The “Bill W.” of the subtitle is Bill Wilson, cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Though not an alcoholic himself, Fr. Dowling was highly impressed by A.A.’s principles and success rate, and became a lifelong proponent of the movement and a close friend and advisor to Wilson. Ministering to those struggling with alcoholism was of a piece with Dowling’s devotion to all those afflicted by mundane but intractable difficulties – marital unhappiness, depression and anxiety, drug addiction, and so on. He helped found the Cana Conference movement to assist married couples, was involved with the Recovery organization’s efforts to help the mentally ill, and worked also with other such groups. And in innumerable one-on-one relationships he personally helped suffering human beings – and brought them, where he could, into the sacramental life of the Church, where alone the most important source of healing can be found.
Suffering was something Dowling knew well. Goldstein recounts the spiritual crisis the Jesuit priest went through in his early life, before becoming certain of his vocation. And she provides a poignant account of the poor health and physical pain that afflicted him throughout his life. Ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis, calcified Dowling’s spine and one of his legs, to the extent that (as he liked to put it) it was as if he were gradually turning to stone. But he doggedly embraced this suffering out of solidarity with others who suffer, and as God’s means of perfecting him. Fr. Ed’s view was that “the shortest cut to humility is humiliations.”
Goldstein’s description of Dowling’s first meeting with Bill W. is especially moving. Wilson was lying on his bed, at a low moment in his life, when the rumpled priest ambled up his stairway for a visit. As they discussed A.A. and Wilson’s personal struggles, Bill later reported:
My spirits kept on rising, and presently I began to realize that this man radiated a grace that filled the room with a sense of presence. I felt this with great intensity; it was a moving and mysterious experience.
But this was not the result of any shallow self-help happy talk on Fr. Ed’s part. On the contrary, one of the remarkable aspects of their long discussion that evening is the emphasis the priest put on the divine call to patient endurance of dissatisfactions for the sake of a higher reward in the hereafter. But he did so with such gentleness, kindness, and empathy that Bill took comfort and hope from it. And it inaugurated a close friendship that lasted until Dowling’s death.
Dowling was struck by parallels he saw between A.A.’s Twelve Steps and St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises – especially after Bill told him that he had no knowledge of Ignatius, so that any similarity was coincidental. In the years that followed, Bill would come to be attracted to the Catholic faith, receiving instruction not only from Fr. Ed, but also from Bishop Fulton Sheen. Yet Wilson nevertheless stopped short of conversion. The desire to keep A.A. free of an association in people’s minds with any particular religion might have been a factor. Wilson seems also to have had difficulty with the requirement to submit to the mind of the Church on doctrinal matters. In one letter to Dowling, he admits: “Maybe deep down I don’t want to be convinced – I just don’t know.”
Wilson was in any case also drawn to rivals to the Christian faith – Jungian therapy, spiritualism, even experimentation with LSD in the days when the drug hadn’t yet gained the notoriety it would later come to have. Dowling tried gently but firmly to warn him away from such enthusiasms, with only limited success. Goldstein’s account of the years-long back-and-forth between the two on the subject of Catholicism affords an interesting case study in the literature on conversion (or lack thereof). As Goldstein writes, Dowling and Wilson himself seemed to agree that there was perhaps “an element of willfulness” in Wilson’s reluctance.
In any event, they maintained their friendship to the end. And Wilson was just one of many who felt especially indebted to Fr. Ed for the help and spiritual guidance he provided. Goldstein’s touching description of the humble priest’s funeral, and the sea of mourners who attended it, is a fitting conclusion to this excellent biography.
All the same, because it is a biography rather than a work of moral theology, it suggests, but without addressing, some tantalizing questions that seem worthy of future exploration (whether by Goldstein or someone else inspired by Dowling’s life and work). For example, how would Dowling have applied his approach to dealing with people in thrall to addictions like those that predominate today? Alcoholism continues to be a problem, of course. But drug addiction has now spiraled well beyond anything Dowling had to encounter, and has taken on ever more destructive forms (as the meth and opioid epidemics illustrate).
There is also pornography addiction, and a plethora of sexual vices which are no longer even recognized as such. It is absolutely fundamental to the Twelve Steps approach endorsed by Fr. Dowling that one admits that one has a problem. But stubbornly refusing to admit that one’s behavior is in any way problematic is characteristic of sexual sin today. Fr. Ed also consistently emphasized the need to learn humility in the face of one’s struggles with sin. But the emphasis today is instead on pride in what the Catholic faith teaches is sinful, and on indulgence in it rather than struggling against it. The basic moral assumptions taken for granted in contemporary society are simply radically different from those that prevailed in Dowling’s day. By no means does that make his approach any less necessary today. But it does make its application more difficult.
Another area for possible exploration is the relationship between Fr. Dowling’s work and that of a contemporary of his, the moral theologian Fr. John C. Ford, SJ. Ford is mentioned only a couple of times and in passing in Goldstein’s biography. But Ford also knew Bill Wilson, admired A.A., and indeed at one point had struggled with a drinking problem himself and found A.A.’s approach useful. Moreover, he wrote on the topics of alcoholism, and habitual sin in general, in a way that combined orthodox moral reasoning with psychological nuance and pastoral sensitivity. It would be intriguing to bring his work to bear on the study of Fr. Dowling’s approach to dealing with people with problems.
But these remarks are not meant as criticisms of Goldstein’s book. They are, again, rather in the nature of suggestions for further inquiry. As it is, Father Ed is inspiring reading, and will do much good both for its readers and for the reputation of a holy priest who deserves to be more widely known.
Interesting posting. And another that deals with the "will".ReplyDelete
I'm going to leave some remarks that are not intended to be offensive; so be forewarned that they probably will at least report sentiments and attitudes that are seen as offensive, if not worse. You need not even feel any obligation to allow this comment up.
But I have a pretty good sense of why men of the WWII generation and a bit earlier, might have balked at taking the final step into the Catholic church; especially if they were as they imagined it honest and self-respecting men.
1. These would be men who were convinced that even though the Catholic Church had a great deal to offer intellectually and spiritually - whatever spiritual might mean - a blind, unconditional, unmanly, and thrall-like obedience to a pope in Rome, as the Church seemed to define obedience, was nonetheless a step too far.
After all, how can one be expected to affirm that they unconditionally believe in that which they cannot actually believe?
2. Also, and here comes the offensive part, and call it bigotry if you like - we know, the American Catholic Church whatever its significant virtues, seemed, to many Protestant Americans, to be populated by, and perhaps only fitted for, war-loser ethnic peasant refugees who had never in their historic lineages ever been free and/or self-governing men.
So, although a Jesuit of uncommon virtue, or a priest of unusual intellect and discernment would have impressed and attracted, there was probably - well, I know that there was more than "probably" - a disinclination to join a moiety, or better, identify with and formally join, an affinity group, composed of that type of member as they were imagined to be on average.
3. And then too, although the social prejudice might have been even stronger in the 19th Century as opposed to the 20th, some of the dogmatic stumbling blocks which potential converts might have encountered in 1956, were not necessarily there in the years before 1950, or 1870, or 1854.
Given the current character who sits on the throne of Peter, who not already in the Church and convinced, could after deliberation, truthfully and without doubt assent to the dogma of 1870?
John Lamont has written extensively on your 1st and 3rd questions. Check out his article "A Jesuit Tragedy" on Rorate, and for a more thorough discussion search for "The Catholic Church and the Rule of Law".Delete
His articles on academia.edu are also most enlightening.
He argues, I think convincingly, that the traditional/patristric/Thomist concept of obedience is essentially different from the counter-Reformation/Jesuit concept, which he sees as based on Scotism and nominalism. In particular, St Thomas was careful to point out that obedience only concerns the body, not the mind; and also said that human authority only extends within certain spheres. This is completely absent from the Jesuits -- indeed they contradict it, especially from the 17C onwards.
Thank you. I'll take a look.Delete
"English Catholic". Don't know if that is a self-referential tag or not.
But, for a long while that was among the rarest of birds, excepting Scots Catholics, I understand.
Probably not so much now with the migration of the Irish to England in the last two centuries. But on my understanding, it was before.
All romantic Brideshead nonsense aside, when one looks at the recusancy fines leveled, a family would have had to have been wealthy to keep both their faith and their patrimony.
Wonder how long before a rather different impulse - I assume it is different - starts proposing that the children of Catholic families be removed from their parents.
But really, in view of the totalitarian, and mandatory inclusion and affirmation regimes being proposed by the politically Woke worldwide, maybe it's no so different an impulse at root, after all.
In particular, St Thomas was careful to point out that obedience only concerns the body, not the mind;Delete
I don't recall his saying such. Can you give a citation?
The Catholic Church's documents on the manner in which we are required to assent to dogma and even to teachings of lesser standing to dogma certainly doesn't sound like a demand on the body rather than the mind. Even the phrase "religious submission of mind and will" seems pretty clearly require something internal regarding not the body but the mind. Your comment seems to say that official teaching from Vatican I, Vatican II, and numerous 20th century official documents are flatly wrong.
Perhaps more to the point, I believe that our response to the revelation contained in the Bible, and the revelation present to the Apostles when they were faced with Christ and his teachings, constituted demands for acceptance of mind and will. When Christ taught that he would give them his body to eat (John 6), and some of the disciples refused to take that, Christ imposed upon his Apostles a demand to accept it even though He did not offer to explain it in a way that could be more easily believed. Similarly, God's testing of Abraham represented a demand for firm adherence of mind and will to believe in God's promises (that Abraham would be the father of multitudes through Isaac) in spite of a seemingly contrary directive to put Isaac to death. And it was precisely this obediential faith that God required of him that is praised throughout the Scriptures, notably by St. Paul.
I too reject the warped version of obedience that is touted as "Ignatian" in some circles influenced by Jesuits, and I have read the articles that have attributed them directly to Ignatius, I retain doubt that they really do stem from Ignatius, and that they constitute something core and obligatory to the Jesuit model of spirituality.
Given the current character who sits on the throne of Peter, who not already in the Church and convinced, could after deliberation, truthfully and without doubt assent to the dogma of 1870?Delete
This cannot be a complete response to your point, DNW, but the kind of submission the Church requires of us to official teaching allows (rather, requires) that we take NEW claims of teaching in light of OLD teachings, and to examine them in the light of Tradition, so that they can be held in concert with the whole of the teaching of the Church. If some priest, bishop, or Pope speaks in a way that simply cannot be reconciled with what the Church has always taught, that fact must color how we respond to such a new assertion, and temper the kind of assent we are called to make. Thankfully, almost everything the current occupant of the chair of Peter is said off the cuff, and his most ridiculous comments seem to be reserved to off-the-cuff comments in the rarefied air of 30,000 feet where (it appears) the thin air affects his mind or inhibitions about being silly.
Tony, sorry for the quick response, I don't have time for a full one now.Delete
It's in the question in obedience in the Summa. ST 2.2 Q104 A5. "[A man's] body is subjected and assigned to his master but his soul is his own. Consequently in matters touching the internal movement of the will man is not bound to obey his fellow-man, but God alone."
John Lamont compares and contrasts it with the Jesuits in his articles I linked to.
I believe the documents you refer to concern doctrine, not singular commands.
As an addendum, to my previous comment, one of the nuns who was abused (allegedly) by Rupnik directly cites Ignatian submission as an enabling factor, which corroborates Lamont's claims:Delete
You have to understand how Ignatian discernment works: you are called to total availability and openness, and it is your spiritual father who guides you in understanding what is good and what is evil.
If the one who guides you says God wants it and you do not obey, you are setting yourself against God. That is precisely where manipulation can creep in, as it did with Father Rupnik.
I have no way of knowing how much of this comes from St Ignatius. Again, Lamont's articles go into quite a bit of detail. I don't know if he's certainly right, but there's surely at least a case to answer.
I believe the documents you refer to concern doctrine, not singular commands.Delete
English, yes, the documents I am referring to are primarily those that declare that we are morally obliged to give internal assent to Church teachings, in various ways for various types of teachings. It is true that these are not commands to execute specific actions individual to a single person and circumstance, (which commands religious superiors often give), but they certainly regard a sort of obedience of the mind and will.
"[A man's] body is subjected and assigned to his master but his soul is his own. Consequently in matters touching the internal movement of the will man is not bound to obey his fellow-man, but God alone."
I do not believe that you have quite hit the nail in understanding this passage in the Summa. In the first part, he is quoting Seneca, a non-Christian, and one commenting on the obedience of slaves. Because slavery (insofar as Seneca is granting it any validity at all) only extends to performing the outward bodily acts that the master commands, and leaves the mind to the slave himself, it cannot be said to give the master rights over the slave's mind. Thomas quotes Seneca as
"It is wrong to suppose that slavery falls upon the whole man: for the better part of him is excepted."
As Christians and under a better system of government, we know that no form of humans enslaving humans is fully just, and so even THAT much which Seneca was OK with is not actually warranted.
But the BASIC principle Thomas was eliciting is more constrained: Secondly, a subject is not bound to obey his superior if the latter command him to do something wherein he is not subject to him. Thomas was using Seneca to show an example of where a person is not subject to the other's authority.
Now, Thomas clearly affirms that a person IS morally obligated to do that which he is commanded by the one in authority when it is within the authority's subject matter, and when it does not contradict a higher authority. Nevertheless man is bound to obey his fellow-man in things that have to be done externally by means of the body
But note that when a man performs physically an action by his own will according to the command of his superior, it is the man's own will which he exercises in compliance: he is not physically forced against his will. This shows that the obligation reaches even to his own will. Furthermore, the act of obedience is not true and proper obedience if the man does not first confirm that the command is both not in contradiction to higher authority, and is within the superior's area of authority - which are acts of the mind. Thus the exterior action of his body obediently carrying out the command exists only after and in conformity with interior actions of mind and will.
Like you, I utterly reject the deformed and revolting version of "obedience" utilized by perverts like Rupnik. Thomas also does:
Accordingly we may distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation, and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey: secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful: thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.
The kind of obedience that has been ascribed to the Jesuitical model is clearly indiscreet obedience, and cannot be right, for many reasons.
I struggle with the same problem Wilson had. Deep down inside, I am convinced that I am a hermaphrodite: born with a brain of one biological sex stuck in the body of the opposite. A part of me, out of pride, does not want to submit to Church teaching that this is impossible. Please pray for me that I do not repeat the same eternal folly Wilson made.ReplyDelete
I continue to pray for you, Infinite. If you do a google search of "Father Ford America magazine" (the moral theologian referenced by Dr Feser), you will see he was a compassionate man who understood that sexually compulsive acts, while they may be objectively immoral, may not involve the full intent of the will, and that may diminish culpability. Keep praying. Seek out a good priest to talk to and a Catholic or Christian psychiatrist or psychologist. But above all else, keep praying. Try to do what is right. God is just, but he is also merciful. Perservere. Do not despair. Deathbed conversions do happen.Delete
@Anonymous I read this screenshot of a tweet:Delete
"Math is demonic. Reducing the beauty of the world to mere abstractions is the work of the Devil. The wisest men are horrible at math. It's against their worldview."
Which raises the question: would Thomas Aquinas approve of modern mathematics? How many canonized saints are there who were mathematicians? If the answer is "not many", then what implications should we draw from this? That cannot be a judgment against the saints.
@ Infinite Growth,Delete
The tweet is nonsense. Mathematics is just another vocation which leads neither to the necessary salvation nor to the necessary damnation of one whose vocation is mathematics.
Science also abstracts from the beauty of the world, and for that matter, every word we use is an abstraction from the beauty of the world.
Are you condemning everyone? "Put[ting] 2 and 2 together" is also mathematics.
A transgender person is someone who wants a body that will make him happy, but Catholic theologians have judged this to be some kind of horrible impiety.
Why? There are only two types of sins: sins against God (the first of the stone tablets) and sins against neighbor (the second of the stone tablets).
It isn't blasphemy to want a body to make your happy, because "God" isn't in any way touched, so it can't be written on the first stone tablet.
And it obviously doesn't harm anybody else, so it can't be on the second set of stone tablets.
So if it isn't written on the first stone tablet, and it isn't written on the second stone tablet, then where is the sin?
I'll take it that you are joking.
Sorry, I thought the comment about stone tablets was from you and addressed the reply about joking to you instead of Infinite Growth. I'll let the "joking" stand as my reply to Infinite Growth.
I noticed my error about 4 milliseconds after pushing the irretrievable "Publish" button.
@ Infinite Growth,Delete
I know that this matter is not a joke to you, and I would speak to you with compassion. I am sorry for your troubles. Unfortunately, I can offer you little counsel as I do not really know you and cannot get to know you over the Internet.
The Church, not fake science, has the answers, and even there, you have to be careful. Remember my brother.
Your suffering is a cross that will count for you if you bear it with faith, patience, and humble hope.
May Mother Mary intercede with Our Saviour on your behalf.
A transgender person is someone who wants a body that will make him happy, but Catholic theologians have judged this to be some kind of horrible impiety.Delete
You seem to have a notion of what "Catholic theologians have judged" that isn't anything like what I understand of Catholic teaching.
If a person thinks he will "be happy" by being much stronger, and decides to work out and lift weights to become "built", there is nothing in this offensive to God.
If a person who has a long-term illness thinks he will "be happy" by being cured, he may seek such a cure in medical assistance, or even in a miracle. There is nothing wrong with his wanting to be cured, and acting upon that want by undertaking efforts to achieve it.
If a person thinks he will "be happy" by cutting off his healthy legs and being legless for the rest of his life, he is bent in his thinking. If he carries out his desire, this is incompatible with his true human nature. We who are not similarly bent would hope and desire to help him unbend his thinking so that he is happy with human nature as a two-legged animal; if we cannot succeed in unwinding his mental disorder, we will be saddened to see him "successfully" carry out his effort to be happy, because we know that this can only be a happiness that is deformed in respect of human nature, and thus can only be "happy in some (qualified) respect rather than happiness simply speaking. The action undertaken is not wrong primarily because it is "offensive to God", but because it is inconsistent with human nature. The person might ALSO offend God by also choosing to assert something like "my nature is up to me to decide", but that's a distinct issue.
A woman who is burdened by being 6' tall and thinks she will "be happy" by being 5' 2", may decide she wants to lop off 10" by removing her feet and ankles, but like the mentally ill person who wants to be completely legless, this "solution" to being "too tall" is not really compatible with human nature, and would result only in some qualified sense of happiness that is effectively deformed. Being 6' tall for a woman is certainly unusual but is not per se a defect or disorder, it is simply on the outskirts of normal variation.
Human nature implies that healthy humans come in two types, male and female. These are differences in bodies for the two sexes who share human nature. It is notionally possible that a person who is physically a healthy male might not feel like he is a normal, healthy male, and instead feel like he should have a female body: this feeling does not logically establish any determination that his body is "the wrong type" in some sense - logically speaking, it implies EITHER that his feeling about it is wrong OR his body is the wrong type. Either way, though, there is SOME disorder present: nevertheless, there is no adequate evidence for the notion we should make it the default presumption that the disorder is in his being "in a male body" rather than in his feeling that way, any more than we should take the mentally ill person's feeling that he would be happier without legs the preferred assumption between either the hypothesis that he is physically deformed by having legs or the hypothesis that he is mentally ill in rejecting those legs.
For those people who are physically deformed with respect to the sexual aspects of their body, clearly being deformed is not an ideal.
@Tom Cohoe Thank you for your kind words.Delete
So you covered three cases in your comment:
1. A bodybuilder who wants to use natural means to get a body he considers to be more desirable. This is good.
2. A person with a chronic illness seeks a miracle from God. This is good.
3. A person unhappy with his sex gets surgical and pharmaceutical treatment to make himself like the opposite sex. This is bad, and you rightfully compare it to wanting amputationnof healthy limbs.
But what about a fourth option: petitioning God to change your biological sex by miracle? Is this impossible, and if so, why? It cannot be because it is logically impossible, for there are many stories in fiction where a character gets a gender change, either voluntary and at will (e.g. Naruto) or involuntary (e.g. Keiichi in Ah My Goddess).
@ Infinite Growth,Delete
As philosopher and Catholic I firmly believe that a body alone cannot bring happiness; at best, it can bring sensual pleasure and joy in a psychological sense. While pleasure and joy may contribute to happiness, they are not necessary to reach it, as this last one is a more holistic concept that encompasses the state of a being that has reached its full potential and ends: your "womanish" dimension as certainly noticed that in your fellow women who are going to deliver, there is pain and no pleasure, anguish and no joy, but they are supremely happy about the mystery of birth they are living.
I totally agree with Tom's remarks, but I think that the experience of feeling both masculine and feminine at the same time can be a great opportunity for a rich spiritual life in Catholicism. Catholic teachings emphasize the nurturing and compassionate nature of women, and their role as caretakers and supporters of their families and communities.
Women are also seen as having a special spiritual intuition and sensitivity, which allows them to connect with others in meaningful ways and to experience the presence of God in their lives more deeply.
From a spiritual perspective, Catholic women are encouraged to cultivate a relationship with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is seen as a model of faith, devotion, and virtue. Women are encouraged to develop a deep spiritual life through prayer, scripture reading, and other spiritual practices, and to use their gifts and talents to serve others and build up the Church.
Dear Infinite Growth, for your happiness you have the unique possibility to live a feminine life of virginity and chastity, dedicated to Christ Jesus like the Holy Virgin Mary, preserving your body and soul as a sacred temple for the Lord, both physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
On your "masculine" side, remember that Catholic teachings emphasize the importance of courage, strength, and leadership in men. Men are encouraged to be responsible and dependable, and to use their gifts and talents to serve others and make a positive impact in the world. Additionally, Catholic teachings stress the importance of developing a strong sense of self-discipline, self-control, and integrity, which can promote personal growth and fulfillment.
From a spiritual perspective, Catholic men are encouraged to cultivate a relationship with Jesus, who is seen as the ultimate model of manhood. Men are encouraged to deepen their spiritual lives through prayer, scripture reading, and other spiritual practices, and to seek to grow in their faith through reflection, contemplation, and service.
Catholic teachings also emphasize the importance of balancing the demands of work, family, and spiritual life, and encourage men to be active in their communities and to use their gifts and talents to build up the Church. This can lead to a sense of fulfillment, self-esteem, and purpose in life, which can bring happiness.
But the point is that the transgender person considers his or her 'biological sex' an illness.
So, in the transgender's eyes, there isn'tv any healthy part cut off. What is 'cut off' is what is causing the illness.
This person is 'wanting to be cured'.
As to what we should make the default presumption, personally I do not know this, but maybe we should leave that to scientists who do know.
@ Infinite Growth,Delete
"But what about a fourth option: petitioning God to change your biological sex by miracle? Is this impossible, and if so, why? It cannot be because it is logically impossible, for there are many stories in fiction where a character gets a gender change, either voluntary and at will (e.g. Naruto) or involuntary (e.g. Keiichi in Ah My Goddess)."
IG, I don't think fiction is a good guide to what God would do, for it may mislead and cause one to hope and pray for something less than the greatest good - to try and enter over the wall like the thief, so to speak. Love of money, power, fame, influence, etc. are some of these lesser goods that cause many to go the wrong way. I think, as well, that this is true of desire to alter given sex.
Again, I cannot truly counsel you because the Internet is misleading, so I pray for you and pray that you will find a good person in the Church with whom you can communicate effectively. This is the key.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Intercede with Our Saviour, that IG may find peace.
@Tom Cohoe Thank you. I will take your advice.Delete
I also changed my name to EmpoweredBeing, because "Infinite_Growth" could be interpreted to mean "infinite growth at the expense of others".
"But what about a fourth option: petitioning God to change your biological sex by miracle?"
What about a fifth option: petition God to change the disordered desires?
"Is this impossible, and if so, why?"
The soul, created directly by God, is the form of the body; the human body is essentially sex-ed, so asking for a different body is asking for a different person which is nonsensical.
"It cannot be because it is logically impossible, for there are many stories in fiction where a character gets a gender change, either voluntary and at will (e.g. Naruto) or involuntary (e.g. Keiichi in Ah My Goddess)."
Imagination is not a good track for consistency, logical or otherwise.
It is related in the Desert Fathers that: An old man said, 'When trials come to a man, afflictions from all directions increase to cause him to become faint-hearted and to make him complain.' And the old man related the following story, 'At the Cells there was a brother upon whom trials fell. When the others saw him, they did not greet him or take him into their cells, and when he needed bread, no one supplied him with any, and when he returned from the harvest, no one invited him to Church for the agape as was customary. Coming back from the harvest once, he had not even any bread in his cell, and he thanked God for all this. Someone came and knocked on his door, with a camel laden with bread, coming from Egypt. But the brother began to weep and say, 'Lord, was I not worthy to bear a little affliction for your name's sake?''
@EmpoweredBeing I can think of 3 mathematician saints off the top of my head: St. Hubert, St. Albertus Magnus, and St. Boethius.Delete
But what about a fourth option: petitioning God to change your biological sex by miracle? Is this impossible, and if so, why?Delete
IG, it is my opinion (but I cannot prove of my own knowledge) that God indicated in the first chapter of Genesis that this is not possible: Immediately after saying that He made man "in His image and likeness" the author goes on to say "male and female he created them". My opinion is that once made, a person and his or her body are a pair that are no longer interchangeable with some other - for example, God does not take that enbodied soul OUT of the body and put it into some other body. Nor let the person die and put some different soul into this dead body. Feser in some earlier columns on zombies addressed some of the metaphysical issues, I think.
That said, since I have expressed the above as an opinion, I can respect that others may disagree. All prayers to God should be said with an implicit caveat that goes along with them: "yet not my will, but thine be done". If you were to wish for God to heal your disorder by giving you a body that matches your feelings, and He cures you by giving you feelings that match your body, it would indeed be a cure and there would no longer be a mismatch between them. Would you reject such a solution?
I have no doubt whatsoever that after the last judgment, if you are in heaven, you will receive a body perfected for your person, and your soul will be perfected to rule your body. I wish and pray for your cure in whatever mode God intends, but confidently hope that even if it is not completed in this life, it will be so in the next, where my own permanent disfigurements will also be cured.
But the point is that the transgender person considers his or her 'biological sex' an illness.Delete
So, in the transgender's eyes, there isn'tv any healthy part cut off. What is 'cut off' is what is causing the illness.
Walter, it seems that he or she would also have to "cut off" all the Y chromosomes, and then add in another X chromosome in all the cells, and then re-wire the brain and reconfigure many of the muscles and bones. That is: to remake the whole body.
As to what we should make the default presumption, personally I do not know this, but maybe we should leave that to scientists who do know.
First, I made no positive claim about where the presumption should lie, rather I posed a negative claim, based on the lack of having a basis for it definitively being in favor of the disordered person's feelings rather than body.
That said, the psychological sciences are far, far from advanced enough to definitively say that the person's feelings should be relied upon over their body, and in fact some in those sciences were - until they were shackled with politically driven threats against loss of profession - vociferously saying the science doesn't represent that at all, and certainly not that every person who claims trans status should be relied upon to trump their biology with their claimed feelings. Given that some people will mis-represent their feelings from various motives, if for no other reason.
Ideally, he or she would indeed also have to "cut off" all the Y chromosomes, and then add in another X chromosome in all the cells, and then re-wire the brain and reconfigure many of the muscles and bones. That is: to remake the whole body. But presently that is not possible.
Ideally there should be a cure for cancer that does not in any way affect healthy cells, but for now, we have to setlle with chemotherapy etc.
And I agree with you that we should not rely upon every person who claims trans status to trump their biology, but tghat doesn't mean there are no persons whose, feelings truly represent who/what they are. We shoild be very careful, I agree with that, but we shouldn't a priori rule out that there really are 'trans' persons.
If you were to wish for God to heal your disorder by giving you a body that matches your feelings, and He cures you by giving you feelings that match your body, it would indeed be a cure and there would no longer be a mismatch between them. Would you reject such a solution?Delete
Of course not! What matters is the bad feelings going away, not the means He uses to get those bad feelings away. To think otherwise would be illogical.
What counts is that you do usage of your actual situation to become a Saint along the path the Christ shows you through His Teachings and the Holy Sacraments of His Church.
Just ask the grace to live a life of virtues, human and theologals.
This will make you happy: and admire and live in your being the feminine Holy Virtues of the Holy Virgin Mary.
Empowered, I join you in praying for a cure, whichever cure it is that God desires most, without further constraint.Delete
"First, I made no positive claim about where the presumption should lie, rather I posed a negative claim, based on the lack of having a basis for it definitively being in favor of the disordered person's feelings rather than body."
Why not? You basically proved as much in the previous paragraph.
I think Dawn will be very pleased with your review, especially since you are more to the right of her on some issues. BTW. America magazine has an excellent online article about Fr FordReplyDelete
Thank you, Professor Feser, for shifting the focus in recent articles from mere intellectual reasoning to what truly drives it, which is the will. The will wants what the intellect proposes but can also reject it if it is diseased. This diseased state of the will is known as a vice.ReplyDelete
In this blog, we observe that many people's will is so heavily influenced by vices that they fail to connect with reality. However, it is important for all of us to always be mindful of our vices and strive to correct our intellectual reflection in order to recognize the truth presented by our intellectual pursuits.
I would like to highlight a point that is often overlooked, even by current religious leaders who should know better: as Christians, through the grace of Holy Baptism, we have the Holy Spirit residing within us and guiding us by constantly making us aware when we have distorted judgments, regardless of our culture, personal history, or other factors.
Failing to heed or suppressing these whispers of the Holy Spirit is a radical sin against Him, and one that cannot be forgiven. This is not a mitigating factor but rather an aggravating one.
I also want to use this opportunity to raise awareness and prevent the reduction of Christ's choice to a moralizing discourse. This was never a moralizing discourse before Protestantism and its Jansenist counterpart, and it still exists today in a degraded form of Christian discourse reduced to a political formulation.
Being holy does not mean avoiding sin, but making the choice of Christ to set us apart, as He is the only Holy One. Living by Christ's virtues is much more than "just" avoiding sin; it's living by His life, by His Liturgy to the Father through the Holy Spirit, and by all His sacraments in Charity.
The Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit is being a liar. Christianity is the religion that teaches that salvation is based on knowing the Truth, and the unforgivable sin is, by definition, that which denies salvation. So put 2 and 2 together!Delete
@ Infinite Growth,Delete
The index of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by John Paul II specifically points to Paragraph 1864 in reference to "Holy Spirit, blasphemy against". Paragraph 1864, in full, follows:
" 'Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven [Matthew 12:31].' There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss."
Your words are too broad and are also wide of the mark.
@Tom Cohoe "The Holy Spirit guides the church councils and documents" cannot be interpreted to mean "Church documents are as inspired as if they had been written by Jeremiah or Malachi".Delete
There is currently a renaissance in psychedelic research. Johns Hopkins, Yale, and several other universities have studies going on about the use of psychedelics to treat addiction, depression, etc.ReplyDelete
There is some intimations in the research on classical psychedelics that LSD might reduce alcohol addiction, and that Bill's freedom from addiction resulted from his experimentation. Does the book address this claim?
Thank you. My dad was, "a friend of Bill W" and this touched me.ReplyDelete
I am not being facetious, only pragmatic. For the good Bill and AA's co-founder have done, they should have been anonymous saints also. AA never helped my uncle---he was so lost in self-immolation and pity, there was no chance of that. But, only the good die young, it is said. That uncle outlived all his siblings. His holdings went to others, more or less deserving than remaining family. Funny how greed perpetuates itself.ReplyDelete
As it says in the Old Testament, "Why do the wicked prosper and live long lives?"ReplyDelete
"As it says in the Old Testament, "Why do the wicked prosper and live long lives?"ReplyDelete
Wheat and tares aside: 'Because the passive "good" do not cease enabling them', may be one partial answer.
Another, taken from one of those pious Christian tales of redemption traded for damnation, presents this take:
"When I was a child, I once heard in a sermon that God rewards the good one does. If He does not reward one in the next life, He will do it on earth. ... But I had no doubt about this: should I die, I would enter into eternity in a state of revolt against God, and I would suffer the consequences. As I already have told you, I did not change my course but continued along the same path, impelled by habit, just as people act with greater deliberation and regularity as they grow older"
Not sure that "reward" would be the most apt word, nor what "good" Stalin or Lenin or Mao could be said to have done. But then two of them did not live to be all that old and lay at deaths door, paralyzed and incapable of repentance as a prelude to their immersion in the eternal fire.
Ted Kennedy might be a more apt and conventional example.
Sen. Kennedy received the Annointing of the Sick before he diedDelete
"Sen. Kennedy received the Annointing of the Sick before he died"Delete
Well, maybe one of his family's pet priests was able to issue him a 'get out of jail' [or Hell] card, in the same way wealthy Mafia dons have been portrayed as managing it. Or, in the same way buggering priests in the Vatican reputedly absolve each other after their bouts.
Though, if you read up on the rite of extreme unction, it seems that the remission of sin is conditional on contrition, even if imperfect.
At no time in the year before his death did Kennedy give any public evidence of having rethought the social or distributive consequences of his morally subversive and abusive activities.
In fact he continued advocating for his causes in the name of "history" right up until his death. He went to his grave reports say, confirmed in his attitudes and conceits; all while proclaiming what a grand time it was that he had had ... the trail of damaged or destroyed lives which he had left in his cossetted and privileged wake, notwithstanding.
There is a peculiar kind of incoherent legalism involved in what might be referred to as modernist liberal Catholic morality.
You have to somehow accept that we have a reasonable hope that all men are saved, yet still believe that the Catholic Church is somehow necessary, or specially embued with salvific virtues.
You have to be able to accept that what the infallible popes taught as timeless truths yesterday is now abrogated, yet what they teach today is somehow unconditionally, or seriously, or even minimally, binding.
And among other things, you have to be able to accept that even apostate or heretical pronouncements blurted out by child abusing perverts who've insinuated themselves into the bureaus of the Church, and who are enabled by a pope himself elected through forbidden caucusing and campaigns, is somehow a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Yeah ... of a "spirit" perhaps. But how, given the fruits of confusion, infidelity, perversity, and collapse which are plainly visible, that inspiration could be possibly identified with a "Holy" spirit, is another matter altogether.
Neither you nor I know what went on between Sen. Kennedy and his confessor. Kennedy also asked for and received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict.