Neuhaus’ The One True Church

Richard John Neuhaus writes in a previously unpublished essay appearing now in First things of how the Church may best characterize herself in relationship with other ecclesial communities of the Body of Christ.  Neuhaus wants us to think more fully about this, saying, “We need to clarify what the Catholic Church claims for herself and what she does, and does not, acknowledge with respect to other Christian communities.”  He acknowledges that it is a tricky business. In the long search for a greater visible unity of the Body of Christ in the world,  a  miss-step, misunderstanding or misspoken phrase can produce ever greater dis-unity and contention in tribal disharmony.

Neuhaus quotes Christopher J. Molloy, writing in his essay titled “Subsistit In: Nonexclusive Identity or Full Identity?” in reflecting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church.  Molloy states, “one can affirm both the essential fullness of the ecclesial reality of the Catholic Church and the concrete poverty and woundedness of her lived life, together with her practical need of the expressive ecclesial riches found outside her visible boundaries.”

On the Church, Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, reads:

“This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, which our Savior, after his Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which he erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth.’ This Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.”

The word “subsists” in the Lumen Gentium statement is thought by some a weakening of the Church’s understanding of Herself as the One True Church.  Enter our present Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.  He clarifies with:

“The word subsistit derives from ancient philosophy, as it was later developed among the Scholastics. It corresponds to the Greek word hypostasis, which of course plays a key role in Christology in describing the union of divine and human natures in the one person of Christ. Subsistere is a special case of esse. It refers to existence in the form of an individual subject. . . . With the word subsistit, the Council wanted to express the singularity and non-multipliability of the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church: the Church exists as a single subject in the reality of history. But the difference between subsistit and est also embraces the drama of ecclesial division: for while the Church is only one and really exists, there is being which is from the Church’s being—there is ecclesial reality—outside the Church.”

Neuhaus writes on, including discussions arising from works of Avery Dulles as well as Molloy, finally, coming to this:

“In sum, Catholics should not fear offending our ecumenical partners by affirming what we believe the Catholic Church to be. To be sure, that affirmation has weighty implications. For instance, Lumen Gentium also 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.” But that, too, should not offend non-Catholic Christians, since we can all agree that such a person would be acting against his conscience and his sure discernment of the will of God. If he continues on that course without repentance, he could not be saved. It is quite a different matter with those who do not know—i.e., do not recognize the truth—that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be. They are wrong about that, of course, but that, presumably, is one reason why they are not Catholics.

And so I think I’ll stay with my admittedly provocative title, “The One True Church.” ….  I will also continue to make the case for the proposition that “the Catholic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time.”

For those who would argue on, here is an olive branch: “All Christians can agree on the formula that there is finally only one Church because there is only one Christ and the Church is his Body.”

Lenten Reading Plan – Mar 28

crucificionicon12Day28Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan 3/28/09

St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony:71-80

Day 28 Lite Version

St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony:59-66

Compilation of Lenten readings

Printer-Friendly Version of Outline: Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan PDF

No Intelligence – No Leaks


Pursuing Holiness sees no intelligence = no leaks as the bright side.

The down side of President Obama’s questionable choice of  Leon Panetta, says J.G.Thayer:

But never in his storied career has he done anything that would even hint at an aptitude for intelligence.

Some of Panetta’s experiences and skills would certainly serve him well at the CIA. He would be good at making sure the Agency stays within its budget and uses its funding most efficiently. He would keep the Agency from getting too close to breaking laws. And his lengthy experiences in government would help him maintain good relations with other agencies and government bodies.

But those are all peripheral to the primary task of the CIA: to collect information, analyze it, and manage it to best uphold our national security.

We’ve seen, far too often, what happens when the CIA fails. The price is often paid in blood — American blood. “Failures of Intelligence” are often cited as the prime factors in the success of the 9/11 attacks. Such failures also lie at the heart of the the Saddam-WMD mistake. And now Barack Obama — for whatever reason — wants to put in charge of the CIA a man with literally zero experience in intelligence, espionage, and covert operations.

We need a Jack Ryan.


Dark Days Ahead

The Lenten readings are growing darker as Jesus approaches His hour

In Wisdom 2, we read:

The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright…
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.

The Gospel of John, too, sounds an ominous note:

“Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near…But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.” John 7:1,10

Why did things have to go this way.  Why the rejection?  Why the Cross?  And while we’re questioning; why do they sour for us?

Today, Fr. Michael, faced with these questions, asked one of his own (I’m paraphrasing.) Who made us judge and jury?  Who confirmed us in our righteousness; which is, if honest, our self-righteousness?”

The Gospel of Light treads a path through every darkness and Darkness, itself.  Without the stuff of darkness, weakness, war, tragedy and desperate dilemma, we  go unchallenged, self-satisfied.  We pursue our dreams and go willy-nilly, perhaps, even, to our own dissolution, seeing only the darkness around us, and none within.  What we don’t like of Gospel or Church, we ignore or eliminate from our daily lives. “Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”

Until the unthinkable forces itself upon us and our decisions, we are content not to think but to ride the fence. The problems remain out there with “them.”  If we do take a stand and speak the Gospel truth, we find what Jesus found: rejection and betrayal, even from within our families, the cruelest blow.  It might not be explicit.  It may be that no one has time to visit.  Perhaps, the grand-kids are withheld and holidays less joyful.  How doesn’t matter so much as that it happens. We are left on our Cross.

What to do?  Look first to yourself.  Question your ways and your motives.  Repent, is the Gospel word for it.  Then pray and wait.  Wait upon God; first of all with praise and adoration, thanksgiving, and finally with petition.  Place all the rest, loves ones and world, in the Tabernacle with the Lamb who was Slain and still lives.  Then go on; “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” This is the Way until the end of the world and the coming of the Day.

From the Office of Readings – for Friday of fourth week of Lent from Easter Letter of Athanasias:

How fine a thing it is to move from festival to festival, from prayer to prayer, from holy day to holy day. The time is now at hand when we enter on a new beginning: the proclamation of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed.

Question Your Dreams

There are people I know and some I love who love and live by the “Follow your passion,” “Live your dream” “Make your heart sing” banality that doesn’t exactly float my boat. I love to stop and smell the roses so long as you don’t stay stopped!  I like to know where I’m going and why. Some people are happy with promises of HOPE and CHANGE period! …..No, how? No, why? No, at what cost?

Sometimes the catchy slog is just sop. It may be time to “Follow the crowd…and go the other way!”

The Anchoress came up with this from American Digest.  It’s well worth watching all the way to the end, believe me.  Mike Rowe of “DIRTY JOBS” fame knows more than manure and sewage.

He says somewhere in this piece, “We’ve declared war on work” and we accepted as fact things that need to be challenged.  The mainstream media, tv boards room decisions and slants , inane sit-coms have indoctrinated us so heaven is hype and a latte or iphone = heaven.  Just watch Mike and listen up a bit (no place for the squeamish.)



Great Promises and Favors – St. Gertrude

From The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great: (with my italics noting promises and favors)

May my heart and my soul, with all the substance of my flesh, all my senses, and all the powers of my body and my mind, with all creatures, praise Thee and give Thee thanks, O sweetest Lord, faithful Lover of mankind, for Thy signal mercy, which has not only dissimulated the utterly unworthy preparation with which I have not feared to approached the super celestial banquet of Thy most sacred Body and Blood, but has added this gift to me, the most utterly vile and perfectly useless of Thy creatures. First, of having been assured by Thy grace that all who desire to approach this Sacrament, and who are restrained by fear from a timid conscience, who come to me, who am the least of Thy servants, led by humility, to receive this Sacrament with fruit to eternal life. Thou hast also added that Thou wilt not permit anyone whom Thy justice deems unworthy to abase themselves to ask counsel of me, O Supreme Ruler, Who, through Thou dwellest on high, regardest the humble. (CF. Ps. 112:5).

What prompted Thy mercy, when Thou sawest me approach so often unworthily, to suspend Thy judgment, and not to inflict on me the punishment I deserve? Thou willest to make others worthy by the virtue of humility; and though Thou couldst do so more effectually without my assistance, Thy love, looking upon my misery, made Thee effect this through me, so that thus I may be a sharer in the merits of those who, through my admonitions, enjoy the fruit of salvation.

But, alas this is not the only remedy which my misery requires; nor will one remedy satisfy Thy mercy, O most kind Lord! For (secondly) Thou didst assure my unworthiness that Thou wouldst consider whoever should expose their defects to me, with a contrite and humble heart, guilty or innocent, as I had declared them more or less guilty, and from henceforward Thy grace would so sustain them that They should never again be in such danger from their faults as they had been previously. And thus Thou hast relieved my indigence, which is so great that I have never even for a single day corrected myself as I ought, and yet Thou dost permit me to participate in the victories of others, when Thou, my good God, dost condescend, to give the grace of victory to Thine other more deserving friends through my words.

Thirdly. The abundant liberality of Thy grace has enriched my poverty of merit by this assurance – that whenever I promise a favor to anyone, or the pardon of any fault, through confidence in Thy mercy, Thy benign love will ratify my words and execute my promise as faithfully as if it has been confirmed by an oath of the Eternal Truth. Thou didst add further, that if anyone found that the salutary effects of my promises were deferred, they should continually remind Thee that I had promised this grace from Thee. Thus dost Thou provide for my salvation according to the words of the Gospel: “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2). And as, I alas, continually fall into the greatest faults, Thou desirest by this means to remit the punishment I deserve.

Fourthly. To solace my miseries, Thou hast assured me, amongst other things, that whoever recommend themselves humbly and devoutly to my prayers will certainly obtain all the fruits which they hoped to obtain by the intercession of any other person: in which Thou hast provided for my negligence, which prevents me from satisfying, not only for the prayers which are made gratuitously for the Church, but also for those of obligation; and Thou hast found the means of applying the fruit of them to me, according to the words of David “My prayers shall be turned into my bosom” (Ps 34: 13); making me participate in the merits of Thine elect, who shall ask these graces of Thee through my intermission, although I am utterly unworthy of it, and granting me a share in them to supply for my indigence.

Fifthly. Thou hast further promised my salvation by conferring these special favors on me, that whom ever with a good will, a right intention and a humble confidence, shall come to speak to me upon their spiritual advancement, should never leave me without being edified or receiving spiritual consolation. In this also Thou hast most suitably supplied for my indigence: for alas, I have wasted the talent Thou didst so liberally bestow on me by my useless words, but now I may gain some merit by what I confide to others!

Sixthly. Thy liberality, O Lord, has bestowed on me thus gift, more necessary than all – certify to me that whoever, in their charity, will either pray for me – the vilest of God’s creatures – or perform any good works, either for the amendment of my life, or the forgiveness of the sins of my youth, or the correction of my iniquity and malice, shall receive this reward from Thy abundant liberality – namely, that they shall nit die until, by Thy grace, their lives have been pleasing to Thee; and that Thou wilt dwell in their souls by a special friendship and intimacy.

And this Thou hast granted of Thy paternal tenderness, to assist my extreme indigence, as Thou knowest how many great corrections are needed for my innumerable sins and negligences. Thus, as Thy loving mercy will not permit me to perish, and, on the contrary by reason of justice, will not permit me to be saved with all my imperfections, Thou hast provided for me by means of the gains and merits of others.

Thou hast added to all these favors, my kind God, by an abundant liberality – that if anyone, after my death, considering with how much familiarity Thou didst communicate with my unworthiness while in this life, should recommend themselves humbly to my prayers, Thou wouldst hear them as willingly as if they invoked the intercession of any other person, provided that they had the intention of repairing their faults and negligences, and that they humbly and devoutly thanked Thee for five special benefits which Thou didst grant me.

First. For the love by which Thou didst freely choose me from all eternity, and which I declare to be the greatest of all the benefits which Thou hast bestowed on me: for as Thou wert not ignorant of, or rather didst foresee, the corrupt life which I should lead, the excess of my ingratitude, and how I should abuse Thy gifts, so that I deserve to have been born a pagan, and not an enlightened human being – Thy mercy, which infinitely exceeds our crimes, has chosen me, in preference to many other Christians, to bear the holy character of a religious.

Secondly. Because Thou hast drawn me blessedly to Thee; and I acknowledged it to be an effect of the clemency and charity which is natural to Thee, Who hast won, by the attractions of Thy caresses, this rebellious and stubborn heart, which deserves to be loaded with fetters and chains; and it has seemed as if Thou hadst found in me the faithful companion of Thy love, and that Thy greatest pleasure was to be united to me.

Thirdly. Because Thou hast united me so intimately to Thee; and I declare, as I am bound, that I am indebted for this only to Thy signal liberality, as if the number of the just was not great enough to receive the immense abundance of Thy mercies, not that I had better dispositions than others, but, on the contrary, that Thy charity might be the more signalized in me thereby.

Fourthly. That Thou hast taken pleasure and delight in dwelling in my soul; and this, if I may so speak, proceeds from the ardor of Thy love, which has deigned to testify, even by words, that it is the joy of Thy all – powerful wisdom to stop to one so dissimilar to Thee, and so utterly ungrateful.

Fifthly. That it has pleased Thee to accomplish Thy work happily in me; and, it is a favor which I have hoped with humble confidence from the tenderness of Thy most benign charity, and for which I adore Thee with gratitude, declaring, O sovereign, true, and only treasure of my soul, that I have in no way contributed to it by my merits, but that it is a true gift of Thy liberality.

All these benefits coming from Thine immense charity, and being so far above my nothingness, I am unable to give thanks for them worthily; but Thou has further assisted my misery, in exciting others, by the most condescending promises, to render thanksgivings to Thee, the merit of which may supply my deficiencies. For which may all creatures in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, glorify Thee and thank Thee continually!