Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

FAITH Magazine September – October 2012

JOHN PAUL THE GREAT?

Dear Father Editor,

I greatly enjoyed Joanna Bogle's article on Blessed John Paul II and far be it from me to argue with the masses of people in the Church, especially the "John Paul II Generation" in America, a phenomenon not seen in Britain, about the greatness of the man. As a person with Eastern European background, I think his call to greatness could be his amazing stand and success against Communism, or at least the Soviet Bloc, which is not quite the same thing.

However, I do have theological reservations regarding Blessed John Paul IPs "greatness". Part of his appeal was his ability to use the media in a way previous popes did not. In his day, media coverage of the Church brought the attention back to the universality of Catholicism in a way not seen in modern times. However, I believe one must be cautious in labelling any Pope great.

I still have serious concerns regarding the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986, both in its reality and in the media myth, which struck me at the time, and today, as a movement away from the message of Catholicism as a Church called to convert the world and to be the "sign of contradiction" in the world. False ecumenism must be seen as one of the weaknesses of the Post-Conciliar Church.

The other reason I question the label "great" is that the Pope did not reconcile many differences in the Church, which our current Pope Benedict XVI, who has been labelled the Pope of Unity, has done. Of course, I am referring to the hoped-for rapprochement with the SSPX and the birth of the Ordinariate, the latter which is the lasting legacy of our current Pope, and the former which may become so for us traditional Catholics.

Summorum Pontificum, still not fully implemented in the Church in Great Britain, is another step towards the revitalisation, or renewal, of the Catholic Church, as it encourages a depth of prayer, reflection, true worship and reverence that the many outdoor Masses of Blessed John Paul II lacked almost to a fault. In addition, although his writings were clear in some respects, at least to those of us who have studied phenomenology, Blessed John Paul II did very little to directly contradict or correct the awful aberrational practices in the Liturgy that so many of us suffered from in the 1980s and 1990s, and, sadly, even today. The present Pope has done much more in this regard.

There are several other points I could cover, but I want to highlight only one more. We have a leadership crisis in the Church at the level of bishops and archbishops, most of whom were consecrated under Blessed John Paul II. No one can deny that many, many bishops are not as orthodox concerning the Faith as the laity and world needs at this time. Now, I realise that his decision was not based on his own discernment, but that of the local churches. However, his legacy of choices, at least in the States, and perhaps in Great Britain, leaves something to be desired. A great man is known by those whom he chooses to work under him as well as his own accomplishments. Part of Blessed John Paul IPs legacy is his bishops.

Now, I realise a person does not have to be absolutely perfect in order to be seen as a saint, or even canonised. However, to compare Blessed John Paul II with St Gregory the Great, the reformer of the Liturgy, the great apostle to the Anglo-Saxons, a Doctor of the Church, a Latin Father, writer, and the patron saint of students, teachers, musicians, and singers, seems to me to stretch the title a bit.

That Blessed John Paul II was a Pope for the time is undoubtedly true, but I would not have stood in St Peter's Square shouting "Santo subito". If and when I get to heaven, I can happily be proven wrong.

Yours faithfully,
Marie Miller Dean
Artesian Rd Bayswater

OUR LORD'S GLORIFIED BODY

Dear Father Editor,

The brief article on the Eucharist in the last issue of Faith (Truth Will Set You Free, July/Aug 2012) brought out some interesting points. Whole books have been written on the subject and it is difficult to cover all the points when space is limited.

The Catholic explanation called Transubstantiation comes directly from St Thomas Aquinas and was promulgated as the official Church teaching at the Council of Trent to counteract such heterodox ideas as consubstantiation and impanation.

But any discussion must include John Chapter 6 where the words of Our Lord are unequivocal. He Himself said he was going to give us His Body and Blood (and, by extension, His Soul and Divinity - cf. his use of "Me") which His audience found to be an intolerable idea and started to leave. Our Lord did not call them back and say they had misunderstood, in fact He turned to the disciples and said, "Will you also go?" Peter came up with that sustaining and vivifying reply, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life!" All the theological explanations return in the end to faith and the truth of Our Lord's words. Truth Himself talks truly or there's nothing true. (Adorote devote).

I am grateful for your emphasis upon the fact that the Body we receive is the risen, glorious Body of Our Lord with all the properties of that state, an aspect too rarely discussed. Our Lord did show His transfigured Body to Peter, James and John. The splendour shown then was the normal quality of Christ's Body. His human soul, as it was hypostatically united to the Eternal Word, enjoyed the Beatific Vision. He normally suppressed this splendour, presumably to convince us of the reality of His humanity. After His resurrection His glorified body possessed the properties of immortality, incorruptibility, clarity, subtlety and agility.

These properties can be glimpsed from the Gospel accounts of the appearances to the disciples after the Resurrection. Although he had a wound in His side which Thomas put his hand in, there was no blood, and blood did not flow from His hands or feet. The physical properties appertaining to this glorified body are quite different from those that we now possess. It is precisely because His Body is glorified that He is able to give Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. The condition of a glorified body is further clouded by the enigmatic remark to Mary Magdalene by Our Lord on the morning of His Resurrection when she tried to embrace Him: "Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father." He entered the room where the disciples were even though the room was locked (Jn20:19) and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus did not recognise Him and He was able suddenly to vanish from their sight (Lk 24:31).

The most remarkable occasion when the Eucharist was given was at the Last Supper for Christ was there standing in front of His Apostles, yet His body remained intact in front of them. We are certainly in the realm of a very profound mystery. He still stands in front of us at Mass in the person of the celebrant who as Alter Christus says the words exactly as Christ did at the Last Supper using the first person singular.

It is precisely because His Body is now in a glorified state that He is able to give Himself in the Eucharist. This is all a profound mystery but this line of thought helps many to deepen their understanding of the jewel in the crown of the Catholic Church.

Yours faithfully,
Christopher Bull
Reed Avenue
Canterbury

IDEALISTIC EVOLUTION

Dear Father Editor,

Fr Hugh MacKenzie, in the May/June issue of Faith magazine, castigates Jack Mahoney SJ for expressing views {The Tablet, Jan 2012) that the doctrine of original sin and the primordial fall of our first parents should simply be ditched.

Fr MacKenzie accepts all the Catechism says on the topic, but agrees that evolution of all life forms occurred. Thus he maintains that God breathed human immortal souls into a male and female pair of hominoids, when they had emerged with a sufficient level of consciousness. This pair, Adam and Eve, then committed the original sin and fell, as described in Genesis, and in the Catechism, as a historical event.

However, the late Fr Ernan McMullin argued that evolution calls for a dramatic reinterpretation of the Genesis story of human origins {The Tablet, Jan 2008). The evolutionary process is flawed throughout, with natural evil and death, from the Big Bang onwards. As Fr McMullin stated, it is difficult to justify God as direct creator of such an imperfect process.

The same problem of theodicy was also stressed at the international conference on Darwin's theory, in Rome in 2009. The direct creation of each human soul at the moment of conception was also regarded as a theological difficulty - since the conference accepted that homo sapiens had evolved from non-rational animal precursors. Was there a progression from animal souls to human souls?

Mgr Loftus [Catholic Times, 3 June 2012) insists that the doctrine of original sin should not be denied, but agrees with Fr McMullin that the present interpretation is too rigid.

The great Russian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, who died in 1900, produced a thesis about creation, which is almost completely ignored in the West, even though it is a key to a solution of all of the above problems.

He argued that while each human being has a very tiny life span, or finite appearance in the whole of space-time of the universe, humanity is also an eternal intelligible essence. Therefore it is logical to admit that a person exists not only after death (immortal soul and ultimately immortal body at the General Resurrection), but also before birth - as an idea in God.

We can then think of humanity beginning as a great transcendental design, which is a living reality and a unity in God. The divine intention was, and is, that we would all be actualised as distinct, but perfectly sharing the whole universe as one immortal living body. Creation would then be many-in-one in the direct image of the Trinity.

This design, with full knowledge of the divine will for the being of creation, and in perfect freedom, rebelled as a unity, except the higher unity of the Alpha Christ, the idea of the Word becoming incarnate, and the idea of Mary, the Immaculate Conception.

Everything, matter and spirit, within the great design, generated within and one with the Alpha Christ, and in the fallen finite universe that is actualised, is blemished by original sin. Jesus and Mary were also actualised in the fallen state according to the divine decree of original unity, but unlike us, are always immaculate in the totality of their bodies and souls.

This thesis not only answers the problems described above, but also greatly illuminates many important aspects of doctrine and dogma, especially transubstantiation.

Yours faithfully,
Professor John Rooney
Stranmillis Road
Belfast

INCREASING PARISH CONFESSIONS

Dear Father Editor,

Thank you so much for a good and thorough coverage of the Sacrament of Penance, especially in your Jan/Feb issue. Our Catholic community here in Tintagel is quite small and for decades I have had no official time which is just for Confessions as so few were coming. I regularly advertise that I am available at any time for Confessions especially before and after Mass. As a result there is a really high percentage of penitents throughout the year, week after week. They also come from further afield. I did this even when I was with a big community.

The children helped me to this practice when I was a young curate because they listed the most difficult thing about Confession as "getting there". The solution takes a while to catch on but it develops and grows all the time. After all, we can cancel other things of lesser importance in favour of this vital apostolate.

Yours faithfully,
Fr Bryan Storey
Tintagel, Cornwall

WHY MARRIAGE IS A CONTRACT

Dear Father Editor,

I noted with interest the comments by William Oddie and Niall Gooch on gay marriage in the Jan/Feb issue. Unfortunately, we over here are further along on the absurdity curve, merrily redefining reality at will. Your readers might be interested in a recent piece of mine highlighting the radical difference between the marriage covenant ontologically ordered towards the formation of family and two adults autonomously contracting for "loving" purposes chosen by themselves. The piece can be found at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/modern\_gnosticism\_and\_the\_family\_as\_contract.html

Yours faithfully,
Keith Riler
Peach Tree St
Atlanta, Georgia

EDITORIAL COMMENT: We would indeed recommend this fine piece. Also thought provoking concerning the ideologically inspired redefinition of words is Mr Riler's parody: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/the\_right\_to\_be\_asian.html


Faith Magazine

September - October 2012