17 April 2024

Is Your Faith on Autopilot? Aquinas on the Power of Charity

The Three Cardinal Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity are all intertwined. One can only have one active if all three are active.


From Aleteia

By Daniel Esparza

Faith is certainly an exceptional gift. It is a bridge extended between us and God. But have you ever wondered if your faith is truly alive, active?

Faith is certainly an exceptional gift. It is, one could say, a bridge extended between us and God. But have you ever wondered if your faith is truly alive, active? St. Thomas Aquinas, a towering figure in Catholic theology, sheds light on the concept of “lifeless faith” – a concept that can help us assess the vitality of our own faith.

According to Aquinas, faith is an intellectual assent to truths revealed by God. Now, notice it is not blind belief, but a firm trust based on God’s trustworthiness.

However, faith can become “lifeless” if it lacks a key ingredient: charity, the love of God and neighbor.

Think of faith as a fire. The flames (faith itself) need fuel (charity) to burn brightly and provide heat (good works). Lifeless faith, like a fire with dying embers, has the basic disposition but lacks the heat to truly transform life.

Here’s a closer look.

Faith alone isn’t enough: Aquinas warns that faith can exist without love. Someone may intellectually accept the teachings of the Church but not put them into action. They may even attend Mass but totally disregard serving and helping others. This faith may not be completely dead, but it lacks the energy to bear fruit – it is not fully alive.

The importance of charity: Charity, again, is the fire that ignites faith. When love for God fills our hearts, it overflows into love for others. This love compels us to live according to our faith by putting our beliefs into action. We become active participants in God’s plan, sharing His love through good deeds.

Lifeless Faith vs. Loss of Faith

It is important to distinguish lifeless faith from a complete loss of faith. Someone with lifeless faith may still hold to core beliefs but has not yet embraced the transforming power of that faith.

So how do we cultivate a vibrant faith? Here are some simple, commonsensical tips.

Deepen your prayer life: A strong prayer connection with God naturally fosters a deeper love for Him. You cannot truly love what you do not know.

Engage in acts of charity: Volunteer, donate, or simply lend a helping hand. Put your love for God into action – even if you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised to see the power of small decisions and gestures. It’s like the first time you go to the gym. You surely don’t want to do it, and you know it will be difficult. But, after the first month, everything has changed.

Study your faith: The more you understand your beliefs, the more empowered you will be to live them. You cannot put into practice what you do not understand.

By nurturing our faith with the fire of charity, we can ensure that it remains alive, guiding our actions and drawing us closer to God. Remember, a living faith isn’t just about believing: it’s about actively living what we believe.

Live: St. Josse Mayor Sends Police To Shut Down NatCon Brussels

Well, democracy is officially dead in the EU, not that I'm surprised. It's just following the Leftist ideas that have animated it for decades.

From The European Conservative

By TEC News

Local mayor says "the far-right is not welcome"

European Conservatives and Reformists Group from the European Parliament: “The end of democracy begins when the mainstream silences dissent.”

Belgian Prime Minister weighs in, describing today’s events as unconstitutional:

Éric Zemmour: “In the past, Belgium welcomed Victor Hugo in exile. From now on, this country lives between the caliphate and the dictatorship.”

18:00—ADF International backs emergency legal challenge after Brussels police shut down NatCon conference citing views on abortion, marriage, and the European Union.

The Tunisian-Belgian owner of The Claridge, the venue where NatCon Brussels is held, responding to a media question about his attitude toward hosting people whose political positions he may not agree with:

When I was approached for a request to come to this event in the Claridge, I don’t consider myself entitled to judge anyone. I am willing to debate, with respect. I know how to listen, I know how to think, and I know how to announce my position. This does not diminish in anything my person, and I believe that if I have intelligent people in front of me, it does not diminish in anything their position.

MCC Brussels’ Frank Füredi:

“When you have elected members of parliament being forced out, then you know that democracy is in trouble.”

“There’s a constant stream of threats from people claiming to be Antifa. But … this is not our first conference and these are not our first threats. It is the first time that the police have used these threats as an excuse to try to shut us down instead of defending us against threatened violence.”

15:45—Éric Zemmour, head of French Reconquête party and invited speaker, being prevented from entering the venue.

MEP Patricia Chagnon refused entry into the NatCon venue.

15:08—Concession from mainstream journalists reporting NatCon event that today is a massive PR victory for Orban and the right in Brussels with blame being put on mayor rather than police.

14:53—Concern over impending arrival of Éric Zemmour shortly with police still refusing entry.

14:50—The European Conservative’s Zsófia Tóth-Bíró addressing the NatCon crowd.

14:48—Line of police blocking attendees from entering NatCon venue.

14:45—Speeches still ongoing at NatCon with police cordon remaining. Authorities have cited security concerns claiming the event is hosting anti-LGBT extremists. Owners and event organizers are challenging the order.

14:25—Filip DeWinter dealing with police at #NatCon event entrance. More police gathering and still not letting people in.

14:03—

After two venues already cancelled on the NatCon Brussels conference, the conference was well underway in a third venue when police arrived at 13:15 local time, having been asked to shut down the event.

Police not letting anyone back in who leaves the conference.

U.S. State of Idaho Allowed To Enforce Ban on Puberty Blockers for Minors

A win is a win, but SCOTUS did not rule on the law itself. It just lifted the stay on enforcing it whilst the gender benders continue their efforts to have it thrown out.

From The European Conservative

By The European Conservative/Agence France Presse

“This is a big win to protect vulnerable kids,” state attorney general says.

An Idaho law criminalizing medical ‘gender reassignment’ procedures for children who think they are transgender will be allowed to go into effect while a lawsuit against it continues, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday.

The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the 2023 law itself, but lifted a block placed on enforcing the law while the lawsuit challenging it is underway.

Under the law, medical professionals who provide puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender-changing surgery to minors can face up to 10 years in prison.

About 20 U.S. states have so far put in place laws restricting transgender medical procedures for minors, amid a widespread backlash against the practice.

Democrats, however, continue to oppose such moves.

Raúl Labrador, the attorney general of the rural western state, called the decision a “big win to protect vulnerable kids.”

“I’m proud to defend Idaho’s law that ensures children are not subjected to these dangerous drugs and procedures,” he said on X.

As debate around transgender issues spreads across the country, Republican- and Democratic-led states have diverged on the issue, with states like California, Illinois, and Minnesota declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for transgender youth.

recent report by leading UK pediatrician Dr Hillary Cass found that the treatment of supposed transgender children is “an area of remarkably weak evidence” and that studies are “exaggerated or misrepresented” to support gender ideology. 

The report also found that there is very little evidence puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones improve the wellbeing of gender-questioning young people, despite the claims of activists.

Following the report, the treatment of new patients aged 16 and 17 seeking to change gender was immediately paused by Britain’s National Health Service.

16 April 2024

The Chasm of Life and Death

At least seven fertilised embryos, that is CHILDREN, are killed for every 'successful' IVF pregnancy. The wages of man playing God.

From Crisis

By Christopher Bell

So many conservatives, including many pro-lifers, focus only on the political ramifications of opposing IVF. We need to instead focus on the lives lost.

We, the pro-life community, finally fell into this great chasm, one that was always right before our eyes.  

The obvious judicial decision by Alabama’s Supreme Court that frozen embryos are in fact children, and their accidental death warrants a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed, puts the light on this Grand Canyon among all those fighting to stop abortion but not exactly protect every life from the moment of conception. 

Shocking, but expected.

At the outset, it has to be stated, every child conceived by in vitro fertilization is fully human and welcomed for who they are: a child of God. Whether one wishes to ascribe that he or she is made in the image and likeness of God or not, it is an appellation to explain that you have infinite value. You’re not just on top of the food chain, you’re on top of the material universe in intellect with a free will.

Now that free will is what created children through IVF. 

Scientists and parents made the decision to take from the tree of knowledge and start a life outside the natural means, the conjugal relations between husband and wife.

Parents and those who are participating in the practice of taking, at great physical and emotional risk, human ova and spermatozoa may not know what they are really doing on a material, spiritual, or psychological level. They are very likely solely focused on the end: giving birth to a child.

Here’s the rub Shakespeare couldn’t have written better:

To die—to sleep.
To sleep—perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.
 (Hamlet)

The rub: the child born leaves behind full-blooded siblings—yes, brothers and sisters who will be “asleep” in a frozen state. Would they dream? Or will they die in time? Or be born years hence? Or experimented upon?

This must give us pause.

This pause is most notable among those who are saying life begins at conception, as certainly science is proving by the very act of fertilizing human eggs and implanting them knowing full well these conceived children are babies that need nourishment from a mother’s womb until strong enough to be fed by mouth. Quite amazing and wonderfully made, we know—as the psalmist sang millennia ago. 

How interesting to see that science and religion are quite aligned on this, at least in the art and beauty of the process which brings human life into the physical world. Religion will add—but here, too, another chasm among believers as much as unbelievers—at some point, a human soul enters into the corporal frame. 

We have new human life and have been “successfully making” such life since the conception during 1977 and birth on July 25, 1978, of Louise Brown. 

Uncounted millions of children have since been conceived. Most of those conceptions have been discarded, purposefully killed, for various reasons. The next largest group of conceived children have been put on ice, cryogenically preserved as scientists say, awaiting a fate worthy of Shakespeare again: “Our wills and fates do so contrary run, that our devices still are overthrown; our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own” (Hamlet).

Those cryogenically frozen may be used for experimentation, or implanted later, or thrown out, if not accidentally unfrozen and dying a “natural” death.

What is it we want? Many more live babies at the expense of many more fertilized and extinguished babies? 

As the case before the Alabama Supreme Court explained, it was an accident that crushed the conceived children of several couples, and those parents sought reparation. While the defendant in this case, The Center for Reproductive Medicine, sought to have the case tossed out—like most of the children they’ve help to conceive—the State high court read the law and said parents have the right for redress for these children as no exception is made in the law for how children are conceived. They are, as we know, children after all, babies actually before birth, no less human than babies in utero or ex utero.
Then why are those who seek to defend and protect life from the moment of conception in such a quandary? 

There are several groups here. First, there are those who are pro-life and see no immorality or inconsistency in conceiving children outside the womb for the purpose of bringing forth a baby. They see this as a way to overcome infertility, albeit an expensive and risky one. Maybe the loss of the siblings is considered a sad side effect of the wonder of a new life. Some say that seven conceived children are not brought to life for every one that is. That’s the conservative number.

Another group is considering the political tide. Many Americans have used IVF, and it is estimated 8 million babies have been born in the U.S. through this assisted reproductive technology. The general population has little understanding of the tremendous and grave physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual repercussions in the process and the outcome of every single IVF act. 

In our world of relativism, the end is much more important than the means. These means are generally underwater—unseen and unspoken. Politicians and those advising them see this as a simple going along with the flow, a yes or no vote. This is a strong current to go against and takes lots of explanation, and most people don’t have the time to dive into such a discussion. After all, you might hurt someone you don’t even know. “How were you conceived?” 

Now come the pragmatists. The genie is out of the bottle. This has been going on for 45 years. Some 10–12 million people have been born using IVF worldwide, and even if there are possibly a million babies frozen and perhaps 100 million that have been discarded, no one is going to stop this now. Let’s just regulate it. Let’s trim our losses. Limit the number of babies conceived in a petri dish, place all of them into their mother’s womb, and have no leftovers.

The pragmatists using Augustine and Aquinas make the case that laws cannot stop all vices nor enforce all virtue. Certain acts, along this line of thinking, may be contrary to the natural law but tolerated as much as they can be limited lest worse evils come about. One example of this is to allow fewer embryos to be conceived and implant all into the mother immediately or shortly thereafter. 

All this has a solipsistic attitude still focused on a desire, no matter what, to have “my child”; as if this God-given privilege is actually a God-given right, no matter how many lives may be lost or affected. 

There’s no one arguing in the groups above about stopping IVF. 

Let’s give the benefit of the argument that the families and even the practitioners of IVF have done what they thought right. We’ve walked down this path for decades, and millions of people have been involved and children are walking around thanks to the results of this effort. But the Alabama Supreme Court has shown that there’s this divide, and let’s use this time to reassess and consider that we can’t undo what we did or unknow what we know, but might we take a step back and think: Is this really what we want to continue to do?

Also, there are many other roads to having children which are natural, moral, less costly, and without the high medical and psychological risks involved with IVF. These paths are less known, scientifically sound, and yet denounced by the larger, more profitable industry which the baby-making machines of assisted reproductive technology have become. 

Natural Procreative Technology, more commonly called NaPro Technology, uses medicines and surgical techniques to overcome certain inabilities to conceive a child or to assist the body naturally to achieve conception. Doctors have a 30-year-plus track record with scientific research understanding the fertility cycle better than any IVF clinic. 

One outgrowth of NaPro are smaller centers of physicians expanding on these treatments and techniques to assist either men or women, as infertility is not solely a female burden.  

The Gianna Center for Women’s Health & Fertility is one such center in New York. The center offers “successfully-proven natural approaches to help women and couples who are struggling with infertility.”

Other scientific studies also show the efficacy of herbal medicines to help achieve a pregnancy when there is an apparent infertility issue.

All these methods above don’t present a great enough financial incentive to medical personnel and have been shunned by the larger medical community.

Alas, this is where capitalism loses its moral base. More profit does not make something more right or less wrong.  

Just because we’re able to build bombs and viruses that can decimate the world doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. 

And yet we continue to make bigger bombs and gain-of-function research.

If the pro-life community can’t coalesce on when to save lives at conception, how can one expect the wider, relativistic, conflicted community of Americans to come to a better conclusion?

Free will allows the choice for better or worse. Would Augustine and Aquinas agree to continue but limit the cost? 

Me thinks, 
How Our wills and fates do so contrary run…
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…
The rest is silence.

Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

Today's Holy Mass from Corpus Christi Church, Tynong, VIC, Australia. You may follow the Mass at Divinum Officium.

St Anicetus, Pope and Martyr ~ Dom Prosper Guéranger

Wednesday of the Third Week after Easter ~ Dom Prosper Guéranger

St Anicetus, Pope & Martyr


From Dom Prosper Guéranger's The Liturgical Year

A Pope and Martyr of the second century appears on the Calendar today. The Martyrs stand in clusters near our Risen Lord; they are the Eagles, of which he speaks in his Gospel, as gathering together around their longed-for object. (Matthew 24:28) Anicetus is not the only Pope whose martyrdom has to be celebrated during Paschal Time; others will come, adding to our Easter joy. The Saint who claims our attention today is one of those whose holy actions are shrouded in the venerable gloom of the Church; and yet his memory will be held in veneration to the end of time, not only as being the eleventh successor of St. Peter in the See of Rome, but as having imitated him also in holiness of life. St. Polycarp, whose feast we kept on January 26, came from Smyrna to Rome, in order to visit him and receive his advice. There have also been transmitted to us one or two instances of the zeal wherewith he defended the Church against the heresiarchs Valentine and Marcion. In a word, we know that he was a martyr; and that is enough to immortalize his name.

The Church makes the following commemoration of the holy Pontiff.

Anicetus, a Syrian by birth, governed the Church during the reign of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. He passed a decree, which forbade Clerics to nourish their hair. The ordinations, which he held in five Decembers, gave seventeen Priests, four Deacons, and nine Bishops for divers places. His Pontificate lasted eight years, eight months, and twenty-four days. He was crowned with Martyrdom for the Christian Faith, and was buried, on the fifteenth of the May (April 17th), in the Cemetery, (afterwards called, the Cemetery of Callixtus,) which is on the Appian Way.

Holy Pontiff! who so many long ages ago wast made partaker of the glory of him whose Vicar and martyr thou hadst the privilege to be, we celebrate thy blessed memory today with filial affection. In thee we venerate one of the pillars of the early Church; and though thy name has been handed down to us without the history of those holy deeds which merited for thee a martyr’s palm—we at least know that it was dear to the faithful of the age in which thou didst live. Now that thou art in heaven, thy zeal for the glory of God is greater than it was when thou wast on this earth; pray, then, for the Church of these sad times. Upwards of two hundred Pontiffs have followed thee upon the Chair of Peter; and Christ has not yet come to judge the world. Assist thy successor who is our Father; assist the flock entrusted to his charge, for the dangers that now threaten us are extreme. Thy pontificate was during a stormy period; pray to our Risen Jesus that he would quell the tempest that is now howling round the Bark of Peter. Beseech him to give us perseverance and courage. Obtain for us that we may fix our hearts on our heavenly country; so that when God calls us hence, we may be prepared as thou wast. We are the descendants of the martyrs; their faith is ours; the hope that cheered them must be our consolation.