Saturday, December 03, 2005

Our Prayers Ascend To The Heavenly Altar As Incense

In Catholic worship the whole human person is involved, spiritually and physically. Each of the five senses are touched and lifted to the adoration of the Blessed Trinity. We are created with physical bodies and so we ought to invest our worship of God with our whole being omitting no single part of ourselves. Hence, I turn to contemplating the use of incense with its polyvalent mystical meanings, the practicality of its use, and its appropriate place in Catholic worship.

Incense is a resin made from tree sap blended with other spices for aroma. It is mentioned by classical writers[1] and is found in virtually every culture in the world. Some incense artifacts are thousands of years old. It was used as a perfume or type of air freshener long before the Glade Plug-in or the aerosol spray can was invented. Certainly, we can imagine some practical function for liturgical celebrations in the days before the advent of air-conditioning and regular bathing. Definitely its use and connection with regards to religion is testified to by a multitude of religions.

In the Old Testament, Moses was directed to build an altar for the purpose of burning incense. The altar was to be made of the same material as the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron the High Priest was required to burn incense upon it in the morning and in the evening. No unholy incense could be used, nor burnt offerings, nor cereal offerings and no pouring of libations, but once a year the blood of the sin offering of atonement was poured upon its horns.[2] God even instructs Moses how the incense should be made and commands that the incense thus made be set aside and used for no profane purposes.[3] The offering of incense and sacrifice are intimately connected for this is the office of the priest, "Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice."[4] The cloud of smoke produced by the burning of incense also recalls the dwelling of the Lord upon the Tabernacle.[5]

Yet not merely the external burning of incense or the mere ritual of sacrifice is sufficient. The ceremonies of the Catholic Church are neither empty ceremonies nor meaningless rituals! The priest stands before the people in virtue of his office of the Church, in the person of Christ. It is Christ who consecrates, Christ who blesses, and Christ who incenses, through the mediation of His Church by the ministry of His priests. The prophet Malachi foretold the Eucharistic sacrifice, in that famous passage, "For from the rising of the sun to its setting may name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts."[6] Here we see that God Himself speaks of how intimately connected incense is to the Holy Eucharist.

The Fathers unanimously teach that the Wise Men from the East, by the offering of incense (frankincense) intended to symbolically adore the Child Jesus.[7] It follows then from both the practice of Temple liturgy from which our own liturgies are developed and from the interpretations of scripture given by the Fathers that incense found its proper place also in the worship of Christians. Our first proof of its early use comes from Pseudo-Denis the Areopagite in the East, who writes about the 4th century, "After the bishop has recited at the altar of God the holy prayer, he commences the incensing of the altar and walks around the entire circumference of the sacred place."[8] In the west, St Ambrose comments on the apparition of the angel to Zachary, "We also when incensing the altar and when offering the Holy Sacrifice, have an angel at our side."[9]

The rituals of incensing, in both Eastern and Western rites, are splendid rites that contribute greatly to the solemnity of divine worship but also symbolically represent the mysteries of faith and the virtues of the Christian life. The Council of Trent counts the rites of incensing explicitly to be included among visible signs of religion and piety, ordered to the inciting and elevating of the mind to the devout contemplation of heavenly things.[10] The Council of Vatican II repeats the purpose of these rites adding that each affects us in particular ways.[11] Many of the Popes make allusion to incense as representing the prayers of the Church and of the faithful.[12]

Incense can be likened to the fonts of holy water that are present at the entrance of Churches. The rites of incensing are sacramentals by virtue of the blessing received at the time of use. In the former Roman Missal this was done by some extraordinarily beautiful prayers and the sign of the cross, in the current Roman Missal this is done by virtue of the priest making the sign of the cross only. Nevertheless this constitutes a blessing of the incense to be used, thus as a sacramental incense is a means to secure divine protection and blessing. By virtue of the blessing the incense is especially made efficacious for expelling or keeping at a distance Satan from the soul, and for affording us a powerful protection against the deceit and malice, the snares and the attacks of evil spirits, a protection we greatly need at the altar and during the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

"Incensing is done, as a mark of honor and adoration; as a symbolic of the holocaust of Christ and of all Christians, which ascends by the fire of charity in the odor of sweetness; as an indication of the good odor of Christ diffused in His Church and throughout the universe; and as representing the prayers of the saints on earth and in heaven, which ascend from hearts inflamed with love to the throne of God."[13] "The fragrant incense burning in the fire is a symbol of the solemn expression of the interior sentiments of sacrifice and of prayer acceptable to God. Incense exhales and breathes forth its inmost soul when it is consumed in the fire and dissolved in fragrant clouds of smoke that rise heavenward. It symbolizes man’s spirit of sacrifice or his life of sacrifice because he consumes himself with all his faculties in the fire of love for the honor and service of God. The odor of incense that rises from the burning grains and ascends in its fragrance, also symbolizes prayer. Prayer is the surrender of the soul to God, the elevation of the mind and spirit to Heaven, the aspiration of the heart toward goods invisible and eternal. If the heart, like incense, is placed in the fire of divine love and ardent devotion, then our prayer will free itself from all that is earthly and will ascend to the Lord as a sweet and precious perfume."[14]

"The thurible or censer, is a symbol of Christ’s humanity wherein is hidden the fullness of the divinity as a consuming fire. It is, also, a symbol of Christ who is the well spring of all graces, which, like most fragrant odors, are diffused over the whole world. The thurible is, moreover, an image of the Church, which has within her keeping the celestial fire of the divine spirit and which, the more she is disturbed by tribulations, the more copiously emits the fragrance of her virtues. Finally, the thurible is a type of the soul inflamed by the fire of charity as is denoted by the words of the celebrant, 'May the Lord enkindle in us the fire of His love and the flame of everlasting charity.'"[15]

In fine, incense is so intimately connected to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and so suitably conformed to the condition of man that it ought not to be omitted from the sacred liturgy except for good reason. I personally find it so flawlessly expressive of Christian virtue and so adept at lifting my private prayers to the contemplation of the Divine Majesty that I regularly employ its use at home. Our private prayer converges with the prayers of the whole Mystical Body of Christ that lead us ultimately back again into the sacred liturgy from which they are formed. They are upheld by the intercession of Holy Mother Church, by the mediation of the saints and angels. They are brought to the very throne of God by the angel of Revelation.[16]

[1] Ovid, Metamorph.: 6, 14; Virgil, Aeneid: 1, 146.

[2] Ex 30 1-10.

[3] Ex 30:34-37; Cf. Num 4:7; Wis 18:20-21; Sir 45:16.

[4] Ps 141:2.

[5] Ex 40:32; Lev 16:2; 1 Chronicles 5:13.

[6] Mal 1:11.

[7] St. Fulgentius, Sermon 4; The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Dogmatically, Liturgically and Ascetically Explained, Rev Dr. Nicholas Gihr, 6th edition, B. Herder Book Co, 1924, p 371.

[8] Pseudo-Denis, The Hierarchy of the Church III, 2; Gihr, 370-71 ft3.

[9] Gihr, 371 ft4.

[10] Sess. 22 V; Gihr, 372 ft 3.

[11] Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7.

[12] Qui Nuper, Pius IX; Mira Circa Nos, Gregory IX; Augustissimae Virginis Mariae, Leo XIII; Mit Brennender Sorge, Pius XI; Menti Nostrae, Pius XII; Au Millieu Des Sollicitudes, Leo XIII; Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Pius XI; Ex Quo, Benedict XIV; Missale Romanum, Paul VI.

[13] The Holy Mass Explained, Fr. F. X. Schouppe, 1891, p. 59.

[14] Gihr, 373.

[15] Schouppe, 33-35.

[16] Rev 5:8; 8:3-4.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Party of Christ or Church of Jesus Christ?: Introduction

The heading of this short post comes from a title of a chapter of Cardinal Ratzinger's book, Called to Communion. This book was written by Cardinal Ratzinger in 1991, and as short as this book is it contains some profound insights on what it means to be "Church"; insights that are in one way profound yet that are also so obvious it's difficult to understand how many of us easily miss them when discussing issues facing the modern Church. I'd like to devote the next few posts to the Holy Father's thoughts that are spelled out in this book.

If there is one major theme that runs through this book it is this: The Church is created from outside. Anything we have from God, be it faith, the Church, or anything as regards the divine life in the world comes not from our efforts but only from God. The Holy Father writes:

"Faith is not something we excogitate ourselves; man does not make himself a Christian by reflection or ethical achievement. He always becomes a Christian from outside. "

(Called to Communion, pg. 120)

What does this truth mean for us as Church? Speaking of the "parties" that grew up within the Corinthian Church, the Holy Father comments:

"When I advocate a party, it thereby becomes my party, whereas the Church of Jesus Christ is never my Church but always his Church. Indeed, the essence of conversion lies precisely in the fact that I cease to pursue a party of my own that safeguards my interests and conforms to my taste but that I put myself in his hands and become his, a member of his Body, the Church." (emphasis in original)

(Called to Communion, pg. 158)

This insight is so obvious that it really doesn't strike most of us unless we're slapped in the face with it. Amongst all our bickering about what's 'best for the Church' we tend to forget that this isn't our project. It's God's project. Seeing that it's His baby and not ours, we should accept in humility that our own tastes (and our efforts to get others to conform to them) may be clouding any true progress in the Church. True reform will only occur when all sides admit that the Church is not ours to mold or create, it is only ours to receive and accept. When this profound but simple principle is willingly acknowledged, truth rather than opinion will once again become the overriding decisive factor in all our efforts to bring reform to the Church.

God Bless,
Patrick Morris


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Traditional Catholicism vs. The Gay Culture

Catholicism vs. The Gay Culture

Being a Traditionalist Catholic (and a former Protestant), I am very sensitive to the criticism that Traditionalists sometimes have an almost Protestant aura about them in certain ways. One particular way this quasi-Protestant mentality can can be sensed is in the tendency to define Traditionalism in negative terms: in comparison to other Catholics, we are not this, we don't agree with that, this is wrong, etc. I believe an authentic expression of Traditionalism is positive, full, rich and balanced. Traditionalists may rightly object to certain things, but the right to object ought not devolve into developing an identity centered around objection.

With that in mind, I hope to offer a few posts from time to time on the moral issues of the day and how we might handle and process them more effectively as Catholics. All orthodox Catholics can easily join in agreement on these issues. In this day, when the "dictatorship of relativism" has undermined and obscured even the Natural Law written upon all mens hearts, there is little more orthodox and traditional than fighting back with the light of Truth.

Yes, Virginia, there really is Truth, expressed perfectly in the person of our savior, Jesus Christ.

A Catholic View on Homosexuality:

I have received many questions about homosexuality, but I believe this one represents a good many of them:

"I have been trying to learn more about my faith, and one thing I hear so often is 'the Catholic faith is not like a buffet, you can't pick and choose which things you believe in and will follow, and which things you won't.' While I know this is true, one topic I am not completely understanding is why the Catholic Church does not believe that people can live out a gay lifestyle. I know that the Catholic Church says it is ok to be gay, but not to act upon it. What I don't know is what are their reasoning backing that up. Why is the Catholic Church against a gay lifestyle?"

It may be helpful to clarify some terminology here. The Church has not said it is "okay to be gay". The term "gay" implies an entire lifestyle choice, not merely a sexual preference or orientation. And the "gay" lifestyle is never acceptable. Perhaps the most accurate and useful way to refer to it is "Same Sex Attraction" or "SSA".This is what the Catechism has to say about homosexuality and homosexual acts:

"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Genesis 19:1-29; Romans 1:24-27; 1Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10 ), tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved......Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2357 and 2359)

It is important to remember what sex is, or at least what God intended it to be. Sex is the fullest expression of the marital commitment/bond between a man and a woman, it is a private, intimate bodily verification of the verbal commitment husbands and wives publicly make at the is the bodily "I do". Marriage is a SACRAMENT. Every time a husband and wife engage in the marital embrace, they renew their vows, they renew their complete commitment to one another, without reservation....through their actions, they each say "I am yours completely." In this, it is very much like the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist: every time we receive Christ, we renew our vow to love and serve him with our whole being and receive Him into our bodies.

As is clear from the Scriptures and basic biology, man and woman were created for one another. Their very nature is complementary (not just biologically, but psychologically and spiritually)....they complete one another. When husband and wife express their love through the marital embrace, the man gives of himself completely, and the woman actively receives him. This expression of love is creative and fruitful, so much so that it may bring forth life in 9 months! This is the nature of God's love: complete, sacrificial and creative.

While there are certainly cases where a particular married couple may be infertile, the point is that the basic nature of man and woman together is creative and complementary. The infertility is not a fundamental part of the relationship, it is an unfortunate defect.In the case of homosexual acts, the acts themselves are completely and fundamentally sterile, they are defective by nature. No two men or two women are capable of expressing sexual love in such a way that it is creative. Two men or two women together sexually are simply not complementary, they do not "complete" one another. This kind of bodily expression is really a kind of of the self, or of "sameness". A man basically sees a reflection of himself and is attracted to it. Ditto for a woman. This is fundamentally disordered. (And by the way, the idea of voluntarily engaging in sterile sexual activity is exactly the same reason why contraception is destroys the full meaning of the marital embrace, turning it into a lie...."I give myself fully to you....but not really!" The acceptance of contraception has gravely undermined the family and opened the way for acceptance of other kinds of sterile sexual homosexual acts.)

In sexual relations, man is the one who "gives" of himself. It is the way he was designed. The woman was designed to receive. To compare it to a very simple worldly, mundane thing, if one has two electrical outlets together or two plugs together, it just doesn't work. The electricity will not flow. It takes a plug and an outlet. It is a fact of the design itself.These are some of the fundamental reasons why homosexual acts can never be holy and good. Now, as is usually the case, when something is fundamentally wrong/disordered, we expect to see negative consequences that follow. And sure enough, we do. This is how "Natural Law" works. We don't need the Catholic Church to tell us that murder is wrong. It is built into our very nature and we should be able to see its negative effects. Ditto with stealing, and....homosexual acts. All of these things have negative consequences for individuals, families and societies. This is what the "Natural law" is all about: things that are stamped into our very nature.

In the case of homosexuality, here are some of the unfortunate consequences that give light to the results of defying the Natural Law:

1) Drastically reduced life-span (estimated at 20 years less than heterosexuals)
2) Drastically higher rates of psychological illness, from depression to suicide
3) Drastically higher rates of serious diseases and physical ailments (many of which are rare or even unknown in heterosexuals), including but not limited to: anal cancer, Chlamydia trachomatis, Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, Herpes simplex virus, HIV/Aids, Human papilloma virus, Isospora belli, Microsporidia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, anal fissures, anal "incompetence" (inability to retain fecal matter)
4) Drastically higher rates of "promiscuity"
5) Higher rates of substance abuse
6) Drastically higher rates of pedophilia (those with SSA comprise only 1-3% of the population, yet they commit over 33% of the cases of sexual abuse of children) and more.......

Additionally, I would mention that the psychological effects cannot simply be dismissed by claiming they occur only because homosexuals are under the strain of "not being accepted". These statistics stay relatively constant even in countries that fully accept and embrace homosexuality and homosexual unions.

Taken together, studies establish that homosexuality is more deadly than smoking, alcoholism, or drug addiction. Yet, few will say so publicly out of fear of reprisal or a mistaken sense of charity. But what is charitable about allowing or encouraging people to engage in things that will likely kill them? What is charitable about allowing others to fall into such deadly behavior because of our silence?

Contrary to current, popular belief, not one study has ever shown homosexuality is genetically determined. Even scientists with SSA (or who advocate for homosexuality) admit that no such "gay gene" exists. Regardless, even if it were true that SSA was partly genetic, genetic tendencies do not mean that objectively destructive behavior is somehow "good". Men have a biological tendency toward violence and promiscuity. Do we want to say "go ahead, it 's natural"? Of course not. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, man has inherited many sinful tendencies. But with Christ, it is possible to overcome them, if we have the will to do so.

In conclusion, Catholics are not "against" people with SSA. We differentiate between "the sin" and "the sinner". We are ALL sinners in need of God's mercy. But we cannot call "good" what God has called "evil" if we hope to ever find our way home to God. We must speak charitably, but we must speak THE TRUTH. Homosexual behavior is not like skin color or gender. It can be changed, and it has been changed very successfully in many instances. Groups like Fr. Harvey's "Courage" help men and women who want to change. They key, of course, is having the WILL to change. Without that, no amount of help will be effective.

We should all humbly pray for those who suffer with SSA, that they develop the will to fight against that which is destroying their bodies and souls. That is the traditional, Catholic thing to do.

Michael Forrest


The Case for Traditional Principles Part VI: The Importance of Worship

I'm sure most people seeing this title will think "Tierney, of course worship is important, why we worship every Sunday at Mass." However, I believe in many circles of the Church today, a far too limited concept of worship is placed. I'm not talking about just the Mass. Worship itself is far more than just Mass.

When we worship at Mass, we give God the honor and reverence that is due Him. Not only do we give Him our prayers and our praise, we also give him the Sacrifice of His son, offered for the salvation of the world. No worship is complete without a sacrifice. Yet is the sacrifice of Christ the only acceptable offering one can give to God? If we are referring to sacrifice for sin, the answer is yes. Only the Blood of Christ is acceptable nowadays before God to forgive sin. Yet are sacrifices offered simply for sin? Certainly not.

If one looks throughout the Old Testament, sacrifice was offered for a myriad of reasons. Of course there was the sacrifice for sin, which was probably the most important and pressing sacrifice offered. Yet there were sacrifices of praise, of thanksgiving, of supplication, of many different reasons. While in the New Covenant we don't sacrifice animals, we still offer our own sacrifices for various reasons. They may involve fasting from 3 meals a day. Eating fish on Fridays, giving up something prized for the benefit of others, etc. These sacrifices, far from taking away from the Sacrifice of Christ, are added onto it, and those offerings are only effective when united to Christ's offering. Whether or not we realize it, these acts are true and proper sacrifices, and hence acts of worship. They are just sacrifices of a different aspect, never taking the place of the primary sacrifice, that being the sacrifice of Christ made present to us on the altar every Sunday at Mass.

There is however far more than just these ideas of sacrifice that go into worship. Worship also involves giving praise to God, whether through hymn, prayer, or both. (Many hymns are just as well prayers.) You don't need a Mass for this. Despite the views some may have on groups such as the Charismatic movement (and trust me I'm one of em!), I think they understand this aspect. They would have their weekly or sometimes several day a week praise and worship services in addition to the Mass. People in monasteries would (and in many places still do) chant the Breviary (known as the Liturgy of the Hours in modern terminology) daily. I see families attend Eucharistic Adoration together. Groups of people gather often to recite the Rosary. All these, even devotions such as the Rosary, are ultimately acts of worship to God. The Mass is not meant to be the one aspect of Christian Worship. Rather, the Mass is the summit of Christian worship. It is it's highest aspect. Not only are all other aspects of worship joined to the ultimate sacrifice being offered, but because of so great a sacrifice, it's merits strengthen the other aspects of worship in our lives.

In the end, this is another defining mark of the Catholic, that they strive for using their entire lives as an act of worship before God.

God Bless,
Kevin M. Tierney


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rev. Fr. Rob Clements, Rector

I attended an amazing Mass on Sunday at St. Simon and Jude Cathedral (Diocese of Phoenix). My best friend has been going there regularly for the 11:00 am Mass celebrated by the rector, Fr. Clements. He kept telling me good things and I kept wanting to get over there but haven't found the time until this past Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent.

I know Fr. Clements from when he would come out and celebrate Holy Mass for the Mater Misericordiae Latin Mass Indult Community (now a Mission Parish). He's got a beautiful singing voice and knew the rubrics to the TLM to the nine's. He's also an accomplished homilist. I can normally stand fifteen minutes of homily regardless of the subject matter or the speaker, too much more than that requires purposeful focus. I could listen to Fr. Clements for hours.

The settings for the Mass included a troped Kyrie set to music I've never heard but thorougly enjoyed. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were sung in English to the setting of Veni, Veni Emmanuel (O come, O come Emmanuel). It worked amazingly well. The choir was in the front to the left, which I generally don't care for but here's the kicker: at the offertory the males went up into the choir loft and chanted Creator Alme Siderum. Let's hope they find themselves up there permanently and chanting more regularly.

The priest's chair is situated facing the side of the altar (on the south), from there he faces the altar during those portions where the rubrics do not require him to turn towards the people. The Altar was decorated with a beautiful front piece that matched Father's vestments. On the front in the middle was a Altar Cross. The Altar and the Crucifix were incensed upon ascending to the altar and again at the Offertory. It was solemnly done with the Deacon holding up Father's vestments as he walked around the altar. They both stopped in front of the Crucifix and bowed as it was incensed.

Everyone on the altar, and not a few parishoners, bowed their heads throughout the entire Mass whenever the three Divine Persons were named together, whenever Jesus's name was spoken, and whenever the name Mary touched the lips. Of course, this is the most universally ignored rubric in the Holy Mass when it is celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI, right after the failure to strike the breast at the Confiteor and make a profound bow during the Creed.

I made a point of telling Father how beautiful Mass was and mentioned how more Latin Chants should be encouraged. His reply? "A little at a time, a little at a time." My heart is lifted to think that the Diocese of Phoenix has begun a much needed (and much desired by the parishoners) liturgical renewal. Incidentally, I began to see these changes when the Indult was finally granted by our beloved Bishop Olmstead. Perhaps it is indirectly due to this permission, but perhaps it has more to do with the heart of a Bishop and those of his priests, who truly love the sacred liturgy in whatever form it takes, knowing that it is the highest form of worship that can be offered to God. We, as Catholics, are each of us blessed to be present at the Eucharistic sacrifice, unworthy though we are. Can we return any greater love to God than to worthily celebrate this form of worship which he has ordered for us and Holy Mother Church has regulated?

May the name of God be praised upon every tongue, and in every heart for the love of God endures forever.

P.S. Father, just in case you're reading: Latin Chant, Latin Chant, Latin Chant, Latin Chant. :)


Monday, November 28, 2005

The Case for Traditional Principles Part V: Children of the Age

While there are many joys of being a Catholic, for me, it has always been one joy that exceeds all joys: as a Catholic, you are released from the plague of being a child of your times. This is not to mean that we live in some separate reality from today's world, but rather that we are not confined, nor do we wish to be, to one generation or another. For man's life without God, there is nothing beyond that generation. Therefore, every generation is one where one tries to do things anew, to achieve the quest of happiness without God that their predecessors have failed. For the Catholic, through baptism, you become established in a 2,000 year pedigree of the greatest thinkers civilization has ever produced. And since their souls are still alive in heaven, the wisdom of those saints speaks to us still. This is something I will return to, but I would like to give a little personal reflection here.

As a youth in high school, I was never what could be called the model student. I was not your honor roll student, I never brought home straight A's ever. Through laziness and stubbornness, I viewed most the subjects I learned in school as not worth my time. Yet there was always one subject that always caught my interest: history. It is through history that one learns we are part of something greater. The events of history point to higher things. God ordained it this way, for through studying the past, we are able to avoid the pitfalls of previous generations, and learn their wisdom in solving today's problems. It was history that led me to the Catholic Church, a reality I now recognize that God had always implanted on my soul. Christ himself was no doubt a student of history. Even as a boy, his knowledge of the past, the Jewish law and the Old Covenants was astounding. Let us remember that in many ways Scripture is history. It is the story of God's of plan for mankind.

A despising of history comes from the devil. It is the devil who hopes man will not seek out the past, to learn wisdom that man is unable to find true happiness only through God. If man has no history, he suddenly finds himself alone in a very sad world. A world that is consistently remade day to day. In the monumental novel 1984, the ministry of truth constantly rewrote history to serve the agendas Big Brother was trying to promote. As George Orwell, it's author once said "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present, controls the past." The worst thing for the Devil is for man to learn of the fall in Eden. How mankind was such a noble creature, endowed with so many gifts, and indeed walking with it's creator! Knowing mankind's desire for happiness, the devil knew if man knows of such events, he will seek to desire them. So history must be spun, revised as needed in order to complete his plan of rebellion against God. And countless souls are taken in by that revision, as the God of love turns into a God of repression. As the father of lies turns into a father of liberation, if he exists at all. That the past failures of mankind were not because they were operating from a faulty principle, but he just wasn't implementing it right. The need was for something "new." The writer of Ecclesiastes commented on this absurdity with the following, which I shall quote at length because the importance of this passage cannot be stressed enough.

The words of Ecclesiastes, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. What hath a man more of all his labour, that he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth standeth for ever. The sun riseth, and goeth down, and returneth to his place: and there rising again,

Maketh his round by the south, and turneth again to the north: the spirit goeth forward surveying all places round about, and returneth to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea doth not overflow: unto the place from whence the rivers come, they return, to flow again. All things are hard: man cannot explain them by word. The eye is not filled with seeing, neither is the ear filled with hearing. What is it that hath been? the same thing that shall be. What is it that hath been done? the same that shall be done. Nothing under the sun is new, neither is any man able to say: Behold this is new: for it hath already gone before in the ages that were before us.

There is no remembrance of former things: nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end.

From this passage of Scripture we get the phrase "there is nothing new under the sun." Despite the fact we think we may do something "new", in all truthfulness, we are simply regurgitating old falsehoods. All those falsehoods stem from the original falsehood; that happiness is possible without God. Had man kept "remembrance of former things" he would not have committed those errors. Yet vanity is a powerful drug. The allure of fame, fortune, notoriety, and power are intoxicating, and blur people's visions and reality. Those are the problems of this world today. I also submit, this is one of the most serious problems facing the Church today.

While a blessing in some instances, we are born or lived through the generations following the Second Vatican Council. A monumental event, no matter what your opinion is on the Council. What cannot be denied is that many people in Catholic thought believed the time had come to change everything, to do as Luther did and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Vatican II to them would not be viewed as a continuation of the Churches tradition, but indeed a "ground zero" of Catholicism, from thereafter everything would start from. In the process we lost connection with our heritage, we lost "remembrance of former things." As a result, as the writer of the Scripture passage later commented "the number of fools is infinite." Even recent teachings that are good, they are no longer treated as part of a venerable patrimony, but something to be considered apart from the past. One talks much of John Paul II's theology of the body, but in discussing it, very rarely are things such as Leo XIII's Arcanum and Pius XI's Casti Conubii mentioned. Landmark works such as these compiled, and indeed serve as the foundation of what the Church teaches on marriage. No understanding of the Catholic view of marriage could be complete without such works. Much attention is paid to "social justice", but never to the man who coined the term, Pius XI. We always look for "fresh insight", while neglecting the insight of many Church Fathers. Indeed, a thorough study of them will give you the "fresh insight" you look for.

Such a study of things before us reveals God's plan to us. This is not to say God is revealing new things, but rather making known the things He has already revealed. He leads learned men to give such insight when the Church is ripe for more understanding. Yet for the Catholic, it should never be "what new does he teach" but rather "to those things that appear new, where are it's roots?"

God Bless,
Kevin M. Tierney