Pope Francis’ emotional arguments for economic reforms

Unlike Leo XIII and Pius XI, Francis’ analysis is not rooted in our obligations in justice (although he places a few off hand allusions to justice). The overwhelming thrust of his argument is emotional. Rather than requiring all to fulfill their duties in justice he exhorts those in business to have a sentimental emotional reaction to the plight of the poor. This leads him to plea for mercy and generosity, which are good things to seek, but to neglect claims of justice.

The problem with appeals predominately to mercy and generosity is that such terms suggest that action is optional or discretionary and not required by the moral law. Rather than talking about our sins against justice Francis decries our “being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain” Whereas the prior popes explained the inherent limits on the use of private property as a principle of Natural Law, for Francis this is only a “spontaneous reaction”

Essentially Francis conceives of Catholic social doctrine as an emotional “option for the poor” to avoid inequality. The ultimate source of this reduction of traditional doctrine lies in the conflation of the supernatural with the natural initiated by the “new theology” of Henri de Lubac.

This theologian accused of Modernism before the Council but rehabilitated by John XXIII to become a Council expert, rejected the Thomistic distinction between the natural and the supernatural. Although for St. Thomas grace builds on nature, nature is not grace and our life here is only our natural end. Our ultimate end is greater and distinct. Our pursuit of our natural end must be in light of and oriented toward our ultimate supernatural end.

This blurring of the distinction results in a theology and philosophy centered on man and his natural well-being, which has now been elevated to a supernatural status rather than centered on God.

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An interesting article on law and justice, particularly as it applies to the Catholic Church

Moses_Given_Tablets_Gebhard_Fugel_1900

Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

The Catholic understanding of law that dominated the Western world for approximately a millennium and a half differs radically from the concept of law that emerged around the time of the Enlightenment. In fact the Catholic understanding, albeit a less precise articulation of it, traces its origins to the pre-Christian ancient world.[1]

God created not only the visible, tangible universe but also created law. The eternal law which is the rational plan of God for the universe is the first created law. As one medieval commentator expressed it, “God is himself law and therefore law is dear to Him.”[2] God did not create an unruly cosmos but one permeated with this eternal law which directs all of creation to its appointed end.

The summit of visible creation is Man. He is graced with a nature that reflects the Divine Nature itself. Man is thus called to participate in the eternal law and thus participate in God’s governance of creation. Not only does God entrust Man with the task of naming visible creatures, he is called to participate in the formation and promulgation of the laws by which Man himself will be ruled and guided to his due end. Just as a name brings greater specificity to an entity, so too Man’s participation in law will involve the task of particularizing the precepts of the eternal law.

Through his intellect, the point of contact with the eternal law, Man has the ability to come to know the most general legal principles, the precepts of Natural Law. These precepts command and forbid actions which conform to and obstruct, respectively, the attainment of Man’s natural and supernatural ends. Yet, these precepts are framed in general and universal terms. As a result of the Fall, Man’s participation in this process is afflicted by the wounds of sin and thus God promulgated an additional law, the divine law, to aid Man in his acquisition of knowledge of the primary precepts of law.

The Decalogue is the prime example of the divine law which did not alter the moral status of the operations specified in its ten precepts but which merely provided revealed knowledge of these precepts. Thus revelation and reason together provide Man with a means of knowing the fundamental precepts of the law which rules the universe.

Yet, the precepts of natural and divine law remain general in their formulation. They require further specification to be useful in guiding particular human action. It is to this task that Man has received a Divine call to participate. Ecclesiastical and secular authorities are commissioned by God to determine more particular principles and precepts of the divine and natural law to guide with greater specificity human action.

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Once the idea of the authority of God as the Judge of right and wrong is forgotten, law must necessarily lose its primary authority and justice must perish.

Jesusthrone

Once the idea of the authority of God as the Judge of right and wrong is forgotten, law must necessarily lose its primary authority and justice must perish: and these are the two most powerful and most necessary bonds of society. Similarly, once the hope and expectation of eternal happiness is taken away, temporal goods will be greedily sought after. Every man will strive to secure the largest share for himself. Hence arise envy, jealousy, hatred. The consequences are conspiracy, anarchy, nihilism. There is neither peace abroad nor security at home. Public life is stained with crime. (Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus, November 1, 1900.)

Submitted by Bob Stanley

Three sources from which sin springs.

susanna

The first reading from today’s Mass is an extraordinary moral tale from the  Book of Daniel. It is the story of Susanna. The full passage (which is quite lengthy) can be found here: Daniel 13:1-62. Interestingly it is missing from Protestant Bibles which use a truncated version of the Book of Daniel. As such it is a lesser known passage, even among Catholics since it is only read on a weekday Mass once a year.

It features the story of a beautiful young woman, Susanna, married to a man named Joakim. One day as she is bathing in a private garden two older men who have hidden themselves there out of lust try to seduce Susanna who rebuffs their brazen overture. They threaten to falsely accuse her of having committed adultery with a young man in garden if she does not give way to their desires. She still refuses and they follow through on their threatened lie. They further demand that she should be stoned. Things look bleak for Susanna until Daniel comes to the rescue and, through crafty interrogation, exposes their lie for what it is. The story is a small masterpiece. If you have never read it,  you should. In the course of its engaging tale it gives us a kind of anatomy lesson of sin. It is good to consider the teachings here.

In a remarkable description the story describes a threefold source from which their sins spring forth. The text says: They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments. (Daniel 13:9). I’d like to take a look at each of these three sources from which sin springs.

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What Akin should have said

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by Doug Lawrence

What Missouri Congressman Akin should have said about women, rape, and abortion is that every life, no matter how or why it begins, is sacred, because God is the author of life. Consequently, every living thing belongs first to God, not man. And that’s something every God fearing person should always keep in mind.

In the case of human beings, special circumstances apply. Made in the image and likeness of God, and called to be in a very special type of covenant with him, every individual is conceived according to God’s very own eternal plan, a plan that is without doubt, mysterious and hard for us to understand … yet unquestionably ordered to the ultimate good of all.

One of the unique aspects of that divine plan is the awesome, transforming power of God’s grace, which is more than powerful enough to bring about good from evil, hope from despair, life from lust, and even selfless charity from moral bankruptcy.

In short, it’s totally unjust and criminal to rape a woman, but it’s even more unjust and criminal to take the life of a totally innocent and helpless babe in the womb.

The proper role of government in the case of rape should be securing justice for all. And there’s plenty of ways to achieve that … without killing anyone!

Which is greater in God: Mercy or Justice?

We know that in God there is both mercy and justice; rather, that God is both mercy and justice. However, we also pray that, upon our death, we might meet in Christ not the just Judge, but the merciful Savior. Knowing that mercy and justice can never truly contradict one another, we might still ask which is greater in God, and which comes first and which is greater.
Is justice the foundation from which mercy builds? Or, is mercy the fundamental disposition of God toward his creatures?
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Editor’s note: Those who approach God in charity, and with genuine humility are likely to encounter their merciful Savior. Otherwise … ???

What is the meaning of Advent, and what do we understand by the term?

What is the meaning of Advent, and what do we understand by the term?

The word Advent signifies coming, and by it is understood the visible coming of the Son of God into this world, at two different times.

It was when the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the immaculate Virgin Mary, was born, according to the flesh, in the fullness of time, and sanctified the world by His coming, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed (Gen. 49:10; Is. G4:1; Lk. 10:24).

Since Christ had not yet come, how could the Just of the Old Law be saved?

Immediately after their sin, God revealed to our first parents that His only-begotten Son would become man and redeem the world (Gen. 3:15). In the hope of this Redeemer and through His merits, all in the old covenant who participated in His merits by innocence or by penance, and who died in the grace of God, were saved, although they were excluded from heaven until the Ascension of Christ.

When will the second coming of Christ take place?

At the end of the world when Christ will come, with great power and majesty, to judge both the living and the dead.

Excerpted from “Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels” by the Rev. Leonard Goffine (1874)

Submitted by Bob Stanley