The Ideal Seminarian

Eamonn Clark

With much discussion these days about seminary reform, here is a partial description of what the ideal seminarian is like…

He rises at 5 every morning, works and prays until midnight, and gets 8 hours of sleep.

He is in great physical health and has perfect hair, but he is not too concerned about his appearance.

He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Faith, but he takes rigorous notes in all of his classes.

He never crosses a superior, but he takes frequent initiative and always stands up for what he thinks is right.

He visits his apostolate more than he is required, prays two holy hours per day, never misses class, and does all of his assigned reading. He is studying at least one extra foreign language, reading a classic work of literature, and cultivating a hobby. He is frequently recreating with the other men, does overtime on his house job, and is always free to drive the rector somewhere.

His formation priorities are perfect: spiritual above intellectual, intellectual above human, human above pastoral, and pastoral above spiritual.

He has perfect Latin and loves the liturgy, but he is not “too traditional.”

He knows secular and ecclesial politics inside and out but has no opinion on any of it.

He is a connoisseur of fine wine and spirits, but he never drinks.

He never wears clerics when others are not, and he always wears them when others are.

He had an extremely successful career in the world, had a healthy and steady relationship with a beautiful woman, hit “rock bottom” in some way or another, recovered, and gave it all up to go to seminary. And he is only 25.

He follows the rules of the house perfectly and gently calls others to account, but he is not rigid.

He is handsome, manly, and sociable around women, but he is never hit on and is never flirtatious.

He is always nicely dressed, his car always works, he never asks the diocese for money, but he is just a poor seminarian who lives a life of simplicity.

His parents taught him everything he knows about being a Christian. So did his parish priest. So has the formation program.

Egyptian PR, Church PR

Eamonn Clark

There is a well-known principle of studying history known as the “criterion of embarrassment.” We see it vindicated in our own day in America every time some self-righteous SJW campaigns to demolish a statue of a Confederate general or what have you, and they call it “progress.” The Romans called it “damnatio memoriae” – the destruction of a person’s memory. It often involved scraping out their names from stone epitaphs… not far off from the methods of the SJW’s. And we see similar things done throughout the world in every age in an attempt to cover up the bad things to make the culture look better than it really is.

The Egyptians did it too. Those of us engaged in apologetic work will sometimes hear the claim that there are “no records” of the Jews having been in Egypt or having left it, therefore, etc. (Never mind the fact that Egypt is like an iceberg – we’ve only discovered the tip.) There are at least two problems with this, corresponding to each part of the claim.

First off, what rich society wants to dedicate precious resources to memorialize their slaves? Even the amateur historian knows, for instance, that even though it appears that we have loads of knowledge about Heian Japan, this knowledge almost exclusively concerns the “1%” of the population – the imperial families, those closely related to them, their hobbies and personal endeavors, and a bit about the military class. We know next to nothing about the lives of the average farmer or merchant, despite knowing all about the aristocratic Fujiwara clan. And that’s how we should expect it.

In the second place, military defeats were embarrassing events for the pharaoh, signaling divine disapproval and encouraging enemy attacks. If I recall correctly, there is not a single known ancient Egyptian record of their nation suffering a military loss. So why should we expect a record of their abject humiliation by their slave-class? That would be extraordinary.

The Jews, on the other hand, are extraordinary indeed. They bucked this dominant trend of self-chronicling. Instead of highlighting their victories to the total eclipse of their failures, the most cursory glance at the Torah – let alone the Prophets – reveals a people obsessed with detailing their own corruption and failure, set in contradistinction to the fidelity and glory of their God.

This is remarkable. It is not how human beings operate. This is “Jewish PR.”

In “Church PR,” there are several things to keep in mind:

  1. The potential public scandal of a revelation
  2. The reputation of the individual perpetrator(s)
  3. The risk of a later revelation
  4. The good of the victim(s)

It seems that in general there has been extremely poor evaluation of the last two items over the past few decades. I should not have to defend that position these days.

Protecting the public good name of the Church is certainly laudable. And it is surely unwise to be too quick to publish names and unnecessarily destroy reputations and cause furor, especially over mere accusations or the mildest perceptions of impropriety. But we should have no “criterion of embarrassment” in Church PR.

Christ did not instruct the Apostles to cover up the actions of Judas, and the Jews were quick to recall how terrible many of their ancestors were. The animating principle there was not a thought about “what people will think,” but rather, “what God will do.” For the faithful have always known that His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12: 9) In a crisis, a little panic and ineptitude from leaders is understandable, but those who try to make the institutional Church look “stronger” than it really is may as well throw the sleeping Jesus off the boat like dead weight and try to save themselves from sinking in the storm. (Mt. 8: 23-27)

The right order of priorities in any kind of impropriety on the part of Church officials seems to be the reverse of what I have written above… The good of the victim must be the fundamental value, and this should only increase in importance given due consideration of the possibility of later revelation, a situation which almost invariably makes things worse. Then the good name of the perpetrator must be considered in accord with right reason. Finally, almost as an afterthought, one might see if there is a way to minimize the public nature of the affair for the good of the Church’s popular image, without affront to any other values. If that’s not possible, then it’s on God to make it work long-term, just like with ancient Israel.

We are only partially responsible for how people see the Church. God gives sufficient grace to everyone, after all. When we are put in a position where we have the immediate power and authority to help individuals who have been harmed by the institutional Church, then we are entirely responsible for attending to their legitimate grievances, whatever the broader consequences. Let the world know that Judas did something bad. Tell them that he was a bad priest. Better now than later, because in the meantime there will be a festering cover-up implicating more and more people, and crimes which could have been prevented by absence or deterrence will go unstopped.

That’s what happens when the Church uses Egyptian PR… the mighty are cast down from their thrones. (Lk. 1: 52)

 

Main image: “The Weighing of the Heart” from the Egyptian Book of the Dead (even the ancient Egyptians believed in final justice)

Consummatum Est

For your artistic edification this Good Friday: what is perhaps the best piece of music ever written.

Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of Heaven]
in the trial of death!

A Public Service Announcement: The Return of the Liturgia Horarum

Eamonn Clark

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus liturgia horarum.

HERE

That’s right, the 4-volume Latin Liturgy of the Hours is (are?) back, after several years of being, unbelievably, out of print.

You can put in a pre-order now. (Disclaimer: I did email them several days ago and have not heard back – but that’s not too surprising, honestly.)

It makes the perfect gift for the N.O.-friendly trad in your life.

A Shameless Plug

Dear readers,

I am now helping to run the YouTube channel of my university here in Rome, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum):

HERE

We plan on featuring speakers, doing reports on events, and more. We have already uploaded a few videos with names you might recognize…

Check out this video we just released on the recent snow in Rome (the first in 6 years!):

One of our most recent videos is a report on a talk that theologian Andrew Meszaros gave last week – the full talk should be uploaded tomorrow:

 

Much, much more to come – hit that subscribe button, and please share!

-Eamonn Clark

Dr. Grisez has died…

Eamonn Clark

I have learned moments ago of the passing of Dr. Germain Grisez, a longtime professor of my alma mater, Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, and one of the most important voices in Catholic moral theology in the past 50 years.

Dr. Grisez was the architect of the New Natural Law theory, which has taken off in the past few decades. I have deep problems with NNL, but there is no denying that the man was incredibly intelligent, worked hard, and loved the Lord. I recall frequently seeing him at daily Mass in my college years, where he was often a lector, and though I only briefly personally spoke with him once, I have much respect for the man. I suppose this is more due to his very public openness to correction by the Church as he wandered into uncharted theological territory. In this, he is an example for all theologians.

Much of my recent personal academic pursuits have been done in reaction to this giant, especially his action-theory. I regret that now I will never have the chance to talk with him about it.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

My Predictions for the New Year

Eamonn Clark

I know it’s a week late, but… if you care…

  1. The world will not end.
  2. The Holy Father will resign shortly after a consistory.
  3. Either Cdl. Parolin or an African will become the next pope.
  4. Vatican financial reform will continue to be a scandal and a joke.
  5. Nobody will find D.B. Cooper or his treasure.
  6. The readership of this website will increase by at least 500 subscribers (including email subscriptions which aren’t publicly visible).
  7. There will not be a ruling on Medjugorje.
  8. The Dominicans will overtake the Jesuits in the USA for the most entrants into the novitiate.
  9. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will survive and continue to grow in clout.
  10. I will not be made a monsignor.

If I get number 10 wrong, then I will get number 1 wrong too.

Buon anno!

Masses of Reparation for the Protestant Rebellion

Eamonn Clark

I have a request of the priests reading this blog. This October 31st and beyond, celebrate Masses with the intention of making amends for 500 years of doctrinal and moral chaos. Offer a Mass for Christian unity, perhaps even specifically for the conversion or downfall of all those voices which draw people away from the one true Faith and into the errors of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and beyond.

Our Lord wants such reparation and prayer. I know this because of the High Priestly Prayer (John 17: 1-26)… We should lament intensely the countless souls lost to the nonchalance and non-sacramentality of Protestantism. They are sheep who shepherd themselves, and thus, as we have seen now for five centuries, the errors multiply themselves, as if it were still the days of the Judges.

This anniversary is nothing to celebrate. It is one of the worst moments in the life of the Church. In fact, Our Lord was so concerned that not only did He inspire the Council of Trent, but He even sent Our Lady to the Americas, as if to make up for the numbers being lost in Europe. We should imitate such concern for Christian unity.

While the laity can (and should) pray and fast in reparation, the priest is in a special position to make such intercession. The sacrifice of Calvary perpetuated in the spirit of making amends for 500 years of heresy and spiritual malpractice is surely very pleasing to God… What graces might be occasioned by such a devotion, both for Christian unity, for conversion, and for the ministry of the priest himself? There is only one way to find out.

Perhaps there has been no better moment to offer such Masses than this coming anniversary. Do not let it pass by!

Note: CRM will be hosting a series of articles this year on the Reformation and Protestantism. Be sure to stop by or subscribe!

Waiting in the Wings

Eamonn Clark

I thought it might be nice to share some of what CRM’s itinerary is for the next year. Here are several items we have on deck (in no particular order):

Is Internet Piracy Stealing?

The New Albigensianism: Parts IV & V

Reflections of a New Priest

Limbo: A Sensible and Comforting Doctrine

Some New Solutions to the Abiathar Problem

What Heaven is Not

Moses: The Key to Revealed Religion

The Men Caught in Adultery

A series on the Reformation (500 years)

Why the Ascension Makes Sense

What is a Spiritual Communion?

Probabilism, Probabiliorism, and Equiprobabilism: What’s a Conscience to Do?

…And More!

Stay tuned, hit that subscribe button, and be sure to share.