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The Gospels

mystical-city-godSource: The Mystical City of God: Life of the Virgin Mother of God, Manifested to Sister Mary of Jesus of Agreda, 1602-1666, (Rome City, IN, 1912) , vol 4 The Coronation,  pdf at www.themostholyrosary.com/mystical-city.htm

In 42 AD, during the First Council in Jerusalem, the writing of the Gospels was planned.

They were written as follows: Matthew 42 AD; Mark 46 AD; Luke 48 AD; John 58 AD

Here is how Mary explained it to Mary of Agreda.

p.482-7 The Lord made known to Her that the time for beginning to write the holy Gospels had arrived and that She should make her arrangements for this purpose as the Mistress and Instructress of the Church. But in her profound humility and discretion She obtained the consent of the Lord, that this should be attended to by saint Peter, his vicar and the head of the Church; and that he should be specially assisted by divine enlightenment for a matter of such importance. All this was granted by the Most High ; and when the Apostles met in the council mentioned by saint Luke in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, after they had settled the doubts about circumcision, as I described in the sixth chapter, saint Peter proposed to them all the necessity of recording in writing the mysteries of the life of Christ our Savior and Teacher, so that they might be preached to all the faithful in the Church without variation or difference, thus doing away with the old Law and establish the new.


Larchet Therapeutique des maladies spirituelles

Book review by Isabel Massey

Therapeutique des maladies spirituelles

by Jean-Claude Larchet

In the summer of 2007, Fu Jen International Religious Studies opened its first issue with an article by Joseph W. Ciarrocchi of Maryland, USA entitled "The Social Aspects of Healing: Interpersonal and Spiritual Correlates of Health".  Here we see the very modern, yet very ancient, view of the complex human person: 'mind, body and soul' and concern for healing.  So this review is addressed to Ciarrocchi, and to everyone who shares this fundamental interest.

In Europe at this time, there is great interest in the whole person, body, soul and spirit as well as the vital relationship of the person to the Holy Spirit.  In Paris, the Dominican Press, Cerf, suddently discovered Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet and began publishing his work.  About eighteen books have been published in the last eighteen years or so.  Jean-Clause Larchet, Doctor in Theology and Philosophy, studied the whole tradition of the oriental Fathers, culminating is St Maximus the Confessor and St Gregory Palamas.  But undoubtedly, his major work is Therapeutic des malaies spirituelles (Therapy for spiritual maladies), now in its fifth edition in French, 2007.

In the opening chapter, Larchet sets his goal, "to show the importance of the 'medical image' of christ".  He quotes Vladimir Lossky, "If Christ appeared as a doctor and the salvation He brought as a cure (of souls and bodies), it is because humanity was ill."  The purpose of he spiritual life is the assimilation of this healing.  This takes training and effort.  It is the life-style of the Christian.  hence the chapter "Christ the Physician" is at the core of the book. (pp.287-309).

This book is organized in six parts.  Part One is entitled "Original Health and the origin of Illnesses".  Part Two reads "Disease-classification and Pathogenesis of the Spiritual Maladies, the 'Passions'." here Larchet sets forth the deep generic illnesses that have beset us from the dawn of time, right to the present day: self-love (even including bulimia and anorexia), the misuse of he gastronomical organs, the cult of sexual pleasure without love, money-loving and covetousness, sadness, inertia (today called 'depression' or melancholy), fear/wrath, vainglory and arrogance.  These are seen as maladies injurious to the health of the soul/psyche and spirit, and injurious to everyone's goal of 'divinization' in health and wholeness.  The third part "General Conditions for Therapy", the fourth "Setting to Work at Therapy", and the fifth "Therapy of the 'Passions' and the Acquisition of the Virtues" delineate the various elements in the process of healing.  The Eastern Fathers hold that the virtues simply constitute the normal and natural state of a person, and the passions are their contraries, tumultuous or simply vacuous. Askesis or 'practice' is shown to be a process of maturing, 'which causes man to pass from a state of infancy to the adult state, perfect and true, realizing the fullness of christ". (p.441)

In the sixth part, Larchet offers a description of Health Recovered, a therapy that is progressive.  Man re-orients towards God, and normalcy (virtue) is grdually recovered; knowledge and contemplation bring their enrichment; spiritual health becomes evident, and is reflected throughout the whole person.  Ultimately, man is 'divinized'.  This is the culmination of the Christian journey.

Thus Larchet has done a great service to the modern world in so thoroughly reviving this long-forgotten therapy, which reaches beyond our moralism, rationalism, mundane utilitarianism and restrictive attitudes.  With his thorough grasp of the terminology of the early Greek Fathers, Larchet has brought forward their comprehensive knowledge of the human complex and the healing dynamic.  Throughout the whole book, he offers the reader solid assurance by quoting directly from one Greek Father after another (and offering exact footnotes).  Thus we are presented with a thorough therapeutic tradition.  In Orthodoxy, this has long been viewed as the restoration of the primordial health man had in Paradise.  It is the heritage of all Christianity and of all humanity.

The great tradition of the spiritual Fathers is quietly evident throughout this book.  This is a whole-person-experiental tradition, spiritual fatherhood and motherhood at its best and deepest.  This is the context for the best and deepest healing in the quest for metamorphosis.  First comes the will to be healed.  Then the process is at once personal and social (inexorably interwoven), starting with the Baptismal seed, and developing through a multifaceted Sacramental life (pp.311-336).  The social aspect includes drawing upon the experience of all our ancestors-in-faith from Abraham and Moses onwards.  We are born of our history, and it contributes to our development.  Healing towards wholeness continues in the context of faith and prayer.  The metamorphosis culminates as we become "partakers of the Divine Nature" (II Peter 1:4).

Larches dedicates one chapter to "The role of the Spiritual Father" (pp.469-485).  here we have a vital strand of the Christina tradition, highly developed by the early Oriental Fathers, but well-nigh lost today.  How can there be therapy without therapists - spiritual therapists who know and appreciate this heritage?

Published in Fu-Jen International Religious Studies, Vol.3, No 1, (N.Summer 2009), pp.163-168.


Capitalism - Good, Bad or Indifferent

Paul Tomory

The answer to this question depends on exactly what one means by capitalism.

Most discussions of capitalism generate more confusion than light, simply because the meaning of this term is left undefined.

There are at least three meanings of this word that should be understood if one wishes to make sense of the teaching of the Catholic Church.  Each of these three definitions is substantially different from the other two.  Additional definitions are also possible, but will not be considered here in order to avoid undue complication.

The three definitions of capitalism are as follows:

That economic regime in which are provided by different people the capital and labour jointly needed for production.

Centesimus Annus #100

An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, and by prices, production, and distribution of goods that are determined mainly in a free market.


The economic system that exists in the U.S.A.

The third definition is strictly from popular usage.  We sometimes hear the expression that the United States is a capitalist country. So, in the popular imagination, capitalism is whatever economic system exists there.

The second definition is a sort of idealized system, which does not really exist anywhere in a pure form.  The Church does not and never has had a problem with capitalism as per this definition.  Pope John Paul II made this clear when he asked rhetorically in Centesimus Annus No. 42 about the appropriateness of capitalism and gave this reply:

“The answer is obviously complex.  If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”.  But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

The first definition, strangely unfamiliar, makes a great deal of sense when analyzed in the context of the Church’s social doctrine.

The term “capitalism” emerged in the nineteenth century from the upheaval wrought by the industrial revolution.  Almost from the beginning, this term elicited powerful reactions both for and against capitalism.  The Church perceived the need to address the situation to give guidance to the faithful, but first it was essential to determine exactly what was being considered.

Capitalism per definition 2 was nothing new; it had always existed in some form.  What was new? Why this new nomenclature?  In the end, the popes decided that what was new was the massive dichotomy between ownership and labour.  In the preceding medieval guild system, where the owner of a business was also the master craftsman of the enterprise, such a huge division did not exist.

In the new “capitalist” system, the owner of the enterprise almost never did any of the actual manual labour involved in the production of goods.  He employed others to do that.

So this was the new thing, the “res nova” of capitalism.  But what was the Church to make of this new development?  Based on some terrible abuses, it would have been easy to condemn it.  However, the Church, as always, analysed the phenomenon carefully, reasoning from first principles.

The popes did not see an intrinsic disorder in capitalism per definition one, although they were keenly aware of the abuses perpetrated by many early capitalists.  Socialism also appeared and presented itself as a solution to these abuses.

Socialism, the idea that the state should own all property and thus control all economic activity, was unequivocally condemned by the Church.

In “Rerum Novarum”, the first great social encyclical, in paragraphs no.11 and no.12, Pope Leo XIII put it this way:

“The Socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and introducing the providence of the State, act against natural justice, and threaten the very existence of family life.

And such interference is not only unjust, but is quite certain to harass and disturb all classes of citizens, and to subject them to odious and intolerable slavery.  It would open the door to envy, to evil speaking and to quarreling; the sources of wealth would themselves run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality of which so much is said would, in reality, be the leveling down of all to the same condition of misery and dishonor.

Thus it is clear that the main tenet of Socialism, the community of goods, must be utterly rejected; for it would injure those whom it is intended to benefit, it would be contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and it would introduce confusion, and disorder into the commonwealth.  Our first and most fundamental principle, therefore, when We undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property.”

Thus, socialism, which was born as a reaction to the excesses of the early capitalists, was judged to be intrinsically disordered.  The Church’s position in this matter has never changed.

It is a curious fact that some modern commentators accuse the Church of moving toward socialism.  Such is not the case.

In opposing radical capitalism, meaning thereby the absolute predominance of capital, Pope John Paul II, in Centesimus Annus No. 35, clarifies that:

“In the struggle against such a system, what is being proposed as an alternative is not the socialist system, which in fact turns out to be State capitalism, but rather a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation.  Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.”

Capitalism, on the other hand, while not condemned, was not given blanket approval.  While capitalism was not judged to be intrinsically disordered, it is safe to say that the popes were not fully at ease with it.  They warned repeatedly of an ever-present danger in capitalism, the danger of using people as a resource in production, undifferentiated from the material means of production.

Reasoning from the intrinsic dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of God, they made it very plain that a human being could never become a means to an end, but was always the end which is to be served by all the material means.

If, therefore, profit became the paramount end of any enterprise, and people became merely a means to achieve this end, a morally disordered situation would exist.  The popes recognized that this was not necessarily the situation in capitalism as they defined it, but merely a danger lurking in the shadows.

If we consider now definition 3, capitalism, that is, as it exists in the U.S.A. (or Canada for that matter) how are we to judge it in the light of the Church’s teaching?

The defenders of North American capitalism are evidently uncomfortable with some of the social doctrine pronouncement from the Church.  One often reads of accusations that the Church is soft on socialism, for instance.  This assertion that the Church is moving toward socialism seems to be based on two misunderstood realities.

The first is the role of government.  The Church teaches that government has the right and duty to regulate economic activity, for the benefit of all.  Some, on the right wing end of the political spectrum, can’t seem to be able to get past the word “government” and cry “socialism”.  Socialism is not the same as government overview of economic activity.  The two are as different as night and day.

The second is the Church’s insistence that economic activity must be socialized.  Again, this does not mean, or even imply, socialism.  What this insistence means is that economic activity must be directed toward the common good, not merely for the benefit of some.

The real question is this: to what extent has North American capitalism succumbed to the temptation to use people as a means to another end, namely, money?  When we consider this question, we must not think only of employees, but also customers and suppliers, who are also human beings.  Different people may well come up with different answers to this question, but one thing is clear, there are certainly many questionable elements in the picture.

What, for instance, are we to think about false or misleading advertising, the only aim of which is to get people to buy?  What are we to think of products or services which are useless or even harmful to the consumer?  In Centesimus Annus No. 36, Pope John Paul II offers this elaboration:

“To call for an existence which is qualitatively more satisfying is of itself legitimate, but one cannot fail to draw attention to the new responsibilities and dangers connected with this phase of history.  The manner in which new needs arise and are defined is always marked by a more or less appropriate concept of man and of his true good.  A given culture reveals its overall understanding of life through the choices it makes in production and consumption.  It is here that the phenomenon of consumerism arises.  In singling out new needs and new means to meet them, one must be guided by a comprehensive picture of man which respects all the dimensions of his being and which subordinates his material and instinctive dimensions to his interior and spiritual ones.  If, on the contrary, a direct appeal is made to his instincts – while ignoring in various ways the reality of the person as intelligent and free – then consumer attitudes and life-styles can be created which are objectively improper and often damaging to his physical and spiritual health.  Of itself, an economic system does not possess criteria for correctly distinguishing new and higher forms of satisfying human needs from artificial new needs which hinder the formation of a mature personality.  Thus a great deal of educational and cultural work is urgently needed, including the education of consumers in the responsible use of their power of choice, the formation of a strong sense of responsibility among producers and among people in the mass media in particular, as well as the necessary intervention by public authorities.

A striking example of artificial consumption contrary to the health and dignity of the human person, and certainly not easy to control, is the use of drugs.  Widespread drug use is a sign of a serious malfunction in the social system; it also implies a materialistic and, in a certain sense, destructive “reading” of human needs.  In this way the innovative capacity of a free economy is brought to a one-sided and inadequate conclusion.  Drugs, as well as pornography, and other forms of consumerism which exploit the frailty of the weak, tend to fill the resulting spiritual void.

It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards “having” rather than “being”, and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself.  It is therefore necessary to create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.”

The Church teaches that all human beings are morally accountable.  There really is no such thing as an impersonal marketplace in which there is not moral accountability.  The marketplace is made up of a myriad of interacting human beings, each and every one of whom is personally responsible for all of his actions.

North American capitalism obviously presents a very ambiguous picture, when viewed in this light.

By way of summary, we could say that:

Capitalism per definition 3 is a very ambivalent thing, lacking an internal moral regulator.

Capitalism per definition 2 is a somewhat idealized concept, but which bears the approval of the Church.

Capitalism per definition 1 is intrinsically not disordered, but prone to abuse.

Is capitalism good, bad or indifferent?  That depends on the precise meaning attributed to that word.

Per definition one, it is indifferent.

Per definition two, it is good

Per definition three, it is flawed.

The Church has given us the principles upon which we are called to build a better new order, which Pope John Paul the Great has called the civilization of love.

In the economic sphere, this task belongs properly to the Catholic laity as Vatican II has made clear.  We do not yet have an economic order worthy of this new civilization, but some of its elements are already visible.

Surely the time is ripe to get to work.

Fr. John Harvey, RIP

On Monday, December 27, 2010, the feast of St. John the Apostle, Father
John Harvey, O.F.S.F., the founder of Courage, passed away at about 3pm.
According to his religious superior, Father Harvey had taken a fall in his
retirement home and had been taken to the hospital.

Father Harvey was a long-time member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
and received our FCS Founders Award in 2010.

The wake will be on Friday December 31, 2010 from 9:30am to 11:00am,
immediately followed by the funeral Mass.
DeSales Oblate Community, 1120 Blue Ball Road, Childs MD 21916

Please remember the good Father Harvey in your prayers, as well as the many
people with whom he worked in Courage and EnCourage!

Fr Joseph Koterski, S.J.
President, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars

Editorial for issue Winter-Spring 2009

Better late than never, it is said, but with this issue of the Journal, we have at least not lost ground in our attempt to meet the promise of our publication schedule.  We already have some articles set up and others under review for a Summer-Fall 2009 issue, that we hope can be printed before Christmas.

Members of the Fellowship are looking forward to the 2010 Annual Conference Meeting of hte Canadian Chapter, to be held on Saturday, 16 October at the Loretto College Residence in oronto.  It appears to be an excellent program, which we hope will yield a number of papers that the Journal can circulate to a wider audience.

In this issue, we have included two papers presented at the 2009 Conference.  Dr. John Howarth, an Evangelical scholar, discusses similarities or "parallelisms" between early Christianity and the faith of the Jewish community at Qumran, suggested by evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Dr. Donald Graham applies the process of "scrutiny" or spiritual and intellectual self-examination to the challenges posed to Catholic scholars by contemporary culture and our place within it.

Dr. Ryan Topping examines the role of The Catechism of the Catholic Church  in efforts to renew Catholic culture and emphasizes the importance of Christological understanding in the proper orientation of that renewal.  Finally, Professor Christopher Zakrewski ffes an analysis and translation of a selection from the iconic national epic, Pan Tadeusz, by Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz.  Again, the Journal has brought together a wide variety of stimulating essays on a range of topics reflecting the richness of Catholic culture.

More than ever, catholic and oher Christian scholars need to get to know one another and their work better, explore possibilities of collaboration and dialogue, and provide mutual intellectual and moral support in an academic culture increasingly hostile or indifferent to "faith seeking understanding".  That is certainly one of the goals of this Journal, and we hope that you will contribute to our efforts by offering some of the fruits of your scholarship to the Journal and encouragiung others, especially younger scholars, to do so.

Robert Nicholas Berard, PhD

President of the Canadian chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars


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