More From the Fathers

Birch (Writing in Cell)

(Desmond Birch is one of the foremost living Eschatologists in the Church. He is, perhaps, best known for his great eschatological work, “Trial, Tribulation and Triumph: Before, During and After Antichrist.” Though meticulously detailed, it is a very accessible work for those who want to know what the Church formally teaches on this enigmatic subject. Birch does not entirely banish speculative prophecy from the book, but he takes great pains to separate what the Church formally teaches – what we know to be true – from what is not confirmed and also not condemned, material that we are free to consider. We became fast friends several years ago. Though we often disagree – which makes for lively dialogue – we deeply respect and enjoy each other’s very serious approach, respect for, and dedication to the authentic faith. Birch is one of the two or three most deeply knowledgable people I have ever met on the faith. He has been a distinguished lecturer at various seminaries and has conducted seminars at Dioceses around the world. Once he was looking for a passage to quote to me, found it in a Latin tome, and translated it on the spot in his study for me. I chose the picture above for this article because it follows naturally from the subject, but also because it amusingly reminds me of Birch’s study.-CJ)

By Desmond A. Birch

Charlie [and all],

I’ve taught and tutored ‘The Fathers’ now for over 40 years. Getting a basic feel for the lives, general thrust, and writings of the ‘Fathers of the Church’ per se is a daunting task. It is difficult at best even with the direction and advice of solid Patristic scholarship from your teachers/Profs.

The list of books recommended in James McAuley’s article isn’t bad at all – with one kind of caveat to be found below.

[Mind you, in what I’m about to write – I’m NOT trying to discourage anyone from trying to wade through the writings of the Fathers. But for the beginner, there is a COMPANION way to learn which I always recommend to students beginning study of the Church Fathers. I’ll cite this series a little later].

Here is the main problem for the non-professionals: For a professional teaching Patristics, it takes approximately 20 to 30 years to studiously get through the vast majority of the subject material. By the time they finish, they discover that they remember much of what they have read in a general manner – but they still often need a good reference library [private or one to which they have ready access] from which to refresh their memories and flesh out their thought.

Now, my intent here is not to denigrate anything recommended in the article above.

HOWEVER, I NEVER refer people to the writings of Origen without a gentle warning that, parts of Origen’s writings were condemned by several General Councils of the Church for containing material which is incompatible with the teachings of the Church – [as you will find referenced below in the words of Pope St. John Paul II].

Two examples are;

1) Origen’s teaching of a ‘Final Apocatastasis,’ some point at the end of salvation history at which all will be ‘regenerated reconciled with God.’ A number of Origen’s contemporaries chided him with questions as to whether Satan and the fallen angels will be released from hell at the end of time.

Of course – as those Councils, and John Paul II point out in his ‘Crossing the Threshold of Hope’,

“The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with ORIGEN and continuing in our time with Mikhail Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the “final apocatastasis,’ according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction”, and every creature would be saved, A THEORY WHICH INDIRECTLY ABOLISHED HELL [*emphasis mine*]. But the problem remains. Can God, who loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal punishment? AND YET, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel He clearly speaks of those who go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt. 25:46).”  [Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by His Holiness John Paul II, Pub. Alfred E. Knopf, New York, 1994, p.185.] 

John Paul II’s condemnation of these ideas in Origen could not be clearer. The Church has always condemned, the idea of Universal Salvation which Origen taught, as She does so to this day.

Additionally, here is just one of the paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches this with absolute certainty vis-a-vis the eternity of hell:

– *1035 * The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. 

Origen also taught the pre-existence of souls, i.e., that God pre-created the souls of all those who will ever come to life – and that those souls in some manner lay dormant till the creation of a human body here on earth – at which point God takes one of them out and joins it with the newly created body. [That is a crude explanation of Origen’s theory on the prior creation of all souls – but it essentially covers the subject.] The Church of course refuses this explanation, and holds that God creates the human soul of a human being “at the moment of conception”.

These theories of Origen were not formally condemned by the Church till after the death of Origen. Therefore, such heresies in Origen’s case were ‘material’ ones – not ‘formal’. In other words, his errors were in ignorance of the Church’s eventual formal teachings on such matters.

Never-the-less, I always pre-warn my students of the fact that there are some dangerously grave concepts and ideas to be found in the writings of Origen. I do that just before I recommend certain of Origen’s writings to them, such as his commentary of the ‘Song of Songs’ [amongst others]. I always try to have them read a reasonable number of selections from Origen’s commentary on that Book, before I have them read St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermons on same. (In 1830, P. Pius VIII declared St. Bernard to be a Doctor of the Church, with the title ‘Mellifluous Doctor’.)

Many of the Fathers made mistakes here and there. Therefore, amongst other works at hand in the library, I recommend the 3 vol. set of Fr. William A. Jurgens, ‘THE FAITH of the EARLY FATHERS, selected and translated by Rev. William A. Jurgens, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN., 1979. IT HAS AN EXCELLENT DOCTRINAL AND TOPICAL INDEX. This can be invaluable in ascertaining where a quote from one of the Fathers stands, within the body of the Church’s full teaching.

One final observation, as Pope Pius XII observed that, besides being a Doctor of the Church, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was chronologically speaking, the last Father of the Church.

Bernard, in large part, represents ‘large’ the great Monastic Tradition of scholarship – and thought on and explication of the writings of earlier Church Fathers. There is an excellent hard bound edition covering a vast amount of those writings of Bernard – with truly fruitful introduction and commentary on said writings. … [If anyone wishes to know where to get that edition, ask Charlie, and he will pass that request on to me and I can send any inquirer the salient information].

Why do I recommend Bernard’s writings so highly? Because, in fact, he integrates the best thought of the other Fathers, (as one example, of Origen) without any of the doctrinal errors some of them made.

All that having been said, I wish for all a most spiritually prosperous New Year, filled with God’s blessings and our recognition of them as such.

All my love in Christ



156 thoughts on “More From the Fathers

  1. “A good director must have a sound knowledge of the science of the soul – he or she must know the various spiritualities of the Church’s tradition and, more importantly, must have a firm grasp of the fundamental principles of the spiritual life. In this regard, St. Teresa is famed for having advised that, if we must choose, it is better to have a learned director than a holy one – since one who is learned will be able to advise the safest course to take in the spiritual life, but one who is holy (without being learned) will not know of any spirituality beyond his own.“

    Liked by 2 people

    1. JoeCro, I well remember reading St. Teresa writing on this issue. However, I have read from another spiritual writer, sadly who I cannot recall at this time, that it is the holy spiritual director we should seek out over the learned. The reason being is that the holy director, because of his humility, will not try and answer questions that he unqualified to do so and rather would refer the directee to a qualified spiritual director. I guess the optimal conclusion is that we should seek out a holy AND learned spiritual director. Tobit 4:18 “Seek the advise of every wise person.”

      Liked by 6 people

    2. And just like that, there he is. Hey, Joe.

      Tucked up under my gravatar is an email address where you can provide a mailing address if you so choose. It’s often my habit to pluck up little desert stones during my treks. The stones are reminders of various prayer intentions. “So happens I’ve got a small red river stone resting on an old Apache pottery shard. I’d like to send you that modest pairing.

      Now, if I can just dispense with this other stone. They’re all one-of-a-kind, but this one is highlighted by multi-colored strata and other quirky traits. It’s traversed a few hundred miles with me at this point. Oh, I’ll flush him out before it’s all said and done… because I’m shamelessly persistent.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. Whenever I think of The Fathers I think of the desert. As a child my dad used to talk to me about The Desert Fathers.

    In particular I think of the Fathers’ description of the Holy Spirit being the Seed of God.

    In reply to her question about how she would come to be with child, Mary was told by Gabriel the Archangel, “The Power of the Most High shall overshadow you and you shall be filled with The Holy Spirit”. And so it was that the very essence of God entered Mary and became one with her and she conceived His Son.

    In a recent private revelation to a Jewish convert to Catholicism (Virgin Mary appears to Harvard Professor utube) Mary told him that her favourite prayer to her was “Oh Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee” and that her favourite title was threefold “Beloved daughter of The Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit.”

    I must read more of this mystery as the Fathers saw it. The incarnation: God becoming man. The Eucharist: man becoming God. St Paul says that creation is groaning in one gigantic act of giving birth. And our Inspiration (as opposed to His Incarnation) will result in our bodies glorified in heaven.

    “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have life eternal in you.” Bread is normally assimilated in us. The Bread of Life assimilates us in God. One we take in, the other takes us in.

    This is not an itellectual or learned comment or even well informed by study – just my thoughts open to correction.

    Our Jewish witness says that Mary told him , when in his overwhelmed state in her presence he came close to worshipping her, “You understand nothing- I am a creature like you, I am a created thing and looking to God she said “He is everything.” When asked what the Holy Spirit was Mary looked up to God with an expression “melting with love” and said “He is His gaze.”

    Liked by 10 people

  3. Charlie, thank you for this follow-up to your last writing. I was somewhat concerned about the emphasis in the previous article on Origen’s writings, having done research on his writings some 20 years or so ago for a presentation. I was concerned that some may read his works believing that all that he wrote was in conformity with Church teaching. Thank you for the clarification here. We are so blessed to have the Councils and other Church authority guided by the Holy Spirit to filter out the truth for us. How blessed are we to live in a time when we were given the Catechism of the Catholic Church; one of the greatest gifts given to the Church by St. John Paul II.

    Additionally, I would ask that you please pray for my daughter, Stephanie, who will deliver her third child this Friday, the 4th. She lost her first child. The child she is currently pregnant for suffers from a fatal birth defect and is expected to live only an hour or so after birth. She decided early on, after learning of the child’s condition, that she would carry this child to term, as it was her baby, given by God, so as to love that child for whatever time she is allowed. Her local priest/deacon will be present to baptize her, and a large contingent of family will be present to greet and love her. Over the holidays Stephanie and her husband showed me the little coffin they obtained. It as a very painful, profound and solemn moment for them, my wife and I especially considering it was Christmas. From that moment I often thought about the Holy Innocents. While others around them were shopping and partying, my daughter and son-in-law spent Advent and the first part of Christmas choosing funeral homes, cemetery plots, burial clothes, etc. It is a bittersweet time, but I am so proud of my baby girl, and look forward to the birth of my 12th grandchild, Anna Grace. Thank you for your prayers for them; for us. Fiat Voluntas Tua!

    Liked by 15 people

    1. Oh Randal, what a powerful witness to the sanctity of life your daughter, her husband and your family are giving. Tucking you all in our prayers of adoration this evening. May your precious Anna Grace intercede for you and for us.

      Liked by 10 people

      1. Randal,
        What a great intercessory act of your children and granddaughter especially in these days of sacrifice of the innocent on the diabolical alter of abortion.
        St Fauctina relates a vision where being shown a scale with the world’s punishment on one end being outweighed by her religious order’s renewal of their vows on the other, reminds me of your daughters sacrifice being of just such a consequence to appease God’s judgement for a little longer.
        Mary of Agreda relates that the Holy Innocence (Matt 12:16) were given the knowledge of this martyrdom and asked if they would allow it for the Kingdom. They replied they would. Some of them where from the very same shepherds who had worshipped at the manger!
        I pray that your dear Anna Grace be given this same grace of infused knowledge as she too becomes, along with all the Holy Innocents, an intercessor for the Kingdom.

        Liked by 10 people

      2. Thank you all for your most generous prayers; we are deeply grateful! Our daughter Stephanie gave birth to her daughter, Anna Grace, at 7:42 a.m. today. Suffering from Anencephaly (birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull), she weighed only 5.0 lbs. She was baptized shortly after birth and was born into heaven six hours later at 1:43 p.m. today, on this the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. During those six hours she was deeply loved and cherished; she was hugged, kissed and caressed every minute of her short life. Her littleness and vulnerability reminded us of the Christ Child. She radiated God’s grace to all that saw and held her, having a profound effect on all of us present (family and medical personnel alike). Truly miracles were witnessed. It was something to behold. We have God to thank for His abundant graces, but also all of you for your generous prayers and sacrifices.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Randal, I am sorry for the loss. May God wrap His fatherly arms around you all, and may Mary cover you all with her mantle. And may dear Anna Grace pray for us here at TNRS-ASOH.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. Randal, tears fill my eyes and love and prayers for you and your family fill my heart as I offer them up for your consolation at this difficult time.

      May God bless Anna Grace, her parents and sibling with much hope, faith and love as they themselves are witnesses to God’s grace.

      Liked by 9 people

    3. Heartfelt condolences, Randall. They’re definitely buoyed by the Holy Spirit to have the fortitude in carrying out those heartbreaking tasks. May Our Lady of Sorrows sustain them in their time of grief.
      (Frank, I was unaware of the Mary of Agreda info, l appreciate your sharing that which is probably given knowledge to a lot here, but usually news to a few like myself.)

      Liked by 4 people

    4. Randal, I have tears in my eyes as write this. I will pray for Stephanie, Anna Grace, and your entire family. I can’t even imagine what you all are going through. May God bless and comfort you all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes we do indeed learn from each other. I had a brief encounter with Desmond back in June when he kindly responded to an enquiry I made about alien life forms. I have failed to find any reference to this in the writings of the Fathers but there is an ocean of reference elsewhere- some of it learned and erudite. As for me I believe in the witness given by The Blessed Mother at Garabandal. A simple soul like mysekf needs to keep it simple.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. It sounds to me dearest Desmond, that from early on, the battle of this world is to be summed up in one thing; the battle for souls.

    Whew….God’s saving grace and the prayers & sacrifices of the communion of saints seem to dominate today as they did long ago.

    But the difference today it seems to me (but what do I know) is this mass apostasy or mass denial of God or mass ignorance of God due to all the ‘isms of our time and the triumph of technology over belief in the One True God!!!

    I remember as a youth thinking, “I hope God never finds out I did this dumb thing or that dumb thing that dumb kids do! Ha!!!

    It’s a wonderful time to be alive and yet horrible all at the same time.

    Thank you, Desmond for your references to all these good reads. This was a fascinating piece!!! I’ll look for all your reccomendations for sure! God bless you so much🤗😇💖

    Xoxo TNRS ASOH God save all here, eh Crew Dog😆

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Linda, You are very welcome. You observed, “… this mass apostasy or mass denial of God [of today] or mass ignorance of God due to all the ‘isms of our time and the triumph of technology over belief in the One True God!!!”

      Linda, today – in the West – we have held the vast majority of wealth and power in the world for centuries. Money and power always tend to corrupt. Here in the West, we are merely seeing the highly predictable moral and material corruption which tends to follow in the wake of great wealth.

      BUT, if we look to the poorest nations of the 3rd world, in many places they are converting to Jesus Christ by the millions and millions.

      I recall that on a speaking tour 3 or 4 years ago, I had just completed a presentation on the poverty [spiritual] necessary to truly follow Christ, and the dastardly consequences of great wealth in our Western Culture. I concluded with the advisement that the families present commit to living lives of great prayer, sacrifice, and penance. I said the world was converting before the very eyes of us Westerners – and we are hardly aware of it. Africa and Asia are turning in mass conversion centers – under the radar of the media or people of the West. The apostasy and heresy we see in the West is being counter-balanced by mass conversion in much of he 3rd World.

      This is the work of the Holy Spirit, his human missionaries, and a reaction to the wild corruption of and in the West. They see our decadence and moral uselessness. They are revolted by it and pity us. And they are right. god’s grace never goes to waste. What one rejects, another accepts.

      All my love in Christ


      Liked by 2 people

      1. I meant to add – but forgot: One of the priests in attendance was from Nigeria. He publicly confirmed my statements that the poor Christians in those countries [& specifically Africa] are poor as dirt — yet they are joyfully happy compared with us Westerners — Joyfully! They live what they understand. We are but short-term pilgrims here — and then comes our eternity — with its rewards or final purifications for heaven or eternal punishments. They live from day to day with that clear understanding before their eyes. Most of them have only the clothes on their backs and hope for a meal that day — but they are joyously happy per St. Paul’s recommendations.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That is so beautiful to know about all that you just explained to me. Thank you for all you did to take the time to write all that out to me. Warmest, Linda🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry, Gang …. but I believe that Pope Francis, his Vatican Staff and his like minded supporters Worldwide are using the very same tactics, words and phrases that the Global Left is using. If you are Pro-Life, you HATE women, if you are for border security and properly regulated immigration, you HATE migrants, if you believe in Man/Woman Marriage, you HATE Gays … and so on! Debate is NOT an option. Support The Agenda or We Demonize YOU … and eventually … inevitably …. WORSE!
    Divide, Distort, Distract, Demonize & Confuse! All ancient tactics that were laid out in “Rules for Radicals”! ;-(

    Pope Francis Warns: Haters Should Not Go to Church

    Get a load of SanFran Nanny! Sacred Duty? … Oh …. but DO NOT protect the MOST INNOCENT in the womb …. Right Nanny!!?

    Nancy Pelosi: It’s ‘Our Sacred Moral Responsibility to Protect God’s Creation for Our Children’

    “Crisis” Magazine is chock full of thought provoking articles:

    What Nationalism Means Today

    Pope Francis, Indifferentism, and Islamization

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!! …. & Merry 10th Day of Christmas 😉

    Liked by 10 people

    1. I hear ya’, Crew Dog. Lots to ponder and discern as we continue in prayer, fasting and defending truth in these days. Our Blessed Mother said there’d be days like this. Brings to mind an old tune, only we’re not almost losing our minds over boys but over all that is around us. Heavy on the “almost.” Our Holy Mama said that, in the end, her Immaculate Heart would triumph!

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Desmond,

    Origen’s position on the apocatastasis is only found in On First Principles, Book one 6:3. The idea that Origen believed that all would be saved is misleading as he denied this position, as attested by both St. Jerome and dear ole Rufinus. Origen also, in what Robert Heine believes to be Origen’s last work, his Commentary on Matthew, in Book ten part 12-13 states that souls will be lost and cast into the fiery furnace of hell. If anyone is responsible for pushing the idea of the apocatastasis, that would be saint Gregory of Nyssa, who Von Balthasar also studied.

    Desmond, respectfully, I do not think it just or prudent to malign Origen with the broad brush of “dangerously grave concepts and ideas.” Origen is not a pernicious heretic like Luther or Calvin. I never met anyone who, after reading Origen, believed in the pre-existence of souls. By using such a broad brush, people are likely to ignore Origen when he is one of the best resources for the growth in holiness through scripture

    Unfortunately, the opinion that Origen was a dangerous heretic, lead to the destruction of much of his work, such as his homilies on 1 Corinthians, of which we only have valuable fragments. We could also profit much, reading his homilies on Ezekial, that Thomas Scheck ablely translated for Paulist Press, #62 in the Ancient Christian Writers series.

    Regarding the great St. Bernard, I have always directed people to Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works, in the Classics of Western Spirituality series from Paulist Press. It also has the benefit of containing Bernard’s sermons on the Song of Songs, which are beautiful.

    Anyway, Desmond I hope I do not come across as arrogant, argumentative, or not picky. If I do, I apologize . There are enough hard feelings and divisions out there and I do not want to contribute to them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The comment on choosing a ‘holy’ spiritual director comes from St. Theresa of Avila. The full context is the following. Theresa was asked which she would choose for a spiritual director – if her only choices were a ‘holy’ one or a ‘really smart’ on. Her response was that she would ‘choose the smart one, because a smart one can always become holy, but a holy one who is not smart will never become smart.’ [She had also a great sense of humor

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Brilliant Desmond – reminds me of Winston Churchill when criticised for his drinking;
        ‘My dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly’:
        Of course St Teresa was much more charitable.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I spent Christmas Day with Desmond and his wife and two other friends at their home. Coincidentally, that evening, he and I discussed the peculiar case of Origen, who had so much gold to offer, but with a serious bit of dross, too. In fairness, James, I did not get from anything in Desmond’s article that Origen was a “dangerous heretic.” He was a material heretic, as I have heard even some of his enthusiasts concede (again, ‘material’ means he was NOT defiant of the Church, but merely propounded several ideas that were LATER condemned…most of us who deal in the realm of ideas have ventured into the realm of material heresy, even if only briefly. Formal heresy is the type that knowingly rebels against authentic Church teaching – and no one has ever accused Origen of that). Rather, all I saw was the same sort of things Desmond and I have discussed privately before, that Origen is an important resource with the caveat that Desmond offered.

      I am enthused that the two of you have engaged, as it helps illustrate my point that all of us, including the Fathers, have feet of clay – and that our primary virtue is to persist and endure. People all too often are looking for a Saint to be their infallible oracle, rather than great heroes to help them as we reason together, each working out our salvation with fear and trembling. As I had said, Desmond is one of the two or three most knowledgeable men on the subject I have ever met. James IS the most genuinely knowledgeable layman I have ever met. I am benefitting from their somewhat different perspectives, well-stated, and pray that we all will…both in the material to consider and in the realization that none of this is as easy as it looks.

      Also, I received very sorrowful news this morning. My original spiritual director, Monsignor William Stetson, one of the great Canon Lawyers of his time, advisor to a host of Bishops, the Priest who put together the Pastoral Provision (the process for bringing in Anglican Priests to the Catholic Clergy), passed on early this morning in Los Angeles. He WAS the most formidable intellect I have ever encountered. I had been told with the New Year that he was sinking fast. Next week I will write a tribute to him. Please offer your prayers for him.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. Oh Charlie, my condolences to you on the passing of one so dear to you. What a Priest of God he must have been! Surely praying for the repose of his soul. Praying, too, for all who love him. I can just imagine him beaming down on us, Next Right Steppers, as we make our way through these times. More than that, I’ll be calling on him when I’m in need of special help. I’ll tell him: “I KNOW you can help me, Monsignor, because Charlie introduced you to me!” Truly, may he remain close to us here, interceding for us all as we pass through the raging waters of this Storm.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Already have, Charlie. As you know, I knew Msgr Stetson, and we had a number of solid theological conversations [he was no theological wanna-be or lightweight – but a solid theological intellect].I have already prayed for him and will continue to do so. He will be missed.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Thank you Dez. Ha, only once do I remember backing Fr. Bill (as I always called him) into a purely intellectual corner. As soon as I asked the key question that revealed it, he knew his error and started spluttering – and then just dropped it. I was gleeful…and then I understood why some of my family and closest friends get such joy when they back me into a corner of my own making. Oh, he was a formidable – and simultaneously fun – man.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Charlie, I didn’t know you had had that kind of experience with him once. As I discussed with you once, that occured between him and me once also. But it sticks in my memory because he just wasn’t in the habit of making theological mistakes or misstatements. That was why such occurrences stick in one’s memory.

            Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you for letting us know, Charlie. I will keep Monsignor Stetson in my heart-prayers.

        And . . . I mean no disrespect here: I will now remember him when I put on my cowboy hat (yes, I have a Stetson and wear it as needed). ❤ 😉

        Liked by 5 people

      4. Charlie, I’m praying for you and those who knew and loved Monsignor Stetson. Praying for the repose of Monsignor’s soul. May he intercede for us in heaven.


    3. James, I will simply begin by observing that you have placed words in my mouth in several instances – which I never said – nor did I imply.

      I never accused Origen of being a pernicious heretic. Pernicious heretics are men who knowingly willfully defy the teachings and formal declarations of the Church on matters of Faith and Morals.

      If I thought that he was such, I would never present to my students numerous of the works of Origen for their consideration – which I also clearly stated that I do.

      I did not misrepresent Origen’s position on a Final Apocatastasis [as Pope John Paul makes clear in the citation I gave from his Crossing the Threshold of Hope]. John Paul therein bundles in Origen with Balthasar’s cryptic “Dare We Hope’ [that all will be saved]. Yet John Paul treats Balthasar with respect. And he does not try to put words in Balthasar’s mouth. He just states the facts – every by reflection calling Balthasar a “great mind”. 🙂

      If you will excuse me for the observation – it might serve you well to listen to Pope St. John Paul II, one of the Greatest scholars in the history of the Church – who makes it quite clear that ORIGEN DID NOT BELIEVE IN AN ETERNAL HELL – and that those Councils accurately ruled Origen did not so believe. If you have a problem with that analysis, your problem is not with me. It is with many such Churchmen of great stature – of which JP II is only one – even if many do refer to him as ‘John Paul the Great.

      I’ve quite conversant with the arguments contemporarily used in attempts to rehabilitate Origen vis-a-vis his position on a Final Apocatastasis. 🙂 One of my colleagues where I teach tries to use them continually. [He is the only prof there who so does – and is constantly being kidded about it with things like “You know, you really should have straightened out John Paul II on this before he died. You at least owed him that didn’t you? 🙂 ]

      Also, those ‘rehab’ attempts must also try to ignore Origen’s arguments for the ‘pre-existence of souls’. They know the case on that false teaching is so air tight that they would look quite foolish if they tried to claim Origen never thought or said it.

      Again, I presented not the ‘pernicious heretic’ view of Origen – but the balanced view of a great scholar who made some serious mistakes in his ‘speculative’ theology.

      I bear you no ill will. One gets quite used to very strongly voiced opinions in academe. The basic survival rule there is, ‘Never underestimate your adversary – not even when he is a colleague. 🙂

      All my love in Christ


      Liked by 3 people

      1. Desmond,

        I quoted from you when you said: “Never-the-less, I always pre-warn my students of the fact that there are some dangerously grave concepts and ideas to be found in the writings of Origen.” I never said that you said Origen was pernicious, and I apologize for not being clear. But, the ordinary reasonable person will read your above quote and come to the conclusion that “Origen [is] dangerous.” The next logical leap in the minds of people would be to think that “Origen is pernicious.” I agree, it is not what you said or intended to be understood, but that is how people will understand it, that is, that people will often make inferences that neither you nor I intended, and, the result is that people make a intellectual leap that you did not intend and then they will come to the conclusion that Origen is dangerous to read, and thus on the same level as a Luther. I note you did not disagree about Luther and Calvin being labeled that way. (here I am smiling).

        That St. John Paul the Great made a mistake in a non-dogmatic work is not a big deal, nor does not take away anything from JP’s holiness or greatness. That very fine book (I read it back when it came out, but I do not have it next to me as I type, it is back home on the shelf) is not intended to be a work of patristic scholarship, so I would not use it as a source to define Origen’s position. The great JP often leaned on others, such as Balthasar. Sometimes those others made mistakes. Balthasar, a great mind who loved God, certainly made a mistake in this matter, and the source of his error is St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great and holy man who clearly believed in the apocatastasis that people accuse Origen of. On a side note, we owe much of our modern revival of scholarship in Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor to Balthasar.

        There simply is no primary source evidence surviving by Origen that states he believed that there was no hell. A concise academic explanation is in Michael S. Domeracki’s fine paper “Origen and the Possible Restoration of the Devil. Short (12 pages), documented, and to the point.

        There is no dispute that Origen believed in the silly pre-existence of souls. But, this error does not nullify the value of his work. I mentioned to you Trigg’s upcoming translation. Wait to you see the Homilies on Psalm 73 when they come out . . . incredible work . . . and there is an interesting discussion in the second Homily on Psalm 73 on communion in Christ versus communion with the devil.

        Desmond, what is being overlooked, is that these same works of Origen and Gregory regarding the apocatastasis could also be understood as primitive and confused attempt to describe purgatory – Origen’s Homily 12 on Jermeiah, Gregory’s “On the Soul and Resurrection” and his “catechetical oration #82 – it all depends how you wish to read them. That is something that I believe has been touched on by others (maybe apologist Dave Armstrong?), and, if I recall correctly, is found in “The Teachings of the Church Fathers,” that one volume anthology published by Ignatius Press in 2002 – please do not hold me to it, I gave the book away to someone who needed it.

        Anyway, you may be surprised to know that I am one of the book surces for Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. The next project I am helping Peter out on is to get Pius Parsch’s “The Church’s Year of Grace” reprinted. I am supplying my pal Peter the superb 1962 Litrugical Press edition. I gave him “The Breviary Explained by Parsch, that Peter had reprinted.

        I gave Charlie permision to send you my email, so may be we can have our fun that way. Email me and I will send you some good stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. James, I described certain ‘cencepts’ of Origen as ‘dangerous’. I was quite specific about that. Origen is clearly and definitely from and if the East in the Church. He is most heavily promote – without caveat – IN THE EAST – ESPECIALLY IN ‘EASTERN ORTHODOXY’. They are infamous for for rejecting any concept which could be construed as ‘purgatorial’ in nature. That, right along eith their opposition to the ‘Filioque’ in the Creed,and opposition to the Primacy of Peter, are the hallmarks of specifically Eastern theology. It would seem ‘passing strange’ for the Eastern sons of Origen – who reject Purgatory out of hand – to have received their anti- Purgatorial posture given Origen’s position on ‘final recapitulation’. That leaves all men with no necessity for a purification from our sins prior to the beatific vision. Halleluia John Calvin.


          1. Desmond, more of Origen was preserved in the Latin west than the Greek east. That should tell you something. The modern revival of studies of Origen by the Orthodox has to do with the Russian exiles in post World War I Paris being exposed to the Catholic patristic revival at that time.

            Purgatory is not as un-Orthodox as you might think. As one Orthodox priest said, off the record “[s]ure we believe in a form of purgatory, just not that it consists of material fire. Spiritual fire, yes, material fire, no.”
            It always depends who in Orthodoxy you talk to, they are as badly divided internally as we Catholics are, with the biggest division being the conservatives lead by Moscow (many of whom see their Patriarch as a liberal!) And the liberals lead by the Greeks.

            The filioque is bigger issue for protestant and Catholic converts to Orthodoxy than it is for most Orthodox. These same people (the converts) will revive long dormant controversies on asymes, etc.

            But to imply the Orthodox are Calvinists in regard to after death purification? Come on, Desmond, that is not true. It is the Orthodox position that there is a post death purification, and that is why they offer liturgies and prayers for the dead. Look up the panakhyda liturgy some time and you will see.


            1. James, I never said that. Again, I have words placed in my mouth which I never thought nor uttered.

              My point is that, the Eastern Orthodox vociferously deny the Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory. This kind of knowledge is common coin amongst scholars [or even serious students] of the subject. Many Popes have discussed it publicly. There is no question about that being their position.

              At the Council of Lyon in 1274 and of Florence in 1438-39 A.D. [AS EXPLAINED BY THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA], the Latin spokesmen openly discussed all the major issues which separated Catholicism from Eastern Orthodoxy – discussed them with the Eastern Orthodox spokesmen.

              The purpose was to try to reunite Christendom at that time. In the material I’m citing from the Catholic Encyclopedia, they cite the major points of division between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism. They are

              1) The Primacy of Peter [the primacy of the Papacy],

              2) the Filioque [the word in the Niceno-Constanipolitan Creed which states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON [Filioque – and the son in Latin].

              3) Azyme Bread,

              4) PURGATORY [The Eastern Orthodox specifically deny the Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory.]

              5. Celibacy [of clergy].

              Here is the part of the Catechism article which discussed this point:

              Councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1438)
              It was, in the first instance, with the Orthodox that Rome treated with a view to reunion. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39) were the first efforts on a large scale. And at Florence were at least some representatives of all the other Eastern Churches; as a kind of supplement to the great affair of the Orthodox, reunion with them was considered too. None of these reunions were stable. Nevertheless they were, and they remain, important facts. They (the union of Florence especially) were preceded by elaborate discussions in which the attitudes of East and West, Orthodox and Catholic, were clearly compared. Every question was examined — the primacy, the Filioque, azyme bread, purgatory, celibacy, etc.


              Liked by 1 person

        2. I really regret having to repeat myself on this😍but I never said, implied, or thought that any of Origen’s errors in his ‘speculative’ theology nullified the value of his other work. I’ve never seen anyone, no matter how charged up they were about his ‘final apocatastasis’ or pre-existence of souls – who has not recognized his worth and greatness in so much of his exegesis. And as I’ve clearly stated numerous times now —- I am no exception to that recognition. I simply understand the immense danger and damage results from promotion of Universal Salvation —- whether it emanates from von Balthasar, Origen, or anyone else.

          Sent from my iPhone


          Liked by 1 person

      2. Desmond,
        I humbly offer this comment on “Origen’s arguments for the pre-existence of souls” only in the interest of clarification. not argumentation or criticism.

        Your comment, ” the case on that false teaching, Origen’s arguments for the pre-existence of souls is so air tight” may not be false and not so air tight according to the late Father Karl Rahner, S.J., Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of innsbruck, Austria, In his book of personal prayers to God, Encounters with Silence, Father Rahner prays his theology when he writes,

        “I should like to speak with You, my God, and yet what else can I speak of but You? Indeed, could anything at all exist which had not been present with You from all eternity, which didn’t have its true home and most intimate explanation in your mind and heart?”

        I may be totally in error, but as I see it, according to Father Rahner’s theology, all souls and all creation were present with God from all eternity. Therefore, the eternal soul is infused into the body at the moment of conception of a child. How Father Rahner’s theology arrives at his theological reasoning is very complex and, I believe it derives from the incomprehensible simplicity of the essence of God. I am open to be educated and corrected.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Joseph, thank you. I am very familiar with the writings of karlb Rahner. I set an entire section of TTT to a critique of them. Rahner setforth quite a number of ‘opinions’ which are not in synch with the traditional teachings of the Church. Is that just my opinión? Not at all. His most famous student was & is Joseph Ratzinger, later to brcome Pope Benedict XVI. When he was asked about 15 years ago at a theological conference whst he thinks of the theology of Rahner, he replied, “He (Rahner) is from a different planet.”

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Joseph, I don’t see Desmond weighing in yet, but cam tell you without talking out of school that he considers Karl Rahner one of the most vicious modernist influences and error-prone theologians in the last century. I say I can tell you without talking out of school because, though he is gentlemanly, he goes to great lengths in his book, Trial, Tribulation and Triumph, to go through some of the many errors of Rahner and the whole “Contemporary Theological Movement” (CTM) that took hold in the 60’s and 70’s. Birch does not shy away from noting Rahner’s good reputation in such circles at the time, but he does go through specific and voluminous citations from what Rahner says and how it differs from formal Church teaching. I agree that Rahner and the CTM did immense, perhaps even catastrophic damage to people’s understanding of what the Church actually teaches. I think that was the beginning of serious warfare by some internally to argue that there is no objective truth.

          Be careful in citing someone you have read as evidence against Birch’s take as if this will be news to him. You may legitimately disagree with him, but you are NOT going to catch him by surprise. Birch has read more exhaustively than anyone I know of all the significant (and quite a few insignificant) figures in Church history on these subjects – whether they are compatible with him or not. It’s one of the things I admire about him: he wants to get it right, so examines every piece of evidence both for and against before coming to a settled judgment.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. I might have said it with significantly increased reserve – but you have captured the central core of the issues involved. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

            1. “I should like to speak with You, my God, and yet what else can I speak of but You? Indeed, could anything at all exist which had not been present with You from all eternity, which didn’t have its true home and most intimate explanation in your mind and heart?” (Rahner)
              I am not familiar with Rahner’s topic on this but if God is omniscient and omnipresent, could this be the reasoning of Rahner?
              Was he relating God’s ‘presence’ to all things all the time -past, present and future, which He still enjoys? If so, than in a certain way creation was, is and ever shall be present to Him and possibly Rahner just described this reality rather clumsily?
              If our genius is actually His genius, are we not truly His? We are made from nothing ( actually clay or slime) but His power made these things and from these things made from God we are and our origin is God. If God has always been and has always been omnipresent than we have been/are present to Him always. If the power of God and our image have/are always present in Him and is the same power and image used to create us than are we who are created by it, in a sence, a part of His “alwaysness”?
              Am I reaching here?


          2. Hi Charlie
            Your thoughts that Rahner was responsible for initiating a trend that opposed the principle of objective truth stirred my memory. During a conversation I once had with an atheist Oxbridge PhD, he claimed that objective truth did not exist. I asked him if he was saying that it was true to say that objective truth did not exist. I then suggested that the statement that objective truth does not exist is self contradictory. He did not respond. Because I am a student of neither philosophy nor theology I have never been sure if his reticense was due to the validity or stupidity of my proposition. Was my question worthy of consideration or was it just typical of a non academic? Or was the problem that the answer was too much for an untrained mind such as mine and therefore not worth giving. I would be grateful for your thoughts and those of James and Desmond. Thank you.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. What I used to ssy in response to such in the 1960’s was, so you are saying thrr is no abdolute truth? They wiuld hav to say yes – or lose face. When they responddd ‘yes’ – I would ask, will you state thst absolutely? 🙂 At that point, they are destroyed.

              Liked by 3 people

            2. Joe, in all charity, Karl Rahner is pernicious. Everything Charlie and Desmond have said of Karl Rahner is correct.

              Your argument to the atheist professor is correct.

              Rarely , does anyone ask how Rahner gained so much influence. What is forgotten is that the thomistic revival, ignaugerated by by Pope Leo XIII ‘s excellent encyclical Aeterni Patris in 1879, had unintended consequences. Pius X, in his efforts to stamp out the evil of modernism, required all Catholic seminaries to teach Thomas, and to adopt Thomism as the primary teaching approach. This had an unintended consequence that religious orders, such as the Franciscans and Jesuits found that there intellectual traditions were swept away for what they saw as a Dominican approach. Older Franciscans and Jesuits told me stories of how the use of Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, Molina and Suarez were suppressed, and visitors came from Rome to ensure compliance, with the result being that orthodox teachers who were Scotists, for example, were removed/purged and so on. In Italy, work on the critical editions of St. Bonaventure was stopped as anti-Thomistic! So, the Devil had an opportunity to subtly fan resentment in the Franciscans and Jesuits. The Franciscans began cultivating William of Ockham surreptitiously as a passive aggressive response and the revival of Ockham’s nominalist thought had a poisonous affect on the Franciscans. In their passive aggressive response, certain Franciscans did not think through what noxious effect a revival of Ockham (the intellectual father of Luther) would have on their order and the Church.

              The Jesuits, on the other hand, gave vent to their dissatisfaction by cultivating what would be known as the “new theology.” Without going into too much detail, new theology claimed to be a development of Thomism, which, under the guise of Thomism, allowed it to make successful inroads in seminaries before Vatican II. Just 20 years ago, most
              Roman Catholic priests I knew were disciples of Karl Rahner.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Ha, James! I did not use the word ‘pernicious’ about Rahner, but I wanted to. Thanks for just coming out and saying it. I suspect an angel somewhere is chuckling that, “Look at that, James just went where Charlie feared to tread.”

                Liked by 1 person

              2. Hi James
                Thank you for your comprehensive response. It brought back many buried memories. My young mind must have been a real sponge. In particular it made me think of discussions with my uncle Canon Jack Crozier, chaplain to the RAF and Oxford Uni who had a great interest in Duns Scotus. I had forgotten how tough skinned you have to be to survive in the world of the academic. I also had two grand uncles who were Jesuits, both men of giant intellect but also gentle and caring of heart. Desmond quotes Benedict XVI as saying Rahner was from another planet. The same was said of my Grand Uncle Willie S.J. but in his regard it was meant as a compliment so high above normal was his intellect.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Following an inquiry as to whether I could pick out a couple of examples on Rahner’s theology which might make his dissidence clear to those outside his most enchanted followers.

                  First, Benedict XVI, [formerly Fr. Joseph ratzinger] did not make one big jump away from Rahner, his former professor of theology. Rather, beginning in the early 1970, Benedict began to gradually distance himself from his former professor.

                  What kind of issues initiated this ‘distancing’? I was asked if I could give a couple of examples which would speak loudly on the issue to all but those defenders of Rahner who will try to explain away almost anything he wrote or said.

                  I’ll give you a couple of passages out of Trial, ‘Tribulation & Triumph’ which will mark a beginning to understanding Ratzinger – then Benedict XVI moved gradually away from Rahner.

                  3. Rahner on “Scripture Alone”

                  Rahner clearly states that 16th century Protestants (in their doctrine of “Scripture Alone”) are part of “an equally authentic” Catholic “theological tradition”;

                  it is our duty to take as seriously as possible the Protestant principle of Scripture alone, because that implies an authentic religious experience and in my opinion, an equally authentic theological tradition which goes back to Catholicism of the past.
                  [emphasis – author’s]

                  Karl Rahner wrote the passage quoted directly above in 1968, three years after the close of Vatican Council II. That was just one year after von Hildebrand wrote Trojan Horse in the City of God warning of the danger in many of the teachings of some extreme higher critics. Rahner’s statement appears to run clearly contrary to what the Council Fathers defined in the Vatican II document, Dei Verbum.

                  In order to adequately cover Rahner’s twisted ‘Ascent [versus Descent] Incarnation’ theories, I’ve have to copy almost two pages or more of TTT. Suffice it to say that Rahner clearly states that St. Paul and the Apostle John changed the original Church teaching about the Incarnation – where the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity “descended” and became man. Rahner was rather enamored with the idea [never stated all absolutely clearly mind you] of an ascent incarnation – when man evolved and eventually becomes God. [Rahner’s theories hold much in common with his fellow Jesuit, Tielhard de Chardin and his ‘Omega Point’.


                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Desmond
                    I can only speak for myself with regard to Rahner: the meaning of the quotation from Benedict describing Rahner as being from another ‘theological’ planet was never complimentary in my mind. I know nothing about Rahner but the context in which Benedicts quote was given by you made clear his meaning. Thank you.

                    Liked by 1 person

          3. Charlie,
            Pope St. John XXXIII electrified the world of Christianity when he convoked the Second Vatican Counsel. Pope John wanted to “open the windows of the Church to let the fresh air in” and renew the Church. The 60s were a glorious and exciting time to be alive and witness the transformation of the Catholic Church by the assembly of Bishops in Vatican Council. The newspapers and journalists communicated all the details of the Council’s proceedings so that we were informed of the deliberations, views and decisions of the participants. The negative comments of Father Karl Rahner and his theology on ASOH, is contrary to the praise and admiration of of his peers. Therefore,

            I researched the biography of Father Karl Rahner and found an exhaustive article of his life and work on In the interests of justice and charity, I post verbatim (see below) the Church’s acceptance/condemnation of his voluminous theological work. I discovered Father Rahner’s few erroneous theological positions were so little regarded as to be almost forgotten when compared to the great body of his orthodox theological work for which he is considered to be one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century and beyond.

            All those who reject Father Rahner and his theological expertise must know, but have not publicly acknowledged, he was appointed by Pope St. John XXXIII a peritus (expert advisor) to the Second Vatican Council. Father Rahner’s influence in the Council was widespread and he was chosen as one of the seven theologians who would develop Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic explication of the doctrine of the Church. The Vatican II Council and the promulgation of all its documents must be accepted by the faithful as the infallible teachings of the Catholic Church.

            Charlie, please note the last note below: Father Rahner’s theology of God’s universal salvific revelation had great influence on ending the “cold war” between the Catholic Church and Protestants. His desire to support and encourage the ecumenical movement, the efforts by Christians of different church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings, was Father Rahner‘s influence which encouraged the Catholic Church to invite Protestant leaders to attend the Vatican II Council. In effect, Father Rahner was instrumental in ending the Catholic Church’s “fortress mentality” and become more open and welcoming to all Christian communities of faith.

            Pope Benedict’s response to the question of Father Rahner, “He is from another planet,” may refer to the difficulty of understanding the complexity of his written statements, not to his orthodoxy. Father Rahner’s brother, a priest quipped, he was going to translate his brother’s theology—into German!

            Such as it is poorly written, I rest my case as to the orthodoxy of one of the greatest and most influential theologians of the 20th Century and beyond, Father Karl Rahner, S.J.

            P.S. I will continue to enjoy reading and meditating on Father Rahner’s great book of his humble, mystical, theological prayer, Encounters with Silence, in which he soars as an eagle to the very shores of God’s infinity.

            (Excerpts from copied and pasted)
            Karl Rahner SJ (5 March 1904 – 30 March 1984) was a German Jesuit priest and theologian who, alongside Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Yves Congar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. He was the brother of Hugo Rahner, also a Jesuit scholar.

            In early 1962, with no prior warning, Rahner’s superiors in the Society of Jesus told him that he was under Rome’s pre-censorship, which meant that he could not publish or lecture without advance permission. The objections of the Roman authorities focused mainly on Rahner’s views on the Eucharist and Mariology[citation needed],

            However the practical import of the pre-censorship decision was voided in November 1962 when, without any objection, John XXIII appointed Rahner a peritus (expert advisor) to the Second Vatican Council: Rahner had complete access to the council and numerous opportunities to share his thought with the participants. Rahner’s influence at Vatican II was thus widespread, and he was subsequently chosen as one of seven theologians who would develop Lumen gentium, the dogmatic explication of the doctrine of the Church.[e][7]

            The council’s receptiveness towards other religious traditions may be linked to Rahner’s notions of the renovation of the church, God’s universal salvific revelation, and his desire to support and encourage the ecumenical movement.[f]


            1. Hi Joseph. I said that Rahner had large sectors of enthusiastic support in his time. There is no doubt he said some good things. But my take is that he was one of the most corrosive theological influences in the Church in the last century. Many today tout Fr. James Martin, or Cdl. Blaise Cupich or Cdl. Walter Kasper as great, brilliant minds. They sometimes say some good things. But if you are orthodox, you know they are busily shredding the Magisterial teaching of the faith. I do not begrudge you your opinion of Rahner, though you are the only person I have ever encountered who valued orthodoxy that was a fan of his.

              What is a fact and cannot be disputed, is that Rahner WAS one of the most determined opponents of St. John Paul and of then Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict. Benedict treated Rahner as what he was to him, his arch-opponent. That is the history of their relationship, whatever our other opinions may be.,

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Charlie,
                Thank you for your kind and gentle response. Please know, I am in no way a “fan” of Father Rahner. I can confidently say, I am objective as to his character and theological positions.. i am only interested in the truth, justice and charity. However, I do object to your comparison of “fans” of Father Rahner to the “fans” of cupic and martin whose names cause a violent reaction in me to vomit out all the invective of my sinful past. Thanks be to God for the grace to repress the sin of condemnation. I cannot comment on Father Rahner’s relationship to St. John Paul and Cdl. Ratzinger, I have no knowledge of the disputed issues between them.

                In the 2000 year history, of the Catholic Church, it has had only 21 Ecumenical Councils. My Catholic faith informs me, Councils are inspired by the Holy Spirit and the promulgation of their documents are infallible teachings of the Church..When Pope St. John XXXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, he appointed Father Rahner to be peritus, expert advisor. Charlie, St. John was not a “fan” of Father Rahner, but an inspired Pope-Saint who bestowed the greatest honor that a theologian could ever receive: To have his theological legacy embedded in the infallible documents of the Catholic Church forever! I believe the Holy Spirit would not inspire the Pope-Saint to choose an expert advisor who was a “pernicious” theologian in the Second Vatican Council.

                I am not secretly gloating, “Ah, Hah, I got you there Charlie! I submit all in humility and love for the sake of the Truth which will make us all free! Amen and Amen!

                Liked by 1 person

            2. Joseph, There is nothing in Catholic doctrine or teaching which even implies let alone statesthat: men appointed by a Pope either as Papal Theological Advisors, or as theological advisors, to Commissions of a General Council of the Church, or to any other position for that manner — are by such appointment ‘ipso facto’ appointed by any inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Nothing whatsoever in the Church’s teaching suggests such a thing. Those are prudential judgments. However, the Church does teach formally that Popes can err in their prudential judgments. Happens all the time.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Desmond,
                As I view it, according to your Catholic faith understanding, it follows, the Holy Spirit Who inspired Pope St. John XXIII to convoke Second Vatican Council, permitted him to make an erroneous “prudential judgement”…. here, I refuse to complete the conclusion of my comment. I have the bone-shacking, awesome fear of entering where Angels will absolutely not tread! Desmond, I pray that you will realize what you are saying … I have had it! This is my last comment on the matter! May God have mercy on us all.


                1. I, too, am done with this subject, but with respect, Joseph, the very definition of “prudential judgment” is that you take responsibility for it with the knowledge that you might err. What Desmond is saying is what Catholic doctrine has said about prudential judgment from near the beginning. If your definition of prudential judgment is that it is infallible when done by a Pope, you just don’t understand the terms or the extent – and limitations – of infallibility.

                  Liked by 2 people

                2. Joseph, I fully understand what I’m saying – and assure you it is the Church which teaches this. I’m simply a teacher in the Church -repeating that. Teaching. The Church teaches with absolute assurity that: The only area in which the Holy Spirit keeps a Pope from making a mistake is within an extremely narrow area. THAT IS WHEN: 1) THE POPE IS SPEAKING TO THE WHOLE CHURCH, 2) FROM THE CHAIR OF PETER, 3) ON A MATTER OF FAITH AND MORALS, 4) AND HE STATES WITH ABSOLUTE CLARITY HIS INTENTION IS TO BIND THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TO THAT TEACHING ON FAITH AND MORALS. In all other matters Popes can and have made mistakes. This is one of the Church’s most basic teachings about the Papacy.

                  Liked by 2 people

                3. Joseph, I’m going to try to say this as gently as I can – and still fulfill my moral obligation at this time.

                  You do not nearly understand very basics of the teaching of the Catholic teaching in this area. THE CHURCH TEACHES DOGMATICALLY AT VATICAN COUNCIL I THAT: THERE IS ONLY ONE AREA WITHIN WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT ENSURES THAT WHAT THE POPE DOES IS INFALLIBLE. THAT IS WHEN HE:

                  1) SPEAKS FROM THE CHAIR OF PETER,

                  2. TO THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH



                  This was declared to be infallible Catholic teaching by Vatican Council I [not II] – binding upon all Catholics as a matter of belief/Faith.

                  Joseph, this isn’t graduate level theology. This is RCIA level Catechism – to teach those above the age of reason wishing to enter the Catholic Church what they must believe as Catholics.

                  I have only spoken this plainly and clearly for the simple reason that: I know the teachings of the Church in this area, God knows I know. And if I allowed some of the things you have said to go unanswered with the Church’s teachings — if could go very hard for me at my judgment.

                  All my love in Christ


                  Liked by 1 person

              2. I think Joseph was commenting that since the work of Rahner ending up in a magisterial document which is promised to be free from error that this implies Rahners work must be free from error also. Joseph’s idea of “inspired” by the Holy Spirit can be more properly understood in that Rahners work was ‘cleansed’ of error by the Holy Spirit before it became part of the magisterial pronouncement which, of course, are two different things.
                This then proves the “power and authority” of the church will always cleanse error in this regard and does not presuppose those prelates who work for the church are infallible in themselves but that the promises of Christ are sure and effective even in these circumstances.


                1. The work of the various Council Periti was normatively REWORKED and introduced by entire teams of Bishops on various Commissions.

                  Much of Rahner’s input in various areas was reworked in this manner, some much more than others,- e.g., the document on the source of Revelation, ‘Dei Verbum’, ‘Word of God’ introduced from confrers of Rahner – had stripped all mention of the subject of Tradition from the original schema – as key to understanding the Word of God.

                  Pope Paul VI, in an historic move, totally rejected that removal of the word Tradition, and rewrote that material – in what became known as ‘the Intervention of Paul VI’. Therein he removed all of the Rahnerian influence attempting to completely remove the traditional Catholic understanding of the Role of Tradition.

                  Therein he wrote about the Triad of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as interpreted by the Magisterium, as the source of our Catholic understanding of Revelation.

                  One can read the salient content therein in #.s 9-12 of Dei Verbum.

                  All my love in Christ


                  Liked by 2 people

  7. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thanks, Desmond and James. I appreciate your recommendations, insights and contributions to our further formation in Theology.

    Ah, it was cause to review my latest batch of reading which only overlapped at a dogeared copy of “The Confessions of St. Augustine.” The rest of that short stack (for comedy purposes only, and in no particular order) included the February issue of True West Magazine, Audubon Field Guide of Western Birds, Mark Twain – A Five Novel Compilation, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis), Lord Hear Our Prayer (Thomas McNally, C.S.C), and the posthumously published Dragon Teeth (Michael Chrichton). “Nough said.

    It also had me recalling two people who had the greatest impact on my Theological formation. One, a professor emeritus of law at the University of Notre Dame Law School (James, you would have liked him), and two, a former Cistercian Monk who discerned to live out his calling as an author and teacher.

    Two fellas with so much in common, yet so different. On the rare occasion, the classroom was treated to both at the same time. The details of those talks now elude me, but I’ll never forget their seemingly dueling (yet profoundly complementary) brands of intensity. That, mixed with good natured amusement at their befuddled listeners.

    Many of us may never explore the books you suggest, so I’ll simply ask you to continue to do it with gratitude… and do it exceedingly well for us. I’m glad that some folks have it covered.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Gotcha. I was in correspondence with Rice once upon a time. Knew much more about his predecessor, Clarence Dean Nanion.


        2. The administration of Notre Dame University’s Official policy of turning a blind eye to the murderous scale of abortion in America and throughout most of the West, has produced two generations of serious Catholics who tend to ask questions such as, ‘Can any good come out of contemporary Notre Dame?

          Well, Charles Rice is one sound example. However there are others also

          As evil as evil can become — even in many instances of life at ‘officially neutral to abortion’ Notre Dame University, there is a subculture of Catholicism which survives there. On occasion such has produced much good fruit.

          Example: Ever since the height of The Enlightenment, the virtue based Ethics/Morality begun in Artistotle, and then Thomas Aquinas, has been caste aside as a baseline for teaching and living moral lives. Most of the Moderns ended up claiming that there is no rational, reason-based basis for morality. In essence, they teach that morality is in the eye of the beholder.

          E.g., Alasdair MacIntyre’s works in Ethics have done great service in shoving ‘Virtue’ as the basis of ‘Ethics’ back onto the center stage of discussion in Universities.

          His book ‘After Virtue’, published by University of Notre Dame Press is one good example.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Maybe it’s just the circles I move in, but virtually every Domer I know (and I extend that circle to St. Mary’s and Holy Cross Colleges) is authentically Catholic to the core and absolutely appalled at the administration’s posture/lack of posture on the abortion issue.

            The educational ‘institutions’ that give me hope are the individual families raising well formed Catholics. Charles Rice was definitely one such example, but I can think of many others that were rock-solid going in and unwavering throughout.

            “After Virtue” may well be worth the read for me. On the lighter side, maybe you’ve come across “Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan.” When the insidious creep of evil starts stinking up the joint and choking out the ordinary man, this is a good account of how it eventually goes for evil-doers.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I once came across, but never had occasion to read Notre ‘Dame vs. the Klan’. [Most Americans think of the Klan as merely a Southern aberration. In fact, in much of the first half of the 20th century, the racist & anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan’s highest membership was in the State of Indiana – way up North. I came across the book you referenced years ago – while doing research on the Klan. I live in Colorado, and was shocked to hear that in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Colorado had the 3rd highest percentage of Klan members.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Desmond, I was born in Indiana and lived there until I was 5, when my family moved to Michigan. Turns out that the Klan was pretty big up here, too. Perhaps 35 years ago when I was still a kid, the Grand Wizard (or Grand Dragon, or Grand Poobah, or whatever he was called) lived in a small town about an hour from where I grew up.

                Speaking of the Klan and Indiana, when I was in my early 20’s, I used to go and visit my grandparents once a month. They lived on a farm about 40 miles west and a little south of Indianapolis. When they moved to the farm in 1952, people would drive by and fire guns into the grass in the (unoccupied) front yard, in an attempt to frighten them into moving away (I should probably mention, in case you don’t know, that my family is black). Anyhow, one weekend, I had told my grandparents that I’d be there at, say, noon; but it was a beautiful day, so I decided to drive around the country roads and little towns not far from the farm. I drove around until probably 2:00, and then arrived at my grandparents’. My grandpa was beside himself with worry, and mad as all get-out. “Where have you been?!” he thundered at me. “I’ve been driving around.” “Where?!” “Oh, around Cloverdale and Spencer.” He responded, “You can’t drive around out there by yourself! It’s not safe; somebody could hurt you.” I kind of brushed off his concern, but he said, “The Klan is out here, and it’s not safe for you to be driving around by yourself.” This was in probably 1992. I worked in Indiana for a few years after I got out of law school, and I never had any racial problems in either the cities or in the boondocks; but things must’ve been bad in previous decades for my grandfather to still be worried about my safety in 1992.

                That said, I have always loved Indiana; and I consider myself a proud Hoosier AND a proud Michigander.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Well, you sound like the courageous kind Jean and I like for neighbors. Our neighborhood is vrry ‘diverse’. 😀 so is our Parish out in the suburbs. Nice to meet you, albeit via electronic media.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Desmond, thank you for the kind words. But me, courageous? Nah. I just try (and sometimes succeed) to live in a way that would bring honor to God, my parents, and my grandparents, and that would be a good example to my children. I hope and pray that I’m succeeding more often than I fail.

                    Our neighborhood is not “diverse” (we live on a farm in the sticks), nor is our parish. But I absolutely love where we live and where we worship. My family, on the other hand, looks like the United Nations: my husband is mostly Irish, my oldest brother’s wife is Polish and Chippewa, my sister’s husband is Polish and Croatian, and my other brother’s wife is from Bonn, Germany. Family pictures are a hoot.

                    I wish I could make a substantive comment regarding the excellent comments that you have made of late, but almost all of them have gone over my head. So I’ll just say that I’m glad to meet you and that I’m glad you’re here at ASOH. 🙂

                    Liked by 3 people

                    1. You are most welcome. I do’t usually teach on tuesdays – but we have a staff meeting in a couple of hours. See you later.

                      Liked by 1 person

    1. Charles Rice was a great guy. He helped me when I did my master’s thesis. His book on natural law, published by Ignatius is very good.

      Thank you for your pictures of nature, they are always appreciated. I spent some time in the wooded hills of western New York recently. So much good water here, clay hills with glacial till valleys.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it is, MP. I remember being a child with my dogs exploring God’s glorious and beautiful creation. Your pictures bring me back to that.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello all,
    Thanks again for much to ponder in the articles and comments here.
    You are all in my prayers, and I’d like to ask for your prayers for a mentally handicapped man & his family at the group home where I work.
    His family called us this morning to say his elderly mom had a massive stroke, she isn’t expected to make it.
    A priest was called and and she was given the Last Rites, and this afternoon they picked him up to go see her one last time at the hospital.
    They hadn’t told him yet when they picked him up, they were waiting to take him to see the rest of his family first and then will tell the news to him.

    Please say a prayer for a peaceful death for Mrs. B., the repose of her soul and for the comfort of her handicapped son WB and the rest of the family.


    Liked by 4 people

    1. Prayers for all these intentions related to the passing of Mrs. B. and her son for whom you provide care, Go’Shenite. Prayers for you, too, and your work so vital to the people in the group home.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Dear Go’Shenite, I will pray for a peaceful death and repose of Mrs. B.’s soul. Also for her son, WB, and the family. Praying for you too.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Ya Know Folks,

    I’m an Old Cold War CrewDog, student of history, consumer of World/USA News and watcher of societal trends … that & a Nickel will … anyway!! ;-(
    China News/Now is Flashin’ Big in my feeble mind at the moment!!
    Trump/His Deplorables have the ChiCom “leaders”, like GlobaLeft EU/USA “leaders”, in Panic-Mode!!! Trump’s current and proposed USA/International (UN) MAGA Policies have upset many of THE USUAL SUSPECTS. I have NO DOUBT, that Domestic/Foreign USUAL SUSPECTS would be more than HAPPY to collude with ChiComs to Take-Out Trump/Deplorables!! ;-(
    As we used to say in the Ol’ AF, ….. Watch Your Six!!
    I saw the below quote on some blog recently … it seems appropriate:

    “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed;
    if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may
    come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.
    There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill


    Liked by 8 people

  11. CrewDog, I guess we fall into the second-to-last category. I am flabbergasted at something I have just read – but following Charlie’s wise counsel from two posts ago, I will go back and, in charity, try and read it again with fresh eyes. This is not usually a problem for me as I rarely get ‘het up’! The Cardinal Pell case is one thing because the enemy ‘seems’ to be from ‘the world’ – precarious with a chance of survival, so yes my back is against the wall but there is still hope. I need to strongly take up Charlie’s counsel and earnestly look for Godly outcomes in this latest instance because there is even less hope!

    We cannot possibly fit into the last category – was Prime Minister Churchill a Christian? – because we couldn’t have as our firm resolve the TNRS motto if there was no hope of (at least the important spiritual hope) victory!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It may well be that General Flynn and Cardinal Pell have a lot in common. They both may have been Set-Up!!??

      The unfair, anti-Catholic conviction of Cardinal George Pell

      The Witch Hunt Against Australia’s Cardinal George Pell: Five Facts You Need To Know

      Exclusive: Vatican won’t pay for cardinal’s defence


      Liked by 4 people

      1. Sadly, down under the Kangaroo Kourt is alive and well. Sadly, enough aren’t there enough who have done evil to prosecute without looking for scapegoats?

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Churchill was formally an Anglican, but most historians regard him as something of an agnostic. God uses who He uses. Here at TNRS we don’t just have hope of victory, we have the assurance of it, because we believe the God who tells us it is so.

      Liked by 6 people

  12. Hypocrisy. Truth.

    I watched this short video of an incoming Congresswoman who goes on a rant why she was elected:

    She states ‘bullies don’t win’ yet, she being of Muslim faith, must see the hypocrisy of her statement. Islam is all about the ‘bully’ by forcing a belief (their) belief upon you. Case in point, Christian persecution in the middle east.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Right, Jen?! What an uncouth way to speak to your constituents, the public and, most disgusting of all, to your child. Wow. And people voted for her… no wonder we need purification to be awakened and cleansed.

        Liked by 5 people

    1. Some celebrated the swearing in of [choke] Senator Sinema from Arizona. [cough… gag…]

      I originally came here with a large wave of salt-of-the-earth midwesterners fleeing towns overrun with the destructive tendencies of the left. Hard to even fathom how many of those towns have been left in ruins. That’s why Arizona (metro Phoenix in particular) was so staunchly and dependably red for a time. Now look at this sorry state of affairs. Most folks don’t know what this woman stands for but I can sum it up in a word: disorder.

      I’m tempted to say that I don’t even recognize the joint, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the radiant Light of God which has to be reflected in our weathered and imperfect faces and the abundant graces in our hearts willing to be shared.

      Some will be overcome by it. As for the others… well, all the worse for them.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” comes to mind. God will do anything and everything to awaken His people. Me? I ask Him to please just gently show me more about what I need to tend to so I can work on it now because I know these lyrics are a real part of what it may well take to bring His people to their knees:

        Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
        He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
        He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
        His truth is marching on, His truth is marching

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Yes, the trial is/will be fierce and unprecedented and no one will be immune. We all have called it down on ourselves, to quote a fella. That said, where do we expect the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart to come from? Yes, God. Yes, through Our Mother. As for the world, I think we know it has to manifest in our hearts. Otherwise, what are we talking about here?

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Indeed, MP.
            “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

            You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 13-16)

            Liked by 3 people

  13. Manifest Evil On-Parade! ;-(

    Nancy Pelosi’s First Act as Speaker of the House: Forcing Americans to Fund Abortions

    Urge Sacred Heart University to Cancel Lecture by Pro-Homosexual Priest — a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing


    Liked by 6 people

    1. Fr.Z opined an alternate place the aforementioned priest should visit…

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Lots of articles on MILINET today.

    MILINET: Articles for Christians – 4 Jan
    Pope Francis tells U.S. bishops sex abuse scandals have damaged church

    Group says painting of Ground Zero Cross at Missouri courthouse is unconstitutional

    Sailors Hold Heathen Religious Services Aboard Deployed Aircraft Carrier

    Apple just waged a war on Christianity with the persecution of this ministry

    Pro-Choice Myths Are Perpetuated by a New York Times Fetal-Personhood Story–ALEXANDRA DESANCTIS

    The Wicked Gender-Deluded Mob Must be Defeated–Trevor Thomas

    Numbers: Congress is 88 percent Christian

    97% of Christians don’t actually know the bible — do you?

    I personally want The Usual Suspects to Sound-Off Loud-n-Clear so we know who the Enemy is and what their evil intentions are!

    Senators shouldn’t be afraid of the Knights of Columbus

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!! ….. & Merry 11th Day of Christmas ;-)!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. The Democrat Party 116th Congress Clown & Freak Show would be funny … except the future survival of The Republic is at stake! ;-(

    WATCH: Pelosi Mumbles over Hawaii Vacation During the Shutdown

    Rashida Tlaib’s First Day in Congress: ‘We’re Gonna Impeach the Motherf**ker.’

    Cummings to Investigate Trump Admin. Over Census Question On Citizenship

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Proposes 70% Taxation to Pay for ‘Green New Deal’

    Nolte: Tyrannical Democrats Introduce Bill to Kill Electoral College

    Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Refuses to Take Oath of Office on Bible


    ‘Inauthentic in Everything She Does’: ‘The Five’ on Warren’s Beer-Drinking Livestream, 2020 Chances


    Liked by 3 people

  16. Sorry I didn’t read CD just before mine. There should be a way to edit these posts. Just like typos there should be souls released on these duplicate posts!!


  17. Fascinating subject…

    I always found people who dismissed the reality of the devil & hell’s existence to be incompatible with Catholicism.

    If people don’t believe in a hell, then forgiveness of sins wouldn’t be necessary (which is false).

    Some people really believed that all human in history & future were created in a single event & stored somewhere by God? That sounds crazy & impractical like the people who claim the world is flat (not spherical).

    It’s already Jan 5, and it seems worldly events are winding more out of control than the events of last year at this time. It’s the 3rd week of government shutdown over the boarder wall; is this event going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Charlie, I know this site is not focused on your prophetic gifts, but I sure do miss that aspect of our chats here.

    What previous posting do you recommend us reading that you believe will best helps us remember your training?

    Also wanted to say how blessed my church is with the presence of interim pastor, Bernard-Mary from Nigeria! He sang a song to Mary on January 1st that was beautiful and brought tears to my eyed. Additionally, after saying the blessing he held up the Eucharist and led the parish in singing the phrase, “come let us adore Him” as wellas after the consecration we sang again when he held up for all to adore The Precious Blood of Christ.

    Praise God!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.