"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
and more I’m seeing the importance of something like the “Affirmation of Personal Faith” which Bishop Robert F. Vasa
included in his pastoral letter, Giving
Testimony to the Truth: A Diocesan Guide for Pastoral Lay Ministers (April
2004, Diocese of Baker). In a couple
of posts (here
I’ve mentioned and included a link
to the affirmation, but since it’s a little difficult to find at the link, I’ve
decided to post it here. You’ll find it at the end of this post (click "read more" to see it).
first, let me offer some history and commentary concerning the “Affirmation of
beauty of this “Affirmation” is that it touches upon all of the “hot buttons”
of today. Though it was written 8 years
ago, the primary issues it addresses are still the primary issues causing
division in the Church right now (and things have only gotten worse). Bishop
Vasa was criticized at the time for taking a “pelvic” approach in the document,
but not all of the affirmations have to do with sexual morality; also required
are explicit affirmations of core doctrinal concepts: hell, purgatory, the Real
Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Church’s teachings on Mary.
least Bishop Vasa can say that he was teaching about the sinfulness of
contraception long before it became the political issue of the day! The problem
was that his priests, for the most part, dropped the ball.
Vasa took a lot of heat for the whole concept outlined in Giving Testimony to the Truth. The primary thrust of that pastoral
letter, which was addressed to “lay ministers”, was that serving the Church in
some official capacity (reader or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion) is
a sacred duty which “necessitates a fuller commitment to the truths of the
Church and a clear manifestation of that commitment” (p.1).
Vasa was immediately accused of “judging” the “worthiness” of lay ministers, and
this was deemed inappropriate (by dissenters) because “we are all unworthy.” Those
who objected to Giving Testimony and
the affirmation of faith seemed to believe that the only requirement for lay
ministers should be a desire to serve. However, the ministries which have been
opened to the laity are elements of priestly
ministry; deacons, priests, and bishops are required to make a formal, public
affirmation of faith that is even more comprehensive and detailed than the one Bishop
Vasa authored. Why shouldn’t lay ministers be required to manifest their
commitment to the Church with an affirmation of faith as well?
followed the inevitable argument that “I’m following my conscience” – as if
that makes one’s opinion undeniably true. The vast majority of objections or
dissent on a spurious basis of “conscience” seemed to be merely a smokescreen,
though. Bishop Vasa’s letter got right to the point when it said, “The summary
statements which I have collected in the Affirmation of Personal
Faith…represent the authentic and authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church
andacceptance of these tenets is expected of every Catholic” (from
the introductory letter; emphasis added). Some dissenters objected because they
didn’t want it discovered that they did not, in fact, accept one or more of
these basic tenets…and they were squirming because, for the first time, the
ball was in their court to either address in their own hearts and lives the
discrepancy between their words and their actions, or follow out the logical
consequences of their refusal to repent and be converted.
Improperly formed consciences abound...
frankly, the dissenters wouldn’t have found themselves in that quandary if
their pastors had been doing their jobs before Bishop Vasa came to the Diocese
of Baker. Bishop Vasa’s 2004 pastoral letter merely turned on the light in a
building that had long been abandoned, and it sent the cockroaches scurrying
for the cover of obscurity, all the while cursing the light. The contraception mandate
is accomplishing a similar feat.
stewed over the “Affirmation of Personal Faith” for a year; they were not asked
to sign it, though some made a big show of insisting that, if asked, they
absolutely would not sign. Few people, in my experience, resigned as lay
ministers – except in Bend, where there was more upheaval over the issue of
in May 2005, Bishop Vasa issued Entrusted
with Sacred Duties, on the implementation of the previous letter. It stated
that the faithful had been given a year to “investigate more fully the
teachings of the Church and determine if they could, in fact, make the required
affirmation”; the year had passed, and now the stipulations of the previous
document had become particular law for the Diocese of Baker.
Entrusted also provided an
excellent commentary and explanation of conscience and the correct formation of
conscience – well worth reading. However, it seemed to not to make an
impression on many of the stubborn dissenters. In my parish, one objecting staff
member said to another, “Here’s our ‘walking papers’”, and both maintained they
would not make the affirmation if they were required to “sign on the dotted
line”. They would quit their jobs first.
they were not required to sign, and they did not quit their jobs, and they did
not resign as lay ministers.
Entrusted did not give specific
guidelines as to the implementation of the affirmation. Contrary to popular opinion and report, the
bishop did not require anyone to sign the affirmation. Instead,
the pastor was required to provide to the chancery office a list of lay
ministers, and he was required to
sign a statement to the effect that he knew that these people had given their
assent to all of the elements of the affirmation. I know this because as parish
secretary I was involved in the process, in communications with the chancery,
and in the implementation in our parish.
not to say that people have not been
required to sign the “Affirmation of Personal Faith”; in some parishes, they
were, or have been in the years since. Some have signed, some have asked to sign, some have refused
bottom line is that it hasn’t made any difference.
for a fact that many people who would not have agreed to sign the document have
continued in their “ministries”, even though they know they are not in
compliance with Diocesan law. The Church is still full of dissenters because
they believe that they have a right to ministry inherent in their
Baptism absent any other consideration. Of course, that position cannot be
justified by an appeal to the actual documents of Vatican II, which is why they
so often fall back on the ethereal “spirit of” Vatican II. They are quick to
point out that “The laity derive the right
and duty to the apostolate from their union with Christ the head…” (Apostolicam auctuositatem 3) – but
conveniently ignore the parameters established only two paragraphs later: “This
should be done by the laity in communion
with their brothers in Christ, especially with their pastors who must make a
judgment about the true nature and proper use of these gifts” (emphasis
Archdiocese of Seattle
light of many recent events, the relevance of the “Affirmation of Personal
Faith” should be obvious. The open
rebellion in the Diocese of Seattle over the issue of homosexual marriage
is one example. Cardinal Schonborn’s support
of an openly homosexual man’s bid for a seat on the parish council is another.
These are reflections of the constant clamor of dissident “Catholic” groups for
things like women’s ordination, complete acceptance of homosexual behavior as
sinless, and all manner of liturgical abuses.
it’s time to acknowledge that the Catholic Church (in the US at least, and probably
world-wide) is effectively divided. Even though the faithful attend Mass in one
building, two Churches are present – and only one is truly Catholic. The other
is a sham, a schism, and the smoke of satan. The purpose of those leading the
dissenters is to destroy the true Catholic Church from within. Until those
leaders are dealt with, and until those who have swallowed the deception are
confronted about their misunderstanding of Church teaching, the division will
grow. We can’t go on pretending it doesn’t exist.
time to turn on the lights. It’s time to admit there’s an elephant in the
Click "read more" to see the “Affirmation of Personal Faith”
as it appears in Bishop Vasa’s 2004 pastoral letter “Giving Testimony to the
Truth”. You can read the pastoral letters in their entirety here(scroll
down to Appendices 29 and 30).
AFFIRMATION OF PERSONAL FAITH *
believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and
proclaims to be revealed by God.” In particular:
affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the inviolability of
human life. In accord with that teaching I affirm that human life is sacred and
must be protected and respected from the moment of conception until natural
death. I affirm that I reject direct, intentional abortion and I do not
recognize the legitimacy of anyone’s claim to a moral right to form their own
conscience in this matter. I am not pro-choice. I further attest that I am not
affiliated with, nor supportive of, any organization which supports, encourages,
provides or otherwise endorses abortion or euthanasia. (cf. CCC 2270-2283)
affirm and believe the Church’s teaching about the sinfulness of
contraception. I affirm, in accord with the teachings of the Church that “every
action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment,
or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end
or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil. (CCC
affirm and believe that every person is called to chastity in
accord with their present state of life and that it is only in marriage between
man and woman that the intimacy of spouses becomes a sign and pledge of spiritual
communion. (CCC 2337—2365) I accept the Church’s teaching that any
extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include
pre-marital relations, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography
and homosexual relations.
affirm and believe the teaching of the Church about the evil of
homosexual acts. I accept the formulation in the Catechism which states:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of
grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are
intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the
sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and
sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC
affirm and believe all that the Church teaches about the Reality
and Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Specifically I believe that
Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under each of the forms of
bread and wine and that receiving either one is Communion with the whole
Christ. I recognize that worship and adoration are appropriate, not only during
Mass but also outside of Mass and that the Most Holy
must always be handled with the utmost care and devotion. (CCC 1373-1381)
affirm and believe the teachings of the Church regarding Mary,
Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. I accept with the Church that it is
fitting and proper to honor the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. (CCC
affirm and believe that it is possible for a person to choose to
remain separated from God for all eternity and that “This state of definitive
self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”” (CCC
affirm and believe that those who die in God’s grace and friendship
but are still imperfectly purified undergo additional purification so as to
achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joys of heaven. I affirm that the
Church’s name for this final purification is Purgatory. (CCC 1030-1032)
affirm and believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and
embrace the teachings about that Church as enunciated in the Catechism of the
Catholic Church. (cf. CCC 748-962)
affirm and believe that the Church teaches with God-given authority
and that the promise of Christ to remain with His Church always, until the end
of time is a reality. I further acknowledge that those teachings pronounced in
a definitive manner, even though not as an infallible definition, are binding
on the consciences of the faithful and are to be adhered to with religious
assent. (CCC 892)
these and to all the teaching of the Catholic Church I give my assent. I attest
that I believe these things and, while I am aware of my own sinfulness and
shortcomings, I strive in my beliefs and life style to conform to this
Affirmation of Personal of Faith.
Church requires the making of a Profession of Faith by various persons when
they undertake specific duties related to Church administration and teaching.
(cf. Canon 833) In the Diocese of Baker this has been expanded to include those
who take on the ecclesial duties of Catechist, Liturgical Reader, Cantor,
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and other Church positions which
entail a presumption of orthodoxy.