Monday, April 24, 2017


We had our first ever Divine Mercy devotions at St. Anne in Richmond Hill! After the Prayer after Holy Communion, we had Solemn Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament followed by adoration until 3 pm. I immediately began hearing Confessions until 2:45 pm. Then at 3 pm I processed to the altar for the chanting of the Divine Mercy Chaplet followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. I felt like I was on EWTN!

What did your parish do?

And since this is a relatively new devotion for Americans, I would like to know if SSPX parishes observe it?

Of course I had no photographer to take photos of St. Anne's fist ever Divine Mercy devotion, but many years ago Dr. Buck Melton took these at St. Joseph in Macon:


Marc said...

No, SSPX parishes do not observe "Divine Mercy Sunday" or otherwise practice the "devotion." Here is a link to an article by Fr. Peter Scott SSPX explaining why.

We had confirmations at our parish and a High Mass with Bp. Fellay. This was my first time seeing and hearing him in person. During his sermon prior to confirmations, it occurred to me that he is, perhaps, the most obviously holy person that I have ever heard in my life. Although I disagree strongly with what he told us about relations with Rome, his reflections on confirmation were stirring, and his manner of speaking to the children to be confirmed was remarkable and touching.

Gerbert d' Aurillac said...

Reading the statement from Fr. Scott, my thoughts went back to 1277 when the Bishop of Paris condemned St. Thomas Aquinas, and any others who taught Aristotle or Averroes logic in relation to understanding God. This damaged Thomas's reputation greatly. In 1567 Thomas was recognized as a Doctor of the Church. My point being, time and prayerful reflection reveal thing to the church that in past generations where rejected or condemned to be true and beneficial. The Church has to authority to do so, while a respect and admire many things about SSPX, the Chair of Peter is not located with them.

Marc said...

"[T]ime and prayerful reflection reveal thing to the church that in past generations where rejected or condemned to be true and beneficial."

I disagree with you. That is, in fact, precisely the opposite of what the Church does.

But I have no desire to debate the Divine Mercy devotions. The Church offers many devotions -- we needn't take part in them all. The SSPX does not take part in the Divine Mercy devotions, just as the vast majority of parishes don't take part in any number of devotions.

Gerbert d' Aurillac said...

I am not wanting to debate the devotion either, but to say that the church does not alter its view after investigations and prayerful consideration is incorrect. Our Lady of Guadalupe vision occurred in 1531, and was not supported by local clergy of the time, it was not until a further investigation was done and in 1754 the Sacred Congregation of Rites confirmed the true value of the apparitions and granted celebrating Mass and Office for the feast of Guadalupe. Again with Fatima, the apparitions started in 1917 and and it was only in 1930 that the apparitions where deemed worthy of belief. There is a time of reflection, prayer and investigation that takes place on these private revelations, and views change. Maybe one day Our Lady of Medjugorje will be recognized. Private revelations do not form part of the deposit of faith of the Catholic Church, and its members are not bound to believe in any of them. (Assent may be given based on the discernment of the Church and its judgment that an apparition is probable and worthy of pious credence.)

Marc said...

I see what you mean now. Good explanation.

Tom Makin said...

Yes, my parish did celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We had Exposition, a short homily about Divine Mercy, recitation of of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and closed with Benediction.

Ryan said...

Our FSSP parish celebrates it. It is Dominica in Albis, but we have the traditional devotions & confessions at 3:00 pm including imposition of the relic of St Faustina. We have a big crowd each year for the traditional devotions.

Agnes said...

Gerbert d' Aurillac, you explained that very well. Thank you.

pierre said...

I support Gerbert d' Aurillac's comment. In so many so-called traditionalist parishes devotionalism is presented as if it is the core of the Roman Catholic approach to presencing the Incarnation event, when in fact it only began with the Germanization of Christianity. And even then did not represent the totality of spiritual methods. Dominican spirituality in Meister Eckhart and the Beguine/Beghard movement is a prominent alternative. Its surfacing on the dawn of the "reformation" was drowned by the wave of events that emerged up till Trent, when popular devotions seemed to be a sure fire method to stem the tide of that subversion of emotion,known as "protestantism." To occupy the battlefield of an opponent is already to join him. Correcting subversive emotions is still to traffic with the emotions.
But Christ is the Logos who illumines everyone coming into the world. And St.Paul (1st Cor. 2:11) tells us that the psychic man (anthropos psychikos) is not open to the Spirit. That is why he has put on the Nous Christou or Intellectus Christi. Devotions appeal for the most part to the psyche and thereby risk drowning the Nous Chrisou. This is what happened with St. Mary Margaret Allocoque, whose sacred heart devotion was taken over by the Jesuits to combat Jansenism. In Semitic thought "Heart" =s "Nous." It is the core of the human configuration, whose distinguishing capacity is Logos. God entered the human configuration as Logos tou Christou—The Word of the long awaited Messiah, foretold as God with Us and manifest as God in us. The Divine Mercy devotion underlines this to be sure. But like all devotions its emotional appeal to the psyche has its limitations. When it fails, the law of gravity enters to take us even lower. Meditative or Mental Prayer is a surer method of entering the "gravity of grace," which takes us higher. When I was a child before the infamous Vatican Council II, devotions had replaced the mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. Any weekday the Miraculous Medal devotion was recited aloud whilst mass was said silently at the main altar. If mass outlasted the devotion, the priest would tell those who wanted communion could visit the side altars where reserved hosts were available. Even as a child, I felt that we had gone over the edge. That edge came with the Council, where the attempt to correct such wrongs just landed us deeper into psychic phenomena of every kind, including more appearances of Our Lady and communications from our Lord. Scripture and the Church's liturgy is sufficient as it was for over a 1000 years until the Christianization of northern Europe and its drowning of what went before in Celtic France, Ireland and Great Britain. I am not blaming the Germans. They corrected the error in figures like Meister Eckhart, OP. Except, the tide of devotionalism was tsunami that could not be stopped. It is with us today. At my parish the mass of Pius V is celebrated at least once a day, twice during Lent. In between, one devotion after another. I am not complaining. I don't want everyone to be like me. The priest in charge is very broad minded. I am only saying that people like me exist and shouldn't be totally ignored. There is a non-devotional contemplative way also. On this way the mark of Christ's presence is light without visualization in the form of created objects. To me that is sufficient.

Carol H. said...

St. Faustina's diary was initially rejected because of a poor translation. St. Pope John Paul II had it retranslated, which removed the doctrinal errors created by the first translation.
I have read the diary, and it refers to God's justice many times. I found St. Faustina to be very humble and very willing to suffer for the Lord. She was barely literate when she entered the convent, so I honestly think it would have been impossible for her to write her diary without divine intervention.

St. Faustina is one of my patron saints.

John Nolan said...

Wasn't EWTN responsible for popularizing this cult? I don't think all the objections raised by the Holy Office to the writings of Sr Faustina and her clerical backers in 1958 and 1959 (which resulted in them being placed on the Index) have been adequately answered. Cardinal Wojtyla worked hard for her rehabilitation and as Pope actually canonized her; but Catholics of a traditional bent (not just SSPX) rather resent his hijacking of the first Sunday after Easter to promote this devotion.

As far as I am concerned, 'Divine Mercy Sunday' is no different from any other 'themed' Sunday in the Novus Ordo - it has no liturgical significance whatsoever.

Marc said...

I agree with Mr. Nolan.

Perhaps it would surprise many of you that the SSPX doesn't put much stock, if any, in the idea that John Paul II is a saint. So his promotion of this devotion is another negative.

The FSSP parish here has the devotions. Yet another reason the SSPX should not regularize.

George said...

The Church decides whether or not what comes out of private revelations is worthy of belief, and that what is contained in what is revealed is free from doctrinal error. This includes any devotions arising from such revelations. There is no obligation imposed on the believer. Gerbert d' Aurillac gave a good explanation on this.
It is important to realize that the Church has rejected far more private revelations and apparitions than those it has accepted and deemed worthy of belief.

It is interesting to note that St Faustina foretold that her writings would be suppressed for a time and that eventually there would be instituted the Divine Mercy feast day.

The ban on Faustina's writings which was in force for two decades, was lifted on the 15th April 1978, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Six months later Karol Józef Wojtyła, who 13 years earlier with the approval of the Holy office had begun the informative process for St. Faustina, was chosen as Pope. Of course it was Pope St John Paul II who eventually canonized St Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. It is truly remarkable to me how what eventually transpired came to be.

Devotions serve their good purpose, but of course one is not obligated to partake in them.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, St John Paul II didn't hijack the Sunday after Easter. Our Lord Himself requested that Low Sunday be designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. There is a plenary indulgence associated with the devotion for those who participate. I have a very early translation and Our Lord is reported as saying: "I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be designated as the Feast of Mercy. Ask your confessor to speak to all the world on that day of my great mercy: that anyone who approaches on that day the source of Life will obtain complete remission of punishment for sin. Mankind will not find peace unless it turns with confidence to my mercy. I promise that the soul that will venerate this picture will not perish. I further promise that soul victory over its enemies already here on earth and especially in the hour of death. I myself will defend that soul as my own glory".

There is a nine day novena from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and specific groups of people are prayed for on one of the days, for example, on the second day the prayer is: "Let us pray for the clergy of all ranks, through whom the mercy of God is poured out on all mankind".

Unfortunately the devotion has been watered down a lot to what it was.

Those who follow the devotion contemplate Our Lord's passion on the cross at 3 pm each day. St John Paul II The Great died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. I know of several people who said they have relatives who practiced the devotion and they died at 3 pm on Divine Mercy Sunday. A family member of mine practiced the devotion all their life. They were in a coma on Divine Mercy Sunday and died the morning after. There are definitely some unexplained things around the devotion, and I can only say that those I know who have practiced the devotion are in themselves good, holy people. I think that speaks for itself.

It is a devotion of the Church and people are free to practice it or not. It was been a very strong devotion in Poland throughout the war.

No it wasn't celebrated as such in the diocese that I live in. In fact, it has almost died out. There was a sermon on divine mercy given at Mass but that was it really. Of course, many no longer believe in such things as indulgences anymore and we live in a skeptical world. I believe I need all the help I can get in this life and so, yes, I have a picture of Divine Mercy in my home and I try to remember Our Lord's passion every day at 3 pm. I pray the novena from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and I attend Divine Mercy celebrations if there are any available.

I can say I believe in the devotion because I have seen many good and almost miraculous occurrences in the lives of those who follow that devotion. Fr McDonald, I am sure you and your parish will receive great blessings from this devotion to divine mercy.


Anonymous said...

Marc said, "Perhaps it would surprise many of you that the SSPX doesn't put much stock, if any, in the idea that John Paul II is a saint". No, it doesn't surprise me as I have been to a couple of masses of the SSPX where the priest said as much and actually called the Church "the new church", which made me think that what he said was tantamount to saying that the SSPX are not part of the Church.

The Church is the same as she has always been. Yes, there are many liberals in the Church and things that I don't agree with but she is not a new church.

I also very concerned that a priest of the SSPX, who has no standing under Canon Law and is suspended a divinis, would be presumptuous to say that he didn't consider Pope St John Paul II The Great a saint. The problem with the SSPX with regards St John Paul is it sticks in their craw that Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated during his pontificate. However, that happened under canon law and AB Lefebvre knew exactly what he was doing and was warned by Cardinal Ratzinger of the penalty of going ahead and ordaining bishops without the permission of Rome.

Also, the SSPX should know that the canonisation of saints by the Church is considered to be dogmatic. If they refuse to accept dogmas of the Church then that puts them firmly outside the Church. There are no ifs or buts about it:

"The 1967 New Catholic Encyclopedia discusses the theological foundation for the infallibility of canonization: "The dogma that saints are to be venerated and invoked as set forth in the profession of faith of Trent (cf. Denz. 1867) has as its correlative the power to canonize. ... St. Thomas Aquinas says, 'Honor we show the saints is a certain profession of faith by which we believe in their glory, and it is to be piously believed that even in this the judgment of the Church is not able to err' (Quodl. 9:8:16).

"The pope cannot by solemn definition induce errors concerning faith and morals into the teaching of the universal Church. Should the Church hold up for universal veneration a man's life and habits that in reality led to [his] damnation, it would lead the faithful into error. It is now theologically certain that the solemn canonization of a saint is an infallible and irrevocable decision of the supreme pontiff. God speaks infallibly through his Church as it demonstrates and exemplifies its universal teaching in a particular person or judges that person's acts to be in accord with its teaching."

So, although I sympathize with the SSPX's position on the traditional Mass. I certainly think they're on shaky ground in some areas and pride seems to be their stumbling block.


Marc said...

The question of whether canonizations are infallible or "dogmatic" is far from a settled one. This is especially true of canonizations according to the new methodology.

Having met many SSPX priests, including the former and current USA district superiors, and having been in the presence of two SSPX bishops, I can definitively state that pride is not their stumbling block. That is similarly true with Abp. Lefebvre, which one can surmise by reading about him and reading his writings.

The SSPX routinely refers to Rome as "New Church," and this terminology has been explained. If you bother to read the SSPX's explanation of this, you will find that it is not meant to say that the Church has ceased to exist, but it is commonly accepted shorthand to explain the reality that the Church hierarchy is currently occupied by neo-modernists.

As for "shaky ground," it is ironic that the new ecclesiology invented at Vatican II makes it impossible to assert that the SSPX are outside the Church. Or, at least, I find it humorous.

Anonymous said...

Marc, I am glad that the SSPX has sought to explain their expression "new church". Unfortunately, the SSPX priest I heard didn't make such a distinction in his sermon. On the ordinary meaning of the words it was plain what he meant. The disparaging sermon he gave on St John Paul II The Great was also clear. As far as I am concerned, it is presumptuous of a priest who is suspended a divinis, with no standing under canon law, to make such statements and to judge a saint of the Church in the derogatory manner he did.

And who decides that the new "methodology" of canonization is wrong? You? The SSPX? Or who?

Also you state "The question of whether canonizations are infallible or "dogmatic" is far from a settled one, but in reality it is only the SSPX and sedavacantists who are emboldened to say that. St Thomas and other saints say that the Church cannot err on this matter. Why do you prefer what the SSPX teaches over St Thomas?


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, you have decided that even though you have abandoned the vicar of Christ and joined a sect that is not in full communion with the true Church, and in fact you don't want the SSXP to return fully, you have abandoned the full communion of the Church for an adulterous affair. Your conscience has led you and others like you to include those the pope is pastorally accommodating to receive Holy Communion despite the public act of your disobedience to Divine Law which is a mortal sin. God will be your judge as He will be Pope Francis Judge at the particular judgement, not me, the pope or anyone else.

For the record I teach that people like you and others in public mortal sin should not receive Holy Communion unworthily even if a pope, bishop, priest or your conscience say you can. But, I won't stop you from using your conscience or free will to go to hell and I won't divorce the pope because of what I think is imprudent to elevate a pastoral solicitude to a kind of doctrine.

Mark Thomas said...

Gerbert d' Aurillac said..."Reading the statement from Fr. Scott...The Church has to authority to do so, while a respect and admire many things about SSPX, the Chair of Peter is not located with them."

Thank you for the above.

I had a couple of nice conversations years ago with Father Scott. Unfortunately, he, and certain folks within the SSPX, traffic often in nonsense in regard to "NewChurch...New Rome...Modernist Rome"..."

I reject Father Scott's opinions in regard to the Divine Mercy devotion. I embrace Holy Mother Church's teachings in regard to Divine Mercy.


Mark Thomas

“…whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope.”

— Pope Saint Pius X, 1912 A.D.

Marc said...

Father, I'm glad to see that you care enough about the faith to accuse someone of not being in communion. I hope you'll take the same approach at your next "interfaith" Thanksgiving prayer service.

Assuredly, I maintain that I would not want to see the SSPX return to "full" communion with people of your ilk. Not being in "full" communion with people like you is a feature and not a flaw.

Marc said...

“…whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope.”

In order to be holy, one must dissent from the current pope. The papolatry here is astounding.

Mark Thomas said...

Marc said..."In order to be holy, one must dissent from the current pope."

Marc, I am sorry that you believe that. God commands us to submit to His Holiness Pope Francis. We have the right to voice our concerns in regard to certain actions undertaken by Pope Francis. He has many times declared that he is open to charitable criticism.

But your comments in regard to Pope Francis do not constitute charitable criticism. You oppose Pope Francis's God-given awesome authority to teach, govern, and sanctify the Holy People of God.

Marc, Jesus Christ commands you (and I) to submit to Pope Francis. You (and I) need to obey Jesus Christ. Therefore, as Catholics loyal to Holy Mother Church, let us as God's children submit in holy fashion to Pope Francis.

Satan desires to drive us from His Holiness Pope Francis. Let us not give in to Satan. Rather, let us obey God. Let us submit to Pope Francis.


Mark Thomas

"And indeed the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: "Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church" [Matthew 16:18], cannot be disregarded; these things which were spoken are demonstrated by the results, for the Catholic religion has been preserved ever immaculate in the Apostolic See."

— The Formula (Creed) of Pope Saint Hormisdas, 529 A.D...reiterated by the First Vatican Council.

Marc said...


Pope Francis is certainly teaching, attempting to govern, and utterly failing to sanctify the Church. Jesus Christ commands that you submit to Him. Faith is a theological virtue, while obedience is a natural virtue. Therefore, when obeying Francis contradicts the faith, we are bound to adhere to the faith, even if doing so makes us apparently disobedient to Francis.

Authority exists in order to lead us to obey God. Authority, papal or otherwise, does not exist to exalt itself or its own positions.

That the Catholic religion has been preserved immaculate by the Apostolic See does not mean that the Apostolic See determines the Catholic religion. When the occupant of that See puts in place directives that contradict the very words of Christ, the purity of the doctrine coming from the Apostolic See is tainted. It should pain anyone who truly loves the papacy to see the Apostolic See tarnished in such a way. As your quote says, one need only look at the results.

Joe Potillor said...

No, we did not, as at my parish, it was the Sunday of St Thomas....

Being Eastern, I think some balance in perspective is needed.

1. Just because the pope speaks doesn't mean that it's the Gospel of Christ Jesus. When he restates the Faith, of course, he's infallible, because the Faith itself comes from Christ Jesus, and understood through the Magisterium. In light of this, if the pope is not teaching the Faith, resisting is a legitimate option. We do not worship the pope, we only worship the undivided Trinity.

2. It's absolutely true that Rome does not have a monopoly on Catholicity, the Bishop is the High priest of the NT "Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (St Ignatius of Antioch)....It's times like this, I appreciate the bottom up approach of the East rather than the top down approach of the west.

3. I think many of these private devotions have been elevated to near Dogma as if they can't be questioned, or must be followed absolutely without fail. We are not bound to follow any private apparitions, all that is necessary for Salvation is given to us.

Christ is Risen!

John Nolan said...


There is no Feast of Divine Mercy - if there were, it would have is own Mass and Office, as does the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

I don't believe that Our Lord's words as reported by Sr Faustina were genuine, any more than I believe that Hosts flew out of the tabernacle and were expertly caught by the holy nun, presumably fielding at mid-on. (Does this make her the patron saint of Communion in the hand?)

I don't believe Our Lord wants us to venerate a piece of kitsch artwork. The concept of divine mercy is as old as the Church - I don't think it required a 20th century Polish nun to 'reveal' it.

The idea that Cardinal Ottaviani and Pope John XXIII were misled by an inaccurate translation is trotted out by the cult's supporters, but is highly implausible. Polish is not an obscure language.

For the record, I believe that JP II's 'saint factory' brought the whole concept of canonization into disrepute. A procedure that could beatify Paul VI has to be regarded with suspicion.

ByzRC said...

Well said, Joe Potillor! Thank you.

Mark Thomas said...

Marc said..."Pope Francis is...utterly failing to sanctify the Church."

His Holiness Pope Francis has preached the sanctifying Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Church and world. The fact that Pope Francis has "failed" supposedly to sanctify the Church is not his fault.

Pope Francis has time and again exhorted Catholics to embrace Jesus Christ, keep the Lord's Day holy, go to Confession...Pope Francis has condemned abortion repeatedly, professed that marriage is between a man and woman.

Pope Francis has promoted the Culture of Life. Pope Francis has preached God's Truth to the Church and world. The fact that certain Catholics have refused to heed Pope Francis' message is not the Pope's fault.

But the good news is that millions of Catholics have embraced Pope Francis' sanctifying message that centers upon Jesus Christ. There are millions of holy, humble Catholics who love God, Holy Mother Church, and Pope Francis.

I have met my share of said brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I wish that I were even one-tenth of one-percent as holy and humble as they.

They don't spend their days concocting arguments designed to justify disobedience to Pope Francis. They don't spend their days referring to Pope Francis in uncharitable fashion.

They spend their days as God has commanded. That is, they submit to His Holiness Pope Francis.

They spend their days listening to Jesus Christ via Pope Francis.


Mark Thomas

"And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

— Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to Saint Peter (as well as Saint Peter's successors).

Mark Thomas said...

The Eastern Catholic approach is the universal Catholic approach. That is, each Catholic, Eastern and Western, maintains communion with his bishop who, in turn, maintains communion with the Pope.

That is what God commands of His Holy People.

The Papacy is the True Church's "perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity."

Eastern and Western Catholics must submit to His Holiness Pope Francis.

The Bishop of Rome is the chief bishop of the True Church. The Church of Rome is the Church with whom each local Church must maintain communion.

One may refer to that as the "top down" approach. So be it. But that is the approach established by Jesus Christ. Therefore, that is the Eastern and Western Catholic approach.


Mark Thomas

"Therefore, it has always been necessary that each Church — that is, those who are the faithful everywhere — should agree with the Roman Church, because of the greater power of the principality that She has received, in order that, all being joined together in the unity of that Seat, from the veneration of which the rights of communion flows to all, might associate closely as members of one Head, in the compact unity of the body."

— First Vatican Council

Anonymous said...

Marc's statement "As for 'shaky ground,' it is ironic that the new ecclesiology invented at Vatican II makes it impossible to assert that the SSPX are outside the Church" reveals that he has little grasp of the history that led to the calling of the Second Vatican Council and little understanding of what happened during that Council.

The ecclesiology of communion is as old as the Church itself. Any number of Church documents, from Conciliar statements to Apostolic Exhortations, contain references to the ecclesiology of communion as it has been expressed in Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, and more modern theological discussions.

I don't know with whom or with what Marc is arguing. But it is not with a supposedly "new ecclesiology."

Marc said...

Anonymous who is clearly Michael Kavanaugh,

The ecclesiology of the communion is as old as the Church itself. But the ecclesiology of communion is not what was adopted at Vatican II. Even if it were, as you assume in your comment, the ecclesiology adopted at Vatican II is not the ecclesiology that existed prior to Vatican II, which was my only point.

I have neither the time nor inclination to argue the point further, though. Since you're interested in "ecumenism," I'd recommend you read The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II by Fr. Peter Heers, for an interesting discussion of the topic, particularly from a patristic standpoint.

Prior to your comment, I wasn't arguing with anyone, especially about ecclesiology. I merely pointed out that it is interesting that the new ecclesiology following Vatican II, which accepted the heretofore non-existent concept of "partial" communion, is what allows the SSPX to exist in a nebulous relation to the Church; whereas, prior to Vatican II, they gray area in which they exist was not present.

Anonymous said...

The ecclesiology of communion is the driving force of Vatican Two. This is clear to anyone who reads and studies the documents of that Council.

As you have neither the time nor the inclination to argue, I would recommend that use the time and energy to learn about the ecclesiology no Vatican Two so that you will stop misrepresenting it.


Marc said...

The ecclesiology of Vatican II is based on sacramental minimalism developed with an a priori ecumenist goal in mind, especially the ideas of Yves Congar. It is not appropriately called "ecclesiology of communion," since it is not an ecclesiology rooted in communion. It might be better labeled an "ecclesiology of common baptism." Baptism, including the form of baptism among non-Catholics is, after all, the basis for the assertions of Vatican II regarding the bounds of the Church.

In the patristics, the basis for ecclesiology was not a common baptism, but Eucharistic Communion of the local Church and its bishop with other local churches and their bishops, which involved a common faith and common sacraments. This is the unity of faith, sacraments, and authority. "Where the bishop is, there is the catholic (whole) church."

The fathers taught that sacraments only exist within the bounds of the Church. While their "form" might exist outside the Church, those forms lacked grace since they were ipso facto formally conducted outside the Church.

So, the patristic understanding of ecclesiology of communion holds that the Church determined the bounds of the sacraments, including baptism. The 20th century idea of ecclesiology of communion, which was adopted at Vatican II, holds that the sacrament of baptism determines the bounds of the Church. The result is that all baptisms performed according to the proper form are deemed "valid" and that all those people so baptized, as individuals and in their various groups, are somehow in communion with the Church. While the Church of God subsists in the Roman Catholic Church, it is found in various degrees of fullness in other groups as well, so long as their baptism is formally proper.

As I said, this sort of ecclesiology has been developing for a long time as a result of sacramental minimalism in the West, which involves the divorce of baptism from confirmation and Eucharist for those being initiated into the Church. The patristic ecclesiology of communion can only be understood when considering the historical practice of reception of the three Sacraments as initiation, which includes Communion.

There is no question, as I said before, that the phrase "ecclesiology of communion" is what is purported to be the ecclesiology of Vatican II. It is demonstrable, though, that that is not the same ecclesiology of the Fathers (nor is it the prevailing ecclesiology held by the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II). That is plain from the fact that the modern communion ecclesiology does not require unity of faith or government, but merely unity of form.

There are many interesting implications of this. But, again, the only part of significance here is that the SSPX would clearly be not in communion with the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II since there was no such thing as partial communion. In the post-Vatican II milieu, though, they can exist in the nebulous realm of partial communion.

Anonymous said...

"The Council develops an ecclesiology in which being Catholic, namely being in COMMUNION with believers in all places and in all times, is not simply an external element of an organizational form, it represents grace coming from within and is at the same time a visible sign of the grace of the Lord who alone can create unity by breaching countless boundaries." [THE ECCLESIOLOGY OF VATICAN II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]

"Finally, in a concluding remark, the liturgy is depicted as the hermeneutic locus of theological ecclesiology, in keeping with the axiom lex orandi-lex credendi, so as the emphasize and reflect critically on what is distinctive about Ratzinger's markedly eucharistic theology of COMMUNIO." [Vatican II and the Ecclesiology of Joseph Ratzinger, Fr. Maximilian Heim]

"For the past several weeks this column has been underscoring some of the most important ecclesiological principles espoused by the council. This week the emphasis is on the council's teaching that the church is a COMMUNION-- a communion between God and ourselves (the vertical dimension) and a communion of ourselves with one another in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (the horizontal dimension)." [Fr. Richard McBrien, Vatican II themes: The church as communion]

"In Part Two, we will examine the teaching of the Council on Baptism and the Church, as it is expressed in the two encyclicals referred to above, as well as examine the communio ecclesiology as the guiding concept of the Council’s teaching."
[The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II, An Orthodox Examination of Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and the Church, Protopresbyter Peter Heers]

Yes, the ecclesiology of Vatican Two is an ecclesiology of communion/communion.

Marc said...

I get that you think that you're making some important point, but you're not. The question is a definitional one, which you seem incapable of grasping. I do not (and have not) disputed that Vatican II called the ecclesiology it was expounded an "ecclesiology of communion." That is not, however, the "ecclesiology of communion" as understood in patristics.

Moreover, the sole point, which you appear to be conceding, albeit obtusely, is that the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church after Vatican II is different than the ecclesiology before Vatican II. My thesis remains that the SSPX's peculiar position in "partial" communion would not have been possible in the ecclesiology prior to the Council.

Do you take issue with that thesis, or did you just have some desire to discuss ecclesiology in the abstract? As I recall it from our prior discussions, we both agree that the ecclesiology changed with Vatican II. So I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Popes, cardinals, bishops, and other theologians understand the ecclesiology of Vatican Two as an ecclesiology of communion. Their definition/understanding is superior to yours, given 1) the charism to reach given to bishops and 2) their education and experience.

Your amateur layman's definition doesn't stack up. The ecclesiology of communion is both biblical and patristic.

Anonymous said...

John Nolan, you are free to believe what you like about St Faustina's diary. There have been apparitions of saints holding the chalice, so I don't see any anomaly there with the hosts flying into her hands and you are in fact disrespectful of a saint of the Church.

But it most certainly is a feast day and it is on the calendar as such, so you are incorrect there. As stated on EWTN for your edification: "This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come." These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina."

This idea of St John Paul II The Great's saint factory is a slur on him as well. If you like to check out many of the saints that he canonized, which I have done, you will find many of them were blesseds from centuries back and led heroic lives.

No truly traditional Catholic would make the comments that you have made. I believe you like the Latin Mass but that is as far as it goes. There are many protestants who like the Latin Mass too but that doesn't make them Catholic.


Anonymous said...

Also, John Nolan, I have heard two priests describe the pictures of the Sacred Heart as kitsch as well - totally disregarding the 12 promises given by Our Lord to St Margaret Mary Alacoque to those who display the image of the Sacred Heart - kitsch though it may be to some. At the time I thought those two priests were just a product of modernism bound up with appearance and missing the message - lacking in faith as you seem to me. At one time the faith of the people was a simple faith and that is what is needed today. God is almighty and all powerful. He can do anything. Even things that seem impossible. That faith is sadly lacking these days, even among those who attend the Latin Mass. They love its form but miss the substance.

Some magnificent miracles have been associated with some truly ugly depictions of Our Lady. Remember, if you have the faith the size of a gain of mustard seed you can move mountains.

I know someone who is a schizophrenic who attends the Latin Mass. It's hard to hold a sensible conversation with him at times. He is often praying the rosary and one day just for something to say I said, "It's good to see you praying the rosary". His answer, "Yes, it can stop wars you know". I got the message. That is one of the most profound statements I have heard from any Catholic and this from someone who is looked down upon and people often sit away from him to avoid the cigarette smell etc. So the true faith is often found in the most unlikely of places.