Friday, 25 April 2014

Cornelius and Assisi Meeting

A statue of gigantic dimensions, imitating the crooked cross of Wojtyla (a k a John Paul II) was being erected in honour of the latter and his theology (radically opposed, perhaps, to that of triumphal crucifixes so often seen in pre-Gothic, Romance or Byzantine, Church Art) and fell over and broke and killed a young man.

When some of his relics - blood from him kept in tin foil, I think - were brought to Lourdes, it was as if water nymphs said they did not want the man of Assisi meeting and of the crooked cross there. Lourdes was flooded. Even for weeks, I think I recall. At least for days.

Dave Armstrong, however, defends Assisi meeting.

Dave Armstrong
Let's imagine asking a primitive biblical Canaanite; "which idea of God are you attributing to your idols?" What could he answer? Could he answer "ipsum esse subsistens," "esse per se et non per partecipationem"? (I don't want to say that there were not also truly pagan gnostic mythologies). We can understand biblical maledictions against idolatry, to preserve true religion among Jews. But we must believe that God also loves the Canaanites and othersunbelievers and that he also offered salvation to them.

There were no Satanists at Assisi. Obviously the acts of natural religon that can prepare for grace must be compatible with all natural law; so we must exclude sexual or magic practices etc. But in Assisi the issue was the prayer.
My Comment
If you ask FSSPX critics, certain of the Pagans were in Assisi precisely doing magic.

Now, if we get to Canaan, it is true that Paganism was worse than certain later ones.

I have been saying things like "perhaps Homer introduced a less evil Paganism, perhaps the Achaeans were not so much praying to Zeus the Kronide, but to Kronos of the crooked minds and he changed that for Zeus the Kronide" or "perhaps Hindoos behind forgetting of Flood" (attempted such, I think, since later Puranas - or Puranas I consider later than Mahabharata - talk of a flood where Vishnu previously to the Krishna Avatar was in a Fish Avatar) "perhaps Hindoos behind attempt of forgetting the flood had some excuse that all the Flood story they knew distinguished Enlil the Flood perpetrator and "god of worder" from Enki the Flood saviour and "god of wisdom" ... in other words they were moving away from clearly evil Paganisms.

But if Homer and Vyasa could have such excuses, nevertheless their overall theology was still full of errors, like making a seemingly good Zeus be, not indeed the first rebel, but still a rebel against that rebel, or like making Destruction rather than Sanctification the work of a third person of a pagan trinity concept. And so also Kabbalah while retaining the primary Hebrew tradition of the Trinity (a secret up to the Incarnation of God the Son) also taints that truth with things like the 22 or the eleven times two sephiroth. And with Antichristianity. And Homer reserves ascension of souls into Heaven for the souls of demigods or secret gods (like Hercules or Castor and Pollux or Saturn of Italy or Romulus), and Vyasa preaches an ultimate recompensation for detachment which is "beyond reward and punishment". But if these men were excused, by being before Christ and far from Israel, nevertheless, their followers today may not have such excuses.

The followers of Vyasa are usually not Christians. The followers of Homer or Plato - or rather former such - usually are. On what exact ground must we suppose that the followers of Vyasa are all and singly excused? None as far as I know.

But Canaaneans, they knew the right religion before they mostly fell away to idolatry. Rabbis will say that Melchisedec was Shem and not a Canaanean. Haydock comment calls that a foolish position. I have not checked longevity charts based on Septuagint for feasability. Now, Melchisedec had the true religion, or Abraham would have been guilty for participating in it. Melchisedec had the true religion, or King David would have been a false prophet for admitting as his Lord (and shepherds of Bethlehem adoring Him on his behalf also admitted Him as their and as David's Lord) one who was priest according to the order of Melchisedec. Melchisedec was of the true religion, or St Paul or St Barnabas (whichever of them wrote Hebrews) would have been wrong to attribute this priesthood to Christ. And yet Melchisedec was priest in Salem which was a city of the Canaanean Jebusites.

A Canaanean worshipping Ba'al would have had as much excuse for it as a previously Catholic Eichmann for - not indeed joining the Nazi party as such but for - apostasising to certain cults popular in certain Nazi circles. Such as divinisation of the Swedish king Odin.

Jebusites did not do that. And they were close enough neighbours to less decent Canaaneans. Og of Bashan was evil, but Balaam was not an idolater, perhaps. What excuse had Jericho? None, as far as I can see.
Dave Armstrong
We don't forget that God doesn't give impossible orders. If natural law orders man to be religious, we have two solutions.

  • A) God tolerates vain oservance of a lot of ignorant people, substantially not idolatrous.

  • B) God orders to be religious without giving the means to be religious.


But we cannot admit B.
My Comment
God gave the population of Jericho the means to be religious by their neighbourhood with Jebusites. God also offered them the time to repent while Joshua had gotten back the spies hid by Rahab. They stood as one man behind their King who forbade them all contact with Israelites.

Now Jericho was close shut up and fenced, for fear of the children of Israel, and no man durst go out or come in.

Sounds like Albania under Enver Hoxha. One person had no part in this iniquity. Her name was Rahab. She was spared. And her situation was pretty close to a that of a secret Christian in Albania.

Was Wojtyla alias John Paul II sure that none of those he invited to Assisi, on friendly enough terms with him, was to his own community an obstacle to the faith, like Enver Hoxha or like that King of Jericho?

Was he sure all of them were named Cornelius? How come he did not baptise all of them then? Was he sure none of them was an evil Pharao to whom he should have said "Let my people go!"

How could he be sure of such a thing?

Ordinarily, God gave each and every religion present in Assisi the means of conversion, either by Christians among them or by Christians close by them.

A pure soul will be given the means proper for his case. We cannot say beforehand that such and such a religion is the former religion of some convert saint who did some part of his or her sanctification under it and THEREFORE it is ordinarily speaking a proper means for sanctification of a non-Christian.

I can give a Hindoo (if I come across one, per internet, I am not seeking for them) the history of Mahabharata as an approximation of pre-Flood history - Moses not giving the details for what happened after Tubal-Cain's time (and it is not very probable he "remained in office" or even alive in Nod up to the Flood either) but resuming as "all flesh was corrupt" and a few things like that. But I am not giving him Bhagavad Gita as an approximation of Theology, nor "aoom" as an approximation of Amen.

Wojtyla on his part seems to have been certain God was accepting the invited Hindoo's belief in Bhagavad Gita spirituality and practise of Hindoo mantras as precisely that, and not just for some particular Hindoo, but in general for a Hindoo who has not decided to become a Christian.

God has given them the means to be religious. But they have not taken it. Not visibly so we can say they have taken it. Visibly, they have taken another road, one which we must dread as leading to perdition, and Wojtyla was inviting them to take it.
Dave Armstrong
We must not forget also that God dispenses his grace to this concrete man after original sin: and God knows the difficulties of building a natural theology.
My Comment
It is very much less easy if you deny Geocentrism. Assume earth is as still as it looks like.

For one thing this confidence in the truthfulness of the Creator is a real part of natural theology. For another thing, the mechanism behind Universe swirling around us each day and including detachable pieces (like Sun, Moon, Jupiter and so on not being glued to specific spots on the Zodiac, and even α Centauri shows some detachment by zero point 76 arc seconds between extremes), very clearly argues a might and a mind behind this order in speeds that would doom our handiworks to explosion.

One can be very sure this is not a destroyer. One can be very sure this is not first cousin of whatever spirit guides the movements of the sun (daily or around zodiac, both models are there for you). One can be very sure it is spirit, not body. Ordered and not chaotic. Awake and not dreaming.

There was a time when St Paul said of philosophers (worded as of Pagans generally, but often understood as of specifically philosophers) that they were without excuse. And of each sect, it was precisely the philosophers that were invited to Assisi.
Dave Armstrong
[Quoted St Thomas]
St Thomas on Cornelius
Objection 3. Further, when that which precedes is corrupted, that which follows is corrupted also. Now an act of faith precedes the acts of all the virtues. Therefore, since there is no act of faith in unbelievers, they can do no good work, but sin in every action of theirs.

On the contrary, It is said of Cornelius, while yet an unbeliever (Acts 10:4-31), that his alms were acceptable to God. Therefore not every action of an unbeliever is a sin, but some of his actions are good.

...

Reply to Objection 3. Unbelief does not so wholly destroy natural reason in unbelievers, but that some knowledge of the truth remains in them, whereby they are able to do deeds that are generically good. With regard, however, to Cornelius, it is to be observed that he was not an unbeliever, else his works would not have been acceptable to God, whom none can please without faith. Now he had implicit faith, as the truth of the Gospel was not yet made manifest: hence Peter was sent to him to give him fuller instruction in the faith.
My Comment
So, Cornelius, like Nathanael while reposing under the fig tree, was not quite instructed in all apsects of the faith. But he was not an unbeliever.
Quoting Bible and Haydock
1 Now *there was a certain man in Cæsarea, named Cornelius, a centurion of the band, which is called the Italian,

2 A religious man, and one that feared God, with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and praying to God always:


Ver. 1. A cohort, with the Romans, was a body of infantry 500 strong. There were ten cohorts in each legion. There were, generally speaking, two centurions appointed to the command of each cohort. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 2. A religious man, and one that feared God. He was not a Jew, yet believed in one God. --- Always, that is, frequently praying, and giving alms. In the Rheims Testament we find this note: "Hereby it appeareth, that such works as are done before justification, though they suffice not to salvation, yet are acceptable preparatives for the grace of justification, and such as move God to mercy. ... though all such preparative works come also of grace." These Douay divines did not hold with the Quenellists that a true faith, or the habit of faith, must needs be the first grace. (Witham) --- Cornelius religiously observed the law of nature, and the principal points of the Jewish moral law, though he did not profess Judaism. (Calmet) --- He was an admirable example of virtue before his knowledge of Christianity. He feared God, and brought up his family in the same holy fear. He was leader of the first band, and consequently had the eagle, the Roman ensign, carried before him. Four hundred men were under his command. (Tirinus) --- "His former goodness could no longer avail him, unless he were, by the bond of Christian society and peace, incorporated with the Church; he is therefore ordered to send unto Peter, that by him he may learn Christ, by him he may be baptized." (St. Augustine, lib. i. de bap. chap. 8.) --- Alms. Nothing is more efficacious than the alms of a man, whose hands have not been defiled by injustice. It is a clear stream, refreshing in the heat of day, and imparting verdure to every plant that is near it. It is a fountain springing to eternal life. It is a tree, whose branches reach even to heaven, and which produces its eternal fruit in abundance, when death has removed from you all that is temporal. Waste not, then, your treasures in selfish gratifications, the fruit of which is sorrow; but feed the poor, and the hungry. Plant and sow in their hands, and your produce will be great; no soil is more fertile. (St. Chrysostom, hic. hom. xxii.)
Further comment on Cornelius
So, he was to the Old Testament what Noahides are to latter day Judaism. Or what para-Christians, aconfessional, perhaps Mormons and Baptists like Kent Hovind, are to Catholic Christianity.

Anima naturaliter christiana. Kent Hovind had no help from Roman Catholic tradition when speaking of the drunkenness of Noah, and yet he greed with Haydock rather than with Calvin. But Cornelius was, to the Old Testament religion, even more than Kent Hovind is to Catholicism. Kent Hovind has a historical prejudice against Catholicism. He believes Foxe. Cornelius had no prejudice against the Temple - which was an Old Testament image of the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, why was Kent Hovind not invited to talk about where the true Church is and why were people as far from him as dedicated Jove and Apollo worshippers would have been to Cornelius invited not even to debate on where the truth is, but to pray according to their false traditions? Dave Armstrong gave an answer, but I think I have already refuted it. Will look, maybe some point I forgot ... not really for the moment, but I will deepen the answer a bit.
Dave Armstrong
[Quoted St Thomas]
St Thomas on faith of Gentiles
I answer that, As stated above (5; 1, 8), the object of faith includes, properly and directly, that thing through which man obtains beatitude. Now the mystery of Christ's Incarnation and Passion is the way by which men obtain beatitude; for it is written (Acts 4:12): "There is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." Therefore belief of some kind in the mystery of Christ's Incarnation was necessary at all times and for all persons, but this belief differed according to differences of times and persons. The reason of this is that before the state of sin, man believed, explicitly in Christ's Incarnation, in so far as it was intended for the consummation of glory, but not as it was intended to deliver man from sin by the Passion and Resurrection, since man had no foreknowledge of his future sin. He does, however, seem to have had foreknowledge of the Incarnation of Christ, from the fact that he said (Genesis 2:24): "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife," of which the Apostle says (Ephesians 5:32) that "this is a great sacrament . . . in Christ and the Church," and it is incredible that the first man was ignorant about this sacrament.

But after sin, man believed explicitly in Christ, not only as to the Incarnation, but also as to the Passion and Resurrection, whereby the human race is delivered from sin and death: for they would not, else, have foreshadowed Christ's Passion by certain sacrifices both before and after the Law, the meaning of which sacrifices was known by the learned explicitly, while the simple folk, under the veil of those sacrifices, believed them to be ordained by God in reference to Christ's coming, and thus their knowledge was covered with a veil, so to speak. And, as stated above (Question 1, Article 7), the nearer they were to Christ, the more distinct was their knowledge of Christ's mysteries.

After grace had been revealed, both learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of which we have spoken above (Question 1, Article 8). As to other minute points in reference to the articles of the Incarnation, men have been bound to believe them more or less explicitly according to each one's state and office.
Examples in ad 3
Reply to Objection 3. Many of the gentiles received revelations of Christ, as is clear from their predictions. Thus we read (Job 19:25): "I know that my Redeemer liveth." The Sibyl too foretold certain things about Christ, as Augustine states (Contra Faust. xiii, 15). Moreover, we read in the history of the Romans, that at the time of Constantine Augustus and his mother Irene a tomb was discovered, wherein lay a man on whose breast was a golden plate with the inscription: "Christ shall be born of a virgin, and in Him, I believe. O sun, during the lifetime of Irene and Constantine, thou shalt see me again" [Cf. Baron, Annal., A.D. 780. If, however, some were saved without receiving any revelation, they were not saved without faith in a Mediator, for, though they did not believe in Him explicitly, they did, nevertheless, have implicit faith through believing in Divine providence, since they believed that God would deliver mankind in whatever way was pleasing to Him, and according to the revelation of the Spirit to those who knew the truth, as stated in Job 35:11: "Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth."
My Comment
Does this sound like Hindoos or Muslims present in Assisi? No. They were not just outside the full confession of the faith as not having heard about it, they were opposed to confessing certain truths of the faith, since they had heard of these and had refused to abandon the errors opposed to them.

It sounds very much more like what Tolkien and probably the Beowulf poet believed about Beowulf: he did not know the true God, but neither did he actively worship the false gods. Nowhere in the Beowulf poem does it say he divinised such kings and royalty of Uppsala as Odin, Niord, Frey (all on King list) or Thor. Nowhere does it say he himself sacrificed to them, although he did not either actively distance himself from Heathen worship if there was such among Danes in his presence or even among his people. THAT is the kind of character of whom one can reasonably hope he has implicit faith. There is less hope for his uncle Hygelac if instead of listening to Monks in Christendom he plundered them. That is, if he is identic to Chlochilaicus. But it does not say Beowulf was part of that raid - neither in that chronicle, nor in the poem. Neither in the text about himself, nor in the text about his uncle.

Now, it is theoretically possible there are Hindoos and Muslims who do so - that is oppose themself to confessing truths of the faith, as said - because they have not heard the Gospel with ENOUGH support. Without taking sides in the Feeneyite controversy, one can say some are already justified before abandoning such and such an error. Whether or not such can remain justified if not abandoning these errors before they die.

But such justification is before the eyes of God. The Church judges about non-believers (not directly judging* unbaptised, which is why Hovind is probably no heretic in the full sense, since probably not validly baptised, but judging about - as in judging them to be outside the Church, and as judging them unfit to receive the Sacraments) according to their visible acceptance or rejection of truth. And the guests of the Assisi meeting were in that sense not judgeable as having access to Sacraments of the Church. Nor did they come, like a still unbelieving Augustine, to hear the Rhetoric of an Ambrose. In ways that could convert him. They were invited precisely as leaders of false religions.

But here I come to some substance again:
Dave Armstrong
We have now to deal bravely with a decisive issue, because HERE is the difference between Assisi and modernism, false ecumenism, panchristianism etc.

The issue is about the contents of implicit faith: any faith, more or less explicit, must have contents - more exactly, supernatural revealed contents -, otherwise it would not be faith, but human thought. According to modernists, religion is the emerging of religious feelings: for modernists, the content of this feeling is not important: a good existential outcome of this religious sentiment is sufficient. So they reason: "Are you contented or satisfied to be a Buddhist or to practice Your homemade religion? Let this sentiment emerge! If you let your religious sentiment emerge, you are a Christian, even though you are not conscious of being a Christian."

What is the difference between implicit faith, as we have learned by St.Thomas, and this modernist conception? The differences concern dispositions of the subject, and the object itself. Man knows, by natural reason, that he must pursue his utimate end; man knows this end is good, lovely; so he desires to pursue his ultimate end. Grace manages to get into this natural desire, and so this natural desire becomes supernatural; this is the psychological beginning of the act of faith. There are already important differences between the Catholic and modernist conceptions of faith.

God himself reveals the means of act of faith, the objective contents, even though this knowledge may be not completely explicit. Gods acts in two manners:

  • 1) with his natural providence; an unbeliever can admire the creation (Rom. 1:20: ever since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding of created things) and believe (but he may also not believe); or God sends a missionary to the unbeliever.

  • 2) with an immediate supernatural inspiration: we can read the autobiography of some convert, and admire their reflections. But we cannot exclude mysterious inspirations in the hearts of a lot of umbelievers: may we think that a poor primitive in Amazonia or in Asia is forgotten by God?


In both cases, a truth, a content, a supernatural - implicit or explicit - revelation, is proposed to man. A good will wants, "chooses," all these means God revealed to her.
My Comment
True enough as far as it goes.

But any concrete organised non-Christian religion contains a lot of things NOT revealed by God at all (that includes Judaism and non-Catholic Christianities).

This means that a belief in what is revealed by God in a non-Christian religion is not the same thing as believing all of it.

In the Protestant religions I left**, "the Bible is the word of God" is indeed revealed by God. Tenets such like "Albigensians were true Christians persecuted by the Catholic Church" or "the Bible has ONLY 66 books, Maccabees and Tobit are no part of it" or "the true Church is invisible, hence you must get out of the Catholic Church claiming to be a visible Church and you must do that VISIBLY in communion with our or a similar but not identic sect" are very much not revealed by God and were very much not believed by me even when I was pro forma a Protestant.

Obviously, I could not without changing my tenets for more anti-Catholic errors have become a Pastor.

And as obviously, the ones invited to Assisi were in their false religions precisely pastoral functionaries.

But here endeth my attempt to refute Dave Armstrong, and I hope readers will get on and think about it.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St Marc, Easter Octave Friday
25-IV-2014


* Judging - like condemning or forgiving or acquitting about faults those who are unbaptised, that the Church does not.

** Calvinism as denial of freewill or of Real Presence or of both is rather a Protestant religion I never believed in. Not as if I omitted profitng from such parts of my heritage, rather it was not even part of my heritage.

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