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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Karol Wojtyla’s Namesake: St. Charles Borromeo

Update 11/4/16: My nephew's Halloween Costume was none other than St. Charles Borromeo this year!
Also here is the exact quote from Karol Wojtyla about the origin of his name:
  • My joy is all the: greater because I am meeting you in this famous hospital called after Saint Charles Borromeo, whose name was given to me by my parents at Baptism.
My nephew's name is Charles--so this post has tremendous significance (my brother and I attended St. Charles high school)

Benedict XVI, in an Angelus dated November 4th 2007, recalls both St. Charles Borromeo and Karol Wojtyla as “two great men of the Church, distant in time but close in the Spirit”.

He goes on to say of Borromeo: ‘model of the pastor known for his exemplarity in charity, doctrine, apostolic zeal and above all prayer.’ The Pope recalled the bishop's words, ‘We conquer souls on our knees.’

Lastly he remembers, “venerable predecessor John Paul II, who with devotion bore St. Charles' name."

Blessed John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyla, was indeed named for Charles Borromeo and during his pontificate, November 4th was a national holiday for Vatican City State.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Pope of Subsidiarity

Local issues need local solutions. In other words, on a personal level, I am responsible for me, then my spouse, then my children, etc. in a kind of ripple effect. Karol Wojtyla’s thought applied the principle of subsidiarity on these personal levels, knowing that the Gospel itself spreads person to person.

The co-founder of the Acton institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Fr. Robert Sirico calls St. John Paul II “the Pope of Subsidiarity” for a number of excellent reasons: opposition to Marxism, opposition to impersonal market economies, importance of the dignity of human work for persons, debt-forgiveness, opposition to population control, and fostering entrepreneurship. Most of these points appear in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, but also in Laborem Exercens.

JPII’s call for a year of jubilee at the second millennium was no ideological game. He truly meant for persons enslaved to debt, even nations enslaved by other nations, to be relieved of their burdens in some small way:

I don’t recall John Paul ever saying that the debts of developing nations should simply be forgiven unconditionally. He was very conscious of the Church’s teachings about commutative justice and the way that this demands that we keep our promises. He was not blind to the fact that there was a strong likelihood that outright debt cancellation would destroy many developing nations’ credit ratings which are essential to obtain foreign capital. John Paul did, however, ask lending nations to be generous in the way that they sought to lighten the debt burdens of many developing nations.[1]

That said, there was an entire movement called Jubilee Coalition leading up to the year 2000 to implement debt relief as represented by a majority of the world’s economy at the time 1998 (US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Russia). In response,

US Congress responded to the growing pressure to address debt relief issues in 2000 by committing $769 million to bilateral and multilateral debt relief.[2]

While subsidiarity is not all about debt relief or even solely a financial issue, it is impressive to know that JPII’s call for jubilee was carried out in a semi-effective way. I will close with 2 qoutes from Fr. Sirico similar to my opening remarks on locality, and the latter on work as defined in Laborem Exercens:

1) In a sense one might indeed refer to John Paul as the Pope of Subsidiarity. No previous pope, including Pope Pius XXI, has outlined in such depth and detail and applied it so manifestly to the modern Welfare State as John Paul did. He showed the levels of society needed to meet human needs where they actually existed: when “neighbors act as neighbors to those in need” and also identified the way in which an erroneous effort leads only to creating expensive and ineffective bureaucracies that fail to see the deepest needs of the human heart.

2) The encyclical underscores the Christian tradition that there are two dimensions to human work. The first is the objective-transitive dimension: the effect of an act of work upon the world. The second is the subjective-intransitive dimension: the effect of the same act of work upon the person who initiates it. It can either promote virtue or vice.

[1] http://www.acton.org/global/article/john-paul-ii-wojtyla-pope-subsidiarity-interview-r

[2] E. Carrasco, C.McClellan, & J. Ro (2007), "Foreign Debt: Forgiveness and Repudiation" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development E-Book

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) was established by St John Paul II in 1988. Unlike the SSPX, they are loyal to Rome and in line with the Papal Magisterium. Like the SSPX, they celebrate with special devotion the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite according to the liturgical books of 1962. Oftentimes, they are placed near high concentrations of the SSPX, so as to combat the schism in my understanding.

In their own words, here are some of the charisms of FSSP:

1) A deep love and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
2) Faithful following of Christ the High Priest, source of all grace, our example and our inspiration.
3) Filial love and true devotion to Mary the Mother of Priests and patroness of our seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
4) Loyalty and fidelity to, and dependence on, the Magisterium of the Church and the successor of Saint Peter, our Patron.

Two current publications that follow the dealings of SSPX and FSSP are the Remnant and the Wanderer, respectively. In one article from the Wanderer, which happens to be the one of the two publications loyal to Rome, Fr. John Emerson gives more background as to the establishment of FSSP:

It came into being on July 18th, 1988, at a meeting at the Cistercian Abbey of Hauterive near Fribourg, Switzerland. We met there — I wasn’t yet a member, so I wasn’t there — the Society met there, about 10 priests and a number of seminarians, all of them, except one or two, persons who had just left the Society of St. Pius X because of the schismatic consecration of four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre.[1]

Keep in mind that FSSP says rightly: The Fraternity was founded in response to the Holy Father’s (JPII’s) call to ecclesial unity and the new evangelization.[2]

Despite the accusations of modernism and break with Tradition from the SSPX against Rome, it is clear across the board that SSPX must repent and return to the House of God and not vice versa.

[1] Fr. John Emerson. The Wanderer. St. Paul, MN: 1990 http://realromancatholic.com/2013/07/14/fr-john-emerson-fssp-speaks-on-the-original-sspx-break-with-rome/

[2] https://fssp.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2nd Family Synod in 30 years: Familiaris Consortio!

USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz reminds us that the 2014 Synod on the Family is not the only one to have taken place in history. In fact, he makes reference to a Synod during the pontificate of JPII:

the principle of gradualness, which might be very helpful to the evangelizer in the process of accompanying individuals. The pastoral principle of gradualness and what it means and does not mean is actually found in St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which was issued as the fruit of the last synod on the family over 30 years ago.[1]

He goes on to explain the law,

In considering the role of the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, the Synod delegates ask what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage; how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church? The theological notion of the law of gradualness and its authentic implementation in the Catholic tradition must be carefully understood in order to answer these questions[…]The “law of gradualness” cannot be interpreted as “gradualness of the law” which implies that the law is “merely an ideal to be achieved in the future” (FC 34). Any suggestion that would cause the law of gradualness to be equated or even related to relativism or proportionalism must be avoided, since both relativism and proportionalism are foreign to magisterial teaching (Veritatis Splendor 65ff, esp. 75). Along these lines, and as noted in the Vademecum for Confessors (1997), “the pastoral ‘law of gradualness’ must not be confused with ‘gradualness of the law’ which would tend to diminish the demands it places on us” (VC 3.9). The law of gradualness, “consists of requiring a decisive break with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the will of God and with his loving demands” (VC 3.9, emphasis in original). Therefore, the willingness to abide by Jesus’ teaching on such matters, including a decisive break from sin, should be regarded as an essential starting point for gradual growth in holiness.[2]

In essence, a call to repentance and conformity to the life of Christ is at hand. I count two total documents authored by St. John Paul II in Archbishop Kurtz’s references (Familiaris Constortio and Veritatis Splendor)!

[1] Joseph E. Kurtz. Archbishop Archives: October, Archdiocese of Louisville. www.archlou.org

[2] Ibid

Arzobispo Bergoglio y San Juan Pablo

I think it necessary to reference Bergoglio's earlier works as proof of his single-hearted devotion to Christ and as a means of edifying his reputation in the face of much confusion (both deserved and undeserved). The example I will use also references St. John Paul II, and is largely an inspiration for Archbishop Bergoglio at the time:

Juan Pablo se comunicó con su pueblo, con la coherencia de un hombre de Dios, con la coherencia de aquél que todas las mañanas pasaba largas horas en adoración, y porque adoraba se dejaba armonizar por la fuerza de Dios. La coherencia no se compra, la coherencia no se estudia en ninguna carrera. La coherencia se va labrando en el corazón con la adoración, con la unción al servicio de los demás y con la rectitud de conducta. Sin mentiras, sin engaños, sin doblez. Jesús dijo de Natanael una vez cuando venía caminando: "Aquí tienen a un israelita derecho, sin doblez". Creo que lo podemos decir de Juan Pablo, el coherente. Pero era coherente porque se dejó cincelar por la voluntad de Dios. Se dejó humillar por la voluntad de Dios. Dejó que creciera en su alma esa actitud obediencial que tuvo nuestro padre Abraham y desde allí todos los que lo siguieron.[1]

Translated, the above passage essentially says, “John Paul communicated with his people as a coherent man of God, as one who coherently spent many mornings in adoration and loved with the strength of God on account of his adoration. His coherence did not compromise, nor did it pursue careerism. His coherence grew in his heart with adoration, with anointed service and upright conduct. Furthermore, there was no duplicity in him. Jesus said of Nathanial once when he walked up to him: “Here we have a true Israelite, without duplicity”. I believe that we can say the same of John Paul. His life was coherent because he did the will of God. He humbled himself and did the will of God. He cultivated in his soul an attitude of obedience just as our father in faith Abraham did by following after God’s call.” {my translation}

It is easy to mistranslate Bergoglio, and I believe the media does it often. Nevertheless, the message he wrote about John Paul II in 2005 is clear: obedience to the will of God in single-hearted devotion. To accuse him, or JPII, of anything besides that is unfounded. The above passage was not written by a man with a liberal or conservative agenda. It was not written by a man who practices liberation theology or any other unorthodox strain of modernism. It was written by a man who adores God whole-heartedly and recognizes such in others…

[1] Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio. “Misa en memoria de S.S. Juan Pablo II”. April 4th, 2005. http://www.arzbaires.org.ar/inicio/homiliasbergoglio.html

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko

*10/20/2014 Update: I will say now through interactions with them that the Knights of Columbus are, in some cases, a Catholic influence on trade unions in America!

The rise of trade unions in Poland took on a very different identity than those in America. “Solidarity”, the movement of manual laborers in Poland, all drew their strength and inspiration from Catholicism. It was no coincidence that the Pope at the time was the first Slav to be in the chair of St. Peter, Karol Wojtyla. On the ground in Poland, simultaneous to his pontificate, were numerous Polish priests and Bishops who encouraged the solidarity movement. Among them was Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, an invalid with a particular calling to preach and minister to the laborers forming “solidarity”. But again, what differentiated this movement from that in America? It seems to me that the main difference was communism in Poland vs. greedy tycoons in the USA. Communism proved to be a much greater threat worldwide and Poland rallied around the Church for help. Though numerous American immigrants attempted to do the same, the threat of greed from individuals had less of an enduring effect on the origins of unions. So, in America, unions have fallen into the hands of lobbyists and masons. In Poland, especially with the martyrdom of Fr. Jerzy at the hands of secret police, “solidarity” remains connected to the Church.

Ignatius Press made an excellent film on the life of Fr. Jerzy, called “Popieluszko”. Old footage of Wojtyla is shown throughout the film, corresponding with St. John Paul II’s visits to his country in 1979-80s, the heart of the years in which Fr. Jerzy ministered until his martyrdom in 1984. A few speeches that are shown to the characters of the movie on television are:

To Poland the Church brought Christ, the key to understanding that great and fundamental reality that is man. For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.[1]

And again at Mass the following day:

Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Pope, in whose heart is deeply engraved the history of his own nation from its very beginning and also the history of the brother peoples and the neighbouring peoples, should in a special way manifest and confirm in our age the presence of these peoples in the Church and their specific contribution to the history of Christianity?..Is it not the design of Providence that he should reveal the developments that have taken place here in this part of Europe in the rich architecture of the temple of the Holy Spirit?..Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Polish Pope, this Slav Pope, should at this precise moment manifest the spiritual unity of Christian Europe?[2]

Alongside Wojtyla, many priests and bishops of Poland knew that God’s will was intent on breaking the communist will, but through peace, work, and insistence on human dignity and conscience. Fr. Jerzy preaches homily after homily on the conscience of man in the face of oppressive government, imprisonment, martial law, etc. He informs leaders of the “solidarity” movement, including one scene in a Church with Lech Walesa, of their rights before false accusations of the government.

Some men in my family have worked for trade unions for their entire careers. Compared with Polish laborers, they have little to no understanding of their dignity in Christ, their identity as rooted in baptism (non-Catholics), or the fact that their unions are run by powers that have learned little to nothing from “solidarity”. They do not see the radical turn that their historically immigrant-based political party has taken toward socialism, as though trade unions were somehow always headed toward that end. On the contrary, in Poland they grew up in opposition to that conclusion: Trade unions are the polar opposite of socialism! Sadly, unions in America are strictly secular entities. In Poland, they engage the common man in a deep legacy of holiness, martyrdom and sainthood. Fr. Jerzy is a witness to such an identity, and may his beatification process continue with ever greater miracles in our day!


[1] Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Victory Square, Warsaw, 2 June 1979—Apostolic Journey to Poland

[2] Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Cathedral of Gniezno, 3 June 1979—Apostolic Journey to Poland

Monday, April 14, 2014

Santo Subito!

UPDATE: PETITION TO POPE FRANCIS: Declare St. John Paul II “Doctor of the Church”!
Posted on 12 April 2015 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
I, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, do hereby petition our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to declare St. John Paul II

Doctor of the Church.

I ask that St. John Paul II, who instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, be declared Doctor of the Church on the Feast of Divine Mercy 2016, one liturgical year from today, and that he be endowed with the title

Doctor Misericordiae.

St. John Paul II should be a Doctor of the Church, because of the outstanding quality and the comprehensiveness of his opus, which includes philosophy, theology, poetry, and even drama.

St. John Paul II’s Magisterium serves, among other things, as an authoritative and comprehensive commentary on the Second Vatican Council.

His numerous encyclicals touch nearly all aspects of human life. Consider his defense of life, his defense of the Truth of Catholic teaching, his efforts toward the liberation of millions from Communist tyranny, his merciful correction of errant theologians for the protection of the faithful, his social teaching, and his defense of marriage and of the family (e.g, in Familiaris consortio).

He issued the Catechism of the Catholic Church and revised the Code of Canon Law for both the Latin and Eastern Churches. Most of all, consider his defense of the Truth of the Faith through his entire body of teaching while applying it appropriately to our times, not just to the 26 years of his pontificate, but to the 21st century.

Tens of millions, indeed hundreds of millions, look to St. John Paul II as a fixed point of Catholic Truth.

Moreover, Pope Francis, who canonized St. John Paul II, can by this gesture manifest a special relationship with the enduring Magisterium of the Saint during his own pontificate.

As Pope Francis himself wrote in the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Misericordiae vultus 11:

Saint John Paul II highlighted the fact that we had forgotten the theme of mercy in today’s cultural milieu….

I urge all the faithful who read this to pray that this come to pass and that they, in their own ways, promote this petition with Pope Francis himself, as well as their local bishops and pastors.

St. John Paul II, pray for us!


Catholic News Agency
A saint in my lifetime? 
Somehow I do not think it will stop there with Blessed John Paul II.  Whether in my lifetime or in my son's, JPII will most likely become a doctor of the Church.  His Love and Responsibility alone is enough to cure the last fifty years of sexual confusion throughout the world.  First things first though, and sainthood is definitely on the horizon.  Once I spell out the qualifications he has for sainthood, I will also identify his qualifications for being a doctor of the Church.

As for sainthood, Pope Benedict XVI waived the first step of Karol Wojtyla's beatification process by vouching for his status as "Servant of God" before a five-year post-mortem period.  Therefore, JPII was qualified to be the "servant of the servants of God" just by means of his office on earth.  But, what set him apart from other popes who held the same office?  The answer lies in the other steps of the process.

The second step deals with the life of 'heroic virtue' that Karol Wojtyla lived out on a daily basis.  He lived through the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Cold War, an assassination attempt...the list goes on and on to show how valiant were his daily thoughts and actions!  The declaration of the Church of 'Venerable' is the exact name given to potential saints at this stage.

Thirdly, the title of 'Blessed'--which Karol Wojtyla has already merited--applies to a potential saint who readily identifies with a proven miracle.  In this case, the intercession of JPII has effectively healed two people with Parkinson's disease--the first being a french nun, and the second a  former mayor from Columbia.
Two or more miracles are necessary for the Pope to proclaim JPII a saint.  Currently, the Vatican is investigating numerous miracles attributed to JPII, and his cause is truly on the fast track ever since Benedict XVI waived the five year waiting period.  In fact, it is speculated that Pope Francis may proclaim Karol Wojtyla a saint at the upcoming WYD in Rio De Janiero!
Again, I believe that Blessed John Paul II's cause will not end with just sainthood.  Much more evidence exists for the argument that he will become a doctor of the Church before too long.
There are three requirements for being named a doctor of the Church:
(1) Great Sanctity. Only those who have already been declared to be saints by the Church may receive this
(2) Eminent Learning. Those who are declared doctors of the Church are known to be great teachers of the
(3) Proclamation by the Church. Typically, such proclamation is made by the Pope.

*Notes on the above reqs: Nearly everyone who saw or heard of Karol Wojtyla can attest to his holiness.  Even his childhood jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger, testifies of his holiness from the time he was ten years old (see my previous post). 
As for his being a great teacher, he was responsible for making the catechism available to the layman in an updated, succint, and revitalized fashion.  Not to mention, JPII's Theology of the Body and encyclicals speak for themselves to every generation that enquires into the fundamental truths of the human person.
Lastly, anyone with authority in the Church, especially Popes Benedict and Francis, will attest to JPII's merits. 

Without a doubt, I believe that Karol Wojtyla will not only become a saint, but also become a doctor of the Church.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dr. John Grabowski and JPII's take on Ephesians 5; Savage on Complementarity and Dubay on Authenticity

St. Paul’s teaching on subordination has met with considerable public backlash since the advent of feminism in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Questions abound as to whether the teaching itself is even based on the message of Jesus, or on some abstractions of Judaic or Hellenistic practices of running a household. Dr. John Grabowski does well to point out the differences between non-Christian cultures’ approach to marriage versus the way the early Church lived out marriage in the light of St. Paul’s teaching. He explains how radically different the Christian husband looked versus the paterfamilias of the Roman society. Drawing largely from the thought of John Paul II, Grabowski fashions “Mutual Subordination of Husband and Wife” into an authentic, historical, and applicable document for today’s confusion about marriage. His argument is broken down by chapter as follows:

1) The authentic interpretation of Ephesians Five consists in mutual subordination as opposed to any sort of domination, as explained by John Paul II. The historical basis for this.
2) Help of other scolars to explain man and woman as made Imago Dei, and therefore complementary
3) The proper understanding of a husband’s headship, as related to Christ’s authority

To begin with, Judeo-Christianity has always viewed the human person, male and female, as made in the image and likeness of God. As a consequence of sin, personal relations have been severely wounded—to such a degree that a kind of male domination was seen to be acceptable in society in order to maintain order and unity. Although St. Paul would have been all too familiar with such a dominant view of women by men, particularly through his Roman citizenship and Jewish education, his teaching is not tainted by the surrounding culture, but is based, rather, on the fresh concept of Christ as servant of his bride the Church. Furthermore, he introduced to the ancient world a new approach to marriage which eliminated the curse of sin on personal relations by the grace of Christ’s self-sacrificial love. Therefore, the Christian household did look different in operation and dynamic than the Roman or Jewish household. It looked different because the husband derived his authority from Christ the Servant, and the wife also shared in that authority—largely in response to the initiative of her husband’s self-sacrificial love.

Indeed, it is the responsibility of the Christian husband to initiate the “living sacrifice” of his body for the sake of his wife, even to the point of death. St. Paul’s teaching really demands much more of the husband than contemporary interpretations of Ephesians care to admit. Read properly, there is no opportunity for the husband to take advantage, to dominate, or to “lord over” his wife if his intention is to imitate the authority and headship of Jesus. Rather, the sense of mutual subordination to Christ gets the first emphasis in the thought of John Paul II, and the subordination of a wife to her husband only follows to the degree that the husband is authentically imitating Christ as servant. The moment he diverts from the authority of Christ, is the moment he loses his wife’s respect.

The other scholars Grabowski cites besides the Pope are chiefly Angelo Cardinal Scola and Sister Prudence Allen, particularly in regard to their work on sexual complementarity. Their work is not to be confused with the myth of Aristophanes, which proposes that man and woman are just separate halves of a greater whole person. Nor is it, obviously, to be confused with Plato’s proposition that bodily existence aside, man and woman are the same. Rather, Scola and Allen teach that man and woman are distinctly other, whole, and unique from each other. When united in marriage, this distinction of persons gives rise to an imaging of the Trinity, especially in the begetting of a third, distinctly unique person.

Given the philosophical explanations from Scola and Allen, as well as the historical and exegetical analysis from Grabowski and John Paul II, one can begin to see how the Sacrament of Marriage differs from the feministic reactions to St. Paul’s teaching in Ephesians. In reality, the wife who was once seen as mere property by the Roman world is given the utmost dignity and authority due to her status as an adopted daughter of God in Christ. Only in light of Jesus’ defeat of sin and death is this marital dynamic made possible. Otherwise, the influence of sin and selfishness is too great a strain on marriage to be lived as a Sacrament. As we have seen so often in the contemporary world, many divorces result from a fundamental misunderstanding of the sacramentality of marriage (of course manifested in practical disorders: finances, infidelity, domination, etc.), whether the couple cares to admit it or not.

Lastly, Grabowski gives a thorough explanation to the controversial concept of the husband’s headship. As I have already mentioned in this regard, only insofar as the husband imitates Christ’s servant leadership, initiates self-sacrificial love and the laying down of his life, does he share in the authority of Jesus. Likewise, the husband’s headship is merely analogous to the relationship between Christ and the Church, and does not guarantee him any type of divinization or superior ontology to his wife. They are, after all, equal in dignity but with separate and complementary categories.

I have briefly pointed out the breadth and depth of Grabowski’s work in “Mutual Subordination of Husband and Wife”, but with full intent to make available the entire pdf document through various hypertext in this post. It is worth perusing for specific topics and for parish Pre-Cana events, as it was originally made available to Our Lady of Good Counsel parish and the USCCB.

Another great resource by Fr. John Ricardo: https://avemariaradio.net/audio-archive/christ-answer-september-16-2016/

For Dr. Savage's own words on this topic via interview

A local Professor of Divinity, Dr. Deborah Savage, recently wrote an article entitled “What about a ‘Masculine Genius’?”.  At the heart of her argument is the original differentiation experienced by Adam and Eve before the fall, namely that of familiarity with things and with persons, respectively.  In other words, she attributes the “masculine genius” to a natural tendency to attend to things.
She does not limit man’s genius to just impersonal realities, instead she mentions how important woman is to man as a person.

This should not be taken to mean that man is oriented only toward things.  When the woman is brought to him, though he also names her, he knows immediately that she is not an object; she is a person.  For upon encountering her, he says ‘This at last is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.’  Through his encounter with the woman, the Lord God reveals to him the nature of the reciprocal relationship of the gift of self.  And man must realize as well that his own gift—that of caring for and using the goods of creation—is a gift to be exercised in service to her authentic good and in their joint mission to have dominion over all the earth.[1]

Savage goes on to say that the original man and woman’s encounter with creation was different, “While man’s first experience of his own existence is of loneliness, woman’s horizon is different, right from the start.  From the first moment of her own reality, woman sees herself in relation to the other.”[2]

What I gather from Savage aligns closely with my insights from Fr. Thomas Dubay about knowledge (also below).  In all, the psychosomatic differences between men and women (which are more or less pronounced in specific individuals) result in complimentarity.  Furthermore, that complimentarity is meant to be reciprocal and intended for human flourishing—not competition or confusion between the sexes.   

[1] Savage, Deborah.  “What about a ‘masculine genius’”.  Catholic  Servant of St. Paul-Minneapolis.  January 2015.  Article taken from “The Genius of Man” OSV Press, Fall Edition 2014.  See also: http://www.stthomas.edu/media/spssod/pdfs/cvs/SavageCV-June2014.pdf
[2] Ibid.
Fr. Dubay on Authenticity

English lacks the differentiation of the word ‘know’ like that of ‘saber’ and ‘conocer’ of Spanish.  In Spanish, ‘saber’ refers to a knowledge of places, things, and ideas, whereas, ‘conocer’ refers to a familiarity with persons.  I make mention of this differentiation in Spanish to illustrate Dubay’s same dichotomy in his Authenticity:

We may distinguish two types of knowing: one is particular, specific, thing-centered, while the other is fundamental, deep, ultimate, person-centered.  Examples of the first are the molecular structure of water, the sum of the angles of a triangle equaling 180 degrees, the location of Chile in South America and the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.  Examples of the second are moral decisions, the ultimate purpose of life, the thirst of men for happiness and the quest for God.  The research-study model for the attainment of truth is effective for the first level of knowing.  A proud, avaricious, lustful person can through sheer study reach an extensive knowledge of things.  He can learn precious little about persons, nothing about God—nothing, that is, that transcends the mere data level of books and lectures.[1]

I find it more than coincidental that Dubay’s example of the first level of knowledge is applied to a man, as in, “he can learn”.  Were Dubay to have applied such knowledge to a woman, it would not have resonated as well with the reader.  By intuition, we know that women are more inclined toward the second level of knowledge—a knowledge of persons.  Men, on the other hand, are more inclined towards the knowledge of things, ideas, and places.  It is relatively safe to assume then, that men experience ‘knowledge’ much more-so as ‘saber’ than as ‘conocer’.  That is not to say that they cannot, (and absolutely must), become familiar with authentic knowledge of persons, but they are not generally drawn to it without some metanoia to the person of Christ[2], as Dubay points out.

I can think of a couple of reasons why that is the case, namely, that men excel in ‘saber’ and not so much with ‘conocer’.

Number One: ‘saber’ is monetarily valuable and utilitarian.  Even as I write this post, I am practicing ‘saber’ to a degree because I am turning subjects (male persons) into objects by categorizing their thinking.  This is valuable in marketing/selling to a demanding audience.  ‘Saber’ is also utilitarian because it treats persons as a means to an end, namely, benefits for the one utilizing.
Number Two: ‘saber’ risks very little with substantial returns.  In other words, ‘saber’ does not involve self-giving, and therefore, the risk of rejection/persecution or reciprocity.  Rather, it involves simply ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘justice’ or ‘injustice’, ‘reward’ or ‘loss’, ‘win’ or ‘lose’.  Basically, it is not love.

Yet, persons need ‘saber’ in order to love responsibly.  Men’s propensity for ‘saber’ is not all bad, so long as it is balanced with ‘conocer’.  Likewise, a woman’s overt familiarity with ‘conocer’ must be balanced with ‘saber’ as well.  While on earth, this is the reality.  Men and women both must have these two types of knowledge to serve one another in a healthy way: food, clothing, shelter, etc.
In heaven, God-willing, the only type of knowledge necessary will be ‘conocer’.  This is why Dubay is correct in pointing out the necessity of conversion for ‘conocer’.      

The following quote from Edith Stein's (St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) Essay on Women further illustrates my point:
Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth in her natural, maternal yearning. Lifeless matter, the fact, can hold primary interest for her only insofar as it serves the living and the personal, not ordinarily for its own sake...abstraction in every sense is alien to the feminine nature. The living and personal to which her care extends is a concrete whole and is protected and encouraged as a totality...She aspires to this totality in herself and in others.

[1] Dubay, Thomas.  Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.  182-183
[2] Ibid.  183

Monday, March 3, 2014

JPII and Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina consists of three "steps" in approaching the Sacred Scriptures:

1) Meditation or chewing on the Word

2) Oratio or seeking the face of God

3) Contemplation or beholding the Lord

JPII says this of Lectio:

"Dear brothers and sisters, this development needs to be consolidated and deepened, also by making sure that every family has a Bible. It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs, and shapes our lives."

from "Novo Millennio Ineute": Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Bishops, Clergy and Lay faithful at the close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. n. 39.

Ironically, it is more a question of being read by the Word than of reading the Word. The Word of God, after all, is "living and active..."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

JPII, Dali, and Exorcism

Karol Wojtyla's education in Rome culminated in his doctoral thesis on St. John of the Cross: Questio de fide apud S. Joannem a Cruce (The Question of Faith according to St. John of the Cross). For Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali, a question of faith is what determined dignified art from garbage. He too was inspired by his fellow Spaniard, and painted Christ crucified in accord with a sketch done by the Doctor of the Church:

Salvador Dali struggled with faith to a great extent, unable to reconcile it early on with his passion for Freudian psychology. However, because he placed so much emphasis on dreams, as did Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, Dali’s inspiration for “Christ of St. John of the Cross” as a result of a dream he recalled was irresistibly convicting to him. He notes the affect of the dream on his work:

In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in color and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom’. This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe’, the Christ! In the second place, when thanks to the instructions of Father Bruno, a Carmelite, I saw the Christ drawn by Saint John of the Cross, I worked out geometrically a triangle and a circle, which ‘aesthetically’ summarized all my previous experiments, and I inscribed my Christ in this triangle.

Not too many years before this dream, Dali requested in 1947 for an exorcism. A Carmelite friar, Gabriele Maria Berardi, performed the exorcism and was given a handmade crucifix in return.

The rite of exorcism used for Dali was dated 1614, and was later revised twice during the pontificate of John Paul II. The Pope is rumored to have performed two exorcisms, one successful and one unsuccessful. Fr. Gabrielle Amorth was Rome's exorcist at the time, and came to the aid of the Pope after the second unsuccessful attempt.

I want to suggest a correlation between Dali's obsession with Freud and his need for an exorcism, and refer to my previous post on JPII vs. Jungian/Freudian Psychology. While psychology can be enormously beneficial to discernment of spirits, I suggest it can also be a major impediment or excuse: recall men like Jim Morrison, Aldous Huxley, etc.

Dali's repentant response to grace was very admirable, and his post-conversion artwork reflects his interior disposition. Fellow surrealists persecuted him to a great degree, but he portrayed the strength and substance of the Gospel to be infinitely more significant than mere dreams.

For further reading on dream interpretation from a Catholic perspective, see Sirach 34.




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

JPII and Solzhenitsyn

In June of 1978, Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave the commencement address at Harvard concerning Soviet Russia and the weakness of the West. By mid October of the same year, Karol Wojtyla would ascend to the chair of St. Peter. “A direct gift from God” was Solzhenitsyn’s response to the news of the first Slavic Pope. Below are some examples of how desperate the socialist situation was in Solzhenitsyn’s eyes, and how the West was powerless to stop it with only capitalism as its standard.

He describes his concern for the West in a financial metaphor of sorts:

Relations with the former colonial world now have switched to the opposite extreme and the Western world often exhibits an excess of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns, will be sufficient for the West to clear this account[…] But the persisting blindness of superiority continues to hold the belief that all the vast regions of our planet should develop and mature to the level of contemporary Western systems, the best in theory and the most attractive in practice; that all those other worlds are but temporarily prevented (by wicked leaders or by severe crises or by their own barbarity and incomprehension) from pursuing Western pluralistic democracy and adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in that direction. But in fact such a conception is a fruit of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, a result of mistakenly measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet's development bears little resemblance to all this.[1]

At its core, Solzhenitsyn’s address identifies the West’s need for redemption—indeed, the entire world’s need! He continues, “All the celebrated technological achievements of progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century’s moral poverty, which no one could have imagined even as late as the nineteenth century.[2]”

He accuses westerners of “weak human personality” due to avoidance of suffering, “decline in courage” from hiding behind rationalized laws based on weakness and cowardice, “lack of manhood” and “they [western governments] get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists”. By and large, Solzhenitsyn basically calls America and Western Europe, “girly men” compared with his own people.

He goes on to describe Soviets as stronger than westerners, on account of their sufferings:

But should I be asked, instead, whether I would propose the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, I would frankly have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through deep suffering, people in our own country have now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.[3]

To what does he attribute such weakness? Irresponsibility: “A total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even excess, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer.[4]”

Now, based on my last post, anyone can see why Wojtyla’s election was an answer to Solzhenitsyn’s prayer! Redemption, Responsibility, Mercy…they all are at the heart of John Paul’s prophetic life. Furthermore, they are all rooted in Christ—the source of such abundant grace. But, when Christ is divorced from the public square, Solzhenitsyn speaks from his own experience:

Humanism which has lost its Christian heritage cannot prevail in this competition. Thus during the past centuries and especially in recent decades, as the process became more acute, the alignment of forces was as follows: Liberalism was inevitably pushed aside by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism, and socialism could not stand up to communism[…] The communist regime in the East could endure and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who (feeling the kinship!) refused to see communism's crimes, and when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify these crimes. The problem persists: In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. And yet Western intellectuals still look at it with considerable interest and empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.[5]

Unfortunately, those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them. How true is the above statement even a quarter century later! We are too slow to learn from Solzhenitsyn and Wojtyla.

Nevertheless, there is hope—just as there was for Solzhenitsyn when Wojtyla was elected; when he visited him in 1993 (a few years after the fall of the Iron Curtain) and with John Paul’s canonization fast approaching this Easter. Not that Wojtyla is himself the source of the hope—but that he is a “witness to hope”. He is a witness to the rediscovery of our Christian heritage through the New Evangelization, finally being enacted in parishes nearly ten years after his passing. He is a witness to vindication from the despotism of Stalin and others. He is a witness to suffering, probably the most needed of all crosses.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn stood as a forerunner to Wojtyla, and Wojtyla stands as a forerunner to the Redeemer. With the Olympics in Russia this year, and the World Youth Day in Krakow following, it will be interesting to see what transpires in these forerunners’ homelands.


[1] Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “A World Split Apart: Commencement Address to Harvard University, June 8, 1978” http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolzhenitsynHarvard.php

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

Update: While the '14 olympics were low-profile for the most part, the Ukrainian/Russian conflict erupted soon after this post. It will interesting to see how the conflict turns out...
Further reading: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2978/his_beatitude_sviatoslav_shevchuk_speaks_truth_to_secular_powers.aspx

And again: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2014/03/13/ukrainian-catholics-fear-new-oppression-after-russian-takeover/

03/19/14 Update from http://www.aawsat.net/2014/03/article55329733:
Last month, when Vladimir Putin ordered that the Black Madonna of Kazan, the holiest icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, be flown over the Black Sea, many believed he wished to secure blessings for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It was the first time the icon, or rather a copy of it, since the original was stolen and possibly destroyed in 1904, was deployed to bless a peaceful enterprise. Over the centuries, the “Black Virgin” has been taken to battlefields to bless Russian armies fighting Swedish, Polish, Turkish, Persian, French and German invaders. Stalin sent it to Stalingrad in 1943 to ensure victory over the German invaders under Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus.

With Putin’s troops in control of Crimea and threatening to move further into Ukraine, we now know that the icon was brought in to bless a military operation this time as well.

Lastly, Weigel on the topic http://denvercatholicregister.org/opinion/orthodoxy-state-society/:
the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches faced a dramatic choice: stand in pastoral solidarity with the people, or stand with the state that was brutally repressing Ukrainian citizen-reformers? The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches (Byzantine in liturgy and Church organization, but in full communion with the Bishop of Rome), did not face this dilemma; the UGCC was long the safe-deposit box of Ukrainian national consciousness, and in the post-Soviet period it has devoted its public life to building Ukrainian civil society. But the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches did face a historic fork-in-the-road: civil society, or the state?

Monday, February 3, 2014

JPII and/vs Religious Freedom

Several questions arise in my mind as to how religious freedom should be interpreted in light of Personalism.  Thankfully, the Second Vatican Council dealt heavily with this issue in its Declaration Dignitatis humanae, and John Paul II proved to be a crucial contributor.  In an article for Communio, David Schindler has written an extensive study of the topic in question, inspired largely by the true intentions of Wojtyla for the Declaration.  The topic itself interests me tremendously, because it substantially clears up questions that have been obstacles in my understanding of the relationship between Personalism and Truth. 
“Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity” is the comprehensive study written by Schindler to clarify a variety of interpretations of Dignitatis humanae’s approach to religious freedom.  He makes reference to John Courtney Murray’s “juridical approach” to Dignitatis humanae, alongside John Paul II’s “ontological approach”[1] in order to explain the process of redaction that the council fathers took to edit the formal documents.  Furthermore, Schindler makes the following basic argument, as I understand it, in summary of Wojtyla’s contribution (as recorded in what are called the “interventions” for Vatican II documentation, more specifically Acta Synodalia, abbreviated AS):
The dignity of the human person is dependent on the integrity of freedom and truth lived by him.  A person’s right to religious freedom must intrinsically correspond to his understanding of truth, and not as a “negative immunity”[2]from it.  To this end, freedom must be understood to stand for truth and not as freedom from truth. Fullness of truth is, ultimately, the Person of Christ.  In response to this Truth, a person only has the right to err insofar as he does not recognize the Truth.  He who denies the Truth abuses his freedom in the name of his right to religious freedom.
To the best of my ability, I have summarized Schindler’s argument for the “ontological approach” of JPII and the Second Vatican Council on religious freedom.  I will then flesh out this argument with explanations given by Schindler, Wojtyla, and others in an attempt to cover the entire scope of Schindler’s study “Freedom, Truth and Human Dignity”.  I also intend to show even more how Personalism must follow the same argument of Schindler in order to be in line with the thinking of the Church on human dignity.  I am aware that, to a degree, such a clear definition of human dignity can be offensive without the aid of mercy.  Indeed, I believe that mercy is also at the heart of the Church’s and Wojtyla’s view of the dignity of the human person in relation to God, that is, God’s merciful grace in helping people to seek the truth and abide by it.
 Schindler goes to great lengths to differentiate between the “negative immunity” stance connected with the “juridical approach” to religious freedom, and the “intrinsically positive good” connected with Wojtyla’s “ontological approach” to the same.  He further summarizes Wojtyla’s thinking as follows:
Wojtyła objected to the purely ‘negative’ concept of religious freedom as an, ‘immunity from coercion.’ Such a concept, he thought, lacked an adequate sense of the right to religious freedom as an intrinsically positive good owed to all persons.  Emphasizing religious freedom only in the negative terms of immunity leaves this right logically vulnerable to indifference in the matter of truth.[3]
Ironically, Wojtyla is often accused of the very thing he sought to avoid in the Second Vatican Council—indifference to the truth.  This is also true of his intentions for Personalism, namely, it is not meant to disregard truth in favor of an overemphasis on the freedom of the human person.  I find such a clarification very helpful in my doubts about Personalism, especially in regard to the question of its attitude toward virtue[4].  At the same time, it does not allow for a type of non-denominationalism either, insisting instead on the fullness of truth to subsist entirely in the Catholic Church.
Because of what is at stake in the topic of religious freedom, basically a strict attention to freedom and truth or a cowardly indifference to them, Schindler sides with Wojtyla’s emphasis not only on truth but on responsibility:
Again, Wojtyła insisted that one cannot say ‘I am free’ without saying at the same time that ‘I am responsible’ to God and others. ‘This teaching has its foundation in the Church’s living tradition of confessors and martyrs. Responsibility is, as it were, the culmination and necessary complement of freedom. This must be stressed, so that our Declaration may be seen to be deeply personalistic in the Christian sense, yet not subject to liberalism or indifferentism’[5]
Although the word “Truth” is sufficient as a compliment to freedom, Wojtyla adds an essential qualifier to truth by adding responsibility.  And responsibility is not limited to just individuals but entire governments in terms of insuring the religious freedom of individuals[6].  He takes great pains to ward off the abuse of duty to be responsible with freedom by essentially putting freedom at the service of truth.  In my opinion, it may be said that freedom is a means to truth.  Especially if truth is personal, as in Truth is the Person of Christ, then freedom is a means to the end of Truth.  Schindler agrees to this ‘means-end’ dynamic with different wording:
this abstraction of freedom from truth makes truth extrinsic to freedom: truth becomes a simple object of freedom rather than a natural end providing freedom with its original order as freedom.[7]
For this reason of means/end dynamic, Schindler defines the human person’s dignity as an “integrated order of freedom and truth”[8].  In light of this definition, government must take into account the proper understanding of man’s dignity, if it is to uphold a lasting approach to religious freedom.  Wojtyla and his fellow Bishops concluded, in the words of Schindler:
Indeed, they were convinced that it is only in the recognition by government that freedom is intrinsically tied to truth that the right to religious freedom can be sustained permanently and as a matter of principle for all human beings—whether they are believers or nonbelievers.[9]
 No government to date, especially the American and French constitutional experiments of the last few centuries, has successfully recognized the ontological reality of man’s dignity, as it relates to the juridical[10].  Instead they adopt a relativistic attitude towards truth, and an indifferent attitude towards freedom.  In the view of Wojtyla and the Bishops, such attitudes will ultimately erode the very framework of said governments.  If they do not alter their attitudes in favor of truth and the freedom of excellence and virtue, they will continue to disintegrate.
Now, it is not my intention to enter into an extended criticism of democracy or government, but it is worth noting that Schindler goes to great lengths to point out governmental inadequacies in his “Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity”.  After all, the question of religious freedom is intimately linked with government in a pluralistic society.  My intentions are to continue to explore Schindler’s definition of human dignity as it relates to Personalism in Dignitatis humanaeand the Catholic understanding of religious freedom. 
According to Schindler, the original drafts of the Vatican II Declaration on religious freedom, “emphasized that truth alone had rights, and that error was at best to be tolerated”, but the final copy of the Declaration was much more Personalistic in scope:
The Council shifted its emphasis away from the formal question of truth to the rights of the human person [...] I argue in this article that the prevalent readings of DH today, while rightly recognizing the Council’s shift of emphasis away from the notion of truth formally considered to the notion of the person, fail for the most part to take note of the profound ways in which the issue of truth emerges once more, precisely from within this new context centered in the person (Ibid--elipses mine).
The human person is, in fact, the appropriate context for religious freedom.  But Schindler is quick to warn those who would read Personalism into the Declaration without the integration of truth and freedom.  Wojtyla also makes such a clarification by qualifying the type of personalism that he wanted to be read in the Declaration, as I have already quoted, “This must be stressed, so that our Declaration may be seen to be deeply personalistic in the Christian sense, yet not subject to liberalism or indifferentism”[11].  This qualification of Personalism is necessary, in my view, precisely because of the alternatives that Wojtyla points out in the aforementioned quote.  Again, much is at stake in the Church’s definition of religious freedom, including the very dignity of the human person as an ‘integration of freedom and truth’.
As previously noted, Wojtyla adds ‘responsibility’ as a qualifier for truth, and in particular, “responsibility to God and others”.  The dimension of Biblical shema, that is, love of God and love of neighbor, as inseparable parameters for Christian Personalism brings me tremendous satisfaction.  Without such parameters, we have relativism and indifference.  Therefore, Schindler clarifies Wojtyla’s “ontological approach” to the Declaration with an implicit “theological approach”:
The merely civil right to religious freedom asserted by Murray had to be tied in principle to an ontological-moral—indeed by implication ultimately theological—right, or, more precisely, had to be tied to some form of an ontology of freedom of excellence as distinct from freedom of indifference.[12]
Furthermore, Schindler narrows down this “theological approach” to the following:
That Jesus Christ is the ultimate and most basic foundation for an integrated view of freedom and truth was repeatedly stressed by Archbishop Wojtyla, as we have seen.[13]
I would merely add, in light of Schindler’s “theological approach” in connection with human dignity, that if man is an integration of freedom and truth---and that freedom is a means to truth—then, truth is ultimately the Person of Christ, the end and goal of all human inquiry.  So, the council fathers were right to shift the emphasis of religious freedom from truth to the person, knowing all along that Truth is himself a Person! 
In conclusion then, I admit to the truth of Personalism in regard to interpretingDignitatis humanae, so long as Personalism recognizes the supreme truth of the Person of Christ.  Likewise, human freedom is a means to truth, so long as coercion is not employed.  Since a person’s dignity is based on an integration of freedom and truth, other individuals and institutions are meant to be at the service of such integration and not as an obstacle or domineering impediment to it.  Interpreted correctly, thanks to the work of Schindler and others, a society in which religious freedom corresponds properly to personal dignity is attainable, and indeed, is already (but not yet) present in the Catholic Church.


[1] David Schindler.  “Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity”.  Communio: International Catholic Review, 2013.  PDF available http://www.communio-icr.com/files/dlschindler40-2.pdf
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Father Servais Pinckaers.  Sources of Christian Ethics.  Catholic U Press, 1995. Thomistic account of freedom as either “indifference” or “excellence/quality”.
[5] Acta Synodalia or AS IV/2, 12. 
[6] Schindler explains that governments are in principle allowed to favor one religion over another, so long as those other religions are still allowed to function.
[7] David Schindler.  “Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity”.  Communio: International Catholic Review, 2013
[8] Ibid.
[9] AS IV/2, 12
[10] Schindler: The truth of this argument is in fact verified historically, in that there exists no liberal society today whose legal-constitutional order has not over time evolved in just this direction of relativistic monism, with respect to the anthropological-ontological claims noted above regarding the nature and dignity of the human being.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.