Saturday, October 06, 2007

Meet Walbert Buehlmann


He's an "expert" on the Bible and author of one of the innumerable books in German on why he knows better than the Pope. "To dream of the Church-a piece of Apostolic history in the 20th century- they are always illustrated by rainbows rather than the Cross or Our Lord on the Cross.

Dream on Mr Buehlmann, now in exile in a parish, according to latest information, following his dismissal by the local Bishop from academe- everyone else is now living in the 21st century. His book was published in 1986- and like many post-Vatican II books lies around for a 2 euros at the most in the second hand bookshops of Europe, probably having come from a convent now closed, destroyed by their enthusiasm for the zeitgeist (as the Germans say for spirit of the age.)

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The Wisdom of Cardinal Wiseman

By Gordon George (SJ? - is this the same man who was Director of the Jesuit Information Office in Rome in 1973 - the article was published in 1927 in Irenikon, the first ecumenical review founded by Lambert Beauduin). Wbat would all the parties have thought today if they saw the modern Anglicans and the Catholic Church.

It is one of the great blessings and privileges which we enjoy in the unity of the faith to be able to turn to a central authority, and to correct our judgments of the counsels of those who live in the immediate contact with the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Among those is especially esteemed and venerated a great Cardinal, whose wide knowledge, and distinguished personality, whose powerful mind and whose holy life become to an eminent degree a Prince of the Church. It is he who advised the present writer to turn to Cardinal Wiseman as an ideal guide as to the situation in England : the following words then are the result of the counsel of one great Cardinal with intimate knowledge of England to study the words of another to whom those words just as precisely apply. Wilfrid Ward's Life of Cardinal Wiseman, and still more an essay he wrote in a collection published later present a picture of a man of phenomenal memory, wide culture and generous sympathies; it was one of the particular plans of Cardinal Wiseman to study the spirit of the age, and to present perennial truth in harmony with the temper which dominates at the moment, extracting from that temper something which will more beautifully define the deposit of truth, and therefore enrich its tradition. For this reason, he made a special study of contemporary science and contemporary learning, and by his width of information attracted many to revere the Church as the mother of arts and sciences which she is : it is unnecessary to refer to the great work which Cardinal Wiseman did in this way by his oriental studies ; in his friendship with the leaders of the French Catholic revival, Lamennais, Montalembert, de Maestre and Lacordaire ; or with the leaders of the German revival, Schlegel, Gorres and Mohler : or again with leaders of English thought, Newman, Froude, Gladstone or Macaulay : by his lectures on scientific discovery in relation to the Church, claiming that each was a support to the other : or again by his application of the work of Pugin in the revival of religious art.

Born in Seville in 1803, he came of an Irish family, but he had been brought up in England and in Italy. His sister was married to an Italian nobleman. His romance, Fabiola, was translated into the leading languages of Europe. From 1839, however, his work was most of all with England. His object was to concentrate on his own country the result of an international and catholic culture. He was particularly sympathetic towards the Oxford movement and had made friends with Newman as early as 1833, eight years before the publication of Tract XC. He founded the Dublin Review, and sympathetic as he was, yet pointed with remarkable clearness to the points where the Anglican revival abandoned logic and common sense in favour of loyalties of its own. His arguments are summed up in a letter he addressed to Newman after the publication of Tract XC : «Why not suspect your judgments if you find that they vary ? if there was ever a time when you did not see many of our doctrines as you now view them,.- when in fine, you were more remote from us in practice and feeling than your writings now show you to be, why not suspect that a further approximation may yet remain; that further discoveries of truth, in what to-day seems erroneous, may be reserved for to-morrow, and that you may be laying up for yourselves the pain and regret of having before branded with opprobrious and afflicting names that which you will discover to be good and holy ? »

That question sums up the life of Newman, and the history of the Oxford movement, and, after all the sweeping changes of over eighty years, it is as apposite now as it was then. And many of the tragedies of disappointment that have followed are defined likewise in a letter of Good Friday, 1841, to Pugin : , he asked, « while such sentiments are breathed in our hearing, and rise not up to bid the mourner have hope ? Are we, who sit in the full light, to see our friends feeling their way towards us through the gloom which surrounds them, and faltering for want of an outstretched hand, or turning astray for want of a directing' voice; and sit on and keep silent, amusing ourselves at their painful efforts, or perhaps allow them to hear from time to time only the suppressed laugh of one who triumphs over (heir distress. God forbid ! If one must err, if in mere tribute to humanity, one must needs make a false step, our falls will be on the side of two theological virtues than when on the cold bare earth of human prudence. If Ishall have been too hopeful in my motives, or too charitable in my dealings, I will take my chance of smiles at my simplicity both on earth and in heaven. Those of the latter at least are never scornful.”

This devotion to the supernatural virtues did not issue from a sentimental impulse, but from careful consideration of both theology and history. His example was that of a great prelate, whose letter on unity is a classic, both of France and of the Church. His example, he said, was Bossuet. When there was no feeling of want in the separated Church, no cravings nor yearnings, no filial respect, when there was no encouragement but from political rulers, Bossuet, urged by nothing but the zeal of Molinos, entered into an earnest discussion with Leibnitz, upon the possibility of reuniting Protestant Germany with the Catholic Church, and with extraordinary significance he actually spoke of Rome as the « mo-therchurch » of the Lutherans. Rome is indeed the mother. as the present Pope has declared himself the teacher ami father of all Christians, whether in his visible fold or not, and there is no greater responsibility among churches in schism than to consider the responsibility those took upon themselves who broke with their mother or who initiated reforms without consulting" her, or assisting her in her own work of reform. Wiseman argued that if Bossuet had never been discredited for his zeal for unity, why should he himself be discredited where the break was less wide and where circumstances were so much more hopeful, why should he not feel that facing a personal and serious stake in England, he was bound to pay attention to declarations towards Catholic reunion which were striking and positive ? His convictions are summed up in Cardinal Mercier's unforgettable aphorism : If truth has its dues, charity has its duties. But from Mohler he had learnt already the value of humility, the need to confess that there had been faults on both sides. From the Symbolique of Mohler, Wiseman quoted a passage to which he gave the added emphasis of italics. “Here is the ground on which one day the two Churches will meet, and join hands. In the conviction of one common fault, we should forgive one another. We have all sinned, the Church alone is pure from every stain,”

Therefore Wiseman argued for personal holiness : therefore he argued that “ harshness of language, sarcasm and bitterness will not either convince the understanding or win the affections.” What he rather advocated was trustfulness in the sincerity of others and in the goodness of their motives ; hopefulness in the result of our own endeavours. Bossuet had urged that much Catholic truth had been retained in the Augsburg Confession : he had recommended therefore that no retractations should be made, but to spare pain to individuals, and difficulty to the Church, to find such an explanation as would bring them into concord with the Council of Trent. In all this Wiseman anticipated the counsels of the present Pope in the Encyclical Ecclesiam Dei. Newman had already given Wiseman encouragement in Tract XC, and Wiseman's apostolic counsels to his own fellow Catholics were all in the direction of charity and humility.

“Let the Communion of Saints on earth be a communion of sorrow, of compassion, of compunction, as well as of gladder sympathies : let us bear each other's burdens, but let us not measure too jealously how much is each other's share. My feeling is : Let condemnation be on each one by himself, and let our looks abroad be in charity and affection. Let us English-Catholics mourn over our own backwardness in much that is of duty, our own coldness in much that is of zeal. Let us English clergy lament our deficiencies in much of that ecclesiastical tone and spirit which abroad gives regularity to the sacred ministry and influences the commonest actions and habits of the priest”

Such was his advice to Catholics. To the separated who longed and worked for unity, his guidance was equally clear and edifying :

“Their duties seem to me to be as follows

To the Church of Christ. —- The paramount duty of healing the present schism not to be deterred by past failures, nor by present difficulties, nor by future sufferings, but to
begin at once, and to persevere energetically in such measures as directly tend to the work of religious reunion; not to say that the time has not yet come, but to hasten it forward, and strive with providence for the shortening of the days of trial
To the People. — Their predecessors in the ministry have done much to mislead the population of this country on the subject of religion, specially regarding the true character of the Roman Church, and its differences with the Anglican. The prejudices thus engendered have stood, and yet stand, much in the way of their reconciliation. It is the duty of actual members of the same ministry, to undo the mischief, remove the obstacle, and by every means, bring back the people to kindlier, juster and truer views.

To the State. — To draw a clear line between its functions and those of the Church; and to apply at once to its rulers for revision of all that interferes with true religious liberty, that is with the power of claiming all the privileges of the Christian system — unity, universal charity, Catholic communion from which the nation is now debarred by the cramping and straightening enactments of an oppressive age. And if this shall fail who will say that as sterner duty may arise ? The regale and the pontificate do not always run together ; and one may have to choose between the two.
To their own Church. — If they love her, as they say, they must not cease in their efforts tomake her what they wish her.”

Here then in that temper which always characterised Cardinal Wiseman, the temper of firmness and sympathy, the clearness gives us the clear guidance which we are justified in expecting from him. How much of his counsel was prophetic! His words have now a still greater cogency because while losing none of their appositeness at the present time, yet the course of decades has so much cleared the minds of leading members of the Church of England that they find their own minds have come into accord with the Cardinal's, and that, without realizing it, they have walked in the way which he set for them.

But not only so : the present Pope, following the example of Leo XIII, has, as we have seen, reiterated the words of Wiseman. Leo XIII, in one act after another, and most of all in the two great encylicals Divinum illud munus, and Satis Cognitum, laid down the principles of Church unity : at the end of the Bull, Apostolicae Curae, he wrote : « We will to the best of our power never cease to further their reconciliation to the Church; and we fervently hope that their example will be followed by individuals and groups.” This, with another letter written in the same spirit, Amantissimae Voluntatis, was the guide of Cardinal Mercier, in preparing those conversations in his house, which have had such promising results, both in the elimination of prejudice, and in arousing a wave of intercession for Church unity, both among Anglicans and amongst Catholics.

In all these therefore the words of Cardinal Wiseman become profounder and more authoritative in the passing of the years. They are enriched by the example of his generosity towards those who had taken the lead in consummating unity, towards those who had returned to Rome from the Church of England. Manning he made one of his chief advisers, and in spite of vehement opposition from born Catholics took those steps which prepared Manning to be his successor, which is what he himself wished, and which was effected by the personal intervention of the Pope himself. Towards Newman also he was always gracious and sympathetic. But he was well aware that while, on the side of the old Catholics, there was an unnecessary suspicion, which looked very like jealousy, there was, on the side of certain converts who were working with Acton, a lack of consideration for the solidity of the Catholic tradition which threatened even greater dangers, and among them a contempt for that sanguine buoyancy of which Wiseman himself was the most eminent instance. “That the return of this country (through its established Church), to the Catholic Unity would put an end to religious dissent and interior feud, I feel no doubt”, he said, and the sentence illustrates his sanctified optimism. But how sensitive the hopeful man is the Cardinal himself confessed in a powerful contribution to the Dublin Review of December 1856.

“ The sanguine man draws his hope to its highest tension, and if it breaks, it strikes him fearfully. He has been planning and studying something «enchanting" and glorious », it has been a vision in his dream, a beautiful thought in his waking hours, a fervent aspiration in his prayers. He has brought it to the very verge of execution; an insuperable obstacle intervenes, and all is dashed to the ground. He is laughed at as a visionary, despised as a mere enthusiast. No one can tell what he may suffer. Happy if in spite of all he steal away in silence to say « Yes, in spite of all, it will be done : it is too good to fail. But not by me, for I am not worthy of so great a work.”

That thought was one that was very close to the beautiful humility of Cardinal Wiseman, and it was echoed in the noble letter of Cardinal Mercier in the Archbishop of Canterbury which was published in the last year. We sow in tears : but others will reap in joy. We labour amidst discouragements and derision, others will enter into the fruit of our labours.

Yet, often as he was attacked, Cardinal Wiseman never identified himself with party; never on the other hand allowed his authoritative choices to be over-ridden by those criticisms and menaces which sway weaker men. He realized — none better — the infinite roominess of the household of the faith : he would tolerate any school of architecture : he would have been content with any variety of philosophical schools : let there even, he said, dogma being safe, be different schools of theology. Let people choose their own methods of good works : of political action. He would like to see people agree with him on anything he cared about; he would not quarrel with them if they disagreed.

“But surely” he concluded, “ there is a point at which differences should cease, when even an apostle who permitted every latitude admissible in grave matters could say that he had heard with pain that there were contention springing up, and exhort the faithful to be of one mind beyond the narrow boundary of strict faith. The moment differences create parties, — that is distinct bodies dispose to look suspiciously or contemptuously on one another, or so sundered that hey will not have a joint action, or tha the one paralyses the efforts of the other in a common cause or beginning- to speak of one another by peculiar names -we have symptoms of contention, and weakening disunion sure to produce evil effects. «

Here then is a final example of the wisdom of Cardinal Wiseman, of the counsels which, as we saw, were especial commended by another Cardinal living today. And where is there a better instance of the Church's miraculous mingling; of variety with unity, of generosity with corporate effectiveness? Here then is a whole programme of that work fo unity which is what is asked of the Church in our own age here is an English contribution to those perennial counsel which came to us with supernal authority, with glowing eager ness from the great Pope who, born a few years after Wise man, lived on to give to our own age that understanding o Church Unity and that fervour for it, which have been so earnestly commended to us, yet again by him who is now reigning as the Vicar of Christ on earth.


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St Thomas Aquinas on receiving Communion for the last time.


"I wish to receive thee price of my redemption, Viaticum of my pilgrimage, for love of whom I have fasted, prayed, taught and labored. Never have I said anything against thee. If I have, it was in ignorance, and I do not persist in my ignorance. I leave the correction of my work to the Holy Catholic Church, and in that obedience I pass from this life."

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Unexpected Papal encyclical


report from the ever-excellent

Cathcon translation
All are expecting a social encyclical from the Pope very soon. But it won't be quite what was expected.

On which encyclical did the Pope work on the summer?

The Pope is writing an encyclical about hope. The Roman daily paper `the IL Messaggero' stated yesterday in an exclusive report.

To date, all had counted on the fact that the next teaching letter of the Pope will be a social encyclical .

But IL Messaggero knows now that the encyclical which is already nearly finished will be on hope.

It will appear before the social encyclical, of which Pope Benedikt XVI. while on his holidays in Lorenzago di Cadore had previously spoken to journalists

It was not then known that the Pope in the silence of his alpine chalet wrote about hope.

Hope is that theological virtue, which refers to the longing of Christians for the highest blessedness in heaven.

`IL Messaggero' believes that this topic is relevant in times of uncertainty and relativism.

The newspaper mentions that the Pope deplored two years ago in a speech to the Mexican bishops that hope is exposed to a hard counter wind in view of the variable and complex present day conditions which also affect the church.

Thus the Pope appears to address also by this means the church collapse, which is not only limited to the rich countries of the western hemisphere.

The Pope would like to invite in his encyclical - according to Il Messaggero - to hope.

Christians are not to let themselves be frightened by pessimism, nihilism and human failure.

Friedrich Nietzche scoffed that hope is "the virtue of the weak“, as she distances Christians from "world progress“- `Il Messaggero':

The Pope has answered nihilism which which has been criticised again and again by him, with an encyclical.

The title of the teaching letter will depend on its first words.

According to the informration of `Il Messaggero', this has not yet definitely been decided on.

Also the publication date has not been publicly fixed.

Catholic charismatic "renewal"


A female preacher explains the relationship between the Church and Israel at a Mass in Beauraing, one of the two main Marian pilgrimages in Belgium. I think she is a nun, coming from the Communauté de la Source, whose title is deliberately ambivalent. When ones identity has been so completely lost, one can serve neither the Church nor the building of better Catholic-Jewish relations.
In her sermon, she tells us that she was a student at the Institute Ratisbonne in Jerusalem, but completely misunderstands the meaning of the lives of the Brothers Ratisbonne.

She does this at a meeting of Catholic charismatics in Belgium, that filled the post-conciliar gap in spirituality, even the King falling under their influence.

Whose heart is laid at the altar? If it is the Sacred Heart, the Holy Office warned generations ago against showing His Heart without a full image of Christ, in the same way that it is a distortion to exalt the Spirit over and above the other persons of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity (or indeed the "spirit of Vatican II" whatever that may mean - it is the first Council in history to mean different things to different Catholics").
I prefer not to think what the hole in the heart of the second heart (whatever the second heart is meant to represent) is about.

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Feast of St Mary Francis

At Naplcs in Campania, the death of St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ, virgin, of the Third Order of St. Francis. Being renowned for her virtues and miracles, she was canonized by Pope Pius IX.

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Real Catholic Youth Work


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