Random Ramblings #2: Modern-Day Pharisees

In the modern world, we often hear people describing themselves as “liberals”, “conservative,” and others things when it comes to their political views. What is less obvious is that this kind of “labeling” is also adversely affecting the Church, and if these divisions aren’t addressed promptly, more and more people will be led astray by the wolves who disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing. It is becoming more and more evident that a new Protestant Reformation is beginning in the Church, and the lack of adequate response to these issues will soon lead to large-scale heresy and schism, just like in the 16th century.

The issue I am referring to here is the “traditionalist” movement that began after the Second Vatican Council and has gained more and more popularity in recent years. Before anyone accuses me of being judgmental, it should be clarified that here I am only referring to the type of traditionalism that is not in full communion with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

It is perfectly fine to identify as a “traditionalist” Catholic, but there is a fine line between orthodoxy and schism here that needs to be pointed out. There are Church-approved groups that identify themselves as more “traditional” than the majority of Catholics, and this is perfectly okay. (For anyone who identifies as a traditionalist but is in full communion with the Church, the rest of this “rant” doesn’t apply to you, but you should really consider whether it’s time for Catholics to stop labeling themselves).

Some so-called “traditionalist” groups – such as the Society of St. Pius X, have gone too far. And these so-called “traditionalists” are the ones causing the divisions in the Church in the modern world; their leaders are the wolves that appear as sheep.

Like the Pharisees, they believe they are a small and elite group that holds the Truth apart from Christ’s Church. They fail to draw the distinction between ecclesiastical law and divine law, and as a result, scrupulously follow what they wrongly perceive as God’s irrevocable commands. The Pharisees, too, often blurred the line between moral and ceremonial law, which can be considered the ancient equivalents of divine and ecclesiastical law in the Church.

To put it simply, the problem with so-called “traditionalism” is implied in its name: the making of tradition into an “-ism.” In other words, these people are willing to give up everything, including their proper obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, for the sake of what they wrongly perceive Apostolic Tradition to be.

The SSPX and other schismatic “traditionalist” groups attract many supporters and sympathizers because of their outward appearance of holiness. They manipulate Catholics who are dissatisfied with the Church’s current practices by offering a more “traditional” Catholicism. They persuade people by making it seem like they are leading these Catholics to the Truth, but they are really leading them away from Christ because of their schism with the Church. Instead of encouraging people to obey God’s commands and the rightful authority of the Pope and the Magisterium, they simply cause others to turn away from the Church. Yet Jesus was very clear: whoever rejects Peter rejects Him.

While it seems on the outside that these schismatic “traditionalists” are leading people to God, they actually turn their converts against the Church, and against Christ Himself. Is this ringing any bells here?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15).

Truly, it is clear who the modern-day Pharisees are, it is clear who the wolves disguised as sheep are.

Advertisements

Random Ramblings #1: The Euthyphro Dilemma

Note: While you should not be expecting any full-length, revised, and polished articles​ for quite a long while (see my previous post), I have created a new section on this blog called “Random Ramblings.” I will simply write about anything that comes to mind, especially things that do not fit into other defined categories I already have created. So here we go.

“Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

It appears that this dilemma is a false dilemma, and that the answer is “both.”

Theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas have stated that God cannot even change moral law because of its nature. Not because moral law exists apart from God, since God is the ultimate and supreme good.

So we can conclude that:

  1. What is morally good IS morally good
  2. Goodness is God’s very nature rather than an accident, and it is logically impossible for God to contradict His own nature, so everything He wills is God

Because God is the supreme good and cannot will anything other than good, and because what is morally good is willed by God because it is morally good, it can be said that both “horns” of the dilemma are true.

But of course, this seems to be incomprehensible from the limited standpoint of human reason. Thus, we can only accept this by faith, trusting that whatever God wills is good, and following His will.

An Update

Hi everyone,

As many of my followers and regular readers have probably noticed, I haven’t written anything in a very long time. In fact, my last post was four months ago, in May! (For your reference, my last serious article at requiemindminor.wordpress.com was from a year ago!) Don’t worry – I have not abandoned writing, and nor do I plan to do so anytime soon. The simple fact is, I’m in high school now and also attending the pre-college at the Manhattan School of Music, and I just don’t have much time for writing.

Of course, I’ll still write from time-to-time, but don’t expect polished articles complete with references that are free from typos! I’ve got a draft at the present moment, which is far from complete – refuting the alleged “heresies” of certain documents from the Second Vatican Council, which I began to write after being attacked by some schismatic “traditionalists” on-line. And another one defending Paul VI’s Missale Romanum – but that one is still in the very beginning stages.

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder about what I’m doing with my life, and what I am going to do in the future. God called me to begin spiritual writing, but this doesn’t mean He’s telling me to do this forever. As for what I’m doing right now (aside from school and music), I’m teaching myself ecclesiastical Latin and reading a lot of Church history as well as looking for a way to begin theology while still in high school. Becoming a canon lawyer is a possibility, and certainly not out of the question!

To sum it up (before I begin rambling about some other topic), I’m probably going to take a long break – perhaps until Advent begins at the very least. Thank you for your consideration.

Love of God and Neighbor

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). Sacred Scripture teaches us that love for God and neighbor (to be understood not only as our actual neighbors, but as our fellow human beings) can never be separated, and these two are considered the greatest commandments. What exactly is love, and how are the two “loves” – love of God and neighbor – interrelated and inseparable?

Love, simply put, is consistently willing the good of the other. To will and choose our neighbor’s good not only includes goods such as health, happiness, and salvation; we should also desire to give our very selves. “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). This explains the meaning and importance of communion and covenant. Marriage can be understood as a covenant, the combination of both willing the good of another and the total gift of self. Because God loved us so much, Jesus was willing to give up Himself – and die horribly on a Cross – for our salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

To love God – since He is pure goodness itself – therefore means to love what God loves, which is, of course, our neighbor’s good. We also love God through obedience, for Jesus said that whoever loves Him will keep His commandments (John 14:21). In this way, we are giving our very selves to God, and He will have our hearts. Another way to give ourselves to God is to give ourselves to our neighbor. Jesus says that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). To love God means to love our neighbors, and to love our neighbors means to love God. Therefore, we have come to a full circle.

Love for our neighbors and love for God are inherently interrelated to each other. This is why, it seems, that the Cross is often called the symbol of love. The horizontal beam represents our love for our neighbors; the vertical represents our love of God and our relationship with Him. The higher we move in our relationships with each other, the higher we move in our relationship with God. The higher we move in our relationship with God, the higher we move in our relationships with each other. This is why Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

The Choice to Love

Some choose to love because it sounds so beautiful and appealing, and indeed, it is, and no one is going to contest that. But love involves sacrifice, and above all, suffering. Some follow the path of love without – at least in the beginning – being aware of this fact. But even when we do know, and understand, we should still make the choice to love.

Christ tells us many times in the Gospel that inevitably, those that follow Him will be persecuted or rejected by others at some point in their lives. Suffering is inevitable in this broken, fallen world. It is not worth giving up love out of fear of suffering. When we avoid the painful side of reality, we do not see the world from an honest perspective, and therefore we miss out on the joyful side of reality as well – the joy that can only come through great suffering. For the best, as they say, it attained only through great pain.

Love is often accompanied by great suffering, yet it is still better to love and suffer than to never have loved at all. In love one can make mistakes and yet still be forgiven, and through suffering one can expiate for those mistakes. This, I believe, is why even when we know – we understand – that following God (who is Love) is difficult, we should choose it anyway. Living a life of love will – inevitably – bring suffering, and even when we know and understand this, we should still choose love, in spite of everything.

We Will Never Be Bored in Heaven: The Concepts of Completeness and Incompleteness

Eternity is a long, long time. “Long” isn’t even a remotely adequate word to describe eternity. Eternity is infinite. How difficult it is for our limited human minds to grasp the concept of eternity! Most of us would agree that eternity is a wonderful, blissful thing. Who wouldn’t want to spend an infinite amount of time in the presence of our God, who is Love itself (1 John 4:8)?

Yet sometime we may find ourselves wondering, But what if we get bored in heaven? Imagine if we went to heaven today. A billion years from today (measured in human terms only, of course, since time is nothing to God), we would still have the same amount of time to worship God as we did the first day we arrived. Wouldn’t we get bored?

Let us not forget that we worship an infinite God. There is eternally more to be discovered, more to be known about Him. God is fundamentally mysterious (Job 11:7). For the rest of eternity we will forever be learning more about Him. A billion years from now, we will look back and think, How little did I know of Him back then!

Our souls are also eternal. We will forever be having an increasing desire for happiness, and for fulfillment, and God will eternally satisfy this. There is always more to know, more to discover, and therefore we will never get bored in heaven.

On earth, we are always – even if only subconsciously – trying to resolve contradicting ideas, trying to find an aesthetically beautiful relation between all things. Throughout history, we can see that people have always had this desire; the longing to find Truth has always been inherent in the human heart. Often times, people have wondered, what is the ultimate fulfillment? Our hearts have an ever-increasing desire for fulfillment, for completeness. At the same time, however, we would also like to make sense of all the incompleteness we find in the world, and in ourselves.

Now we have a pair of opposites: completeness and incompleteness. Let me now digress for a few moments.

When opposites are reconciled with each other, beauty is created. This is true in all forms of art: to name a few examples, uncertainty and certainty, yielding and steadfastness, agreement and disagreement. Uncertainty can be expressed through dissonant chords and harmonies to create the feeling of tension, and certainty can be expressed with consonance. In counterpoint, oblique motion occurs when one voice moves in one direction, either up or down, while the other voice doesn’t move at all. Agreement can be expressed with parallel or similar motion (voices moving in the same direction); disagreement with contrary motion. However, as any good teacher of counterpoint will tell you, sometimes consonance (agreement) can only be maintained through the use of contrary motion (disagreement).

These principles are clearly applicable in our daily lives. We cannot know for sure about everything that will happen in our lives, so in that sense we are quite uncertain. Yet when we trust God, we are certain that everything will turn out fine if we follow His most perfect and holy will. Sometimes we must yield to other people, to accept what they are saying, and this also means accepting criticism gracefully. Yielding can mean respecting others’ desires and making the sacrifice to please others before ourselves. Yet sometimes we must remain firm, especially when we are defending the truth of God and His holy Church. As for agreement and disagreement, sometimes we can only maintain peace by accepting that we can’t have the same opinions and viewpoints, and respecting that.

God could be considered to be the God of opposites. How else can we reconcile His love and mercy with His wrath and justice? These are not contradicting things; they in fact complement each other. As I said previously, beauty is created when opposites are reconciled with each other. Is God not the ultimate beauty, then?

Now let’s go back to completeness and incompleteness, and how it relates to the fact that it is simply impossible for us to ever get bored in heaven. Eternity with God is, obviously, our ultimate fulfillment. Eternity is complete. Yet eternity, simply put, will last forever, so in that sense it is incomplete because it never will be fulfilled by anything else.

And this, my friends, is why eternity is such a beautiful and appealing idea. This is where our souls find the fulfillment to all our desires, in the presence of God. We have always wished to see contradicting things reconciled together, becoming one in an aesthetically beautiful way. Eternity with God is the ultimate realization of this desire. We will continue to have an ever-increasing yearning for fulfillment (incompleteness), and God will infinitely satisfy this desire (completeness).

This concept is indeed difficult to grasp, and I fear I have not adequately explained myself. In fact, I don’t even think I understand completely. (Of course! We’ll only understand when we’re in heaven!) Who am I that God should reveal such things to me and ask me to share this with others? But let the words explain for themselves; no more explanation is needed.

Proof of God’s Existence

Plenty of people in the past have gone great lengths to prove God’s existence. The fact is that no matter how much proof we can come up with, we can only become aware of God’s existence after feeling His presence in our lives. No one has ever been converted by a logical argument, but by God’s grace. We can evangelize all we want, but the truth is that we are only instruments of God’s love, and only He, ultimately, can convert sinners.

However, there is proof that God exists, although it is inevitable that many people will reject this evidence. I am thinking of writing an essay entitled “Music, Theology, and the Meaning of Life”, which will explain the connection between, well, music, theology, and life; indirectly, I will also offer proof, using the principles present in music, about God’s existence. One of these principles is the “unity of opposites” – in other words, when opposites are reconciled with each other, beauty is created. This is inherent to all beautiful music. Without understanding this, how can we reconcile the opposites found in God Himself, for example, His justice and mercy? If bringing together opposites creates beautiful music, than is God not the ultimate beauty, then?

And now we reach the most convincing evidence: if everything on earth, even those things that at first appear to be contradictory, are inherently related in a beautiful way, then can anything be proved by itself? No – everything on earth can only be understood in relation to or in context of something else, often times their opposites. Good is the opposite, and absence of, evil. Darkness is the opposite of, and the absence of, light. In fact, the path to light is to be aware of darkness.

If nothing can be proved on its own, then there has to be something that is infinite and that can be proved by itself in order for everything else to exist. This is God. He doesn’t need to be proved like everything else. He simply is and always will be. As He said, “I AM.”

Did God create everything, as we say every Sunday in the Nicene Creed? After seeing how opposites prove that God exists, we can easily reach the conclusion that God is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” And He created us.

Using my example about light and darkness, again, in order to understand light we must understand what darkness it. But in order to understand what darkness is, we must understand that it is the absence of light. How do we understand one without understanding the other? It is impossible to understand either of them without understanding both of them.

A word in the dictionary can only be explained by using other words from the same dictionary. So how on earth did we even learn and develop any languages at all? Sometimes to define a word, we use a synonym of that word. We cannot understand either word by itself. We can only understand both at the same time.

So why can we understand both, and how both are in relation with each other? It is because God created us, our minds, and our souls. Since God is infinite, this is why we eventually realize there must be something beyond this earth. Something – or someone, rather – that is making it possible for us to understand something and its opposite at the same time.

Do you see how wonderful God’s creation is? How beautifully organized it is? This is why “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).