Catholicism in the Car

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Should we have Liturgy Wars?

Should we have Liturgy Wars?

By: Parker H Zurbuch

This article is a plea from one lay Catholic, who attends a normal, Novus Ordo parish in rural Indiana, to all of his fellows in Religion (Trads, Conservatives, and Progressives alike).

I have been heavily involved in various discussions on social media regarding the liturgical rites in the Western Catholic Church for about a month now. Among the participants have been Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Gregory DiPippo, and numerous other “Traditionalists.” Conservatives have weighed in a lot, too, although this often has been mediated via private messages to myself or through a variety of other means.

Where it all began.

This journey started for me when I read Dr. Kwasniewski’s book “True Obedience” after it had been recommended to me by a friend.[1] I was honestly quite reluctant to pick it up at first, because I had become skeptical of anything written by Dr. Kwasniewski. This skepticism was not due to personal interaction with him in any way, but simply had brewed within me via comments others had made on social media about him. My heart (and mind) had been hardened towards this man and his work, to a certain extent. I had cultivated within me a bias towards Traditionalists.

Despite this, I started reading Dr. Kwasniewski’s book. I agreed with most of it; particularly, the parts about what true obedience is in the Church. Where I disagreed were the parts laying out particular applications for said obedience, and by contrast, for disobedience. It was this second section of this work that earnestly puzzled me. It seemed that Kwasniewski was making the claim that one could disobey Traditionis Custodes, because the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) could not de facto be abrogated.[2] Furthermore, he argued that the reason the TLM could not be ultimately prohibited was because it was the only version of the true Roman Rite left in existence.[3] These two points flabbergasted me. How could someone make such a claim? Does the Pope not have full authority over the liturgy; enough to do with it as he pleases or call it what he wants?[4]

The answer, of course, is not so easy. The questions brought to me by this book were deep.[5] They are questions which, as far as I can ascertain, have not been fully ironed-out by the Church’s Magisterium yet, and therefore need to be discussed amongst theologians, liturgists, philosophers, and anyone of good will with an intellect ready for the task.[6]

What does good discussion consist of?

These liturgical discussions have been a real catalyst for me in understanding the peaks and pitfalls of conversation. This is a very emotional topic, but we do not want those emotions to cloud our minds or pre-dispose our wills toward acting uncharitably.[7] Throughout this time, one of my main goals has been to analyze how said discussions are progressing by viewing patterns in them which are helpful or unhelpful. From these patterns, I was able to formulate a number of steps which can be helpful in fostering further constructive remarks when this topic of the liturgy is in play. These steps begin with a base level of respect for the other and have an end goal of what I call “True Listening:”

1. Respect is the entrance to conversation.

2. Conversation allows for understanding.

3. Understanding cultivates empathy.

4. Empathy cultivates a true, deep love for the other, even when disagreement is at play. This empathy paves the way for a true sense of listening to the other.

5. True Listening is the goal. Only then can one effectively challenge or ask another to consider more seriously rethinking their own point of view or accepting your own; and even then, it is not about being right, but discovering the Truth together.

Throughout the whole process, it takes patience and not being afraid to be wrong and change your own mind accordingly. One must be truly open to the others' viewpoint and not afraid if the Truth hurts. We must accept that pain, and turn it into love.

For those who make think the above reflections are simply platitudes, I will now give further definitions of each term:

Respect is an act of the will, aided by the intellect saying something like “This person is loved and cherished by God. They deserve every good which I could ever want for myself, and probably more. I therefore want to make that a reality for them, even if we do not see eye to eye.”

Conversation is that constructive vocalization of words between two or more persons.

Understanding of the other is when we come to the point of seeing their argument as valid; although, maybe not agreeing with the soundness of their premises. If the argument is invalid, then a true understanding cannot occur. One cannot understand something which is illogical.

Empathy is the healthy emotional reaction which flows from true understanding. The purpose of this reaction is to allow a person to put themselves “in the shoes” of the other for the sake of communicative truth.

True Listening is what I have designated as the separate goal of each individual within said discussion. It is the culmination of the other steps having been achieved. When this True Listening occurs on both sides of the dialogue, then a really constructive conversation can finally occur between the two.

These steps can be applied to more than two persons as well; although, the more people one adds to a discussion, the more room for error there is when one of said persons does not achieve True Listening.

Why is this important?

Why is it important to foster good discussions amongst fellow Catholics on the subject of the liturgy? Well, primarily because we are Christians who are called to be respectful, conversational, understanding, empathetic, and true listeners. Additionally, this topic is such that all Catholics have a “dog in the fight” in one way or another. Either an individual actively wants to see things change in the way the liturgy is said, or they want to defend it the way it is. If one tries to bury their head in the sand on this issue, it will find them anyway – even if it is through  one’s beloved parish liturgy changing before one’s eyes (for better or worse) without that person having any advanced knowledge of its happening.

I had a priest-friend relay to me this anecdote recently:


I was in the rectory when my pastor handed me a letter. This letter simply had my name written on the front, and when I opened it, there was no name written indicating it’s author. The letter went on and on about how I was making the Mass too much of a performance, and how I needed to look at the people more…

At this point, my friend told me how he laughed out-loud at the hilarity of such a comment.

“Make the mass less of a performance, yet look at the people more?? What a paradox!”

I also could not keep myself from laughter and shaking my head. Anyways, he continued his story:


The letter went on to tromp about in no uncertain words how I and my pastor were ruining the Mass, and that the author was sending a copy of this letter directly to the Bishop!

This is quite a common story among priests – especially of a liturgically conservative or traditional flavor. What was most striking about it to me, however, was that the author did not give these priests a chance to defend or explain themselves. This should be a basic rule of moral action for a Christian: we should allow a person to explain themselves before we go accusing them of this or that; especially before we accuse them before their boss!! Not only is this unjust and uncharitable conduct; it also makes the accuser look irresponsible, ignorant, and ignoble when they attempt to bring the accusation up! If the accuser had taken the time to employ the above steps in his conduct, the situation could have ended with some legitimate fruit. Instead, the Bishop most likely shook his head at the accusation and threw it in the trash.[8] 

The reason I am relating this story here is because it demonstrates the importance of good, respectful communication by contrasting a horrific narrative. As regards the specific liturgical discussions I have been fostering on Facebook, I can recount some additional remarks which I would like to address. One involved a number of people trying to convince me that I should not converse with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, because “he is a dangerous man; leading people astray into schism.” This claim may or may not be true, but at least one should not argue from it that I therefore would be amiss in conversing with him. I also wish to assess the man’s arguments; not what people do with them. By assessing his arguments, and offering rebuttals via discussion, I hope to get people thinking – not simply reacting.

In Conclusion

In my personal observation, there is a lot of reaction occurring on social media (people immediately responding to one another out of frustration, ignorance, or malice), but there is not a lot of reflection, deep thinking, and charitable interaction. Frankly, this needs to stop among Catholics. When we cannot respectfully, charitably, and openly discuss matters (whether they be theological, philosophical, liturgical, or otherwise related to the Catholic faith) with one another, we prove to be a scandal to the world. Those scandalized include Catholics themselves, non-Catholic Christians, and non-Christians alike. It is a scandal which needs to cease.

We must foster good discussions amongst ourselves for the sake of charity with one another, and for the sake of evangelizing the world. This is precisely the reason why St. Paul exhorted the Corinthian church not to bring secular law suits amongst themselves; because it is a scandal to the pagans.[9] Today, we need to be acutely aware of how our inter-Catholic (and extra-Catholic) public conversations can be a cause of scandal to the secular world, and take actions to comport ourselves in the most virtuous ways possible.

If truth is spoken without the conveyance of charity, it is not really truth -- but rather empty fact. If love is spoken without the conveyance of truth, it is not really love -- but rather empty sentiment. Empty facts only numb the mind, and lead to the contempt of truth. Empty sentiments only serve to numb the heart, and lead to the contempt of love.

[1] Kwasniewski, Peter. True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times. Crisis Publications, 2022.

[2]  Kwasniewski, Peter. True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times. Sophia Institute Press, 2022. pp. 38-39; See also Kwasniewski, Peter. The Once and Future Roman Rite: Returning to the Traditional Latin Liturgy after Seventy Years of Exile. TAN Books, 2022. p. 160.

[3] Kwasniewski, Peter. The Once and Future Roman Rite: Returning to the Traditional Latin Liturgy after Seventy Years of Exile. TAN Books, 2022. pp. 214-217.

[4] I am being facetious here. I knew at the time that this issue was much, much more complicated than the above reaction insinuates. This reaction is actually unhelpful other than being a clown to poke fun at. No respectable “anti-Trad” or “Conservative” would take this extreme position of papal voluntarism.

[5] Dr. Peter Kwasniewski also has another book The Once and Future Roman Rite which fleshes out these questions more clearly than does True Obedience. After finishing the former, I read the latter in order to contextualize myself in the thoughts of the author and to hear his full arguments.

[6] Now, to be sure, facets of these questions have been worked-out. The question regarding the limits of general papal authority has been specifically answered by the Church’s Magisterium over the last 200 years. See Dei Verbum No. 10 (defines Scripture and Tradition), Lumen Gentium Nos. 12 & 25 (defines the sensus fidelium and the various weights of Magisterial definitions, respectively), Humani Generis No. 20 (on the authority of non-definitive Magisterial teachings), and Satis Cognitum No. 10 (describes how only an official organ of the Magisterium can interpret previous definitions of the Magisterium itself). Also see the 1989 Professio Fidei of St. John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger’s document when he was prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Doctrinal Commentary on concluding formula of 'Professio fidei’. The documents of Vatican I are a necessary source-text, and Bishop Gasser’s Relatio is a needed commentary for understanding Vatican I; even if it is not a magisterial text in and of itself. Many more references could be listed here on the topic of Magisterial authority, but the above few will suffice for now.

[7] This is an emotional topic, and it should be an emotional topic. We are human beings, and cannot divorce ourselves from our emotions. What we can do, however, is regulate said emotions virtuously so that they lead the conversations in constructive (not destructive) paths.

[8] Admittedly, many Bishops may not have proceeded in this way. Some may indeed have gone along with the accusation (or possibly even promoted it). I wish to think the best of a Bishop if I do not know who he is; therefore, I choose to present this hypothetical one in a positive light for the sake of the above scenario. I wish to also note that an anonymous letter should not be taken seriously by anyone; unless there were grave circumstances necessitating such an action (such as the risk of bodily harm to the writer, for example). I cannot think of a way in which a person making liturgical complaints would risk physical harm or retaliation by those they accuse. If the person does not have the self-dignity to be responded to in return, then they should not be making such accusations or complaints. In such a scenario, a cleric who receives such communications would be completely justified in throwing out the letter without giving a second thought to the action.

[9] 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Friday, May 27, 2022

A Lonely, Silent Night - A Short Story

It was a lonely, silent night. The sun just having set its rays behind the plains of flowing wheat. One night it was. A relative quiet filled the air, a train whistle heard in the distance. Something was off, but no one to witness. A barn cat purred while scratching its back against a growing elm tree. The wheels of the train, hitting the uneven seams of the tracks, screamed into the dark. Clap clap, clap clap.

There was a stressful thought whispering upon the wind as an old, beaten down Cutlass Ciera turns down the gravel drive of an ancient farmhouse. The grass recently mowed, but not pristine in appearance. The last bit of sunlight faded as a figure opens the car door, and places one barefoot upon the drive, feeling the rocks between his toes. As his head ducks slightly under the car roof, he scoots himself out and stands, leaning on the door. His shadow is struck in front of him, barely visible in the fading light. He breathes heavily and raspie. A hollow man he is. No one seems to notice the stranger’s presence. 

Upon the farmhouse porch lays a Model 21 Winchester with its black walnut stock, and handsomly crafted steel barrels. As dark overtook the property, a yellow light shone from a second story window facing the setting sun. The man standing on the drive could be seen clearly if anyone had been there to observe him. Silence again carved out the clapping of train wheels upon the ears of all and one alike. A few crickets chirp, and the wind blows.

A cream light is cast by the headlights upon concrete stairs leading up a small berm to another walk stretching to the porch. Now the man leans on the front of his car to observe the proceedings which forthcame. Rays from the car’s light rode around his calves, striking even darker shadows upon the berm, and even casting light upon the closed storm door leading into the house. A shimer reflects off of the steel barrel of the gun, leaning upon the door hinges. 

Stars now shown in the sky, as it was a clear night. A slight glow indicated the small town nearby, maybe 7 miles away, and obfuscated the stars’ light.

A door slammed within the house. This came from somewhere inside the house, but its exact location could not be ascertained. A muffled yelling could be heard from the drive; these sounds started loudly and abruptly and had been heard here before. They continued as they had many nights before; slamming to yelling to screaming. Pounding of fists on wood, and the stomping of feet.

Escalation turned to escalation, but nothing seemed particularly awry Until…

Smack. A closed fist on dainty flesh. A collapse. Then the silence returned, as though welcomed by the crickets and train. 

The storm door flung open, as a man brashly walked out. He is dazed and wobbling. The wood of the porch creaked below his steps. Stunned, he notices the car and figure standing at the end of his drive, but it seems to him that they are a figment of his stupor. After letting the storm door swing shut behind him, he turns, grabbing the steel barrels of the gun, straightens himself up, and heads back into the house. The faint sound of the gun’s being cocked sounds. Clap, Clap. 

On the drive, the figure can do nothing. He is not even light, but he does see.

The cat’s tail swung and an ear flicked.

A relative quiet filled the air, as a train whistle was heard in the distance. It was a lonely, silent night.

The Boy Dreams - A Short Story

A vision clouds itself forth within the mind. Bright fields with warm light from a steady sun. A rippling pool. Tepid air blowing the fields of wheat, as though they were running across the earth. Birds chirped quietly in a large maple tree whose leaves grew crimson in the hot sun. Coarse sand stood at the bank of a small pond; the water still and lifeless. Algae bloomed on the surface, creating a green carpet almost thick enough to walk upon. The toes of a young child tipped into the waters edge, as he sat upon the shore. Sand. Then, green grass for the length of a gunter’s chain. Lastly, the field of wheat leading to the small cottage that sat upon a hill. His parents knew he would be here.

A frog jumped into the pool via the bank adjacent to the boy. This slightly startled him out of his deep thoughts. Two dragon flies buzzed by his head, stuck together in a mating dance. The boy had come down to the water to fill his canteen, but seeing the algae growth he reconsidered his decision. The canteen had been given to him by his grandfather who had been a strong, hardy man. A farmer his whole life, that is, until he fell from a balcony that he was in the process of repairing. This was many years ago from the boy’s point of view. The old man had broken his back in two places, and had a gash on his head. Luckily, his wife heard him crying for help and was able to call an ambulance in time. He healed alright, but was not able to farm any longer. 

The boy laughed, thinking of what happened next in the story. After his grandpa had arrived at the hospital, the nurses and doctor checked him over, and were particularly worried about internal bleeding. They felt his abdomen, and assumed that there was a build up of blood there because of how hard it had gotten. The nurses began to tell his wife that she needed to prepare herself, for her husband would be needing surgery. In reality, his grandfather had been so physically fit that he had developed “rock hard abs,” as the children at school would say. 

Shaking his head to himself, he got up, found a stick lying nearby, and began to trail it along behind him as he walked along the edge of the pond. He walked for a little while, observing the squirrels racing around in the willow tree across the way. Such fun they had! So care free they were. What he would give to be able to live like them. Looking back at the line he had drawn, an idea popped in his head: art. He was not an artist, and had never really drawn much before. Some crayons had been utilized when he was much younger, but he didnt have time for drawing now. After all, why would he draw on paper with ink when he had such a colorful imagination? He would think, “I do not need to waste my time drawing; I can just dream up ideas.” This time, however, the urge to place pen to paper, or in this case, stick to sand was so great he had to follow through. 

It began with some quick circles. Then, a line down between the circles with a bend at the end. There! Eyes and a nose. He drew some goofy looking ears, and caused himself to laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of the face he had made. Joy. It brought him joy to do this. He knew he was no good at it, but the release it gave was invigorating. He began to draw everything he saw around him in the sand. The frogs, dragon flies, maple tree, leaves, and even attempted to draw the pond itself. This just ended up looking like an oddly shaped circle with squiggly lines down the middle representing the ripples. Before he knew it, he had created a whole city of masterpieces upon the sand.

Smiling and happy, he laid down on the sand, looking up at the sky. This escapade into the world of art had been exhilarating, but also exhausting. “No one would ever see these works,” he thought. They would be trampled under foot, blown away by the wind, or washed clean by the rain. As he lay there, he looked up at the sky. Clouds were blowing around like cotton tailed bunnies hopping across the front lawn to their dens. He watched them move, ever so slightly. Sometimes he wondered whether they moved at all! His eyes eventually started to droop, and he drifted off to sleep…

A fly landed on his face, and his eyes opened. It was hot and muggy; very humid. He woke up next to a pool of water much like the one he had just been near when lying down, but this pool was larger, more murky, and full of life such as he had never seen before! He leaned up upon his elbow, still slightly groggy from the nap he had been taking. As he looked around, he noticed that there was a stream that came into the pool, and then flowed out of it further down. He, laying on the bank, was situated perfectly to see the entire expanse of this large body of water. Getting up now he walked along the edge until he reached the mouth of the stream downwind from him, noticing the rushing water ripple as it was funneled into the smaller space.

He then continued on, and as he did so, the stream became widened until it seemed it was no longer a stream but a rushing river! Vines would hit his face every so often, and birds sang out loud macaws. It was peaceful here, yet edgy. 

He couldn't help but sense that something was a danger to him at all times. Just then, a small bird no larger than the palm of his hand swooped down and perched itself upon a branch near him. It chirped at him for a little while, staring. He stared back, and was surprised by the creature’s interest. He attempted not to blink, and looking in the direction of the bird, he noticed a number of other creatures around him. Snakes camouflaging themselves in the trees, and giant flying insects buzzing to and fro. He heard a large splash behind him, and turning around, saw ripples in the river. Pointing himself in this opposite direction, he waited to see if the creature would resurface. 

A few bubbles popped, releasing themselves from the water. Then, like lightning, a fish maybe two feet in length jumped straight out of the water and flew across the surface before being driven back in again by gravity’s pull. The boy was in awe. It was such an unexpected sight! He chuckled to himself and began to walk further along the banks of the river. He had thought about attempting to cross it, but had decided this was not such a good idea, being that he did not know what lived in the deep…

WHAM! He woke up with a jolt. An indent of his head and torso had been made behind him, where he had been sleeping. The stick he used to “paint” was still in his hand. He realized, after looking around, that he had also been tossing and turning at some point in his sleep, and that he had ruined many of the pictures in the sand. A slight disappointment welled up within his breast; he had not expected his art to be ruined so soon. 

Proceeding to get up from his position, he started to walk back towards the cottage across the field. He un-observantly dragged the stick in the sand behind him as he did so. A long, winding line was drawn; seeming to separate experience from reality. Or was it the other way around? He was to stay where he was. No adventure, no dreams. As a failed artist, he sulked. Or was it failure? As the wind blew across the fields of wheat, it seemed to say, “Why not dream?”

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Willing to Change by Listening

I have recently been listening to talks by Dr. Gavin Ortland. He is a Baptist pastor out of California and is one of a few very active protestant intellectuals on YouTube -- and particularly, he comports himself in an incredibly irenic way. He has given me a lot of food for thought. I am a committed (and convicted) Catholic, and I have had many extensive conversations with Protestant friends, coworkers, and mentors. 

One of the first people to witness true faith to me was the leader of my small group in high school, who was/is a very committed and on-fire protestant. We would have many conversations over the years about the differences between protestants and Catholics, but he was not as steeped in history as I would have found helpful at the time (and now). 

Dr. Ortland has his doctorate in Historical Theology, which as far as I am aware, is only a degree offered at protestant universities. I had never heard of a "Historical Theology" degree until recently, and it has only been protestants whom I have seen that have such a degree. I am not trying to down-play his education at all. He has proven to me, on more than one occasion, that he knows what he is talking about.

Anyway, in one of Dr. Ortland's recent videos, he stressed a quote that has stuck with me -- and encompasses the main thrust of what I have learned from him so far: true listening when in ecumenical/apologetical dialogue. The quote reads, 

    "You're not really listening unless you are willing to be changed by what you hear."

This idea has penetrated my soul. It convicted me. How many times have I talked to Protestants (in particular) and am not willing to be changed by what I hear. I have often been dismissive of their claims because they are not (as Dr. Ortland confesses) always the most thought-out and historically protestant claims. I am often more willing to truly listen to Atheists and Agnostics than I am to my Protestant brethren.

Over the last year I did a deep dive into protestant theology and thought for the main purpose of giving me a grasp on where they are coming from. For example, before this time, I really took to heart the St. John Henry Newman quote, "to be steeped in history is to cease to be Protestant." I do not think Newman had bad intentions when writing this quote, but I do think that Catholics (and Orthodox) today use it for more than its worth. I would pull up anti-protestant tropes in my head like, "there are more than 30,000 denominations, how could there be truth in such chaos?;" "Protestantism was born in 1517, so it clearly cannot trace its roots back to Christ and the Apostles;" and "Sola Scripture is self-refuting." I may dedicate another article to each of these issues and the thoughtful protestant responses I have learned to them, but that is not my intent here.

I am imploring myself and all Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, "Nones," and everyone in between to have an amiable and conciliatory attitude towards one another when in dialogue. Seek to steel-man the other side's position. Try to understand it as well as your own.  I spent the last year trying to really understand where my separated, protestant brethren are coming from. I spent over a year before that trying to understand atheism and agnosticism. Next on my list will be continuing study of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox; as well as a study of the Assyrain Church of the East. I might also try to get to know more about Old Catholics, as well. After that: Islam.

"You're not really listening unless you are willing to be changed by what you hear." It still strikes me. I claim to be someone who tries to search for the truth at all costs, but if I am being utterly honest, it is clear to see that I do not always have this mindset at the fore; however, I am trying. Come with me!

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Sexual Abuse Scandals in the Catholic Church

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at:  

Original Question: Are you ashamed to admit that you are Catholic over the scandals of covering up cases of pedophilia by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? Especially homosexual pedophilia when, on the one hand, they condemn normal gays, but tolerate molesters?

This is a great question! On the one hand, yes, I am extremely ashamed that those in my Church (The Catholic Church) have made such despicable choices that have caused so much scandal to the world. I wish it would have never happened, especially for the sake of the victims of these perpetrators. There is no defending these horrific crimes and sins, so often caused by leaders in the Church.

But, notice that I described my shame as being towards those in my Church. I did not describe my shame as being in the Catholic Church itself — and therefore, I am not ashamed in my identifying as a Catholic despite the Church’s scandalous members.

See, the thing about being Catholic, is that we believe that the Church is an entity larger than the members that make it up. The Catholic Church is, as Saint Paul says (in Romans 12:5,1; Corinthians 12:12–27; Ephesians 3:6, 4:15–16 and 5:23; Colossians 1:18 and 1:24; etc.), “The Body of Christ.” The Body is made of many members, but no individual member makes up the whole body.

We are also told by Jesus, in Scripture, that the Church (Christ’s Body) is like a vine:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1–2, RSV).

This means that those members of the Catholic Church, who are desperately trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, must allow (and even encourage) this “pruning” of the fruitless branches (members). The fruitless branches include those individuals referenced in the original question above, as well as many others. The pruning itself is done in many fashions, but the bad branches — also identified in scripture as chaff — are doomed for eternal punishment, if they do not repent:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12, RSV).

This brings up another, very important point: I should not be ashamed of being Catholic, but I certainly should feel shame about those within my Church who do shameful and despicable things. HOWEVER, I will always hope and pray for these shameful members of the Church to convert, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This hope, though, does not expect the sinner to get off without reparation to be completed.

If I break my neighbor’s window, he can forgive me if I ask his forgiveness, but I must still repay my neighbor for the damages and/or fix the window myself. This is what we call “Penance.”

So, even if Cardinal McCarrick publicly asked forgiveness for his crimes, and even went to each victim (where possible) and asked their personal forgiveness, he would still need to give reparation to those he directly harmed and scandalized through his actions. This might involve financial compensation to victims (out of his own pocket), or even other forms of reparation. It would also involve some sort of reparation to the greater society, and the Church herself, for his scandalous actions.

One of the main beauties of the Christian message is that, “God always forgives. His mercy is endless.” But, we must not assume that, because of His mercy, that God is not also just. He forgives the sinner, but also requires repayment (reparation) for the sin committed. This is the basis for the Catholic idea of Purgatory. Purgatory is a state, after death, for those who have sought genuine forgiveness of their sins, and have thus been forgiven (and are therefore guaranteed Heaven). But these persons lack sufficient reparation for said sins. This lack of reparation is an imperfection within the person. They have not totally “fixed the broken window” caused by their wrongdoing. As the book of Revelation says, “…nothing unclean shall enter [Heaven], nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood…” (Revelation 21:27, RSV), one cannot enter Heaven (even though one has been fully forgiven, and has repented) until these reparations have been completed.

This does not mean that Jesus’ sacrifice has been for nothing, or that we (in any way) are “meriting” salvation. Jesus died that we might be forgiven of our sins. He died to take away our punishment (Hell), and give us the opportunity for eternal life (Heaven). Jesus’ sacrifice has healed (and will heal) those that accept him through baptism, and who persevere to eternal life. However, Jesus’ sacrifice does not enable us to presumption of His forgiveness, and the reward of Heaven. It does not give us license to sin, and then simply ask forgiveness from God, without there being any need for us to fix the wrong we have caused by said sin.

This issue matters so much to the aforesaid question. We all know that the perpetrators of sexual abuse (especially those within the Catholic Church) may end up repenting of their grievous sins. Without this view of the necessity of reparation, it seems unjust to us that the persons who have caused such suffering could get off so easily (just by saying “I’m sorry” to God alone, before their deaths). The necessity of reparation is one salve that can heal our wounds in this crisis. Knowing that these men, who have committed such atrocities, cannot get off so easily. Sure, they can repent, ask forgiveness, be forgiven, and thus eventually end up in Heaven—BUT, they will need to go through much purgation before being allowed to enter the Heavenly bliss. They will need to make reparations to all those they have hurt, either in this life, or on the other side of the veil in Purgatory. They will not be able to enter Heaven if they do not repent, do not ask forgiveness, are not thus forgiven, and do not repair the damage that their sins have caused.

This is the beauty and majesty of the Catholic understanding of sin. In an odd way, I think that God will use these horrible crimes done by these horrible men to strengthen the Church for the future. In a paradoxical way, I think that these men will show both the judgment and (if they repent) the mercy of God. I do hope that all of those who have committed these crimes will eventually repent, ask forgiveness, be forgiven, and make full reparations to those they have wronged. I do not, and cannot, wish Hell on anyone. They can choose Hell by their actions, but I will not wish it on them.

This was a long answer to a short question, but I think that people deserve a thorough explanation of why I am not ashamed to be a Catholic, despite the actions of these terrible men. I do not claim that this answer has been written perfectly, or that it will be satisfactory to anyone. I will never defend what those men did, but I do hope that I will see them in Heaven. We must always keep in mind that each of us is one choice away from being as horrible as sexual abusers. We can judge actions as right or wrong, but we can never judge the state of a person’s soul.

Please ask questions for clarity. I am trying my best here.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

What are some questions that should be asked more often?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: 

Original Question: What are some questions that should be asked more often?

What is the nature of reality? What is being? Why do things exist? How do things exist? Does being itself exist? Does truth exist? Can the truth be found? For that matter, does any concept exist? How do we know that we know anything at all? If existing things are made up of other existing things, can anything not exist? Does existence have a beginning or end, or is it simply eternal? If it does have a beginning or end, what was before everything existed, and what will be afterwards? Being itself? Can being itself exist? Would it be that nothing exists before and after what currently exists? If it was nothing, how can nothing exist, if it is nothing? Or would it be some other concept or reality? Can we know the answers to any of these questions directly, or is our best bet to believe answers that most fit with our perceived reality?

These may seem like unanswerable questions, but they are very important for human life, and must be answered by each individual. Without an answer to these basic questions, one has no basis for any sort of morality, amorality, or really any sort of social, physical, psychological, or spiritual conjectures whatsoever. Without thinking about and answering these questions for himself, man cannot begin acting in a rational way.

Does everyone experience the glory of God eventually?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: 

Original Question: Does everyone experience the glory of God eventually?

In Catholic theology, everyone does eventually experience the glory of God. It would either be in Heaven (where the glory of God is experienced in an accepting nature, and is thus pleasing to the individual rationally, spiritually—and after the Second Coming—physically.
In Hell, however, the glory of God would still be experienced, but it will not be pleasant because the individual vehemently hates the glory of God and does not wish to accept it.

This is similar to how when one invites the embrace of another person, the embrace is accepted with pleasure, but when one does not wish to be embraced—even though the embrace is good—it is experienced as pain.

In Catholic theology, man does not get “sent” to Heaven or Hell—man chooses Heaven or Hell by his actions and interior volition. This choice is an eternal choice based upon the nature of man’s soul, the nature of God, and the idea that if that final choice was not an eternal one, then Heaven of Hell would not be eternal—being that Heaven is an eternal state of beholding the glory and goodness of God, and Hell is the eternal state of attempting to not behold that divine glory and goodness.

One’s actions in this, non-eternal life, do have eternal consequences in the next. If one lives consistently denying the goodness of God in his life all the way to the brink of death without repentance, he will inevitably deny the goodness of God in eternal life. If one lives consistently accepting the goodness of God in his life all the way to the brink of death without denial, he will graciously accept the goodness of God in eternal life.

Purgatory is another matter, and can be explained more deeply in a different question, if desired. But basically, Purgatory is not an eternal state, and will end at the Second Coming of Christ. Everyone in Purgatory will be in Heaven eventually—they just need a bit of “cleaning up” before they can do so. They will eventually experience the glory of God in Heaven.

Should we have Liturgy Wars?

Should we have Liturgy Wars? By: Parker H Zurbuch This article is a plea from one lay Catholic, who attends a normal, Novus Ordo parish in r...