Monday, November 10, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sight: an Exercise in Inverse Logic

Is the Code of Canon Law (CIC: Codex Iuris Canonici) of the Roman Catholic Church logical? This question arose a few years ago in answer to an assertion (mine and later others’) that one Canon in particular, 277, contains a logical statement with important implications. If an individual canon can be identified with logical form, what might this mean for other canons? Or, what implications have additional such forms have for Canon 277? Perhaps a logical analysis of the larger Code is worth exploring.
In a letter to Homiletic and Pastoral Review, I responded to arguments that Canon 277 requires continence of married deacons [i.e., no marital sex after ordination to the permanent diaconate]. The pertinent, first section of Canon 277 reads:
Can. 277 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity. (Vatican website, accessed November 11, 2014: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PY.HTM)
I wrote:
… consider the logical content of part of Canon, 277: The obligation of continence implies the obligation of celibacy. An equivalent, complementary, form of this statement is: the non-obligation of celibacy implies the non-obligation of continence. Married persons, then, are not obligated to continence within the state. (Of course, all persons have the obligation of continence outside of marriage, as rooted in natural and divine law.)

What logical reasoning was I relying on?

The inference rule modus tollens, also known as the law of contrapositive, validates the inference from P implies Q and the contradictory of Q, to the contradictory of P.

The modus tollens rule can be stated formally as: P→Q, ¬Q ¬P, where P→Q stands for "P implies Q", ¬Q stands for "it is not the case that Q" (or in brief "not Q"). Then, whenever "P→Q" and "¬Q" each appear by themselves as a line of a proof, "¬P" can validly be placed on a subsequent line. (Wikipedia’s definition, accessed November 4, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modus_tollens.)

I was tempted to incorporate into the letter a symbolic form, such as P→Q, ¬Q ¬P, as in the Wikipedia quotation, but I suspected that the editor might not accept the letter or, if it was accepted, that it would aggravate some readers. Roger Kimball, in a discussion of C. P. Snow’s Two Cultures, writes:
Because of the extremely technical nature of contemporary scientific discourse—think, for example, of its deep reliance on abstruse mathematical notation—that gulf is unbridgeable and will only widen as knowledge progresses.*
While Kimball was invoking abstruseness of scientific discourse, I suspect his objection applies to philosophical logic, also. 

I introduce symbolic form here to here to precisely delineate what is at stake if the Latin ideoque (”therefore” in English) indeed means “”.  It is my hope that any aggravation is minimized.

Subsequent to publication of my letter a number of other persons made essentially the same argument as I in blog posts and comments therein (apparently independent of my letter, or by citing it). The defense against this logical argument was the assertion that the plain meaning of the cited canon text prohibited marital intimacy, That is, by implication, the key word, ideoque does not have a logical meaning (“¬”?).

Is ideoque a non-logical term in the original Latin of the Code? The Code itself provides guidance about how to deal with such a question,
Canon 17 Ecclesiastical laws must be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places, if there are such, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.
Guided by Canon 17, this naturally leads to the next question: Is ideoque used elsewhere in the CIC in terms which lend themselves to a modus tollens analysis? In other words, is ideoque a logical term elsewhere in the Code?

In the Code, ideoque is translated into English by a number of terms, including, most commonly “therefore,” plus “consequently,” (implicitly) "by this same desire," and “thus.”

The Latin text of the CIC is available online both on the Vatican and other websites. I utilize a complete version of both Latin and English at one such site (http://www.jgray.org/codes/), the English of which consists of the Vatican translation) and searched for all those canons which include ideoque. Below I attempt to apply a modus tollens analysis on each. While such an exercise may produce odd formulations, it is the question of the meaning of ideoque, whether odd or not, which is sought. Below each such canon or part of a canon which contains ideoque is quoted in Latin and English with its inverse restructuring in English is presented below. The translated “ideoque” is bolded.
Canon 172 - §1. Suffragium, ut validum sit, esse debet:
 1° liberum; ideoque invalidum est suffragium eius, qui metu gravi aut dolo, directe vel indirecte, adactus fuerit ad eligendam certam personam aut diversas personas disiunctive; 2° secretum, certum, absolutum, determinatum. §2. Condiciones ante electionem suffragio appositae tamquam non adiectae habeantur.  
Canon 172 §1. [P] To be valid, a vote must be:1º free; therefore [Q] the vote of a person who has been coerced directly or indirectly by grave fear or malice to vote for a certain person or different persons separately is invalid;2º secret, certain, absolute, determined. §2. Conditions attached to a vote before the election are to be considered as not having been added. 
Inverse Can 172 1º. [¬Q] A person is coerced directly or indirectly by grave fear or malice to vote for a certain person or different persons separately; [¬P] therefore the vote is invalid.
Modus tollens is easily applied to Canon 172 §1 via several assorted conditions: direct or indirect coercion by grave fear or malice. By invoking any of the different factors, the inverse consequence is determined. The absence of any of the conditions (free, therefore uncoerced;  secret; certain; absolute; and/or determined) precludes validity.

Aside: What is the context of Canon 172? The answer is canonical elections (Canon 164). The Canons from 164 through 179 provide detailed directions for the conditions and processes involved in voting.
Canon 206 - §1. Speciali ratione cum Ecclesia conectuntur catechumeni, qui nempe, Spiritu Sancto movente, explicita voluntate ut eidem incorporentur expetunt, ideoque hoc ipso voto, sicut et vita fidei, spei et caritatis quam agunt, coniunguntur cum Ecclesia, quae eos iam ut suos fovet. §2. Catechumenorum specialem curam habet Ecclesia quae, dum eos advitam ducendam evangelicam invitat eosque ad sacros ritus celebrandos introducit, eisdem varias iam largitur praerogativas, quae christianorum sunt propriae.
Canon 206 §1. [P] Catechumens, that is, those who ask by explicit choice under the influence of the Holy Spirit to be incorporated into the Church, are joined to it in a special way. By this same desire, [Q] just as by the life of faith, hope, and charity which they lead, they are united with the Church which already cherishes them as its own. 
§2. The Church has a special care for catechumens; while it invites them to lead a life of the gospel and introduces them to the celebration of sacred rites, it already grants them various prerogatives which are proper to Christians. 
Where is “therefore” in this English translation of 206 §1? It appears that “By the same desire” incorporates "therefore", so that sentence could read (with or without “Therefore”:
§1. ... [Therefore,] by this same desire, just as by the life of faith, hope, and charity which they lead, they are united with the Church which already cherishes them as its own.
Inverse 206 §1. [¬Q] Those who do not lead a life of faith, hope and charity and are not  united with the Church which does not [yet] cherish them as its own, [¬P] are not catechumens, and have not asked by explicit choice under the influence of the Holy Spirit to be incorporated into the Church, and are not joined to the Church in a special way,
With all the incorporated negatives, the reconstructed inverse of Canon 206, though awkward, is a valid inverse statement via modus tollens.
Canon 522 - Parochus stabilitate gaudeat oportet ideoque ad tempus indefinitum nominetur; ad certum tempus tantum ab Episcopo dioecesano nominari potest, si id ab Episcoporum conferentia per decretum admissum fuerit.
Canon 522 [P] A pastor must possess stability and therefore [Q] is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time. The diocesan bishop can appoint him only for a specific period if the conference of bishops has permitted this by a decree.
Inverse Canon 522 [¬Q] A pastor who is appointed for a definite period [¬P] does not possess the stability that he must have.
Aside: Away from its logic and its inverse, Canon 522 is a bit puzzling, in that the conference of bishops can permit pastoral appointments for designated durations. Such appointments, according to the canon, do not possess stability. This reading is analogous to the emphasis of Canon 277, which begins “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” but, by modus tollens, is obviated with married deacons. That is, two goods, stability of a pastorate and celibacy (see more below), can be superseded licitly.  

Canon 652 - §1. Magistri eiusque cooperatorum est novitiorum vocationem discernere et comprobare, eosque gradatim ad vitam perfectionis instituti propriam rite ducendam efformare.
 §2. Novitii ad virtutes humanas et christianas excolendas adducantur; per orationem et sui abnegationem in pleniorem perfectionis viam introducantur; ad mysterium salutis contemplandum et sacras Scripturas legendas et meditandas instruantur; ad Dei cultum in sacra liturgia excolendum praeparentur; rationem addiscant vitam ducendi Deo hominibusque in Christo per consilia evangelica consecratam; de instituti indole et spiritu, fine et disciplina, historia et vita edoceantur atque amore erga Ecclesiam eiusque sacros Pastores imbuantur. §3. Novitii, propriae responsabilitatis conscii, ita cum magistro suo active collaborent ut gratiae divinae vocationis fideliter respondeant. §4. Curent instituti sodales, ut in opere institutionis novitiorum pro parte sua cooperentur vitae exemplo et oratione. §5. Tempus novitiatus, de quo in Canon 648, §1, in opus formationis proprie impendatur, ideoque novitii ne occupentur in studiis et muniis, quae huic formationi non directe inserviunt.
Canon 652 §1. It is for the director and assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices and to form them gradually to lead correctly the life of perfection proper to the institute. §2. Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors. §3. Conscious of their own responsibility, the novices are to collaborate actively with their director in such a way that they faithfully respond to the grace of a divine vocation. §4. Members of the institute are to take care that they cooperate for their part in the work of formation of the novices through example of life and prayer.[P] §5. The time of the novitiate mentioned in Canon 648, §1 is to be devoted solely to the task of formation and consequently [Q] novices are not to be occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation.
Canon 648, mentioned in Canon 652 §5, reads:
Canon 648 §1. To be valid, a novitiate must include twelve months spent in the community itself of the novitiate, without prejudice to the prescript of Canon 647, §3.§2. To complete the formation of novices, in addition to the period mentioned in §1, the constitutions can establish one or more periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the community of the novitiate.§3. The novitiate is not to last longer than two years.
Further down the bunny hole, Canon 647, mentioned in Canon 648 §1 reads:
Canon 647 §1. The erection, transfer, and suppression of a novitiate house are to be done through written decree of the supreme moderator of the institute with the consent of the council.§2. To be valid, a novitiate must be made in a house properly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and as an exception, by grant of the supreme moderator with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute under the direction of some approved religious who acts in the place of the director of novices.§3. A major superior can permit a group of novices to reside for a certain period of time in another house of the institute designated by the superior.
 Returning to Canon 652, an inverse reconstruction reads:
Inverse Canon 652 §5. [¬Q] Novices who are occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation, are, therefore, [¬P] not devoted solely to the task of formation in their time of the novitiate mentioned in Canon 648, §1.
While the inverse of 652 is almost trivial, it can be seen as a valid example of modus tollens. Again, there is awkwardness, but there is still a formal correspondence.

Continuing on…
Canon 668 - §1. Sodales ante primam professionem suorum bonorum administrationem cedant cui maluerint et, nisi constitutiones aliud ferant, de eorum usu et usufructu libere disponant. Testamentum autem, quod etiam in iure civili sit validum, saltem ante professionem perpetuam condant.
 §2. Ad has dispositiones iusta de causa mutandas et ad quemlibet actum ponendum circa bona temporalia, licentia Superioris competentis ad normam iuris proprii indigent. §3. Quidquid religiosus propria acquirit industria vel ratione instituti, acquirit instituto. Quae ei ratione pensionis, subventionis vel assecurationis quoquo modo obveniunt, instituto acquiruntur, nisi aliud iure proprio statuatur. §4. Qui ex instituti natura plene bonis suis renuntiare debet, illam renuntiationem, forma, quantum fieri potest, etiam iure civili valida, ante professionem perpetuam faciat a die emissae professionis valituram. Idem faciat professus a votis perpetuis, qui ad normam iuris proprii bonis suis pro parte vel totaliter de licentia supremi Moderatoris renuntiare velit. §5. Professus, qui ob instituti naturam plene bonis suis renuntiaverit, capacitatem acquirendi et possidendi amittit, ideoque actus voto paupertatis contrarios invalide ponit. Quae autem ei post renuntiationem obveniunt, instituto cedunt ad normam iuris proprii.
Canon 668 §1. Before first profession, members are to cede the administration of their goods to whomever they prefer and, unless the constitutions state otherwise, are to make disposition freely for their use and revenue. Moreover, at least before perpetual profession, they are to make a will which is to be valid also in civil law. §2. To change these dispositions for a just cause and to place any act regarding temporal goods, they need the permission of the superior competent according to the norm of proper law. §3. Whatever a religious acquires through personal effort or by reason of the institute, the religious acquires for the institute. Whatever accrues to a religious in any way by reason of pension, subsidy, or insurance is acquired for the institute unless proper law states otherwise. §4. A person who must renounce fully his or her goods due to the nature of the institute is to make that renunciation before perpetual profession in a form valid, as far as possible, even in civil law; it is to take effect from the day of profession. A perpetually professed religious who wishes to renounce his or her goods either partially or totally according to the norm of proper law and with the permission of the supreme moderator is to do the same. §5. [P] A professed religious who has renounced his or her goods fully due to the nature of the institute loses the capacity of acquiring and possessing and therefore [Q] invalidly places acts contrary to the vow of poverty. Moreover, whatever accrues to the professed after renunciation belongs to the institute according to the norm of proper law.
Inverse Canon 668 §5. [¬Q] A person who validly places acts contrary to the vow of poverty, [¬P]  is not a professed religious who has renounced his or her goods fully due to the nature of the institute and has lost the capacity of acquiring and possessing.
Again, we would not want to express the obligations of the professed religious in such a negative way, but an inverse exists nevertheless.
Canon 750 - §1. Fide divina et catholica ea omnia credenda sunt quae verbo Dei scripto vel tradito, uno scilicet fidei deposito Ecclesiae commisso, continentur, et insimul ut divinitus revelata proponuntur, sive ab Ecclesiae magisterio sollemni, sive ab eius magisterio ordinario et universali; quod quidem communi adhaesione christifidelium sub ductu sacri magisterii manifestatur; tenentur igitur omnesquascumque devitare doctrinas iisdem contrarias.
 §2. Firmiter etiam amplectenda ac retinenda sunt omnia et singula quae circa doctrinam de fide vel moribus ab Ecclesiae magisterio definitive proponuntur, scilicet quae ad idem fidei depositum sancte custodiendum et fideliter exponendum requiruntur; ideoque doctrinae Ecclesiae catholicae adversatur qui easdem propositiones definitive tenendas recusat. 
Canon 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them. §2. [P]  Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, [Q] one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Inverse Canon 750 §2. [¬Q] One who does not reject those propositions which are to be held definitively is not opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Therefore [¬P] he or she firmly embraces and retains each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith.
The inverse of Canon 750 is fairly easy to construct even as both the proposition P and consequence Q are quite elaborate, in keeping with the fullness and beauty of the deposit of faith. While the Code is not intrinsically theological, its invocation of the definitive propositions and the necessity of their protection of the faith elevates the beauty of the canons even as they delineate truth from error.
Canon 1235 - §1. Altare, seu mensa super quam Sacrificium eucharisticum celebratur, fixum dicitur, si ita exstruatur ut cum pavimento cohaereat ideoque amoveri nequeat; mobile vero, si transferri possit.
§2. Expedit in omni ecclesia altare fixum inesse; ceteris vero in locis, sacris celebrationibus destinatis, altare fixum vel mobile.
Canon 1235 §1. [P] An altar, or a table upon which the eucharistic sacrifice is celebrated, is called fixed if it is so constructed that it adheres to the floor and thus [Q] cannot be moved; it is called movable if it can be removed.                                                                             §2. It is desirable to have a fixed altar in every church, but a fixed or a movable altar in other places designated for sacred celebrations.
Inverse Canon 1235 §1[¬Q] An altar … that can be moved is [¬P] not called fixed and is not so constructed that it adheres to the floor.
The purpose of the first section of Canon 1235 is to provide simple definitions upon which the second section relies. Clearly the inversion is almost trivial as the first section of the canon is a near tautology.
Canon 1515 - Lite contestata, possessor rei alienae desinit esse bonae fidei; ideoque , si damnatur ut rem restituat, fructus quoque a contestationis die reddere debet et damna sarcire.
Canon 1515 [P] After the issue has been joined, the possessor of the property of another ceases to be in good faith; therefore, [Q] if the possessor is sentenced to restore the property, the person must also return the profits made from the day of the joinder and repair any damages. 
Inverse Canon 1515 [¬Q] If the possessor of property of another is not sentenced to restore the property, the person need not also return the profits made from the day of the joinder and need not repair any damages, [¬P] the issue has not been joined, and the possessor of the property of another has not ceased to be in good faith.
Canon 1515 cannot be understood apart from the larger context of preceding and following canons which govern adjudication of issues involving the Church and its members. Nevertheless, an inverse can be constructed. One other means of establishing the validity of the inverse is whether its inverse [¬¬Q, ¬¬P] is equivalent to the initial formula. [P, Q]. (Let the reader construct the proof of this assertion!)
Canon 1624 - De querela nullitatis videt ipse iudex qui sententiam tulit; quod si pars vereatur ne iudex, qui sententiam querela nullitatis impugnatam tulit, praeoccupatum animum habeat ideoque eum suspectum existimet, exigere potest ut alius iudex in eius locum subrogetur ad normam Canon 1450. 
Canon 1624 The judge who rendered the sentence deals with the complaint of nullity. [P] If the party fears that the judge who rendered the sentence challenged by the complaint of nullity is prejudiced and therefore [Q] considers the judge suspect, the party can demand that another judge be substituted according to the norm of Canon 1450.
Inverse Canon 1624. [¬Q] If the party does not consider the judge suspect, [¬P] the party does not fear that the judge who rendered the sentence challenged by the complaint of nullity is prejudiced.
An inverse of Canon 1624 is easily constructed if one notes that only part of the canon's text incorporates P/Q reasoning and therefore modus tollens applies to only that part.

Canon 1639 - §1. Salvo praescripto Canon 1683, in gradu appellationis non potest admitti nova petendi causa, ne per modum quidem utilis cumulationis; ideoque litis contestatio in eo tantum versari potest, ut prior sententia vel confirmetur vel reformetur sive ex toto sive ex parte.
 §2. Novae autem probationes admittuntur tantum ad normam Canon 1600.
Canon 1639 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of Canon 1683, [P] a new cause for petitioning cannot be admitted at the appellate grade, not even by way of useful accumulation; consequently, [Q] the joinder of the issue can only address whether the prior sentence is to be confirmed or revised either totally or partially. §2. New proofs, however, are admitted only according to the norm of Canon 1600.
Canon 1639 provides a challenge for producing an inverse via modus tollens. A solution may lie in the larger context. The canon is concerned with the appeal of an existing judgment. Were we to explore the negative of the last clause of §1, there are several possible conclusions. Should the joinder (the combination of two or more legal issues) not address whether the prior sentence is to be confirmed or revised, this might imply that the appeal is withdrawn, there never was an appeal, or the process is interrupted. Another possibility is to explore the implications of Canon 1683 as cited by Canon 1639:
Canon 1683 If a new ground of nullity of the marriage is alleged at the appellate grade, the tribunal can admit it and judge it as if in first instance.
If the conditions of 1683 apply, the joinder could address more than the sentence from a previous judgment.

Negating the consequent clause implies a new process. Inferring an inverse for Canon 1639 is straight-forward and valid, then, but almost meaningless.  
Inverse Can.1639 §1. [¬Q] If the joinder of the issue does not address whether the prior sentence is confirmed or revised either totally or partially; therefore, [¬P] a new cause for petitioning can be admitted at the appellate grade.
The last canon which contains ideoque is:
Canon 1696 - Causae de coniugum separatione ad publicum quoque bonum spectant; ideoque iis interesse semper debet promotor iustitiae, ad normam Canon 1433. 
Canon 1696 Cases concerning the separation of spouses also pertain to the public good; therefore the promoter of justice must always take part in them according to the norm of Canon 1433.
Inverse Canon 1696 [¬Q] The promoter of justice is not taking part in a case pertaining to the public good according to the norm of Canon 1433, therefore [¬P] there is no case concerning the separation of spouses.
The construct of inverse of Canon 1696 is a piece of cake. 

Conclusion

So, what is the point of this concrete, yet virtual exercise? It demonstrates that virtually every canon which includes ideoque contains a logical statement. In some cases tautologies lie in wait.  Returning to the part of the canon whose interpretation was so contentious:
Canon 277 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.
The apparent problem was this; there are validly ordained deacons who are validly married; and the Code of Canon Law acknowledges this fact:
Canon 281 §1. Since clerics dedicate themselves to ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve remuneration which is consistent with their condition, taking into account the nature of their function and the conditions of places and times, and by which they can provide for the necessities of their life as well as for the equitable payment of those whose services they need. §2. Provision must also be made so that they possess that social assistance which provides for their needs suitably if they suffer from illness, incapacity, or old age. §3. Married deacons who devote themselves completely to ecclesiastical ministry deserve remuneration by which they are able to provide for the support of themselves and their families. Those who receive remuneration by reason of a civil profession which they exercise or have exercised, however, are to take care of the needs of themselves and their families from the income derived from it. 
Canon  1031 §1. The presbyterate is not to be conferred except on those who have completed the twenty-fifth year of age and possess sufficient maturity; an interval of at least six months is to be observed between the diaconate and the presbyterate. Those destined to the presbyterate are to be admitted to the order of deacon only after completing the twenty-third year of age. §2. A candidate for the permanent diaconate who is not married is not to be admitted to the diaconate until after completing at least the twenty-fifth year of age; one who is married, not until after completing at least the thirty-fifth year of age and with the consent of his wife.
How do we deal with Canons 277, 281, and 1031? This is where modus tollens comes in.

As noted elsewhere in this blog, two documents written by now Cardinal Archbishop Coccopalmario, addressed and, in my opinion, ended the controversy. One concise, statement from one of the two letters reads:
Permanent deacons who are married prior to ordination do not have the obligation of celibacy (and therefore of continence) during the marriage. [emphasis added]
“Therefore!” Monus tollens raises its logical head. From Canon 277: Clerics are called to continence and therefore celibacy; married deacons: not celibacy and therefore not continence, with of course, chastity according to their state in life and charity to for all.

*Kimball, Roger, 1994, "The 'Two Cultures' today: On the C. P. Snow-F. R. Leavis controversy, New Criterion, February, 1994. http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/-The-Two-Cultures--today-4882

Friday, September 26, 2014

Science and Faith

A search for me as author on Amazon will produce links to three books, two of which are simply different formats, Paperback and Kindle of the same text, focused on a new, yet old, specialized ministry of Roman Catholic men. The third book is an expensive plate tectonics monograph.

What is it like to write books on such divergent topics? Is there a common thread lacing through each texts? Yes, there is.

However, it's going to require another book, which I've been working on for more than twenty-five years. The problem for me, however, is that I'm in the middle of another manuscript for still another book which has apparently been bumped to the front of the line, at least for now.

The Story of Wanda

Some three decades ago, in a southern diocese where we lived, my wife and I had been invited to a program of evangelization leadership training by a traveling priest, a gifted layman, and their team. Part of the gift of that experience was getting to know other Catholics from other parishes in the diocese. Upon completion of the training, we were sent back to our own parishes to implement the program we had gone through.
Many experiences came out of that program, including re-gathering of the leaders several months later. So it was that Wanda shared an experience that she and her girlfriend had. They were in a grocery store in their home town when they saw a young mother with her sick baby. They approached the woman and Wanda offered to pray for the baby. The mother said yes. They offered a simple prayer for healing of the baby and concluded their prayer with the sign of the cross. Immediately upon seeing the gesture, the woman pulled her baby back, saying, “Why do you make that sign? Don’t you know that he was crucified on a tree?” Wanda told us that she said to herself, “’Oh no, we’re in trouble here.’ The woman was obviously a Jehovah’s Witness.” So, she prayed quietly, “Lord what can I say?” The answer came quickly, as Wanda said, “I make the sign of the cross because I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” With that they left. You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Holy Trinity. Rather than get in an argument with the young mother, Wanda and her girlfriend witnessed to a foundational belief of Catholics. What happened to the woman and baby, I don’t know. While we periodically saw Wanda and her friend, they had not seen the woman again, at least until after we moved from that diocese.
What I did not mention above is that Wanda and her friend were black. They belonged to a small church with black parishioners in their hometown.  Sadly, just a few years later, after their pastor died – he was a charismatic white man – their small parish was closed. At the last Mass in the little church, many of the white parishioners in the much larger church joined their new fellow-parishioners and escorted them to the larger church. A bittersweet experience was succeeded by a new journey of the clearly integrated new (for Wanda and her former parish family) parish. Similarly, the separate charismatic prayer groups were merged.
The story goes on...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is called to be a deacon?

In answer to this post's subject, I have published a book entitled:

Every Man a Deacon? Who is called to ordination as a Roman Catholic deacon.

It is available in both paperback and Kindle.


You can preview the contents and in either format.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Beneath it all, he had class...
May he rest in peace and may the Lord have mercy on his soul.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Eye has not seen...

As has become my practice in recent years, I take advantage of websites which provide the prayers and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours rather than the designated volume. An American site, DivineOffice.org is the preferred service as it uses the readings from the American version, although I assume, for copyright reasons, it does not always produce the indicated hymn in the published Liturgy of the Hours (or Christian Prayer -- the condensed version). Sometimes DivineOffice.org is apparently down for maintenance or there are traffic issues, so I access www.Universalis.com which, while it utilizes other translations of the Liturgy, it has a smaller footprint and loads faster.

Today, the Feast in honor of St. Dominic. Universalis includes a familiar text of St. Paul's, designated for Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary time:
The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began. It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him. These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:7-10; taken from the Jerusalem Bible©; quotation with italics and bold are from the Universalis website)
The original New American Bible translation of the same text, taken from another site, Liturgies.net, reads:
There is a certain wisdom which we express among those who are spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away. Rather, we speak God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him," this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10a)
Meanwhile, DivineOffice.com provides the reading in honor of a priest-saint:  
To the elders among you I, a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and sharer in the glory that is to be revealed, make this appeal. God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care. Watch over it willingly as God would have you do, not under constraint; and not for shameful profit either, but generously. Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you, so that when the chief Shepherd appears you will win for yourselves the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Returning to the reading of St. Paul's, how often do we hear someone quoting "eye has not seen...," and then uses the citation as an encouragement of all the blessings we will have in heaven (God willing). But, notice how the verse above concludes: "These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (Jerusalem) or  "this God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (New American). When Paul uses the plural second person, "we" or "us" he is not invoking a royal "we" but, rather, means all believers. God has revealed himself through Christ Jesus -- we already have an understanding; we already know so much. Or, is it too much? We have to avoid presumption, but hold to the truth: the way, the truth, and the life, and then God reveals himself to us that we become a dwelling place of the Spirit, indeed the Holy Trinity.


Monday, July 15, 2013

I just noticed this bas-relief plaque on the index page for the Documents of Vatican Council II.


The figure on the left is that of Giovanni (John) XXIII. On the right is that of Paolo (Paul) VI. The former convened the council in 1962 and presided over it until his death in 1963. His successor, Paul VI, reconvened the Council, presiding until its completion in 1965. 
In the middle of the plaque is a patriarch of the Eastern Church flanked by two other bishops; I assume that none of the three is identified.
I have no further rationale for this post other than finding the plaque to be very intriguing.