Catholic Tradition Newsletter A33: Papa materialiter, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Saint Helena

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Vol 12 Issue 33 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
August 17, 2019 ~ Saint Hyacinth, opn!

1.      What is the Holy Eucharist
2.      Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
3.      Saint Helena
4.      Articles and notices

Dear Reader:

In this issue I am covering a topic that was discussed in 1993 and again from 2002-2003 that has caused confusion and division in the Church. It may be a matter of interest even if many do not know of the on-going discussion. Those who have assisted at Holy Mass and were refused Holy Communion or the Sacraments by a priest because you did not adhere to his opinion will appreciate the article.

As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit.—The Editor

The Cassiciacum ThesisPapa materialiter non formaliter, once more revisited

By Father Courtney Edward Krier

An obsolete and irreconcilable theory still circulates among traditional Catholics promoted by groups wanting to be independent of Church unity and authority. The following is the history of the Cassiciacum Thesis and what it entails.

In May of 1979, Father Guerard des Lauriers, O.P., published in Cahiers de Cassiciacum, with Abbe Bernard Lucien, a thesis to explain the condition of the Roman Catholic Church. Father Guerard des Lauriers was a well known figure, having written the Ottaviani Intervention and taught at the Angelicum in Rome, so the work received widespread attention. The Thesis was seeking an answer for the lack of papal infallibility and indefectibility in the Conciliar Church by claiming a pope can be materially but not formally pope.  Such a distinction drew immediate criticism because it was contradictory and unsupported. The response by des Lauriers and Lucien was it was not understood—but those criticizing were Professors and Doctors of Theology and Philosophy.

In 1981, Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc was asked by Eberhard Heller and Kurt Hiller (Doctors of Philosophy) whether he would consecrate a bishop in order to preserve apostolic succession since the Conciliar Rites of Ordination are considered invalid. Agreeing, the final candidate chosen (Rev. Otto Katzer was first suggested, but he suddenly passed away) was Father Michel Guerard des Lauriers, who, on May 7, 1981, was consecrated bishop by Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc. It was under the condition that Father des Lauriers acknowledged the Chair of Peter was vacant—and therefore no attempt at seeking a papal mandate. Despite, as Dr Eberhard Heller writes in Einsicht (Ausgabe Nr. 9 Monat November 2004;, being told the condition, philosophical semantics interplayed and Bishop Guerard des Lauriers continued to hold his opinion that Karol Wojtyla was materially pope but not formally pope; the decision divided the European traditional Catholics who had understood the Chair of Peter was vacant as also the person at that time claiming the papal office (Wojtyla) was not  a pope.  Eventually Fathers Moises Carmona and Roberto Zamora of Mexico were consecrated on October 17, 1981.

When Fr. Robert F. McKenna, O.P., received consecration from des Lauriers, it also eventually split the traditional Catholic movement in the United States that recognized the See of Rome was vacant.  Why a division? And why, on the other hand, the refusal of Catholics—clergy and laity—to accept the Cassiciacum thesis?

Those supporting the des Lauriers position, like other Lefebvrists, claim a false intellectual superiority. It is baseless as many of those on the side of sedevacantists have a higher education (masters and doctorates) than those on the Pope/No Pope contradiction (and Lefebvrist). They would claim that a sedevacantist can only see 1+2= 3 while they can see that x+y =3. Besides being not true that sedevacantists cannot see x+y=3 (remember x and y can be an infinite amount of variables), it is that sedevacantists are clear: a person cannot be pope and not pope at the same time. It is the axiom of contradiction: A thing cannot be and not be at the same time—even in scholastic philosophy, which the Dominicans once prided themselves in maintaining. It is that the Econists have done everything to maintain the Conciliar Church as legitimate that they lost themselves in their own arguments (des Lauriers taught in the Lefebvre seminary) to justify their rejecting Vatican II and its leaders while still accepting Vatican II and its leaders—because the consequence is rejection by the Vatican II church and its leaders, when they want acceptance by the Vatican II Church and its leaders. What des Lauriers did was no different then what Marcel Lefebvre did 7 years later, consecration of a bishop without papal mandate. The justification? For Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, to prevent the end of the FSSPX (Josef Bisig, a former FSSPX, started the FSSP with guarantee that his seminarians would be ordained in the old Latin rite was being negotiated prior to the Consecrations; and already the Conciliar Church was allowing their ministers to say the 1962 Latin Mass again under Eccleisa Dei). For Archbishop Martin Thuc in 1981, the consecration was to continue apostolic succession. For des Lauriers, one can only surmise he accepted the position of Archbishop Martin Thuc that it was necessary to preserve apostolic succession—without which there is no Church.

Seemingly, the claim that the Chair was occupied by a legitimate successor prevents one from electing a rival claimant to the Chair and, perhaps the subliminal thought was to prevent another Palma de Troya or Saint Jovite. Be that as it may, the papa materialiter/formalitertheory presents problems—though it may have been des Lauriers’ legitimate attempt to address the problem created with Vatican II. As was mentioned above, the fallacies were pointed out in 1981. The arguments have not changed, even with the death of Bishop Guerard des Lauriers, who wrote in 1984:

W. (Wojtyla) is, and radically, a PSEUDO . . . And I am beginning to think that the election of W. has been ‘pseudo,’ such that he had never been pope, not even materially. As this does not change anything which (for the moment) we have to do, I am waiting to again publicly place this question. (Letter to Alfons Eisele on 18 April, 1984, SAKA-INFORMATION, May 1988)

Quoting from Einsicht, Ausgabe Nr. 11 Monat December 2003:

What is meant by Papa materialiter, non formaliter which Bishop Guérard des Laurier tries to interpret the state of faith and church of John Paul II. As Guérard des Laurier sees it, and it seems legitimate, John Paul II occupies the papal throne but fails to protect the faith committed to him.

According to the conception of des Laurier, as published in the Review, Cassiciacum, Monsignor Wojtyla was legitimately elected pope, pars minor y sanior, because about 10 cardinals created under Pius XII were present: He is papa materialiter. But because he is a heretic, which a pope cannot be, he is not a papa formaliter; that is to say, not actually pope. Yet, it follows being papa materialiter, he is in a certain manner potentially pope (papa potencial). If, as pastor and supreme teacher he was to convert and proclaim orthodox doctrines in questions of faith and morals, then John Paul II would be Pope-materialiter and also formaliter.

In SAKA-Information of January, 1984, Bishop Guérard des Laurier wrote: “For the present, the Church is “occupied” and in a state of privation (mise en état de privation).  W. [Monsignor Wojtyla] was properly elected (I hold it valid unless it can be proved otherwise) by a conclave that consisted of ten true cardinals (at least they did not protest against the election), then he occupied the possession of the papal See. In this manner he is Pope materialiter (according to external juridical circumstances). Yet there are other infringements to obtaining the office, W. has continuously held heresy. It is evident that W. inflicts a wound to the “common good” on the Church that now holds these same errors. As such, based on natural law, metaphysical and juridical, W. is incapable of exercising authority. Granted to natural law, which ultimately comes directly from God Himself, W. has no factual authority. He is not capable of being Papa formaliter (in the true sense of interior). He can’t be obeyed because his pseudo-decrees are null.” A note that this thesis, burdened with pre-suppositions regarding the election of Wojtyla, can only be presented as an hypothesis [as opposed to thesis].  

In philosophy, in its widest sense, matter signifies that out of which anything is made or composed. The matter for a pope is man who is a consecrated bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. Part of the form has two parts, the first has varied through the centuries, from choice of predecessor to that of public acclamation, to the election by the clergy of Rome, and now by the election of the Cardinals. Once the pope was elected by a Council (Constance, 1415-18). The second has never varied: the acceptance of the office. Though one may say a Cardinal is papabile (able to be a pope), any man is papabile if chosen, but first that person must be Roman Catholic and a Consecrated Bishop before he can accept the office, therefore history shows:

A layman may also be elected pope, as was Celestine V (1294). Even the election of a married man would not be invalid (c. “Qui uxorem”, 19, caus. 33, Q. 5). Of course, the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and voidImmediately on the canonical election of a candidate and his acceptance, he is true pope and can exercise full and absolute jurisdiction over the whole Church. A papal election, therefore, needs no confirmation, as the pontiff has no superior on earth. (Fanning, W. (1911). Papal Elections. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company)

Therefore, a material pope (i.e., matter for a pope) is not pope in anyway unless he is formally a pope because all living men meeting the qualifications are material for becoming a pope; yet none are pope unless one legitimately accepts. Even if chosen and accepted, a Pope may resign—thus ceasing to be pope as the celebrated Saint, Celestine V.

If matter is taken in the Sacramental sense of matter and form, here, again, water (matter) poured over the head of a non-baptised person does nothing without the form. But also, if the water is poured over the head of one who does not wish to be baptized but allows for outward appearance, even with the words the person is not baptized, for the person has no intention of being baptized, just putting on a charade.

Therefore, a material pope (as above) is not a pope unless he is a pope absolutely.

In regards to material sin and formal sin:

This distinction is based upon the difference between the objective elements (object itself, circumstances) and the subjective (advertence to the sinfulness of the act). An action which, as a matter of fact, is contrary to the Divine law but is not known to be such by the agent constitutes a material sin; whereas formal sin is committed when the agent freely transgresses the law as shown him by his conscience, whether such law really exists or is only thought to exist by him who acts. Thus, a person who takes the property of another while believing it to be his own commits a material sin; but the sin would be formal if he took the property in the belief that it belonged to another, whether his belief were correct or not. (O’Neil, A. (1912). Sin. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.)

Here, again, does one unknowingly become pope (materially) or knowingly a pope (formally)? These men claim or claimed to be pope and are acknowledged to be pope. What is the proof that they are not popes? It cannot be because they are materially (just chosen) and they are not formally. It cannot be because they are half-popes. It can only be that they are not popes manifested in the deprivation of the charism of the papal office that assures the Catholic:

The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised him in the person of St. Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not because of the agreement of the Church (D1839).

The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of St. Peter not that they might make known new doctrine by His revelation, but rather, that with His assistance they might religiously guard and faithfully explain the revelation or deposit of faith that was handed down through the apostles.  Indeed, it was this apostolic doctrine that all the Fathers held and the holy orthodox Doctors reverenced and followed.  For they fully realized that this See of St. Peter always remains untainted by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of His disciples, ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and thou, when once thou hast turned again, strengthen thy brethren'” (Luke xxii. 32; D1836).

Vatican Council II, approved by Giovanni Montini, a neo-Modernist, as “Roman Pontiff”, reformed past infallible decisions. Karol Wojtyla, a neo-Modernist, taught to the Universal Church teachings contrary to past defined doctrines. Joseph Ratzinger, a neo-Modernist, taught to the Universal Church teachings contrary to past defined doctrines. Everyone knows Jorge Bergoglio is a liberal Protestant. If they were popes one would have to give up the Catholic Faith and follow their teachings of Ecumenism, universal salvation, Arianism, and Protestantism as they would possess supreme authority over the Church concerning faith and morals. Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical, Satis cognitum (June 29, 1896), writes:

Wherefore, as appears from what has been said, Christ instituted in the Church a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium, which by His own power He strengthened, by the Spirit of truth He taught, and by miracles confirmed. He willed and ordered, under the gravest penalties, that its teachings should be received as if they were His own. As often, therefore, as it is declared on the authority of this teaching that this or that is contained in the deposit of divine revelation, it must be believed by every one as true. If it could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows; for then God Himself would be the author of error in man. “Lord, if we be in error, we are being deceived by Thee” (Richardus de S. Victore, De Trin., lib. i., cap. 2). In this wise, all cause for doubting being removed, can it be lawful for anyone to reject any one of those truths without by the very fact falling into heresy? without separating himself from the Church? – without repudiating in one sweeping act the whole of Christian teaching? For such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and reject others. Faith, as the Church teaches, is “that supernatural virtue by which, through the help of God and through the assistance of His grace, we believe what he has revealed to be true, not on account of the intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived” (Conc. Vat., Sess. iii., cap. 3). If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith: for what the Apostle St. James judges to be the effect of a moral delinquency, the same is to be said of an erroneous opinion in the matter of faith. “Whosoever shall offend in one point, is become guilty of all” (Ep. James ii., 10). Nay, it applies with greater force to an erroneous opinion. For it can be said with less truth that every law is violated by one who commits a single sin, since it may be that he only virtually despises the majesty of God the Legislator. But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. “In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them” (S. Augustinus in Psal. liv., n. 19). And this indeed most deservedly; for they, who take from Christian doctrine what they please, lean on their own judgments, not on faith; and not “bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. x., 5), they more truly obey themselves than God. “You, who believe what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel” (S. Augustinus, lib. xvii., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3).

To posit a novel concept, like the Modernists who use words in a different sense than understood previously, in order to refuse obedience to a Pope is deceptive and a clear rejection of papal authority. Sedevacantists, therefore, admit the occupant of the Apostolic See is not formally the Pope. But they deny also that he remains materially the Pope as though pope. The reasons are repeated that were given in 1993 (cf. Can One Be Materially Pope and Not Formally Also?)

First: historically speaking, nowhere do we find a Father of the Church or a past theologian speaking of a distinction between the ‘formal’ and ‘material’ pope. That there have been claimants to the Apostolic See that were immediately or later declared anti-popes or false popes is well documented in Church history. One need only read of Hippolytus, Anacletus, John XXIII, the Western Schism, among others. But there is no discussion about ‘materially’ pope and ‘formally’ pope. In reality, there cannot be a separation of the two.

Second: theologically speaking, he who loses the form of the office, that is, universal jurisdiction, loses the office itself.

Third: philosophically speaking, if we are to understand it in terms of Scholastic philosophy, we can give the following example: gold can be formed into a ring, it is the ‘matter’ for a possible ring. But, so long as a goldsmith does not give it this form, it is no ring. If the gold is given the form, and later the form of being a ring is dissolved by being again melted, the gold is no longer a ring. So too, with the papacy, as in the case of Pope Celestine. But never is there a ‘suspended’ material ring. The acceptable understanding of matter and form is the papabile, which is also what St. Robert Bellarmine accepted. St. Augustine tells us: if it is unable to contain the matter for the envisioned form of the artist, it may not be given the name material (De natura boni, xxviii., 18).

It may be added, fools’ gold may look like gold, but it can never be real gold.

Fourth: the thesis cannot be proven by rational arguments nor by recourse to authorities upon the subject once one admits to the validity of the election. In this point, the Thesis distances itself from St. Robert Bellarmine and the Fathers of the Church, because they understood that all who did not confess the Catholic Faith were not members of the Church. St. Robert Bellarmine writes: a publicly heretical Pope ceases, through itself, to be Pope and Head. Fanning, as mentioned above, wrote: the election of a heretic, schismatic, or female would be null and void.

In reviewing the paper The Problem of Authority in the Post-conciliar Church—the Cassiciacum Thesis by Father Bernard Lucien back in 1993, the Thesis seemed be defended by only the Mater Boni Concilii, a group surrounding Reverend Ricossa. It was a contradiction employed by them as they refused to put the Conciliar hierarchy in the Canon of the Mass when it demands the insertion with the only exception, Sede vacante, yet made them independent of all Church authority. They still demand the names be omitted and condemn those who do insert (more logically) the names under the opinion there must be a pope always even when they reject the authority of their material pope to make new Cardinals, leaving no possible Cardinals to elect a pope since Wojtyla.

Now the Bishop who ordained myself, Bishop Guenther Storck, did not adhere to the opinion of Bishop des Lauriers, his Consecrator—Bishop Guenther Storck, who was trained in the Muenster Diocesan Seminary, held a doctorate in Philosophy, assisted the well-known theologian Leo Scheffczyk,  and taught briefly in the Econe Seminary. He was consecrated in 1984, when the Thesis was receiving no support. Before he passed away, he informed me to submit to Bishop Robert McKenna in the line of Bishop Guerard des Lauriers.

On August 22, 1986, Father Robert F. McKenna received consecration from Bishop Guerard des Lauriers—apparently as a fellow Dominican with the introduction of a Swiss Catholic traditionalist woman and apparently willing to hold the Cassiciacum Thesis. Bishop McKenna caused harm to the Sedevacantist movement by consecrating unworthy candidates that have scandalized the faithful even though repeatedly begged not to. Bishop McKenna did not impose the Cassiciacum Thesis, nor taught it openly—I was subject to him personally, after Bishop Storck passed in 1993 until 2010 when he asked me to find another bishop due to his health. For myself it was not a requirement demanded or even spoken about. Unfortunately Bishop McKenna allowed himself to be influenced by stronger personalities, one of which was Reverend Ricossa—who, not wanting to submit himself to authority, had Bishop McKenna consecrate Reverend Stuyver of Belgium to become the bishop servant of Ricossa—and, further dividing the Church, consecrated Reverend Donald Sanborn—who was already working with Bishop Daniel Dolan (Consecrated by Bishop Mark Pivaunas and Co-consecrator of Martin Davila Gandara—where I was present). These consecrations (of Stuyver and Sanborn) were based on continuing a particular theory which is untheological and unheard of in the history of the Church. The only common thread of the those holding this opinion now is that they were all former Lefebvrists priests. This is troubling because of what was mentioned above and where their intentions truly lay. In other words, having spoken with dozens of pre-Vatican II priests who all claimed that the Church would be restored and therefore they need have nothing to do with Sedevacantists whom they felt were beneath them, the same priests now have their chapels closed as they lay in green peace; whereas the Sedevacantists continue to demonstrate their legitimacy in preserving the Roman Catholic Faith and Liturgy in the wake of the Conciliar Church which departs further and further from Catholicism.

The Thesis has lost all possible legitimacy in light of the fact that those claiming to follow the Thesis

1.      Do not name Bergoglio in the Canon of the Mass which is obligatory unless the seat is vacant (sede vacante)

2.      No Cardinals from pre-Vatican II elected Ratzinger or Bergoglio and, therefore, even granted the arguments that the papa materialiter non formaliter were true, the determinant matter (valid Cardinals electing) there could not even be a papa materialiteras there are no Cardinals authorized to elect a pope and their argument that a pope must be on the Chair of Peter at least materialiter has dissolved with the passage of time.

The only faithful Roman Catholics who have not changed their position, the Faith, or the Liturgy are the Sedevacantists from the beginning. The pre-Vatican II clergy have departed to the next life. FSSPX is constantly changing with the Conciliar Church. Will the separated groups accept where there is unity in faith and morals along the lines of Catholic teaching and recognize Sedevacantism? Or will they continue to latch onto theories that allow them to claim the right to survive, like the FSSPX, without a Catholic theological basis, but knowing they are not on solid ground?

Together the Catholic clergy must address more pertinent matters, such as being the Roman Catholic Church that is one, holy, catholic and apostolic instead of scattered sects that invite scandal and error and roaming questionable clergy living like parasites off the faithful because of sectarian tendencies.


The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers

M. F. Toal


LUKE xviii. 9-14

At that time: Jesus said to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others, this parable. Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in the week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.

And I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exaltetlh himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.


V. 9. And to some who trusted in themselves as just, . . .

AUGUSTINE, Serm. 36: Since faith is a gift given to the humble, not to the proud, He adds to what He had been saying a parable of humility, and against pride. So we read: And to some, etc., . . . He spoke this parable.

THEOPHYLACTUS: Since pride more than any other feeling disturbs the minds of men, the Lord more frequently warns us against it. Pride is contempt of God. For as often as a man ascribes the good he does, not  to God, but to himself, what is this but a denial of God? So because of those who trust in themselves, not attributing all to God, and for this reason also despising others, He puts this parable before us; to show us that although a man draws near to God through justice, yet, if he becomes proud, this will cast him down to hell. Hence we have:

V. 10. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee . . .

GREEK WRITER (Asterius in Catena PG): The lesson taught us in the previous parable, of the widow and  the judge, is that of perseverance in prayer. By means of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee He teaches us how we are to direct our prayers to Him, so that our giving of ourselves to prayer may not be profitless. The Pharisee is condemned because he had prayed unwisely; for there follows:

V. 11. The Pharisee, standing, prayed thus with himself: O God . . .

THEOPHYLACTUS: By saying, standing, He indicates a conceited soul. For even from his demeanour it could be seen that he was proud.

BASIL: He says he prayed with himself, not as it were with God; for his sin of pride turned him in upon himself. For there follows: I give thee thanks. AUGUSTINE, as above: He is not reproved for giving thanks to God, but because he revealed no desire that anything might be added to himself. So you are already complete; you abound (in grace)? There is no need for you to say: Forgive us our trespasses. What then are we to think of the one who resists grace, if he is so rebuked who gives thanks with pride? Let those take notice who say: God made me a man; I make myself just. O worse and more detestable than the Pharisee, who proudly described himself as just, yet gave thanks to God for this.

THEOPHYLACTUS: Take note of the order of the prayer of the Pharisee. First he recounts the things he was not; then he tells us what he is. For he goes on: I am not as the rest of men.

AUGUSTINE: He should have at least said, ‘as many men’. What does the rest of men mean, if not all others except himself? I, he says, am a just man; the rest of men are sinners.

GREGORY, Morals 23, 7: There are four forms in which every swelling of the arrogant is shown to us. When they think that the good in them is either from themselves, or, if they believe it is given from above, think they received it because of their own merits; or, certainly, when they boast of having what they have not; or, lastly, while holding others in contempt they desire to appear as though they alone possess that which they have. Because of this the Pharisee here attributes to himself alone the merits of his good works.

AUGUSTINE: Note that the proximity of the Publican was an occasion of greater pride for the Pharisee. For he goes on: As also is this publican. As though to say: I am unique; he is of the rest.

CHRYSOSTOM, Sermon on Phar. and Publican: It was not enough for him to hold all human nature in contempt; he must also attack the Publican. He would have sinned much less had he left the Publican alone. Now in the one sentence he attacks the absent, and wounds the only person present. We do not give thanks by speaking ill of others. When you give thanks to God, let Him alone be your thought. Do not let your mind tum to men; and do not condemn your neighbour.

BASIL: The proud man differs from the reviler only in his manner. The one uses reproaches against others; the other uplifts himself because of the inconsiderateness of his own mind.

CHRYSOSTOM: He who speaks ill of others does great harm to himself and to others. In the first place he makes the one who hears him worse than he was; for if he is a sinner, he becomes more content: finding a companion in sin. If he is a just man, he is uplifted in himself: because of others’ sins he is led on to think more highly of himself. In the second place he injures the fellowship of the Church. For all who hear him will speak ill not only of the one who sinned, but will also impute calumnies to the Christian religion. Thirdly, he causes men to blaspheme the glory of God; for just as when we live justly the name of God is honoured, so when we live wickedly the name of God is dishonoured. Fourthly, he who is spoken ill of is shamed; and will become more hostile and reckless. Fifthly, he who speaks ill of others becomes liable to punishment for what he has said; which was also degrading to himself.

THEOPHYLACTUS: It is profitable to us, not alone to decline from evil, but also to do good (Ps. xxxvi. 27). And so when he said: I am not as the . . . adulterers, he adds, by way of contrast:

V. 12. I fast twice in a week; I give tithes of all I possess.

They called the week the sabbath, from the last day of rest. The Pharisees fasted on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday). He therefore opposes fasting to the passion of adultery: for lust is born from bodily delights. He sets the payment of tithesagainst, extortioners and unjust. For we read: I give tithes. So far do I shun extortion and injustice, that I also give away what is mine.

GREGORY, Morals 19, 17 (on Job xxix. 14): See how through pride he laid open the citadel of his heart to the enemies that lay in wait for him; and whom he had shut out in vain by prayer and fasting. In vain are all the remaining defences, as long as there is one place undefended where the enemy can enter.

AUGUSTINE: Examining his words you find he asks nothing of God. He came up to pray. He has no wish to ask God for anything. He wishes simply to praise himself; and insult the other man praying there. The conscience of the Publican holds him afar off; but his piety brings him near to God.

V. 13. And the publican, standing afar off, would not . . .

THEOPHYLACTUS: Though the Publican is said to stand he differed from the Pharisee both in word and in manner, and also in his contrite heart. For he was ashamed to lift up his eyes to heaven; regarding them as unworthy of the celestial vision: because they had preferred to look upon earthly things, and seek for them. And he also beat his breast. So we have: But struck his breast; as it were striking his heart because of its evil thoughts; and also as though awakening it from sleep. So he sought for nothing; only that God might be merciful to him. For there follows: saying: O God be merciful to me a sinner.

CHRYSOSTOM: He had heard the remark that, I am not as this publican, and he was not indignant, but rather moved to the heart. The one laid bare the wound; the other seeks a remedy. So therefore let no one put forward the poor excuse: I dare not, I am ashamed, I could not open my mouth. That kind of fear is from the devil. The devil wishes to close the approaches to God.

AUGUSTINE: What wonder then that God pardons what he confesses. He stood afar off; but he began to draw near to God, and the Lord began to draw near to him: For the Lord is high, and looketh on the low (Ps. cxxxvi. 7). And the publican would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven; he did not look up, that he might be looked upon. Conscience pressed him down; hope uplifted him. He struck his breast; he sought to punish himself; and for this the Lord had mercy on the repentant. You heard the prideful accuser; you heard the humble accuser. Now hear the Judge speaking:

V. 14. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified . . .

CHRYSOSTOM: This present discourse puts before us two chariots, each with two charioteers. In one we have justice together with pride; in the other sin and humility. Yet see how the chariot of sin passes that of justice. Not by its own powers but by the power of its associate humility. The other is defeated, not by any weakness of justice, but through the weight and swelling of pride. For as humility by its excellence overcame the handicap of sin, and leaping forward reaches God; so pride by its mass easily weighed down justice.

If therefore you give yourself earnestly to many good works, but take yourself for granted, you have lost all the purpose of your prayer. But should your conscience be laden with a thousand bundles of guilt, but you believe this only of yourself: that you are the lowest of men, you will obtain much confidence in God’s presence.

And so He goes on to give the reason for this sentence; saying: Every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. The name humility is manifold in meaning. Humility is a certain moral excellence, according to the words: A contrite and a humbled heart thou wilt not despise (Ps. l. 17). There is a humility that comes from suffering, as we learn from the words: The enemy hath persecuted my soul: he hath brought down my life to the earth (Ps. cxliii. 3 ). There is the humility that comes from sin, and from pride, and from the insatiability of riches. For what is baser than those who cast themselves down before riches and power, and hold them as great things?

BASIL: It is possible also to be worthily uplifted; that is, when you do not dwell in thought on lowly things, but your mind is uplifted in virtue through greatness of soul. Such elevation of mind is conspicuous in affliction, or as a certain generous firmness in the midst of tribulations, a contempt for earthly things; a manner of life that belongs to heaven. And elevation of soul of this kind is seen to differ from the arrogance of pride as the fulness of a healthy body differs from the inflation of the flesh in dropsy.

CHRYSOSTOM: This prideful inflation can cast down, even from heaven itself, whoever is not watchful; while humility can uplift even a guilty man from the depths. For the one saved the Publican before the Pharisee, and led the Thief into Paradise before the Apostles; the other penetrated even among the spiritual Powers. And if humility alongside sin raced so fast that it passed justice joined to pride, if you yoked it to justice, how would it not go! With great confidence it will come to stand at the Divine Tribunal in the midst of the angels. And again, if pride joined to justice was able to cast this latter down, were pride joined to sin, to what deep Gehenna will it not thrust it down? I do not say this that we may neglect justice, but that we may avoid pride.

THEOPHYLACTUS: But someone may perhaps wonder why the Pharisee should be condemned for speaking a few words in praise of himself, while Job who said many is crowned with honour? For the reason that the Pharisee said such things while, for no reason, condemning others; Job on the other hand, though his friends urged him on, and affliction pressed hard upon him, was compelled to speak of his own virtues for the glory of God; lest men should cease from going forward in virtue.

BEDE: The Pharisee is a figure of the Jewish people, who boasted of their merits deriving from the Law. The Publican a figure of the Gentile, who though far from God confessed his sins: and of whom one goes away humbled because of his pride, the other because of his humble repentance merited to draw near exalted.


August 18

ST. HELENA, Empress; ST. AGAPETUS, Martyr

It was the pious boast of the city of Colchester, England, for many ages, that St. Helena was born within its walls; and though this honor has been disputed, it is certain that she was a British princess. She embraced Christianity late in life; but her incomparable faith and piety greatly influenced her son Constantine, the first Christian emperor, and served to kindle a holy zeal in the hearts of the Roman people. Forgetful of her high dignity, she delighted to assist at the Divine Office amid the poor; and by her alms-deeds showed herself a mother to the indigent and distressed. In her eightieth year she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with the ardent desire of discovering the cross on which our blessed Redeemer suffered. After many labors, three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the nails and the inscription recorded by the Evangelists. It still remained to identify the true cross of Our Lord. By the advice of the bishop, Macarius, the three were applied successively to a woman afflicted with an incurable disease, and no sooner had the third touched her than she arose, perfectly healed. The pious empress, transported with joy, built a most glorious church on Mount Calvary to receive the precious relic, sending portions of it to Rome and Constantinople, where they were solemnly exposed to the adoration of the faithful. In the year 312 Constantine found himself attacked by Maxentius with vastly superior forces, and the very existence of his empire threatened. In this crisis he bethought him of the crucified Christian God Whom his mother Helena worshipped, and kneeling down, prayed God to reveal Himself and give him the victory. Suddenly, at noon day, a cross of fire was seen by his army in the calm and cloudless sky, and beneath it the words, In hoc signo vinces—”Through this sign thou shalt conquer.” By divine command, Constantine made a standard like the cross he had seen, which was borne at the bead of his troops; and under this Christian ensign they marched against the enemy, and obtained a complete victory. Shortly after, Helena herself returned to Rome, where she expired, A.D. 328.

St. Agapetus suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Praeneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome, under Aurelian, about the year 275. His name is famous in the ancient calendars of the Church of Rome. Two churches in Palestrina and others in other places are dedicated to God under his name.

Reflection—St. Helena thought it the glory of her life to find the cross of Christ, and to raise a temple in its honor. How many Christians in these days are ashamed to make this life-giving sign, and to confess themselves the followers of the Crucified!

 (Pictorial Lives of the Saints)

Father Krier will be in Eureka, Nevada, on August 20.


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