CATASTROPHE! A Cardinal’s Warning

CATASTROPHE!: A WARNING FROM THE LATE CARDINAL PELL

The late Cardinal Pell has been revealed as the source of a scathing indictment of the current pope, posted anonymously (by “Demos”) last April in a letter to all Catholic Cardinals and Bishops.

The charges are clear and damning.  The papal failure to respond to heretical teachings by the Germans. The idolatrous Pachamama worship. The persecution of charismatics and contemplative orders of nuns. The ghettoization of Latin Mass traditionalists.  The abandonment of faithful Catholics in China and Ukraine. The corruption of the Jesuit order. The Academy for Life gravely damaged, e.g., some members recently supported assisted suicide. The Pontifical Academies have members and visiting speakers who support abortion.

“After Vatican II, Catholic authorities often underestimated the hostile power of secularization, the world, flesh, and the devil, especially in the Western world and overestimated the influence and strength of the Catholic Church.

He summarizes: in the past, the saying was “Roma locuta. Causa finita est.” (Rome has spoken; the case is closed). Today it is: “Roma loquitur. Confusio augetur.” (Rome talks, confusion grows.)

And he wisely warns: “Schism is not likely to occur from the left, who often sit lightly to doctrinal issues. Schism is more likely to come from the right and is always possible when liturgical tensions are inflamed and not dampened.”

I have attached here the full text of Cardinal Pell’s prophetic letter.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

THE VATICAN TODAY

Commentators of every school, if for different reasons, with the possible exception of Father Spadaro, SJ, agree that this pontificate is a disaster in many or most respects; a catastrophe.

1. The Successor of St. Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, a major source and cause of worldwide unity. Historically (St. Irenaeus), the Pope and the Church of Rome have a unique role in preserving the apostolic tradition, the rule of faith, in ensuring that the Churches continue to teach what Christ and the apostles taught. Previously it was: “Roma locuta. Causa finita est.” Today it is: “Roma loquitur. Confusio augetur.”

(A)    The German synod speaks on homosexuality, women priests, communion for the divorced. The Papacy is silent.

(B)    Cardinal Hollerich rejects the Christian teaching on sexuality. The Papacy is silent. This is doubly significant because the Cardinal is explicitly heretical; he does not use code or hints. If the Cardinal were to continue without Roman correction, this would represent another deeper breakdown of discipline, with few (any?) precedents in history. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must act and speak.

(C)    The silence is emphasised when contrasted with the active persecution of the Traditionalists and the contemplative convents.

2. The Christo-centricity of teaching is being weakened; Christ is being moved from the centre. Sometimes Rome even seems to be confused about the importance of a strict monotheism, hinting at some wider concept of divinity; not quite pantheism, but like a Hindu panentheism variant.

(A)    Pachamama is idolatrous; perhaps it was not intended as such initially.

(B)    The contemplative nuns are being persecuted and attempts are being made to change the teachings of the charismatics.

(C)    The Christo-centric legacy of St. John Paul II in faith and morals is under systematic attack. Many of the staff of the Roman Institute for the Family have been dismissed; most students have left. The Academy for Life is gravely damaged, e.g., some members recently supported assisted suicide. The Pontifical Academies have members and visiting speakers who support abortion.

3. The lack of respect for the law in the Vatican risks becoming an international scandal. These issues have been crystalized through the present Vatican trial of ten accused of financial malpractices, but the problem is older and wider.

(A)    The Pope has changed the law four times during the trial to help the prosecution.

(B)    Cardinal Becciu has not been treated justly because he was removed from his position and stripped of his cardinalatial dignities without any trial. He did not receive due process. Everyone has a right to due process.

(C)    As the Pope is head of the Vatican state and the source of all legal authority, he has used this power to intervene in legal procedures.

(D)    The Pope sometimes (often) rules by papal decrees (motu proprio) which eliminate the right to appeal of those affected.

(E)    Many staff, often priests, have been summarily dismissed from the Vatican Curia, often without good reason.

(F)    Phone tapping is regularly practised. I am not sure how often it is authorized.

(G)    In the English case against Torzi, the judge criticised the Vatican prosecutors harshly. They are either incompetent and/or were nobbled, prevented from giving the full picture.

(H)    The raid by the Vatican Gendarmeria, led by Dr. Giani in 2017 on the auditor’s (Libero Milone) office on Italian territory was probably illegal and certainly intimidating and violent. It is possible that evidence against Milone was fabricated.

4. (A) The financial situation of the Vatican is grave. For the past ten years (at least), there have nearly always been financial deficits. Before COVID, these deficits ranged around €20 million annually. For the last three years, they have been around €30-35 million annually. The problems predate both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

(B)    The Vatican is facing a large deficit in the Pensions Fund. Around 2014 the experts from COSEA estimated the deficit would be around € 800 million in 2030. This was before COVID.

(C)    It is estimated that the Vatican has lost € 217 million on the Sloane Avenue property in London. In the 1980’s, the Vatican was forced to pay out $ 230 million after the Banco Ambrosiano scandal. Through inefficiency and corruption during the past 25-30 years, the Vatican has lost at least another € 100 million, and it probably would be much higher (perhaps 150-200 million).

(D)    Despite the Holy Father’s recent decision, the process of investing has not been centralized (as recommended by COSEA in 2014 and attempted by the Secretariat for the Economy in 2015-16) and remains immune to expert advice. For decades, the Vatican has dealt with disreputable financiers avoided by all respectable bankers in Italy.

(E)    The return on the 5261 Vatican properties remains scandalously low. In 2019, the return (before COVID) was nearly $ 4,500 a year. In 2020, it was € 2,900 per property.

(F)    The changing role of Pope Francis in the financial reforms (incomplete but substantial progress as far as reducing crime is concerned, much less successful, except at IOR, in terms of profitability) is a mystery and an enigma.

Initially the Holy Father strongly backed the reforms. He then prevented the centralization of investments, opposed the reforms and most attempts to unveil corruption, and supported (then) Archbishop Becciu, at the centre of Vatican financial establishment. Then in 2020, the Pope turned on Becciu and eventually ten persons were placed on trial and charged. Over the years, few prosecutions were attempted from AIF reports of infringements.

The external auditors Price Waterhouse and Cooper were dismissed and the Auditor General Libero Milone was forced to resign on trumped up charges in 2017. They were coming too close to the corruption in the Secretariat of State.

5. The political influence of Pope Francis and the Vatican is negligible. Intellectually, Papal writings demonstrate a decline from the standard of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Decisions and policies are often “politically correct”, but there have been grave failures to support human rights in Venezuela, Hong Kong, mainland China, and now in the Russian invasion.

There has been no public support for the loyal Catholics in China who have been intermittently persecuted for their loyally to the Papacy for more than 70 years. No public Vatican support for the Catholic community in Ukraine, especially the Greek Catholics.

These issues should be revisited by the next Pope. The Vatican’s political prestige is now at a low ebb.

6. At a different, lower level, the situation of Tridentine traditionalists (Catholic) should be regularised.

At a further and lower level, the celebration of “individual” and small group Masses in the mornings in St. Peter’s Basilica should be permitted once again. At the moment, this great basilica is like a desert in the early morning.

The COVID crisis has covered up the large decline in the number of pilgrims attending Papal audiences and Masses.

The Holy Father has little support among seminarians and young priests and wide-spread disaffection exists in the Vatican Curia.

The Next Conclave

1. The College of Cardinals has been weakened by eccentric nominations and has not been reconvened after the rejection of Cardinal Kasper’s views in the 2014 consistory. Many Cardinals are unknown to one another, adding a new dimension of unpredictability to the next conclave.

2. After Vatican II, Catholic authorities often underestimated the hostile power of secularization, the world, flesh, and the devil, especially in the Western world and overestimated the influence and strength of the Catholic Church.

We are weaker than 50 years ago and many factors are beyond our control, in the short term at least, e.g. the decline in the number of believers, the frequency of Mass attendance, the demise or extinction of many religious orders.

3. The Pope does not need to be the world’s best evangelist, nor a political force. The successor of Peter, as head of the College of Bishops, also successors of the Apostles, has a foundational role for unity and doctrine. The new pope must understand that the secret of Christian and Catholic vitality comes from fidelity to the teachings of Christ and Catholic practices. It does not come from adapting to the world or from money.

4. The first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law and ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is acceptance of the apostolic tradition. Theological expertise and learning are an advantage, not a hinderance for all bishops and especially archbishops.

These are necessary foundations for living and preaching the Gospel.

5. If the synodal gatherings continue around the world, they will consume much time and money, probably distracting energy from evangelization and service rather than deepening these essential activities.

If the national or continental synods are given doctrinal authority, we will have a new danger to world-wide Church unity, whereby e.g., the German church holds doctrinal views not shared by other Churches and not compatible with the apostolic tradition.

If there was no Roman correction of such heresy, the Church would be reduced to a loose federation of local Churches, holding different views, probably closer to an Anglican or Protestant mdel, than an Orthodox model.

An early priority for the next pope must be to remove and prevent such a threatening development, by requiring unity in essentials and not permitting unacceptable doctrinal differences. The morality of homosexual activity will be one such flash point.

6.    While the younger clergy and seminarians are almost completely orthodox, sometimes quite conservative, the new Pope will need to be aware of the substantial changes effected on the Church’s leadership since 2013, perhaps especially in South and Central America. There is a new spring in the step of the Protestant liberals in the Catholic Church.

Schism is not likely to occur from the left, who often sit lightly to doctrinal issues. Schism is more likely to come from the right and is always possible when liturgical tensions are inflamed and not dampened.

Unity in the essentials. Diversity in the non-essentials. Charity on all issues.

7. Despite the dangerous decline in the West and the inherent fragility and instability in many places, serious consideration should be given to the feasibility of a visitation on the Jesuit Order. They are in a situation of catastrophic numerical decline from 36,000 members during the Council to less than 16,000 in 2017 (with probably 20-25% above 75 years of age). In some places, there is catastrophic moral decline.

The order is highly centralized, susceptible to reform or damage from the top. The Jesuit charism and contribution have been and are so important to the Church that they should not be allowed to pass away into history undisturbed or become simply an Asian-African community.

8. The disastrous decline in Catholic numbers and Protestant expansion in South America should be addressed. It was scarcely mentioned in the Amazonian Synod.

9. Obviously, a lot of work is needed on the financial reforms in the Vatican, but this should not be the most important criterion in the selection of the next Pope.

The Vatican has no substantial debts but continuing annual deficits will eventually lead to bankruptcy. Obviously, steps will be taken to remedy this, to separate the Vatican from criminal accomplices and balance revenue and expenditure. The Vatican will need to demonstrate competence and integrity to attract substantial donations to help with this problem.

Despite the improved financial procedures and greater clarity, continuing financial pressures represent a major challenge, but they are much less important than the spiritual and doctrinal threats facing the Church, especially in the First World.

Demos

Lent 2022

My Favorite Lines from the Liturgy

I see my friend Mister Hans Moleman has posted some of his favorite lines from the canon of Marxism. OK, Groucho Marx-ism.  Along with a favorite bit of Monty Python-ism, from a movie that even he describes as “arguably pretty sacrilegious, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic, but inarguably funny.” Hmm.

Anyway, it reminded me to write my own list of favorites…from the Catholic Liturgy of the Mass. I have been thinking of calling this “Hidden Gems from the Liturgy. But that sounded like I was a treasure hunter finding unrecognized beauties where no one else thought to look. So I simply acknowledge these as my favorites, as words that never fail to ring a bell in my mind when I hear the priest pronounce them.

“…Fruit of the earth and work of human hands…”

At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest blesses the Lord for the offering:

…Fruit of the earth and work of human hands…

What a beautiful, poetic description of the bread we offer, as well as any other vegetable, food, wood, or even ornamental landscape. How simply these words describe the relationship of the farmer (or landscaper or backyard gardener) with the processes and products of agriculture (or silviculture or …).    (And, of course, the wine we offer God: “fruit of the vine and work of human hands…”  When I work in my own garden, these words come to me often.

In the Preface dialogue, the priest asks us to “Lift up your hearts.” We reply: “We lift them up to the Lord.”

This is just beautiful, in English or in the Latin “Sursum corda. (see below)

But for me the highlight comes next. “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”  We reply that “It is truly right and just.”

The priest continues: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord…”  Can you spot the hidden gem?  This one is not only a gem but also kind of hidden.

ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE!”    

“Always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord.”  When is the right time to pray? On Sunday? Before bed? And where is the right place to pray?  In church?  By my bedside? And what should be my prayer (in addition to the easy part, the asking for things)?

“Thank you, Lord.”  There it is, the simplest, shortest, most appropriate of all possible prayers. Objects for gratitude are always and everywhere in evidence, though I sometimes need a moment to focus on them.  But they are all around me, the beauty of nature, the love of family and friends, the mere fact of my existence.

And it only takes a second to say it.  The Sacred Second, as I called it some time ago.

__________________________________________________________________________

On “Sursum Corda”

When I get a moment I will write about the concise, often terse beauty of poetic Latin, and compare it with English. “Sursum corda”: 2 words, 4 syllables. “Lift up your hearts”: 4 words, 4 syllables.  Both lovely and grand and memorable.  Both magnificent (and a perfemantra for a slow learner like myself, who took almost 70 years to notice God’s beauty and love).

Or consider this line from St. Augustine’s Confessions(10:27): “Sero te amavi…” 3 words, 6 syllables.  The English, “Late have I loved Thee…” is 5 words, 5 syllables.  Both examples of simple concise poetic.  But the next words in the English version are “O Beauty, so ancient and so new.” 7 words, 9 syllables. The Latin version reads “Pulchritudo, tam antiqua et tam nova.” 6 words, but 12 syllables!  Both magnificent (and a perfect mantra for a slow learner like myself, who took almost 70 years to notice God’s beauty and love).

A conjugated and declined language, Latin, versus a simple Anglo-Saxon language (except when it uses Latin words like “pulchritude”).

Well, never mind. I think I’ve said all I have to say on this subject.

**I wrote more about “The Sacred Second” here.

[UPDATED] Sorry, Hallmark; Men are forgetting to be Fathers!

“Men have forgotten God!”  Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously thundered this verdict in a 1983 speech after his exile from Soviet Russia.

He was speaking of both Western and Communist civilizations, and he clearly referred to “men” in the generic sense of all humanity, of both (or, as we might say today, all) genders.  It is hard to argue against his conclusion.

But today, on the eve of what the Hallmark Corporation has dubbed “Fathers’ Day”, another aspect of our amnesia is also evident.  Men have forgotten to be Fathers!  Our civilizational collapse is a clear result of both these plagues of memory loss.  (Of course, the two are pretty obviously linked.  One might identify the first forgetting as the ultimate cause, and the second forgetting as the proximate cause. Or vice versa.)

An overly-sweeping generalization, you say? Yes, of course it is. But it is a widespread and growing phenomenon. The statistics are hardly debatable, or even debated.  More than a quarter of the 121 million men in the United States (that is, over 30 million men) are biological fathers of at least one child under the age of 18.  Of those children, 17 million live in fatherless homes. The reasons are many: divorce, abandonment, incarceration, etc. But except for the death or overseas service of a father, they shed no credit on the modern father.

Children from fatherless homes account for:

Suicide: 63 percent of youth suicides

Runaways: 90 percent of all homeless and runaway youths

Behavioral Disorders: 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders

High School Dropouts: 71 percent of all high school dropouts

Juvenile Detention Rates: 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions

Substance Abuse: 75 percent of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers

Aggression: 75 percent of rapists motivated by displaced anger

And now SCHOOL SHOOTINGS:  82% are boys from fatherless homes!

(These statistics even understate the damage, as some so-called “stepfathers” all too often turn abusive against “their children”.)

As I wrote a while back in “Suffer the Little Children”, “the importance of this issue cannot be exaggerated. The social pathologies that plague western society today may be traced to many causes (“we have forgotten God”), but one of the most obvious is the weakening of families.  Poverty in America is largely traceable to single-parent households, as violent crime is largely traceable to boys raised in fatherless households.

Too many men have forgotten everything about fatherhood. They have forgotten the “how” of it (except the biological inception part at the beginning). And the “why” of it is a blank, unasked and unanswered.  The presumption is that it is an unwanted side effect, an accidental result to be avoided or evaded at all costs. 

The “how”, after the first fun part, is the support of the mother as she nurtures the child they have created together.  After the birth, fatherhood means the building of the family to support both the mother and child as the child grows into adulthood.  It means being a role model of love and strength and maturity and responsibility.  It is a heavy thing, but men are built to carry heavy things.

As I said above, this is a sweeping generalization. There are many, probably most, fathers who are good supportive parents doing the best they can to raise and protect their children in this increasingly child-unfriendly environment. But the “other” fathers are helping to create and exacerbate the problems that are imperiling us all.

On the other hand, maybe I am worrying too much about this. We have now officially decided that women can be fathers at least as well as men can.  (Indeed, women can do anything as well as men except, apparently, most athletic events and sports.)  Men are increasingly regarded as superfluous. And they know it.

Ray Davies of the (aptly named ?) Kinks predicted this way back in 1970:

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, 

It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world…”  [except for Lola, of course.]

What can we do about it?

1. Raise our children to understand the nobility and importance of being a good father.  Show him how it is done.  (Show our grandchildren too.)

2. Pray for a rebirth of appreciation of fatherhood in our society.  (If you are Catholic, direct a prayer to St. Joseph, the patron and model of fatherhood.)

3. And celebrate your own father every day. Pray for him, whether he is living, dead, or unknown.

BEAUTY and DIGNITY of Flowers

The above photos show two flowers I found recently in our garden.  They are both white hibiscus flowers, which blossom pretty much year-round in Florida.

The first one is in full bloom.  The second is a post-bloom that I found on the ground under the bush.  I picked it up because I thought it was a piece of wadded-up waste paper. 

When I looked closer, I saw that it had curled up on itself before falling from the bush. It looked like it was in a shroud of its own petals, with only the top (the stigma?) and a little of its golden pollen visible, but mostly bald.

The flower is of course indescribably beautiful. But I was surprised to see the beauty that it evolved into in its death.

What makes something beautiful?  Why is something, anything, beautiful?  Conventional wisdom has it that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, hinting that different people can see different things as beautiful (or ugly).  No doubt true to some extent, though I have trouble believing that anyone can find a hibiscus flower ugly. 

The Christian view is that beauty is a creation of God, one of the three things that show God to us (Truth, Beauty, and Love).  That leads to the question of whether God makes his creation intrinsically beautiful, or God instead gives us the capacity to see and appreciate beauty around us. Or both.

When I look at the hibiscus blossom, I see beauty.  And when I see the wilted flower in its petal-shroud, I see a dignity of faded beauty lost. And either way, I thank God for letting me see them.

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, O Lord.”

Always and everywhere.

.

Letter to My Listening Bishop

[As you probably know, the Catholic Church has directed all bishops to hold “listening sessions” with parishioners, to inquire how well the Church is “accompanying” Catholics through their faith journeys. I sent the following letter to my bishop since I could not attend the session near me. Whether you attend or not, please consider sending a similar letter.]

Dear Bishop Dewane,

The Listening Sessions present a great opportunity for laity to express our thoughts and concerns, for which I am grateful.  I may have difficulty getting to any of the sessions, so I want to express in written form what I would say to you if I were present in person.  (I also look forward to a possible Virtual Session, if it occurs.)

I am an adult convert and a parishioner of St. Raphael’s in Englewood, attending mass weekly. I also serve as an Extraordinary Lay Minister of the Eucharist, bringing communion to shut-ins. I participate in the Cornerstone Catholic Bible Study group.

The Church has accompanied me well in the brief years since my conversion, through good priests, good churches, and good friends.

But many things that I see in the wider Church are deeply disturbing to me. 

I see “Gay Pride” rainbow flags adorning churches, where humility should be preached and homosexual acts identified as sins.

I see the Holy Father cause pain to many faithful Catholic hearts by papal remarks mocking fruitful Catholic families “breeding like rabbits”.  My closest Catholic friends have four beautiful children, and I saw the hurt in their eyes when they heard this.

I see confusion sweeping the Church over issues like divorce and re-marriage.

I see blessings of same-sex “marriages”.

I see the false ecumenical pandering that calls the existence of false religions “God’s will” and reveres pagan idols like “Pachamama”

And while I personally prefer the New Mass, I have friends who love the TLM.  Neither they nor I understand the insulting and needless ghettoization of these deeply reverent individuals.

Overall, I see what looks like a near-total embrace of modernism and a rejection of all the warnings past popes have issued over this tendency.

As I rejoice at the grace that has brought me to this moment in my life, I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will purge His Church of the error and confusion that are tearing it apart. 

And I thank you for asking.

Yours in Christ,

David Smith

My Brother – an Update

My brother Dick died recently. He had suffered through many years and several incurable diseases. And in his last months he was often hospitalized to stabilize his various conditions and medications. The last month was spent in an ICU bed, every day filled with hoping and praying to get him released to rehab and home. Much of that time he was delirious, and violently so. When he was responsive, he was overwhelmed by both exhaustion and impatience to be released. His ever-loving wife Lynda suffered by his side throughout, scarcely sleeping for over a month. (I don’t know how she did it! She is a strong and wonderful woman, and a blessing to my family.)

A grim story. Prayers seemed to go unanswered. But then one day, he snapped out of it! Still exhausted (and impatient), he had little memory of his delirium and suffering. We had great visits, and high hopes that he might be released soon. His friends stopped by for visits.

And then he died. Suddenly, without any warning, his heart gave out. He was mourned by a large group of men he had helped for years through Alcoholics Anonymous.

Were my prayers answered? Only when I stopped praying for specific medical miracles, and simply prayed “Lord, help my brother.” And finally, “Lord, bring him back to us.” And that He did.

Now my prayer is one of thanksgiving, and for the soul of my departed brother.

UPDATE: “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4.

Check Out “Squirrely”

I see my good friend Mr. Moleman has posted a link to my Reminiscence about Mr. B (see below).

In appreciation of his kind gesture, I would suggest you take a look at his post “Squirrely”, a short story about the radical politics of the squirrels around us. You will enjoy it.

WILLIS A. BOUGHTON – A Reminiscence

In my misspent youth I was helped along by a remarkable man.  In the 1960’s, he was a youth group counselor for the MYF (Methodist Youth Group) at St. Andrews, a neighborhood church in a working class area of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Willis A. Boughton was born in 1885, so when I met him he was already in his 70’s; quite a contrast from the millennial hipsters so common in today’s church youth ministries (see babylonbee.com for more info on the type.)

THE CRUCIFIXION NEVER ENDS

AN EASTER THOUGHT

In church today for the Easter service, I found myself swept up in the joyous spirit.  The music, the liturgy, the homily, al so spirit-lifting! But I had one disturbing thought as I looked at the crucifix: it seemed out of place, jarring and untimely.  We were celebrating the risen Lord, but the unavoidable centerpiece of the church was the crucifix, graphically displaying the dying Lord.  Didn’t the crucifixion end? Hasn’t Christ risen?  Then why, on this most joyous day, are we faced with death – His death? His gruesome, ugly, pathetic, painful death?

On Holy Saturday, commemorating the day when Jesus was in the tomb, the crucifix was covered, removed from sight, signifying His terrible absence from us.  But on Easter Sunday morning, He is back. We welcome Him home…but He is still dying!

As a recent convert (and long-lapsed Protestant), I have thought much about crucifixes. These depictions of our Savior dying on the cross adorn most (sadly not all) Catholic churches.  In this, we are (as far as I know) unique. Protestant churches usually have crosses behind the altar, but rarely are the crosses occupied.  Protestants tend to see the crucifix as needlessly maudlin. (Perhaps an appropriate word, if we remember its origin in the person of Mary Magdalene.)

The empty Protestant crosses are analogous to the empty tomb. The crucifixion, the death, the burial, all are in the past.  We move on.

But Catholics present the cross complete with the body of Jesus. The “corpus” may be symbolical or impressionistic, often bloodless, all in consideration of modern sensibilities about bloody, tortured bodies. But they are still painful to see.

Theologically, I don’t know why Catholics embrace the crucifix rather than the cross. But I have always found the crucifix a useful reminder that now, as in the past, every sin hurts God. Every sin requires an atonement.  Sin is not just an internal, private or inter-personal matter between me and anyone I injured with my sin. Every sin hurts God.

And so, the crucifixion never ends. It continues as long as sin does – that is, as long as I sin. And it is a great blessing to be reminded of that fact every time I step into a church.  Even on Easter.

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, a Tangled Thread (Recently Updated)

St. Paul famously articulated the theological virtues: “Now abideth these three; Faith, Hope and Love.”

While he went on to crown one of them above the others (1 Corinthians 13:13, “the greatest of these is love”), he otherwise left this trinity of virtues unclarified. How are they related? Is there a connection between them?  Aren’t faith and hope the same thing, kind of? Did he separate them just to have three things in the list?

Elsewhere we read that “faith is the substance of things hoped for”, which certainly suggests a strong linkage between those two. The continuation of that passage (in Hebrews 11:1), “and the proof of things unseen”, fits our modern definition of faith more closely. But the link between faith and hope seems to want further consideration.

More modern translations suggest somewhat different meanings. The NAB calls faith “the realization of what is hoped for”. The NIV has “faith is being sure of what we hope for”.  The Jerusalem Bible reaches further, with “only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for”.  The Greek text uses the word “hypostasis” which elsewhere is usually translated as “substance,” so I stick with the RSV or KJV.

Faith, then, is the underlying reality of our hopes. But I am still confused about this “F-H-L” trinity.

Continue reading