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Q&A  November AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
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Canonization of Pope John XXIII-no Miracles?

Grand Theft Monatery--Zimbabwee and the IMF

Lighting & Extinguishing Candles?

Our Lady of the Rosary
Canonization of Pope John XXIII?

    Question:  I heard that Pope John XXIII will be canonized, but no miracles have been attributed to him.  Will his canonization be an infallible act?

     Answer:  Catholic theologians distinguish between direct and primary objects of infallibility on the one hand, and others that are indirect and secondary objects on the other hand.  The direct object of infallibility is the revealed truth of God—such truths may be doctrinal or moral, so we say that the Church is infallible in matters of faith and morals.  The Church may act through the person of the Pope, or through an ecumenical council of the Church’s bishops.  Only when it is clear that the pronouncement is definitive and binding on all who wish to be Catholics can the decree be said to be infallible.  Most of what Pope’s and bishops say is not protected by the charism of doctrinal infallibility, which in fact has not been employed since Pope Pius XII declared the dogma of the Assumption on 1 November 1950.[1]  After a moderately long explanation of the dogma, Pope Pius defined it in paragraph 44 and specified the penalty for disbelief in 45, thereby assuring the faithful of the infallible character of the pronouncement.

    The indirect or secondary exercise of infallibility refers to judging the conclusions of theologians deduced from revealed truths, and to disciplinary matters like the Rule of a Religious Order, the censorship of books, and the canonization of saints.  All of these things call for the exercise of a certain “due diligence,” on the part of Church officials.  Very often, a number of officials are called to collaborate in such matters, in order for them to criticize the procedures of the whole.

    Examples of “due diligence” would include:

·                     Careful consideration of the logical structure of a deduced proposition by those well trained in logic.

·                     Careful consideration of the proposed Rule of an Order by those well experienced in the monastic or religious life, and fully conversant with the discipline of moral theology.

·                     Censorship by those quite fluent in the original language of the writing, and fully conversant with the subject matter.  One would expect a list of specific statements said to be heretical, and not just an overall opinion of the work.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of “due diligence” in canonization:

    It is also commonly and rightly held that the Church is infallible in the canonization of saints, that is to say, when canonization takes place according to the solemn process that has been followed since the ninth century. Mere beatification, however, as distinguished from canonization, is not held to be infallible, and in canonization itself the only fact that is infallibly determined is that the soul of the canonized saint departed in the state of grace and already enjoys the beatific vision. [2]

    The operative idea here is that the solemn process gathers earthly evidence that the candidate lived a life of heroic virtue and apparent sanctity (by interviewing those who knew him if they are available and by evaluating his writings), and at the same time gathers supernatural evidence of the candidate’s ability to intercede for those in the Church Militant (i.e. miracles worked through his intercession). The process further allows an appointed official, (the Promoter of the Faith—promotor fidei, colloquially called the Devil's advocate—advocatus diaboli) to present reasoned arguments against the evidence in favor of canonization.

    In addition to evidence of heroic virtue and apparent sanctity, the process requires two miracles before the candidate could be declared Blessed, and another two before he could be declared a Saint.  Obviously, there has to be some evidence connecting the specific miracles with the candidate, and this might be subject to refutation by the Devil’s Advocate.  The process generally took a significant period of time to come to completion.

    Certainly, one can imagine a modified process that did not exercise “due diligence.”  Say, for example that the process were reduced to picking names at random out of hundred year old telephone directories—would the charism of infallibility insure that only Saints were chosen?  The answer should be no, for while the age of the directories might insure that those picked were at least dead, it would do nothing to confirm their heroic virtue and apparent sanctity—they might not even be Catholics—and the Devil’s Advocate would have nothing to argue against (except, of course, against the new process itself in all of its absurdity).

    They are not yet picking Saints out of old directories, but in recent years, diligence of the process has been considerably weakened in the Conciliar Church.  Instead of a total of four miracles, only two are now required.  The office of the Devil’s Advocate was abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1983.  “Heroic virtue” seems to have been replaced with “progressive thought” and “apparent sanctity” with herd popularity.

    Pope John XXIII is credited with an impressive miracle—sustaining for twenty six years the life of a nun with no stomach, no pancreas, and no spleen—a nun who lived an active life from 1966 until 2010![3]  There is some discussion of who worked the miracle, for in her initial illness the nun prayed to the Virgin of Pompei for a cure—the suggestion to pray to John XXIII came from other nuns.  Unfortunately, there is no longer a Devil’s Advocate to ask this question.  Nor will a Devil’s Advocate question the wisdom of Pope Francis dispensing from the required second miracle.[4]

    What evidence have we of Pope John’s “heroic virtue and apparent sanctity”?  Well, Pope John claimed to practice perfect chastity in his autobiography, Journal of a Soul—good, but tooting one’s own horn is not exactly evidence.  “[National Catholic Reporter senior correspondent John] “Allen told CNN that Pope Francis had decided John XXIII had lived a life of ‘heroic virtue...’”[5]  But the Pope’s actual words don’t appear to be on-line, and no one is saying just what Francis found “heroic” about Pope John’s “virtue.”

    What we do know about was Pope John’s summoning of the Second Vatican Council, insuring that no condemnations would be made of any error or of anyone in error, scrapping the carefully laid out agenda, and opening the Council to “progressives” and “progressivism.”  Marie-Dominique Chenu, Yves Congar, Hans Küng, Henri de Lubac, Karl Rahner, and Edward Schillebeeckx were among Pope John’s “experts.”

    Perhaps the idea of picking saints out of old telephone books has its merits!

Our Lady of the Rosary
“Thou shalt not steal.”[6]

Grand Theft Monetary--Zimbabwe and the IMF

Zimbabwe Fourth Currency Series—Z$100,000,000,000,000 Note

    A hundred trillion dollars ought to set anyone up pretty well for the future, no?  Just two or three such notes ought to be enough to pay off all the unfunded liabilities of the United States.[7]  Well, in fact, the note pictured above can be ordered by anyone who wants one on for under US$5.00.  If you buy more than one you can even get consecutive serial numbers.  Even at five dollars apiece the note is no great bargain, for it has value only as a collector’s item, with Zimbabwe no longer honoring its own currency and  is depending on foreign currencies for commerce.

    Says the Wall Street Journal:

    At one point in 2009, a hundred-trillion-dollar bill couldn't buy a bus ticket in the capital of Harare. But since then the value of the Zimbabwe dollar has soared. Not in Zimbabwe, where the currency has been abandoned, but on eBay.

    The notes are a hot commodity among currency collectors and novelty buyers, fetching 15 times what they were officially worth in circulation. In the past decade, President Robert Mugabe and his allies attempted to prop up the economy—and their government—by printing money. Instead, the country's central bankers sparked hyperinflation by issuing bills with more zeros.

    The 100-trillion-dollar note, circulated for just a few months before the Zimbabwe dollar was officially abandoned as the country's legal currency in 2009, marked the daily limit people were allowed to withdraw from their bank accounts. Prices rose, wreaking havoc.

    The runaway inflation forced Zimbabweans to wait in line to buy bread, toothpaste and other essentials. They often carried bigger bags for their money than the few items they could afford with a devalued currency.[8]

    How does such a thing happen?  What did the Wall Street Journal just tell us?

President Robert Mugabe and his allies attempted to prop up the economy—and their government—by printing money. Instead, the country's central bankers sparked hyperinflation by issuing bills with more zeros.

    The Journal seems confused—they seem to be saying that it was okay to print money to prop up the economy—that the problem was in printing larger bills.  The size of the bills in circulation is generally decided by what is convenient to carry.  If the Zimbabweans had to carry big bags filled with hundred-trillion-dollar notes, imagine the problem if they only had one-dollar notes!  The adding of zeros was caused by inflation, and was not inflation’s cause.  The inflation was caused by whoever decided to finance the government by printing money instead of taking steps to increase national production of tangible assets.

    Money is not wealth.  Wealth is things that people need and want.  Food and drink, clothing, shelter, transportation, communication, and even things like art, music, and entertainment are wealth if people need or want them.  In a prosperous economy, as more goods are produced, the dollar cost of each of these things goes slowly down, not up.

    Keynesian economics makes the mistake of considering government as a productive good, when it is in reality a cost.  The government acquires money (and the consequent ability to acquire actual goods or “wealth” from the productive) either by taxing the productive or through inflation.  Since the government or the government’s central bank produces the new money, the government can redistribute the nation’s wealth as it sees fit.  The recipients of the new found wealth may be happy, but none of this “prop[s] up the economy.”  Indeed, everyone who holds the nation’s currency must buy less with their money.  It is not only that inflation of the money supply lowers the currency’s value, but that the government or its central bank has taken its cut out of the nation’s production.

    Central banks produce money in exchange for the nation’s debt, while government treasury departments print money used to directly acquire the nation’s wealth—which government has neither produced nor earned.  The citizen must pay, whether it is later or now.  Central bank money printing gives the illusion of something for nothing, but passes the responsibility for repayment on to future generations.

    In the past decade it has become more obvious that nations cannot borrow their way to prosperity.  The productive countries of the world are becoming less willing to lend money to those countries whose primary “product” is government.  The bankers are cronies of the governments—they don’t want to see cuts in the size of governments.  So the burden of payment is shifted to the tax payers, those forced to pay into government retirement and medical plans, and to those who worked in good faith for government with the promise of salary, benefits, and pensions.

    You worked for a government/union/company pension—you paid into Social Security/Medicare/an IRA/401K or saving account/CD or paid off a mortgage on your home—well tough!  The bank/government needs the money more than you do, so we are taking it!

    Think that can’t happen here—think again.  Although the idea originated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for dealing with the default of Cypress and other nation’s banks, it is quite possible in the U.S. since the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking bill became law.[9]

    The IMF is getting serious about this.  the following three points are taken from a Forbes article:  (You should read the whole article.)[10]

    First, IMF economists know there are not enough rich people to fund today’s governments even if 100 percent of the assets of the 1 percent were expropriated. That means that all households with positive net wealth—everyone with retirement savings or home equity—would have their assets plundered under the IMF’s formulation.

    Second, such a repudiation of private property will not pay off Western governments’ debts or fund budgets going forward. It will merely “restore debt sustainability,” allowing free-spending sovereigns to keep tapping the bond markets until the next crisis comes along—for which stronger measures will be required, of course.

    Third, should politicians fail to muster the courage to engage in this kind of wholesale robbery, the only alternative scenario the IMF posits is public debt repudiation and hyperinflation. Structural reform proposals for the Ponzi-scheme entitlement programs that are bankrupting us are nowhere to be seen.

    You can read the IMF paper on the Internet.[11]  Be prepared for plenty of government jargon and mathematical gobbledygook.  The Forbes article is far more brief and comprehensible.

    My personal opinion is that (1) continued money printing, (2) confiscatory taxation of personal homes and dollar accounts—those of the “middle class” as well as those of the “rich,” (3) allowing the “Ponzi-scheme entitlement programs” to fail, and (4) reduction of welfare payments like SNAP (food stamps)[12] would trigger American Revolution II.

    Is this a Catholic Issue?  This is a violation of the seventh and tenth Commandments on an unprecedented scale, never before seen in this world.  Worse yet, it may lead to similar violation of the fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

 Our Lady of the Rosary
Lighting & Extinguishing Candles?

    Question:  Is there an order in which the altar candles are to be lit and extinguished?  (BM-Pompano Beach)

    Answer:  I served my first Masses in the Dominican Rite and was told that the order for lighting candles was such that the candle heights would remain about equal.  Thus, if the candle(s) on the Gospel side were a bit taller than those on the Epistle side, the former would be lit first and extinguished last.   Apparently this was not just the opinion of a single Dominican, as I have found the practice in writing.[13]

    Authors writing about the Roman Rite are consistent in having the candles on the Epistle side lit first, and then those on the Gospel side.  If more than two candles are lit, the server begins with those closest to the tabernacle, and works outward.  The candles are extinguished in reverse order.  None suggested a reason for preferring this order, but two did cite SRC 4198 as their authority.  “SRC” is the Latin abbreviation for “Sacred Congregation of Rites,” and their decrees govern the celebration of Mass in the traditional Roman Rite.[14]

    The Sanctus candle, a single candle placed on or near the credence table, is lit after the Sanctus and extinguished after Holy Communion.



[2]   C.E. s.v. “infallibility”  

[14]   J.B. O’Connell, The Celebration of Mass (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1959),  page 423 and Lawrence J. O’Connell & Walter J. Schmitz, The Book of Ceremonies (Milwaukke: Bruce, 1956), page 52.


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