Friday, April 25, 2008

Time to Play Catch-Up

Now that my two big presentations are successfully completed (praise God!), it's time to dust off some old mail and finally give you all some answers.

First, seraphim, regarding your question about the Ladder Rosary, the deeper question seems to be whether or not it is true that Mary is the easiest way to Jesus. I don't really know if I can do your question justice. I could probably spew some thoughts out, but I just don't think it would be very helpful.

So, I emailed Dr. Mark Miravalle, a professor at FUS and one of the premier Marian theologians in the country to get this thoughts on the matter. Until then, here is the information that is of concern to "seraphim" (and to me). Do you all have any thoughts on this?
  • According to popular belief, in Old Mexico the Ladder Rosary has an interesting history. Some trace the first ladder rosary to the vision of St. Dominic in which he saw souls climbing to heaven on the rosary. Others point to the vision of St. Francis De Sales who saw two ladders to heaven: a rather steep one leading directly to Jesus, and another far less steep one leading toward Mary. Jesus told St. Francis: "Tell your sons to come by the other ladder", meaning the easiest way to Jesus is through Mary!
    In other popular legends, St. Dominic, in his visions saw souls climbing the ladder to heaven, and Jacob dreamt about a ladder between heaven and earth on which angels ascended and descended. The ladder even appears in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling painting, showing souls being pulled from Purgatory by a rosary
Please leave a comment and let me know. Hopefully I haven't lost all credibility in being unable to answer this question.

Also several months ago, Justin emailed me, wanting to know how I would respond to this argument:
"Yeah, if we all lived by ourselves without anyone, it's okay to cut yourself or kill yourself because if that's what you want and that'll make you happy, go for it! But we're social animals so we have to respect each other. So I don't want any priest coming in telling me not to have sex if I'm with my boyfriend, because we're enjoying it together."
Wow, there's a lot of very false premises informing these two sentences. It's hard to even know where to begin (which is probably why I didn't answer this question sooner, haha!). First of all, there is embedded in this the idea that if something feels pleasurable then that necessarily makes it "okay" or morally good. I'm sorry folks, but that's just not true. If our consciences are not properly formed so as to know what true happiness is, and if we do not have the will power to forsake a short-term good in exchange for a long-term good, then we can choose decisions that we think are right but are in fact very wrong.

In other words, our feelings are not always the best guide when it comes to making moral decisions. Eve saw that the fruit from the forbidden tree was "a delight to the eyes" (Gen 3:6). It probably brought her great pleasure just to behold it. As a result, she ate it and, well, we all know what a great choice that was. David probably took great pleasure in killing Bathsheba's husband and then having sex with her, but he never stopped to think that it would mean public humiliation and the death of his own son (cf. 2 Sam 12:9-14). What feels good is not always right, and the immediate gratification does not always outweigh the long-term consequences.

Another implication in this argument we are responding to is that it would be "disrespectful" for a priest to tell a girl that she shouldn't be having sex with her boyfriend. But, there's a lot of "begging the question" going on here. In order for the priest's actions to be disrespectful it must be proven both that he has no authority or place to make his statement AND that the statement he is making is wrong. This, of course, has yet to be done. And, since I don't know which kinds of arguments would be effective with this girl (is the Bible an authority? Church teaching? theology of the body? logic?), we're pretty much at an impasse. Suffice it say that I believe the priest has every right to make such spiritual counsel, and his spiritual counsel is true.

I hope that helps for now.

More recently, "No Fluff Required" left the following comment on my blog:
When evangelicals (or believers, as we call ourselves) see another one of us claiming to be a believer or a Christian living like they aren't one. We encourage that person to examine himself to see if he is truly in Christ.
This flows from our biblical doctrine of Salvation. That once someone is born again, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell them and transforms their old life in a new life demonstrating the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal. 5. Not that perfection is expected, only a pattern of obedience and an affection for Christ is always present when someone is saved.
Does your church offer an explanation for people who, as you put it, "don't care about their faith or their relationship with Jesus Christ."?
Well, I guess it would be helpful to state at the onset that Catholics do not believe in "Once Saved Always Saved." In other words, someone can enter into right relationship with God (through His grace), but then fall out of that life of grace or reject that grace and sever his relationship with God. When that happens, it's imperative for that person to return to communion with God again.

Now, these Catholics who "don't care about their faith or their relationship with Jesus Christ" have probably fallen out of relationship with Him. They first entered into a relationship with Him through their baptism, but for whatever reason they have fallen away. Of course, only God judges hearts, so I can never state with certainty, "Yes, this or that person is severed from God" or "this or that person is going to Hell." Even people who are outwardly doing good Christian things can be inwardly very far from Him. But, what we CAN do is to always be preaching the Gospel and living it out so that we can bring people to a deeper relationship with God, whatever the extent of that relationship may be.

I hope that answers your question.

One final question remains, in light of Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to the United States, but it deserves a post of its own so stay tuned.

I thank you all again for your patience.

Pax Christi,


  1. I think there is wisdom in knowing you don't know everything and asking for help. You lose no credibility with me!

  2. Thanks Amy! Your words encourage me.


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