Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours — and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.”

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape letters VII

One of the oldest teachings of the church is the danger of the sin of pride.  It is listed as the first of the deadly sins.  It a sin that damned Angels and regularly damns men.

The irony and the danger of this sin is the clever ways that the Devil uses it to strike.  One of the most clever cards played is using the difference between a wrong opinion (completely not sinful) and a wrong action (very very sinful).

There are plenty of faithful catholics, who attend mass, who receive the sacraments who might, on a personal level, disagree with a particular doctrine or teaching of the church.

A great example of this came from the late Synod on the family where several Cardinals expressed their opinion that the church should consider revising the rules concerning how the church deals with divorced & remarried catholics.

By its nature a synod or a council is a place of debate and man being a thinking and reasoning creature will naturally analyze situations and come to conclusions based on experience, thus while I disagree with Cardinal Kasper’s opinion on the subject I presume that he was advancing this opinion from pure motives:

It could very well be that Cardinal Kasper and those like him truly believe relaxing the rules for communion on divorced and/or gay couples will win souls for Christ, it may be they consider such moves reforms in the best tradition of the mercy of Christ, while I strongly disagree with this foolishness I presume that’s a question of error rather than sin.

Now as long as this is expressed as part of the synod debate or given as a private personal opinion that opinion is not in itself sinful or even written as an argument that’s not a problem and that’s one of the two traps for the faithful,

In the example above PolBECath was quite correct that the Cardinal was lying concerning a recorded statement.  (If you don’t know the story you need to read this this and this).  However to call him a “heretic” is the trap that is being laid for us who strongly disagree with the Cardinal’s opinion

A “Heretic” is defined at Meriam Webster.com as:

a dissenter from established religious dogma; especially :  a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church who disavows a revealed truth

While Cardinal Kaspar’s actions concerning the Pentin matter were objectively sinful,  his opinions concerning how do deal with divorced Catholics, expressed as such, does not and will not cross over to  heresy until and unless he

1.  Disavows or defies the current teaching/doctrines of the church

2.  Uses his authority as a prince of the church to teach and encourage others to defy the current doctrine of the church.

3.  Proclaims as a prince of the church that the doctrine and teaching of the church is in error.

As long as he doesn’t cross that line not only is he not a “heretic” his opinion doesn’t even constitute a sin and thus judging him a “heretic” would be committing both the sin of calumny, the sin of “judging” and the sin of pride.

Now let’s say he crosses the line, let’s say that the church decides, as it is likely to do,  to maintain the current rules concerning communion for divorced catholics following the wise advice of the five Cardinals.  If and when this happens if Cardinal Kaspar or Cardinal Reinhard Marx or others choose to defy said teaching, they would at that point, in fact be committing the sin of heresy.

And if they did so and did not choose to repent then they would be modern versions of Luther and Henry VIII substituting their judgement for that of the Holy Spirit and the church it guides, no different that a Georgia Walker in Kansas or so-called  “Bishop” Bridget Mary Meehan.

The consequences of substituting your judgement for the church’s judgement are dire.  One of my biggest regrets was accepting advice directly contrary to the teaching of the church from a priest who gave it to me went to him with a problem.  You not only sin, you lead others into the same swamp.

But even if they do this and earn the critique or even excommunication from the church that doesn’t mean the Devil will not be setting the trap of pride for those who do not copy their errors as Christ himself warned us:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  

I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Remember these sins and errors are no different than any other, completely forgivable by sacramental confession.  Even one who is excommunicated can return to full communion with Rome (Fr. Leonard Feeney being an excellent example of this.)  The trick is, rather patting oneself on the back is to approach God with the humility of the sinners we all are.

Set as your goal to speak, write, live and pray toward the goal of salvation for ourselves and others.  In doing so we will be avoiding the Prideful traps set for us and work for the day, where as St. Pope John Paul II wrote That They May Be One.

 

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — I remember as a child sitting in my elementary school classroom as the teacher wheeled a huge cart with a little 19″ color television on it into the room.  Watching television at school?  It was a real novelty and we were all spellbound; what we watched was real time news footage of the Apollo 11 mission.  It fascinated me and made me feel very small.

When I was in college, a small group of us drove from north Louisiana to Cocoa Beach, Florida, to watch the launch of, I think the Venus Orbiter.  Looking back, I’m not sure now which launch we saw; all I really remember was watching that rocket soar off into space.  Thrilling!

Many years later, as an adult with a job, I can remember the entire office coming to a stop as we all learned the tragic fate of the Challenger.  We watched the replay on the news over, and over, and over.  It was awful.

Growing up with a fascination for the space program, but academically terrible in math and science, my space fascination has been relegated to the literary end; The Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam is a much thumbed favorite of mine and the ensuing film, October Sky, is on my DVD shelf, among other space classics.  I never got into sci-fi too much because the real thing was quite thrilling enough for me.

Like many Americans, I was heartbroken when our American space program was decimated and manned spaceflight was ended under the Obama administration.  Growing up, astronauts were heroes; we knew their names like kids today know names of athletes.  Little boys wanted to grow up to be astronauts – fly to the moon; little girls too, for that matter.

America isn’t totally out of the space program, however. Charles Fishman has penned a lovely feature for The Atlantic about the International Space Station which takes us aboard and shows us what daily life is like there, how the astronauts (and cosmonauts) adjust to life in space, and reveals a bit about their mission.  (Arms in, or out, of your sleeping bag?)  Fishman’s article made me think, too: why don’t we know the names of these astronauts:

It’s a little strange when you think about it: Just about every American ninth-grader has never lived a moment without astronauts soaring overhead, living in space. But chances are, most ninth-graders don’t know the name of a single active astronaut—many don’t even know that Americans are up there. We’ve got a permanent space colony, inaugurated a year before the setting of the iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a stunning achievement, and it’s completely ignored.

As a teacher, our tenth grade literature book has an excerpt in it about Apollo 13 and the race to save the astronauts as they battled one critical malfunction after another.  I always make it a point for my students to read that selection and when time allows we watch all or part of the film.  Inevitably they ask me if it’s a true story.  They are always, always held spellbound by the suspense, and more importantly, many are fascinated by the teamwork and the ingenuity that brought the astronauts home.

There are so many benefits that we as a society have gained from our space program, and I don’t mean just Tang and Velcro. The best part of the space program has been the inspiration and the hope for the future that it has given generations of students.  Look at Homer Hickam for just one example of that. Maybe we can look to the skies once again for examples of heroes or role models for our kids rather than overpaid thug athletes. (Apologies for the generalization – I know they aren’t all thugs).

At any rate, Mr. Fishman’s article is a lovely tribute to the space program and brings a much needed awareness to the International Space Station.  When the ISS flies overhead, for those on earth it’s a few minutes of blinking lights passing overhead in the night sky; the next time it flies over my community I will have an entirely different perspective of what might be going on up there.

H/T: Instapundit

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

We are here WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE!

Horton Hears a Who 1970

If there is one thing that’s axiomatic on Capital Hill it’s this:  If you want to get the attention of the lobbyists and the various monied interests you need to have power and influence or the prospect of shortly gaining it.

If there is one person who, media attention notwithstanding, has no prospect for power or influence anytime soon, it’s Nancy Pelosi.

With State Legislatures firmly in GOP hands an unpopular lame duck president and John Boehner GOP caucus holding a full 247 members Nancy Pelosi’s relevance on Capitol hill is practically nil.

However power is in many ways a matter of perception and this move by Nancy Pelosi is a clever if desperate attempt to claim it:

“Now that the election is over, Congressman Grimm is finally admitting the truth to his constituents,” Pelosi said in a brief statement on Tuesday morning. “Clearly, Speaker Boehner must insist that Congressman Grimm resign immediately.”

Pelosi’s “demand” has drawn snark from folks from the conservative hideout to Glenn Reynolds noting Pelosi’s hypocrisy but frankly what’s more interesting is her attempt to jump in front of a parade.

She likely figures it’s a low risk no lose move.  When Boehner and the GOP move to remove Grimm from his seat after his guilty plea she will run to the media who will gladly paint her as the person who called for this resignation while at the same time she will note the jabs over her hypocrisy, however accurate, as a sign she still matters and fundraise from a gullible base with them.

And if for some inexplicable reason the GOP doesn’t force Grimm it’s even better.  She has Grimm, convicted of Tax evasion as a club to beat the GOP with for as long as he holds his seat.

How should the GOP proceed?  Substantially if Grimm doesn’t resign on his own the House ethics committee should move to expel him.  Politically if and I should really say “when” the media asks him about Pelosi’s demands he should  say this:

“Like the voters of America I believe Nancy Pelosi’s opinions should have no bearing on how the House of Representatives operates.” 

While such an answer is not only a low-cost way to please his base but it will pay one other dividend.  Such a statement would ill will likely lead to outrage by the lefts allies in both print and television media but it will also give an opportunity for the GOP’s allies on the right to crank out story after story highlighting a truth that no amount of outrage, indignation or spin can alter.

Nancy Pelosi is completely without power on Capitol hill and is likely to remain so for the rest of her life.

The only comment about any Democrat member of the house that any Republican should give is on how little they matter.

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