Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

July AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Q&A Archives
Apropos-Denial of Holy Communion to notorious sinners
What is Rigorism?
Is a Spiritual Bouquet Pelagian?

Words from the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Saints

From the Sermons of St John Chrysostom Patriarch of Constantinople.
Homily 60 to the people of Antioch

    I speak to all that take that Holy Communion, and to you also, O ye that do administer the Same.  To you now I turn my speech, to warn you with how great care that Gift is to be given. No slight vengeance is that which awaits you if ye admit for a partaker at the Lord's Table the sinner whose guiltiness ye know. At your hands will his blood be required. If a man be a General, a Governor, a crowned Monarch, yet if he come there unworthily, forbid him—thou hast greater power than he. To this end has God exalted you to the honor you hold, that you may judge in such matters. This office is your dignity, this is your strength, this is all your crown, this, and not the going about in white robes and glittering vestments.



Our Lady of the Rosary
Do Atheists go to Heaven?

    Question:  I saw it in a number of places that Pope Francis stated that atheists can go to heaven?  Did he really say this?  How can it be?

Answer:  The claim  that the Pope spoke of atheists being saved received wide coverage. [1]  It seems that the Pope was the victim of somewhat lose reasoning on his own part, and of journalists’ ignorance of Christian terminology.  His statement is available on the Radio Vatican website, and speaks of atheists being “redeemed,” but makes no mention of their “salvation.”[2]  It seems that many journalists equated the two terms.  Christ died for the redemption of all mankind, but individuals are saved by belief in Jesus Christ and His teachings, Baptism, and a life in conformity with Jesus’ teachings—an atheist would hardly qualify.

What Pope Francis seems to be saying is that all men, being created in God’s image and likeness, have an obligation to do good, for everything God does is good.  This obligation to do good is enhanced by the fact of the redemption of mankind.  If everyone strives to do good—in what Pope Francis calls the “culture of encounter—we could enjoy world peace. 

If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

“We will meet one another there” refers to meeting in a peaceful world—quite a bit less than a promise that we will meet in heaven.

Phrasing his words to atheists in religious terminology may have added to the confusion of those unable to distinguish redemption from salvation.  After all, the terminology of religion does little or nothing to convince a man who doesn’t believe in God that he should do good for world peace.

Does redemption make the non-believer more capable of natural virtue than he would have been prior to the Redemption?  Possibly, but such a question is best left in the arena of theology, and not in a brief homily at Mass.

Further confusion arose when a Vatican representative corrected the erroneous reporting by the news services.  Whether out of genuine confusion, or in an effort to save face, the Vatican spokesman was reported to be correcting the Pope! [3]

In any event, we would remind the Holy Father of the timeless equation:  GOOD – GOD = O

Our Lady of the Rosary
What is Rigorism?

Question:  What is “rigorism”?

Answer:  Rigorism (a.k.a. tutiorism) is a school of moral theology which holds that one must always take the safest position in deciding how to handle a problem of moral law, even if doing so will cause a great deal of inconvenience.  One must consider one’s self bound by law unless there is certain evidence favoring liberty.

For example, let us take a man shipwrecked on an island, with no way of telling what day of the week it is.  How does such a man satisfy the Church’s law to abstain from meat on Fridays?  A reasonable answer might be that the man is free to formulate his own calendar, abstaining from meat on every sixth day out of seven.  This approach will be identical in its effects—penance and self-discipline—with the actual observance of Fridays.  The rigorist, however, is likely to answer that not knowing which days are actually Fridays, our castaway must refrain from eating meat every day of the week in order to be certain of satisfying his obligation. 

The rigorist proposition that “It is not permitted to follow a (probable) opinion, or among the probables the most probable” was condemned in a decree of the Holy Office under Pope Alexander VIII.[4]  It is among the errors attributed to Cornelius Jansen and his followers.  The Holy Office failed to demonstrate where these errors might be found in Jansen’s writings.  The famous mathematician, Blaise Pascal, himself a Jansenist, did correctly take the Jesuit Order to task for sometimes resolving moral problems with low regard for the Church’s law.  Nonetheless, the proposition is correctly condemned.

The Church follows a moral rule named “probabilism.”  According to The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Probabilism is the moral system which holds that, when there is question solely of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an action, it is permissible to follow a solidly probable opinion in favour of liberty even though the opposing view is more probable.[5]

The obvious problem is in determining what is “solidly probable.”  We are not talking about mathematical probability, but rather the moral strength of an opinion.  Who gets to decide that an opinion in favor of liberty is strong enough to act upon—particularly if there is a more probable contrary opinion?  The Catholic Encyclopedia again:

In estimating the degree which is required and which suffices for solid probability, moralists lay down the general principle that an opinion is solidly probable which by reason of intrinsic or extrinsic arguments is able to gain the assent of many prudent men. All admit that extrinsic authority can have sufficient weight to make an opinion solidly probable; but there is divergence of view in estimating what number of experts is able to give an opinion this solid probability. The prevailing theory amongst Probabilists holds that if five or six theologians, notable for prudence and learning, independently adhere to an opinion their view is solidly probable, if it has not been set aside by authoritative decisions or by intrinsic arguments which they have failed to solve. Even one theologian of very exceptional authority, such as St. Alphonsus Liguori, is able to make an opinion solidly probable, as we know from the official declarations of the Holy See.

The Encyclopedia’s definition above may have worked well when it was published.  The problem today is that there so many crackpot theologians around, and the people who are to designate “five or six theologians, notable for prudence and learning,” are often modernists.[6]  In today’s world it is not enough to find someone who calls himself a theologian and follow his opinions of what is morally permissible—one has to “reach back” into the past and look for pronouncements made by men like Augustine, Aquinas, and Alphonsus.

Finally, be sure to understand that probabalism is employed only when making decisions about law vs. liberty.  It does not apply to the validity of the Sacraments.  In administering the Sacraments one is bound to seek certainty and not probability.  For example, very weak tea is mostly water, and very probably valid matter for Baptism, but the Sacraments are so important that one would be bound to use certainly valid water if it can be procured.

Pharisaical Rigorism

The late Father Abbot Leonard Giardina wisely wrote:

Traditional Catholics are a provincial kind of people.  When a Traditional Catholic gets that certain complacent feeling that he is living out the unquestionably correct Catholic Experience in his own tiny and exclusive chapel environment, he becomes intolerant of anyone who differs from him, even if he differs in the most insignificant way. He has convinced himself that his own “home made” Catholic way of living is THE orthodox way and that everyone, under pain of sin, is bound to live and believe and act as he does.  Anyone who fails to live out the same rites and usages that he has selected as proper Catholicism is forever anathematized.  Until humility becomes the FIRST DEGREE OF CATHOLIC EXPERIENCE, there will never be unity amongst the various and sundry “Catholic provinces.”[7]

Among certain traditional Catholics we can observe a rigorism that is Pharisaical in the sense that it is affected for one or more reasons:  “The right way is what we did back in the day” (“the day” being fifty years or so ago, the memory not being all that bright, and maybe it not being only way “it” was done back then);  “We should be the only Mass in town (perhaps because of ego, perhaps because we spend a lot of money to fly a priest into town and can’t afford “competition”);  “The principles of theology and the rules of logic apply differently to them and to us”;  “We have finally found respite from the insanity, and anything different from our respite seems threatening.  No doubt, there are additional reasons—and no one should deny the possible influence of the evil one.

Indeed, the influence of the devil seems to be a significant part of this pharisaical rigorism.  He acts in order to make false distinctions between various traditional organizations, for he knows that they are, individually and collectively, his enemy—and that he will be more successful in defeating them if they are not united.  Our Lord addressed this two thousand years ago:

And John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he follows not with us.  And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you.[8]

    But, perhaps, the evil one is happier when no one is casting out devils.  Certainly, he is happier when Catholics are locking priests out of churches and rectories (particularly in the northern winter), when priests are lying about priests and composing libelous fictions.  The devil is especially happy when good people are so confused by the invidious rhetoric that they throw up their hands and stop attending Holy Mass altogether.

A homily of Pope St Gregory the Great.

Number 34 on the Gospels.

[T]hey whose exaltation comes of a false righteousness, look down upon their neighbor, but are softened by no mercy toward his misery, and are all the more sinful, because they perceive not that they themselves are sinners. Of such were those Pharisees who judged the Lord because He received sinners, and, in the dryness of their own heart, rebuked the very Fountain of mercy. They were sick of so desperate a sickness that they knew not of themselves that they were sick; but, that they might know that they were so, the Heavenly Physician applied to them His tender ointments, and, by means of a gracious parable, lanced the boil of their pride of heart.[9]

The sin of the Pharisees was hypocritical pride.  “Until humility becomes the FIRST DEGREE OF CATHOLIC EXPERIENCE, there will never be unity amongst the various and sundry ‘Catholic provinces.’” May God grant that the sin of the Pharisees never be our sin.


Our Lady of the Rosary
Is a spiritual bouquet Pelagian?

Question:  Is it true that Pope Frances equated the practice of reciting rosaries as a “spiritual bouquet” for someone (himself in this case) with Pelagianism?

Answer:  We have a transcript of a private audience of Pope Frances on June 6th with the Religious Confederation of Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAR), which describes itself as the coordination body for Latin American superiors of religious orders.  The Vatican has not commented on the accuracy of the transcript or on the Pope’s intent.

The heresy of Pelagius (354–c. 430) held that man could earn eternal salvation through good works alone.  It is more or less the opposite of Martin Luther’s heresy of salvation through faith alone.  It is difficult if not impossible to reconcile Pelagianism with the practice of counting rosaries—in order to do so, one would have to prove that the rosaries were recited by people of no faith, who believed that they were obtaining grace through a sort of mechanical process.  Frankly, it is hard to believe that such people would pray at all, and even harder to believe that those people concerned for the restoration of the Catholic Faith in the Church are without faith!  Here is what the Pope said:

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...[10]

Grace is one of those things that is hard to quantify.  Grace has no units, and we have no meters that can measure it.  We know of no ratios that might suggest that one prayer is twice as grace-filled as another.  It seems also that one person might be better disposed to receive grace than another (not that we can say how much better)—and that even this might change over time.

The closest we can come quantifying grace is by looking at the effort expended and the duration over which it is expended.  (It seems reasonable to presume faith on the part of one praying—it is madness to imagine one of Pope Francis’ atheists setting out to pray a half dozen rosaries!)  A person who chooses to pray five decades of the Rosary is giving God his attention for about a half an hour—time he could have spent in another manner.  Such a person is saying, in essence, that he would rather meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary than earn his living, or read a book, or watch T.V. or converse with a friend—he is giving God something which is valuable to him. 

Before the current crisis of authority in the Church the Holy See granted partial indulgences that were phrased in terms of what I have just called “effort expended and the duration over which it is expended.”  The days, months, quarantines, and years of an indulgence referred not to time off Purgatory, but to the grace that would be earned if one were to spend that amount of time performing the harsh penance of a traditional Lent.  The modern practice of saying that an indulgence is simply “partial,” with no reference to duration suggests a Church which thinks It lacks the authority to make a more precise grant.

That people thought enough about the Pope and the Church to invest 3,525 half hours of their time—perhaps 5.300 hours if a Rosary is understood as fifteen decades—is a marvelous demonstration of faith, and a tremendous occasion of grace.

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms... Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite... I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that... They concern me because they ignore the incarnation! And the Son of God became our flesh, the Word was made flesh, and in Latin America we have flesh abundantly [de tirar al techo]! What happens to the poor, their pains, this is our flesh...

The gospel is not the old rule, nor this Pantheism. If you look at the periphery; the destitute... the drug addicts! The traffic of people... This is the gospel. The poor are the gospel...

The Pope seems to be saying that “restorationists” and the “Pantheists” are both “elite currents,” and it blows the mind to hear that a Pope thinks of the latter as “a more educated elite”! The Hindus he is saying, are better educated than the Catholics.  Good to see that he perceives that he has a problem with his nuns who “bathe in the cosmos” instead of praying Matins and Lauds.  Just pray that he understands just how big a problem he has.

    Pictured to the left, a fellow Jesuit, Father Saju George, S.J. (a.k.a. “the dancing Jesuit). Father must be seen and heard to be believed:




[4]   7 December 1690 (Denzinger 1293)

[5]   The Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. “probabilism”

[7]   Abbot Leonard Giardina, OSB, Christ the King Abbey, Coleman, Alabama

[8]   Luke ix: 49 (also Mark ix:37)

[9]   Commentary on Luke 15:1-5 in the third nocturn of the Sunday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart.


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!