+St. John of the Cross +
Final wrap up on mis-education
In explaining the dangers of receiving modern liberal arts degrees, those offered as such by the Church in ages past were not a consideration, for they no longer exist. For those receiving such degrees from modern colleges and universities today, the point that should have been taken away from all this is that one cannot rely on such education to reliably inform either oneself or others regarding the practice of the Catholic faith. If not infused with the Catholicity the Church requires and demanded in the days when Catholic universities were in operation, these subjects as taught today are not to be relied upon as capable of guiding one’s conscience in matters of faith or in teaching others about the faith. That is not to say that if one later converts after receiving such an education it becomes absolutely useless and cannot be applied to some extent to matters not concerning the faith. But sorting out thinking errors absorbed in such studies takes time and is often more distressing and confusing than simply starting from scratch by studying more intensely the Church’s, laws, teachings and practices in these matters.
If one’s study of the faith is limited only to the basics this becomes quite difficult, since higher learning is “unlearned” only by replacing it with those things taught by the Church on the same level. This only makes sense. And asking those not sufficiently versed in the many pitfalls that can plague the thinking process to judge how their content is contrary to Catholic teaching is ridiculous, for only the legitimately established hierarchy of the Church could undertake such a task. As Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey explains in his The Spiritual Life, “Philosophical knowledge [is] acquired by the exercise of reasoning; …theological knowledge by applying reason to the data furnished by faith.” If the exercise of reasoning is attenuated in 1,000 imperceptible ways by erroneous thought patterns learned in a secular college or university, (or a Traditionalist seminary minus approved Catholic teachers trained accordingly), how can this possibly be sorted out by lay people expected to know only the basic catechism? And how, then, can it be reliably applied to theological knowledge? One would need to study the works of St. Thomas Aquinas for years, from approved sources, to even be able to begin to undo the damage done.
In Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Aeterni Patris, he stresses the great importance of the study of philosophy in the Catholic Church. The Pope writes: “The Church, built upon the promises of its own divine Author, whose charity it imitated, so faithfully followed out His commands that its constant aim and chief wish was this: to teach religion and contend forever against errors. To this end assuredly have tended the incessant labors of individual bishops; to this end also the published laws and decrees of councils, and especially the constant watchfulness of the Roman Pontiffs, to whom, as successors of the blessed Peter in the primacy of the Apostles, belongs the right and office of teaching and confirming their brethren in the faith. Since, then, according to the warning of the apostle, THE MINDS OF CHRIST’S FAITHFUL ARE APT TO BE DECEIVED AND THE INTEGRITY OF THE FAITH TO BE CORRUPTED AMONG MEN BY PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT, the supreme pastors of the Church have always thought it their duty to advance, by every means in their power, SCIENCE TRULY SO CALLED, and at the same time to provide with special care that ALL STUDIES SHOULD ACCORD WITH THE CATHOLIC FAITH, ESPECIALLY PHILOSOPHY, ON WHICH A RIGHT INTERPRETATION OF THE OTHER SCIENCES IN GREAT PART DEPENDS.
“It may be well here to speak more fully in the words of one of the wisest of Our predecessors, Sixtus V: ‘By the divine favor of Him who alone gives the spirit of science wisdom, and understanding, and who thou ages, as there may be need, enriches His Church with new blessings and strengthens it with safeguards, there was founded by Our fathers, men of eminent wisdom, the scholastic theology, which two glorious doctors in particular angelic St. Thomas and the seraphic St. Bonaventure, illustrious teachers of this faculty, . . .with surpassing genius, by unwearied diligence, and at the cost of long labors and vigils, set in order and beautified, and when skillfully arranged and clearly explained in a variety of ways, handed down to posterity.
“’And, indeed, the knowledge and use of so salutary a science, which flows from the fertilizing founts of the sacred writings, the sovereign Pontiffs, the holy Fathers and the councils, must always be of the greatest assistance to the Church, whether with the view of really and soundly understanding and interpreting the Scriptures, or more safely and to better purpose reading and explaining the Fathers, or for exposing and refuting the various errors and heresies; and in these late days, when those dangerous times described by the Apostle are already upon us, when the blasphemers, the proud, and the seducers go from bad to worse, erring themselves and causing others to err, there is surely a very great need of confirming the dogmas of Catholic faith and confuting heresies.’“
“Although these words seem to bear reference solely to Scholastic theology, nevertheless they may plainly be accepted as equally true of philosophy and its praises. For, the noble endowments which make the Scholastic theology so formidable to the enemies of truth — to wit, as the same Pontiff adds, “that ready and close coherence of cause and effect, that order and array as of a disciplined army in battle, those clear definitions and distinctions, that strength of argument and those keen discussions, by which light is distinguished from darkness, the true from the false, expose and strip naked, as it were, the falsehoods of heretics wrapped around by a cloud of subterfuges and fallacies.”
So given the clear instructions of Pope Leo XIII above, which should convince any rational Catholic that what was written in our last blog was unquestionably the truth, we need to look in another direction — to examine the possible motives of those insisting that secular credentials in philosophy can be considered legitimate and trustworthy contrary to the teachings of the Roman Pontiffs. Any truly serious student of philosophy should already have read this most important encyclical and firmly and irrevocably accepted it as the Church’s official teaching on this matter. This brings us to another topic that should be better understood in these times when it seems that every tool of the devil is being used to deceive the unwary.
After years of answering questions and accusations from various critics, it is time to apprise readers of the modus operandi of the majority of these strident objectors and the reason they make the rounds as they do. At the bottom of things their motives and arguments are all the same, and come from the same sources, even though they are very careful to make it appear they are unrelated and only pop up at random. To help explain what is really at the root of all these attacks, which issue from a familiar enemy, we have posted an article as a bookmark here exploring their origins. Whenever a new objector appears on the scene, we will simply refer to this bookmark rather than issue a lengthy response. That being said, we hope that by doing this we can avoid further distractions and move on to the many important issues Catholics are struggling with today.
The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving
Several years ago, while still a reporter, I wrote the following article. It has been amended and updated for this blog piece.
“While American school children have always learned the traditional celebration of the first Thanksgiving began with the Pilgrims on this country’s eastern seaboard in 1621, this was only one of several “thanksgivings” in America, and it was not the first.
“Some 55 years earlier, expedition leader Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a fervent Catholic and founder of St. Augustine, Fla. accompanied by Father Francisco López, his fleet chaplain, along with their crew, celebrated a feast of thanksgiving with Native Americans there after first offering a Mass of thanksgiving for their safe journey. The meal was nothing like we celebrate with today, being ship’s fare rather than the fruits of the Pilgrim’s first harvest. It reportedly consisted of salt pork, garbanzo beans, bread and wine. But the Mass of Thanksgiving was infinitely greater than any simple a meal celebrated by non-Catholics could ever be. It placed a mark on this land for Christ as His own.
“The largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, 208 feet high, now marks the location of this first offering of thanks. Every year on September 8, the feast of Our Lady’s Nativity, Floridians commemorate the landing of Menéndez in 1565 and the Catholic Mass that followed, with dignitaries from around the world gathering in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S., to reenact the event. Other thanksgivings may also have been celebrated by Coronado, as he moved throughout the Southwest, as well as Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto. French, Portuguese and Hispanic Catholic contributions to American culture have received little notice in the history books in decades past, even Catholic history books.
“Southwestern historian Dennis Lopez has noted that one of these later Thanksgivings was celebrated in southern Colorado when a Thanksgiving Mass was offered on Aug. 19, 1598 or 23 years before the Pilgrims. ‘It made me want to learn more because I realized that the first Thanksgiving was NOT with the Pilgrims but with the Spanish! The Spanish had been exploring the Americas for years. Without their exploration and the stories going back to Europe, Europe would have probably never gotten involved in the New World.’”
“’None of us can afford to diminish or set aside the history of another group, especially when it affects all of us. Our beginnings in the Americas are not the pilgrims, or the trappers or Jamestown. It is part of the history of Spain. [The Spanish] chronicled the Native Americans, the lands from the eastern seaboard to California. Understanding their history is like filling in several holes in our own European history. It is past time to learn, share and sometimes even agree to disagree but let us do it with tolerance, respect and understanding. So let us share the day, the family stories, the laughter and the smiles. We will all be better for it!’”
I have heard some Traditionalists remark that Thanksgiving really is only a “Protestant” invention and should not be celebrated as a national holiday by Catholics as though it was the equivalent of ChristMass or Easter. But while it may not be the equal of these two greater feasts, it is not something instituted by the Protestants after all, nor should the excellent opportunity to render thanks to so good a God be passed up on this day. Gratitude is a very important virtue and to set aside one day in a year to express it is precious little. We give thanks every day in our after meals prayer. We thank God or should in our daily prayers for every grace, every, benefit, every cross He has sent to us.
On Thanksgiving Day, we should offer a spiritual mass and communion, also our Rosary, for the countless graces and blessings we receive every day from Our Lord and His Blessed Mother; for the many blessings of yet holding dear close family members and fellow Catholics, including the faithfully departed, and for all of God’s many material blessings. Those living in this country forget that in large part, without the explorations of the Spanish and French, this continent might never have been settled as quickly and successfully as it was. God’s hand was upon this country when St. Brendan first glimpsed it and called it the “isle of the blessed.” Columbus landed on her shores, and Our Lady’s Guadalupe title graced the spot where he landed, just as it did the land of Mexico. Our country has been corrupted and co-opted by those who were determined that she never fulfill her Catholic destiny, but God alone will be the One who decides our fate. If possible at all, it would take a disastrous and devastating fall, a bloody rebirth, followed by a brief but poignant victory, but it is difficult to abandon all hope that this country could somehow convert. In our Thanksgiving prayers we must remember to pray fervently for that miraculous conversion.
My heartfelt gratitude for all the contributors and supporters to this site and may you and your families enjoy a peaceful and blessed day of thanks.
What in the World… It’s not about politics
What we have resigned ourselves to as the prevailing political system today in this country would classify everyone in various parties, but for the Catholic this classification is meaningless. The issues at hand are not political, as I told one media colleague emphatically long ago, but moral. They are moral maladies warned against by the popes for decades, even centuries, prior to Pope Pius XII’s death. They are dangers to the Catholic faith as well, since in the case of secret societies, communism and socialism, they involve the worship of false gods and culminate in atheism. There is no need here to go into the abortion issue, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism or transhumanism, all of which are innately opposed to the natural law and everything ever taught by the Church. The principalities and powers ruling over us may have politicized all these things, but they remain issues of faith and morals long ago condemned by the popes and in Holy Scripture.
Likewise with the creation of a one world order, first advocated by Pres. Woodrow Wilson. In a hauntingly accurate description of what would result from such a system, Pope Benedict XV on July 25, 1920, in an address honoring St. Joseph as universal patron of the Church, warned of the evils inherent in such a plan and the suppression of individual freedoms which would follow if it was implemented:
“The advent of a Universal Republic, which is longed for by all the worst elements of disorder, and confidently expected by them, is an idea which is now ripe for execution. From this republic, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and community of possessions, would be banished all national distinctions, nor in it would the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society, be any longer acknowledged. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror.” And much of this has already occurred.
A young combat photographer recently returned from some of the bloodiest battles fought in the Pacific theater during World War II wrote much the same thing in the late 1940s. Having just embarked on his writing career about that time, the echoes of recent peace discussions were fresh in his mind. The realization of the horrors of war, never erased throughout his lifetime, were at their most intense, and after an unsuccessful bid for a writing position with The Baltimore Sun he wrote:
“In the event of another war, the people of the world will be faced with one of two decisions: total annihilation or a swift arbitration and consolidation of peoples, governments and cultures worldwide. Not one nation could be omitted from the list, for as long as one nation remained independent and self-governing, there would always be the temptation and high probability of aggression on the part of the major nation. This temptation would have to be eliminated, for so long as one man or one nation has something that another has not, the greed of possession will be uppermost in the mind. Thus civilization and advancement will come to a standstill, and in time, like a timepiece sitting in the weather, the functioning parts of the mechanism will become rusted and will deteriorate into a solid, immovable mass.” — William E. Stanfill, Soliloquy
We have been fighting that war now for decades, a spiritual warfare never recognized as such but one that has taken from us first our beloved Church, and now our country. There will come a time, and it may be sooner than we think, when a line will be drawn in the sand, one we cannot afford to cross. That day will divide all those who now present as Catholic or Christian and unmask them for who they truly are — the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Those who stand firm will be openly persecuted and many will eventually be martyred. The rest will be counted among the ranks of Antichrist and his system. In the coming weeks, we hope to able to present some spiritual consolations and practical helps to prepare us for those times and strengthen our faith for the fight ahead.