Tag Archives: theology

Catholics can’t be Masons

Questions surface from time-to-time about a Catholic being a Mason. Most people see Masonry in the USA as a benevolent society of men helping the elderly and sick children. There’s more to the Masons than this. The question of Catholics holding membership in the Masons must be asked. The answer is a short, No. The Masons are heretical in the technical sense of the word, and this is not mere sentiment.

To be clear, the teaching of the Catholic Church never changed but the matter was clouded by the fact that it wasn’t as clearly spelled out in the 1983 Code of Canon Law as it was in the 1917 Code. To compare the Codes:

The 1917 Code of Canon Law: “Persons joining associations of the Masonic sect or any others of the same kind which plot against the Church and legitimate civil authorities contract ipso facto excommunication simply reserved to the Apostolic See.”

The 1983 Code of Canon Law: “A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or takes office in such an association is to be punished with an interdict” (1374).

For more than 300 years the Catholic Church has formally declared that Catholics who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. Theologically, masonry is against the Christian dogma of the Trinity, a personal God encountered in the person Jesus, the authority of sacred Scripture and Tradition, ecclesial authority, that we adhere to Jesus Christ as Savior and don’t believe that salvation is found elsewhere. When it comes down to it, either you believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, or He is not. There is no middle ground. Hence, we believe the teachings of the Masonic Lodge have been and continue to be contrary to Catholic faith and morals. One should note that historically Masonic lodges have actively worked against the truth of Catholicism theologically and socially. They have tried to divide the Church.

With matters of faith and truth Catholics can’t adopt the attitude of ignoring the problem with the hope it will go away by attrition. Right thinking, right worshiping, right living are part of a package: this is a matter of salvation.

On Sunday, April 19, Father Tim Finnigan, an English priest and blogger (The Hermenuetic of Continuity) posted a piece on the republication of an older work on Masonic ceremonies and rites; plus, Father Tim adds the 1983 CDF teaching on Catholics and Masons. The matter is worth knowing about.

Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

This new book, Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, due to be released on April 14, discusses John Paul II’s theology of the body and the meaning of human love. This interview appeared in the April 2009 issue of Columbia magazine, the organ of communication of the Knights of Columbus. I am grateful for the opportunity to re-publish it here.


By the Columbia Staff


From 1979 to 1984, Pope John Paul II delivered 129 Wednesday audiences in which he presented a vision of the human person, created as a unity of body and soul, and the vocation of every person to love. The pope’s catechesis, which has become known as the “theology of the body,” is considered by many to be revolutionary, as it develops profound truths about man’s most basic experiences — who we are and who we were created to be.


Called to Love.jpgA new book about the theology of the body, which is being published this month, was co-authored by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson and Father José Granados, assistant professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Titled Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (Doubleday), the book sheds light on the significance and implications of the pope’s insights. Columbia spoke with Supreme Knight Anderson and Father Granados about their new book.


Columbia: The word “theology,” for many, denotes abstract ideas about God. What, then, does Pope John Paul II mean by the phrase “theology of the body,” which may sound radical or even contradictory?


Father Granados: Theology does not only deal with our questions about God; it deals mainly with God’s word to us — that is, the way he talks with us and tells us about himself and his love for us. For theology, the Incarnation is central, this event in which God himself comes to meet us and becomes visible by assuming a human body. Because of the Incarnation, the body enters into the realm of theology. When the Word became flesh, God made clear to us that the body has a language able to talk about God and about the way he calls us to love him and each other.


Anderson: This is precisely why we wrote Called to Love — to bring theology out of the realm of “abstract ideas about God” and show just how personal the pope’s vision is for each of us. We need always to remember that John Paul II throughout his priestly ministry remained totally committed to the care of married couples and the family. The theology of the body is a key element of his pastoral approach.


Central to John Paul II’s insights is the concept of the communion of persons, which he sees as a reflection of the Trinity. In what way does the pope develop the traditional doctrine?


Father Granados: The good news of Christianity is that God is love, a communion of persons in which the Father gives himself totally to the Son in the union of the Holy Spirit. John Paul II has developed an understanding of the human person in the light of this Trinitarian love. Human love, and particularly the love of the family — between husband and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters — is the mirror in which God’s love shines in the world, and man is able to share in it. John Paul II has taken this central theme of the tradition and has interpreted, in this light, the whole of man’s vocation and destiny.


Anderson: This is also an important concept for the work of the Knights of Columbus since our Order is based upon the principles of charity, unity and fraternity. We might say that this is how Father McGivney chose to speak about the reality of a “communion of persons” in a very practical way more than a century ago.


What might people gain from studying the theology of the body? What inspired you to write this book?


Father Granados: The aim of this book is to help the reader discover the great vocation to which God calls him: a vocation to love. We often live unaware of this great call to love and thus are unable to give an answer to it. Because of this, our lives risk being wasted, without attaining their fulfillment. Through this book, we would like to reawaken the reader to the great news of his existence, to the wonder of God’s original plan for him. This means that the theology of the body is not only a teaching about human sexuality, but it also contains a whole understanding of the human person and of the world. In fact, John Paul II’s aim is to give an account of the whole of reality in terms of love.


Anderson: For me, Called to Love was a way to deepen a discussion begun in my earlier book, A Civilization of Love, by showing how through the theology of the body John Paul II explained every person’s vocation to love. This, in turn, helps us understand better our vocation within marriage, within our family and within the world.


Even before becoming Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla had decades of pastoral experience and wrote on matters related to marriage and family. Why is the family so important, and what does the theology of the body teach us about the nature of human love?


Father Granados: According to John Paul II, the family is the place where we discover who we are. The pope speaks in this regard of the genealogy of the person. Our identity as human persons is formed in the family. The fact that we are children of our   parents, for example, is not something accidental, but constitutes a central part of our being. The same is true for a parent; it is not just that a person has a child, but that he is a father or mother. In the family, we understand that we come from another as children and are called to become spouses and parents. In other words, one’s life is defined by an original love that is first received, as a child, and then given to another in order to be fruitful.


Anderson: We can see from this why John Paul II believed that the family is the central place of encounter between Christianity and contemporary society. If we do not understand our lives as spouses and parents in a profoundly Christian way, it is very difficult to live a Christian life in today’s world. But John Paul II’s insight is more profound: By understanding our lives as spouses and parents as God intended, we learn how to live a Christian life in a more authentic way. This is true even for those who never marry.


Beginning with man’s “original experiences” in the first chapters of Genesis, the catechesis on the theology of the body is, in a way, a Scriptural commentary about human nature. What role does Christian revelation play in understanding who we are? Can we explain John Paul II’s insights in secular terms?


Father Granados: Modern man suffers from a crisis of identity. We need to know who we are and what our path in life is. In the book of Genesis, John Paul II saw the genetic code of our identity as human beings. For instance, the pope talks about an original solitude: Adam realizes in the garden that he is alone. This experience is interpreted in the light of man’s relationship with the Creator, the only one who fulfills our expectations and desires. This means that our identity is always constituted before the mystery of God, as creatures who come from him.


John Paul II then adds the experience of unity: We only know who we are and how to reach God when we encounter another person through love. Precisely because the pope starts with an analysis of human experience, the theology of the body is universal and refers not just to Christians. Every human being asks himself about the meaning of life and how to find fulfillment. The theology of the body answers these questions in terms of love.


The book is being released one year after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States. How do the teachings of John Paul II relate to those of Benedict?


Father Granados: At the beginning of his pontificate, Benedict said that he did not want to write much, because he conceived his mission as making John Paul II’s great work better known. In fact, Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) was a continuation of John Paul II’s work on love. Like his predecessor, Benedict takes as his point of departure the way Christ reveals to man his own vocation. In Deus Caritas Est, he writes that in order to give a good definition of love, we will need to start by looking at the Crucified one (12). It is at the foot of the Cross that we learn what love is all about.


Anderson: This was the central pastoral vision of the Second Vatican Council. John Paul II and Benedict XVI are popes whose great mission is the renewal of the Church sought by the Council. Both popes have sought to do this by seeing in Christ the revelation of God’s love, which makes us who we are and sets before us a way of living to which we are called.

The Beauty of the Church

From outside she [the Church] looks like an establishment, like one organization among others. From within she is the medium, one might almost say the magic, whereby God is able to be all in all within his creation, without suppressing the creature he has made free.


(Hans Urs Von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith)

The reassuring presence of angels

Today [March 1st] is the First Sunday of Lent, and the Gospel, with the sober and concise style of St. Mark, introduces us to the climate of this liturgical season: “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12). In the Holy Land, west of the Jordan and the oasis of Jericho, there is the desert of Judah, which ascends to a height of over 1,000 meters through rocky valleys, stretching all the way to Jerusalem.


Christ tempted by Satan.jpgAfter having received baptism from John, Jesus enters that empty place, led by the Holy Spirit himself, which had descended upon him, consecrating him and revealing him as the Son of God. In the desert, the place of trial — as the experience of the people of Israel shows — there appears the dramatic reality of the “kenosis,” the emptying of Christ, who is stripped of the form of God (cf. Philippians 2:6-7). He, who did not sin and cannot sin, submits himself to trial and thus can have compassion for our infirmities (cf. Hebrews 4:15). He lets himself be tempted by Satan, the adversary, who had opposed himself to God’s salvific plan for men from the very beginning.


In the brevity of the account, in the face of this obscure and darksome figure who dares to
Angel1.jpgtempt the Lord, the angels, luminous and mysterious figures, fleetingly appear. The Gospel says that the angels “serve” Jesus (Mark 1:13); they are the counterpoint to Satan. “Angel” means “one who is sent.” We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God. Just consider the Book of Tobit, in which the figure of the angel Raphael appears to assist the protagonist through many vicissitudes. The reassuring presence of the angel of the Lord accompanies the people of Israel through every event, good and bad. On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty. A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return (cf. Matthew 25:31).


The angels serve Jesus, who is certainly superior to them, and this dignity of his is proclaimed in a clear though discreet way here in the Gospel. Indeed, even in the situation of extreme poverty and humility, when he is tempted by Satan, he remains the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord.


OL Queen of Angels.jpgDear brothers and sisters, we would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence. Let us call upon them often, that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him. Let us ask them, especially today, to watch over me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia as we begin our retreat this week, as we do every year. Mary, Queen of Angels, pray for us!


Pope Benedict XVI

1 March 2009, First Sunday of Lent

St Peter’s Square


PS: You may want to read the booklet, “All About Angels” published by the Catholic Information Service.

Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, at Fordham Univ

Abp Demetrios.jpgThe President of Fordham University, Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. announced Tuesday Feb. 17, a Jaharis Family Foundation gift establishing the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture as part of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program of this renowned Roman-Catholic Jesuit University.


The announcement came at the conclusion of the Sixth Annual Orthodoxy in America Lecture given this year by Fr. Stanley Harakas, ThD, who is the Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology Emeritus at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Harakas’ topic “The Future of Orthodox Christianity in America: A Normative Approach” captivated his diverse audience of academics, clergymen, students and laymen. He outlined the threats and pitfalls but also the opportunities of the social and cultural reality in America and suggested ways of what we need to do and ought to do, as Orthodox.


Following the lecture President McShane announced the establishment of the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture through a generous donation of two million dollars by the Jaharis Family Foundation. Fr. McShane welcomed Michael and Mary Jaharis as he expressed his great joy and gratitude. He further said that naming the chair after Archbishop Demetrios is a most deserving honor and that the University was “thrilled that his name (the Archbishop’s) and the name of the Jaharis family will forever be associated with Fordham.”


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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