Monday, April 25, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI and Eucharistic Adoration: A Response to the Libel of the Holy Father by the Lapsed Catholic Controversialist, John Bugay, and Others.

"I am Myles Falworth, a Knight of the Bath by grace of his Majesty King Henry IV and by his creation, and do come hither to defend my challenge upon the body of William Bushy Brookhurst, Earl of Alban, proclaiming him an unknightly knight and a false and perjured liar, in that he hath accused Gilbert Reginald, Lord Falworth, of treason against our beloved Lord, his Majesty the King, and may God defend the right!" From Men of Iron by Howard Pyle.

[April 26, 2011.  Please note:  I have revised this article to remove some language that was uncharitable to James Swan, James White, Steven Hays, Turretinfan and David King. It was unfair of me to paint them with a broad brush-particularly when such is an exercise in fallacious argumentation-which the reader knows I abhor and have commented on several times here.  Over at his blog, Mr. Swan was correct for calling me to account for saying what I said about him and about "Calvinist" apologists in general when my focus should have been kept on the remarks of Mr. Bugay.  As I said there, and as I will here-I apologize to all of the aforementioned gentlemen for the over-generalization.]

[April 26, 2011:  Second update:  Mr. Bugay has proffered the following apology to his readers in reference to the quote in question:

To all: I am going to close down this thread. This discussion has gone on long enough here, and I am not interested to discuss it any further.

To our readers: I am genuinely sorry for having used a quotation out of context. There is a lot of fact-checking that needs to be done to maintain the integrity of a blog like this one, the purpose of which is to basically hold accountable to the truth, the various historical accounts that are disseminated in the name of religion.

I found a quote that had particular meaning for me, given the state of my devotional life as a Roman Catholic. That it had personal resonance with me should not have prevented me from doing my actual homework and, as James Swan has reminded me, exegeting that quotation in context. I failed to do that in this case, and to our readers, I am sorry, first of all for lowering the high standards that this blog maintains, and for allowing an opening through which this kind of ruckus was able to ensue.

If you ever see that quotation from me, or any other controversial quotation, Lord willing, it will be in the context of a highly thorough understanding of the text that I am relating.

As I had done with a previous thread where particular text appeared (it appeared once in my posting, and at another place in another comment thread), I'll leave this thread up another 24 hours or so for civil comments, and then I'll take it down.

Unlike Mr. Bugay, I do not intend on taking this post down as the alleged Ratzinger quote has been used by others to attack Pope Benedict XVI's authority and I want this to be available as a resource for those who wish to challenge such attacks.  However, given Mr. Bugay's general reply above to my objections here, I would ask that the reader NOT to comment or make any criticism against Mr. Bugay or the folks over at Beggars All.  As I related in my earlier post about Mr. Fan's pseudonymity, as Christians we should try to deal with the content of what our opponents write rather than attack the individuals themselves.   

After Mr. Bugay took down his thread, I followed the example of my friend Dave Armstrong in a similar incident and re-worked this post to remove two paragraphs I highlighted in blue that were more rhetorical argumentation than factual presentation as well as some adjectives to tone down the overall tenor of the article.

I appreciate  your consideration in this matter.

God bless all!]

Unlike Myles Falworth, I am not a knight or even a worthy thane. In truth, I am a humble laborer who has pledged his poor talents in service of Christ and the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church He founded. Nevertheless, regardless of my lack of title and paucity of ability, I could not allow Mr. Bugay, a fallen-away Catholic who now haunts cyberspace at a Reformed Protestant website known as Beggars All, to get away with defaming Christ's vicar, Pope Benedict XVI, in a manner that is demonstrably erroneous and based on extraordinarily nonexistent research. This article is my response to Mr. Bugay's false restatement of an old disproven claim against Pope Benedict XVI. I will note at this point that the article has been edited to add material that Mr. Bugay, himself, has provided in a subsequent comment as he revealed the “source” for the mis-quote that he proffered on his website. I will also note that Mr. Bugay decided to delete the comment where he first published the false statement against Pope Benedict XVI. I chose not to do likewise as I wanted this post to serve as a future rejoinder to Protestants who may chose in the future to publish the same quote as well as disobedient Catholics called sedevacantists who have used the same quote to malign Pope Benedict XVI.

The comment which Mr. Bugay made was made in the comment section to an article posted by James Swans entitled Sungenis Alone. Mr. Bugay writes in pertinent part:

James, in this post, Sungenis seems to illustrate the same sense of betrayal that I felt while leaving Rome.

I grew up thinking that "the Church" was the place to meet Christ. To have a direct, personal encounter with Him. It was not uncommon, in those days when I was seeking Him, for me to go to a dark, empty church and pray.

To me, a Ratzinger quote like the one that I posted here the other day, was an absolute betrayal:

"Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church must not be thought of as a conversation with God. This would assume that God was present there locally and in a confined way. To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God. This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to Church on the grounds that one can visit God who is present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects."

This quote that apparently is the cause of Mr. Bugay's disillusionment with the Catholic Church is supposedly from a book that Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 1966 called Sakramentale Begründung christlicher Existenz (The sacramental basis for Christian living) 1966, Kyrios Publishing, Freising-Meitingen (Germany). The work, written decades before Pope Benedict XVI ever became pope, has never been fully translated into English. Since Mr. Bugay does not identify the book in his comment nor indicate how and when he would have read it, one must be skeptical as to how an orphan quote from an obscure book could create a sense of betrayal that Mr. Bugay expressed in his comment.

As for the book from which the quote was supposedly lifted, the text consists of a speech the then Father Ratzinger gave at the Salzburg Hochschulwoche in 1965 to seminarians in which he presented for consideration a new approach to the reality of the sacraments and the central significance to a world that has lost touch with the sacramental dimension of Christian living. The notes of the speech were then put into order and published. The book itself was reviewed by a censor who granted it an imprimatur which indicates that the reviewer did not find in it anything contrary to the rule of faith of the Catholic Church.

Preliminarily, Mr. Bugay’s quote is one that has circulated for years, mostly on certain sedevacantist’s (self-styled heretics who label themselves as “sedevacantist Catholics” who do not believe that Vatican II is a valid ecumenical council or that the Church has not had a valid pope since Pope Pius XII) websites. However, Mr. Bugay claims that he first saw it on the website of Mr. Sungenis, the subject of Mr. Swan’s article. Even if that is true, one must wonder why he did not bother to link to it in the first place, or provide the level of detail that Mr. Sungenis provides such as the date of the original book and its English translation or the fact that Mr. Sungenis indicated in his article that the alleged quote was an opinion that was never reiterated in any other of the former Fr. Ratzinger’s works.

Further, several other issues must be considered in examining the text quoted above. Since Mr. Bugay's referenced quote is in English and since the work in question has never been published in English, the quote must be someone's translation. Mr. Bugay does not suggest how he attempted to verify the accuracy of quote. If Mr. Bugay “googled” the quote, he would have seen it quoted exactly as it appears in Mr. Sungenis’ article by a large number of sedevacantists. For example, here and here. It is obvious that Mr. Bugay has never actually read the work in question since there is no English translation of it. Moreover, he fails to corroborate the content of the quote against any other of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings. I would have thought he would have been more wary of advancing this notion particularly without verifying the facts. After all, haven’t other frequenters of the Beggars All coterie made sport of popular Catholic apologists, such as Steve Ray and Dave Armstrong, for using alleged quotes of Fr. Luther and St. Athanasius with far more reliable pedigree than the one used by Mr. Bugay without first obtaining ad fontes verification? Will we soon see articles written by Mr. Swan, James White, Steve Hays, David King, and Turretinfan chiding Mr. Bugay for his lack of scholarship?

Enough rhetoric. Now time for some facts. Here is an alternate dynamic translation of what Pope Benedict XVI wrote all those years ago:

"Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church is indeed a conversation with God. However one must not assume that God was present there only locally and in a confined way. To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God. This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to Church on the ground that one can visit God who is considered to be only present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects."

Here is a more literal German-English translation of the last chapter (Chapter IV) of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger's Sakramentale Begründung christlicher Existenz found on yet another sedevacantist website which actually seems to be a bit more accurate as best I am able to tell. I will indicate that unlike Mr. Bugay, I did show the translation and the original pages to someone who is fluent in German (in fact is from the same town as Pope Benedict XVI) and I was advised that it seemed accurate enough. The pages of Fr. Ratzinger's text from which the translation is made can be found here: cover image, and pp. 24-25, and pp. 26-27, in case anyone wishes to take a stab at it themselves:

            IV. The Meaning of the Sacraments Today

Perhaps the reflections up to this point have been a bit arduous. This couldn't be any different, since the objective was to clear away the rubbish of prejudices [biases] that divides us men of today from those insights whose incarnate expression are the Christian sacraments. It would not be difficult anymore now to pursue the meaning of the individual sacraments and thereby to flesh out [substantiate] the general [generic] insights to which the previous reflections have led us. Let us dispense with it [i.e. with this pursuit] in order once again to clarify in summary fashion what narrowing of perspective divides the man of today - that is, us - from the sacraments and what the Christian seeks, in truth, when he celebrates his divine service in the form of the reception of the sacraments, that is, in the manner of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the attitude of today's average mentality that is alien to the sacraments rests on a twofold anthropological error that has sunk deep into the general consciousness due to the preconditions of our time (that is, due to the shape of history that has received us previously). There still operates, for the time being, the idealist misjudgment of human nature, which came to its highest excess with Fichte, as though every man were an autonomous spirit which builds itself up completely by its own decision and is entirely the product of its own resolutions [decisions] - nothing but [the] will and freedom which does not tolerate anything that is not spiritual but forms [fashions] itself completely in itself. Put mildly, Fichte's creative Ego rests on a confusion of man and God, and the equation [identification] of both, which he carries out in actuality, is a quite consistent expression of his start-point and certainly, at the same time, its categorical condemnation, for man is not God: in order to know that, one basically only has to be human oneself. As absurd as this idealism is in the end, it is still deeply rooted in the European consciousness (at least in the German consciousness). When Bultmann says that spirit cannot be nourished by matter and thereby thinks the sacramental principle to be finished, in the end the same naïve idea of man's spiritual autonomy is still at work. It is actually somewhat strange that especially in this period, which thinks it has rediscovered the bodilyness [in-the-flesh-ness] of man, which thinks it knows again that man can only be spirit in the manner of bodilyness, a spiritual metaphysic continues to have an effect, or even just gains its strength altogether, which is based on [which rests on] a negation of these relations. To be fair, we will certainly have to admit that Christian metaphysics had absorbed too strong a dose of Greek idealism long before Fichte and thereby prepared this misunderstanding considerably. It [i.e., Christian metaphysics], too, already considered human souls to be abundantly atomized, forming in history-less freedom; thus it could barely explain the very historically-determined testimonies [statements/messages] of the Christian faith regarding original sin and redemption; the sacraments, which are the expression of the historical interweaving of men, became the soul-nourishment for the individual spirit which stands for itself [probably: subsisting individual spirit], and then of course one can indeed wonder why God does not choose an easier way in order to, as spirit, encounter the spirit of man and give him his grace. If it were only a matter of the individual soul, as individual, being addressed by her God and receiving graces, then it could indeed not be understood what should be the meaning of the involvement of the Church and the material media [means] of the sacraments in this most intimate, completely internal, and spiritual process. If, however, there is no autonomy of the human spirit, if he is not an unconnected spiritual atom, but, as man, only lives bodily, with-others, and historically, then the question must be asked entirely differently. Then his relationship with God, if it is to be a human relationship with God, must be just as man happens to be: bodily, with-others, historical. Or it is not. The error of anti-sacramental idealism consists in wanting to make man into a pure spirit before God. Instead of a man, there has only remained a specter which does not exist, and a religiosity which wanted to build upon such foundations has built on deceptive sand.

In a strange manner, the Idealistic heresy (if this is what we wish to call it) is today connected with the Marxist one, about which Heidegger brilliantly said that materialism does not at all consist in interpreting all being as matter, but that it assesses all matter as the mere material [matter] of human labor. The actual core of the heresy is indeed foremostly here, in the anthropological extension of the ontological basis: in the reduction of man to [the status of] homo faber, who does not interact with things in themselves but only regards them as functions of his labor, whose functionary he himself has become. With this the perspective of symbolism and man's ability to have a view for the eternal is destroyed, he is incarcerated in his world of labor, and his only hope is that future generations will be able to have more convenient conditions of labor than him, if he has sufficiently struggled to have such conditions created. A truly paltry consolation for an existence that has become miserably tight!

With these perspectives we have automatically returned to the starting point of our reflections. What in fact -- in this manner we can now ask again -- does the man do who celebrates the divine service of the Church, the sacraments of Jesus Christ? He does not abandon himself to the naive idea that God, the Omnipresent One, lives only at this place in space which is designated by the tabernacle in the church. This would already contradict the most superficial understanding of the dogmatic statement content [i.e. the content of the dogmatic statement], because the species of the Eucharist is not the presence of God in general [i.e. God as such] but the presence of the man Jesus Christ, which refers to [i.e. points to] the horizontal historically-bound character of the divine encounter of man. He who goes to church and celebrates her sacraments does not do so, either, if he understands everything correctly, because he thinks the spiritual God is in need of material [i.e. physical] media in order to touch the spirit of man. He does so, rather, because he knows that as man he can only encounter God in a human way; but in a human way means: in the form of fellow-man-ship [i.e. human consideration; being a neighbor to others], of incarnation, of historicity. And he does so because he knows that as man he cannot himself direct when God has to show Himself to him, that he is, rather, the recipient, who is dependent upon the given and not-to-be-produced-at-one's-own-authority power, which represents the sign of God's sovereign freedom, who determines the manner of his presence for himself.

No doubt: Our piety is here often a little superficial [has often proceeded a little superficially] and has given occasion for some misunderstanding. In this respect the critical question of modern consciousness will be able to challenge a salutary purification in the self-understanding of the Faith. It may suffice to cite an example, in the end, by which the crisis becomes especially obvious and by which the point [i.e. reason] for the purification, which is necessary, can once more, by summary, come to light. Eucharistic adoration or quiet visiting in church can, reasonably, not simply be thought of as conversation with the God who is thought present in a locally-circumscriptive manner. Statements such as "God dwells here" and conversation with the locally-thought God based on such [thinking] express a mistake [misjudgment] of the christological event as well as the idea of God, which necessarily repels the thinking man who knows about the omnipresence of God. If one were to justify going to church on the grounds that one must visit the God who is present only there, this would indeed be a justification which would make no sense and would rightfully be rejected by modern man. Eucharistic adoration is in truth related to the Lord, who, through his historical life and suffering, has become "bread" for us, that is, who through his Incarnation and abandonment unto death has become the one who is open for us [the for-us-open-one]. Such praying, then, refers to the historical mystery of Jesus Christ, to the history of God with man, which [i.e. the history] approaches us in the sacrament. And it refers to the mystery of the Church: By referring to the history of God with men, it refers to the entire "Body of Christ," to the communion of the believing, in which and through which God comes to us. Thus praying in church and in closeness to the eucharistic sacrament is [i.e. means] a subsumption of our relation [relationship] to God into the mystery of the church as the concrete place where God meets us. And this is, after all, the point of our going to church anyway: the subsumption of myself into the history of God with man, in which exclusively I as man have my true human existence and which exclusively, for this reason, also opens up to me the true extent [i.e. range] of my meeting with God's eternal love. For this love does not merely look for an isolated Spirit which (as we have already said) would only be a specter in relation to the reality of man, but man entirely, in the body of his historicity, and it [i.e. the love] gives him, in the holy signs of the sacraments, [the] security of divine response, in which the open question of being human reaches its goal and finds its fulfillment. (Emphasis Added).

Me: I would humbly submit that there is nothing heretical or even contumacious to the Catholic understanding of the Real Presence in the Eucharist in either of these latter two translations. Mr. Bugay is free to try to disabuse me of this contention.

Now lest the reader thinks that I am perhaps misrepresenting Pope Benedict XVI's thought pertaining to the Real Presence or Eucharistic Adoration, I offer the following additional quotes culled from his extensive corpus of theological expression on the subject:

"In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering." Pope Benedict XVI --from an address to priests in Poland, May 25, 2006


Thanks be to God that after the Council, after a period in which the sense of Eucharistic Adoration was somewhat lacking, the joy of this adoration was reborn everywhere in the Church, as we saw and heard at the Synod on the Eucharist. Of course, the conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy enabled us to discover to the full the riches of the Eucharist in which the Lord's testament is accomplished: he gives himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to him.

"We have now rediscovered, however, that without adoration as an act consequent to Communion received, this centre which the Lord gave to us, that is, the possibility of celebrating his sacrifice and thus of entering into a sacramental, almost corporeal, communion with him, loses its depth as well as its human richness.

"Adoration means entering the depths of our hearts in communion with the Lord, who makes himself bodily present in the Eucharist. In the monstrance, he always entrusts himself to us and asks us to be united with his Presence, with his risen Body." Pope Benedict XVI on Eucharistic Adoration - from his meeting with members of the Roman clergy, March 2, 2006

Here is a lengthy quote from Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 Post -Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis:

            The intrinsic relationship between celebration and adoration

66. One of the most moving moments of the Synod came when we gathered in Saint Peter's Basilica, together with a great number of the faithful, for eucharistic adoration. In this act of prayer, and not just in words, the assembly of Bishops wanted to point out the intrinsic relationship between eucharistic celebration and eucharistic adoration. A growing appreciation of this significant aspect of the Church's faith has been an important part of our experience in the years following the liturgical renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council. During the early phases of the reform, the inherent relationship between Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was not always perceived with sufficient clarity. For example, an objection that was widespread at the time argued that the eucharistic bread was given to us not to be looked at, but to be eaten. In the light of the Church's experience of prayer, however, this was seen to be a false dichotomy. As Saint Augustine put it: "nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit; peccemus non adorando -- no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it." In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church's supreme act of adoration. Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with Him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself. Indeed, "only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature. And it is precisely this personal encounter with the Lord that then strengthens the social mission contained in the Eucharist, which seeks to break down not only the walls that separate the Lord and ourselves, but also and especially the walls that separate us from one another."

            The practice of eucharistic adoration

67. With the Synod Assembly, therefore, I heartily recommend to the Church's pastors and to the People of God the practice of eucharistic adoration, both individually and in community. Great benefit would ensue from a suitable catechesis explaining the importance of this act of worship, which enables the faithful to experience the liturgical celebration more fully and more fruitfully. Wherever possible, it would be appropriate, especially in densely populated areas, to set aside specific churches or oratories for perpetual adoration. I also recommend that, in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before his presence in the Eucharist.

Here I would like to express appreciation and support for all those Institutes of Consecrated Life whose members dedicate a significant amount of time to eucharistic adoration. In this way they give us an example of lives shaped by the Lord's real presence. I would also like to encourage those associations of the faithful and confraternities specifically devoted to eucharistic adoration; they serve as a leaven of contemplation for the whole Church and a summons to individuals and communities to place Christ at the center of their lives.

            Forms of eucharistic devotion

68. The personal relationship which the individual believer establishes with Jesus present in the Eucharist constantly points beyond itself to the whole communion of the Church and nourishes a fuller sense of membership in the Body of Christ. For this reason, besides encouraging individual believers to make time for personal prayer before the Sacrament of the Altar, I feel obliged to urge parishes and other church groups to set aside times for collective adoration. Naturally, already existing forms of eucharistic piety retain their full value. I am thinking, for example, of processions with the Blessed Sacrament, especially the traditional procession on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Forty Hours devotion, local, national and international Eucharistic Congresses, and other similar initiatives. If suitably updated and adapted to local circumstances, these forms of devotion are still worthy of being practiced today. (endnotes redacted)

Most recently, His Holiness offered the following to be considered on the matter of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration:

Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, March 13, 2009

In the Plenary Session you have reflected on the Mystery of the Eucharist and, in particular, on the theme of Eucharistic adoration. I know well that, following the publication of the Instruction "Eucharisticum mysterium" of 25 May 1967 and the promulgation, on 21 June 1973, of the Document "De sacra communione et cultu mysterii eucharistici extra Missam", the insistence on the theme of the Eucharist as the inexhaustible source of holiness has been a concern of the first priority for the dicastery.

I have therefore willingly accepted the proposal that the Plenary Session occupy itself with the subject of Eucharistic adoration, in the confidence that a renewed collegial reflection on this practice could contribute to make clear, within the limits of competence of the Congregation, the liturgical and pastoral means with which the Church of our times can promote the faith in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist and ensure to the celebration of Mass throughout the dimension of adoration. I stressed this aspect in the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, in which I gathered the fruits of the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod, held in October 2005. In it, highlighting the importance of the intrinsic relationship between celebration and adoration of the Eucharist (cf. no. 66), I quoted the teaching of Saint Augustine: "Nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit; peccemus non adorando" [NLM translation: "No one eat this flesh, if he has not adored it before; for we sin if we do not adore."] (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 98, 9: CCL 39, 1385). The Synod Fathers have not failed to express concern about a certain confusion generated, after the II Vatican Council, about the relationship between Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 66). In this was echoed what my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had already expressed about the deviations that have sometimes contaminated the post-conciliar liturgical renewal, revealing "a very reductive understanding of the Eucharistic Mystery" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 10 ).

The Second Vatican Council emphasized the unique role that the Eucharistic Mystery has in the life of the faithful (Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 48-54, 56). As Pope Paul VI has repeatedly affirmed: "the Eucharist is a very great mystery, even properly, as the Sacred Liturgy says, the mystery of faith" (Mysterium fidei, no. 15). The Eucharist is indeed at the very origins of the Church (cf. John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 21) and is the source of grace, constituting an incomparable opportunity for both the sanctification of humanity in Christ and for the glorification of God. In this sense, on the one hand , all the Church's activities are ordered towards the mystery of the Eucharist (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 10; Lumen gentium, no. 11; Presbyterorum ordinis, no. 5; Sacramentum caritatis, no. 17), and, on the other hand, it is in virtue of the Eucharist that "the Church continually lives and grows" (Lumen gentium, no. 26). Our task is to appreciate the invaluable treasure of this ineffable mystery of faith "both in the celebration of the Mass itself and in the worship of the sacred species, which are preserved after Mass to extend the grace of the Sacrifice" (Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, no. 3, lit. g). The doctrine of the transubstantiation of bread and wine and of the Real Presence are truths of the Faith already evident in Scripture itself, and then confirmed by the Fathers of the Church. Pope Paul VI, in this regard, recalled that "not only has the Catholic Church always taught, but also lived the faith in the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, always adoring with latreutic worship, which is only due to God, so great a Sacrament" (Mysterium Fidei, no. 56; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1378).

It is worth recalling in this regard, the various meanings which the word "adoration" has in Greek and in Latin. The Greek word proskýnesis indicates the gesture of submission, the acknowledgment of God as our true measure, the norm of which we accept to follow. The Latin word ad-oratio, however, denotes the physical contact, the kiss, the embrace, which is implicit in the idea of love [NLM note: the root here is "os", mouth; the ancient oriental gesture of greeting a ruler, translated into Latin as "adoratio", involved touching the right hand to the mouth]. The aspect of submission foresees a relationship of union, because he to whom we submit is Love. Indeed, in the Eucharist adoration must become union: union with the living Lord and then with his Mystical Body. As I told the young people on the plain of Marienfeld, in Cologne, during the Holy Mass on the occasion of the XX World Youth Day, on August 2005: " God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant measure of the world." (Insegnamenti, vol. I, 2005, pp. 457 f.). In this perspective, I reminded the young people that in the Eucharist one lives the "first fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life; this brings other transformations in its wake. Bread and wine become his Body and Blood. But the transformation must not stop there; on the contrary, the process of transformation must hee fully begin. The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we ourselves will be transformed in our turn."(ibid., p. 457).

My predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter "Spiritus et Sponsa", on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Sacred Liturgy, urged to take the necessary steps to deepen the experience of renewal. This is important also with respect to the subject of Eucharistic adoration. Such a deepening will be possible only through an increased knowledge of the mystery in full fidelity to sacred Tradition and increasing the liturgical life within our communities (cf. Spiritus et Sponsa, nos. 6-7). In this regard, I appreciate in particular that the Plenary Session has occupied itself with the subject of educating the entire People of God in the Faith, with special attention to the seminarians, to promote the growth in a spirit of true Eucharistic adoration. St. Thomas, in fact, explains: "That in this sacrament is present the true Body and the true Blood of Christ cannot be learned with the senses, but by faith alone, which is based on the authority of God" (Summa theologiæ, III, 75, 1; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1381).

We are living the days of Holy Lent, which is not only a journey of more intense spiritual apprenticeship, but also an effective preparation to better celebrate Holy Easter. Recalling three penitential practices very dear to biblical and Christian tradition - prayer, almsgiving, fasting -, let us encourage each other to rediscover and live with renewed fervor fasting not only as an ascetic practice, but also as preparation for the Eucharist and as a spiritual weapon to fight against any eventual inordinate attachment to ourselves. May this intense period of liturgical life help us to remove everything which distracts the mind and to intensify what nourishes the soul, opening it to the love of God and neighbor. With these sentiments, I express already now to all of you my best wishes for the coming Feast of Easter, and while I thank you for the work you have done in this Plenary Session, as well as for all the work of the Congregation, I impart to each of you with affection my Blessing.

And finally, in the book, God is Near Us: The Eucharist is the Heart of Life (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger actually comments on the passage used by Mr. Bugay on page 91 in a footnote. Here is the entire passage in context:

"But against that could then rightly be voiced the objection that is always to be heard: I can just as well pray in the forest, in the freedom of nature. Certainly, anyone can. But if it were only a matter of that, then the initiative in prayer would lie entirely with us; then God would be a mental hypothesis—whether he answers, whether he can answer or wants to, would remain open. The Eucharist means, God has answered: The Eucharist is God as an answer, as an answering presence. Now the initiative no longer lies with us, in the God-man relationship, but with him, and it now becomes really serious. That is why, in the sphere of eucharistic adoration, prayer attains a new level; now it is two-way, and so now it really is a serious business. Indeed, it is now not just two-way, but all-inclusive: whenever we pray in the eucharistic presence, we are never alone. Then the whole of the Church, which celebrates the Eucharist, is praying with us. Then we are praying within the sphere of God's gracious hearing, because we are praying within the sphere of death and resurrection, that is, where the real petition in all our petitions has been heard: the petition for the victory over death; the petition for the love that is stronger than death. (Fn. 11)"

Footnote 11 states:

I had already tried to expound the same basic idea in the little bookletSakramentale Begründung christlicher Existenz [The sacramental basis of Christian living] (Friesing, 1966), pp.26f. The text, giving a mere outline, was written before the development of the dispute about the Eucharist in the years since the Council and had in the meantime given rise to the misapprehension that I intended thereby to deny the Real Presence and to oppose adoration. I hope that the exposition given here will leave no room for this misunderstanding.

I hope that the evidence I have offered here leaves no room for misunderstanding as to Pope Benedict XVI's affirmation of the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence and the adoration that one may rightly give to it. I believe that I have worthily discharged my obligations in challenging Bugay's error and accordingly I rest my case. May God always defend the right against those such as Mr. Bugay, and incidently Mr. Sungenis if he is going to use such quotes against the Pope or the Church to advance his personal agenda.  (Given the context in which the quote occurred and how Mr. Sungenis has used in subsequent postings, I am not suggesting that Mr. Sungenis contends that Pope Benedict XVI is not the pope, rather, I am only faulting him for using a quote that was not verified for accuracy.)

I hope and pray that all have a blessed Easter holiday. All praise, honor and glory to Our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Update April 25, 2011:

Mr. Bugay removed the comment containing the quote rather than apologize for repeating it. I have preserved the relevant portion of the comment here for posterity’s sake. As one will see below, Mr. Bugay offers as a defense of posting the quote without first checking its accuracy that because Mr. Sungenis holds himself out as a Catholic, he is "on my side" and that excuses his personal lack of scholarship. Perhaps that might work if he had proffered such attribution in the first place or Mr. Sungenis’ additional comments as well which provides some perspective to the matter. But Mr. Bugay did not.

Here is my response to some comments he made when I pointed his mis-quoting Pope Benedict XVI:

Mr. Bugay:

You wrote: "Then your "Just in case" blog article is also premature."

I respond: I am not the one who posted something without giving it attribution. The fact that Mr. Sungenis posted something without attribution is reprehensible as well. I will state that Mr. Sungenis also stated that this sort of statement was never "reiterated", something you left out of your positing.

You wrote: "Ratzinger has taught many things over the years, and it should not be in question that in his early years, he was a liberal. This is not in question."

I respond: Well the problem is that you cited to the work as if it were a present authoritative expression claiming that it was a "betrayal" of Church doctrine. Your sophistry is no less an attempt to obfuscate that.

You wrote: "What should alarm you is the ease with which he slipped into a more "conservative" posture."

I respond: Again, more obfuscation. Whether he is a liberal or conservative is of no import to me. The issue is whether he taught anything that is contrary to the teachings of the Church itself-a question you have not yet answered. You claim that Pope Benedict XVI "betrayed" the teachings of the Church. I have challenged your assertion.

You write: "Why are you concerned with alleged inconsistencies in what I write? I am a mere blogger. Ratzinger is your pope now. Do you accept everything unreservedly that he has said?"

I answer: I am not alleging "inconsistency"; I am contending that you posted a comment that was defamatory. Further, you are not posting as a mere blogger. You are posting as a Christian blogger and as an apologist. That suggests that you should be adhering to some sort of standard of truthfulness. Furthermore, you are posting on this website which holds itself out as persuasive resource on behalf of Reformed theology and as an opponent to the "Roman" Catholic Church. So you are anything but "mere".

As for whether I accept what Pope Benedict XVI teaches unreservedly, my assent to Catholic teaching is not a blind or implicit faith but a question of willing obedience. There are mechanisms for examining and questioning one's teachings of an authoritative figure, whether he be a priest or a pontiff. My allegiance to the Church requires me to do so within the parameters of the Rule of Faith. If I was so unreservedly accepting of what the Pope teaches as a part of the ordinary magisterium, I would not have taken the time to investigation and write the article questioning your mis-quoting something he wrote as a young man decades ago. The question is why are you so willing to accept without investigation a quote that he supposedly made in 1966? What does that say about the notion of "private judgment"? And given the fact that you were wrong here about what Pope Benedict XVI has held and taught since before he was elected as pope, why should anyone accept as truthful anything you write unreservedly?

You wrote: "I did not "create" a misapprehension. I may have sought to perpetuate an "apprehension" that many have, including Sungenis, who is on your side."

I respond: Perpetrating a misapprehension here is creating one here since you posted here. Repeating a lie doesn't make the statement any less of a lie, does it?

You wrote: "And I prefaced my comment by saying that such a thing would have offended me back in the days when I was Roman Catholic."

I respond: So what? Reconcile your statement above with Romans 1:32.

You wrote: "That it has not been translated into English [in any official way -- there are more extensive translations] -- does not remove the potentially caustic nature of what he said."

I respond: Do please link us to one a more extensive translation. I would like to see how such differs from what he has taught since 2001.

You wrote: "One might well ask, why do they not translate this work into English, as readily as they have translated some other works? Are they trying to hide something?"

I respond: Why have not Protestants translated everything Fr. Luther or John Calvin wrote into English? What do you folks have to hide?

You wrote: "I'll ask further, why is it so hard to find an index in a Ratzinger book? Is someone trying to cover his paper trail?"

I respond: My goodness! Why not look to your own house first and work on providing attribution for your quotes rather than speculate about why some works of a particular author provides an index for your personal ease? The fact that Fr. Ratzinger took the time to publish the text of a speech he had given is suggestive that he has nothing to hide at all. Why didn't Marin Luther or John Calvin publish everything they wrote with an index in English? For that matter, how come you don't publish an index with everything you post here?

You wrote: "At any rate, I'm preparing a much more thorough treatment of all of this."

I respond: I look forward to seeing the lengths you will go avoid apologizing to your readers for posting something that was not true. God bless!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

"A Fallible Collection of Infallible Books" by Jamie Donald

(This article was written by my friend, Jamie Donald, who graciously gave me permission to post it here.  Please enjoy!)

A Fallible Collection of Infallible Books

This description of the Canon of Scripture, used by our Protestant brothers and sisters, has always left me somewhat perplexed. Rather than expound on my own understanding of the phrase, I'd like to turn to a blog article by James Swan on this topic. What James wrote a couple of months ago at Sproul: "The Bible is a fallible collection of infallible books" vastly improved my understanding of this description.

James notes that this phrase comes from RC Sproul (who possibly got it from John Gerstner). Swan does not believe that the "fallible" clause means the Church did actually err when consolidating various writings into the Canon, only that the Church was not provided the special protection from error (which we call "infallibility"). He summarizes Gerstner's thoughts as, It is one thing to say that the church could have erred; it is another thing to say that the church did err. (emphasis added) Thus, Swan believes that the early church was used by God and "got it right" (to use a popular phrase I've seen with some Protestant e-pologists).

Perhaps an analogy is in order. Since we're in March Madness, I'll use a basketball analogy. Imagine that it's the closing seconds of the game and your team is down by one point. The coach calls a time out and outlines a play for his team. They only have time for this single play. They must score to win and advance in the tournament. The coach knows his star player will be double teamed, so he directs the ball be passed to whomever is free. When the opposing team shifts to cover the ball, that will free up the star and the ball is to be passed to him. The star will go in for the easy lay-up, scoring 2 points at the buzzer, winning the game.

The ball gets in-bounded to a guard. But instead of passing to the star, the guard sees that he's still free – it takes the other team some time to adjust their coverage. So he takes the shot from 3-point range. Everyone is on edge as they watch the ball – on a low percentage shot – not the sure thing of a lay-up – sails through the air. The ball goes through; "nothing but net' and your team wins the game.

The next day, the coach calls the guard into his office. He says, "I don't know if I should congratulate you as a hero, or bench you for the next game in the tourney. You didn't follow my orders!" The guard replies, "But Coach, I won the game for us!" The coach presses his point, "You could have missed!" And the guard answers, "But I didn't."

Just as the guard could have missed the shot in the game, the early Church could have "missed" on the Canon of Scripture. But they didn't miss. That is Swan's point. The Church wasn't protected from missing, but in history managed to get the right answer.

Swan notes that the Church plays a role in the Canon, but not as the author. He writes, I recognize the Christian Church received the Canon. It does not though, create the Canon, or stand above the Canon. (emphasis added) In this respect, the Church is to receive the Scriptures as a gift from God. When receiving a gift, it is the giver, not the recipient, who guarantees the quality of the gift. For example, if I give my wife a present for her birthday or our anniversary; if the gift is cheesy, that is my fault – not my wife's. Likewise, if she unwraps it and excitedly declares, "It's perfect!" the high quality of the gift was my doing, not hers. Hers is to appreciate the quality of the gift. The Scriptures are God's gift to us, His Church; and there is nothing we do (nor can do) which influences or causes the perfection, the inerrancy, of the Word.

Finally, Swan bolsters his point on a fallible Church by noting that the first century Christians and late pre-Christ Jews had received the Old Testament without an infallible source to declare that the writings were in fact the correct ones. If these ancients could know the Word of God without the charism of infallibility, then so can modern Christians.

At this point, I will let the reader review my summary and balance it against Swan's article to determine if I am correctly discerning his viewpoint.

In offering a critique of Swan's article, I would first note that there is much in it with which I think Catholics can agree. Read paragraphs 104, 105, 106, 136 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and you will see that the Church receives the Scriptures, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the church herself. (emphasis added) Indeed, they are a gift to the Church and their unique nature of inerrancy is based on the giver, God Himself.

However, the role of the Church in the process of discovering the Canon of Scripture is something more than simply an occurrence in history that ended up "right." Where the basketball game had an objective standard to determine whether the player was a hero or not – the ball either did or did not go through the hoop, there is no objective standard by which to measure a writing as "scripture" or "not scripture." Without a standard against which he can measure, how does Swan proclaim the Protestant canon as the early Church got it right, while proclaiming that the Catholic canon (with the deuterocanonicals), the Coptic canon, or even Marcion's canon are "wrong"?

Let's look at this prospect another way. Tradition plays an important (although non binding) role in Protestant understanding of what should be considered, or not considered, an apostolic teaching. Tradition (with a small "t") informs and provides background to their understanding and interpretation of the Bible, where the New Testament contains all the writings which are "apostolic teaching." For example, Lutherans look at various Scriptural passages along with their traditional interpretive lens and conclude that baptismal regeneration is an apostolic teaching. However, since the Lutheran tradition – their interpretive lens – is not binding, they consider Swan to be a brother in Christ even though the tradition of his confession disagrees with baptismal regeneration and supports that disagreement with Scriptural references.

Please note that the purpose is not to get into a discussion about baptismal regeneration, nor to show that there are differences in interpretation amongst various traditions. The purpose is to try to highlight that tradition informs the interpretation of the Scriptures as to what is and is not an apostolic teaching, yet that same tradition is not binding in the Protestant paradigm.

But one of the qualities used by the Church to determine what is and is not Scripture is apostolicity. So when the very question about the canon is "is this writing apostolic teaching or not?" one can't determine the answer by looking at the writing itself. There must be some external measure. What it boils down to is that each group, Protestant, Catholic, Coptic, Marcion, etc, proclaim what they believe to have received as Scripture. To say that in the process worked out in history, the early Church got it "right" is to say that you believe your tradition.

Now it would be unfair and inaccurate to say that Swan thinks along the lines, "The Canon is what it is because I (or my denomination) says it is." He provides a reason for why he thinks the early Church correctly identified the Canon. He writes, The Church was used by God to provide a widespread knowledge of the Canon. The Holy Spirit had worked among the early Christian Church in providing them with the books of the New Testament. Not only does the Church receive the Scriptures as a gift from God, but God also ensures that the Church provides to the world the knowledge of the [correct] Scriptures. Swan is certain to tell us that it is God's work, not the Church's, which gets the Canon correct. As a Catholic, I can agree with much, if not all of this thought process.

But in this particular thought, Swan ends up proving the Catholic case! Let us return to the analogy of me giving a gift to my wife. If I have hidden the gift in a room, then tell her "warmer" as she gets closer to the hiding spot and "colder" as she moves away from it, she will find the gift. Under my guidance, she would be assured of finding the gift. It becomes impossible for her to not find it, or to "get it wrong." Again, Swan wrote, The Holy Spirit had worked among the early Christian Church in providing them with the books of the New Testament. (bolded to emphasize the entire sentence) The early Church was prevented from "getting it wrong" by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's work in her.

That is the definition of infallibility in the lexicon of the Catholic Church. Infallibility, the assurance of not "getting it wrong" is often confused with inerrancy, the charism of definitely getting it correct. For example, with the topic of crime, a person's silence does not teach that crime is proper. Thus, it is not necessarily "wrong." But speaking out against crime would be the "correct" action. Infallibility does not ensure the latter action. Inerrancy does. It follows then that anything that has the quality of inerrancy would also be infallible, but being infallible does not guarantee inerrancy. The Scriptures themselves, handed on from God, with God as their author, are inerrant. The Church's discovery of the Canon is infallible, but not inerrant.

That the Church infallibly discovered the Canon, the gift from God to her, does not mean that she create[s] the Canon, or stand[s] above the Canon as Swan says. But as the Catechism (86) quotes Dei Verbum, the Church is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. (emphasis added) Just as Swan believes that God gives the Scriptures to the Church and guides her in discovering them, Catholics believe the same. The difference is that Catholics acknowledge that God does not fail in what He sets out to accomplish. Therefore, if God uses the Church to provide a widespread knowledge of the Canon, then a failure of the Church would mean that God failed. And that cannot happen.

Swan's final point, written as, The Old Testament believer 50 years before Christ was born had a canon of Scripture, this despite the ruling from an infallible authority, is a position stating that the Old Testament was set and known without an infallible organization. It is also an assertion of his conclusion (begging the question fallacy). The fallacy is not immediately apparent until after one understands what Swan means by the "Old Testament." What Swan considers as Old Testament Scriptures does not match what Catholics nor Orthodox consider to be the Old Testament.

The Protestant Old Testament is basically the Masoretic Text (as translated into various languages of the world) with its "table of contents" set in the Jewish school set up after the destruction of the Temple. This school was set up in Jamnia and established a Jewish canon of the Old Testament which did not include the deuterocanonicals. This ruling came circa 90 AD – well into the Christian era. This is the canon to which Swan refers when he says "Old Testament."

However, history shows that there were more than one version of the Old Testament at the time. Most people are aware of the Septuagint, the Greek-language version of the Old Testament that was used by faithful Jews in the Diaspora. The archaeological findings at Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls) show that many of the books of the Old Testament found there do indeed match the Masoretic Text. Many also match the Septuagint. What is not widely known is that many of the scrolls found match neither the Masoretic Text nor the Septuagint, but are of a third, previously unknown, version of the Old Testament.

However, assuming that the Masoretic Text is somehow the official Old Testament of the period (a best case scenario for Swan), there still exist difficulties which Swan must assume are absent. First, one must understand what the Masoretic Text actually is. It is more than just the Hebrew language, or original language, version of the Old Testament. When the Old Testament was written, it was written with consonants only. The vowels were left out. The Masoretic Text contains notes which essentially fill in the vowels by giving the words a pronunciation.

What this means is that whoever provides the pronunciation – or fills in the vowels – does much more than provide an interpretation of the Scripture. They actually establish its definition! Let's use a modern day example. Suppose you were to read in a cookbook recipe the line, "pr th frt." You could reasonably say that this line means either, "pare the fruit," or "puree the fruit." Yet, these are two dramatically different meanings!

Additionally, there is the historical fact that the Masoretic Text was not finalized until after 900 AD. During this time there were revisions; some minor, others major. For example, it has been asserted that the Masorite school changed Is 7:14 to use the word meaning "young girl" rather than "virgin" bearing a child as the prophecy. The assertion states that many of these changes were made to distance Judaism from Christianity.

Finally, different camps placed different levels of emphasis on the various books of the Old Testament. For example, the Sadducees believed that only the five books of Moses could be used as the infallible, inerrant word of God to be used as a means to settle disputes. When they question Jesus concerning the resurrection (a wife becomes widowed by seven brothers, so whose spouse will she be in the resurrection?), He first answers them by telling the Sadducees that they do not know Scripture (in Matthew and Mark). Upon telling them that they don't know Scripture, Jesus points back to the Pentateuch for his answer (in all three synoptic Gospels). He does not correct their lack of knowledge of Scripture by showing them that prophesies in Is 26:19 and Dan 12:2 are Scripture. Instead, he leaves the question unanswered and appeals to what they accept as Scripture.

Thus, a good analysis of what the devout believer 50 years before Christ knew to be Scripture leaves you with no real answer. Which of the competing texts were used in this devout believer's community and by his rabbis? How were the vowels filled into the words to give them meaning by those rabbis when read to the community? What actual books did his teachers hold to be truly inerrant? Except for the highly educated, the devout Jew would only know what he was told by his teachers. And we see that through no fault of his own, that could result in many different understandings of what constituted Scripture.

And as for the highly educated, well, Jesus told them that they didn't know the Scriptures. How could the average devout Jew of the time have the assurance of knowledge that Swan assumes?

In conclusion, Swan makes some very good and valid points. The Church is not the master of the Scriptures, but instead receives them as a gift from God. The Scriptures do not derive their authority from the Church, the recipient of them, but instead from God Himself as both the author and the gift giver. And the Church knows the Scriptures because God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, has guided her to this knowledge. However, because Swan over-states the concept of infallibility, he leaves himself open to criticism that God was possibly ineffective in His Revelation to the Church. He supports this idea by comparing the reception of the New Testament to the reception of the Old Testament. But in making this comparison and using it as an example, he assumes that the ancient Jew would have known the Old Testament exactly as Swan does. But he cannot truly show this to be the case.

May Christ, who reigns in Heaven with His Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, lead us all to a better understanding of God's word in each and every day.