Originally these talks were given in the Autumn of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, if my memory serves me correctly. I was interested to note how few people came to them, as compared to those who came to our Divine Mercy service. People find the whole area of doctrine far less pleasant than the devotional life. That is hardly surprising, but it is very interesting that people can live a rather busy devotional life and know little about Faith and doctrine and rather more worryingly can often be living an immoral life, quite oblivious to the fact that Vatican II did not change the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.
The talks were based on The Penny Catechism, which uses to perfection the question and answer format. None other than the great G.K. Chesterton thought it a work of genius. Also it is good to reflect that the first band of Jesuits who made their profession with Ignatius in Paris, and included St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Favre loved nothing better than to catechize the people. It is tragic that the Jesuits no longer wish to do this with the great enthusiasm of their founding fathers. This is hardly surprising when one thinks that the Jesuits in the last half century and more have been dispensing very dubious ideas to the great harm of the Church. It is one of the greatest tragedies that could possibly afflict the Church that this great order which was founded to defend the Church has been, no doubt unwittingly, bent on changing it beyond recognition. Hopefully a Jesuit Pope can save the Order and the Church from the ravages that both are suffering.
I have tried to use different catechisms and different sources for these talks, but they centre mainly around the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the present Catholic Catechism published in 1993, the Penny Catechism, and Monsignor Gilbey’s “We Believe”. I also have used Frank Sheed’s “Theology And Sanity” as much needed now, as when it was first published, and an interesting volume which goes back to the late 1940’s and is called simply “The Teaching of The Catholic Church”. It was the work of a whole range of English speaking Catholic scholars and writers of the time the most famous being Abbot Anscar Vonier, O.S.B., Cyril Martindale S.J., Martin D’Arcy S.J. and Dom Justin McCann O.S.B., and last but not least Arcbishop Goodier.
Monsignor Gilbey the legendary Catholic priest who used to the somewhat eccentric chaplain to the students at Oxford said this of the Penny Cathechism in his book “We Believe):
The Catechism is an extraordinarily valuable attempt to bring the whole scope of Catholic theology down to a small compass and almost to the vocabulary of a child. The point in taking the Catechism as the framework if that it does not cover the whole ground. One of the things that I want to emphasise is that Catholicism is one whole philosophy of life and not a series of disconnected statements of belief. It is to this whole philosophy of life that these instructions, please God, will lead you. (p. 1 We Believe)
Monsignor Gilbey then makes the interesting observation in his preamble to his Catechetical talks. He asks, not unreasonably, why FAITH is place at the beginning of the Penny Catechism?
Placing the word Faith at the very beginning of the whole work is really misleading, because those first eight questions are an attempt to suggest to the mind of a child the preamble of faith, that is the foundation in natural reason that we need to lay before we can talk about Faith, Hope and Charity at all. These three theological virture, as we shall consider later, are all gifts of Almighty God, of our own nature, and of our own relationship to Him, before we start talking about his gifts to us.
We believe that it is possible for the unprejudiced mind, even before consideration of Divine revelation, to come to a certain but obviously very limited knowledge of five points: the existence of Almighty God; His nature; our own nature and relationship to Him and the immortality of the human soul; the freedom of human will; and our consequent responsibility. (p.2)
The problems before the Catholic, be they a five year old child, a teenager, a footballer, a pop singer, a university professor, a businessman or business woman, a doctor, a lawyer, or a Judge, and the types are endless, is that the World today is a World where no really thinks, because of what Pope Benedict put his finger on, namely “relativism”, which means that everything is relative. What does that mean in reality? It means that your view is as good as mine, your religion is as good as mine, your morality or lack of morality, is as good as mine. It means ultimately that there is no real truth, and it is interesting to note that Monsignor Gilbey puts the words of the great 20th century English Dominican, Fr. Vincent McNabb at the front of his book: TRUTH ALONE IS WORTHY OF OUR ENTIRE DEVOTION.
TRUTH ALONE IS WORTHY OF OUR ENTIRE DEVOTION.
God is the source of all Truth. He created Man in his own image. He created them Male and Female. When they disobeyed him in Eden he did not abandon them, but Sin had darkened their reason, and so their descendants drew further and further away from God. They through the same sin of Pride, that had infected Adam and Eve, wanted to do their own thing and live their lives their own way. They wanted their version of the Truth, and not God’s. Not surprisingly they became more and more evil and gave themselves up to all manner of sins:
And God seeing that the wickedness of men was great on the earth, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, It repented him that he had made man on the earth. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, He said: I will destroy man, whom I have created, form the face of the earth, form man even to beasts, from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace before the Lord. (Genesis 6: vv 6-9)
Then came the Universal Deluge, which the evolutionists have tried very hard to discredit, and it is indeed to their credit that pretty well almost everyone has swallowed the lie, but you will remember the fairy tale of the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, and it was the small child who was not taken in, and said “The Emperor has no clothes” . This is alarmingly true for the late 19th century and for the 20th century. What will happen in 21st century is anyone’s guess. André Maurois said “Either the 21st century or it will not be at all” and that sounds about right.
Now recent geological findings point to the fact that the Grand Canyon is not a record of slow evolution of the rock formation over millions of years, but a record of a cataclysmic flood; that fits the geological makeup of the rock far better than the evolutionary theory. Further to this it is interesting to note that:
Anthropologists have collected at least 59 Flood legends from the aboriginies of North America, 46 from Central and South America, 31 from Europe, 17 from the Middle East, 23 from Asia, and 37 from the South Sea Islands and Australia. All accounts hold three features in common --- a worldwide flood destroyed both man and animals, a vessel of safety was provided, and only a small number of people were saved. ( Creation Rediscovered by Gerard J. Keane, Tan publications; p. 65 quoting James A. Strickling)
It is also important to note contrary to what a lot of people say or think, that theory of Evolution has not been canonized by the Church and there is no mention of the word in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which was published in English in 1994. It is also interesting to note that for Evolution to be proved, intermediate forms of life showing the slow change of species should emerge in the fossil record, but not one has been found. The whole theory of Evolution is a theory looking for evidence. It is like condemning a supposed murderer to death on no evidence whatsoever, but for a hunch on the part of the Police, despite the fact this supposed victim or victims have all disappeared, and there is some doubt as to whether some of them ever existed anyway; added to this there is also no scientific evidence and no circumstantial evidence; however the man is found guilty. The theory of Evolution is almost as preposterous as this strange tale. I was once told by a young friend that Evolution was a 19th century aetiological conceit. I had to then go to the Dictionary and find out what aetiological meant and found that it meant “The study of causation”, which seems to sum up Evolution very well.
The future which was supposed to bring to light new fossils in 1979 had produced a quarter of a million more fossils in Darwin’s time and there were still no transitional fossils, no missing link as it used to be called. A final penny for your thoughts. Orang-utans, gorillas, and chimpanzees, who are meant to be our cousins have 24 pairs of chromosomes, whereas man has only 23. If we have improved on the apse from whom are meant to have descended, you would expect us to have more. It is important to remember that Darwin, Marx, and Malthus were part of the exciting technological and scientific age of the 19th century, which solve all man’s problems, and create a wonderful new world. The problem is that this more to do with Pride, the pride that built the Tower of Babel and created the terrible divisions in the human race, and all the subsequent rivalries, dissensions and wars.
The problem is that when Pride enters into the soul, then truth goes out of the window, a because it is only humility that keeps us on the right track and makes us open to God’s wisdom and his Love. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans tell us starkly that when through sin we move away from God and the Truth we end up with idolatry, immorality and death.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of this world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because the exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen
For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1; vv. 18-26)
This passage from Romans completely sums up the modern Western World, as world that from being profoundly Christian has become corrupted in almost everything and is spreading its corruption everywhere. It is our duty and our joy to really understand our faith in a profound way, and this can only be done by pursuing the truth no matter what the cost may be.
And so throughout these talks I want you to constantly bring to mind those words of Father Vincent McNabb.
TRUTH ALONE IS WORTHY OF OUR ENTIRE DEVOTION
It is of the greatest importance in these times when sentimentality and cruelty are the marks of the spirit of the West that we venerate the truth, because the truth is God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. Here he tells Thomas at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in god, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.” (Jn. 14: vv 1-3)
Then moving from the Douay-Rheims translation to the RSV, which is considered the most accurate of all the English translations of the Bible, we hear Jesus’ conversation with Thomas and Philip:
“And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him “lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him,
“Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me ahs seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.” (Jn 14: 4-11)
In fact the whole of this passage from John’s Gospel beginning with chapter 14 and going through to chapter 17 is catechesis par excellence. Here you have Jesus teaching the greatest of the Truths of our Faith namely the sublime truth of the Blessed Trinity. All leads back to God The Father, creator of Heaven and Earth, and throughout these talks I would ask you constantly to dwell on this great mystery and truth of our Faith, asking Our Lady Seat of Wisdom to open not only your hearts but your minds, for if our hearts are not open we simply become like these armies of professional theologians, be they priests, brothers, sisters, laymen and laywomen who view themselves simply as professionals and investigators who look at God and his Church in a calm, detached 21st century way. It is a great tragedy that we live in a Church today where professionalism, and the cult of the so called expert is held in such high esteem. Professorships, Ph.D’s, M.A.’s are going to do one no good when one arrives at the Judgment seat. When that extraordinary moment arrives we will be asked simply have love? Have we loved God with all our heart and soul, and have we kept his commandments? If we have then Heaven will be our immediately, if not we shall have a spell in Purgatory. If we have never bothered to love then Hell will be our home for all eternity as Heaven for the damned soul is far worse. Pride filled modern Christian men and women are not match for the wisdom of the saints who loved God and who loved the Church, and who believed wholeheartedly that God in his goodness had given Peter and his successors the Popes to be the guardians and custodians of the Truth.
When we meet again we will begin with the very simple and profound question “Who is God?” and in so far as our tiny minds can apprehend such an enormous question we will begin to exercise our intelligence with the aid of grace as best we can to understand something of the mystery of God who created us out of nothing, and who did not need to. This is the great mystery of God’s love for us. What we must, however, take ot heart throughout these talks on the Catechism, is that there is no such thing as relative truth. Christ is the Truth, and he us the Truth because he is The Word of The Father, and through him all things were made as the Creed says. He gave us the Holy Spirit who at Pentecost guides the Church and all who are in the Church, and it is incumbent upon us to preach the truth by our lives and example, before we even open our mouths. It is essential that in a truly prayerful way we do understand our Faith. And so we ask Our Lady Seat of Wisdom and Cause of our Joy to help us do this to the best of our abilities.