Monday, October 10, 2005

Truth: immutable or changing, if changing, to what extent?

On Aug 3, 2005, at 12:58 PM, BB wrote in reply to the email I sent out in July announcing why I left the ILM (see posting dated 8/8):

Hi Roseanne,

Thank you for giving us the piece that was missing. It looks like you spend a lot of energy in discovering and defending
what you think is the truth. Since the Church is the ultimate democracy (withyour consent, I'll smile here), you are perfectly your opinions in whatever way you think is best.

But you put no one else but yourself in the "To" field, which I take as a sign that you don't really welcome discussion.
You see, if the Magisterium is the beginning and the end of the discourse, my opinions, as well as yours, don't count for much. But if Christ is the beginning and the end, and we are the body of Christ, then I, you, the bishop, the teachers, and of course the Magisterium are contributing to the life of the Church, with our prayers as well as our opinions, and the final word
(ouch!) has yet to be written.

If I could discern a character of definitiveness in the teachings of the Church, I would be entirely on your side, and accordingly, I would not even bewriting to you, since my opinion and your don't count. Since I see those
teachings as evolving, I will certainly welcome an open and focused discussion. One very small issue at a time, please!

Yours in Christ,


--- Roseanne Sullivan wrote:

Hello BB,

Thank you for offering to discuss issues with me.

You have misunderstood me. I sent everyone email using the Bcc because some people don't like having their emails revealed.

I sent it to my own email in the To; line because that is the accepted method. I would love to include anyone in a discussion that would care to be involved.

I welcome discussion. But I can't imagine why you think the Church is a democracy and that the teachings
are evolving.

Jesus taught His disciples, he didn't ask them to vote on what the kingdom of God should be. They had lots of dumb ideas about the subject. He was the one that knew the truth, and He was sent to teach it.

In my faith, opinions don't count when you are dealing with what God wants. What God wants is expressed through the prophets and through His Son, who left His Body the Church with His spirit to guide it.

Jesus didn't leave it so some Italian guy in Santa Clara or some Irish/ Hungarian woman in San Jose would be defining what His truth is by our opinions.

We don't have opinions about the laws of physics. They just are what they are.

In my opinion the ILM could benefit students by teaching them holiness, which includes prayer, and obedience to Church teachings. The teachings are not evolving. The truth is the same yesterday today and forever.

BB, I love you and your family very much. Thank you for writing. I appreciate your reply more thanI can express.

Most liberals who believe the things you wrote are open to everything except someone who doesn't believe what they do.

Thanks for your input and I hope to hear from you again.

Suggestion for the next topic: the Bible is not a collection of stories that "communities" wrote to "express " something that
they wanted us to know about God.


On Aug 4, 2005, at 1:32 PM, BB wrote:

Hi Roseanne,

I see a paradox. On the one hand, we discuss about issues. On the other hand, Jesus has already fixed things so that all discussion is meaningless. Imagine me, an ignorant layperson, engaging in a discussion about the HolyBible and its meaning. Ridiculous, isn't it? What would I try to achieve?

My purpose number one should be holiness, and mine would certainly be challenged by a discussion on the beliefs which hold dear (and which should not be subject to discussion in the first place). To the extent that I can read and understand, my second best option is probably to get formed and informed by the works of the Magisterium (in the hope that,
starting from today, it will never publish any new document, thus showing proper respect for the deposit of the faith).

In other words: before we exercise freedom, we should first be accepting it, and not be afraid of our differences, or of differences in the Church. Don't you think?

Yours in Christ,

--- Roseanne Sullivan wrote:

Hi BB,

If you want to include the other ILM students whose email addresses I have, here is the list: #Names removed.

What you might try to achieve by discussion about what the Church teaches is how to apply the truths of the Gospel to your life. To deepen insights about what they mean, ah, that's a good thing to do.

People's search for holiness is never helped by people who tell them that they have to make up their faith on their own
(like Parella) and that the things the Church has always taught what the Saviour did and said are culture-bound fictions written by a committee with an agenda to put forth.

Bruno, how can you base your faith on something that is man-made, mutable, ever changing, and on a Church that has been wrong until the 60s generation of priests and nuns and theologians figured out the real truth? What's left to believe in?

A Catholic shouldn't publish any new documents that contradict the valid teachings about what went before. As Pope John Paul II said, "Truth never contradicts itself." And as Pope Benedict XVI writes, theological investigation has to be within the context of the true teachings of the Church.

The Magisterium publishes new documents to clarify points that need clarification, such as the many errors that crept into the seminaries and so-called Catholic universities about what the documents of Vatican II really mean. In spite of what profane Fr. Pettingill and other ILM teachers taught, there is nothing in Dei Verbum that says the Gospels are fictions. To the contrary. Teachers like them are doing what some people accuse the evangelicals of doing: proof-texting, taking phrases out of context to prove their points.

This would be a good thing for the ILM to teach: read the Bible and pray and ask God to make His Word come alive for you. St. Francis did that. St. Augustine did that. Another good thing would be to encourage a respectful reading of all the documents, not just the popular theological speculations, but the doctrines put forth by our Church's leaders. (All available at

Since my saviour God Jesus Christ believed that Deuteronomy was written by Moses, except for a cocidil by Joshua, why
would I believe some modern-day theologians who by speculations and guesses in spite of a lack of any real evidence tell us
that they know better?

This summary of what I believe is from an Apostolic Letter from Pope John Paul about St Augustine.

He understood that if faith is to be sure, it needs a divine authority, and that this is none other than the authority of Christ,
the supreme teacher—Augustine had never doubted this(29)-and that the authority of Christ is found in the Sacred Scriptures(30) that are guaranteed by the authority of the Catholic Church.(31)

We should take it literally where the sense of the words indicates that the meaning is literal, and stay away from those
who want to deconstruct the Bible. One of their basic premises is that if the Bible reports a miracle
then that part was made up. In these and other matters, they build a structure of false assumption laid on a framework of erroneous speculations, and the result is a hollow fiction that doesn't make any sense.

The first test of a saint is whether he or she is obedientto the Church.

I suppose you hate all of this, but I'm trying to respondwith what I firmly believe.

In other words: before we exercise freedom, we should first be accepting it, and not be afraid of our differences, or of differences in the Church. Don' t you think?

I am not worried about having any freedom except the liberty that is in Christ Jesus. I don't want a freedom of intellectual speculation that would allow me to come up with a theory equivalent to saying red is black and black is yellow. That's not intellectual freedom, it's nonsense.

I am afraid of the harm that the false teachings are causing the people who hear them. There is a LOT to be said about the
harm those false things are causing.

For one example, when I first came back to the Catholic Church, I saw a blasphemous article written by a religious nun about how "Divorce Should Be a Sacrament" in the liberal Jesuit magazine "America." And only 5 years ago, I saw that a prominent priest in San Francisco was quoted as saying that in his opinion, there is no hell. His opinion is worth less than the paper it's written on.

It is not Sr. Liberal's opinion or Fr. No Hell's opinion that matters. It's what Jesus Christ did and taught and what His Church,
full of the Holy Spirit has continued to teach in His Name.

More apt references to Augustine from JPII:
He understood that if faith is to be sure, it needs a divine authority, and that this is none other than the authority of Christ,
the supreme teacher—Augustine had never doubted this(29)-and that the authority of Christ is found in the Sacred Scriptures(30) that are guaranteed by the authority of the Catholic Church.(31)

In Christ with you,


8/5/2005 2:53 PM

On Aug 5, 2005, at 2:53 PM, BB wrote:

Hi Roseanne,

Your opinions seem deeply rooted in Greek philosophy. For the Greek (not all of them, of course, but oh well) what changes is secondary and not too good, but what stays the same is really important and good. There follows a description of God who is one, immovable, and... spherical. God needs to be spherical, Aristoteles (son of the rich guy) argues, not to privilege one direction over another.

So if changes are bad, God does not change. And if the Church needs to be good, it shouldn't change either. Logical, isn't it?

> BB, how can you base your faith on something that is man-made, mutable, ever changing, and
> on a Church that has been wrong until the 60s
> generation of priests and nuns and theologians
> figured out the real truth? What's left to believe in?

I actually believe that changes are good. When Aristoteles thinks of change, he thinks about corruption/decomposition, that big issue of mortality. When I think of change, I think of conversion, of hope, of the Kingdom which is growing under our eyes (see the agricultural images of the Kingdom in the Synoptics). I think of Jesus who sees and is moved to compassion by what he sees. Of God who changes His mind and decides not to punish his people, just for once more.

This means that owee, I totally disagree with you. But yes, I am ready to follow your line of thought and see where it leads.
So if I've got it right (do I?), we need to go with the following.

1) The Truth is immutable.
2) The Church teaches the Truth.
3) Whatever the Church has taught in the past is still valid.
4) No newer teaching can directly contradict an older teaching, or it would be
invalid for this very fact.

One document which I love with all my heart is the following.

I had no luck in finding it on the web site, but you probably can. The logical negation of the statements contained here are to be taken as absolute and immutable truths. And it is up to me, and to you, to deepen our
knowledge of these truths and apply them to our lives.

Yours in Christ,


8/6/05 8:55 PM

Subject: do not be led astray by every strange teaching
Date: August 6, 2005 8:55:30 PM PDT

Hi again BB,

My opinions are based on my strong intellectual assent to the truths of my faith. My faith was given to me
as a gift from God. I have faith in certain things based on what the Church has consistently taught. And I could not
put my faith in a Church that was based on fictions and false attribution of authorship, and I don't have to. If I'm wrong, I'm in good company.

The portion of the Church that believes what you seem to believe is quite like the liberal (non-fundamental) Protestant
denominations. People are staying away from those churches in droves, because they aren't being fed the meat of the Gospels.

ILM teachers believe people should study the Bible. But they seem to mean they should study what the Bible debunkers have been saying about the Bible. I believe people should be reading the Bible to let God's Word speak to them, and not filtering it through an intellectual filter with that kind of attitude of pride about all the secret knowledge we now supposedly have. We now supposedly "know" the "real" writers of the gospel were not the ones named. We "know" they were written far after the fact by "communities." (Have you ever seen anything written by a committee? I have seen attempts, but there is always one author or the whole result cannot not hang together.)

It is mind boggling to think that current theologians actually think therewere all throughout salvation history groups of people who sat down and somehow came up with a bunch of stories. And to think nobody cared for example,when someone wrote under Peter's name that he was an eyewitness of the transfiguration. That is just impossible! Too big of a supposition
to swallow. Why should anyone care about a bunch of stories? We all have better things to do that to read fictions about God by fallible people who had an axe to grind.

It would also be impossible for a critic to go back say forty years and find out by close reading of a certain text who wrote it and why. But we now have people claiming to be able to analyze texts that were written thousandsof years ago and tell us what the authors really meant, and contradict the clear teaching of the Church from the same era.

There is a lot of intellectual pride in people who claim to know better what Jesus meant than the people who were closest
to the events.

As for the claim that people "back then" didn't have the same regard for the truth that we do, and that they were content with stories, even if they knew they weren't true--well that is arrogance and culture-centrism. To thinkthat the people at the time the Bible was written were so far away from our mindset is just an groundless opinion not based on any facts . It seems to satisfy the ones who promote it and the ones who believe it. It seems absurd to me. People's minds have not changed all that much..

Believing these things about the Bible gives leeway to deny the words of Christ whenever a person doesn't agree with them.

One of the most astounding examples of the problem of Catholics thinking they know better than Jesus did happened at a retreat at the Franciscan-run San Damiano retreat house. The priest, I think he was Barry Brunsman, stood up and acted out the Gospel that quoted Jesus saying that divorce was not allowed. I think it was Matthew 5:31-32. He then proceeded to
say casually, "Jesus was not against divorce," calmly contradicting the Gospel he had just repeated, along with centuries of
Church teaching. I asked him later during "spiritual direction" how he could contradict the words of Our Lord immediately after reading them, he said that "a theologian" had said that Christ wasn't against divorce. So the opinion of a theologian had more weight in that priest's heart than the Gospel and the Tradition of the Church.

Since I trust the Church as the literal Body of Christ, I accept doctrines humbly that I might not understand or agree
with. It is the ability of the Catholic Church to interpret what the Scriptures mean based on tradition that drew me back to her. I am certain that Christ made Peter and his successors the head of His Church on earth, and I am grateful because they keep us being led astray by every strange teaching that comes along.

I am heavily influenced by St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Francis, St. Peter, St. Paul, the Old and the New Testament. I don't care whether or not St. Thomas made an occasional inane assertion about women or the purpose of marriage. He has my heart because his intellect was tempered in mystical union with Christ. The same for Augustine. If anyone told
me stories of, say, Karl Rahner levitating before the Blessed Sacrament, I might take his authority more seriously. And for the same reason, I love John Paul II, who wrote in front of the Blessed Sacrament and was often found
prostrate face down on the floor in worship.

God does not change His mind about what is right and what is wrong. How can you believe such a thing? Growth is fine, deeper understanding is fine. Declaring black is yellow and red is green is nonsense.

I believe that what I believe is the same as what the great saints have believed. Based on these precepts they achieved holiness. The fruit of truth, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is right knowledge and right living. I am a novice in the secular Discalced Carmelite order, so the Carmelite saints are very important to me. The great St. Teresa of Avila's dying words were "I am a humble daughter of the Church."

I'm not a Greek thinker, I'm a Christian. And I never believed God was a sphere. I believe that God is everything that is good, intelligent, creative, artistic, lovable, faithful, true, powerful, attractive, wonderful, beautiful, pure, and praiseworthy.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
Not mutable. The same yesterday, today, and forever.

Changes are not categorically bad. But to repeat, the Truth does not contradict itself.

On nonessentials, individuals in the Church have been wrong. But us Catholics who believe in papal infallibiltiy believe that the Holy Spirit kept even the worse Popes from errors when they were teaching dogmatically about faith and morals.

Is it a good argumentative practice to drip with sarcasm?

I don't think I am being sarcastic about the (to-me) fantastic things you believe.

BTW, I don't have any problem with the syllabus of errors.

I do have a problem with people who keep reintroducing the hoary old errors to the faithful century after century.

Today is the feast of the Transfiguration. St. Peter was there with Christ as an eyewitness, and here is he wrote in his second
letter about how the events of Christ's life were laid down:

2 Peter Chapter 1
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to
him from the majestic glory, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be
attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
12 Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation,
for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.

Of course, according the NAB, most scholars don't believe Peter wrote those words, which is handy since they do believe that the Bible is made up of "cleverly-devised myths" and is a matter of "personal interpretation" and not "eyewitness" accounts.

Can you tell me more about how you came to be comfortable with a religion and a Godwho is changing?

With you, in Christ, your sister,

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