Lots happening – trying to keep up with the discussions

Thanks for everyone contributing to the excellent discussions over the last few days. I am astounded that one combox string went for over 170 comments. I am still working my way through all of those.

Things are very busy here as I am preparing for a Joint Muslim Catholic Pilgrimage to Istanbul and Rome after Easter, and for a week in Rome before that (Holy Week!). Hopefully I will have my new laptop with me on the trip and will be able to give regular updates on our journey (you will recall the red-wine incident… )

In the mean time, I just want to throw a few pebbles in the pond – I don’t have the time to work these into full separate theses, so they are just ideas:

1) On the invocation of the Saints:

There have been two objections from our Lutheran commentators. The first has been that there is no command or promise attached to the invocation of saints in the Scriptures. The second is how can the dead hear us?

Answer to the first objection could be that we don’t have any promise or command in scripture (as far as I know) about asking our fellow Christians to pray for us either. We have the command to pray for others – a command which I presume even the departed saints alive in Christ continue to fulfill. There are examples in the Old Testament of people asking prophets to intercede for them (eg. 1 Sam 12:19, Job 42:8, Jer 37:3). There is a striking parallel in the New Testament of Simon Magus asking Peter and John to pray for him to the Lord (Acts 8:24) – a very interesting case that could be used as the basis for the invocation of saints. Then there are several places in the letters of Paul and in Hebrews where the request is made that the readers “pray for us”.

All these examples seem to assume that the one being asked to pray – prophet, apostle, churches – have some influence with God. They are “near to God” in a way that would make their prayers beneficial. This seems to fit with James 5:16-18, where the “righteousness” of the intercessor adds power to the prayer. Again, this would seem to support invocation of saints. We invoke them to intercede for us because they are more righteous, more holy and closer to God than we are.

I can’t find anything in the Scriptures that would seem to say that we can’t invoke the saints to pray for us – unless of course it is the second objection: that they are dead and this would be communication with the dead, something explicitly rejected in the Old Testament.

But here we come to the fact that the doctrine of the Communion of Saints is based on the doctrine of the Resurrection and new life in Christ. They are not dead, but living, and therefore invoking them does not come under the OT ban.

However, can they hear us? No, not directly. They are not divine or omniscient or omnipresent. (I like the idea that theosis comes into play, but theosis is only complete with resurrection, so I can grant this in reference to Our Lady, but am not sure how it applies to all the rest of the saints beholding the beatific vision.) The Communication of Saints (if I may coin that term) depends on the same thing that the Communion of Saints does: they and we are all one in Christ and in the Spirit. Indeed that is the reason we can ask our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth to pray for us: not because they can hear us, but because they are in Christ and the Holy Spirit with us. St Paul tells us that nothing, not even death, can separate us from Christ (Rom 8), and so this connection does not cease at death. It is an indirect communication, granted, just as our communion with one another is indirect, whether in this life or in the next. But Christ shares his glory with his people by allowing them to share with him the role of sole intercessor before the right hand of God.

2) On purgatory:

Pastor Weedon said in a combox:

“Purgatory I have no truck with; purgation is another matter. Our God IS a consuming fire. And the way St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor. 3 suggests that purgation is order for all of us. The Lutheran Symbols note – without censure – that St. Augustine apparently so understood it. So not a place, but the final purification that burns out of us all that is not love – and that we rejoice in. An ouch before the “ah” as a friend used to put it. But an ouch to which we cry: Burn, baby! Burn! Destroy in me all that is not the love of God!

Such purgation, I might note, begins long before our death. It is to start at the moment of our Baptism and will be complete when our Baptism is completed in passing through death.”

I wonder, what does he actually think it is that we Catholics believe? For in this, he says nothing other than that which the Catholic Church teaches. See a presentation I did on this matter here (powerpoint file)

3) Regarding the Word of God:

Pastor Weedon also said in another combox: “I do deny that the Scriptures are anything less than the active and living Word of God which itself decides truth.” I would like to put this alongside something Ratzinger wrote way back in 1965 (you can find it in the Ignatius Press collection of Ratzinger essays “God’s Word”):

Can the Word be handed over to the Church, without having to fear that it will lose its own life and power under the shears of the Magisterium or amid the uncontrolled growth of the sensus fidelium? That is the Protestant’s question to the Catholic.

Can the Word be set up as independant, without handing it over to the arbitrariness of the exegete, to be emptied in the disputes of historians, and thus to the complete loss of normative authority? That is the question with which the Catholic will directly respond…

I think there are two things going on here. There is the Word of God as it directly and existentially and spiritually addresses me as a creature of God, convicting me of sin, calling me to repentance, forgiving me my sin and strengthening me in faith, hope and love towards God and my neighbour. That is definitely the work of God’s living and active Word alone, which no human being can ever control nor for which any human being can ever take credit.

But then there is the other way in which the Word of God works, as teaching and as commandment, creating and ordering the Church and binds me together in community with my fellow believers. In this sense the Word requires an “administrator” as much as the sacraments do; in order for the Word to teach doctrine, there must be a teaching office (Magisterium). But the Lutheran claim is (as Ratzinger puts it in the same essay mentioned previously) that they have

“set the Word of God free from its chains in the ecclesiastical office…

This notion, that in the Catholic Church the Word of God had been fettered by being linked to the authority of office, that it had been robbed of its active, living power, is expressed time and again in the writings of the Reformers… [In the Catholic Church] office appears…as the criterion for the Word. It guarentees the Word. In Melanchthon’s thinking, it is the other way round: the Word appears as the criterion for office… The Word has become independant. It stands over and above the office, as an entity in itself. Perhaps it is even in this reversal of the relations between Word and Office that the real opposition lies between Catholic and Protestant conceptions of the Church…”

Does it help if we distinguish between the way in which the Word of God speaks to us as teaching and commandment (requiring “Office”) and the way in which it speaks to us for the sake of convinction, repentance, forgiveness and nourishment (independantly of “Office”, living and active and powerful)?

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117 Responses to Lots happening – trying to keep up with the discussions

  1. Vicci says:

    Hi Carlo!

    what a couple of fabulous posts!
    you’re almost too good to be true!

    and well-educated !

    (..you’re not a ‘plant’ are you?)

  2. Past Elder says:

    It was not you specifically to whom I referred Herr Damian, nor does anyone intend to offer a pseudo-proof. I pointed in particular to that which you again invoke — numbers. Now we are to distinguish. The classic dodge. Catholicism is hardly the only religion to have posted large gains in Africa, Asia or Latin America, nor does the fact that it has among other religions posted gains answer the questions of losses. (The local archdiocese having just closed another inner city parish and school while its schools in the “peripheries”, read well-to-do white suburbs, do fine and the archdiocese plunks down $400K cash for a retirement home for the archbishop.)

    And we are to be impressed with a ratio of 1 to 225 over 1 to 480, when the ratio is skewed by the pratice ratio going from 60% to 15%!

    If the current administration of RCC Inc. ran Coca-Cola, they’d still be trying to sell New Coke and think it was a success!

    Oddly enough, the old Dominican Novitiate in the episcopal seat of my former diocese, which closed, there being neither Dominicans nor novices to occupy it after “renewal”, is now owned by the SSPX!

    “Only” as in form of the Mass was in the context of the “Tridentine Rite” pre- and post-Vatican II, which, speaking of Dominicans, unless you were one or in a number of other unique circumstances, was the only form of the Mass pre Vatican II. The real point being, a liturgy which exists in an ordinary and extraordinary form is, for one thing, an incredible instance of Vatican II doublespeak, as if more were needed, and for another, a slap in the face to the Mass of Pius V to consider it so related to the novus ordo, whose authors (some of whom I knew) despised it.

    And matthias — no where, at any time or in any place, would it be the teaching of the Catholic Church that a Baptist, as a Baptist, cannot be saved. Unfortunately there was as much a “spirit” of Trent loosely based on Trent as there is a “spirit” of Vatican II loosely based on Vatican II. In the former case, Trent itself is the corrective; in the latter case, the only thing worse than the “spirit” of Vatican II is Vatican II for real.

    Finally, I suggest the particulars of Mr Schuetz’ personal life ought to be matters of discussion between him and his spiritual advisor, not commenters on his blog.

  3. frdamian says:

    Past Elder,

    The “peripheries” in Australia do not mean well-to-do. And inner-city does not mean poor. The inner cities in Australia have become the domain of the wealthiest. The poor live on the outskirts with limited access to infrastructure.

    If I’m attempting to prove anything, it is that the present situation of the Catholic Church is not reducible to post-Vatican II = decline in adherence. That was the original assertion to which I was responding. It is simply false.

    Considering that I began by making a distinction between a decline in the Western world and a growth in Africa and parts of Asia, it seems unfair to claim that “NOW we are to distinguish. The classic dodge.”

    If we are to respond to the crisis in adherence to mainstream Christianity in the Western world, we need to understand the factors at play. Erroneous assertions about causes will lead to the wrong remedies.

    I wasn’t trying to “impress” with priest-people ratios. Thankfully, as I would have failed.

  4. Carlo says:

    The crisis in adherence to “mainstream Christianity” (i.e. Catholicism) is down to one simple fact: there is no Catholic Church to adhere to, for most people. A few remnants remain, scattered hither and thither across the world, while the Vatican has been occupied by Protestant modernists with an addiction to clown masses and bare-breasted native women on the altar.

    Vicci, I’m glad you enjoyed my posts, but I must say I do take offence at being called a “plant”. I have one single purpose in mind in posting on this blog: to bear witness to all the dogmas of the Holy Catholic Church, and in particular EENS as it is written.

  5. Vicci says:

    ~no need to take offence!
    it was interogative, not ccusative.

    Bearing Witness is fine work.
    You’ll find some of like mind, if previous posts are any indication.

    But you raise a conundrum. If there’s no Catholic Church anymore,
    (in the main) how can Rome continue
    to claim that It is?

  6. Carlo says:

    It has been taken over by Jews and Freemasons, who are past masters at HD.

  7. Son of Trypho says:

    It has been taken over by Jews and Freemasons, who are past masters at HD.

    -oh dear.

  8. Carlo says:

    Who is Trypho?

  9. Past Elder says:

    God bless me sideways, is it possible to speak to a post-conciliar Catholic without wondering when visiting hours are over?

    You go on about what inner-city means and growth in Africa, bring up numbers then say no big deal — it’s like the passengers on the Titanic refusing to board lifeboats because, even with the water swirling around them, the boat cannot sink dammit!

    No, the present situation of the Catholic Church being reducible to post-Vatican II = decline in adherence is absolutely NOT the original assertion, at least not mine, and it absolutely misses my point to think it is.

    Jews and Freemasons? Holy crap, when ARE visiting hours over in the asylum called the Catholic Church?

  10. frdamian says:

    Past Elder,

    Please connect the dots…

    Frank said: “Vatican II which has been the bane of Catholic life since the early 60s has largely speaking emptied the Church and drained her spiritual reservoir”

    I replied: “Whilst the western world has, during these last fifty years of material growth and massive social changes, seen a plummet in church attendance rates, the church in Africa and some parts of Asia has experienced an explosive growth which has well outweighed the church’s ‘losses’ in the West.”

    Thus, the original assertion to which I replied both by naming the person who made the assertion and quoting the assertion in full.

    To which you ‘reply’:
    “All the usual pseudo-proofs from the conciliar “Catholics”, particularly the argument from numbers outside Europe, which would also “prove” Islam the true religion…”

    A statement that has nothing at all to do with my denial of Frank’s claim.

    You then claim “It was not you specifically to whom I referred Herr Damian…”
    An odd statement considering that I am the only person to have mentioned numbers outside of Europe.

    Finally, with capitals you tell use that post-Vatican II = decline in attendance is “absolutley NOT” your original assertion. We agree on that and at no stage have I said or implied otherwise, being careful to address the person to whom I was particularly responding and to quote them in full.

    Now you are exasperated… Sheesh…

  11. Schütz says:

    PE said: Jews and Freemasons? Holy crap, when ARE visiting hours over in the asylum called the Catholic Church?

    They are over as of now, I think, PE.

    This is really getting silly. And just after we were all patting one another on the back for how genteel and enlightened we all were on this blog.

    Carlo and Frank, I hold you responsible for deliberately lowering the tone of the discussion on this blog. You are both skating on thin ice – especially when you start questioning my faithfulness to the Catholic Church (something which none of your posts have self-evidently demonstrated).

    I posted on three matters that I desired to be discussed – and now there are just silly arguments about who can and can’t be saved and who are and are not true Catholics.

    I can only believe that when Vicci called Carlo’s comments “educated” she was being sarcastic.

    For your info, my children were baptised in the Lutheran Church when I was still Lutheran. At that time I promised to “be responsible for their upbringing in the Church”, to “remember them in [my] prayers”, to “bring them to the services in God’s house and teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Commandments,” to “remind them of their baptism, set them a good example, and provide for their instruction in the faith”. I have kept and am keeping all these promises.

    When I became Catholic I promised to do what I could to raise any children born after my reception as Catholics (no children have been born to us since I coverted). In fact, I believe that I am raising my daughters to be Catholic – though not perhaps in a way that you would comprehend. I am certainly not doing it in a way that imposes Catholicism upon them against either their will or the will of my wife.

    I’m putting the stopper back in the port barrel on this combox and telling you all to go home and have a good night and look out for the breathaliser.

    Come back when you actually want to discuss the topics I post on.

  12. Schütz says:

    I must apologise to all of you who kept this discussion going beyond bed-time. I enjoyed reading the various comments, but I did say that this com box was closed, so I exercised my supreme and infallible magisterium as owner of this ‘ere blog and deleted the lot.

    But – I always have to have the last word! And it is this: Frank came onto this blog saying that in agreeing with Pastor Weedon’s statement on Purgatory, I was a heretic. He restated this in one of the deleted comments as follows: Mr Schutz I called you on your assertion that Lutherans and catholics belive the same things about Purgatory and while your pp display may say otherwise the original sentence you wrote is clearly erroneous and heretical.

    As Past Elder (a master at avoiding upsetting people while still mouthing the most illogical nonsense and amusing profanities) pointed out: I was not saying that Lutherans and Catholics taught the same thing regarding Purgatory; I was saying that what Pastor Weedon specifically said was not in contradiction to Catholic teaching. Thus does dialogue proceed: by making it clear what we agree upon and what we do not agree upon.

    Thanks also to Joshua for explaining to me who the hell this “Ott” character was. I feel quite comfortable in continuing to prefer the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    And one more comment (“no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition”): Past Elder is at least right in saying that I cannot be faulted for being less than faithful to the institution which presents itself to me as the Catholic Church. PE and others may disagree on whether that institution IS the Catholic Church and on whether what it teaches is in fact Catholic doctrine, but I have set myself only the task and duty of being faithful to that entity of which I am a communicant member and which calls itself “The Catholic Church.”


  13. Frank says:

    The “who the hell this Ott character is” displays excactly the attitude that causes me concern. he is fr Ludwig Ott and he has in the words of James Canon bastible DD provided a “scientific exposition of the whole field of Catholic teaching”. Which is more than the new Catechsim can claim, and by the way remember that the Catechsim is NOT an infallible document.

  14. Joshua says:

    Frank, I respect Ott and Bastible, but you must at least realize that both are minor authors of yesteryear; it beggars belief that you would so slight the Catechism (note correct spelling!) as to madly prefer the manual prepared by Ott to it, when the Catechism is an official document of the Magisterium.

    Beware of the silly claim that “not infallible” means “completely ignorable and rejectable” – if you seriously believe this, you are as bad as any liberal, and in serious danger of heresy yourself.


    Do try and realize that the shirty comments you freely make about others make your own prissy remarks about others’ diction appear risible and hypocritical.

    And, Vicci, as my brother in Christ I would be delighted to see Frank at Church – though at Caulfield, thank Christ, we don’t have to put up with that meaningless hand-shaking nonsense: instead, from the altar, making a threefold sign of the Cross with the Host over the Chalice, the priest sings “Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum” (The Peace of the Lord be ever with you), to which all we, all united in Christ and therefore blessed by this His Gospel blessing, reply “Et cum spiritu tuo” (And with thy spirit); if it be Solemn High Mass, the priest, deacon and subdeacon then exchange the peace…

    It would be foolish to think that Frank and I would not be pleased to recognize each other at Mass.

    Comments in a combox are notoriously less well-mannered than we all are in real life – at least I really, really hope so!!!

  15. Joshua says:

    Rereading my last comment, I notice I was a bit critical – apologies!

  16. Comment deleted says:

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

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