Monday, July 24, 2017


I am on vacation at a beachside community and the beachside Catholic Church, near where I am staying allowed me (the pastor that is) to celebrate the 9:30 AM Mass.

The church was packed and only when I began to preach the homily, which some say, not all, though, is not a part of the Mass, I said "good morning" to everyone. I never say good morning or hello, or glad you're here as a part of the official greeting of Mass, unlike some priests who have a compulsion to do so. But I digress.

After the good morning, I told everyone that I was a vacationer too and that I, like them, had to fulfill my Sunday Obligation and I was grateful to the pastor for allowing me to celebrate this Mass with them. I praised all the people there with young families, in particular, for taking the Sunday obligation so seriously.

The church seats about 1,500 souls, bodies too. I then asked those who were vacationers to raise their hands and almost 99.9% of the congregation raised their hands! I then asked the parishioners to raise their hands and it numbered about 20! (The 9:30 Mass is added during the summer to accommodate the vacationers.). They also have an 8 AM and 11:15 Mass and a 1 PM Spanish Mass.

And this diverse congregation of people from all over, but especially the Midwest, sang their hearts out and responded to the spoken parts of the Mass with gusto. So Catholics can sing after all is sung and done.

I tied in last Sunday's Gospel in which I quoted Pope Francis' Angelus address on last Sunday's Gospel into my homily. The pope stated Jesus is the sower and we are the soil and he spoke of the kind of soil that is not good for the reception of God's seed sown by Jesus and now the Church and the soil that is good. God proposes but does not impose.

As one who was warped by some of the theology of the 1970's, and I am not sure what heresy this is, but so often we were taught that because of freewill and God not imposing, it was up to us to save our souls by how well we receive the Word of God. Pope Franics seems to buy into this 1970's theology as he does on so many other 1970's thinking. What do you think about this and what heresy is it that it all hinges on our reception, our works,  in terms of being saved?

I bridged this to yesterday's Gospel where Jesus explains the parables and that  the devil is the culprit. Then I spoke about Pope Francis' emphasis on the devil as a real fallen archangel, Lucifer, who is not just a symbolic of evil personified, but an actual fallen being who has other lesser minions to assist him in tempting the world to follow him and not the true God.

Did you hear about the devil yesterday?????


Julian Barkin said...

Hi Fr. What you are speaking off sounds like an offshoot of Pelagianism. While not the true definition which deals with humans not being poisoned by original sin, the aspect of humans being able to do good without God's divine help.

Thus sounds like the Neo Pelagianism that Pope Francis us speaking of with regards to Radicals Misrepresenting Traditonalism, though this unnamed heresy could be done by anyone on the Theo - political perspective.

Victor said...

If Francis was talking about God's Grace through this analogy of sowing seed and soil, I see little problem with this theology, especially if the "Word of God" refers to the Christ. Perhaps what could have been mentioned is that the sacraments are necessary for salvation because they are the vehicles of Grace that Christ makes available to all, that may not have been the appropriate time for a theology course on grace. But if this was not about grace, then it does sound like a form of Pelegianism.

But as far as being on vacation is concerned, I recall a couple of years ago being on vacation in Florida during Christmastime, when I almost walked out of the Mass. The Mass was all about active participation a la Bugnini's Consilium, having a video projector display things far enough away from the altar, but in sight of anyone who cared to look, so the congregation could easily sing the hymns and be led as to what was going on in the Mass. From what I gathered, it was a very wealthy church, and pretty full on that Christmas morning. But when instead of the Gloria in Excelsis, the "Angels we Have heard on High" was sung, I started doubting whether I should continue to stay there, and certainly would not create a scene trying to receive Communion on the tongue on my knees. It had no time for silence, busy, busy, and busy with loud things happening all the time. The next time, I found a FSPPX chapel not that far away actually, and it was filled with almost no standing room left, despite being a low Mass and not even on Christmas Day; despite the numbers, the silence was reverent, allowing each person to listen to the voice of God in his heart.

Anonymous said...

The Council of Orange way back in 529 is I think relevant here.

This council opposed a semi Pelagian theology.

For example, in Canon 7:
If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit...he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in scripture "for apart from me you can do nothing".

The grace of God is necessary to enlighten the human mind and enable belief. Semi Pelagian theology is wrong to claim that man's faith is an act of free will unassisted by grace.


Gerbert d' Aurillac said...

Recently I have felt that we have created a "New Arianism" Jesus is our best buddy, our friend, and we have lost the sense of the transcendency of God. This is due in part to the low Christology of the Novus Ordo, the emphasis on the horizontal instead of the veritcal, along with the deplorable architecture developed after Vatican II, and the greater influence of protestantism on the Church. It is as if William of Ockham and his Nominalism philosophy rule the day. What was once evil is now good and what was good is now evil. Confusing to say the least. We started to see a return to a higher Christology in architecture, returning the tabernacle back in a place of prominance and the influence of the Tridentine Mass on the Novus Ordo. A return to realism, together with a proper understanding of who God is and our true relationship with Him is the cure.

Anonymous said...

Gerbert - You might be interested in "American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon" Book by Stephen Prothero

Anonymous said...

I recently read a biography of C S Lewis and found out his Catholic friend Tolkein was quite annoyed at Lewis for writing of the devil and demons as he did in the Screwtape Letters. For Tolkein had a strong belief in Satan and demons as very real beings and felt Lewis's funny fantasies about demons would not help the average Christian who read his stories have an appreciation of the very real and terrible nature and evil actions of Satan and demons.

Anonymous said...

The 16th century Council of Trent stated again what the 6th century Council of Orange taught about God's grace.
It is often modern, liberal theology that repeats centuries old heresies and unorthodox beliefs by giving an exaggerated place to the abilities of people to decide their own fate and to effect their own salvation apart from God's grace.

rcg said...

You would think, with the nearly universal access to the Internet, that everyone would believe in Satan.

George said...

Man needs the light that Christ provides and the water of His grace, which are made available to us through the assistance God provides to us in the Church and her ministers, in her Sacraments, and in her teachings. Unlike a living plant, which by its roots and other parts, and by its nature seeks to grow in the direction of light and water, man, on his own inclination, will not naturally seek out holiness. Like the plant which co-operates with what is provided to it, we must co-operate with what God provides to us for our spiritual sustenance and growth, both for the benefit of ourselves and others outside of ourselves. We must work with what God provides to us, although it is not this work in itself but grace which saves us. Our good works are effective to our salvation, but only because they are sanctified by God's grace, this grace which also provides us with the impulse, when we co-operate with it, to act out of love for others with charitable opportunities presented to us. The grace of God is made manifest and effective in us both in the Sacraments we receive and the spiritual works we do,and this is only possible because of the spiritual assistance that God provides to us which, if we continue to increase in holiness, will build upon what is accomplished in us by His Holy grace. The Divine light and grace of God act within us, if we are so disposed, and incline us to perform good works which, if we are faithful to Him, are sanctified by His Holy grace, and thereby given value as an effective means for us of benefiting from the salvific merits of the Suffering and Death of Christ, and this in accordance with God's design in the working of the Divine economy. It is necessary for a living plant to work to sustain itself ,reach its potential and to be productive, but this would not be possible if light and water is not available to it, without which it would cease to live. Likewise, it is necessary for us to do good works in all their forms, in order to to sustain ourselves in holiness, to reach our spiritual potential, and be productive in charity. While the work we do is necessary, providing for us its benefits, it would not be possible or effective for our spiritual growth without the assistance of grace which God provides to us, who in His mercy and goodness, gives us what we need and sanctifies our good works.

Anonymous said...

"However, that unity of the church which already exists indestructibly is a guarantee for us that this greater unity will happen in the future. The more one strives for this unity with all one's might the more Christian one will be."

Anonymous said...

Nope (on hearing about the devil this past Sunday), but did hear a good homily in Atlanta 30327 about how there is good and bad in all of us, pointing out that being a priest does not mean there is no need for redemption and penance.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:
Everyone knows no analogy is perfect, even one used by Our Lord.

I don’t believe the parable is about how to change ourselves to be good soil. Soil is passive. It doesn't change itself. If it's rocky, it stays rocky unless a someone works to clean out the rocks. If it's full of clay and hard, it stays that way until someone comes and does something to change it, or some force of nature like a flood or glacier changes it.

I believe the parable of the sower and the descriptions of what happens when the seed falls on different types of soil is a consolation parable to help the disciples understand why not everyone is converted by what Jesus preaches. Jesus explains to His disciples that just as a farmer sows seeds and hopes for a good crop, he knows some of the seeds will fall on ground that will never grow anything. He assures them that the crop will be abundant anyway, even if some of the seed goes to waste.

Jesus then goes on to talk about the kind of people He is preaching to. He refers to Isaiah describing God presenting truth in mystery so that only those disposed to respect and treasure it will understand, because the others do not value the precious gift of God's Word when they hear it, and will be like the swine that will trample it underfoot, and then turn and tear the messenger.

In His explanation Jesus talks about the kinds of people who are listening to Him. Some are so acquainted with Satan that he snatches the Word away from their minds as soon as they hear it, like a bird who eats seeds that fall on the road. It never even gets a chance to sprout. Some accept the Word right away but are superficial. If the Word causes them difficulty with others they let it go, because they don’t want to be different or to suffer. Others accept the Word at first but eventually its causes conflict with their worldly pursuits and their greed and lust for status or power or money, and so it is choked off and dies. But some people hear the Word and accept it, and incorporate it into their lives and live it out…and in those it takes root and bears fruit. So the disciples are told why some are excited and very moved, some are interested but never follow through, some seem enthused but cool off, and some just shrug and walk away.

With regards to whether we are good soil or not: it is God who prepares the soil of our hearts with His daily graces, even outside of our awareness. Just as the farmer tries to prepare the soil to produce a good crop, removing stones and rocks, adding nutrients and turning the soil, God showers daily graces on all of us to make our hearts receptive to His Holy Word. So we don’t make the soil of our souls fertile or good. It is God who does that.

And here is where the analogy breaks down a little. Our free will does determine whether the graces God sends have the effect He desires. So in that way we are not passive like soil, because we can resist and reject the work of the farmer. But if we are pliable and malleable under God’s grace, then when God’s Word arrives, there will be good soil for it land on and take root and grow. If not, the farmer works in vain.

So although this parable can be helpful to understand what in us prevents God’s Word from taking root and growing, I don’t think the ultimate message is to tell us how to change ourselves to be good soil.

God bless.
P.S. I attend the EF mass, so our readings were different. But on the Sunday when this gospel is read, I have indeed heard mention of the devil. Our priests have no problem naming him who is the enemy of our souls.

George said...


From a commentary by Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407)

But how can it be reasonable, someone says, to sow among the thorns, on the rock, along the wayside? So far as the seeds and the earth are concerned it cannot be reasonable at all! But as regards people's souls and their instruction, it is extremely praiseworthy. For a farmer could indeed be reasonably blamed for doing such a thing, it being impossible for rock to become earth, or the wayside not to be a wayside, or thorns, thorns. But where rational beings are concerned it is not so. There is such a thing as rocky ground being changed and becoming rich land; and the wayside being no longer trampled on, nor lying open to all that pass by, but becoming a fertile field; and thorns being destroyed and the seed securely flourishing. For had it been impossible then this Sower would not have sown. And if the transformation did not take place in all, that is no fault of the Sower but of those who were unwilling to be changed, his task having been accomplished. And if they betrayed what they received from him then he who demonstrates such love to them, is blameless.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Thank you, George!

God bless.