Friday, September 2, 2016


My comments first: Let's face it, the crisis of the Church these past 50 years needs to be laid directly at the feet of those who caused it and can still reverse it. It is primarily the pope and the bishops in union with him. Priests and religious are bit players but very much a part of the 50 year crisis in the Church.

Who is responsible for the debacle of the sex abuse scandal. Surely the abusers are. But in fact the local bishops who managed their priests and thought more about the victimizer than the victims or potential victims and their families, is the actual cause. There is a bleeding heart mentality toward the sinner and redeeming him. Think of "Dead Man Walking." Sure the murderer on death row should have the ministry of the Church, the opportunity to repent and the grace necessary to turn one's life around. But in the process isn't the message sent to the victims and their families that more concern is shown to the death row inmate rather than the multitude of victims in his wake? 

Let's look at the devolvement of Religious life in the USA these past 50 years. Pope Benedict heroically tried to turn it around but was defeated and the same policies that has led to the decline and fall of religious life are still in place and spoken of as "renewal."  Augusta in the Savannah Diocese prior to 1972 would have had about 60 women religious in the metro area housed in authentic convents. Today there are two aging sister who remain. Does anyone care in religious life or the Church or have we thrown in the towel and given up? Or are we asleep?

Look at the liturgy as celebrated in most parishes these past 50 years. And it is still called renewal despite the fact that in some dioceses less than 12% of Catholic even bother to attend the renewed liturgy compared to almost 93% up until about 1968.

The list goes on and on. Who is asleep or in denial? The pope and the bishops in union with him, all of them since 1968 not just the current crop we have. The handwriting is on the wall and most seem glad to seen the "old" Church decline and fall, so that a new one, new and improved, that is, would emerge. Has it? Wake up!

 Apologists, Catechists, Theologians: Wake Up!

After perusing the latest Pew Study on why young people are leaving the active practice of Christianity, I confess that I just sighed in exasperation. I don't doubt for a moment the sincerity of those who responded to the survey, but the reasons they offer for abandoning Christianity are just so uncompelling. That is to say, any theologian, apologist, or evangelist worth his salt should be able easily to answer them. And this led me (hence the sigh) to the conclusion that "we have met the enemy and it is us." For the past fifty years or so, Christian thinkers have largely abandoned the art of apologetics and have failed (here I offer a j'accuse to many in the Catholic universities) to resource the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition in order to hold off critics of the faith. I don't blame the avatars of secularism for actively attempting to debunk Christianity; that's their job, after all. But I do blame teachers, catechists, evangelists, and academics within the Christian churches for not doing enough to keep our young people engaged. These studies consistently demonstrate that unless we believers seriously pick up our game intellectually, we're going to keep losing our kids.

Let me look just briefly at some of the chief reasons offered for walking away from Christianity:
(1) Many evidently felt that modern science somehow undermines the claims of the faith. One respondent said: "rational thought makes religion go out the window," and another complained of the "lack of any sort of scientific evidence of a creator." Well, I'm sure it would come as an enormous surprise to St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, Blessed John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Joseph Ratzinger—all among the most brilliant people Western culture has produced—that religion and reason are somehow incompatible. And to focus more precisely on the issue of "scientific evidence," the sciences, ordered by their nature and method to an analysis of empirically verifiable objects and states of affairs within the universe, cannot even in principle address questions regarding God, who is not a being in the world, but rather the reason why the finite realm exists at all. There simply cannot be "scientific" evidence or argument that tells one way or the other in regard to God. Mind you, this is by no means to imply that there are no rational warrants for belief in God. Philosophers over the centuries, in fact, have articulated dozens of such demonstrations, which have, especially when considered together, enormous probative force. I have found, in my own evangelical work, that the argument from contingency gets quite a bit of traction with those who are wrestling with the issue of God's existence. What these arguments have lacked, sad to say, are convinced and articulate defenders within the academy and in the ranks of teachers, catechists, and apologists.

(2)  One of the young people responded to the survey using the formula made famous by Karl Marx: "religion just seems to be the opiate of the people." Marx's adage, of course, is an adaptation of Ludwig Feuerbach's observation that religion amounts to a projection of our idealized self-image. Sigmund Freud, in the early twentieth century, further adapted Feuerbach, arguing that religion is like a waking dream, a wish-fulfilling fantasy. This line of thinking has been massively adopted by the so-called "new atheists" of our time. I find it regularly on my internet forums. What all of this comes down to, ultimately, is a dismissive and patronizing psychologization of religious belief. But it is altogether vulnerable to a tu quoque (you do the same thing) counter-attack. I think it is eminently credible to say that atheism amounts to a wish-fulfilling fantasy, precisely in the measure that it allows for complete freedom and self-determination: if there is no God, no ultimate moral criterion, I can do and be whatever I want. In a word, the psychologizing cuts just as effectively in the opposite direction. Hence, the two charges more or less cancel one another out—and this should compel us to return to real argument at the objective level.

(3) A third commonly-cited reason for abandoning the Christian churches is that, as one respondent put it, "Christians seem to behave so badly." God knows that the clergy sex abuse scandals of the last 25 years have lent considerable support to this argument, already bolstered by the usual suspects of the Inquisition, the Crusades, the persecution of Galileo, witch-hunts, etc., etc. We could, of course, enter into an examination of each of these cases, but for our purposes I am willing to concede the whole argument: yes indeed, over the centuries, lots and lots of Christians have behaved wickedly. But why, one wonders, should this tell against the integrity and rectitude of Christian belief? Many, many Americans have done horrific things, often in the name of America. One thinks of slave owners, the enforcers of Jim Crow laws, the carpet bombers of Dresden and Tokyo, the perpetrators of the My-Lai Massacre, the guards at Abu-Graib Prison, etc. Do these outrages ipso facto prove that American ideals are less than praiseworthy, or that the American system as such is corrupt? The question answers itself.

(4) Relatedly, a number of young people said that they left the Christian churches because "religion is the greatest source of conflict in the world." One hears this charge so often today—especially in the wake of September 11th—that we tend to take it as self-evident, when in point of fact, it is an invention of Enlightenment-era historiography. Voltaire, Diderot, Spinoza, and many others in the 17th and 18th centuries wanted to undermine religion, and they could find no better way to achieve this end than to score Christianity as the source of violence. Through numberless channels this view has seeped into the general consciousness, but it simply does not stand up to serious scrutiny. In their exhaustive survey of the wars of human history (The Encyclopedia of Wars), Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod demonstrate that less than 7% of wars could be credibly blamed on religion, and even the most casual reflection bears this out.

In point of fact, the bloodiest wars in history, those of the twentieth century, which produced over 100 million dead, had practically nothing to do with religion. Indeed, a very persuasive case could be made that ideological secularism and modern nationalism are the sources of greatest bloodshed. And yet the prejudice, first fostered by the philosophies of the Enlightenment, oddly endures.

An earlier Pew Study showed that for every one person who joins the Catholic Church today, six are leaving, and that many of those who leave are the young. This most recent survey indicates that intellectual objections figure prominently when these drifters are asked why they abandoned their faith. My cri de coeur is that teachers, catechists, theologians, apologists, and evangelists might wake up to this crisis and do something about it.


TJM said...

Well alot of clergy have Marxist thinking so it's no surprise. TO them the "minimum wage" (which actually harms the most vulnerable) is the highest good, so they overlook intrinsic evils like abortion and gay marriage. The Faith has not been taught for over 50 years and I am not confident the Pope or most bishops know how to teach it any longer. They appear to mock and denigrate (so much for that mercy shit they keep yammering about) priests and bishops who hold and teach the true Faith.

rcg said...

The good news is that these objections are thousands of years old and there is a huge body of discourse to rebut and help the thoughtful person. The bad news is that was pitched in the bin a fews back and the people responsible to present it are unfamiliar with it.

Anonymous said...

The pope and bishops need to look up the definition of insanity...and realize that what they have been doing since the close of VII is just not working. The Church is even having a hard time retaining converts, I should know, I am one. I would be interested to see the percentage of those who convert to the RCC, then leave.

I converted to Catholicism in college after a lifetime in fundamentalist Protestantism. After many years of tears and prayers I have since left Catholicism for Eastern Orthodoxy. Catholics can call me schismatic all they want, but I feel much more at home here than I ever did in Catholicism

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @1:49 pm.: which jurisdiction? I may well be headed your way, too.

Anonymous said...

TJM - Your ignorance is showing. Minimum wage is not what the Church and "a lot" of her Marxist clergy think is important.

What is important, found in the Social Doctrine of Holy Mother Church, is the "Family Wage" or "Just Wage."

CCC 2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. "Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good." Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.

Now, if you want to call clergy "Marxist" because they support just, living wages, please understand that the Church is right there with them and you are standing outside shouting.

D. Trump said...

Some say that if you're a Catholic and you quit that you're bound for the eternal flames....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The science comment (#1) is interesting. Since the Church understands and teaches the mutuality of Science and Faith, I wonder if Catholics have not drunk too deeply at the fountain of anti-science rhetoric that flows from fundamentalist Protestantism. Especially here in the South, where that brand of Christianity is dominant, I think that may well be the case.

When you add to that the substantial lack of understanding of science and the scientific method that most Americans have, you are inching toward the perfect storm in which science is seen as "the enemy." Science is not, and has never been, a matter of linear progression from ignorance to knowledge or from uncertainty to "proof." In her book, "Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public," New York Times science reporter Cordelia Dean writes: “They do not understand that, instead, research is an ungainly mechanism that moves in fits and starts and that its ever-expanding path of knowledge is complicated by blind alleys and fruitless detours.”

One more factor in the equation is the overwhelming desire many in the West have for simple answers to complex questions. Much of this stems, I fear, from intellectual laziness. Folks like Ken Ham offer simple answers to complex questions about 1) the Bible and 2) anthropogenesis, and he gains a huge following for his "Ark Encounter" in Kentucky. Well, maybe not so huge. Reports are the attendance is really, REALLY low, well below the needed 5,600 per day.

Barron's #2 stems from what I've written of before, Radical Individualism, the kind described in Robert Bellah's "Habits of the Heart - Individialism and Commitment in American Life." Self-projection has a basis in a supersized sense of self, one that lacks almost entirely the components of empathy and compassion and responsibility toward one's community. If some thought doesn't ring entirely true in "MY" mind, I dismiss it.

As to #3, perception is reality to the one perceiving. If, I his/her mind, "all Christians" are terrible sinners, well, that's all that needs to be said about religion and/or faith. No, it isn't true, but it is the perception that holds sway.

Conflict - #4. Well, read comments on this and other "Catholic" blogs.

Robert Kumpel said...

"The same policies that has led to the decline and fall of religious life are still in place and spoken of as 'renewal.'"

You just nailed it Father.

Be careful, Father. Expressing yourself this bluntly can be hazardous to one's vocation in today's Church.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2:52

I belong to the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese

However I have visited OCA, Russian, Greek parishes and they're basically all the same. Good liturgy and solid clergy/laity have been my experience over the years. You can't really go wrong or join a "wrong" one, since you are able to take communion in any of them, I regularly do

Rood Screen said...

"If you're a Catholic and you quit [then] you're bound for the eternal [flames]." Indeed. Vatican II reiterated the evident truth that anyone "knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved".

Anonymous said...

The key issue is loyalty, or the lack thereof. Permit me to explain.
Although I don't have enough information about the Eastern and Orthodox Churches, it appears that all the churches comprising the Western Tradition, both Catholic and Protestant, are now actively working against the survival of European culture and people. In the past we could look to the 'Church' for protection, alas no longer. The Episcopalians sold out at the 1930 Lambeth Conference, and the Catholic Church did likewise during Vatican II. Both events signaled an intention of the
leadership to align doctrine so as to facilitate the implementation of what we now refer to as the "New World Order". I expect this post to be deleted for even mentioning the NWO!
Alarm bells should have been ringing on publication of Pacem in Terris, and even Pope Benedict's encyclical 'Charity and Truth'. Both documents clearly state the direction the Catholic Church intended to take.
Loyalty is a noble quality but it is based on reciprocity, why should European people be loyal to the churches they were born into, when those same churches care less about them and indeed regard them as a hindrance in the furtherance of the globalist goals they espouse.
Gary O.

Rood Screen said...


The elites are indeed pursuing some sort of global, godless society, one free of meaningful families and neighborhoods, but full of trade and travel opportunities for themselves. But the decrees of VCII could have been implemented in a manner consistent with Tradition if the sacred pastors had just been faithful. The decrees themselves, though problematic, are redeemable within the context of Tradition.

anon-1 said...

It occurs to me that Jesus never said complex problems cannot be solved by simple solutions. For instance, He said to the woman found in adultery go and sin no more. Very simple, works every time. (Or its modern version: Just say no!)

Simple solutions may be hard to implement but it is just pure sophistry to claim, (what many liberals just love say), complex problems require complex solutions.

The present problems of our Church are self inflicted because V-2, a Pelagian (semi-Pelagian=liberal) attempt at fixing the simple issue of accelerating loss of faith among the Catholic hierarchy with the complex solution of hopelessly ambiguous theological language designed to paper over the authors' loss of faith in truths that Trent had no trouble saying with simple clarity.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It occurs to me that Jesus never said "Don't bounce checks." But, that he did not say those words, is immaterial to the issue.

If "Go and sin no more" is a simple, effective solution to the complex problem of sin, then why does sin abound? You see, it's not that simple.

Not only do people want simple answers to complex issues, they attempt, too often, reduce complex problems to simple ones, and then offer simplistic solutions.

rcg said...

Ah, bur Fr. K, the answers are simple. We make them complex so we can excuse failing.

Rood Screen said...

There are plenty of people noting the decline of the Catholic Church in the West, but there's no obvious way to come to an agreement on a solution. JPII thought clear proclamation of the Gospel was the answer, while Pope Francis disagrees, preferring care for the planet and the poor as our primary effort. Pope Emeritus Benedict believed liturgical reform was key. How do we all come to an agreement on who's right?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think they all have it right in their own way but the problem is that each excludes a portion of the overall strategy.

There was no need for Pope Francis to do away with some of the restoration of papal culture and court that Benedict recovered. In fact if he had kept it he might be more effective with the orthodox Catholics.

There is no need to undo Pope Benedict's emphasis on liturgy and what Cardinal Robert Sarah sees as important.

There is no need to do away with Pope St. John Paul II's emphasis.

And the next pope would be wise to clarify rather than do away with what Pope Francis is doing.

What the Church needs and always needs is clarity but with a pastoral sensitivity.

We need clear Catholic identity for the laity, for the priesthood and for religious life.

We need sacramentals, especially distinctive garb and lifestyle of clergy and religious.

We need discipline and clear boundaries about what is Catholic and isn't and we need not dialogue with the world as though secularism is on an even par with the Gospel or Scripture and Tradition.

We need an ecumenism and interfaith perspectives that do not water down the exclusive role of the Church of Christ as the sole means of salvation.

Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,


Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald..."We need an ecumenism and interfaith perspectives that do not water down the exclusive role of the Church of Christ as the sole means of salvation."

How likely is that? When Pope Venerable Pius XII launched the Church into the Ecumenical Movement, an immediate attack upon extra Ecclesiam nulla salus had spread throughout the Church. I don't mean that Pope Venerable Pius XII initiated that attack. However, the fact is that to advance the cause of ecumenism throughout the Church, the attack in question was launched and has not abated to this day.

Beginning in the late 1940s, when Pope Venerable Pius XII launched the Church into the Ecumenical Movement, Father Leonard Feeney served as the prime example of the persecution that was initiated against those who had held firm to extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.

The fix was in to water-down EENS. Father Leonard Feeney, who held firm to EENS, was trampled by Churchmen who sacrificed EENS to advance the Ecumenical Movement.

The casting aside of the TLM was related to the push by our Churchmen into the Ecumenical Movement.

The construction of Novus Ordoism — watered-down liturgy, attack against Holy Tradition, ugly, Protestant-like bland churches, new Good Friday prayers, etc. — is linked to ecumenism/interreligious "dialogue."

The Church's involvement in the Ecumenical Movement has taken a sledgehammer to every aspect of Catholicism.

Eastern Catholicism was "reformed" to accommodate Eastern Orthodoxy. Consider simply the "reformed" Eastern Catholic liturgies, The Zoghby Initiative, and Balamand Declaration.

The beautiful and powerful symbols of the Papacy (Coronation Mass, Triple Tiara) were dissolved to accommodate the Ecumenical Movement.

Again, every aspect of Catholicism was attacked, and remains under attack, to accommodate Catholic participation in the Ecumenical Movement/interreligious "dialogue."

Churchmen hide Crucifixes and cover sacred images so as not to "offend" non-Catholics.

What good has resulted from Pope Venerable Pius XII's decision, which I accept that he had made in good faith, to enter the Church into the Ecumenical Movement?


Mark Thomas

anon-1 said...

Fr. K; St.Paul also said where sin abounds grace abounds more to fight temptation to sin.

rcg's comment above aptly points out why liberals abhor simple clarity: it confounds their built-in excuse makers. Why would I become a martyr for a mere option; for a commandment I will try, for a mere choice why bother?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I am in no way excusing sin and I am grateful that grace abounds to fight the temptation to sin.

I am challenging the idea that the simple answer, "Go and sin no more," is not an effective solution for sin.

If it were, then why does sin still abound?

"Go and sin no more" is just as effective as "Just say no." If "Just say no" is a good, effective solution, why doesn't it work?

The answer, because neither sin nor drug abuse is a simple problem and neither, therefore, can be solved by simple and simplistic answers.

Feeney was not condemned for defending Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Fr. William Most writes, "In the late 1940s Leonard Feeney, S. J. began to teach that there is
no salvation outside the Church. He was correct in saying that there
were official teachings, even definitions, on that score. But his
tragic error came when he adopted Protestant method, thinking that in
that way he would be one of the only true Catholics! We spoke of his
protestant method with good reason. First, he was excommunicated for
disobedience, refusing to go to Rome to explain his position. Then
the Holy Office, under Pius XII, sent a letter to the Archbishop of
Boston, condemning Feeney's error. (It is known that Pius XII
personally checked the English text of that letter). In the very
first paragraph pointed out what is obvious: we must avoid private
interpretation of Scripture -- for that is strictly Protestant. But
then the letter said we must also avoid private interpretation of the
official texts of the Church. To insist on our own private
interpretation, especially when the Church contradicts that, is pure
Protestant attitude.

What the disobedient Feeney said amounted to this: he insisted that
all who did not formally enter the Church would go to hell. Hence he
had to say, and he did say, that unbaptized babies go to hell.
Further, all adults who did not formally enter the Church - get their
names on a parish register - would also go to hell, even if they
never had a chance to hear there was a Church, e.g., those in the
western hemisphere during the long centuries before Columbus.
Therefore Feeney consigned literally millions upon millions to hell,
even though He gave them no chance.

That "pure, Protestant attitude" gets plenty of traction with those who, for example, want to condemn ecumenism

Rood Screen said...

Father Kavanaugh is right. We need more than just an authoritative command, even a command with instructions. We need the grace of friendship with Christ and His Church.

Anonymous 2 said...

I agree with Father Kavanaugh that there is nothing simple about “Go and sin no more.” Let he who is without sin be the first to prove otherwise.

Anonymous said...

TJM said, "so much for that mercy shit they keep yammering about..."

"Mercy" appears 273 times in the Bible. Why, oh why would anyone call it "mercy s**t" and why would a priest post such vulgarity on his blog?

Mark Thomas said...

Everybody is aware of the official reason as to why Father Leonard Feeney was excommunicated. But he was persecuted and sacrificed as he was a staunch defender of EENS. He was pushed aside to make way for the Ecumenical Movement.

The Right Reverend Gabriel Gibbs (R.I.P), a "full communion" priest, authored the important book, Harvard to Harvard, that reveals inside information (he was with Father Feeney) about Father Feeney's ordeal with the hierarchy.

The book is available on

The book is a must-read for anybody who is interested in reading about the incredible ordeal that Father Feeney suffered through for decades.

The book is also a must-read for anybody who wishes to learn about the manner in which, beginning during the 1940s, Rome's decision to join the Ecumenical Movement threw the Church into turmoil...and the extent to which the hierarchy watered-down EENS.

From, here is a two-part review of Harvard to Harvard:

Father/Abbot Gabriel Gibbs did not pull punches when he revealed the truth about the manner in which the liberal hierarchy persecuted Father Feeney and watered-down EENS.

Here is an excerpt from Catholicism'org's review:

Frank Assessment of Liberal Hierarchy.

"First, the “good points.” Father Gabriel Gibbs is now an Abbot of the Benedictine Order, a prelate of the Catholic Church in good standing with the Church’s hierarchy, both local and Roman.

"Yet, in narrating the history of Father Feeney and his run-ins with the liberal hierarchy (both local and Roman), the mitered author pulls no punches. He speaks as candidly as Father Feeney did, and we still do, about the episcopal malfeasance in orthodoxy and orthopraxy that led to Father Feeney’s standing alone in a hostile ecclesial environment.

"The Abbot is openly critical of Father’s Jesuit superiors and, especially, of Cardinal Cushing.

(It is an aside, but those who think the Cardinal takes too much criticism from Father Feeney’s disciples should realize that the Cardinal is now freely criticized for his liberalism by many others. E.g., do a Google Search for these terms “Cushing” and “personally opposed, but” for a real eye opener!)"


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

The conspiracy gnostics are as crazy as ever. The "real" reason Feeney was persecuted..."

Feeney did not defend EENS. He misrepresented the Church's teaching and refused to accept the correction of his superiors.

anon-1 said...


Go and sin no more... is what Jesus said. Lucky for Him you were not around then to correct what He said. For you, a priest, to question what Jesus very clearly said is just simply astonishing. Perhaps you want to revise what you have said above? We are all called to do the best we are capable to do. All of the time. We go to confession when we fall. God will judge our fate at the end. We hope for His mercy. However, no one can give a pass to sin and call it good as recently adulterous relations were said to be good under certain conditions. What is especially destructive to the faith of ordinary Catholics is for persons in authority to spread doubt and confusion with ill chosen words, or worse, with carefully chosen words.

rcg said...

Fr K., be careful that in declaring Christ's admonition ineffective that you do not also deny its primacy. Twelve step programs are quite effective having the addict start each day with the confession that yes, I want alcohol (drugs, sex, etc.) but I will not do it *today*. St Augustine said the same thing and sought the forgivness and aide of Christ to keep his urges at bay, if not defeated.

If this is related to Feeney at all it may be in the fact that a fundamental element of helping someone is to not cause them to give up.

George said...

The context of John 8-11 is that the woman was caught in the serious sin of adultery.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that this woman, having been instructed by Christ himself, gave up her sinful ways, at least when it came to serious transgressions. When Jesus told her to "go and sin no more", the scripture verse conveys to us that the sin in question was the serious one of adultery. It was in the context of committing the serious sin of adultery that Jesus exhorted the woman to "sin no more". He was telling her to give up her lifestyle of committing serious sin.

Although we are called to be holy and blameless before God, the human condition being what it is, it is difficult not to commit what are characterized by the Church as minor (venial) sins."If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"-1 John 1:8. These can be remitted by use of a sacramental such as Holy water, prayer to God, or some penitential act or taking part in a penitential rite etc. For more serious sin there is the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation for "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."-1 John 1:9

From Romans: "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." Does this mean that we go on sinning so that grace may abound? No.

Proverbs 24-16 For though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again; the wicked are the ones who stumble in adversity.

"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning."-1 John 3:9.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - If "Go and sin no more" is effective, then why is there an abundance of sin?

Why aren't we just setting up booths in shopping malls and at professional sports stadiums and on street corners and saying to passersby, "Go and sin no more"?

This is a simplistic answer to a complex issue, and it is not effective. If nothing more were needed for resisting temptation, then God would not have given us the Sacraments and the grace available through them.

Even God knows that turning away from sin is not simple.

rcg said...

Fr. K, don't confuse an easily identified solution with an easily executed solution. It is an unfortunate human trait to believe that a difficult execution means the solution is undesirable or wrong.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - I have never thought that difficult means undesirable or wrong. For example, it is difficult, for me, to make time to exercise regularly, but that does not lead me to conclude that regular exercise is undesirable. I would suggest, however, that if a "simple solution" is difficult to execute, then it's not as simple as it might seem.

rcg said...

I see what you mean. I should have written "obvious".

George said...

Not only can it be difficult to find the time to exercise( consistently, at a regularly scheduled hour) but exercise itself (other than say, walking) can be difficult, if it is strenuous and one is out of shape. Even just walking though (if done regularly) can provide great benefit.

Gene said...

Sin abounds because of concupiscence and because Pelagius was wrong. I believe the term is "non posse non peccare." Christ spoke many admonitions and prescribed an impossible moral framework for sinful remind them that He is the only way...unable not to sin, condemned by our fallen nature to wander in darkness, His sacrifice and resurrection are our only salvation. Go and sin no more...impossible to obey..."Believe on Him who was sent..." That is our only possibility and our hope.

Jusadbellum said...

I don't buy that Gene and neither do you.

Our Lady didn't sin - and neither did St. Joseph. Lots of saints have lived pure lives without defilement. To say human beings can't help but sin mortally is to declare God's grace to be too weak and our natures totally corrupt.

If we can't help but do X then how could X be a sin? Or more precisely, how could X be CULPABLE as a breach of God's will?

Why would "believe on Him" even matter if we couldn't help but commit serious sin then we couldn't plausibly be culpable of personal sin and thus wouldn't need a savior from sin, we'd only need a divine curator to care for our immortal souls and ferry them across Styx to Hades.

Heretics are not 100% wrong. They all have a kernel of truth. Pelagius was right that our human nature includes free will and that free will matters..... but he was wrong to believe that the natural human free will ALONE can bring a person to conform their mind, heart, soul, spirit to the Lord's will without the support of Grace.

That this is wrong is evident in the Gospels..... why would Our Lord encourage His disciples to form a community unless it was necessary to support one another in the "way"? Of what point would his admonitions about scandal have if other peoples' behavior was of no consequence to our free choices? Other people do indeed 'cause' the little ones to sin! Conversely other people (including other creatures) cause people to be virtuous! What in the world is this influence on our free will if not a curse or a grace?

What IS grace if not the very relationship we have with creatures in union with God or the very relationship we have with God? It's not pixie dust!

We are free - but our freedom as Sons of Adam has been impaired - but not annihilated by sin. Our freedom requires the support of Grace just as Peter climbed out of the boat by his own human power, but only walked on the water by virtue of the sustaining grace of God he accessed via his faith..... It wasn't pure grace and it wasn't pure human will power, it was 'both/and' that allowed Peter to walk on the water.

That's why in slipping he could be chided for lack of faith. If faith was pure gift without human interaction and cooperation, what point would the Lord have for chiding him?

In short, the evidence is before us in the very actions of Our Lord.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene refuses to recognize that Total Depravity is simply wrong. It is un-biblical, if is un-hidtorical, if is un-hidtorical Catholic. His Calvinist roots are deep.

Even if one understands total Depravity as total inability, the Calvinist model is wrong. One cannot follow the way of Jesus without being first touched by grace and without having the aid of grace to maintain one on the way.

"Go and sin no more" is no more difficult than "Believe in Him who was sent.". But the two are co-terminal since faith without works (turning from sin in this case) is dead.

George said...

I believe man's state is "posse non peccare", but only by and with the assistance of the grace of God.

What you seem to be describing(in the way you do so) with the story of Peter sounds Semi-Pelagian.
Even in his action of climbing out of the boat he was responding to and co-operating
with God's grace.