray the Rosary. Despite what many Catholics will tell you, there is nothing wrong with this.

As a Catholic, I can recommend my spiritual devotions to another Catholic. However, as a Catholic, I cannot deprecate other Catholics who decide my personal spiritual devotions are not helpful to them. My personal devotions are for me, their personal devotions are for them. Perhaps they find the Rosary helpful, perhaps they don't. Either way is fine. Either way is fully Catholic. That's between them and God. I have no business in that conversation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Separation of Church and State

Pope Pius X: "That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error... Hence the Roman Pontiffs have never ceased, as circumstances required, to refute and condemn the doctrine of the separation of Church and State." (Vehementer Nos #3, Feb. 11, 1906)

Separation of Church and state is a heresy.
The two can be distinguished, but never separated.

Man is made in the image and likeness of God. For this reason, man will always try to replicate his relationship to God in his dealings with other men. Thus, no man can actually succeed in separating his theology from his politics. It isn't possible.

In a democracy, where politicians are selected and elected, politics is necessarily a reflection of the theology that dominates the electorate. When a Protestant Congress outlawed contraceptives, that political body was merely reflecting 2000 years of Christian tradition. From the 1930s onward, when judges began to overturn the Comstock laws, we saw the United States move away from its Christian roots towards a eugenically-minded agnosticism.

Today, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the representatives of our major political parties, we see an inchoate paganism. It is not the paganism of the Norse, the ancient Greeks or the ancient Romans, all societies which celebrated martial values and delighted in constant war. Rather, it is a paganism that denigrates warfare but delights in sensuality.

Our desires have become our god, and now that god drives our politics.
Our theology will always be reflected in our politics - it cannot be avoided.

With this election, many of us are shocked to discover that Obama is correct - we are no longer a Christian nation.