Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"DO NOT BE AFRAID" ANGELS

SAINT MICHAEL TRIUMPHS OVER SATAN
The role of the angels is  most fully called to the popular mind at Christmas time. But for the committed Catholic the memory of the memory of the Annunciation nine months earlier, is refreshed and we recall the Archangel Gabriel bringing the Divine message to the Blessed Virgin. Choirs of angels sing at the Nativity to the shepherds tending the Temple sheep in the fields outside the Temple walls :

… “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.”


Later,  an angel appears to St. Joseph advising him to proceed with his marriage to Mary and to name the expected Child Jesus.
In time, an angel warns St. Joseph of Herod’s murderous intentions toward the Child and later still advises St. Joseph of Herod’s death and the possibility of a safe return from the Holy Family’s refuge in Egypt.


The modern mass media is obsessed with angels, but as usual, in a perverse way. Something is amiss – for the commercial “angels” are either chubby cherubs or glamorous (as opposed to beautiful) young women – amiss indeed (forgive the pun). For every angel in Sacred Scripture appears as a young man, brilliant in raiment, strong and truly awesome to behold, possessing immense dignity, authority and power. Far from lolling about on clouds all day, these messengers from God Most High come from Eternity into the dimension of time in the course of a specific commission from God.


Their arrival and appearance in the story of Sacred Scripture is usually the cause of great anxiety for those they visit because of their awesome and electrifying presence. Little wonder they often greet the person they visit with “Fear Not!”

We should not forget that we each have our own Guardian Angel. We have the Divine Authority of Our Lord Himself for that knowledge. God Himself has given us these Guardians, and taken the trouble to inform us of their presence and activity. Surely we must respond in prayer to our Guardians ”to whom God’s Love commits us here” and we should implore them “ever this day be at our side, to light and to guard, to rule and to guide” Amen. The presence and activity of angels is one of those factors which serve to remind us of the immense realities outside our three dimensional and temporal universe. We cannot guess at the extent or nature of those realities except as revealed, and in the work of the angels.



Until Victorian times, the representation of angels in art was always reverential, portraying their awe-inspiring presence before men, and their humble obeisance and reverence before God and their reverent respect for the Blessed Virgin. But the Victorian era - suffused with the wonders of the steam age, its mighty engineering projects and military power - relegated angels to rather saccharine portrayals – watching over little children or in mourning watch over the dead. It seems the mature Victorian Master and Mistress of the World perceived no need for angels until the encounter with Death- mastery over which still eluded them. But it did hold a morbid fascination for them. This led many of them into unchristian dalliance with would be “spiritualists”
promising contact with the next world.


Now, modern society – Masters of the Universe – (or so it seemed until the wheels fell off the international financial system’s gravy train in recent years) had long since given up the truth about angels (indeed even the concept of truth itself in many cases) for the commercial travesties previously mentioned. 


St. Peter had a little to say about those who disrespect the angels :
they “will be destroyed” (2 Peter 2 : 12). A society that does not respect the Holy Angels is putting itself gravely at risk.


Remember God’s mighty messengers and our guardians. Pray most carefully and respectfully to them. And steer well clear of those mocking commercial travesties. Remember the angels’ part in the  whole of the story of our Salvation and their special relationship to God Himself.


But never forget that no Angel has ever been privileged as we are -  to receive the Blessed Sacrament -the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ before Whom the Angels kneel in awed submission.


What a privilege we have! Truly we can never be worthy , nor even nearly so. What a generous God we serve! And what wonders await us in Heaven.




Saint Michael the Archangel Pray for us.

Monday, August 29, 2016

THANK GOD




“Thank God!” The expression still has considerable currency even among those whose lives and discernable attitudes appear very far from Him.


Yet, upon the slightest reflection, we all have very much – no – everything to thank Him for. Our life is God’s gift from the very instant of our conception through each passing moment as He sustains us –the next keystroke on this computer is his gift. The wonder of Creation is God’s gift to us – the astounding beauty of land, sea and sky and the mighty universe, the fascinating animal and plant kingdoms and the stunning variety, virtues and talents of our fellow man. The love of our families and friends and the camaraderie of our companions, all of which comfort us, are God’s gift to us.


As if all this were not enough, God offers us the gift of eternal life with Him, if only we are faithful to Him. So we need to thank God for His Revelation of Himself and His intentions for us and for the great Revelation of His Word – Our Lord Jesus Christ – and the inspired Sacred Scriptures. To aid us on our way to Him, He has given us the gift of Faith and the super-abundance of Grace conveyed by the Seven Sacraments.

Towering among all of these is the Blessed Eucharist, the greatest gift in all our lives- as we receive in our “earthen vessels” the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and become one in Him and He one in us.



 "Thank God” indeed. God who from Eternity came into our realm of time, and took flesh as a little babe in Mary’s womb, was born of that holy Virgin to become one of us, to teach us in due course about Himself, His Father and the Holy Spirit; about Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life and ultimately to suffer and then die ignominiously on the Cross, and then to rise gloriously, having offered us the same resurrection :
“I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live”. ( John 11: 23-25 )

If it were necessary after all the above, it is important to reflect on the great revealed truth that God – infinite and eternal – LOVES us, despite our frailties and faults He loves us and seeks our faithful love of Him.

“Thank God” – indeed – this is our continuing honour and privilege and profound obligation.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

BITTER AND TWISTED NOT THE WAY




"Each month Acolyte is confronted with the spectacle of the large table at which the Editor labours to produce Foundation. It is not always an edifying spectacle for those who value order. But it enables me to see the wide variety of materials considered and then selected or rejected, whether for lack of space or perhaps lack of relationship to a theme either naturally evolving or being developed in a particular issue.


I watch him striving to avoid Foundation becoming yet another vitriolic chronicle of errors such as some other newsletters have become, as well as some Internet websites. It can’t be easy, because he is so much concerned to see right done. But he says that he tries to accentuate the positive as often as possible, for the edification of his readers – to build up rather than just tear down.

During the American Civil War the renowned Confederate General Robert E. Lee said that victories as such were not important unless they denied the Union some freedom to act. He realised that the Union’s greater preponderance of forces meant that enough victories (engagements in which Confederate casualties were less than Union casualties) that left the Union forces still in place would ultimately consume the whole Confederate Army and leave a very substantial Union Army to force a Confederate surrender.


There is a loose analogy here in considering that minor percentage of Catholics strongly and actively committed to the fullness of orthodoxy in the practise of their Faith. If they become bitter and twisted ( contrary to their professed “orthodoxy”: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another”.)( Jn.13:35) even their practical effectiveness is diminished – alienating those they might have convinced. And then the field would ultimately be won by error which the vast preponderance of the faithful, uninstructed in most parishes and schools these last 40 years, will not be able to recognise. This would allow much of the Church to drift off to “South Brisbane”.


So I watch the Editor’s efforts to make an effective contribution, not merely to “score points” but in a small way to contribute to the health of the Church, to arm others to join in the effort by trying to carefully choose what to challenge & what to promote.



Robert E Lee has other lessons for us. Before the great Battle of Gettysburg, which he lost, he said on several occasions “It is all in God’s hands.” But after the defeat he rode out to meet his retreating defeated army repeatedly exclaiming “It is all my fault.” Both assertions are true and they are neatly paired in the saying that “we should act as if everything depends on us, whilst recognising that everything depends on God”. Ultimately everything depends on God, but we are the agents through whom He daily works in the ordinary course of events. So, in a very real sense “it is all (our) fault”. We must do our part diligently and constantly act to build up His Kingdom. 


Pray for the Editor that his efforts will always be in accord with God’s will.
— “Acolyte"


I have a confession to make I was both "the Editor" and "Acolyte" when I wrote that piece in the March 2009 issue of "Foundation" which has since been replaced by this Blog. The literary device was useful and I think, effective. It remains as true to-day, when different and surprising circumstances are causing some to be even more " bitter and twisted". And pray for me, that I may ever avoid becoming "bitter and twisted" like some of those with whom I strongly agree in fact. 

TONY DIXON

Saturday, August 27, 2016

THE END A TALE OF TWO MOUNTS CALVARY AND TEMPLE



             THE MOST HORRIFIC EVENT IN THE LONG HISTORY OF THE WORLD
.....                                               AND THE MOST SUBLIME.

 Fifth of August is a truly dramatic Anniversary.

1,946 Years ago on the 5th August, A.D. 70, for the very last time, the High Priests of the Jewish Religion offered the Temple sacrifice according to the Old Covenant.Their observance of this fundamental of the Law was at an end and would never be resumed.

                                  Reconstruction of the Temple at the time of Our Lord
There are two realities to be considered in these events. The Divine and the human - the one truly cosmic, the other historically traumatic.

DIVINE

The death of Our Divine Lord on the Cross on that first Good Friday was an event of transcendental importance, achieving our Salvation - should we accept it, and bringing to completion the Old Law and all that it entailed.

In his marvellously thorough account of these matters in " Jesus of Nazareth -Holy Week" Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates how, very soon after the Resurrection, the first Catholics came to understand that Jesus, the Risen Lord, is the new Temple.



                                            Temple Sacrifice in progress
    
But what was the Temple? It was the place of  meeting between man and God. And this meeting reached its climax and essential significance when the sacrificial bull was slain on the Day of Atonement. Its blood was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies - even upon the Ark of the Covenant covered by the " kapporet"( " hilasterion" in Greek - "expiation") above which the Presence of God was hovered in a cloud. The sin offering - for that is what the bull was - as Pope Benedict explains, was considered to absorb in its blood all human sins and by this sprinkling and touching the Divine via the "kapporet", it was cleansed utterly - thus achieving the Atonement for those sins.



                                       A re-construction of the Holy of Holies 
                                            showing the Ark of the Covenant

But on Mount Calvary, on that truly awesome first Good Friday, the Divine and the human were met in the Person of Jesus Christ whose Blood was poured out in the once and for all expiation of all sin -past, present and to come. The sacrifice of the Old Law was completed and it was totally superseded. Jesus Christ our God and Saviour is Himself the new Temple - the very perfection of the concept.

And He the Lord of the World had already prophesied the future of the Temple:

"Matthew is thinking here of Jesus' prophecy concerning the end of the Temple: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken . . ." (Mt 23:37–38)  Pope Benedict reminds us.


Human

Jesus had also prophesied :

"And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”(Mark 13 : 1-2)

For the intervening 37-40 years, depending on the true year of Our Lord's Birth and therefore of His Death at 33yrs of age, the Sadducees  had continued with the forms of the Temple worship. Their dedication to the cult of the Temple was complete, though now totally devoid of effect.

But what of the former disciples of Jesus Christ and the Apostles - all now the first Catholics , our ancestors in the Faith? What do we know of their attitude to the Temple? 

We know that they continued to use it as a gathering place, for there was nothing to rival it in Jerusalem for the purpose of preaching, praying and teaching the Gospel and attracting new followers of the Way. We know that even on the first Pentecost there were several thousand new converts. If these followers of the Way were to meet, they needed a large area!


But at the Temple they were not worshipping - for the Breaking of the Bread - the Holy Mass- they celebrated together in selected homes - the Sacred Mysteries were to be protected from unbelieving eyes and minds.

"46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.."(Acts 2 : 46)

But to the tramp of Roman sandals,and clatter of Roman weapons and following Roman Standards emblazoned with the masterly 

                                                    



                                            "Senatus Populusque Romanus" - 
                                        "The Senate and the Roman People",

 the Divine Prophesy was coming to terrible fulfilment.


BACKGROUND

The Province of Judea had long been a troublesome one. This people whom even God had found stiff necked, unreliable and tempestuous, proved no less so for their Roman masters. 


In 63 B.C. Pompeius Magnus ( Pompey the Great - at one time to become a rival of Julius Caesar) in the process of conquering Syria, sacked Jerusalem and entered the Temple.


Herod's Kingdom was set up as a client kingdom of Rome for a time, but in A.D. 6 Judea, combined with Samaria and Idumea, was to become a Roman Province. The region was not a great contributor to Roman tax revenue. Its essential importance was strategic. Its coastline controlled the land and sea routes to Egypt the great source of Rome's vital wheat supply. Administratively it was subsidiary to the Province of Syria and governed by a Prefect.


The history of the new Province was turbulent from the beginning. We know a great deal more about it than its importance to the Romans warrants, due to the work of the Jewish Priest General Flavius Josephus and his surprising association with the emperor Vespasian. 


Herod Agrippa was made King of the Jews by the Emperor Claudius between A.D. 41 and 44. There was no longer a Prefect, but Claudius appointed a Procurator - the Emperor's personal agent to oversee taxes and finance, and in case of need, to to take full control to keep the peace. However Herod Agrippa died in A.D. 44. The Province briefly reverted to full Roman control, but in A.D. 48 Herod's son Marcus Julius Agrippa was made King of the Jews.Then in A.D. 66, there began the Great Revolt.Like many revolts its origins were complex .Though it began in Greek - Jewish religious tensions, these were overtaken by tax protests against the Romans and led to intolerable attacks on Roman citizens in the Province.


The Roman Army plundered the Temple - and executed 6,000 Jews in Jerusalem. This action produced a full scale revolt.The Roman garrison was over-run and Roman officials fled the Province.


Seeing that the situation was getting out of control, the Roman Legate in Syria who had general supervision of the Province mobilised his forces and built up a strong army around the XII Legion "Fulminata" which had good success in restoring the situation until the rebels ambushed the Legion at Beth Horon and slaughtered 6,000 legionaries and captured the Legion's Standard - its "Eagle". This was an affront that Rome would never endure. Retribution would be inevitable and it would be terrible and final.




The rebels squabbled among themselves as they tried to govern themselves with little success. A " headstrong people" indeed.


Rome looked to Spain where the experienced and down-to-earth General Vespasian was chosen to head the forces destined to suppress the revolt and punish the grievous affront to the dignity of the Senate and the Roman People. Vespasian appointed his son Titus as his second in command. With four Legions and the Army of King Agrippa II he entered the region in A.D. 67 in Galilee. 


The rebels had concentrated their forces in  heavily- fortified Jerusalem.In Galilee he confronted, and defeated at length, the Zealot faction forces, who were opponents of the Sadducee led Jerusalem rebels. The Zealots fled toward Jerusalem and their arrival prompted factional strife in the City.Factional battles among the Jews in the City, involving thousands of soldiers, ensued over a long period. The Sadducees brought 15,000 allies into the City and the in-fighting became more desperate.  


The dissolute and insane Roman Emperor Nero was finally assassinated and Rome turned to good old solid Vespasian as her new Emperor in A.D. 69. Titus assumed control of the Judean retribution.


 In A.D. 70 Titus moved on Jerusalem itself. His forces breached the two outer walls of the City within three weeks. The noose tightened around the thicker inner wall. The siege lasted 7 months .People endeavouring to escape the City were crucified facing the City - as many as 500 a day.Historical accounts of the number of people trapped in the City vary from 600,000 (Tacitus) to 1,000,000 (Flavius Josephus).


As if to underline the tempestuous, perhaps suicidal temper of the Jewish people of the time, we find the Zealot faction squabbling was responsible for the burning of the entire food supplies of the City. They were endeavouring to induce desperate fighting on the part of those trapped inside the City! Zealots indeed!


                               The destruction of Jerusalem in progress A.D.70

Titus' forces entered the City in the Summer of A.D.70.Then Jerusalem was looted, burned and utterly destroyed - so thoroughly, that to-day's City is built upon metres of its rubble! According to Flavius Josephus 1,100,000 people died in the process of the Vespasian /Titus suppression campaign.In addition over 90,000 were 

said to have been taken off into slavery.


Even to-day when we visit Rome, we can see the Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra in the Imperial Forum and plainly visible on it are the legionaries carrying off the loot from the Temple including the seven-branched Menorah candelabrum and other items. 

The Temple itself, the former meeting place between God and man, was destroyed by fire in a horrendous scene of slaughter and pillage. Roman soldiers found it necessary to clamber over the bodies of the thousands of the dead to carry on their task of ruthless revenge.


CONCLUSION


We have seen the tale of the two Mounts - Calvary and Temple unfold. The one terrible - more terrible than anything that has happened in the long history of the world - DEICIDE. And yet sublime. 


The other, terrible in human terms, but  the dreadful punishment a cynical , unfaithful people  had drawn upon their heads in their rejection of the Mercy of God and murder of their Messiah and Saviour. :


"27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”(Luke 23 : 27-31)

    



   

Thursday, August 25, 2016

SILENCE IS NO LONGER SAFE

This Post was first published in June 2011. Certain anachronisms have been corrected.There is a powerful message for us to-day.

SAINT BASIL THE GREAT - A.D. 329 -379.  
Saint Basil would have been at home in the Post-Conciliar Church. He was no stranger to the problems that beset the Church even to-day.When he uttered the words "Silence is no longer safe", he, like so many of the early Fathers - think of St John Chrysostom - was attacked for his defence of Catholic doctrine.He shared with the others, the stress and strain of teaching, sanctifying and governing in times of great trial.  Nevertheless, he realised what Saint Augustine ( A.D. 354 -430) would later spell out so clearly,and what that the Church reminds Bishops each year in the Reading of the Liturgy of the Hours: that if they do not correct the errors of those in their charge, they are themselves guilty of their charges' errors. What a great burden to bear , especially in the modern day, when error abounds. No wonder the Church prays for Bishops each time Holy Mass is said!

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was a great student of the Early Fathers. In fact it was through that study that he came to recognise the authenticity of the Catholic Church and was converted. Blessed Cardinal Newman suffered greatly in the course of his conversion.As Cardinal George Pell has highlighted in the past, he endured ruptures with family and  friends , loss of social acceptability in the England of that time, and loss of standing, to a degree hard for us to imagine or appreciate to-day.

For the dissenters slithering about in our midst to-day, the conversion of such an Anglican luminary as Newman was, would be"ecumenically damaging"! How far some have travelled from the Truth in which we are all supposed to be one.

Blessed Cardinal Newman sought the Truth, and, led by God's Grace, his study of the Fathers made him  the forerunner of the many Protestant ministers, particularly in the United States, who have embraced the fullness of our Catholic Faith. Many of them are now vigorous and active Catholic apologists,writers and broadcasters.

The early Fathers lived in times of great turmoil and contention civilly and in the Church. They were not inclined to mince words: Saint Cyprian told one of his suffragans : "Your Diocese is a rubbish bin, and you are a fitting lid for it".That was 150 years before Saint Augustine.

Blessed Cardinal Newman would not be welcome to-day in many Australian Dioceses. He would discomfort so many of the clergy and religious - he was not "politically correct"- he used the "H" word.Yes, he actually named Heresy when he confronted it.

To-day's Heretics do not have the courage to leave the Church, but have rattled around for 30 or more years feeding off her and getting mighty sleek and arrogant  in the process.Names like Fiorenza, Thomas Groome, Richard McBrien, Karl Rahner, Schillibeecx, spring to mind. They have attempted the de-construction and destruction of the Catholic Faith and have found fertile and receptive ground in once Catholic educational institutions in the West. Blessed Cardinal Newman's incisive mind and language would have decimated them and their efforts to deny and undo the constant teaching of the Church on Sacred Scripture, the nature of the Church,the Sacraments and Contraception and Homosexuality etc.Blessed Cardinal Newman was not one for ambiguity or euphemism where Truth was at issue. He would have been their implacable foe.
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

Blessed Cardinal Newman did not of course have the benefit of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, rather , his thinking inspired inspired much of that teaching. Equally he did not have to suffer the burdensome false "spirit of the Council" - a poison which is now slowly subsiding into the mire from which it came, as so many retirements come into effect.But it leaves behind it a great deal of the intellectual detritus of the 1960s.


He referred to the Laity saving the Church.We need to remember the history of the 150 years or so that preceded his times.The French Revolution and its attacks on the Church in France, Napoleon and his attacks on the Church across Europe, the imprisonment of two holy Popes, the loss of the Papal States, the Penal Laws in Ireland : the Church was reeling under these cruel blows. There is no doubt that what he predicted did happen. After the Council,  Mass attendances soared to around 65%, most went regularly to Confession and Communion , vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life flourished.Seminaries, Monasteries and Convents were being built and expanded, and the marvellous flowering of lay activity, devotion, scholarship and piety  was matched by an immense involvement in charitable works which, in a hostile civil environment, was vigorous and effective in promoting justice and meeting the needs of the many poor. The same Laity went on to oppose the Fascist, Nazi and Communist enemies of the Church, and in each case the enemies were defeated.

The Council was the First Vatican Council! Blessed Cardinal Newman was vindicated!

He would no doubt have become ill contemplating the course of events following the Second Vatican Council! Education was always dear to his heart. To-day he would be forced to contemplate our massive Catholic Education systems in which 95% of the students do not practise their Faith, do not pray, worship and they believe.........what?

To-day it is routine to judge by outcomes : what would happen if 95% of the Graduates of the Defence Force Academy would not fight, would not salute the flag and displayed no patriotic conviction. There would be a wholesale change in management and a total reform of the system, process and procedures.

And how would he, and should we, judge the collapse in religious observance in Australia from 65% to 15% ( and less than 10% in Townsville and in New Zealand)?

 Pope Saint John Paul II
We thank God for Saint Basil and for Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. Equally, we thank God for the Pontificates of  Pope Saint John Paul II (the Great) who had been tried by fire in the tragedy of Nazi Aggression and yet again by the horrors of  effective Soviet conquest and occupation of his beloved Poland. He was a Philosopher and great teacher, a man of great holiness and strong personality, who led the Church out of the rubble of the Post-Conciliar period and into the World to confront and convert it, not to be accommodated to it; we thank Him too for our Emeritus Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI an equally holy man, a shy person and modest, who is a great theologian and clear teacher and brilliant analyst of modern day society, for all these characteristics he is greatly loved and admired and keenly supported as he works to restore Catholic identity, build Christian unity and to restore the sense of the sacred to the Sacred Liturgy at the heart of the life of the Church.


POPE BENEDICT XVI

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ENNEAGRAM DEMOLISHED

BISHOP JULIAN PORTEOUS
AUXILIARY BISHOP OF SYDNEY ARCHDIOCESE
In the years I spent working in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, in the administrative heart of the Archdiocese, I discovered a new Article of Faith . Oh not the Catholic Faith, no. But it was one fiercely held by feminist nuns and used by many in Catholic Education - you could have doubts about any Article of the Catholic Faith but NOT about the ENNEAGRAM!

In mid 2013 Bishop Julian Porteous , then Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and now Archbishop of Hobart published the following authoritative demolition of the Enneagram . We thank him for it and recommend it to anyone active in Church circles - especially in Brisbane Archdiocese, which is currently being radically overhauled by the new Archbishop Mark Coleridge.


"



The Enneagram and Catholic Spirituality


The Enneagram is claimed to have origins in the Sufi religion. However the Sufis, who are a mystical offshoot of Islam, did not develop it as it is known today. It was developed by George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, an Armenian occultist who lived in Russia from 1877 to 1947. The system was promoted by his student Piotr Ouspensky, and later by Oscar Ichazo from Chile who, in the 1960s, introduced it to the West.
It is helpful nonetheless to understand something of Sufi teaching because it does underpin the approach of the Enneagram. Sufis believe in the notion of the “Design”. This “Design” is what they consider to be God’s plan for mankind: the direction God wishes human development to take. Sufi masters claim to have access to this secret design. As Catholics we would define the Sufis as Gnostics in the sense that they believe in esoteric knowledge. They believe the “Design” is hidden underneath outward appearances which they consider to be false reality.
The Enneagram is a system of assigning a number from 1 to 9 to human personalities. Each person is assisted in identifying their particular number. This number is said to reveal the hidden motivation for everything a person does. The Enneagram is supposed to enable a person to gain knowledge of his true self, exposing the true motivations for their actions. It also help a person discover the illusions under which a person may operate. Simply put it helps a person deal with the world. The Enneagram symbol itself is a nine-sided figure.
In 2000, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops prepared a draft statement, “A Brief Report on the Origins of the Enneagram,” cautioning against its use. The document has not been published. In 2003, the Vatican released a document entitlted “Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life” which was a discussion on the dangers of New Age spirituality. It mentioned the Enneagram in its glossary. In 2004, the US Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine released “Report on the Use of the Enneagram: Can It Serve as a True Instrument of Christian Spiritual Growth?” for the conference’s internal use.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami wrote an online column titled,“New Age is Old Gnosticism” (February 10, 2011). There he described the Enneagram is a“pseudo-psychological exercise supposedly based on Eastern mysticism, [which] introduces ambiguity into the doctrine and life of the Christian faith and therefore cannot be happily used to promote growth in an authentic Christian spirituality.”
Some of the issues he raises includes the way that the Enneagram redefines sin by simply associating faults with personality types. It encourages, he says, an unhealthy self-absorption about one’s own “type,” so that the type is at fault rather than the person. This gives rise to a deterministic mindset at odds with Christian freedom.
Archbishop Wenski describes the Enneagram as fundamentally Gnostic, a form of numerology and divination of the type that the Lord forbids among the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). Unlike many personality tests, the Enneagram claims a profound, transcendent meaning, as well as a scientific one. This claim is challenged, especially when its links with Sufi spirituality are marginal.
Fr Mitch Pacwa’s 1992 book “Catholics and the New Age” is one of the best treatments on the subject. Fr Pacwa discusses his own involvement with the Enneagram, because as a spiritual director he once proposed and taught it. The more he researched it, however, the more disillusioned he became. He decided the Enneagram was a dangerous fraud. “Fitting someone into one mold or another seemed like fun,” he wrote. “…however, after incorrectly typing some friends, I eventually dropped the Enneagram from my repertoire of spiritual direction tools.”
While there are real issues of conflict with Christian teaching, there is also the question of the accuracy of enneagram teaching from the perspective of modern science. The Enneagram shares little with the methods and criteria of modern science.
The American Bishops state in their document: “An examination of the origins of enneagram teaching reveals that it does not have credibility as an instrument of scientific psychology and that the philosophical and religious ideas of its creators are out of keeping with basic elements of Christian faith on several points. Consequently, the attempt to adapt the enneagram to Christianity as a tool for personal spiritual development shows little promise of providing substantial benefit to the Christian community”.
Catholics using the Enneagram talk about things like saints and sin and faith and “fruits of the spirit” but they have very different meanings from those commonly accepted by the Catholic tradition. For example, the word “saint” is used in the Sufi religion: a Sufi “saint” (“wali”) is a person who is illuminated. Thus, a “saint” is a person who overcomes his false self and knows and acts according to his true self. It has nothing to do with holiness and relationship with God.
The “fruits of the spirit” is also used in “Catholic” presentations of the Enneagram. These have nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. In the Enneagram, the fruits of the spirit are good inclinations a person gets according to his number in the Enneagram. Prayer is talked about as part of the Enneagram, but their definition of prayer has nothing to do with God: prayer is absorbing elements from the environment into oneself, or projecting oneself into the environment, or delving into Nothingness.
Taking words from the Catholic tradition and changing their meanings can give things the outward appearance of being Catholic and Catholics can be lulled into the belief that it is consistent with the Catholic faith. It is in this area that the Enneagram is particularly dangerous. It can easily become a path that leads to a loss of faith.
The Enneagram has no place in Catholic spirituality and should not be promoted in Catholic circles."

Monday, August 22, 2016

INFESTATION MUSIC IN CHURCH


                                                   AUSTRALIAN GUMTREES

Though they lack the rich greenery of European and North American trees, the ever present gumtrees of Australia have a certain quiet dignity about them and at times they soar to absolutely majestic heights and are without doubt beautiful.Yet, even in their great dignity, they are very frequently infested by a plant which I believe is called mistletoe (obviously not the Christmas wreath variety). The infestation is not so obvious at a distance, since the mistletoe itself looks like a part of the gum leaves. But the closer one gets, the more the alien nature of the beard-like and gumtree like, infestation becomes .

Over the last 40 years or so, the music of the Catholic Church's worship has been similarly afflicted by a mutiplicity of infestations.

Prior to that time, the Church had a strong and coherent body of Music for use in Liturgy.At its core lay Gregorian Chant and in the next rank Polyphony and in the third rank a strong body of universally known popular hymnody. Gregorian Chant and Polyphony both set to music the prayers of the Sacred Liturgy and Sacred Scripture and were thus beyond reproach as far as content was concerned. The popular hymns were truly universally known  and regularly sung. They were reverent, and encouraged devotion, whilst frequently teaching in the best Catholic tradition. They were without exception orthodox in content, strictly religious and never a cause of scandal.

And then..... Along came the false "spirit of the Council".It was the 1960's : Guitars were everywhere in Pop Music which was largely Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues and a strong body of Folk Music.





                                                                 MARTY HAUGEN

Of course the "spirit of the Council" required that "worship music" be brought up to date - after all we had to "engage with the culture" and "appeal to the young people". It was not uncommon to see a Priest with a Guitar over his Chasuble! Suddenly an industry sprung up - " Worship Music" and of course it began tumbling out of the United States in a torrent. It was a "natural" for American culture : entertainment and reality(even sacred reality) blurred, many Religious pondering leaving their Orders developed new " worship music" careers in churning out this  material before leaving Religious Life. And leave they did in several popular cases, in the company of their boyfriends and even girlfriends.

 It was a sorry spectacle, but sorrier still was the material they left behind them. Some of the operators of that period seem still to be around. And we even have some home grown Australian cobblers of the same  rubbish. They have found particularly lucrative connections in many of the Nation's " Catholic" Education Offices . And their whining, syrupy,politically correct but theologically illiterate songs are force fed into little children at the dreaded " childrens' liturgies" around the country. Equally sad is the number of Parishes still held in thrall by the 1960s flotsam, the tide has receded but the vile residue litters the ecclesial shore.


We really need an environmental campaign to ensure "sustainable Catholicism". Among the first steps required would be the eradication of this alien infestation of the Church's music.


Here we encounter two significant problems. Charity  and arrogant incumbency. In most Parishes and Schools we find a Music "Elite" - self-selected and carefully and relentlessly self-entrenched for decades. You know the type of Parish - it is like entering a 1960's time warp  These are serious cases of " Arrested Development". Once the ever self-satisfied incumbent has found a position of influence she ( very regularly the case) or he ( in the occasional variation on the theme)  surrounds herself/himself with subservient followers ( however they might grumble) . Frequently the Clergy are either reluctant to intervene lest they provoke a walkout and are left with nothing, or they fear causing an uncharitable ruckuss .




                                                       MICHAEL MANGAN AND SOME VICTIMS OF 
                                                      CATHOLIC EDUCATION'S MUSIC PROBLEMS

What is the background problem here?


For thirty five years or so since the post- Conciliar "Churchquake" there has been no effective and systematic teaching from the Pulpit about ANYTHING in most parishes. Homilies have been dumbed down to inoffensive " warm and fuzzies" . Little wonder no one has a clue about the real purpose of Music in the Sacred Liturgy or what might be wrong theologically about a song that is entitled " Come as you are" for example, or any concept of the Sense of the Sacred.


It is going to be a long hard battle to restore proper Catholic Music to its rightful place in many Parishes.  And it is a battle that will never be totally won - as in military defence where it is said eternal vigilance is the price of freedom - it will be always necessary for Bishops firstly and then Clergy to ensure that proper resources are made available and used , in the first instance.


Some years ago the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference began work on a new Hymnal for the Australian Church since it was widely recognised that the horrible " Gather Australia" mess , which had been produced by the Archdiocese of Melbourne of all places - given its honoured history in Australian Catholic Church music - needed replacing at the first opportunity. The Hymnal has recently appeared after some thirteen years.But I have not heard any more of it since publication.


But at just that point Bishops could begin to have a positive influence. Then again they could also concern themselves to examine just what is being done in their own Catholic Education Office structures and other Pastoral bureaucracies with regard to Music and intervene where necessary with firmness to ensure the flotsam is cleaned out and authentic Catholic Music restored.


Then the same Bishops should require their Parishes to implement a re-education process for Parish Music operatives with mandatory minimum outcomes.The approach should be both idealistic and pragmatic - aiming high with the minimum outcomes and forbidding certain low levels of performance.


It is way past time for the "acceptance of Form and ignoring of Substance"to continue in our expectations of Parish standards. Whilst it is true that much of Australia's Government Administration and Government compelled Industry have settled for such farces as " Quality Control" - for which read form over substance - we cannot afford such shams where the transmission of the Faith and the Salvation of souls are concerned.