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 Tolerance - by Vermeersch 
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New post Tolerance - by Vermeersch
Rev. A Vermeersch, S.J., Tolerance, R& T Washbourbe, London, 1913. pp. 26-29.

It is a delicate question, how we ought to behave in the philosophic or religious controversies in which we take part, and the problem becomes extremely perplexing when our adversary declares that he shares the faith for which we write or speak. This embarrassing subject requires some remarks which will fitly conclude the first part of this work.

A man may err in good faith, or he may make profession of belief without sincerity. Ambiguous or obscure language may be used to conceal a clever trap, or may be the result of ignorance or carelessness. The profession of religious faith reveals the inmost soul, but a false profession of faith may he made to cover the most insidious designs. Freemasonry formerly numbered priests among its members, and not half a century ago it filled the confraternities of Brazil. About 1850 at Brussels it was able to command religious services. If it is wicked to calumniate, or disseminate unjust suspicions, it is necessary at times to have the sense and courage to cry “Wolf!” before it is too late.

A private individual has no right to accuse another of being in error—by which is meant religious error—except after mature deliberation. He has no right to speak in the name of the Church. He is not infallible, and cannot without presumption claim for himself any special orthodoxy. He must avoid the self-conceit which sometimes disguises itself as religious zeal, the attachment to his own opinions which may be the motive of his ardour in preaching submission. Does it not seem sometimes—in the case of the condemnation of a published work, for example—as if the writer cared less about being on the side of authority than having authority on his side? On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the decisions of the Church or the Holy See lay down directions which must not be exaggerated or over-strained, but which a loyal Catholic will refuse to evade by quibbles or minimizing interpretations.

In the perplexities which arise in such circumstances, how useful it is to listen to the counsels of toleration! Be just, they say to each of us, and see if the man or the work in which you detect errors does not show too much Catholicism to fall under suspicion. Be equitable, and in case of doubt give your brethren the benefit of that presumption of correctness which is laid down in the oldest laws, and of which St. Ignatius writes in these express terms in the beginning of his spiritual exercises: “Every good Christian is more eager to justify than to condemn a statement of his neighbour; and if he cannot justify it, he asks the author for an explanation. If the author explains it ill, he corrects him with charity; and when that is not enough, he endeavours to the best of his power to find an acceptable meaning which will save the proposition.” History itself attests the opportuneness of this caution: rigorous judgments, though long accepted, are reviewed by the light of fresh study. A more careful examination sometimes shows that time-honoured imputations of heresy rest on expressions badly used, badly understood, or badly translated.1 Be kind; do not seek the malicious satisfaction of having discovered an additional enemy to the Church. The bitterness of some men’s writing is very exasperating, and irritation will sometimes bring down a tottering structure which a little kindness might have saved. What would have become of Abelard without the gentleness of Peter the Venerable? 2 Charity has good, not evil, for its object; it would rather win hearts by gentleness than humiliate them by an assumption of superiority. Be courteous; in the fight against error treat your adversary with deference. And, above all, be scrupulously truthful.3 To all, friends and foes alike, give that serious attention which does not misrepresent any opinion, does not distort any statement, does not mutilate any quotation.

We need not fear to serve the cause of Christ less efficiently by putting on His spirit. In our own day especially, when men love to make a show of sincerity, and when so many honest but mistaken souls are yearning for the truth, let us count Christian loyalty as one of the most powerful influences to induce men to accept the gift of faith. Defective arguments weaken sound propositions; false statements embitter disputes, perpetuate controversies, multiply misunderstandings, and give an opening for crushing rejoinders. An arrogant and uncompromising tone in an author makes men reluctant to listen to his arguments, and anxious to see him proved to be wrong. We do not establish a truth by showing that there is little evidence to support it; we cannot eradicate error by making it look like truth; and we cannot hope to persuade a reader if we begin by exciting his antipathy. There is much sound sense as well as humour in the words of St. Augustine “Wolves sometimes disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing, but that is no reason why sheep should change their skins.”4 Those victories alone give glory to Christ which are won by the weapons of Christ, for these are the weapons of justice.5 To wish for no other victory, we need great self-control, perfect confidence in the ultimate triumph of truth, zeal untainted by unworthy motives; and this self-control, this confidence, this zeal, enhance the private virtue of tolerance, and invite the admiration of all men.

1. See, for example, the doctoral dissertation of Professor Lebon on certain Monophysites (Le Monophysisme Sévérien, Louvain, 1909). The panegyric dedicated by St. Gregory Nazianzen to St. Athanasius is worth reading. The holy doctor relates how, in the fourth century, the whole world was nearly rent in twain by a quarrel over syllables: the Easterns drew a distinction between substance and hypostasis, while the Westerns used the same word for the two ideas. The dispute was carried on with great bitterness, but St. Athanasius calmly weighed what each side had to say, and showed at the Synod of 362 that both sides were perfectly agreed on the main point. And “at this time of disputes and controversies,’’ said St. Gregory, “it would be a great pity not to draw attention to an example, which our contemporaries would do well to follow “ (M.P.G. t.35, cols. 1125, 1126).
2. See, in the dictionary of Vacant-Mangenot, the article “Abélard,” by Father Portalié, S.J.
3. “Be truthful in all things; he scrupulously sincere. You will deserve to be faithful on important occasions, if you have been faithful in things that seem unimportant, sinceri filii Dei. The love of truth is a great grace, only obtained by fervent prayer” (Ruinart, Abridgment of the Life of Dom. J. Mabillon, 1709, p. 392).
4. De Sermone Dei in Monte, I. i, chap. ii., n. 41 (M.P.L., t. 34, col. 1287).
5. Per arma justitiae—By the armour of justice, on the right hand and on the left (2 Cor. vi. 7).

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Thu May 10, 2007 1:40 pm
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Mr. Lane,

This post is very good. But I am not sure how it might be reconciled with Liberalism is a Sin. Do you know that book?

In the Two Hearts!
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Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:28 am
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Dear Dom,

Yes, I know the book. I have regarded it as my vade mecum for many years. I have it on the site, under “Essentials,” here: http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/liberalism.htm

Ironically, my own polemical excesses were justified, in my mind, by reading this book incautiously. I had thought that I understood the best, Catholic, approach to controversy, when in fact I had a mistaken notion of it. St. Teresa of Avila once wrote, “Be on your guard against Prioresses, because good women can find a thousand and one good reasons for doing one bad thing that accords with their inclinations.” This is – alas! – true of all flesh, and particularly of me. It suited me to be aggressive and intemperate with those who disagreed with me. It saved effort. It made for easy (apparent) victories.

It was wrong.

I have tried to summarise the correct approach Catholics must take when dealing with fellow Catholics here:
http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/forum ... c.php?t=10

You might note that I mention Liberalism is a Sin in that post.

The key distinctions are between Catholics and non-Catholics, between non-Catholics in good faith and open enemies of religion, and between “free” questions and those points which have been determined by Holy Mother Church. With these three distinctions firmly entrenched in our minds we are better equipped to avoid the common pitfalls of controversy.

With open enemies of the Church – that is, those non-Catholics who oppose the Church publicly – we give no quarter. With non-Catholics in good faith – that is, ordinary non-Catholics who are not promoting error but are rather mired in it, victims of it – we hope by kindness and instruction to draw into the light of the Faith. With fellow Catholics we must preserve peace, period. Read those texts from the popes in the link above. There is no middle ground.

Now, the one possible exception would seem to be fellow Catholics who go against something definitely and clearly settled by the Church. Say, for example, somebody promoting a condemned error which falls short of the note of “heresy.” That is, he remains a Catholic but he is a public sinner. Must we maintain peace with such a man? I say, “yes.” I would say “no” if there were some authority for it, but I have seen none. By “peace” of course I do not mean that we must invite such a man into our homes or provide him a platform for his errors, or indeed a fortiori tolerate the errors themselves. I mean merely that minimum of courtesy which avoids personal offence as far as possible. (A priest of course may refuse Communion to such, but we’re not priests and we’re not distributing the sacraments.)

How much more sweet and amiable ought to be our relations with men who are fellow Catholics and who differ with us only on a matter which by all proper principles must be considered “free”? Fr. Edward Leen gives us a practical rule for determining the closeness of our union with Christ. It is a sobering thought. He writes, “Christ says: ‘By this shall all men (including self) know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another’ (Jn. 14, 34). The extent and perfection of our fraternal charity is an exact index of our union with Christ. Hence the importance of fraternal charity.”

Now, the great problem of our era is, in part, the fact that we are confronting all possible complications at once, in an atmosphere of acute confusion caused partly by defective education and partly by the absence of the living authority at Rome. It isn’t simple, and good men may not even agree on the subject of how to treat each other, so that only complicates things further!

The most essential thing is probably humility. Surprise. :) Humility teaches us that the spirit of victory must be crushed mercilessly. The victory is God’s. Ours is to do His will. We must not even expect success; we ought instead to be content with acting well. I think if we can keep this idea firmly in view we can avoid most pitfalls. We are not necessarily the chosen instrument of any particular good that we might conceive and endeavour to produce, but we are certainly meant to preach the Gospel by our actions. So, could we reasonably make that which is uncertain the ruler of that which is certain?

This is what is at the root of what Vermeersch says. We are not infallible, but the Church has infallibly taught us to be charitable, just, merciful, prudent, long-suffering, and of course humble. You might also note that this explanation of theory fits the actual practice of the best traditional Catholic clerics and laymen, including the leading sedevacantists such as my esteemed father-in-law Patrick Omlor, William Morgan, Fr. Lawrence Brey (R.I.P.), and numerous others. And of course, I have referred here previously on several occasions to the excellent articles by Fr. Cekada (“A Question of Authority”) and Bishop Sanborn (“Bickering Priests”), which deal essentially with the problem of how to conduct controversy as good Catholics.

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Sat Jun 23, 2007 6:58 am
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Fr. Leen on the New Commandment. Emphasis added throughout. The point is that we may correct another's faults, but we must do so with Christ-like "kindness, charity and courtesy." This is, a fortiori!, how we ought to deal with those who differ with us on legitimately disputed questions. In such a case we are not even correcting faults so much as discussing the crisis and what we think is the best explanation of it, and response to it. We may possess certitude ourselves, but we are also absolutely required to remember that we are fallible and therefore we must be distrustful of self. This is all entirely obvious and undeniable, which is why it formed the foundation of the behaviour of those men I named above.

Enjoy. :)

___________________________________________________________

Speaking of the Mass, I stressed its essential note — a protestation on our part of our oneness in spirit with Christ, and in that statement there is another involved implicitly, and that is our union with one another. We form one Mystical Body of Christ. In that union we are necessarily made one with each other. It is impossible for us to be united with our Head unless we are united amongst ourselves.

You will remark in Our Lord’s last words to His Apostles how these two notes are interchanged in His address to them. He says: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. You cannot bear fruit if you are not united to Me”: an active union by conformity in spirit, as well as a passive union by grace. Then He says: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” He speaks of His union with them and with the Father, and with stronger emphasis on the necessity of their union with each other. He comes back on that note again and again, which He makes to be the characteristic mark of His followers, and the very notion of a Mystical Body. If we are at variance with one another, we are working out our salvation independently of the rest of the Mystical Body and therefore independently of Christ. We are denying the fact of the Mystical Body. We are only saved as units of the Mystical Body.

There is another reason why Christ emphasised our union with one another rather than our union with God. He stressed this because He knew (and His fear is justified) that we could be persuaded that we are one with Him when we nourish hostility towards one another. This is common in the world — Christians in one country hating Christians in another, Christians in Germany hating Christians in England and vice versa. They think they are united to Christ, but their union is illusory, they are mistaken. They think themselves Christians, but this attitude is a negation of the Christian concept of life. One cannot consider oneself a real member of Christ unless one loves every other member, regardless of every other consideration.

Another reason why Christ stressed this point is this. One might be a member of Christ and not be sure of it; one might be worried about it. But Christ says: “By this shall all men (including self) know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another” (Jn. 14, 34). The extent and perfection of our fraternal charity is an exact index of our union with Christ. Hence the importance of fraternal charity.

St. John resembled Our Lord in this. Although he spent his life teaching sublime truths so that he is called the eagle, because no man ever penetrated the Divine Mysteries so deeply, yet at the end of his life, all he had to say to his disciples was: “Love one another.” During this retreat many things have been said to you, but if you do this thing: “Love one another,” you are doing all. All other things need not be said or enjoined if this law is fulfilled. That seems simple, but it is not so easy.

We are not asked to like one another. To love one another is totally different. We are not asked to like what is disagreeable in others, or to love the defects in others. We are asked to see Christ in one another. This phrase needs explaining. We cannot see Christ in what is un-Christlike, and a great deal that is un-Christlike shows in ourselves and in others. Are we to embrace that? Certainly not.

Seeing Christ in others means, first, recognising the fact that every other person is at least potentially a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. If they are not altogether members, they are members in so far as they possess uniformity with Christ. In some measure all are members — living members through grace. That is what we must love; the life they have in common with us. We must will that that Divine Life should increase in those round about us. That is the essence of love. It is not so difficult. To will that all round about us should have more and more grace, more of Christ’s life in their souls.

Secondly, we must behave towards one another as Christ would behave in our place. Did Christ like everything He saw in men? No, He did not like all He saw in others, even in His apostles, and He made no bones about expressing His dislike. But did He love all? Yes, He loved all and bore Himself towards all with infinite kindness, charity and courtesy. He sought their good in all things. He did not respond to unkindness with unkindness; He did not respond to uncouthness with uncouthness; He did not respond to discourtesy by discourtesy, or to roughness by roughness. We have to do the same though we will feel the inconsiderateness of others. Members of religious houses are often wanting in this courtesy and refinement which people in the world show, because if they did not show it they would not be tolerated, they would be ostracised from society. Christ always showed considerateness even to the inconsiderate. Seeing Christ in others is behaving with considerateness towards others.

We have to train ourselves to see the good in others. Take it from me — and this is based on years of experience — people are always better than they appear; they seem worse than they really are. There are some hypocrites who seem better, but they are very few. Especially religious are better than they appear. It is the evil in us that shows. If a person gives way to a fit of bad temper everyone sees it, but no one sees the number of times that that person has conquered temper. One failure perhaps for twenty successes. A priest knows that there will be twenty to fifty successes for one defeat. We see only the defeat and we mark it. “That’s temper!”

Every day everyone has to fight many battles and there are numerous victories, but the world does not see these, they are in the depths of the soul. We should get out of the habit of judging hardly of others. We should not think that we are denying our reason, or not yielding to evidence, and doing violence to our minds, when, seeing defects, we judge people not defective. Many honest people think themselves unreasonable when they judge favourably of a person though she shows defects, but that is not unreasonable. The defect can be seen, but the good qualities cannot. The defect is not the totality of a person. The whole personality is not revealed in one single act or even in several acts. A person may lose her temper, but may not be a bad-tempered person, only yielding to a passing temptation. We are entitled to judge favourably of others always. Always judge that behind the defects there are good qualities. It is a sign of good taste to find good in things, and therefore this habit of seeing good, in spite of obvious defects, is a sign of good taste. Many seek good in life, but many, too, seek evil.

There is no person in whom there is not some good. You can take it for granted that in every religious, in spite of obvious defects, there is an enormous amount of good, seen by Almighty God, either actual or latent, and only waiting to be called into play by the kindness and thoughtfulness of others. We can never exceed in kindness and considerateness in our treatment and judgment of those who are defective or who have disagreeable qualities. Some persons have such a flair for defects that amid a thousand excellences they can light on one particular shortcoming — as if they were meant by God to be the scavengers of men’s minds and hearts! Some people are careful to balance things in the book of life for their own interests and whenever they want to talk about anyone, they say: “He was a good man but …” Having salved their conscience by the first statement they let themselves go! There are many like that.

Far happier is the man who, among a thousand defects, can light on one trait of beauty, one good point. The others have a rather sad life, as they are nourished on bitterness. This habit of fault-finding develops a certain sourness of mind which reflects itself exteriorly. If you want to keep wrinkles at bay, cultivate the habit of finding the good in things, if not in the interests of charity at least in the interest of appearance! Those people who always find the evil in things have a crabbed sour expression, while those with a bright outlook on life, have a calm, tranquil and cheerful appearance.

The real reasons for avoiding fault-finding are first, the recognition that it springs from a mean attempt to exalt ourselves. It is the concupiscence of the eyes — trying to achieve a certain kind of fictitious greatness by finding fault with others, implicitly asserting that I have the good quality that I deny others. It always reminds me of the game of “See-Saw”. “She goes down that I may go up.” We do not say that but it is implied. We put down others to exalt ourselves. It is really a pitifully mean thing.

Secondly, really competent and efficient persons are little given to fault-finding. Those who are able to do things, are so busy doing that they have not time to be fault-finding. Those who cannot do much and who know they cannot achieve success or have not much hope of doing so, try to make up for their inadequacy by finding fault with those who have achieved success.

The third and most important reason why we should avoid faultfinding is, because it is Our Lord’s way. He is extremely kind and considerate, and although He knows us through and through (for no one knows us as He does) yet in spite of this intimate knowledge of us, He never loses confidence in us or has a hard word for us. He always trusts us and expects the best of us, if He comes to discuss us He will always stress our good points. We do come up before the Divine Council for discussion and we can be sure that Our Lord is ingenious in finding good things to say for us and to find excuses for us. He has good taste, He finds good in life and good in us.

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Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:30 am
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Whilst browsing the net, I came across a religious fringe forum which seems to be dominated by home-aloner types. They have a thread devoted solely to the above article by Fr. Vermeersch. It looks as if the article was copied from this site. I think the original poster intended it to be an admonition to a couple of extremists on the forum who had been exhibiting precisely the attitude that Fr. Vermeersch was combating in regard to the question of how we should treat others who we think are in error. As a result, those that this admonition was aimed at then proceeded in a vicious attack on the above article and Fr. Vermeersch himself. The accusations were really rather hair-whitening stuff and I found myself blinking in disbelief at the venom displayed.

One guy claims that Fr Vermeersch attacked the Church for banning books! It looks as if he misunderstood the part where Fr Vermeersch wrote:

"Does it not seem sometimes—in the case of the condemnation of a published work, for example—as if the writer cared less about being on the side of authority than having authority on his side?"

I have absolutely no desire to join the other forum and debate it, thereby exposing myself to the spirit it generates. It actually is quite a creepy place to browse, hence my reluctance to name the forum. I certainly would not want to be responsible for others reading some of the stuff that comes out of there. Could you please explain what Fr Vermeersch meant in that part? I thought he was referring to private condemnations, not those of the Church?

AMW


Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:54 pm
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Can you please email me or PM me a link?

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Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:59 pm
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Dear John,

I cannot tell you how delighted I am to read this thread. It is so greatly needed. The manly but unfailingly courteous debates of great Catholics of the past seem far off as we read the abrasive or aggressive or positively vitriolic approach now in vogue. Your observations and the texts you have cited will do much to counter this tendency.

Moreover there is a second reason why I am delighted by what I have read. It is that I don't in fact agree with it all! And I can tell you why, knowing that you are not going to shoot me down in flames, as that would ruin the effect you have created!

You have drawn attention to three important distinctions:
1. Is the man we are disagreeing with a Catholic or a non-Catholic?
2. If a non-Catholic, is he in good faith or bad?
3. Is the question we disagree on one that has been settled by the Church?

So far so good. But I don't think these distinctions are sufficient in determining our polemical tone. I think we must also ask:
4a. Is this person influencing others in opposition to the teaching of the Church?
4b. If so, should our polemical efforts be aimed at convincing our debating opponent, or at neutralising his harmful influence?
4c. If the latter, would vigorous or sharp language be a just and successful way of achieving this objective?

You see, you are quite right that the book What Is Liberalism? is often misunderstood. It is taken as a complete guide to how Catholics should conduct themselves in theological disagreements, which it isn't. And it is read with delight by those of us whose native nastiness inclines us to enjoy being rude to those who have the effrontery to disagree with us, as though it entitled us to pretend that the obviously vicious inclinations of our corrupt nature were in fact movements of grace.

But even allowing for that, there can be not the slightest doubt that What Is Liberalism? explicitly states, and (to my mind) proves, that it can sometimes be appropriate to defend Catholic truth by a public attack on the reputation of those who are polluting it, even if they have not yet taken the final step of apostasy, even if they are still fellow-Catholics (albeit of tainted orthodoxy). And the precise reason for this lies in the principle that the common good must be of greater weight than the particular good.

Here of course we have a true principle which it is easy to abuse. It does not entitle us to dip our pen unreflectingly in dragon's venom the moment we believe that Catholic doctrine is endangered. As you have said, we must consider whether we are dealing with explicit denial of Catholic doctrine, or rather a failure to appreciate and apply that doctrine as we are convinced is necessary. We must also consider that in our lily-livered age, rightly or wrongly most readers are more easily offended or scandalised by vigorously worded polemics than was the case in past centuries. Hence the need to promote the common good rather than the private good of the miscreant may be an additional reason for adopting a mild tone. We must also bear in mind that our words will do no lasting good without the grace of God, and that grace will be won by the agere contra of charity and gentleness rather than by relishing a neatly formulated theological insult. In other words, the efficacy of any harsh words we might judge to be beneficial will be inversely proportionate to our natural inclination to use them.

But having made all these qualifications, it seems to me that the principle remains and is important enough to be underlined, that it can on occasion be fitting to attack the enemy head on, even in his good name, if this is truly the best way to prevent him from harming souls by spreading false doctrine. That is precisely the central point made by What Is Liberalism? about Catholic polemical method and tone, for the liberals it speaks of were often enough not classed as heretics, but as unsound Catholics. And how true it was that their poison could harm the common good can be judged by the spiritual carnage of the Vatican II era of which they were the fore-runners (whether or not they realised it). It was also the practice of many of the Fathers. Ruffinus, who bore the brunt of St Jerome’s attacks, in fact lived and died in the communion of Holy Church. Nor was St Bernard especially gentle in combating the errors he saw being spread or encouraged by Abelard, who was also a Catholic in good standing.

As a matter of fact, even when our primary aim is the amendment of the individual, the spiritual masters will allow us to have recourse to incisive rebukes when all else has failed. This was the technique applied by Our Lord in Matthew xxiii. Indeed Our Lord's life surely illustrates every different sort of polemical approach according to the needs of those addressed and of those who listen.

And I am sure at least that we shall not be in disagreement on this fundamental point, that it is the hours we spend in the company of Christ, in study, in meditation, in adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, that will teach us to defend His truth, by means He approves, for His Glory, and with such fruit as His grace shall bring about.

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus unite all minds in truth and all hearts in charity!

John


Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:05 pm
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Dear John,

Thank you, my friend. This reminded me of a passage I was enjoying recently in the Broderick biography of Bellarmine. (This is from vol. I, pp. 136,137)

Quote:
Another trait which his friends noticed was his reverence for every man with whom he dealt, no matter how much of a nobody the man might be. Washing dishes is no infallible sign of humility, but deference to the opinions of other people certainly is. When the Controversies were in course of printing at Ingolstadt, the Jesuit Fathers of that city took it upon themselves to 'improve' the text in certain details, without saying a word to the author. He showed not the slightest resentment, but rather expressed his delight that the work had thus been made more serviceable to Protestants. His great friend Eudaemon-Joannes noticed how carefully all the censors’ suggestions had been copied into his manuscripts.

"When I had to revise any of his books [says the same Father] I used to be amazed at the humility with which he handed them over to me. I have still by me a note in his hand which runs as follows: ‘To the Reverend Father Eudaemon-Joannes, begging him to look over this manuscript and to decide whether it deserves to see the light or to remain in obscurity.’ And this was not said out of mere ceremony, for after I had been through the work he used to ask me again with the greatest earnestness to tell him the unvarnished truth. Speak out boldly, he would say, as a brother ought to a brother. Nor did he care in the least to know if his work would make a great noise in the world, but only whether it would do good. This was all he ever asked. He was most exact in noting any suggestions his advisers had to offer, however unimportant they might he, and if he disagreed with anyone, he always let him know. On one occasion he sent me a note saying that he had found some matter in St. Thomas to be just the reverse of what I had found there. A little later he saw that he was wrong and that I was right, so what should he do but straightway come along in person to tell me that the victory was mine. That was always his way, not only with regard to his writings, but in cases of conscience and grave questions of theology. He used not only to ask advice, but to take it most readily, even though before he had held the opposite view. Indeed, many a time he made me feel quite ashamed, so like a school-boy was he dealing with his master."


I hate being disagreed with. I'm just reminding myself that it is a fault. :)

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Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:45 pm
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AMWills wrote:
Whilst browsing the net, I came across a religious fringe forum which seems to be dominated by home-aloner types.

Thanks for the email. OK, I know the site, although don't usually read it. It is scandalous, isn't it? Believe it or not, it is run by a staff member of St. Gertrude the Great, Cincinnati. One can only presume that Bishop Dolan and Fr. Cekada are unaware of the site, or the content of it. Several of the main posters seem to be, as you say, home-aloners, with all the usual bitterness and lack of balance. I saw that one of the loudest thinks he is humble, and that any opposition to his pronouncements and condemnations arises from envy of his spiritual superiority. Oh my.

Did you notice how they don't seem to publish any texts from authorities? All talk without substance. Did you see the post disparaging the Catholic spirit of Sunday Mass attendance? The poster was comparing the desire to go to Mass with the habit of viewing Fulton Sheen on the "tube" - as though Mass attendance were a cultural hangover from the 'fifties! Home-alonism in all its heresy-tending horror. And that from a "Moderator"!


AMWills wrote:
The accusations were really rather hair-whitening stuff and I found myself blinking in disbelief at the venom displayed.

Really, I wouldn't take any notice. Do you think the site has any audience?


AMWills wrote:
One guy claims that Fr Vermeersch attacked the Church for banning books! It looks as if he misunderstood the part where Fr Vermeersch wrote:
"Does it not seem sometimes—in the case of the condemnation of a published work, for example—as if the writer cared less about being on the side of authority than having authority on his side?"

I rest my case. Perhaps he can't read. Fr. Vermeersch is not speaking about official condemnations, obviously, as you have pointed out. How ridiculous. The whole paragraph is about the condemnations issued by individuals. The paragraph begins, "A private individual..." and proceeds to discuss the rights and responsibilities - and common faults - of individuals. The point is abundantly clear and one can only imagine that it was misunderstood because of either illiteracy or some kind of blinding passion.

Perhaps the St. Gertrude's staffer could bring the matter to the attention of Fr. Cekada, and ask him what he should think of Fr. Vermeersch? That might be the quickest way to solve the problem.

Now, I am going to take Fr. Leen's advice and try and see some good in these people. "It is a sign of good taste to find good in things, and therefore this habit of seeing good, in spite of obvious defects, is a sign of good taste." Let's praise their zeal, which surely arises from a love of God and a sense of outrage against the offences committed against Him by the Modernists. Perhaps if there had been more zeal for the truth - even if alloyed with unnecessary and counter-productive bitterness - at the time of the Council, we would not be suffering this long winter now. In heaven we'll know all these mysteries.

And also, try and remember that in person these people are often lambs. It's only behind a keyboard that they take on such a repulsive persona. Our priest here used to be stationed in another country, where he knew one of the leading members of that site very well (yes, a home-aloner). He tells me the bloke is extremely nice in person. I think it assists enormously to hear such things and to try and remember them.

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Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:51 am
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Quote:
Believe it or not, it is run by a staff member of St. Gertrude the Great, Cincinnati. One can only presume that Bishop Dolan and Fr. Cekada are unaware of the site, or the content of it.


Indeed. I am indebted to Fr Cekada for the benefit I have gained from many of his writings and I would find it hard to believe he would endorse such an off-beat website.

Quote:
Did you notice how they don't seem to publish any texts from authorities? All talk without substance
.

Yes. It didn't appear to be a place where one can find any reliable sources of Catholic teaching

Quote:
Really, I wouldn't take any notice. Do you think the site has any audience?


You are quite right. Not everyone is as curious and foolish as I.

Quote:
I rest my case. Perhaps he can't read. Fr. Vermeersch is not speaking about official condemnations, obviously, as you have pointed out. How ridiculous. The whole paragraph is about the condemnations issued by individuals. The paragraph begins, "A private individual..." and proceeds to discuss the rights and responsibilities - and common faults - of individuals. The point is abundantly clear and one can only imagine that it was misunderstood because of either illiteracy or some kind of blinding passion.


Thank you for clarifying this. It was certainly how I read it. Sometimes, however, I find myself questioning my own comprehension when something that is so obvious is so completely and inexplicably misunderstood. I start to wonder if I am the one who is going "bananas"!

Quote:
Now, I am going to take Fr. Leen's advice and try and see some good in these people. "It is a sign of good taste to find good in things, and therefore this habit of seeing good, in spite of obvious defects, is a sign of good taste." Let's praise their zeal, which surely arises from a love of God and a sense of outrage against the offences committed against Him by the Modernists. Perhaps if there had been more zeal for the truth - even if alloyed with unnecessary and counter-productive bitterness - at the time of the Council, we would not be suffering this long winter now. In heaven we'll know all these mysteries.


Ok, their zeal is admirable, I am happy to admit, if it was wisely directed. But in plucking from some of Mr. Daly's post above, this zeal has to be weighed against any danger to the common good. Does the way in which they choose to show their love for God help it to grow and flourish in the Church? Does it convert those who might stray across their forum?

Quote:
And also, try and remember that in person these people are often lambs. It's only behind a keyboard that they take on such a repulsive persona. Our priest here used to be stationed in another country, where he knew one of the leading members of that site very well (yes, a home-aloner). He tells me the bloke is extremely nice in person. I think it assists enormously to hear such things and to try and remember them.


I agree. I also firmly believe that home-aloners suffer the effects of not having the sacraments regularly to change their spirit into that of Christ. How can they be what they do not receive? How can we possibly expect any more from them? They can't give what they don't have. We should be grateful that they are able to love God without the many helps He provides. I'm not sure I could.

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Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:17 pm
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New post Tolerance - by Vermeersch
John Lane:

Is this taken from a book by Vermeersch which was written in Latin and translated by you or John Daly, or is it available in an accurate English translation? If so where?

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Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:45 pm
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New post Re: Tolerance - by Vermeersch
KenGordon wrote:
Is this taken from a book by Vermeersch which was written in Latin and translated by you or John Daly, or is it available in an accurate English translation? If so where?


Dear Ken,

I scanned that passage, but since then I discovered a whole text file on the Web. I have not checked it for accuracy, but here it is:

http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/Verme ... erance.txt

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Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:51 pm
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I was lucky enough to have received the book for free. It is available in English, if you can find a copy. You might try Loome's Theological Booksellers in Stillwater, MN (Google them for phone number). They are North America's largest out-of-print theological bookseller, and have most anything you can think of (really). They will ship.

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Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:37 am
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