Worldview in a Nutshell: Everything You Need to Know

By T.M. Moore

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

More and more people are becoming involved in the movement for Christian worldview. This word is cropping up increasingly in print, preaching, around the Internet, and in everyday conversations. The continued growth of worldview ministries such as Summit, American Vision, The Truth Project, and BreakPoint Centurions, indicates that worldview ideas and themes are being received, embraced, and shared in every part of the country. This is truly good news.

But this means that those of you who are beginning to become aware of worldview issues, and who are interested in living the broader, deeper, and more all-engaging life of Christian worldview, will need to be able to express your convictions to those around you. Many of your fellow church members, and probably most of the people in your neighborhood or at your work, won’t have the slightest idea what you mean by “Christian worldview” or why you suddenly seem to be so excited about the concept. You’ll want to be able to explain to them what you mean by Christian worldview and why it matters. So what I’d like to do in this installment of “Second Sight” is give you a single verse and a concise outline of Christian worldview, and then dispatch you to try these out on a few friends.

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Big Brains, Small Impact

By Dr. James Emery White

Twenty years ago, Russell Jacoby published The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe. If you have heard the phrase “public intellectual,” you can thank his work.

“I offered a generational explanation for what I saw as the eclipse of younger intellectuals,” writes Jacoby on the recent anniversary. “Why in 1987 had the same intellectuals dominated for more than 20 years, with few new faces among them? Why was it that the Daniel Bells or Gore Vidals or Kenneth Galbraiths seemed to lack successors?”

Answer? “Professionalization and academization appeared to be the reason.”

Unlike earlier intellectuals who tended to write for the educated public, Jacoby observed that thinkers in his day flocked to the universities, where “the politics of tenure loom larger than the politics of culture.” Jacoby contended that younger intellectuals became professors who geared their work toward their colleagues and specialized journals. Reflecting on the heart of his original thesis, Jacoby writes that “The new thinkers became academic – not public – intellectuals, with little purchase outside professional circles.” Or as he wrote in his original work, “Campuses are their homes; colleagues their audience; monographs and specialized journals their media.”

Conclusion? “Big brains, small impact.”

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Giving Things Their Proper Name

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

Flannery O’Connor said that “poetry is the proper naming of the things of God.” Genesis is a book full of “naming.” Adam names the animals. In Hebrew, a relation of identity exists between a name and the being it names. In a real way, we only “possess” something when we name it, when we call it what it is. No doubt any given thing, while not itself changing, can be given a hundred different names in as many different languages. But far from lessening our dependence on names, this multiplicity of names increases it. To name things properly is what we are about. We want to call what is exactly what it is, in whatever language we speak, so that we might deal with it, admire it, perhaps avoid it.

A failure to name evil as evil, furthermore, is itself a great evil. Modern society is filled with improperly named things, improperly identified wrongs. If we do not call things by their right names, we will not easily see what they are. We will call something by the wrong name. When we so misname things, we fail to consider their true being. We deal with them as if they were something other than what they are. We begin to live in a world of illusion. Indeed, we may want to live in illusion because we do not want to face what is.

Many disturbing reports have come out of Canada of late. The “hate crimes” phenomenon there makes it impossible to call many things by their proper moral names. The state uses language to change principle. The accurate names of things are driven underground. We must leave out the ethical connotation of words. “Pro-choice” obscures the object of this choice. It hides from our attention the killing of a child in its earliest stages. If we say homosexuality is “wrong,” we are said to be guilty of a “hate crime,” even if it is wrong. Wrongs have become “rights.” “Rights” are not defined by what things are but by what we enforce in public.

In his treatise On Interpretation, Aristotle writes, “Spoken words are symbols of mental experience and written words are symbols of spoken words. Just as all men have not the same writing, so all men have not the same speech sounds, but the mental experience, which these directly symbolize, are the same for all, as also are those things of which our experiences are the images.” No more powerful argument for the unity of the human race has ever been written.

Leon Kass writes in The Beginning of Wisdom:

Human naming, while it does not create the world, creates a linguistic world, a second world of names, that (partially and interestedly) mirrors the first world, of creatures.... Human beings not only practice speech, they create it. Names are the first human inventions: although they point to the things named, they have a certain independence from them. Names (and other words) and the ideas they represent constitute a mental human world that is necessarily separated from the world it means to describe.

Unless we are careful, the world of names can substitute for the world of things. This is why Aquinas thought that we should reflect back on our images or phantasms to the words, then to the things that stand at the origins of both.

"Poetry is the proper naming of the things of God." Speech itself is the correct naming of things. Illusion is the naming of the "slight independence" of words over the real thing.

The English language is the richest in terms of the total number of words available to it—more than 650,000. All languages seek to describe the same things, have words for the same things. Their words make it possible to name accurately the things of God, none of which was created by our words but in the Word.

The Sternness of Christianity

By Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

A friend recently told me of a typical exhortation that a theologian at his university gives to the students. "God loves you as you are," he tells them. "You are in His sight and care whatever you do, so realize that you are loved just as you are. This is all you need to know."

Such wistfulness is a familiar theme, a kind of modern day quietism, the "feel-good" version of Christianity. Nothing is said, of course, about what the hearers are actually doing or thinking. Nothing is indicated about whether it makes any difference what they do. If something is wrong, it is implied, we are victims of society or our upbringing. It is nothing we have to attend to. God loves us as we are. Relax. Be comfortable with yourself.

Christ in the Scriptures practically never speaks this way. He does not teach that whatever we do or say is just fine with Him. Some things are definitely not "just fine" with Him. He makes some rather stern demands. "Thou shalt nots" and "woes to you if you do" are rather frequently found. This prohibition side of Christianity is not the whole message, but it is an essential element in it. "Repent" is perhaps the sternest command of all. This "repent" is not an abstract word. It commands action. It suggests that we ought to be conscious of what we do, that, in all probability, everything is not just terrific with us. People who tell us that all is well, in fact, are not the best friends or guides

God loves us in our radical being. He gave us being, but a being that requires us go choose what is good and reject what is evil. This love of God for us is more like a searing sword if we are not worthy of that love. It is not designed to comfort us unless we are worthy of comfort. And if we are not so worthy, it is designed to upset us, turn us around, reorient us. But why cannot it just leave us alone? After all, people like to "feel good" about themselves. Emphasize the positive. Still, I do not want to "feel" good about myself unless I am objectively worthy of this feeling of goodness. It is the goodness that counts, not the feeling. Otherwise, I am lying to myself about myself. I am deceiving myself about myself.

John Henry Newman, in his Parochial and Plain Sermons, addresses this very issue. Uncannily, he anticipated most of the arguments that would subsequently be proposed as erudite mis-understandings of what Christianity is about. "There is no such person in the Gospel as a ‘justified sinner,’ to use a phrase which is sometimes to be heard," Newman tells us. "If he is justified and accepted, he has ceased to be a sinner. The Gospel only knows of justified saints; if a saint sins, he ceases to be justified, and becomes a condemned sinner" (V, 13, 1070). One might get out of a sinful state but only by taking the steps to do so that were indicated. Holiness is not a theological doctrine stating that we are justified even in our sins. Holiness is a way of life in which, knowing what sins are, we do not sin or repent of them if we do.

Newman gives us a marvelously insightful picture of the persons who think that they are quite all right the way they are, no matter what they are doing. Again, Newman does not take his cue about this condition from popular opinion or what we might want, but from what Christ did in a similar situation. Newman tells us, in a striking passage, that Christ "does not speak of sin and sinners tenderly; he does not merely say, ‘If you sin, you are an evidence of human frailty; you are inconsistent; you ought to keep from sin from gratitude; you should be deeply humbled by your sins; you should betake yourself to the atonement of Christ if you sin.’ All this is true, but it would be short of the real state of the case..." (1071). Already here, Newman has lined up all the typical words of comfort that would shield us from doing what we are asked to do if we sin, from seeing ourselves as we are.

Newman, in fact, is amusing. We can just see someone telling us that "human frailty" caused the problem. We are a bit "inconsistent," nothing too serious. We should not sin from a gentle motive of "gratitude," rather than from the clearly unpleasant idea that what we do is wrong. But Christ does not speak of sinners "tenderly," even when we hate the sin and love the sinner.

Newman suspects that if we insist on speaking "tenderly" of sinners, we will not speak to them of sin. They don’t want to hear about it. They want to feel good about themselves. Sin can only be considered a "tender" topic if we evaporate what it is from its essence. But in this case, we need not bring up the topic at all, which is probably why the topic is rarely acknowledged. I have heard of parishes in which, essentially, the only topic of sermons in a quarter of a century is love, an undemanding love that never mentions sin. "God loves you where you are." "Be comforted."

If, as a matter of fact, God "loves" us no matter what we do or think, we really do not need the Church or sacraments at all. We do not need redemption. The whole of revelation is posited on the empirically realized notion that we cannot save ourselves from what we have caused to be present in the world through acts of our own personal being. We do not even need free will if what we do with it does not make any difference. This is why determinism is said to be comforting. It releases us from all responsibility. Behind all of this tendency to smoothing things over, no doubt, is another yet more profound problem.

We are soon up against diversity and tolerance theory. We can explain our "feeling good" best by eliminating anything about which we might feel bad, sin being at the top of the list. There are no "truths." All we find is different ways of doing things. Let everyone be happy in his own manner, whatever it is. A "sin," as the Scripture calls it, is not a sin but another lifestyle. We cannot "judge" or determine the difference between one moral position and another. All views are equal. To distinguish right and wrong is to impose our own prejudices on someone else. The world knows nothing of this distinction. This claim of knowledge of good and evil causes war and strife. Our ideas cause us to "discriminate," as if there were an order or hierarchy in nature to which we are obliged. The only real "sin," nowadays, properly identified as "fanaticism," is the truth claim. Without this claim, we can all happily settle into our own ways in which God loves us as we are. We will have none of this divine sternness.

As we reflect on this peculiar modern doctrine that God loves us with a love that requires nothing of us, that the only sin is to say that there is sin, Newman’s words from St. Mary the Virgin’s pulpit still have their unexpected power:

Alas! what a dreadful thought it is, that there may be numbers outwardly in the Christian Church, nay, who at present are in a certain sense religious men, who, nevertheless, have no principle of growth in them because they have sinned, and never duly repented. They may be under a disability for past sins, which they have never been at the pains to remove, or to attempt to remove. Alas! to think that they do not know their state at all and esteem themselves in the unreserved enjoyment of God’s favour, when, after all, their religion is for the most part but the reflection from without upon their surface, not a light within them, or at least, but the remains of grace once given (1072).

Newman takes grace as a divine life in the soul seriously. It can be and is lost. It can be regained, but we may never just get around to do anything about it.

This is a stern and sober teaching, to be sure. We seek to convince ourselves that God wants us to be content, expects nothing of us. Christ does not treat sin and sinners "tenderly," in order that, later, He might treat them lovingly, the latter does not bypass the former. Without the sternness of Christianity, we would never take our lives seriously enough to know what it is that we are about in a world in which "repent" is our first command.

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., is Professor of Political Philosophy at Georgetown University and the author of numerous books on social issues, spirituality, culture, and literature including Another Sort of Learning, Idylls and Rambles, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing, and A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning.


The Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops

By Mary Jo Anderson
Global Watch

Notwithstanding the sex-abuse scandal that has buffeted the Catholic Church in the United States, Catholics genuinely admire bishops whose courage and dedication have made a difference in their dioceses. Adversity tends to sharpen the contrast and clarify the picture of Catholicism in America. And the recent presidential election added another dimension to any reflection on the American Catholic identity, as many of the most crucial issues intersected Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, sex, and marriage.

Never before have Catholic Americans watched more closely what happens in their chanceries. They want to know what sort of man their shepherd is, this “successor to the apostles” who comes down to us from St. Peter. How does he discharge his responsibility? Is he an example of personal holiness? Is he courageous? Increasingly, Catholic commentators locate the mission of the contemporary Church at the epicenter of a global culture of death. And while it is true that bishops have pastoral care over the “portion of the people of God assigned to them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 886), they also work for the good of the universal Church. The Church in America is undeniably free enough to function without persecution or legal impediment. But is it prepared for the fight?

"We need a thorough cleansing in house if we are to battle the culture of death right outside our doors. It's up to the bishop to set the example, to lead us in the fight-beginning with public prayer. Nothing short of a bishop who is willing to publicly confront evil will inspire us to take on the world," wrote one university chaplain. "Seen as a battle, each bishop leads a division."

His observation echoes Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who noted that the most pressing enemy of the Faith is the militant secularism that has engulfed much of the Western world. French Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, decries the loss of a Christian culture—a casualty of the virulent secularism of which Cardinal Ratzinger warns. The cultural patrimony of Christians must be re-taught to Christians, “For without it, how can they appreciate the full value of Bach’s St. John Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, or Michelangelo’s Pietà?” asked Poupard. European correspondents, stung by the rejection of Christianity in their Parliament, frequently warn American Catholics to guard their own Christian history.

Pope John Paul II himself has raised an alarm, calling all the faithful to defend the Church from those powerful forces that seek to privatize religious practice. Metaphorical wolves—abortion, euthanasia, cloning—threaten Christ’s flock. Now is the time for the shepherds to make their stand.

What qualities best equip today’s bishop to fight the culture war? That’s the question I posed in a survey of Catholic authors and activists, priests and scholars. It brought a flurry of thoughtful responses. Correspondents were quick to note that each diocese—like each family—has its strengths and weaknesses. One may be strong on liturgy but lag on catechesis. Another operates in the black, its fiscal house in order, but lacks vocations. Renewal—fostering a Catholic renaissance—is a long-term process, and our own impatience shouldn’t ignore sure but gradual progress.

A review of the responses revealed eight basic good habits that were cited often by respondents. If we as lay people are to exhort our shepherds, we must have a clear idea what we’re exhorting them to do. This list offers a point of reference for that effort.

One important note: This survey was strictly informal—more concerned with identifying strengths and qualities than with specific bishops or dioceses. But names inevitably arose; they offer helpful, concrete examples of these habits. There are many other examples of bishops who exercise their office faithfully and are deserving of recognition, but space and the boundaries of the article limit a listing of all of them. Readers should make no assumption about a bishop simply because his name is not included in this piece.

1. A bishop must be personally holy.

David Tennessen, author of Dave’s Digest, a pro-life news summary, identified several important qualities that serve a bishop at the crossroads of the culture war. One stood at the forefront, however: “The first and most fundamental quality any bishop must have is personal holiness.” Tennessen believes that bishops who pray the Divine Office, make regular retreats, and schedule regular confessions for themselves are better equipped to serve as Christ’s emissaries.

In fact, it could be argued that the other habits of an effective bishop flow from this first habit. “The second quality necessary to be a good bishop,” Tennessen offered, “is the ability to teach, which is his primary obligation…[and] reading the lives of the saints has shown me that the bishops who are holy make the best teachers.”

And so, holiness must be the foundation of any successful bishopric. “If a bishop has personal holiness,” Tennessen concluded, “God will fill in anything else that might be missing.”

Tennessen wasn’t the only one to observe that a bishop is most effective when his commitment to personal prayer is strong. One Atlanta priest noted, “How does one follow Christ if one is not on his knees? Think of Christ on His knees in Gethsemane. The Catechism is clear, ‘Although Christ’s ministers act in communion with one another they also act in a personal way.’” The citation continues, “Each one is called personally: ‘You follow Me’ in order to be a personal witness…to bear personal responsibility….”

2. A bishop must promote and defend the authentic Catholic Faith.

One frequently mentioned quality of a strong bishop is his willingness to stand up for the truth, no matter the cost (often paid in media uproar). Indeed, for 2,000 years, bishops have been among the chief defenders of the Faith—from the early Church, through the Reformation, and to the modern era. Our contemporary shepherds must continue that venerable tradition.

Happily, respondents offered some excellent examples. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago was often praised for his “devastating” and repeated critiques of dissent. Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame observed that Cardinal George is also “extraordinary and exemplary for his untiring and fearless and unblinking intellectual engagement with the challenge of militant secularism.”

Many others recalled Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz’s refusal to permit Catholics in his diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, to be members of Planned Parenthood, the dissident Catholic organization Call to Action, or to maintain any Masonic affiliation and still be considered in good standing with the Church.

"What I find most admirable in him," said Phil Lawler of the Catholic World Report, "is his willingness directly to acknowledge and confront the most serious problem in the Church in America today: the manifest failure of the bishops, as a group, to provide pastoral leadership."

Maintaining doctrinal fidelity must occur not just among Catholics in general but also among those who work in the parishes themselves. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, Oregon, was mentioned often for his strong example in this area. Last April, the bishop issued “Giving Testimony to the Truth,” a document addressed to the lay ministers of his diocese. Included was an oath of fidelity, “Affirmation of Personal Faith.” The affirmation is required of any position—catechist, teacher, liturgical reader, cantor, minister of Holy Communion, director of youth activities, and others—“which entail a presumption of orthodoxy,” because the Church “teaches that anyone commissioned to lay apostolate in the Church should be fully accepting of all Catholic teachings.” Bishop Vasa notes that “it is ultimately the Bishop, as chief shepherd of a Diocese, who commissions persons to exercise these works. It is also the Bishop’s responsibility to establish clear qualifying or disqualifying criteria of who may serve.”

3. A bishop must be committed to Catholic education.

A bishop is, first and foremost, a teacher. As such, a truly effective bishop must be committed to faithful Catholic education. Kevin Schmiesing of the Acton Institute pointed to Archbishop Elden Curtis of Omaha as an exemplar of this conviction and noted, “He compelled Creighton University to comply with the mandatum.”

Ronald J. Rychlak, law professor at the University of Mississippi, likewise observed, “While Ex Corde Ecclesiae undoubtedly causes certain difficulties for some faculties and administrators, it is not a violation of academic freedom for the Catholic Church to make demands of any entity that professes to be Catholic. These schools contribute to the diversity of America’s higher education by filling their role as Catholic institutions in an excellent manner. They should embrace that identity.”

One particularly exciting method for handing on the Faith to young adults as well as seasoned laity is illustrated by the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought under the leadership of Bishop David L. Ricken of Cheyenne. Intense concern for the future of the Church in an ever-more secular society drives many to look for a deeper understanding of their faith. The Wyoming annual retreat is designed for “current Church leaders and future leaders…to learn and reflect on the most important truths of faith and reason. This will help them prepare for their leadership roles in Wyoming as they participate in the future restoration of Catholic culture, which is the mission of the School.”

Bishop Ricken, taking John Cardinal Newman as his inspiration, wrote, “It is my fondest hope that, after reflection and prayer, Catholics in Wyoming will accept my invitation to enroll in this School. Here, they will be formed both spiritually and intellectually, which will enable them to play their part in a new Catholic Renaissance. This must come if the secular world is to be transformed into the image of Christ through evangelization as Vatican II prescribed.”

Catechists often pointed to Archbishop Daniel Buechlein (Indianapolis) and Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans) as model defenders of a more faithful presentation of Catholic teaching. “Both did an excellent job of pointing out the flaws in the modern religion textbooks,” wrote Margaret Whitehead, director of religious education at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, Virginia. She also praised Arlington, Virginia, Bishop Paul Loverde for ensuring that local retreats sponsor speakers faithful to Church teaching. “It seems obvious, but few do this kind of thing. [Furthermore,] he is very pro-life and prays every month at a different abortion clinic. He reads and teaches from Vatican documents; he put in place a child-protection program which is respectful of parents and children and based on Catholic teaching.”

4. A bishop must work to strengthen the Catholic family.

One Catholic TV personality—who asked to remain anonymous—suggested that the fault line in the culture war cuts through the family. She found the actions taken by a bishop in this area to be more persuasive than his pastoral letters or instructions. “Sick families breed sick societies,” she said. “The cost in human misery is incalculable. You cannot convert the culture unless you first defend families.”

"Our bishops must foster authentic marriage and family life. In the heart of the family the dignity of the human person is taught and the future is nurtured. Healthy families are the source of a moral people, ethical citizens, and vocations," she concluded.

One bishop who does just that is Robert J. Baker of Charleston (which encompasses all of South Carolina). The shepherd of one of the oldest dioceses in the United States, Bishop Baker drew praise for his determination to build visibly Catholic families through programs such as Family Honor, which originated with laity in his diocese.

He outlined Family Honor as a program that helps to “form in young people a proper Christian perspective to human sexuality and family life. A wrong turn early in life in this area will have major consequences later for marriage and family life. Family Honor emphasizes parental involvement in the process of sex education, a critical component lacking in many programs.”

Archbishop John F. Donoghue of Atlanta and Bishop Victor Galeone of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, also promote the Family Honor programs. Bishop Galeone is the episcopal moderator for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Diocesan Development Program for Natural Family Planning. His recent pastoral letter, “Marriage: A Communion of Life and Love,” was also praised highly by pro-family educators.

5. A bishop must foster vocations.

Seminarians—the priests of tomorrow—are the future of the Church. For this reason, one of the primary responsibilities of a bishop is to encourage vocations in his diocese, so that tomorrow’s Catholics have pastors to lead them.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the health of a diocese is often reflected in the number and quality of its seminarians. In fact, it appears to be the case that when a diocese is faithful to Church teaching, vocations arise naturally. One clear example of this is the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, where Bishop Bruskewitz serves only 85,000 Catholics and yet has more than 40 men studying for the priesthood. To underscore that success, the diocese had to respond to the crush of vocations by building Saint Gregory the Great Seminary in 1998.

Similar good news for priestly vocations can be found in Arlington, Virginia (Bishop Loverde); Omaha, Nebraska (Archbishop Curtis); Denver (where Archbishop Chaput lives on campus with his seminarians), and Atlanta (Bishop Donoghue).

Andrew Yuengurt of Pepperdine University raised provocative questions about the relationship of the bishop as a leader to the health of his diocesan vocations program. His article, “Do Bishops Matter? A Cross-sectional Study of Ordinations to the U.S. Catholic Diocesan Priesthood,” was published in a 2001 issue of the Review of Religious Research. By using a business model measuring the effect of leadership on personnel, Yuengurt concluded, “An effective leader not only influences the goals and strategies of an organization…but also influences the identity and the culture of the organization, as well as the commitment of its members to it…. If leadership matters in other organizations, where the required commitments are less stringent, it must matter at least as much in the priesthood…. A potential recruit to the priesthood will be more likely to make such a costly commitment if the vision presented to him is clear, and stated in such a way that the benefits are unique to the priesthood. Visions of the priesthood that are ambiguous, in which the value and leadership role of priest [are] unclear, may be less successful….” One bishop often mentioned for his strong mentoring relationship with priests was William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Archbishop Curtis is noted for his rebuttal of the vocation “crisis.” He has written that “religious life loyal to the Magisterium” is part of the formula for a thriving vocations program. Omaha has more than 35 seminarians, and the diocese expects an upward trend in the near future. Archbishop Curtis, himself a former seminary rector, explained, “Young people do not want to commit themselves to dioceses or communities which permit or simply ignore dissent from Church doctrine.”

American bishops can take comfort from this truth—vocations flourish where a sacrificial commitment is expected.

6. A bishop must love the Mass.

As with Habit No. 1, a love for the Mass and the Eucharist is a sign of—and means to—personal holiness. Sadly, much of today’s liturgy is faddish or downright irreverent. The fruit of this is clear for all to see: declining Mass attendance, increased dissent, and a migration out of the Church. When liturgy looks more like a gimmick than a transcendent experience, people lose interest.

For this reason, a reverence for and love of beautiful liturgy ranked among the top qualities for many respondents. (Some, like Janet Smith of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, also mentioned the promotion of Eucharistic Adoration as an important characteristic.) While liturgical mediocrity is still much too common, the number of exceptions to this rule is growing: “Francis Cardinal George deserves our gratitude for returning sanity to liturgical practice,” according to one Chicago-area priest. “Justin Cardinal Rigali [of Philadelphia] is another whose attention to the liturgy is making a difference—it is the old truth, ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’ [as we pray, so we believe].” The priest insisted, “Wherever the liturgy is made to serve the trend du jour, you can bet that most everything else in that diocese is off by 90 degrees.”

7. A bishop must be willing and able to start from scratch.

The simple reality is that there are some dioceses in the United States that are in difficult straits. Any bishop who takes on that challenge must be willing and able to rebuild, virtually from the ground up. This is a tremendously difficult task, as it requires several unique attributes.

One New York City pastor offered a list: “A preacher who can convert souls; a prudent administrator and disciplinarian, shrewd in finances and not governed by human respect; honest; experienced as a parish priest—not symbolic, but real, lifelong pastors; highly intelligent and learned in theology and scripture, fluent in Latin; familiar with secular culture and able to address it in its terms, like St. Ambrose; and effective with, and not intimidated by the media.”

A tall task to find such men. But we’re not without examples. Rev. Phillip De Vous wrote, “Two Bishops here in Kentucky deserve to be profiled in a big way—Bishops Roger J. Foys of Covington and Ronald Gainer of Lexington. Both have done much to re-Catholicize their Dioceses. Bishop Foys has focused heavily on the reform of the liturgy and vocations, yielding positive results.... Bishop Gainer...has taught Catholic orthodoxy clearly.... Because these men are off the beaten path, they may not be recognized.... Bishops going to rural dioceses off the beaten path have often had to create something out of nothing.”

8. A bishop must be vocal in the public square.

The bishop’s role as a teacher is generally a public one. And as such, his office frequently requires him to take a public role—sometimes in the political arena. We saw this in the 2004 election.

Recall the example set by William Weigand, bishop of Sacramento, who did battle with the media over the status of Catholic pro-abortion politicians. Weigand stood his ground when former California governor Gray Davis sought to make a political point at the expense of the bishop’s teaching office. Bishop Sheridan also refused to be intimidated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper over the matter of the worthiness of pro-abortion politicians to receive the Eucharist. When a hostile Cooper suggested that Bishop Sheridan’s stance pushed Catholics away from the Church, the bishop replied, “[A]s a bishop I have the mandate to speak the truth.”

There were many other examples of this kind of public episcopal leadership. Dorothy Walker, a Florida catechist, cited Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis “for his courage and the extremely well-thought-out defense in his recent pastoral letter that Catholics must vote” for the sake of their contribution to the common good. Walker reserved special praise for the newly installed bishop of Orlando, Thomas A. Wenski, whose editorial in the Orlando Sentinel was refreshingly blunt: “Today, some self-identified Catholic politicians prefer to emulate Pontius Pilate’s ‘personally opposed but unwilling to impose’ stance.... You cannot have your ‘waffle’ and your ‘wafer’ too.”

Similar challenges to the culture are standard fare from Archbishop Chaput and Archbishop John Myers of Newark, Walker said. Phil Brennan of Newsmax admired Archbishop Myers and Archbishop Burke for their promotion of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life in the public square. Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo was also honored for his courageous public comments.

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, the Eléonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at Emory University, had her own favorite examples of episcopal leadership in the public arena: “My candidate, who may not have occurred to others, is Archbishop John Francis Donoghue, who, together with Bishop Robert J. Baker of Charleston and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, issued a statement in August, ‘Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion.’”

It’s noteworthy that faithful Catholics are especially concerned with their bishops’ upholding the pro-life teachings of the Church. Perhaps this is due to a new awareness that our votes really do matter. The American Life League estimates that 70 percent of the Catholic members of Congress cast pro-abortion votes. If the bishops of the United States fearlessly preach and teach the truth to Catholics in the pews and to the nation that watches what the Church does, that number could change dramatically. And so could the face of America.

Witness the domino effect: Those who vote for abortion will vote for other anti-life measures—embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, and euthanasia. Furthermore, the attack on marriage by the homosexual lobby counts pro-abortion politicians as their most reliable allies. These realities are operative already in Europe. If Catholic Americans—led by their shepherds—confront that death march on the political and cultural battleground, a culture of life can be rebuilt.

The stakes have never been higher. Already in Europe a “soft” persecution of the Church has begun. It will waste little time jumping the Atlantic if Catholicism in America is weak-kneed and accommodation-minded. Sadly, it’s hardly unknown for bishops to choose the easy path—recall the bishops of France just prior to the Revolution.

Yet there is hope. A renewing breath is blowing through the Church in the United States—the indications are everywhere. And a number of the bishops ordained in the last ten years—joined by some of their faithful elders—see clearly their obligation to challenge the lay faithful to holiness. They also know and live this fact: The transformation of culture and society must begin first in their own sees.

What about the rest of the body of Christ?


Some Shocking Realities

Excerpt from Mitt Romney’s Withdrawal Speech

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography—even celebration of it—and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children. How much harder it is for these children to succeed in school—and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

Click here to read full text.

What happened to the largest number of members of the body of Christ which is America? Have most of you fallen into apostasy also? What can you do about this statistics? It is no wonder your nation is among the top of the list of nations in which abortion is a major problem. Nations look up to you (especially the third world countries), yet what are you propagating? Nations will fall because of you!

Has the American body of Christ crave more of material prosperity (rather than spiritual prosperity)? It seems it is what most of the preachers in the televisions are preaching nowadays. They focus more on the self and how to be prosperous materially. If they truly are anointed of God, this problem should be their primary focus and concern.

America, who is a client nation of God, how long will you slumber? How long will you close your eyes and ears about this problem? Time will come when the Lord will send you "missionaries" from the third world countries and from the non-Christian nations to cause you to see your apostasy. You are so alive in your televised Sunday and Saturday church services, but you are dead in your communities and societies.

Whoever is truly a servant of God, you should be challenged with this message. If so, then what are you waiting for? Do as what the Spirit of the Lord urges you to do, that you may help redeem America before the world will be contaminated beyond redemption of your filthiness.

Your leaders strive to spread democracy abroad, but the abominable part of your culture spreads more quickly and vastly than your political ideology.

Europe, who was once a stronghold of the body of Christ, is about its highest level of apostasy already. But you America is not yet too late. The Lord is calling on you now -- but would you listen?


Blessed Are The Peacemakers

For they shall be called sons of God.
By Mother M. Angelica

The Lord did not say that those who have peace are blessed, but those who MAKE peace. Surely we are blest by God when we have peace, but the good God was telling us that there is an effort needed: we must be peacemakers within our own souls.

We must make peace, which is indicative of effort on our part. Peace is not the end result of everything in perfect order, with nothing to disturb us. If we are to make peace, it means that peace ordinarily is not our portion.

Peace is like anything else we make. We have an idea, a plan, material, and effort, and with this combination we succeed in making anything from a cake to an office building.

Because each person has a different temperament, with its inherent virtues and faults, each one of us must make peace in a different way. But no matter what that temperament may be, it is certain that all of us must keep our Memory and Imagination under control.

People lose peace over past sins, offenses, failures, and unfulfilled dreams. Fear of the future also causes a loss of peace, fear of illness, age, financial loss, and beauty.

It is so easy to see how important Hope is in our lives. God has given this uplifting virtue to us to calm our fears, to put a reason behind every unexplainable tragedy, to give us joy, to put Him above everything, and to realize we are merely pilgrims traveling Home, and these unpleasant occurrences in life are only part of the journey.

When we put our heart and soul into things, we live in a perpetual fear of losing them, and we experience a kind of vacuum at the very thought of being stripped of them. And yet, this very stripping is part of the growing process of Hope in our hearts. We are being shown, in a very graphic way, that everything in this world is passing,—so many reminders that thus passes the glory of this world.

When we permit our Imagination to rebel and our Memory to bring back past glory, our souls are in constant turmoil-torn by what we want to be and what we are.

We must make peace between these truths—what we were, what we wanted to be, and what we are. Once Hope succeeds in doing this, we have peace. Hope puts all our desires in God who is everlasting and does not change. It makes us face reality with joy. It sees everything in the light of Eternity. Past sins are used to maintain humility, not despair. Past glory is used to maintain confidence, not pride. Past failures are used as guideposts of our abilities, not as stepping stones to discouragement.

Hope has the ability to use everything—good, bad, and indifferent—as opportunities for greater holiness. It is ever vibrant and ingenious in keeping our poor souls above ourselves and raising us to a higher level.

Yes, we make peace in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by ever seeking to bring good out of evil, doing all in our power to raise—our neighbor above those things that hamper his peace, having courage to change the things that can be changed, while having hope that others will change the things we cannot change.

Hope does not pretend that a particular situation is not serious, neither is it flippant or flighty, refusing to face reality. Hope rouses our Memory and Imagination to complete reality—seeing both visible and invisible causes and remedies.

Without Hope, we see only one side of a situation—the miserable side; but with Hope we see also the good side. We see reasons, solutions,—and we possess more and more assurance that God will make all things well.

St. Paul lost his peace one day, and every bit of Hope he ever had seemed to be gone. Everything was pressing in upon him and the future suddenly looked hopeless. He called this darkness of soul, "an angel of Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7).

The man who had spoken so eloquently on fighting the good fight, being zealous for God's honor and glory, loving enemies no matter what they did, and rejoicing to be found worthy to suffer something for the Kingdom,—yes, this man became so depressed that he could not practice what he preached.

He had always been strong; he could always see the solution to other people's problems; he could see God's hand in their persecutions; and he could see clearly how God brought good out of evil; but this day, he saw nothing but darkness, and the strong Paul became very weak.

It was something he had not experienced before, and three times He asked God to deliver him from this feeling of failure and depression.

The answer he received was not the one he expected. His Memory and Imagination had successfully brought back all the sufferings of the past and had projected worse things in the future. There was only one solution to such a problem, and that was—deliverance. The suffering and persecution must stop, or he could go no further.

And then Jesus answered his prayer and said to him, "My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness." Now, Paul had a whole new concept of holiness. It was not becoming strong in himself, but in using God's grace in weakness that would make him holy.

No matter what his Memory and Imagination told him, no matter how dark the future, no matter how weak he was, he would be strong through God's grace and not through his own herculean strength.

In fact, his very weakness was the foundation upon which God would accomplish greater things. It was through God's strength that Paul would continue to work, despite the insults, hardships, persecutions, agonies, and his own weakness. (2 Cor. 12:10)

He would use these heretofore hindrances as objects of Hope. He would boast that he suffered and was weak so that God's Power in him would be glorified.

But what was this power that would help him overcome discouragement, sadness, and depression?

What kind of power was more manifest in the midst of misery than in happiness?

What kind of power would calm his Memory and Imagination and enable him to rise above to peace and serenity?

What kind of paradox was this—power dependent upon weakness, and weakness bearing the fruit of power?

To our human way of reasoning, all the hardships Paul was experiencing were anything but graces. He could see no good in his miseries.

His Memory and Imagination rebelled against a constant diet of frustration, even though Hope kept him from despair.

The Lord was teaching His Apostle in gradual stages. Paul's zeal had caused him to persecute the Christians, and that same zeal pushed him forward to overcome every force once he was converted. His whole attitude towards life situations, good and bad, had to change. Faith demanded that he begin to think like Jesus, and to see everything in the light of Faith: he must live on a Faith level.

His convictions were strong, and he went out to make converts with the same zeal with which he had persecuted them. His emotions were on a high level as he spoke to anyone who would listen, yet there was something Paul still had to learn, and that was—to live by Faith.

The man of emotions had to see God and God's people in a different way. He was to learn how to use his emotions to express his feelings, but not to live in them—he was to live in Jesus—in Faith—in his Understanding. And this way of living was best reached by weakness.

We will look at this new way of living and thinking, and see how we can be like Jesus.


Islam Walking a Tightrope Between Violence and Reform

By By Samir Khalil Samir, SJ
IMPACT Magazine, November 2006 Issue

The Islamic world is troubling to the Western observer: it appears as a force, an extraordinary power, which is on the move that no one can stop. This sensation — which frightens many Westerners — corresponds to what many Muslims call Sahwah, the Reawakening. Actually though, this power is suffering from a profound crisis which is perceived by all Muslims: the inability to adapt to the modern world, to assimilate modernity.

In fact, Islam is going through a very profound crisis. It is a fact which is not only evident to outside observers. There is by now no Muslim thinker, Arab or Islamic newspaper that is not discussing this fact: Islam is facing a crisis.

There is a distinction to be made. For radical Islamists – who are pursuing the project for a political Islam — the “blame” for the crisis falls on the West and its aggressiveness. For some, this crisis dates back to the Crusades; for others, to recent colonization; for others, to the creation of the State of Israel; for others still, it goes only as far back as American aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. In all cases, what is ailing Islam comes from outside itself, from the Other.

There is however another group, ever more numerous, which affirms that Islam’s ailment is within itself. This position is usually found among liberal personalities, intellectuals. They too stop short of saying that the problem is right in the Koran: for them, the problem is in the interpretation made of the Koran, of Islam as a religious, political, social and cultural system. Judging by comments that appear in the press in Islamic countries, we can say that positions of radical Islamism amount to a good 20%; liberal tendencies account for some 10 to 20%. All agree however that the time has come for reform in Islam.

Islam’s slumber

A recurring topic in such debates is that of “Islam’s slumber”. Radicals attribute this “slumber” to four centuries of Ottoman domination, which would have curbed the religion’s development. Liberals instead affirm that this “slumber” began already in the 12th century and perhaps even earlier. In any case, all agree that this slumber created a "closure of the opening to interpretation," the expression which literally translated from Arabic is “closure of the door of ijtihâd.” In this context of reform, ijtihâd is a key word. This word shares the same root with jihâd, holy war. It expresses an effort which in jihâd is oriented toward violence, to armed battle on the path of God. Ijtihâd is the moral and intellectual effort to reform; it is “interpretation”.

Something that is continuously repeated in the Islamic world is that “the door has been closed to ijtihâd”; little room has been left to interpretation, which has resulted in fossilization, stiffening. It is a discussion that has been present in the Arab world since the mid 1800s. For decades, there has been talk of “the closing of the door” to define the urgency of reform in Islam. For many liberals of the time, including the great religious leaders such as Khair ad-Dîn Al-Tûnisi (1810-1899), from Tunisia, Jamâl ad-Dîn al-Afghâni (1838-1897) from Persia, Abd al-Rahmân al-Kawâkibi (1854-1902) from Syria, and, above all, Sheikh al-Azhar Muhammad `Abdoh (1849-1905) from Egypt, reform was to be made absorbing elements of Western culture and achieving a harmonious unity between the Islamic world and the Western world.

The First World War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire then brought to the secularization of Turkey and the abolition of the Caliphate (1923-4), as well as the control of various Arab nations by the West, England and France. All this marks the great religious-political fall of Islam which suddenly found itself divided into nations, with no caliph, no leaders, no guides.

Radicalism of the Muslim Brotherhood

This situation of crisis gave rise to the Muslim Brotherhood which was seen as the authentic solution, in opposition to that of reformists who wanted to imitate the West. Its founder, Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), used a very simple argument: our great reformers wanted to reform Islam taking Europe as a model, and it was Europe itself which dismantled the Islamic world and deceived us. He was supported in his reasoning by the Imam Muhammad ‘Abduh’s dearest disciple, Sheikh Rashid Rida, a naturalized Egyptian originally hailing from Tripoli-Syria (now Lebanon), who had pronounced a simple principle: Islam is the solution to all problems of society (al-Islâm huwa alhall); there is no need to resort to anything outside Islam. It is enough to go back to the roots of Islam, namely to the Koran and the Tradition of the Prophet, taken literally.

In the effort to deal with the crisis, such a position does not strive to innovate, but to return to a “primitive” Islam, taking original Islam as a model. When “original” Islam is spoken of, what is meant is the conquering Islam. In fact, such a vision relies above all on the second phase of Mohammad’s life, the Medina phase (622-632), when Islam organized itself politically; and then on the era of the first caliphs, known as “the well guided”, who conquered the Middle East and the Mediterranean (632-660). That period is seen as that of real Islam, capable of conquering the world. The return to these origins, the reasoning goes, is what will allow Muslims to enlarge their worldwide conquests.

Since then, this tendency has become ever more radical, giving life to all those movements we call “Islamist” or “fundamentalist.”

As can be seen, such an approach provides a direct solution to the crisis, skirting the need for an in-depth analysis of

the reasons for the crisis. If one asks: Why has Islam stayed behind (in science, in technology, in culture, in art, in the spread of ideas at the global level, in domination...)? The answer is obvious: because it was attacked, thwarted, imprisoned...The Other is to blame for the crisis.

Liberals and the interpretation crisis

The liberal position, instead, attributes the main responsibility for crisis to the erroneous way in which Muslims have interpreted the Koran: that of having made it into a political handbook, of having projected onto the Koran the sociological and cultural conceptions typical of a certain period, the domination of male over female, the desire for violence, ignorance etc. In the current period, liberals are speaking out against the ignorance of the people, the authoritarianism (the non-democracy) of their governments, and above all the poor training given to imams, which has, at this point, generated a popular Islam which is by the ignorant and for the ignorant. (Beirut, AsiaNews)