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To order the book, visit our website!
While the U.S. government deliberates over possibly military action against Syria, we as Catholics have the opportunity to re-familiarize ourselves with the Church’s teaching on what makes a war just. Below is a helpful summary by Fr. William Saunders from the Jan/Feb 2002 issue of Lay Witness magazine.
-The war must confront an unquestioned danger. St. Augustine, quoted by St. Thomas, said, “A just war is apt to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.” The Catechism says that “the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain” (no. 2309).
-The legitimate authority must decide if war is necessary and must be acting on behalf of the people.
-The reasons for declaring the war must be based on just objectives and not a masking of ulterior motives. St. Thomas taught that the right intention is essential “so that they intend the advancement of good or the avoidance of evil.” St. Augustine also noted, “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace or punishing evildoers, and of uplifting the good.” An evil intention (such as to destroy a race or to absorb another nation) can turn a legitimately declared war waged for just cause into a wrongful act.
-All reasonable peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted or deemed impractical or ineffective. The contentious parties must strive to resolve their differences peacefully before engaging in war, which can be done through negotiation, mediation, or even embargoes. Here, too, we see the value of an international mediating body, such as the United Nations.
-The good that is achieved by waging war must not be outweighed by the harm. What good is it to wage war if it leaves the country in total devastation with no real victor? Modern means of warfare give great weight to this criterion insofar as weapons of mass destruction make for a real possibility of a devastating, disproportionate response.
Probability of success
-The achievement of the war’s purpose must have a reasonable chance of success. If a country can meet the above criteria, then it may justly enter war. Further, a country could come to the assistance of another country that is not able to defend itself provided these criteria are met.
By reading The Faith Understood, you can:
The Faith Understood is great for college students, adult faith formation programs, and motivated Catholics aspiring to learn more about their faith.
The author, Mark Zia, S.T.D., received a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, Italy. He is associate professor of Theology and director of Academic Enrichment Programs at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He and his wife Julia are the parents of six children.
For more information on how to order this book, click here.
The September/October issue of Lay Witness magazine discusses Catholic Social Teaching–in particular, the balance between the things of this world and the things of eternity. The print edition features articles by some of your favorite authors.
David Fagerberg gives an entertaining and enlightening summary of Catholic Social Teaching from the perspective of beloved Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton. No matter the merit of our apostolic works, Fr. Dwight Longenecker reminds us, our efforts must be directed toward attaining holiness–not simply being “good.” Longtime friend of CUF Dr. John Crosby, in commemoration of the closing of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, looks to Gaudium et spes as a blueprint for our attitude toward temporal affairs. Rounding out the issue, James Gaston comments on a topic relevant to all Christians: work. Noting the great dignity man has in relation to work, Gaston gives the readers of Lay Witness encouragement that the greatest benefit of our labor is the spiritual benefit it imparts.
In A.D. 587 Emperor Maurice granted the title “ecumenical patriarch” or “universal bishop” to John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople. Pope St. Gregory the Great condemned the title. Later, when others tried to apply them to him as bishop of Rome, he refused the titles. In refusing the titles, was the Pope denying the primacy of the papacy as some Eastern Orthodox Christians maintain?
In a word, no. Pope St. Gregory the Great was simply affirming the constant Catholic doctrine that individual bishops are truly successors of the apostles and not just agents of the Pope or any other patriarch. However, in doing so, he never denied his primacy, which on other occasions he clearly affirmed, noting, among things, that “the See of Constantinople is subject to the Apostolic See.”
Perhaps the best way both to see the Orthodox argument and to answer it is to let St. Gregory speak for himself in his letters. Here we see that, while he does repudiate the title of universal bishop, he does so only insofar as such a title is understood to deny the legitimate authority of the other bishops in their dioceses. The Church has always taught that all bishops are successors of the apostles; their authority is not derived from the Pope (though it is his role to confirm the brethren). He writes to John, Patriarch of Constantinople:
Consider I pray thee, that in this rash presumption the peace of the whole Church is disturbed, and that the title of Ecumenical Patriarch is in contradiction to the grace poured out on all in common. . . . And thou wilt become by so much the greater as thou restrainest thyself from the usurpation of a proud and foolish title: and thou wilt make advance in proportion as thou are not bent on arrogation by derogation of thy brethren. . . . Certainly Peter, the first of the Apostles, himself a member of the holy and universal Church, Paul, Andrew, John — what were they but heads of particular communities? And yet all were members under one Head. . . (Epistle XVIII).
However, just because Gregory affirms Christ as Head does not mean he is denying his own primacy as the successor of St. Peter, whom Christ established to oversee Church affairs on earth. In fact, later in the same letter, the Pope says that he is prepared to assert his universal authority, if necessary. He points out to John the Faster that he wants to persuade him to change out of a “sense of shame.” But, adds Gregory, “if the detestable and profane assumption could not be corrected through shame, rigorous canonical measures should then be resorted to” (Epistle XVIII).
This is clearly not a mere letter of advice written to an equal. Notice that he doesn’t spend any time arguing that he has the authority to forbid the use of the title. Gregory is aware and he knows that John is aware that he has recourse to “canonical measures” if his direction is not carried out.
Elsewhere, Gregory notes that the Apostolic See, which is a reference to the bishopric of Rome and Pope, is “the head of all the churches.” It is this “See of Peter,” he says, “to whom was committed the care and primacy of the whole Church” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VI, 767).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the constant teaching of the Church on the primacy of the Pope, teaching that the Successor of Peter has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (Catechism, no. 882). “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head” (ibid., no. 883, emphasis original; cf. nos. 884-85).
General: That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.
Mission: That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may by their witness be prophets of Christ’s love.
When John began preaching repentance, many were probably not sure exactly why. There were many messianic and apocalyptic expectations among the Jewish people of this time, and seeing a striking figure like John would raise the question, “Is he the one we expect? On what authority does he act?”
“Who are you?” the priests and Levites ask. John immediately says that he is not the Christ, i.e., the Messiah. He has not come to redeem or deliver the people, but to prepare them for the One Who will: Jesus. This provokes the next question.
“What then? Are you Elijah?” Certain interpretations of Malachi 4:5 and Sirach 48:1-10 led to the popular belief that Elijah would literally return to anoint the Messiah. John denies that he is Elijah literally returned, in spite of the probable resemblance, based on an extended stay in the desert, his clothing, and his zeal. John is the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:57-63) and not Elijah actually returning from the sky in a fiery chariot (cf. 2 Kings 2:11).
When Jesus calls John “Elijah,” He means that John fulfills the words of Malachi and Sirach. John is a “new” Elijah, proclaiming with fiery zeal the advent of Christ and the need for repentance. John emulates Elijah in spirit and as prophet (Lk. 1:17), but he is not the historical figure of 2 Kings.
“Are you the prophet?” Based on Deuteronomy 11:15, many expected the Messiah to be a “new Moses” who would teach the law of God to His people. John, although he is truly a prophet in the spirit of Elijah, rightly denies that he is the new Moses. The prophet is actually Jesus, whom Moses and others foretold. Jesus perfectly fulfills the Mosaic role, preaching the law of charity (e.g., Matthew 5-7, 22:37-40) and redeeming the world through His own life-giving act of charity (cf. Jn. 15:13; Is. 53).
Church Fathers, like Pope St. Gregory the Great, have always held up John as an example of great humility and truth. Although he was the prophet of the Messiah’s advent, he did not make arrogant claims about his unquestionably important role; rather, he simply called himself “the voice crying out in the wilderness,” the herald of deliverance from captivity (cf. Is. 40:3). Such a voice is heard, but gives way or bows to the event greater than the voice. Deliverance is greater than the message that deliverance is coming, so St. John the Baptist humbly states, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:27-30).
This Faith Fact can be accessed here at cuf.org.
Emmaus Road author Dan Burke was recently interviewed on an episode of EWTN’s Bookmark to discuss his book Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God.
For more information on ordering this bestseller, click here.
Today is the feast of St. Augustine, a Doctor of the Church and author of one of the most widely-read works on spirituality, Confessions. Over the years, some mainline Protestant theologians have tried to attribute to Augustine a theology of the Eucharist that denies the belief of Christ’s true presence. Is this reading of Augustine at all accurate?
CUF’s Faith Fact “St. Augustine’s Real Faith in the Real Presence” addresses the question thoroughly.
Catholics believe, and have always believed, that Christ is present spiritually and symbolically. The difference is that neither ancient nor modern Catholics hold that the Presence is merely spiritual or symbolic in the Protestant sense. Jesus Christ is present in body, blood, soul, and divinity as the Eucharist — or more simply, the Eucharist is Jesus Christ (c.f. Catechism nos. 1373-1381). If the “spiritual” and “symbolic” passages from the writings of the Church Fathers were returned to their larger context, the misunderstanding would be solved.
Specifically regarding St. Augustine, the previous quotes and those noted below provide the larger context and meaning of his teachings. St. Augustine certainly believed that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Christ was carried in His Own hands when, referring to His Own body, He said, “This is My body.” For He carried that body in His hands (Explanations of the Psalms 33, 1, 10).
[Jesus] received earth from earth; because flesh is from the earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he first adores it… and not only do we not sin by adoring [His flesh], we do sin by not adoring (Explanations of the Psalms 98, 9).
I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table, which you now look upon and of which last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the Word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the Word of God, is the blood of Christ…. What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ (Sermons 227).
The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ’s body (Sermons 234, 2).
St. Augustine did not endorse idolatry when he taught his readers to adore the Eucharist before eating — which the Church still does today (Catechism no. 1378). He really believed and taught that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. Because of the Real Presence, we must adore Him.
Read the Faith Fact in its entirety here.
Emmaus Road Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of our newest title: Chesterton is Everywhere by David Fagerberg. In this charming collection of essays, the author looks at life through the lens of a most beloved Catholic writer: the incomparable Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
Examining topics ranging from domesticity to dogma, Fagerberg introduces readers to the marvelous mind of G.K. Chesterton and reveals our indebtedness to the man who has helped hundreds of Catholics and converts alike grasp more firmly truth, beauty, and goodness–ultimately found in the perfection of God.
Chesterton is Everywhere is a sheer joy to read! Click the link for more information: http://www.emmausroad.org/Chesterton-Is-Everywhere–P11950.aspx.