Fr. Hunwicke on simplicity vs. complexity

Fr. Hunwicke has an excellent, thought-provoking piece on some of the progressive assumptions of Scripture scholars concerning ancient Church documents.

He writes (his emphases):

So very many of the ‘assured results of modern scholarship’ have rested ultimately upon comfortable and rarely interrogated Enlightenment prejudices. To the mentality of the last two-and-a-half centuries, it has seemed obvious that ‘primitive’ simplicity must have been transformed, in a simple linear process, into greater complexity. Rousseau’s Noble Savage, dated into mythical human pre-history, must necessarily predate the Bourbon Court! That such a methodological presupposition still survives among ‘liberal’ Christian academics is, it seems to me, another example of the failure of many such writers to keep up with advances in the secular study of the ancient world. Here is a passage, written in 1998 by Peter Parsons, Regius Professor (now emeritus) of Greek in this University and a very great papyrologist. He is surveying the large number of ‘new’ Classical texts which the sands of Egypt had yielded in the couple of decades before he wrote. (It is worth adding that discoveries since 1998 have done nothing to weaken his argument.)

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On that priests’ letter and the response

Carl Olsen over at Catholic World Report has an interesting article that has good links for those who have not been following the story elsewhere.  

He writes:

My hope is that when an exhaustive (and exhausting) history of the Great Inter-Synodal Battle of 2014-15 is written someday, the collective sense of it will be: “What were they thinking?”—the “they” being those who prelates, priests, and others who pushed for changes in Church teaching about the sacrament of matrimony.


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Lovely article about literary taste

This article about forming literary taste by Arnold Enoch Bennett from Crisis Magazine is well worth reading, pondering and sharing.

The aim of literary study is not to amuse the hours of leisure; it is to awake oneself, it is to be alive, to intensify one’s capacity for pleasure, for sympathy, and for comprehension. It is not to affect one hour, but twenty-four hours. It is to change utterly one’s relations with the world.

At the beginning a misconception must be removed from the path.

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A comparison of the SSPX to Russian Orthodoxy

One of my readers sent me a link to this post by Opus Publicum via email and I agree, it is most interesting.

The Society’s “crimes,” according to its critics, are threefold: rejecting modern liturgical reform; criticizing Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty; and opposing ecumenism. But where does Eastern Orthodoxy come down on these three issues? A brief, but informative, glance at Orthodoxy’s largest canonical body, the Russian Orthodox Church, reveals no measurable deviation from the Society’s positions.

Again, I stress, this is not an SSPX blog and I do not want the comments sections on my blog flooded with either SSPX apologetics or criticisms, because usually they are off-topic and go on and on forever.

As for me, I hope for reconciliation and unity among all Christians.



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Fr. Hans Feichtinger on Pope Francis in Crisis Magazine

082We at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary have a wonderful association with Fr. Hans Feightinger, who pastors St. George’s, the closest Roman Catholic parish to ours.


Last year, our parishes joined together for a Corpus Christi Procession that started with Mass at St. George’s, stopped for prayers in front of Annunciation, then processed back to St. George’s for a marvelous pot luck lunch in their wonderful new parish hall.  Fr. Feichtinger is shown in the bottom photo censing the altar.

I hear plans are in the works for this year’s Corpus Christi.

So, it was most interesting to see that Fr. Feichtinger has a piece in Crisis Magazine, one of my daily stops around the Internet.

He writes:

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

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Stories arising from the Manning Networking Conference

In early March, I attended parts of the annual Manning Networking Conference that gathers the conservative movement in Ottawa every year.

I filed three stories out of this, all of which I found interesting to do, all of which are up now at B.C. Catholic.

Here’s the story on Acton Institute co-founder Fr. Robert Sirico’s talk Mar. 7

North America is at a “perilous point in history,” if it loses a sense of shared moral consensus, Father Robert Sirico warned a plenary session of the Manning Networking Conference March 7.

The co-founder of the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty illustrated his point with an anecdote about a huge tree in front of the house belonging to a religious community he was living with that sported dead leaves, with some new growth near the tree’s crown.

In the plenary session sponsored by Cardus, a Canadian think tank often nicknamed “Acton North,” Father Sirico said he called a tree doctor who told him the tree was dead and should be taken down or it could blow over onto the house during the next storm. Father Sirico asked how the tree could be dead if there were still leaves growing.

The arborist explained the new growth was “just an illusion.” The tree’s roots were dead, but there was still enough sap in the trunk to support the new growth, the Catholic priest said.

“The question before us is a question of roots,” Father Sirico said. Those roots form the foundation for who we are, and form the basis of civil society.

“Are we simply living off the illusion of the past?” he asked, urging a return to the roots, to the “foundations of our society that is based on human dignity.”

I have long been a fan of the Acton Institute and it was great to meet Father Sirico in person.

Then this story on using conservative principles to tackle climate change.

Conservative ideas based on a realistic knowledge of human nature and free markets provide the most efficient solutions to climate change and other environmental problems.

That was the conclusion of a panel entitled Market-based Environmental Conservation March 6 at the annual Manning Networking Conference here March 5-7, drawing hundreds of right-of-centre conservatives.

“There’s much the conservative movement needs to do on the environment,” said the panel moderator Tim Kennedy, who is vice president of government and Aboriginal affairs for Spectra Energy, a pipeline company. “Conservatives can have the best, most efficient, and effective” ways of improving the environment using “market-based principles.”

Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina and founder of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, said conservatives “break out in hives when you talk about climate change and go into anaphylactic shock when you talk about solutions.” He admitted he was once opposed to doing anything about climate change. “All I knew was if Al Gore was for it, I was against it.”

He said he stopped being a climate-change denier when confronted with scientific evidence through a trip to Antarctica and to coral reefs in the Caribbean.

People on both the left and the right share sentiments regarding the protection of the environment, he said. But while the left might offer “pie in the sky” solutions that don’t work, conservatives can offer solutions that “understand human nature” and “free market solutions that work.”

There’s a lot more at the links.

And then, this panel on euthanasia, a hot topic in Canada, was also most interesting.  And of course, Margaret Somerville is a national treasure, though I think Australia might have a competing claim.

Speaking on a euthanasia panel March 7, Margaret Somerville urged Parliament to set up a Royal Commission to investigate the implications of the recent Supreme Court’s Carter decision.

The founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law said everyone she has spoken to has told her that it is “impossible to deal with this in “12 months, that is just not enough time “for the most important decision Parliament has ever made.” In Carter, Canada’s highest court struck down Criminal Code sections prohibiting assisted suicide, paving the way for Physician Assisted Death (PAD) that could include voluntary euthanasia.

The Court suspended its decision for 12 months from Feb. 6, to give Parliament time to craft a new law that would allow for PAD under certain circumstances.

Somerville called for the use of the notwithstanding clause to give the Royal Commission time to report or for Parliament to have the time to fully consider all the issues legalizing PAD raises. Invoking this Charter provision would suspend the court’s decision for five years. She acknowledged the use of the clause might not be politically popular.

“I would ask Parliament to stand up and have a backbone,” the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law told hundreds of conservative movement movers and shakers at the Manning Networking Conference here March 5-7.


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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Oh how I hope the significance of St. Patrick is revived.  And it’s not through drinking green beer, wearing a funny hat or lining up in March weather to get into a bar today.   Yes, I remember driving home from work one day through parts of downtown Ottawa, where it can be cold in March, astonished to see lines of people queuing up to get into bars.  All of our Christian holy days have been debased—whether its the fat red-suited Santa Claus and his elves; or chocolate Easter bunnies or leprechauns and shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s time to invoke the real Saint Patrick’s intercession for us.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker shares some insight into what it means when people say St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.  He starts with sharing a dream he once had:

In my dream I was in an old English country house and there was a beautiful woman there, sitting in contemplation. When I asked who she was the answer came, “She is the Lady of the House”

At first I thought she was simply an aristocratic Englishwoman, but then I heard the servants say, “She is Our Lady.”

In my dream I left the house and went outside and there before me was a low, slow English river. A group of boys were playing by the riverside, about to jump in and go swimming.

I saw on boy dive in and allow himself to be taken by the current.

To my horror I saw around the bend in the river a huge crocodile waiting for the boy–who was completely oblivious to the danger.

I ran up and down the river bank trying to warn him but it was too late.

The crocodile already had him in his jaws.

At that moment from upstream came a burly man all dressed in green country walking clothes–a waxed jacket, green rubber boots and dark green corduroy trousers. He had a full beard and a booming voice like the actor Brian Blessed. He was surrounded by a pack of children–like boy scouts and girl scouts out on a hike.

I called to him for help and he said, “I’m Patrick. What can I do to help?”

When I pointed out the lad being devoured by the reptile he called out to the crocodile to drop the boy.

Then he jumped in and pulled the boy to safety. When I looked up I saw that the woman from the house had come out and was quietly watching the whole scene with a benevolent look of approval.

I understood then, that the boy had been swallowed by the serpent, the reptile, the devil. Patrick was an exorcist who was able to deliver the boy from the jaws of death.

Suddenly, through this dream, I understood the real importance of St Patrick.

Read the whole post here.

Here’s an Anglo-Catholic rendition of St. Patrick’s Breastplate with lyrics.

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Pope Francis at Casa Santa Marta today on the God the Father’s love for us

In the spirit of finding 10 inspiring quotes from Pope Francis to mark the second anniversary of his election, I can look to today’s homily at Casa Santa Marta, via Vatican Radio, my emphases.

“We find that the Lord has so much enthusiasm: he speaks of joy and says ‘I will exult in my people’. The Lord thinks of what He will do and of how He will rejoice with His people. It’s almost as if he has a dream. He has a dream. His dream is about us. ‘Oh, how beautiful it will be when we are all together, when this and that person will walk with me… I will exult in that moment!’ To bring you an example that can help us better understand, it’s like when a girl or a boy think of their beloved: ‘when we will be together, when we marry…’. It’s God’s ‘dream’”.


“Have you thought about it? The Lord dreams of me! He thinks of me! I am in the Lord’s mind and in His heart! The Lord can change my life! And he has many projects: ‘we will build houses and plant vineyards, we will share our meals’… these are the dreams of someone who is in love…. Thus we can see that the Lord is in love with his people. And when he says to his people: ‘I haven’t chosen you because you are the strongest, the biggest, the most powerful. I have chosen you because you are the smallest of them all. You could add: the most miserable. This is whom I have chosen’. This is love”.


To have faith is to make space for God’s love, to make space for his power, for God’s power. Not for the power of a powerful person, but for the power of one who loves me, who is in love with me and who wants to rejoice with me. This is faith. This is believing: making space for the Lord so that he can come and change me”.


I think of Galatians 3:1-3, my emphases.

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?


What the Holy Father is getting at is that we do not sanctify ourselves by seeking perfection through the works of the law.

I think one of the great teachings of Lenten disciplines is humility—a realization that as soon as we try to pray more, or to become more virtuous and so on, we come right up against the fact that by our own power, we are totally incapable of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, especially if we desire both an inward and outward obedience to God’s Commands.

At the same time, however, the teachings of the law are important and this is where the confusion comes in.   Living by the Spirit, obeying Jesus Christ, allowing God to change us will enable us to fulfill the law, but it will be by God’s power not our own.

We have to believe the right things about God.  We cannot merely believe and dream big and expect those dreams to come true—our prayers and dreams must be God’s for us, that of the True God, the Holy Trinity.

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A powerful reflection on what recent Popes have been saying

Mark Mallet reflects on what recent Popes have been saying about the End Times.  Very interesting, thought-provoking post full of quotes from recent popes.

He writes:

The popes are shouting to the four corners of the earth that foundations are trembling and ancient edifices are about to collapse; that we are on the threshold of the end of our age—and the beginning of a new age, a new era. Our personal response must be nothing short of what our Lord Himself asks: to pick up our cross, renounce our possessions, and follow Him. Earth is not our home; the kingdom we seek is not to be our own but His. Bringing as many souls with us into it as we can is our mission, by His grace, according to His plan, unfolding now before our very eyes in these, the end times.

“Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth. “—POPE BENEDICT XVI, Message to the Young People of the World, World Youth Day, 2008

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Speaking the truth in love–some Lenten reflections

A number of years ago, I decided I would give up for Lent the gossiping and detraction and the little frisson of pleasure the goes with talking behind some peoples’ backs.

Of course I failed and failed.  But the virtue of blessing people rather than cursing them with my words is something I aspire to and I find it starts with changing my thinking, changing the way I see people, to resist the temptation to react negatively and to zero in on the negative.  I have also found that when I do resist, God will give me graces to discern spiritually things that I could not have seen otherwise so that I can intercede in prayer.  Over the years, I have gained a great deal of control over that tendency to indulge in constant judging and a critical spirit so that I can see what’s before me, without chatter in my mind going off in a constant stream of “oh, why doesn’t she do something about her eyebrows” or worse.

But like everyone else, sometimes someone or something will get to me and throw me off the gracious stride that with God’s help I hope to maintain.  Someone might say or do something that gets under my skin,  or I have my spiritual shield of faith down and  a little fiery dart from the enemy comes in.

So, what am I likely to do?  I go directly to prayer with my Divine Mercy or Rosary beads.  Ha ha ha.  I wish.  Well, okay, I do sometimes.  But I confess, I am as likely to find a friend with whom I can vent.  And I tend to exaggerate when I vent and generally people laugh, because, to paraphrase Dr. Kerr on Facebook: “though you wouldn’t know it by listening to me, I can be quite funny.”  Unfortunately when I am venting, my humor could be at someone’s expense.  Or it could be in the category of “Did you see that?” i.e. needing confirmation that something I noticed was weird and odd and off base.

Now—some might say that when I am venting, I am “telling the truth,” just as they might say when someone is drunk and says all kinds of nasty things, that drunk is telling the truth.  No, I am venting.  Which means I am exaggerating for effect, using hyperbole for the purposes of humor and I am creating a cartoon version of the person or situation in question.  I try to be careful with whom I vent, to be sure I am with friends who understand that I am venting and know what I am saying is not the result of sober second thought or what I really think overall.

All this is a long preamble to something Dr. Kerr (who is very funny and a great satirist) wrote in his Theology of Dad column a while back in which he said some nice things about me, but also raised some concerns about freedom of speech for those who work for the Church, or by extension, me, since I write mostly for papers that are owned by dioceses.

He writes in a post entitled Self-Censure, his emphases:

I know so many people who work for the Church in different degrees. So many. And yet see so little freedom in them. So little.

And it’s not in the way that my non-Catholic family would think: it is not fear from doctrinal repressers or conservatives. Exactly the opposite. The hardliners are few and far between, people should realize – though they don’t, because it doesn’t fit with their liberal narrative. The fact is, liberals are in the vast majority everywhere and always. Thus, to be orthodox is to be in an unwelcome minority. Everywhere and always.


These people are in the majority because most people–even those who work for the Church–are embarrassed by the Church’s traditional beliefs. They don’t want to be embarrassed by the Church’s beliefs and so don’t want to have the traditionalists around to present them. They want to be part of a new, modern, sophisticated Church.

And so conservatives who work for the Church are very careful not to rouse these people’s ire. They mutter in corners carefully by themselves, while the liberal majority shines gloriously and unCatholicly in the bright hallways of their institutions.

These people have a survival instinct I was not born with. But I am not really in admiration here. It’s prudence to a fault.


But it is not right for people who know to keep silent, especially if teaching the Faith is a part of their job.

Don’t try to be everyone’s friend; don’t blow sunshine, as one of my friends says. That’s not honest, authentic living. That’s the stuff worthy of politicians, which I mentioned in my previous post. The best people have a sort of stable personality. I don’t mean they are uniformly cranky and negative. These are the types of people whom you know what they stand for. They have the courage to disagree with a superior, and yet keep peace. They have the courage to write about what they believe, and not keep silence on Facebook, blogs, etc. Keeping their beliefs secret is not what Christ called them to do.

That is the imprisonment of fear. We have to free up the Gospel from all restraints. One of those is professionalism over truth. There is no fine line between excessive prudence and the toleration of falsehood. There is a yawning chasm between the two. And you can adopt a million acceptable positions in between.

Are we moving into a world where we cannot have private thoughts and exchanges?

What is the proper Christian attitude? We have a number of virtues to bring in to this, not only prudence. Love is doing good for others. What is the good that can be done in any given situation? Often it lies in sharing a reflection on the situation in light of the Gospel. The fact is, most people don’t know the Gospel and they have no real truth or wisdom to guide them. And this can be done very sensitively and rather interestingly.

Share the Faith and make it interesting.


Look at it this way. The Church does not pay you a competitive wage. So why are you working for it? Because you love it! Well, then love it actually!

In the post, Colin makes a distinction between private and public thoughts, a distinction I made above between what I say when I’m venting vs. when I’ve thought about something and giving a calm, considered opinion, speaking the truth in love.

The problem with social media–Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on, is it is so, so tempting to let your private thoughts rip, to vent, to tell the world in perhaps an exaggerated fashion that someone or something has annoyed you.

Maybe my blog would draw more traffic if it were more controversial and I let rip with my rather amusing but snide venting.   Conflict attracts visitors.  Do I engage in self-censure?


Some of it is for reasons of prudence, for sure.

But most of it is I want to stop being a person who needs to vent, a person who reacts negatively to people and events and needs, therefore, to blow off steam.

As I said earlier, a lot of it involves learning how to overlook offences on the spot, so that one does not even get to the point of anger or hurt and needing to forgive.  That does not mean becoming a doormat because it is amazing how clear-headed one can be when one is serene while someone is spewing the contents of what I call the “nozzle of weirdness” over you.  Ah, to be given the grace to discern by the light of the Holy Spirit exactly how I am supposed to pray for this person, to exhibit God’s mercy and healing power and perhaps given words to say that heal rather than condemn.

Have I gotten into trouble for having orthodox Catholic beliefs while working for the Catholic newspapers?  I would say that if I have gotten into trouble (and there’s been extremely little of that in more than 10 years), it’s more on the level of being imprudent from time to time, or for being misunderstood.  My superiors have been excellent in their dealings with me:  good, solid Catholic men, all of them.

Another thing that you learn when working in the media and you are not the publisher or the final decision-maker, is that it’s a lot like playing on a sports team.  You don’t make the rules and you play the position you are assigned.  If you can’t do that, your tenure on that job may be short; at the very least it will be full of conflict and your bosses will not appreciate your orneriness.

You have to learn what kinds of stories are the stories your news outlet is looking for.  And yes, it is true, the newspapers I write for are not looking for “gotcha” stories critical of the Church.  They are meant overall to counteract the constant negative barrage found in the mainstream media; to tell stories that are not being told there, positive stories, inspiring stories that show how the people who make up the Church are carrying out their mission in the world.   I know we get disparaged as “lap dog catholic media” for that, but it is what it is.

My beat, which includes Parliament Hill, and the Supreme Court of Canada, puts me in the position to cover the cutting edge political and judicial stories that are of interest to Catholics.  But my favorite stories to write are like this or this or this.

When I worked at the CBC, there were a whole other set of restrictions on what I could or could not report on, but within the ground rules set by others, I was able to produce a body of work that I am proud of.

From Galatians 5:

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

18But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, impurity, licentiousness,

20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, selfishness, divisions, heresies,

21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of which I tell you beforehand, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23Meekness, self-control: against such there is no law.

24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Against such there is no law.

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