development of doctrine

mad-comet-moved  asked:

Hi Father, I was wondering about the infallibility of church teachings, my priest said that the church has never changed its moral teachings (not quite clear on my definitions,) but I remember that Pope Bendict changed the teaching on unbaptized infants to say that they didn't go to hell in 2007. Could you help me understand this? Thanks, have a great day!

Hello,

In the Catholic faith, there is a hierarchy of truths. Dogma is at the top level, which is Church teaching on those truths God has revealed in Scripture and the Apostolic Teaching (Tradition).

 Lower down there are doctrinal teachings of faith and morals. At the lower level of certitude of truth, there are pastoral teachings, which apply the dogmas and doctrines to specific practices and programs, such as the Catholic Bishops’ support of more liberal immigration laws.

Dogmatic truths cannot be reformed or altered because the Church is certain that God has revealed them through Scripture and Tradition. Doctrinal truths which are taught with high levels of certitude also do not get reformed or altered. 

Doctrinal teachings which are not based on the Gospel or Tradition itself, however, are not proposed by the Catholic Church with the same level of certitude, because they are not based in Scripture or Tradition. For instance, teachings about religious freedom were more “liberal” in the ancient Church, with Christians believing firmly that governments should not coerce people’s religious choices.

When Church and State entered into a sort of union after the Roman Emperor Theodosius made the Catholic faith the religion of the Roman Empire, the Church’s teachings about religious freedom became more restrictive, with various church teachers allowing for government intervention to discourage people from practicing others faiths besides the Catholic faith.

That restrictiveness on religious freedom lasted until the appearance of democracy in the 1700′s in the United States. At that point, church teachers began to speculate on whether the Catholic Church could allow for more religious freedom in the civil laws. Finally, by Vatican II, the Catholic Church returned to a teaching of religious freedom which reflected more the ancient Church’s liberality, instead of the restrictions of the medieval Church later on.

How could this happen? Because neither Scripture or Tradition speaks clearly on the role of the State, in matters of religion, or religious freedom. Therefore, the Church’s moral doctrine that other religions should be outlawed or totally restricted, was authoritative teaching. However, it was teaching that admitted of development or even some change, because the medieval teaching itself had departed from the convictions of the ancient Catholic communities.

Thus, the medieval teaching about religious freedom did not really have the same level of certitude as, say, the teaching about the immorality of abortion and contraception. Abortion and contraception could be easily inferred from the Scriptural teaching on fertility and the precepts of the Natural Law, which direct humans to respect their body’s health and fertility. 

However, there was nothing in Scripture, or Tradition, or the Natural Law, which mandated that governments make Catholicism the only, legal religion of a country.

To answer your question, a doctrine of faith and morals proposed by the Church, but not based clearly on Scripture or Tradition, can undergo some development and even a change if later circumstances show that the doctrine is untenable and goes against what right reason mandates. Thus, there have been changes in other doctrines, such as how the Church regards interest rates on loans, how the Church regards slavery, and how the Church regards the death penalty.

A dogma or a doctrine proposed by the Church and more clearly linked to God’s will, manifested in the Bible and Apostolic Tradition, can be better understood and taught with more development or nuance, but does not undergo any change or alteration. An example of this is the teaching of “No salvation outside of the Church.”

While that teaching is not altered, the Catholic Church has refined its theological concept of what “outside the Church” means. At one time, it was understood that anyone who is not a baptized Catholic is completely unconnected to the Church. Now, we say that such people are not members of the Catholic Church, but they are connected to the Church in a certain way because the Church prays for them, and hopes that they follow what is right in their mind and heart, so that God can reach them.

It is not changing “No salvation outside the Church” but the modern teaching of this dogma has undergone some refinement and development for how we see God reaching people who are not baptized Catholics. If at one time Catholics could not envision such people being saved, now we can, because of the Church’s intercession for those outside of the fold of her membership.

Pastoral teachings, such as about immigration, can certainly undergo change, depending on the specific circumstances of the nation, which the Church is studying. 

This is a very complicated subject, but I have tried to bring simplicity to it. I hope this answer is helpful. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

Buddhism in Saiyuki, Part I: Doctrine

Source I’m using for these: Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

I struggled to decide how to organize it, and my notes are scattered with no cohesive order. I’m going to try to follow my confusing tangle of ideas. The problem is, lots of ideas and themes link, especially when applying it to a story. I will try my best to keep these cohesive and pithy. Do not expect regular updates. Also, I (and as far as I can tell, Thich Nhat Hanh) am focuing on the branches of Buddhism that are based on all of the sutras. Also, with a focus on Zen Buddhism, which developed in Japan.

Jesus Christ’s words were not necessarily meant for Christians today. He was a political activist, responding to the social injustices and needs of his day. Buddha is the same. He reacted to corruption among Vedic priests and the caste system. Thus, neither of them “present an absolute doctrine (54).”

“For a Buddhist to be attached to any doctrine, even a Buddhist one, is to betray the Buddha. It is not words or concepts that are important. What is important is our insight into the nature of reality and our way of responding to reality.”

We see Minekura display this in Saiyuki. Again and again, we are shown temples who are unprepared for the youkai and violence that come ripping through their walls and illusion of safety and peace. Koumyou’s temple, Chang ‘an, the temple where they stay near the beginning of the series… . These monks are slaughtered, and judge those who save them (our protags) as something vile. Something unholy and evil. Even Sanzo who is a SANZO.

And the Buddhists that have had an effect on the world? Who have influenced reality? Koumyou, Jikaku, and Ukoku are the three that jump to my mind first. Koumyou who skips out on his duties to fly paper planes and who watches Ukoku become a Buddha. Ukoku who never gets the chakra, who works against the goals of Sharak Sanzo and Genjo Sanzo and the Aspects and helps create the Minus Wave. Of course, Ukoku influences reality, and yet he also is caught up in practicing one single doctrine: everything is nothing. 

(And I have an hc about this being one of the reasons Koumyou had to die. Koumyou winning the wager and changing Ukoku had to involve Koumyou’s death.)

Anyway, and there’s Jikaku who smokes and accepts Sanzo, who none of the other monks can understand. “Whenever there is understanding, compassion is born.”

When Sanzo first comes to Chang ‘an, he is traumatized as all hell. He does not receive understanding or compassion from the other monks who are scared of him. He might not even recognize compassion for what it is. (As I’ve read some very good meta on.) Or would he?

Sanzo, despite how traumatized he is, bonds with Jikaku—the only monk we see (or that I really noticed) who offers Sanzo compassion and understanding.

Jikaku knows what it’s like to be in the outside world, away from the illusion of security the temple monks live in. He knows violence and evil.

Koumyou, Ukoku, and Jikaku: all of them knew the darkness in the nature of the world, even before the Minus Wave. They knew that many Buddhist practices and doctrines do not hold up in such a world.

The doctrine of nonviolence, is one that Koumyou appears to have found a way to practice. And Sanzo too, though that will be another post. However, Sharak and Sanzo must kill. The sutras hold the power to create or destroy worlds and there are enemies everywhere trying to take the sutras. They have to do what they can to protect the world, including kill and destroy.

Most of you reading this probably live in a first world country. I could be wrong. But I’d say a lot of you at least. 

Think of Batman for a bit. He saw his parents die. Ok. As Selena Kyle, bless her, points out again and again to him throughout canon, he’s rich. He doesn’t really know what it’s like growing up like she has (meaning the canon where she had to steal to live or keep others alive, etc.). Sanzo? Would honestly laugh at Batman and Superman and their ideas of justice and good, I think anyway. Batman and Superman for all their power would be unable to carry the burden the Sanzos do. 

Honestly, Saiyuki’s world is NOT a first world country. Yes, there’s credit cards and jeeps. But there’s also a disease/madness no one can stop and violence destroying cities everywhere they go, and chaos with every city or area following its own leader. There is no cohesive central force of law and order.

How many of you, readers, know what it’s like to live in such conditions? I certainly don’t.

Our nice doctrine practices in first world countries, can they really hold up to a reality of such chaos and violence?

Minekura takes on that challenge. She exposes the flaws and the strengths of Buddhism by placing her characters in such a world of discord and gore. It’s not just shounen ai, it’s a challenge.

Sanzo, I believe, is still developing his own doctrine and practices. We see it when Ukoku beats him, physically and mentally and philosophically. But the Sanzo in Blast is calmer and more confident. I believe he may have at least the beginning of an answer.

But the doctrines of the temples? Do not hold up. 

What has held up are the individual doctrines of Koumyou, Ukoku, Jikaku, Genjo, and Sharak. These are the doctrines that have influenced are still shaping the world of Saiyuki.

Neoliberalism claims that free trade is the best way to foster economic development. But its doctrine is premised on the faulty notion that international competition levels the mighty and raises up the weak. Real competition operates quite differently: it rewards the strong and punishes the weak. From this perspective, the neoliberal push for unfettered free trade can be viewed as a strategy that is most beneficial to the advanced firms of the rich countries.
—  Anwar Shaikh, The Economic Mythology of Neoliberalism (2004)

When the church developed a serious intellectual tradition, as it did in the 2nd & 3rd centuries, the driving forces were defense of the Christian faith and the development of Christian doctrine. For such purposes, the logical tools developed within Greek philosophy proved indispensable. Furthermore, aspects of Platonic philosophy seemed to correlate nicely with, and therefore support, Christian teaching. For example, Plato had staunchly defended divine providence and the immortality of the soul; better yet, Plato’s Demiurge looked very much like a monotheistic answer to the multiple gods of pagan polytheism; and this Demiurge could, with only a little stretching, be viewed as the Christian creator-God. Thus in the 2nd & 3rd centuries we find a series of Christian apologists putting Greek philosophy, especially Platonism, to Christian use.

- David Lindberg, Beginning of Western Science

anonymous asked:

Is it true that our going to heaven and hell is already predestined?? Because honestly the thought of that gives me anxiety and kinda makes me angry? If I'm already destined or god already planned on sending me to hell or knows I'm going there, then what is the point of humanity really? I mean are we just some game? I don't understand how we're given the gift of life & everything is already planned out & no matter how great we lived or how we loved or what we believed or didn't, we end up there?

Friend, I have felt the same way about predestination – confused and upset, anxious but also skeptical. Back when I was Catholic, I didn’t worry about it, but I just became Presbyterian last year and predestination is a part of our doctrine. So I’ve been reading up on it, asking folks about it, and I’ve gotten no satisfying answers – until, luck would have it, yesterday, while doing some reading for seminary.

At last, this reading gave me an explanation of Predestination and the idea of some people being “elected” or chosen for Heaven that made me feel better about the whole concept. This reading assured me that Predestination is not about God arbitrarily dividing people up before eternity and already knowing who’s going to Hell; rather, it’s about how God has elected or chosen all of humanity to share in community with God. It’s about God’s freely given grace to all of us, fulfilled through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and offered to everyone who does not choose to resist and reject it themselves.

Before offering you the full passage from the book I was reading, I want to make it clear first that you do not need to accept the doctrine of Predestination to be Christian. If you are a member of a Reformed tradition such as Presbyterianism, the doctrine of Predestination is emphasized, but even so, it’s up to you to research and reflect on what you think of it.

Below is a passage from Daniel Migliore’s Faith Seeking Understanding on the doctrine of predestination. I’ve broken up larger paragraphs for easier reading, and bolded the beginning of key sections in case you prefer to skim it; you can also scroll to the last two paragraphs of the passage for a sort of TL;DR):

Few doctrines in the history of Christian theology have been as misunderstood and distorted, and few have caused as much controversy and distress, as the doctrine of the eternal decrees of God, or double predestination.

…The Westminster Confession, for example, states that by God’s secret decrees and for the manifestation of God’s glory, from all eternity “some men and angels are predestined to everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.” Thus stated, the doctrine of election seems to make God an arbitrary tyrant and an enemy of human freedom. …Far from good news, the doctrine that from eternity God has decreed some to salvation and others to damnation is “dreadful,” as Calvin himself described it.

According to the biblical witness, the electing grace of God is astonishing, but not dreadful. In the Bible election means that the God who freely chose Israel as covenant partner and who freely established a new covenant in Jesus Christ with Jew and Gentile alike is the God of free grace. Just as in the Old Testament Israel is chosen to be God’s people not because of their power or virtue but solely by God’s freely given love (Deut. 7:7-8), so in the New Testament the favor of God is surprisingly directed to sinners, the poor, and the outcast.

The mystery of God’s will is that in Jesus Christ, God chooses to be freely gracious to both Jew and Gentile (Rom. 11:25-36). Even the faith by which this grace is received is considered a free gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Thus the biblical theme of election…praises the free grace of God as the only basis of creation, reconciliation, and redemption: “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

The development of the doctrine of election in Christian theology went awry when it was made to serve purposes that it was never intended to serve. The doxological [praise-focused] intention of the doctrine has been obscured by a variety of motives: the desire to explain why some hearers accept while other reject the gospel message (Augustine); the determination to follow rigorously what appeared to be the logical implications of God’s omnipotence and providential governance of the world (Aquinas); the insistence that the righteousness of God is evident in the damnation of the reprobate just as God’s mercy is displayed in the salvation of the elect (Westminster Confession). 

Within a trinitarian context, however, the doctrine of election has one central purpose: it declares that all the works of God – creation, reconciliation, and redemption – have their beginning and goal in the free grace of God made known supremely in Jesus Christ. It affirms that the triune God who lives eternally in communion graciously wills to include others in that communion.

A trinitarian doctrine of election would therefore include the following affirmations:

1. The subject of election is the triune [three-in-one: Parent, Son, and Holy Spirit] God. The electing God is not an arbitrary deity who exercises naked power and whose eternal decrees unalterably fix human destiny in advance. …God’s election of human beings to be covenant partners corresponds to God’s eternal triune love in freedom. It is the decision of the triune God to be God for the world, the divine determination to be God in relationship not only in God’s own being but also in relationship to creatures. Election means that God chooses to share with others God’s life in communion. God’s decision to be God for us and with us, to come to us in the superabundant grace (Rom. 5:20) of Jesus Christ and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, is no divine whim or afterthought. 

2. Our knowledge of election has no other basis than the unfathomable love of God for the world in Jesus Christ that we share in the communion of the Holy Spirit. What is the content of the knowledge of election when it is riveted in this basis? Having been chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world,” we know that we have no claim on God, that our salvation depends solely on God’s grace, and that we can live in the confidence that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39).
Moreover, because the subject of election is the triune God who loves in freedom, and because in Christ we are called to freedom (Gal. 5:13) and given the Spirit of freedom (2 Cor. 3:17), we know that God’s election, far from negating human freedom, intends our free service of God and our glad participation in the new life of communion with God and others. In addition, because God desires that everyone be saved (1 Tim. 2:4) and commissions the church to proclaim the gospel to all peoples (Matt. 28:19), we know that we must not set any a piori limits to the electing grace of God. 

3. The goal of election is the creation of a people of God and not simply the salvation of solitary individuals or the privileging of particular nations or ethnic groups. The doctrine of election is not intended to cater to excessive self-concern or fuel arrogant national, racial, or ethnic aspirations. Rather, God’s electing grace aims to open human beings to the blessings and responsibilities of life in the new community of God’s own making. Election is the expression of God’s will to create a community that serves and glorifies God. …God purposes a new humanity in Christ in which individuals and entire peoples are free from preoccupation with themselves and free for thankful service to God and solidarity with others.

4. The electing grace of God is accompanied by the righteous judgment of God, but these are not related like two parallel lines as has been suggested in many traditional doctrines of double predestination. In the biblical witness election and rejection are not timeless divine decisions and are not independent tracks of the divine purpose. Rather, God’s judgment operates in the service of God’s gracious will. If this is the case, we must not separate God’s grace and justice, and certainly must not posit and eternal decree of rejection alongside God’s electing grace. God’s Word to the world in Jesus Christ is not ambiguous: in him all of the promises of God are Yes and Amen (2 Cor. 1:20).
But neither are we allowed to reduce the message that Jesus Christ lived and died and has been raised for all into an abstract guarantee of universal salvation. Grace is not cheap, and faith can never be separated from obedience. …At the same time, God’s judgment, while always serious, is not necessarily final, for God wills to have mercy on all (Rom. 11:32). If any are excluded from the community of grace at the end, it is because they have persisted in opposition to God’s grace, not because they were excluded before the foundation of the world (cf. Matt. 25:34, 41). 

[A TL;DR of sorts:] …This is why Barth can say of the doctrine of election that it is “the sum of the gospel” and that it is the best of all words that can be said or heard: that in Christ, God elects humanity as covenant partner, that apart from any need or constraint the freely gracious God chooses to be God for humanity.

When the doctrine of election is rethought in a trinitarian context, the meaning and goal of election are clarified. The content of this doctrine is not the “dreadful” news that the purpose of God from all eternity is to save a certain number of elect and condemn a certain number of reprobate. The mystery of election is the mystery of God’s will from the foundation of the world to share with others God’s own life in communion to the praise of God’s glorious grace. 

The role and power of women in Irish culture.

As illustrated in “The Tain." 

The level of equality that men and women shared within Irish culture was extremely unusual in the world of ancient and medieval Europe. Since before the times of early Greeks and Romans, women were considered second class citizens. But not in Ireland. Celtic women enjoyed the same freedoms as Celtic men did, despite the repression of women’s rights in the rest of Europe. Nothing can stand as a better testament to Irish culture then the tales and epics they passed down from each generation, first orally and eventually chronicling their tales in writing.

One tale in particular, the great Irish epic The Táin, outlines the dominant role of women clearly within its narrative. In the Táin, women use their sexuality, power, physicality, wealth and even some supernatural abilities to prove that they’re as equal a member of society as men. Although men in the Táin are typically portrayed as the strongest and most important, their power becomes weak under the woman’s influence. The male heroes of the story, Cú Chulainn, Ailill and Conchobar would have achieved nothing if it wasn’t for the efforts of the females Medb, Macha and Fedelm. The Táin clearly illustrates one surprising point about Irish culture: societal influence was split between men and women, if not leaning more towards the matriarchal side. Irish women were just as strong physically and emotionally as men.  

The Táin, otherwise known as The Cattle Raid of Cooley, is a legendary epic from early Irish literature. A part of why women held such a dominant role within the story can be associated with the fact that this literature is pre-Christian. Christianity brought with it several restrictions to a woman’s way of life. Christian women could not remarry and adultery was punishable by death. This was certainly not the case in Ireland. Sexuality was much more celebrated by the Celts as it was free from the sexual restraints and taboos that a Christian society fostered. Women could divorce their husbands if they wanted and were not punished if they were found to be adulterous. One of the main female characters, Queen Medb, had been married twice before she was married to the to the character we know as her current husband King Aillil of Connacht. During those previous marriages she had plenty of extramarital affairs and was known to take several lovers when not married. Yet despite all these acts that would have been considered barbaric and sacrilegious in another European culture, Queen Medb holds quite a strong position of power and influence which sometimes even rivals that of her husband King Ailill. The relationship between the King and Queen is very much a struggle for power, despite different genders. “Her words were sharp they cut him deep, in a war between the sheets.”

Queen Medb is described as beautiful, powerful and wealthy. Her role and influence is on par with the King Ailill. At one point they take the time to compare their assets. To Medb’s displeasure she finds out that her value (from her wealth and assets) is one less than her partner King Aillil. One Brown Bull of Cooley less. This is where the Táin begins, with the frivolous pursuit of Medb to share wealth exactly equal to her husband. She embarks on a quest, with an army to back her, to steal Donn Cualinge the prized Brown Bull of Cooley, from the couple’s enemies the people of Ulster. During this quest for the possession of the famed bull Medb and other females use their powers to direct the conflict in their favor and illustrate the importance of women in Irish culture.

Sexuality and beauty is a major tool at the disposal of the women of the Táin and is used throughout to conquer the men. Medb uses her beauty and that of her daughter Finnibair to control men with their desires. Finnabair was used by her mother as a bargaining chip to motivate soldiers to fight the enemy Ulster hero Cú Chulainn, the main protagonist of the story. Queen Medb offers Finnabair’s hand in marriage to whomever could slay Cú Chulainn. By her beauty, Finnabair unintentionally manipulates hundreds of soldiers to fight and die in her honor. However her virtue stays intact. That’s what is special about this character; her personality and morales are reminiscent of the mindset of many Irish women. Finnabair sweet talked many a soldier, convincing them to take up arms for her, for a chance to lay with her, but yet she keeps her virginity. Finnabair has love for only one man, Roachad, and feels incredibly guilty when she finds out about the men who died in her name. She’s so overwhelmed by the "harsh, hideous deeds done in anger at Ulster’s high king, and little graves everywhere” from her teasing seduction that she dies of shame on the battlefield. Finnabair shows that Irish woman did value purity and abstinence in some capacity. However this innocence was a quality only present in the character of Finnabair, for Queen Medb used her sexuality in consciously devious ways. Could Queen Medb’s contrasting virtues represent the way males viewed females in Irish societies?


With a name literally meaning “the intoxicater,” Queen Medb’s uses her beauty to get what she wants by offering “her own friendly thighs” to Dáire mac Fiachna, the owner of the Brown Bull. She essentially is willing to prostitute herself for the sake of material possessions. The fact that she goes to these lengths to acquire the Brown Bull of Cooley says a lot of things about her character. Medb uses her sexaulity as a weapon and the men of both Ulster and Connacht fall victim to it. She’s very prideful and is determined to achieve equal status to her husband. She’s violent and takes what she wants. Queen Medb raises an army in determination to see her goals fulfilled. She’s also physically strong, skilled in combat and present on that battlefield. This hints at some roles that women may have played in Irish warfare. Woman were around on the campsites and battlefields of Ireland’s army and were as much a part of the military movement as the men. One of Cú Chulainn’s many lovers, Aife, was a warrior woman who loved her chariots and her horses. Her story also suggest that women were not restricted from the same career opportunities as men. Cú Chulainn’s own combat trainer was a woman by the name of Scathach. Queen Medb’s presence during the battles and even in a personal duel with Cú Chulainn also connotates a woman’s power as a leader in Ancient Ireland. Indeed in Celtic culture if a king died, his wife would inherit all the wealth along with the power and authority. Many powerful female figures and deities arise out of Celtic mythology and history. One example is that of Boudica who was a female druidess who defended Britannica from waves of invading Romans. Celtic women, as illustrated by these tales, were just as fierce as the men. One thing this says about Irish and Celtic culture is that while beauty was important, men valued intelligence and prowess greatly in women.

A woman’s intellectual ability was a trait long sought after in women by Irish men because it was only by looking beyond someone’s physical appearance that the men showed true integrity. It’s actually a common motif in Celtic mythology where young men sleep with unattractive or very old women for their intellect and find out later that they’ve actually coupled with beautiful goddesses in disguise. The character of Fedelm embodies that quality. She’s a poetess that has the gift of “Second Sight,” which grants her precognition and foresight of future events. She uses this gift to make accurate predictions of the future for Queen Medb and her army, “"I see it crimson, I see it red.” Fedelm’s supernatural ability is a metaphor for the smart intellect of Irish women and the ability to use their brains to overcome obstacles.

The Táin also alludes to the notion that women have a subtle but focused controlling effect on the minds of men. This can be observed in the story of Macha, or the horse goddess. In the Táin, Macha curses all the people of Ulster to experience the pains of her labor, rendering them useless and vulnerable to Medb’s forces. This unique and unexpected plague is an homage to the suffering that women have to go through during childbirth. It’s also serves as a commentary for the power that women held over men. In fact Macha says it quite plainly after the curse: “Although you may develop sophisticated doctrines of rebirth; although you may have taken on yourselves the right of life and death; although your efforts may seem logical and plausible in the light of a patriarchal culture; your efforts cannot but be doomed to failure as long as they are based on the subordination of women.”

No matter how tough a man is, it’s hard to resist the soft tone of a woman’s voice. This subconscious feminine power and the easy subjectability of the male psyche can also be observed through the character of Morrigan, another goddess. With her supernatural shapeshifting abilities, Morrigan is able to trick, confuse and thwart the plans of Cú Chulainn. She trips him up in battle by turning into an eel, leads a charge of cattle towards him, and eventually perches on his dead body in the form of a raven. All evidence suggests the Irish held the role of being a woman to a much higher standard than most cultures of the time. Sure Cú Chulainn has supernatural like combat abilities and an immunity to Macha’s plague, but his powers pale in comparison to the forces of the sacred feminine.

The actions of the females in the Táin also help convey the idea of the existence of female druids in Ancient Ireland. Druids, or badrui, were members of the priestly class and were said to have supernatural powers as well as being very highly esteemed members of society. They healed the sick, held lectures, practiced alchemy and blessed the dead during public funeral ceremonies. Several of the characters in the Táin reflect clear examples of druidism duties. Conchobor’s mother Nessa was a druid and the enchantress Scathach is explicitly called one. Fedelm’s gift of precognition and the fact that she’s a prophetess also strongly suggests that she is a druid. With her claims of possessing an all-encompassing illuminating knowledge, men bend to her will.  Not only did women hold positions of immense political power, but they also held seats with religious authority.


In a time where religious persecution and strict gender roles ravaged across Europe, women enjoyed a unique level of distinction in Irish society, as illustrated by the Táin. Women in Celtic culture could be warriors, doctors, judges, priestesses, artists and in Medbs case, a royal leader. Women and their rights were protected by law. The Táin does indeed tell the story of the fearless male warrior Cú Chulainn who courageously rides into the battle. It is the tale of men and brothers who band together to defend their homeland. But first and foremost it’s a tale about the power of women. Medb’s petty pursuit, and the hundreds of deaths caused by it, is a clear example of how effective women are at getting what they want, no matter the cost. The real heroes in this story are the women. The entire conflict in the Táin was created by, facilitated and eventually ended by Medb and other supporting female characters. Men are just pawns in the hands of a prideful Medb, a vengeful Morrigan, a cruel Macha and a manipulative Finnabair. Whether used for evil or beneficial intentions the women in the Táin exhibit great strength. The epic tale of the Táin showcases the ancient celtic woman as intellectual, defiant and most importantly in a role equal to men within the culture of Ireland as a whole.

(A table of contents is available. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)

Part Four: Location and Ideology

Building religions shouldn’t come into your process until you at least know your world’s geography, climates, flora and fauna, and where the populations are living. Without that, without knowing what kind of people you’re dealing with, religion is a moot point. Religion is inherent to people, not to place, so you need to already have some knowledge of your peoples and where they live to start in on building their beliefs. The way they live with and in and as a part of their environment will help to determine the sorts of beliefs and very basic style of worship, so start there.

Write out a short paragraph about where they live–I mean their literal environment–and the sorts of materials that are available to them. Is it heavily wooded? Has the land mostly been stripped of trees? How about the prevalence of stone in the area? Do they have the ability to use glass? Next think about their subsistence methods–how do they get their food and water? Are they completely dependent on rain supplies for their water? Are seasons severe enough to warrant food storage for any length of time? Are seasons mild enough in their changes that they’re able to live off what they get day-to-day? The more dependent they are on the whims of the world and less on culture, the more likely they are to have a system of religion that focuses on deities in charge of those aspects and appealing to them. Lastly, take the time to write a bulleted list of cultural values. That list may grow as you’re building their religious beliefs, but try to come up with at least two things that your culture holds in high regard. It will help give you a place to start in your development process for religion, even if not all of those get incorporated into the teachings.

If you’ve looked at religion at all, you’re familiar with the terms monotheistic (having one god) and polytheistic (having a group of gods). There isn’t one factor that’s been identified for easily figuring out which type your culture will have, so in the end it’s up to you how you want to split the deities or not. Perhaps because animism and spirit worship is so common in hunter-gatherer societies, it can be thought that monotheism is developed only once a society has reached a certain level of technology, but I think that it’s very possible to write a convincing monotheistic religion even in cultures such as that. Because of the lack of definitive scholarship on the subject, I leave the specifics up to you. Many polytheistic religions are split as such in order to give duties for one aspect of life to one deity. It gives humans the feeling of control and a closeness to that deity–like their request or prayer will be heard because that deity isn’t dealing with all of humankind’s problems, but only the concerns about animal populations or whatever. I think it’s possible to go the other way, too, where monotheism brings a closeness between the people and the deity because there aren’t 100 deities you need to get to understand you, just one, like a conversation.

The reason I bring up polytheism and monotheism with the discussion of location is because of the seeming correlation between polytheism and a closer connection to the environment in which a society lives. That’s obviously not always true and has become somewhat of a stereotype over time, so trying to divorce those ideas could provide a lot of benefit to your religion. Your religion should be built not on what exists on our world but what would naturally develop in yours. Try to put those ideas to rest and focus on what makes sense for your peoples. The amount of deities you build into your religion needs to be carefully monitored. There are no superfluous deities, and often deities have more than one area that they look after. When deciding how many to go with, think about how the people are living and what’s absolutely the most important to their survival. If that’s rain because of climate or if that’s lumber for building shelter or food growth or anything else, it will help decide not only the amount of deities, but religious performance as well, which I’ll touch on later. In short, how that culture lives and what leads them to survive as a distinct people is the foundation for why people believe what they believe. They develop doctrine and teachings and myths and beliefs about the world that coincide with how they live. Religion is as much a validation of self as it is about reassurance that there are forces looking out for you.

Another part of location that has a lot of impact on religion is how widespread it is. Cultural diffusion, or the sharing of cultural aspects or elements of culture to other peoples of other cultures, is a hugely important concept that depends on location and travel-ability. Religions that are formed in very remote, isolated locations aren’t likely to spread very far. Know how livable your geography is. The more livable, the more people are going to settle there. The more people settle there, the more likely it is that aspects of religion (and other things) are going to travel and morph. Think about how social your culture is and whether they often see travelers. The more travelers they see, the more exposed to other beliefs they become, and the more likely it is that their original religion will have changed. I’ll likely come back to this idea later and talk a bit more in-depth on how to incorporate cultural diffusion.

Next up: Architecture and symbology!

au-mieux  asked:

Hi Father. In a previous post, you mentioned both conservatives and people in the lgbtq community as having crises of faith due to how much they agree or disagree with the stance of the church on certain political issues. How do we separate our faith from our feelings about these issues? Should we even be separating them? And is it possible to have great faith in the Church, in spite of knowingly disagreeing with the Church's stance on an issue? How do we reconcile these conflicts? Thank you.

Hello,

For a Catholic, at least, humility is the key, and having an intensely personal relationship with Jesus through the sacraments, rosary, Scripture study, apologetics, and reading the lives of the saints.

A Catholic also has to have a personal love for the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. In their minds, that means seeing pastors and people in pilgrimage together under the Lordship of Jesus. 

Too many Catholics see the external Church, and their imagination is limited and boxed in. They see hierarchy, buildings, rituals, and visible structures, and for them, the Church is almost like Microsoft or Apple–a huge corporate structure which thunders orders from on high.

So, dissent from many Catholic teachings is like “disagreeing with corporate headquarters” and being independent from “powerful fat cats who want to tell me how to run my life.” People refuse to obey a Catholic teaching because “the Church has persecuted people” or because “this doctrine is made up by people who don’t know what my problems are like.”

That is where an erroneous and unrealistic imagination (e.g. “mighty, external, powerful Church) can lead to an erroneous conscience (e.g. dissent on abortion, gay marriage, women priests). The fact is this. Catholic doctrine is not the spin of some powerful, mighty structure that old celibate men invented.

Catholic doctrine, the teachings of faith and morals, are actually from the hearts and souls of the people who have been in struggle and toil to follow Christ for 2,000 years. It is true–that the synods and councils of the Church, where doctrine receives formulation, are composed mostly of bishops. 

However, each bishop comes from a region of the Church where he has heard his people and interacted with them, rich and poor, of diverse languages and education. When a particular bishop attends a synod or a council, what does he do there? A bishop contributes, not his own personal voice and opinion, but the Catholic faith as he has seen it lived out among his people in their towns and parishes, in rural areas and learning centers.

So, this is how it works. The Father and Jesus send forth their Spirit into the members of the Church, as they embrace the Gospel, are baptized, and live the virtues, with trial and error, that their faith calls them to live in the Church. 

Blessed John Henry Newman said that among the people, united with their bishop, a sense of the true Catholic Faith develops in the life of their diocese. People who are united to their bishop, study their faith, receive the sacraments faithfully, and persevere in the practice of the Faith, form a true Catholic spirit of faith and doctrine–the “sensus fidelium” or “sense of the faithful.”

The sensus fidelium, or sense of true faith, from thousands of communities, is what the bishops take with them to a synod or council of the Church, where they debate and discuss, and true doctrine is sorted apart from wrong interpretations of Christianity (heresy). 

Confirmed by the pope, these teachings receive further explanation and clarification with each succeeding council or synod of the Church. This is what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the “development of doctrine” in the Catholic Church. This sense of correct doctrine, or sensus fidelium, started in the first communities where the Apostles preached, and continues unabated through the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. 

But the point is that the Catholic doctrine of faith and morals is not “from on high” like a corporation, nor is it just grass roots from below, according to what is the popular opinion or political correctness of the day. The Catholic Faith is taught and nourished both by the diocesan bishop and his priests when they preach and teach from Apostolic Tradition, and also by the people sitting in the pew when they confirm back to the pastors of the Church whether what they heard is sound doctrine or not–according to Apostolic Tradition. 

Sometimes the pastors correct the people–sometimes the people correct the pastor, depending on who is being more faithful to the true sense of Catholic Faith. The Holy Spirit decides at Church councils what is the best way to express the Faith that is loyal to the deposit entrusted by Jesus and the Apostles. 

Now, getting back to your question. What about when a Church teaching totally goes against something that is important to me? Well, the first step is to ask, “Am I being humble? And if I am wrong, am I open to correction from the Mystical Body of Christ?” The passions and peer pressure work against that kind of humility, and is one reason so many modern Catholics dissent from sound doctrine.

Taking one example–in the matter of homosexual intercourse, it is one thing to be a Catholic who reads and studies and feels confident about following Catholic teaching. It is totally a different thing to be a homosexual who is in love. Because when you are in love, you have to contend not with the mind alone, but with the passions and romance that come along with being in love. And while your mind might think the Church sounds logical, your heart is saying, “NO NO NO. I love this person and it is beautiful. How can it be wrong to have sex with them?”

This is seen over and over on Tumblr. A Catholic gay or lesbian starts a blog and gushes about saints and rituals, about chant and gorgeous vestments, about holy priests and nuns throughout history, and pious quotes from wise books. And for a while, it seems like the “Catholic stuff” will be enough make one a happy Catholic.

But then the gay guy meets another gay guy. The lesbian meets another lesbian. They fall in love. Sometimes passionately in love. When you are young and in love, you often want to have sex with, cuddle with, and be physical with that person. At first, you say, “I don’t think I can do that.” Later, you say to yourself, “But why not?”

A whole plethora of emotions can follow. But eventually such a person finds themselves mired in resentment, frustration, and anger with the Catholic Church. They know in their minds that the Catholic Church has never approved of gay sex. The Catholic Church, either primitive, patristic, medieval, or Renaissance, has never approved of gay marriage. Then follows mental acrobatics or rationalizations of fitting gay sex in with true Catholic Faith.

Out of 10,000 doctrinal quotes, a gay person may find 10 examples of where someone in Catholic history seemed to approve of gay sex. It is stretching the concept of development of doctrine, to say the least. Out of the thousands of Catholics bishops who teach against gay sex, they will gravitate to the small handful who seem to be fine with it. Then, the Fr. James Martin, SJ, quotes will appear, insinuating that speaking Catholic truth on this matter might be hurtful and homophobic.

Quite a few Catholic bloggers will be honest and say, “I was once very staunch in Catholic Faith, but now it is time for me to find another religious practice and community, perhaps the Anglicans, where I can be gay, have gay sex, get gay married, and feel included and at peace.” 

They may continue their love of high Church liturgy and art and culture, but seek out what they see as the advantage of a denomination where doctrine is not rooted in Apostolic Tradition. Rather, their new denomination emphasizes a pseudo “Christian philosophy” of love and service. Some of those who remain will dedicate themselves to the attempt to “change the Catholic Church from within.” Talk about a hopeless exercise in futility. 

Then there are those very heroic souls who say, “I am gay, and I am often a gay person with crushes and fond loves, but I want to be gay, and I also want to be a strong Catholic.” It is not that they are separating their faith from their politics, nor that they wish to separate their faith from what they feel is the real experience of their lives. Rather, they come to the conclusion that “Being Catholic is hard as well as easy, and it brings you joy as well as pissing you off at times.”

A gay Catholic who seeks to flourish in the Catholic Faith is a work of great grace. At the same time that they question certain Church teachings, they also have the humility to knowing that they may be wrong and need correction. At the same time that they see homophobia in the Church and this angers them, they also know that those who truly live as Catholics are charitable and kind to gays. At the same time that they fall in love and also fall from grace by engaging in sinful sex, they also wish to go back to the drawing board and try again because the ideal Christian life, is the life where you are not controlled and enslaved by your passions.

How do such people stay gay, and stay in the Church making the effort to be holy? They accept that there is tension between the two, and they go to Christ with love and openness to the grace He gives in the sacraments. They continue to let themselves be inspired by the saints, who remind them that holiness is always in their reach, no matter how much our fallen nature rebels against holiness. 

And finally, they know that if they so choose to remain, that the Church always will be their home. For a devout gay Catholic, the Church has never been like Microsoft or Apple to them, a powerful external corporation. For them, the Church has always been the Mystical Body, where pilgrims gather and walk toward the kingdom. And they love this motley crew sinners and shepherds without making demands to change the Faith.

Staying with the Church, and striving to incorporate into our minds the teachings of faith and morals, is only possible if there is deep love for the Lord Jesus and an open collaboration with the members of His Mystical Body on earth. There is no silver bullet that takes away all of our disagreements or angers with the Church–all at once. But the experience of millions through the centuries is that every effort at persevering as a Catholic finds fruit in the healing of our angers, and inner turmoils. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

anonymous asked:

Hi I have 2 questions: 1) What's the difference between Catholic and Protestant? 2) Shouldn't Christianity just be Christianity... why are there divisions and not one united Church?

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant.
One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.
Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.
A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious worksA fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to theCatholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord.

Has the Church changed/evolved in its doctrine?

Anon’s question will be bold, in italics, while my answer will be in normal print:

About the slavery issue, is the response you gave assuming ideal circumstances for every Christian teacher during that time? (Think Spanish Colonization in the Americas, Philippines, the rest of the world…)

Hello anon, and thanks for your question. The development of the Catholic doctrine of slavery is very complicated, but I’ll try to flesh it out a little more. I can only address the Catholic Magisterium of the Pope and bishops as a reliable Teacher of truth, transmitting faithfully the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that the Deposit of Faith preached in every generation is not altered from the Revelation which God gave through His Son, Jesus our Lord. The role of Quakers and other Protestants in forming a Christian response to slavery is too broad for my scope here.

Relying on St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon and other Scriptural passages, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and various Popes accepted “justified servitude,” but distinguished it from “unjustified servitude” so that the Catholic Church never accepted all slavery in general as a good thing. The Scriptural acceptance of people being in servitude because of the need to pay off debt, because they were prisoners of war, or because they had committed crime, was a widespread institution during the first years of the Catholic Church’s existence.

It was so widespread that it was considered as necessary to the Roman economy as we consider banks essential to our economy. The obedient and just treatment of slaves was considered by the Apostle as an urgent concern for Christians; however, he did not agitate for the abolition of slavery.

Under Roman rule, a threat to a bedrock, societal institution like slavery would have been considered sedition to lawful authority, a disruption to the rule of law, and an attempted overthrow of Roman society. The attempt of the Church to carry out such a threat against slavery, in the time when the Church was a ragtag group of the poor, surrounded, and totally outnumbered, would have certainly provoked Roman rage and the extermination of the fledgling communities of Christians.

In view of the desire to be subservient to rightful, governmental authority, the Church opted for toleration of slavery as a necessary evil and cooperation between slaves and masters as a means of converting the wealthy and powerful. Such a tactic, while not leading to the just resolution of abolition, was quite effective for conversions of masters and the spread of Christianity beyond the poor and destitute classes.

As the Church gained in influence and converted more of the empire, it encouraged more and more the freeing of slaves and the humane treatment of those still held in bondage. The Scriptural record in favor of toleration of slavery, and the early Christian stance of subservience to masters, unfortunately, militated against a total abolition of slavery even when it was within the Church’s power to effect this.

St. Augustine’s acceptance of “justified servitude” and the concurring opinion of other fathers of the Church crystallized a certain acceptance of slavery in the mind and attitude of Catholic theology, all the while there were voices from certain popes and saints which sought to severely restrict the circumstances in which slavery could ever be tolerated.

Catholic teaching, therefore, goes back and forth, like a ping pong, between popes, saints, and doctors, who, depending on the circumstances, politics, and culture of their era, either quote and teach in favor of slavery, or against it. The Catholic voice was inconsistent, neither staunchly “pro-slavery” nor staunchly “pro-abolition.” Again, the deference and fearful respect of traditional teaching militated against a total Catholic rejection of slavery even when it was within the Church’s power to enact such teaching.

What is essentially preserved, in Catholic theology, is the principle that some people cannot be “unjustly enslaved” –that there must always be a proportionate reason for depriving them of liberty and ordering them to forced labor. As in the time of St. Paul, some reasons given were the payment of debts, for crime, and as a punishment for war against rightful authority (e.g. war upon “Christian princes” coming to spread the Gospel in a new country).

Weren’t some Jesuits and Quakers the first to publicly stand against it while others saw them less than human?

Among Catholic authors, no one could see the slaves as less than human after the 1493 decree of Pope Alexander VI commanding the baptism of native populations and the 1537 decree of Pope Paul III stating that the native populations were to be seen as human beings with the rights to freedom. Unfortunately, the decree of Paul III was never enforced because it was said to infringe on other rights given to the Spaniards and Portuguese.

In the U.S. there were other Protestant groups besides the Quakers who believed in the humanity of the slaves, but most Protestants in the South agreed with the Supreme Court Dred Scott decision which said that slaves were property. Among Catholics, the slaves were regarded as humans and had to be baptized, but they were still seen as having been justly enslaved because of certain Bible passages (e.g. thinking the “mark of Cain” in Genesis was having black skin) which they thought set out the Africans as a people destined for slavery.

The evolution began of changing the ideals began within that led to the answer you stated. That being said, can this evolution also compared to homosexuality.

The change which called the Catholic Church to be more faithful to its teachings on the dignity and equality of all races (“God shows no partiality” Romans 2:11) is more correctly described as a development. St. Pius X condemned the concept of “evolution” in Catholic dogma, because that allows Catholic dogma to be severed from its roots in Divine Revelation (Scripture & Tradition).

Rather, the term which is allowed in Catholic theology is “Development in Doctrine” meaning when the Catholic Church does not change an essential doctrine but retrieves something lost and restores it properly so the doctrine is more clear, more understood, more Catholic.

Did the Catholic teaching on slavery “evolve” into something completely different, which is what evolution entails, or did it “develop” into something more clear and faithfully Catholic?

My opinion is that the teaching “developed” in a way which returns to the roots of the Gospel message. The Church has retrieved the principle of the radical dignity of each person as an image of God and discarded everything in the previous belief about slavery which clouded, diminished, obstructed, and blurred that Gospel image of human life.

On the other hand, Catholic teaching on homosexual acts presents a different situation than teaching on slavery. The present Catholic rejection of slavery is found in one form or another throughout Catholic history, although only strongly so since Pope Leo XIII in 1890, who condemned slavery. With a sexual ethic, the problem with “evolving” or even “developing” a change in the condemnation of homosexual acts is that there is nothing, zero, zilch, in the Scriptures, or Catholic Tradition, upon which to invent such a new morality.

It would not entail bringing a Catholic principle into focus; it would not involve retrieving an ancient principle of Gospel preaching; rather, to allow for the moral goodness of homosexual acts, you would have to contradict, go against, and repudiate every Catholic voice on the matter in favor of the opinions and mores of the present generation. What is worldly, would be employed to correct and change what is spiritual and part of the Catholic heritage. I could not envision such a development in Catholic sexual ethics.

I would welcome any other discussion on this subject. God bless and take care! Fr. Angel

anonymous asked:

Thank you Father, for taking the time to help me. First, I do find the rules of the Church a little strict. More concerning to me, though, is the fact that they've changed. Something like slavery was interpreted as something okay because of interpretation of the Bible. It worries me that something apparently so solid can change. If those ideas were wrong, what about the other things the Church teaches? Not basic foundations of the faith, but matters concerning real world, controversial issues?

Hello anon:

Thank you for giving me more specifics on what concerns you about following the Catholic Church.

Ok, so that makes sense. As I am reading this, the big question is, “The Church is supposed to be my Teacher, the voice of God. But can I trust the Church to be a reliable Teacher so that I can assent in faith to her beliefs?”

First, anon, the Catholic Church, through the Twelve Apostles, received from Jesus Christ the Deposit of Faith, the Gospel, to be handed on for our salvation. But in the limited time He was on earth, Jesus could only give so many answers to so many questions. Then, He returned to heaven, leaving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to dwell in the Church’s bishops, preserving them in the truth as they studied new questions and tried to arrive at the correct answers.

The Catholic Church is a reliable Teacher, but that is different from being a perfect Teacher with instant and clear answers. What I tell people is that the Church is a reliable Teacher because we can depend upon her to investigate and study questions with prayer and sincere faith. The Holy Spirit will assist her to find the truth, sometimes in doses and not all at once. However, she has not falsified and corrupted the Truth of Jesus, even though she has at times been slow to see the full picture of the Truth. 

Slavery is an example of where the answers were not so clear, or “so solid” as you may think. No one could text God in the 1st century, “God, what do you think about slavery? Answer back right away, k?”

No one could Google “Is slavery moral or immoral? Under what conditions?” Slavery had always been practiced, and Jesus, knowing about it as a political and economic tool, had never condemned it. Most church members and the bishops were from working class, uneducated families and had not deeply studied the issues.

The best the Church could come up with was that sometimes it seemed justified to force certain people into servitude and at other times it seemed unjustified and immoral. In all cases, “love thy neighbor as thyself” was still in force, as was the precept “preach the Good News to all nations, baptize them, make disciples of them, and teach them everything I have commanded you.”

The Gospel ethic that we have to love, give fair treatment, and evangelize was always in force. But applying that ethic into practical application was not always clear. People did not always recognize the contradiction between their lives and actions and the Gospel ethic, but the Gospel ethic was always preached and taught in the Church.

And, by the way, before we begin to judge the slowness of Christians in the 1st century, let’s remind each other right now that Christians are aborting, they are contracepting, they are divorcing and remarrying, they are using sexual liberation as an excuse for degrading and impure use of the human body, they are mistreating the immigrant who harvests their food, the poor, and the elderly who do not wish to be euthanized. But I digress. Just wanted to point out that even with the Church being a reliable Teacher, that will never guarantee that her disciples are going to be reliable listeners and doers of the Word of God.

So there have always been Christian efforts to curtail slavery and remove its more cruel practices. Along with teaching that certain forms of servitude were “justified” and others were “unjustified,” there was the practical effort of the Church to bring humanity and Christianity to bear where slavery had gained a foothold.

The result of these efforts has been a constant stream of holy and righteous witness from the lives of the saints. If the Church had not been a reliable Teacher, from her bosom she could not have raised up saints for God.

So the proof of the pudding of the Church being reliable is not that her voice has instantly and clearly come up with a black and white answer to every question. The proof of the Church being a reliable Teacher is that in every age, she has improved and developed on the practical application of the doctrines handed on by her Redeemer and Founder.

She has been faithful to the general principles of the Gospel and when the right answer to a new question has come into focus, and become clear, she has transmitted that answer to her faithful sons and daughters, whether the answer was popular or unpopular in that age and culture.

This is why I can rely on the Church for matters concerning the real world. Because in the bigger picture of Catholic life, saints are raised from the bosom of the Church when they are committed to her teaching voice. In the bigger picture, she has never intentionally corrupted the Gospel, just failed to see clearly its practical application. But when she has seen clearly, she has roared like a lion. On controversial issues, more often than not, the Church has taken the unpopular side of the issue and been hated because she has challenged the culture and mores of the people, not given in to everything they want to hear. God bless and take care! Fr. Angel

p.s. I will address your second question later on.

anonymous asked:

Why did ABAFLOAT fail

I talked about this a bit in a past post, but I’ll answer again.

As H. P. Willmott said, “ABDA Command made mistakes, but the greater mistake was being organized in days to rectify the errors and omissions of years.” 

Slapping together the naval forces of four different nations is difficult enough by itself, but it was especially difficulty since none of the nations could agree on what to defend, or how. 

Admiral Hart was an excellent fleet admiral with formidable tactical naval ability, who cared a lot about his men. However, he was far too honest with the limited chance of success ABDAFLOAT had. The Dutch saw this as defeatist, and used his opinions to leverage him out of the command position. When Admiral Helfrich took over, the USN did not have anyone in ABDAFLOAT’s leadership. The extremely poor treatment of Admiral Hart by ABDA, the USN and the US itself seems to have been recognized by the Navy, as they put him in charge of the commission investigating the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ironically, he became a US Senator, since he had allegedly few political skills. 

Hart’s strategic sense was accurate: ABDAFLOAT’s naval forces were too small to be used as a counterweight against the Japanese onslaught. But if arranged correctly, ABDAFLOAT could’ve been used as a rapier, to sting the Japanese, to sink a few key bits of the Combined Fleet, and buy time for the Allies and the rest of ABDACOM. That was our grand strategy in the Philippines, at the start of WWII. Buying time. It’s as simple as that.

Admiral Helfrich used this rapier as a hammer. The result was inevitable:

The rapier shattered at the Battle of the Java Sea. 

ABDAFLOAT might have had a chance to, if not successfully defend the Netherlands East Indies, at least slow down the Japanese forces and commit significant damage. But this did not happen, and here’s why.

1. The First 72 Hours: Because of General Macarthur’s willful disobedience of the order to attack Formosa with his air forces on December 8, the Far East Air Force was destroyed on the ground with minimal losses for the Japanese. Two days later, HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse of Force Z was destroyed due to the lack of air cover and overwhelming Japanese air forces. 

2. Overstretched Supply Lines: Supply lines from the United States and Great Britain to Singapore, Darwin, and Java were too long to overcome for the lack of preparation for the war everyone knew was coming. Losses could not be replaced, and ships could not be repaired simply because of the distances involved.

3. Communications: You try to integrate sailors of four nations speaking two languages in a matter of days. There was no time to develop a tactical doctrine, unified code, a communications system, or even to educate the sailors of different navies on each other’s naval signals.

4. Almost Total Lack of Air Power: The loss of the US East Air Force and the British Malaya Air Force was crippling. ABDAIR was never able to get enough planes or experienced pilots in the air, much less having pilots survive a battle. 

5. Accidents: The list is long. Way, way too long. The list of ABDAFLOAT ships lost temporarily or permanently to non-combat factors is staggering.

a. USS Boise struck an uncharted reef in the Sape Straight,

b. USS Marblehead blew a turbine,

c. USS Whipple collided with HNLMS De Ruyter in a fog, leaving her unfit for combat,

d. USS Edsall dropped a depth charge in too shallow waters, leaving her stern crippled and leaking - unfit for combat. Ironically, this same damage meant she was expendable for a suicide mission to land 32 fighter pilots in Java to be used as infantry. She sailed over the horizon, and was never seen again. She had run into Japan’s Kido Butai, and was sunk in a battle that is sadly relatively unknown for the US Navy. 

e. HNLMS Van Ghent ran aground in the Stolze Straight and had to be scuttled,

f. HNLMS Kortenaer lost rudder control and ran aground off Tjilatjap,

g. USS Stewart rolled over in drydock in Soerabaja and was ineffectually scuttled; she was raised a year later by the Japanese and used in their navy,

h. USS Pope developed a leak in the hot well and was unavailable for the action in the Java Sea,

i. HNLMS Witte de With had one of her depth charges detonate under her stern, the damage caused her to go into the Soerabaja drydock where she was scuttled,

j. HMS Jupiter sank after striking a discarded Dutch mine,

k. USS S-36 ran aground off Makassar City,

l. HMS Indomitable ran aground off Jamaica and was thus unable to escort Prince of Wales and Repulse on their fateful misadventure.

The sinking of Jupiter is one of the most bizarre incidents of the war. Neither Jupiter’s captain, Commander Thew, nor Admiral Doorman should be held responsible. The Dutch minelayer Gouden Leeuw is. Why Leeuw dumped the mines as she did is probably best left to the imagination. It remains hard to understand why Witt de With’s Captain Schorel thought it a good idea, with the Japanese just a few hours away landing at Java and cutting off all exits from the Java sea, to give his crew shore leave. Maybe it was a symptom of what gripped most of the Dutch on Java, an inability to accept they were about to lose. The only prominent Dutchman who seemed to understand was Admiral Doorman.

But this begs the question: what if we decided to evacuate, since we knew the Philippines, Singapore, and the Indies were so indefensible? Why fight? Leonidas and the 300 Spartans resonates. They had a good idea they were going to die at Thermopylae, but they fought anyway. They bought time to create a defense line against the Persians in southern Greece. If that meant their lives, it would save many, many more. Indeed, the Allied effort in Indonesia did buy time for American materiel production to catch and eventually surpass the Japanese.

While the Japanese plan of conquest was not even delayed, let alone stopped, that’s not the proper metric to use. ABDA resistance did not delay the Japanese plan, it delayed the Japanese themselves. An early withdrawal from SEA might have preserved some military assets, but it would’ve allowed the Japanese to take over and exploit the area much more effectively. 

The Thermopylae analogy only goes so far, though. After the eventual Spartan defeat at Thermopylae, the Athenians abandoned their homes in Athens and withdrew to more defensible positions in the Gulf of Salamis. But the Dutch did not withdraw, it was unthinkable to not fight for their homes. So why fight a hopeless battle, one you know you will lose? 

Perhaps HMS Electra’s T. J. Cain can give insight:

“If an effective defense was quite impossible; why then was a hopeless defiance still attempted? The answer seems far less clear cut today than it did at the time; for the publication of official documents and so forth has actually confused the issue, or so I think. One sees merely the helplessness of Java, and the issue of whether to fight or not to fight becomes, on the printed page, a problem of simple mathematics with only one solution. But at the time when one’s own neck depended on the deliberations of Bandoeng - the Javan town that had become supreme HQ - the situation seemed to have its moral aspect, and thus could not be ignored. … Despite such considerations, which look formidable enough down on paper and detached as it were from the context, I don’t think there was a man among us who would have opted for the sensible way out, the abandonment of Java. We knew we couldn’t win, not in the ultimate. But at least we could fight, and fulfill our obligations. We knew that we couldn’t stop an invasion, but we were still pretty confident we’d take our toll of the invaders. We knew the Japanese was formidable, but we were sick of being chivvied around by him. British, Australian, American, Dutch, we were all in it together.”

codenamexy  asked:

Excuse me, but why can't women be catholic priests? I myself am a catholic woman.

Hello,

The Catholic Church sees men and women as equally creations of God–”male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

After baptism, men and women equally participate in the life of Christ, the life of baptism, for there is “neither male nor female” but all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

So why does the Church say that certain roles in life are more fitting or more proper to women, or that certain roles are more proper to men?

That is because of the Christian outlook of anthropology–this says that, although men and women are equally the image of God, it does not mean that they are equally called to participate in the same tasks of creation. 

This difference is biological–men and women have very different bodies, and their hormonal secretions cause different moods and visceral impulses. This difference is psychological and emotional–men and women approach problems and crisis with different kinds of solutions and outlooks. This difference is sociological–men and women approach how they socialize and treat other people in the community with different ways of relating, loving, or hating.

Anthropology does not affect intelligence or multi-tasking. Both men and women are intelligent, both are capable organizers, and both carry out the same jobs that are functional.

Now, the question about the priesthood is, “Is this a job?” Does the priesthood involve more than 9am to 5pm office duties and community organizing? “Is the priesthood a functional task for the Church?” Do priests just coordinate ministry and keep the lights on, the doors locked or open, and make sure litter is dumped?

In some Christian denominations, the way they interpret the New Testament and ancient Christian history, is to say that the priesthood in the Church developed as a normal job or function of multi-tasking. When the Apostles died, so the belief goes, people were needed to “run” the Church, lead prayer, teach, and perform the works of administration. This ministry involved laying hands on people and “blessing” or ordaining them for these functions.

These Christian denominations also concede that men usually held the functions of ministry, although this, supposedly, was conditioned by culture and societal pressures. Accordingly, they say, as women’s gifts became better understood and appreciated, the Christian community drew women into priestly functions, and that today, women should carry out these tasks and functions alongside men.

The Catholic anthropology, however, has developed along different lines of thought and sacramentality. The priesthood is not just a function or task, but is a certain mode of making Christ present and being His icon in the Christian community.

The belief of the Catholic faith is that Jesus called only men to be Apostles for a reason that had to do with masculinity and fatherhood, and when I say “had to do” I mean in an essential and vital way. 

Jesus, in the Catholic view, wished priests to be fathers in the mystical sense of how a father sees with a male outlook, and loves with a male heart, the family that is entrusted to him by God.

Now, it is true, that the priesthood in the ancient Church exercised functions of leadership and administration that, theoretically at least, could be carried out by women as well as men. 

However, Catholic theology sees a development of doctrine around the priesthood that took on a strong sense of fatherhood, and not just fatherhood as understood in a patriarchal, power-controlling sense, but fatherhood in the sense as it is connected to the male mystique of relating to families.

This is part of the reason why St. John Paul II decreed that in all the centuries of her existence, the Catholic community has never felt that it had the right or the authority to alter the Apostolic calling from the model that Jesus first imposed for the Church. 

Unlike other Christian denominations, where the people are seen as having a democratic function to vote on and alter their Church beliefs and practices, the Catholic view is that of “Tradition” which means “handing over.” The Christian faith was “handed over” by Jesus to the Apostles, who “handed over” this deposit of faith to the Church, who has “handed over” this deposit to the future generations of believers. 

This deposit is received by us as a spiritual inheritance, and on its essential points of teaching, we have no right to make changes or to depart from the norms set down by Jesus Christ, who is Head of His Body the Church. Part of this deposit of faith is the uniquely Catholic anthropology of viewing the differences between men and women, motherhood and fatherhood. 

Basically, the reason that the priesthood is essentially a male vocation, is because fatherhood is essentially a male vocation. This, I realize, is not a full answer, which would require many more pages of writing, but it is something I hope gives a little insight into the Catholic Tradition of priesthood. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel