Parishes bringing “New Age” Teachings to the MetroPlex?

February 17, 2010

Courtesy of Jim & Vickie Middleton

rupp

(taken from Larry Roach’s article)

A ‘women’s retreat’ is being held Feb. 20th at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Plano. The retreat is being given by Sr. Joyce Rupp. Based on prior knowledge of these retreats, it will essentially consist of Sr. Rupp lecturing a number of women for the better part of a day.

The retreat is sponsored by five north Dallas area parishes:

  • St. Mark in Plano
  • St. Elizabeth in Plano
  • St. Joseph in Richardson
  • Our Lady of Angels in Allen
  • Prince of Peace in Plano

Why is this a problem? Why would I care that a female roman catholic religious is speaking at a catholic parish in Plano? Well, unfortunately, there are many religious, male and female, whose communion with the Church, whose thoughts and practices being in accord with Church teaching, is doubtful at best. Sr. Donna Quinn of the Sinsinawa Dominicans in Chicago is one.

Another is Sr. Joan Chittister. There is strong evidence that Sr. Rupp, while not as at odds with core Church doctrine as Sr.’s Chittister and Quinn (and Fr. Reese, and Fr. Drinan), is at best a pretty poor choice for a Catholic speaker in the Dallas Diocese, and at worst poses a grave threat to the souls of all those who attend this ‘retreat.’

On her own website, Sr. Rupp makes plain that she is very friendly with New Age beliefs. She constantly refers to God in the feminine with the name of ‘Sophia,’ ostensibly a ‘goddess of wisdom,’ she incorporates eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism into much of her ‘theology,’ and she gives strong hints that she has been involved in, or is involved in, active homosexual relationships. The Church counsels that New Age practices, such as astrology, power crystals, dreamcatchers, and the like, pose a mortal threat to one’s soul. New Age beliefs are fundamentally self-centered, drawing on supposed mystical powers of the universe to make one have improved self-esteem, or to gain insight into the future, or to understand and contact those in ‘other dimensions.’ Much New Age belief is strongly associated with the work of Carl Jung, an Austrian psychologist who was a strong proponent of the interpretation of dreams, while at the same time a vociferous opponent of the Church. Sr. Rupp has a master’s degree in Jungian psychology, in addition to a degree from the ‘leading center of New Age’ study.

Find out more about Sr. Rupp:

*This article represents the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of MetroCatholic.  The links provided in this article are to web sites not published by MetroCatholic and therefore we cannot attest to the accuracy of the information provided.

Comments

11 Responses to “Parishes bringing “New Age” Teachings to the MetroPlex?”

  1. George Vogt on February 18th, 2010 6:33 am

    I just visited her website. You have GOT TO BE KIDDING me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why is this going on in Catholic parishes?

  2. Phyllis Wilson on February 18th, 2010 9:50 am

    I agree with George! After reading her website, I am asking the same question……and adding another. What can we do about it (beside PRAY)?

  3. Trisha on February 19th, 2010 12:13 pm

    You can go to: http://www.wouldjesusattend.com/

    There is information on who you can contact to voice your concerns.
    God Bless!

  4. Elena Griesel on February 19th, 2010 2:31 pm

    Can not believe that Sr. Joyce Rupp is back in Dallas. Several Years ago she came to Dallas to speak . At that time I sent seven letters to the pastors who had invited her to speak with material from Sisters own website. I never received an answer from any of the seven pastors. Then I called the Dallas Bishops office(The past Bishops office) and spoke with a Sister there and she told me I sounded like a conservative catholic and that the bishops office would do nothing about the talk. OK I GOT THE MESSAGE. I just hope the women who attend will ask questions and stay alert. In the mean time remember there is a New Age approach to Christ and the 2000 year old approach to Christ. I am sticking with St. Peter and the other 11.

  5. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on February 24th, 2010 2:01 am

    REV FR DR CYPRIAN UCHECHUKWU OKORONKWO CELEBRATES HIS 15º ANNIVERSARY AS A CATHOLIC PRIEST ON 25TH FEBRUARY 2010

    The office of the Catholic priesthood is a privilege and not a right which mere man is given by Christ through the apostolic successions. It was while still a student in Rome that Cyprian Uchechukwu Okoronkwo was ordained a deacon by Francis Cardinal Arinze and later a priest by Cardinal Tomko on 25th February 1995 at the Chapel of Pontifical Urban University Rome for the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe. Fr Cyprian Uchechukwu Okoronkwo specialized in Scripture (Biblical Theology). He studied in Pontifical Urban University and Biblical Institute both in Rome and also Biblical Institute Jerusalem.

    The office of the priesthood is based on sacrificed, obedience and holiness of life which is Trinitarian and Theocentric in nature with its functions in the Verbum Incarnatus. In view of these, the Catholic priesthood is totally incarnated in AGAPE, any form of life outside this, regarding spirituality, morality, social and academics are “un-godly”, “un-priestly” and “a cheat to the ministerial priesthood of Christ” which we participate in. We are thanking God on your behalf for the priesthood of Christ which you have participated, within these past fifteen (15) years. The proper exercising of priestly functions is not an easy task for much are expected of us but, by his (Christ) wounds we shall be healed and conquer as well. Therefore, at this juncture permit me to humbly request you, to personally, meditate these fifteen years; of what level or degree was your imitation and identification with Christ to God’s flock in matters regarding:
    a) Christ’s Kingly nature in you vis-à-vis in your assignments.
    b) Christ’s Prophetic nature in you vis-à-vis your assignments.
    c) Christ’s Priestly nature in you vis-à-vis your assignments.

    Fr Cyprian Okoronkwo, be always conscious and conscientious of the fact that your present assignment is the most delicate of all, for you are forming the future priests of Christ and once there is a lack in the supposed qualities you may be sharing in the greatest percentage thereafter, but God forbid that. Nevertheless, be consoled by the biblical word: I will not leave you as an orphan, say the Lord. AD MAYORM DEI GLORIAM.
    Congratulations.

    From, REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR
    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSITÀ DELLA SANTA CROCE ROMA

  6. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on February 24th, 2010 2:02 am

    REV FR DR PATRICK IFEANYICHUKWU UGWAKA CELEBRATES HIS 15º ANNIVERSARY AS A CATHOLIC PRIEST ON 25TH FEBRUARY 2010

    Fr Ugwaka’s journey to the Catholic Sacred priesthood started early 80s in the junior seminary in Okigwe Diocese. He did his philosophical course in Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri under the rectorship of Rev Fr Dr Theophilus Okere (now Monsignor). His theological course was done in Pontifical Urban University and St Anselm Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, both in Rome. While he was still in Rome, he was ordained a deacon by Francis Cardinal Arinze and later a priest by Cardinal Tomko on 25th February 1995 at the Chapel of Pontifical Urban University Rome for the Catholic Diocese of Okigwe. Fr Ugwaka specialized in Dogmatic Theology and Liturgy. Today, we rejoice with you in your joyful mood.

    The priesthood is not and can never be a personal enterprise. The priesthood is Trinitarian in nature and character, its function is salvific. Any character possessed that is against the nature or function performed by a priest outside this Trinitarian or salvific concepts are not only “un-priestly” but also a form of debasement to the sacred priesthood. Ipso facto, each time a priest is celebrating his ordination anniversary; it is a special period of retreat or stock-taking regarding his past life in matters boarding in spirituality, morality, social and academics vis-à-vis his pastoral assignments.

    As we pray and thank God for you, Fr Patrick Ugwaka in this special occasion, we urge you to be the priest of Christ in season and outside season. Be always Alter Christi in the exercising of your functions as a King, Prophet and Priest. Know you that as a formator in Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri more effort is needed, for the future priests whom you are directing will be looking up to you for the best, so any mistake done may be copied as a model by some feeble minds. Within these fifteen (15) years in the priesthood, may you humbly ask and evaluate yourself alone on your sincere effort to represent Christ in the priestly sacrifice, obedience and holiness of life. Always remember the axiom: NEMO SIBI SACERDOS.

    Happy 15º anniversary to the sacred priesthood of Christ which you share in for it is not a right but a privilege to us mere creatures. AD MAYOREM DEI GLORIAM. Congratulations.

    From, REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR
    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSITÀ DELLA SANTA CROCE ROMA

  7. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on March 9th, 2010 10:47 am

    THE LIFE OF A PREFECT IN THE SEMINARY BY PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR
    (REV FR)
    Etymologically, PREFECT is from ‘PREFACIO’ which classically
    means ‘BEING THE FIRST TO ACT’. In the seminary it is different from
    the ordinary class prefects, rather it is used in a higher sense
    regarding the keeping of rules and regulations. Therefore a prefect
    is he who is always first to act in things very good, examplary and
    laudable regarding the seminary formation. Hence:
    1. A seminarian prefect is loaded with the disciplinary
    responsibilities.
    2. A prefect ought to be disciplined first, because this is the
    bedrock of character formation, as to instill such to others.
    3. A prefect is to be responsible as to carry out responsible
    activites.
    4. A responsible prefect should always help in teaching others in
    the class.
    5. A disciplined prefect ought to be a model to others.
    6. A prefect should always be the first to teach the seminarians how
    to study and the reading of good spiritual text.
    7. Prefects ought to lead in the manual labour.
    8. Prefects ought to lead well in prayers.
    9. Prefects should busy themselves with the spiritual things and
    studying of scriptures more than others.
    10. As a prefect your liturgical participations should be impeccable.
    11. At the refectory prefects should not be greedy.
    12. Refectory etiquette should be learnt from prefects.
    13. Prefects should make good use of their opportunity to learn more
    of those things which they were not able to learn in their junior
    class days e.g playing the musical organ, songs, barbing, writing
    articles, etc.
    14. Prefects should constantly develop their talents and ingenuities
    in different aspects of seminary formation.
    15. Prefects should not be involved in obnoxious and noctural acts.
    16. Prefects should avoid unnecessary and unhealthy competitions.
    17. Prefectship is not the time for FASHION PARADE.
    18. Prefectship is not a time for brutality or revenge against the
    young ones.
    19. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, hence prefects should always
    be smart and clean in their outfits and footwears.
    20. Prefects should not develop undue intimacy with each other or
    with the junior brother-seminarians . Remember the old law:” NOLI ME
    TANGERE - Do not touch me”.
    21. Prefects ought to be in constant union with Christ in the
    sacrament of reconciliation and worthy reception of Holy Communion.
    22. Prefects should not be sycophants as to win favour from the
    formators.
    23. Prefects should not go about caluminating or detracting others
    as to be termed a good seminarian.
    24. Prefects should not be partners in crime, hence promoting
    mischievious silence and thereby perpetuating evil in the seminary.
    25. Prefects ought to be the first to obey in all the rules and
    regulations.
    26. Prefects should not be associated with stealing, rather they
    should help in checking and controlling it.
    27. The football field is not a revenging ground, hence prefects
    should show brotherly love in the field of games.
    28. No matter what is your function, prefects should make their
    sainthood through them.
    29. Though you are prefects you should give respect to each other,
    knowing that there are ago gaps among you.
    30. Healthy jokes should be encouraged among the prefects, for it
    helps in keeping the time going.
    31. It is strictly forbidden for you to engage in discussions that
    endanger your faith, morality, spirituality and vocation when you
    gather as prefects.
    32. Prefects should always remember that they are still under
    formation. Therefore, being a prefect implies and means:
    P- PRAYING and PUTTING more efforts, observing more and practising
    with love and keeness what you are aspiring for, the Catholic
    priesthood.
    R- REGULATING your life integrally and holistically in the formation
    for the big task ahead.
    E- EMULATING the virtues of the saints and encouraging each other to
    the same style of life.
    F- FIND joy in your daily functions and activities, and finding joy
    to stay in the seminary for it will help you as a priest to be
    availabe in your area of assignment and also sitting in the
    confessional hours unending.
    E- ENDURING even when nobody is acknowledging your efforts publicly.
    C- CHRIST is the model of priesthood.
    T- TALKLESS, as to listen and learn more, it will help your
    meditative acumen.

    From, REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR,
    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSITA’ DELLA SANTA CROCE
    FACULTY OF THEOLOGY, SPECIALIZATAION IN LITURGY
    ROMA-ITALIA.
    COLLEGIO: ISTITUTO DON CALABRIA 00168 VIA GIAMBATTISTA SORIA 13 ROMA.

  8. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on March 9th, 2010 10:47 am

    THE LIFE OF A PREFECT IN THE SEMINARY BY PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR
    (REV FR)
    Etymologically, PREFECT is from ‘PREFACIO’ which classically
    means ‘BEING THE FIRST TO ACT’. In the seminary it is different from
    the ordinary class prefects, rather it is used in a higher sense
    regarding the keeping of rules and regulations. Therefore a prefect
    is he who is always first to act in things very good, examplary and
    laudable regarding the seminary formation. Hence:
    1. A seminarian prefect is loaded with the disciplinary
    responsibilities.
    2. A prefect ought to be disciplined first, because this is the
    bedrock of character formation, as to instill such to others.
    3. A prefect is to be responsible as to carry out responsible
    activites.
    4. A responsible prefect should always help in teaching others in
    the class.
    5. A disciplined prefect ought to be a model to others.
    6. A prefect should always be the first to teach the seminarians how
    to study and the reading of good spiritual text.
    7. Prefects ought to lead in the manual labour.
    8. Prefects ought to lead well in prayers.
    9. Prefects should busy themselves with the spiritual things and
    studying of scriptures more than others.
    10. As a prefect your liturgical participations should be impeccable.
    11. At the refectory prefects should not be greedy.
    12. Refectory etiquette should be learnt from prefects.
    13. Prefects should make good use of their opportunity to learn more
    of those things which they were not able to learn in their junior
    class days e.g playing the musical organ, songs, barbing, writing
    articles, etc.
    14. Prefects should constantly develop their talents and ingenuities
    in different aspects of seminary formation.
    15. Prefects should not be involved in obnoxious and noctural acts.
    16. Prefects should avoid unnecessary and unhealthy competitions.
    17. Prefectship is not the time for FASHION PARADE.
    18. Prefectship is not a time for brutality or revenge against the
    young ones.
    19. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, hence prefects should always
    be smart and clean in their outfits and footwears.
    20. Prefects should not develop undue intimacy with each other or
    with the junior brother-seminarians . Remember the old law:” NOLI ME
    TANGERE - Do not touch me”.
    21. Prefects ought to be in constant union with Christ in the
    sacrament of reconciliation and worthy reception of Holy Communion.
    22. Prefects should not be sycophants as to win favour from the
    formators.
    23. Prefects should not go about caluminating or detracting others
    as to be termed a good seminarian.
    24. Prefects should not be partners in crime, hence promoting
    mischievious silence and thereby perpetuating evil in the seminary.
    25. Prefects ought to be the first to obey in all the rules and
    regulations.
    26. Prefects should not be associated with stealing, rather they
    should help in checking and controlling it.
    27. The football field is not a revenging ground, hence prefects
    should show brotherly love in the field of games.
    28. No matter what is your function, prefects should make their
    sainthood through them.
    29. Though you are prefects you should give respect to each other,
    knowing that there are ago gaps among you.
    30. Healthy jokes should be encouraged among the prefects, for it
    helps in keeping the time going.
    31. It is strictly forbidden for you to engage in discussions that
    endanger your faith, morality, spirituality and vocation when you
    gather as prefects.
    32. Prefects should always remember that they are still under
    formation. Therefore, being a prefect implies and means:
    P- PRAYING and PUTTING more efforts, observing more and practising
    with love and keeness what you are aspiring for, the Catholic
    priesthood.
    R- REGULATING your life integrally and holistically in the formation
    for the big task ahead.
    E- EMULATING the virtues of the saints and encouraging each other to
    the same style of life.
    F- FIND joy in your daily functions and activities, and finding joy
    to stay in the seminary for it will help you as a priest to be
    availabe in your area of assignment and also sitting in the
    confessional hours unending.
    E- ENDURING even when nobody is acknowledging your efforts publicly.
    C- CHRIST is the model of priesthood.
    T- TALKLESS, as to listen and learn more, it will help your
    meditative acumen.

    From, REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR,
    PONTIFICIA UNIVERSITA’ DELLA SANTA CROCE
    FACULTY OF THEOLOGY, SPECIALIZATAION IN LITURGY AND SPIRITUALITY
    ROMA-ITALIA.
    COLLEGIO: ISTITUTO DON CALABRIA 00168 VIA GIAMBATTISTA SORIA 13 ROMA.

  9. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on March 9th, 2010 10:52 am

    CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SACRED PRIESTLY ORDINATION, REV FR JOHN CHUKWUMA OKAFOR (CONGREGATION OF THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST), ON SATURDAY MARCH 6TH, 2010 AT SANTUARIO PONTIFICIO DELLA SCALA SANTA ROMA

    This day will be ever green in your memory throughout your life time, because you share in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ, that which is noble and prestigious. From today, 6th March 2010, with your sacred priestly ordination history has it already that you are the first Igbo Nigerian priest of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionist). As the first, much will be expected from you in all ramifications, but be aware that NEMO SIBI SARCEDOS.

    Priesthood properly and strictly speaking is a vocation which has nothing so personal about it; hence a priest is a character that has nothing so personal to him, for he is always showing and representing Christ who is God. The office of the priesthood is based on sacrifice, obedience and holiness of life which is Trinitarian in nature with its functions anchored in the Verbum Incarnatus. The office of the Catholic sacred priesthood is that of total trust and dependent on God by the candidate for the priesthood, for it is a Mystery of Incarnate Paschal continuity. This involves a sincere love of the vocation by the priest, hence summarized in his daily life activities. Always imitate Christ the Eternal priest, who has given us the privilege to share in the celebration of his sacramental mysteries. Hence, you ought to be in union with him in your daily life and in relationship with his faithful people that you may continuously bring to all the mystery of Christ’s presence in your words and actions. The profound and meditative words of the ordination exhortations ought to be re-echoing often times in your ears and hearts as an ALTER CHRISTI: Believe what you teach, practice what you believe and imitate the mystery you celebrate. This imitation ought to be holistic and integral each moment and every where you find yourself. The practice brings, shows, and shines out the life of Christ in you as an individual priest because you are acting IN PERSONA CHRISTI.

    In the words of St. John Eudes, “You are His mouth and His tongue. Through you He speaks to His people, continuing to preach the gospel that He Himself preached during His public life. Through you He imparts true life, the life of grace on earth and the life of glory in heaven to all the members of His Mystical Body, what marvels, what favours, what greatness in the sacerdotal dignity! Yet there is still more. You are an associate of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, in most sublime and mysterious intimacy”.

    Tu est sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordine Melchizedek. Happy priestly ordination. Ad Moltus Annus.

    REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR (OKIGWE DIOCESE)
    6TH MARCH 2010 ROMA

    REV FR JOHN CHUKWUMA OKAFOR, OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, (PASSIONIST) CELEBRATED HIS FIRST HOLY MASS ON SUNDAY 7TH MARCH 2010 AT SANTUARIO PONTIFICIO DELLA SCALA SANTA ROMA

    Fr John C Okafor was ordained on Saturday 6th March 2010 for the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ and being the first Igbo Nigerian Passionist Priest, he is to open the Congregation in Nigeria. He hails from UMUOKPURUKA-UMUEZEGWU IHITTE in IHITTE/UBOMA L.G.A IMO STATE in OKIGWE DIOCESE. His vocation to the priesthood was fostered by the life of REV FR ONYEDIKACHI AGOAWIKE, whom he lived with before coming to Rome to begin his formation with the Passionist Congregation.
    Fr John Okafor had his Postulant formation at ROCCA DI PAPA and had his Novitiate formation at MONTEAL GENTARIO both in ITALY. He studied Philosophy and Theology at Pontifical Lateran University Rome and had his Specialization study on Moral Theology at Pontificio Alphonsianum Universitae Roma.
    At his ordination Mass, the ordaining Prelate, stressed during the homily that: The objective identification with Christ in our personal sanctity consists in the dignity of the priest. The priesthood is a gift of the Sacred Heart of Love of Jesus Christ, making reference to BENEDICT XVI’s letter for the opening of the year of the priests citing CURE D’ARS (ST. JOHN MARY VIANNEY). In the dignity of the priesthood we see the manifestation of the divine love with the passion and compassion of Jesus Christ. The sanctity and dignity of the priesthood are inseparable. The Vita Consacrata is a way of normalizing the dignity and holiness of priestly life concretely seen in obedience, chastity and poverty. Obedience in daily life is concretized in priestly and religious life in the pastoral activities. Priesthood is an extraordinary gift of God to the Church, humanity and the world in general. May we pray that our brother priests (LUIGI and JOHN) be constantly drawn close to the mercy of God in their daily priestly activities.
    At his first Mass, the homilist said that by the imposition of the hands and the prayer, Fr John received the command to share in the ministerial priesthood. The work of the priest is to be a slave or servant among the people of God. The gift of priesthood is a gift of sacrifice, in which the Sacrament of Reconciliation will continue to be incarnated in the work of Christ for all. Fr John, do not be afraid, for we are refilled mysteriously for the revolution therein in the work of God, for sanctification of the world, others and ourselves. In reality of priesthood from the Passionist lineage of St. Paul of the Cross, we ought to know that we are not just alone. Priesthood is not a personal vocation, but a gift to all the people of God.
    At his appreciation, REV FR JOHN CHUKWUMA OKAFOR (OF THE MOTHER OF GOD), sang a song “Ihe chi kwuru okwugo ya ihe kwuru ga eme, ihe chi dere odegoya ihe odere ga eme - Whatever God has said He has said, whatever God has written, He has written. He continue, Behold me Lord, I am happy to answer the call. Whoever God calls he accepts, I am not the first to be called nor will I be the last. I am following many and those following me a many too”. He thanked in a special way PROF MAURICE IWUH (the INEC chairman of Nigeria), who was present both at his ordination and first Holy Mass.
    Before the final blessing, the Superior General made it clear that the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ for priests, will be officially opened in Nigeria on 14th September 2010, by Rev Fr John Chukwuma Okafor being the first Igbo Nigerian priest of the Passionist Fathers, at ST. MICHAEL’S PARISH (IN THE MAKING) ODENAEZEALA-UMUKABIA OKIGWE DIOCESE, the home village of PROF MAURICE MADUAKOLAM IWUH. This new Parish will be managed by the Passionist Fathers including the School and Hospital there. This is under MADONNA PARISH UMUKABIA EHIME MBANO OKIGWE DIOCESE, with the Parish Priest as REV FR ONYEDIKACHI AGOAWIKE.
    As the Okigwe Diocese welcomes the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ Priests in the diocese, she also uses this opportunity to implore the blessings of God Almighty on all who has been of immense help for the realization of this Gospel proclamation through charity.

    From, REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR (OKIGWE DIOCESE), studying in Pontificia Università della Santa Croce Roma.

  10. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on March 9th, 2010 10:58 am

    CHRISTIAN STRUGGLE TOWARDS A DAILY SPIRITUAL PERFECTION BY REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR

    Our decision voluntarily to follow God leaving our past and old life in place of new life in Christ is what God prefers most from us, as was the case of Mary Magdalene. Faith and good work go together, Martha combined both, and hence we ought to do same always. The incomprehensibility of God is a mystery which we offer and that we ought to appreciate in our daily struggles for it will go a long way in elevating our character. We ought to know that the devil is ever ready to put us off from God; hence we ought to be careful. Nothing should come between God and our rightful decisions to follow him. Holiness attracts, hence this relationship with holy people ought to be encouraged. The avoidance of the devil is not only by our fasting from food or drink, but we can avoid the devil by our work when we commend them to God, as we do them religiously and devoutly. Our eternity and position before God is what we make of it personally and subjectively.
    For perfection in the spiritual life, the obedience of the will helps in the mortification and ascetic life hence there are enrichment of the knowledge and increase in virtue. The spirit of detachment in spiritual life increases the imitation of Christ’s love in us. The life of a monk is spiritually fruitful if there is a search to be perfect through fear of God and diligence. By this diligence, the celestial journey is channeled directly without much distraction. The life of servants of God is, and ought to be a sign of contradiction to the world, for the world loves what is properly hers. Our trust and faith in God should not be like that of the Israelites when they deserted and worshipped a golden calf as God. Therefore, perfection in virtues is easily arrived where love and humility are applied with prudence added to it. Our fight towards materialism ought to be good when we sincerely denounce what we attach ourselves by our hearts, if not it may lead us to abject “spiritual-materialism”. Renunciation is a true gift from the inner self because of sincere love of God. God can never allow us to embrace a cross more than our capability and faith in him, but cross is essentially necessary to us all. As Christians, we cannot claim any personal perfection without the help of God. Our spiritual growth is enlightened and nourished by God through our little accord.
    Our virtues are ought to be observed and experienced by others so that God is glorified by the assignments given to us for the spiritual and moral growth of others. Spiritual and moral tepidity grow rapidly by our lax and laziness combined with wickedness. Nobody is able to defect the devil if not the grace of God abounds in him. Therefore our spirit is fortified by God, that our will may be able to follow our heart’s desires overcoming the evil inclination in us. The constant struggle or fight against luxuries and pleasures of the flesh are ever supported by the power of Holy Spirit. In self disciplining of the flesh, we become chaste. Sanctity has no half measure way, it is not mediocrity but ever with an igniting flame of love. Carnality is of childish spirituality. Animalistic nature in spiritual life is governed by instincts. Good spiritual man uses well the spiritual power of the will to graduate with prudence in his relationship with God vis-à-vis his fellow human being. The love of excessive possession of the worldly things and property, and adherent to them pollutes always our spirituality and puts a great question mark on our personal holiness, even as a monk, a priest, religious and lay faithful.
    Through thorough examination of Serapion ideas on eight capital vices in his conference as seen in John Cassian work: The Conferences Book V, I; it reveals that gluttony and fornication have both at the same time natural and unnatural characters for them to be consummated. Ipso facto, each of us needs a strong desire and actual practice of bodily discipline via vigilance, abstinence, prayer, penance, physical rejection, etc, which will be accompanied by a strong will of the mind. Gluttony, pride and vainglory can easily lead us to “spiritual-materialism” to satisfy our “ego” and not living well a good spiritual life. From the fall of man, the devil tactically uses litany of sins to enslave man gradually when he proves tough to him, until he (devil) is able to win but persistently with Christian struggle we can overcome. The first six vices: gluttony, fornication, filargyria – which is avarice or love of money, anger, sadness and acedia – which is anxiety or weariness of heart; (the 7th is cenodoxia, which is boastfulness or vainglory and the 8th is pride) are interlocked that they are almost practiced because of their web-net; hence the avoidance must start “sui generis”. Gluttony knows no shame; hence it degrades the dignity of someone and that of a priest, monk, religious or laity, hence “in medio virtu stat”. The flame of that which is ignited by fornication is so devastating to the spirit and body that a fornicator needed strict discipline of the self as to stop it (cfr. Ecclesiasticus 23: 16-17). Good spiritual life is ever dynamic in the practice of virtue and it abhors sin. When we relax for a moment as a result of overcoming temptations, the devil tricks us into a more shameful sin.
    Prayer is never adhoc venture, but rather a serene preparedness to meet and commence with God. All things being equal, the life of prayer is an antidote to the passion which is not perfected by our struggle against evil. Work is a form of prayer, hence an excellent application of our talents and love of God. The vocabularies used by St. Paul with reference to communication to and with God, thus: supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving (1 Tim 2:1) are summarized in the person and mission of Christ, the Incarnate Word hence, by these forms we are simply identifying with Christ who is the VIA, VERITAS et VITA. Thanksgiving [Eucharist] as a form of prayer summarizes others and is a major and a re-presentation of prayer object - Christ, the Paschal Mystery. Therefore, contemplative and practical ingredients are needed as to reach the goal or end of our prayer life.
    Prayer transforms the whole personality and even the mode of thinking, thereby making anew all about the self. The transformation intrinsic in prayer gives hope, and fortifies the virtue that humility is personified in us and by consciousness and conscientiousness; these are transmitted easily to others. This acknowledgment of our nothingness before the Most High God gives us the chance of shaming the devil. Constancy in practice makes permanent, even so in prayer. Prayer is both an act and a thought, therefore constant vigil in it produces a solid and unshakeable character of the soul and body, even when the body is weak, and the soul is ever agile to carry along the whole self.
    Perfection is not possible without love and detachment, even when one is immersed into wealth or in the world. There is need for constant solitude and alone with God in our active work or apostolate. In a community living, perfection is obtainable through good examples and koinonia. Sincere love and fear of God breeds the perfect willingness in the practice of virtue, and an interior purity or chastity exemplified. The need of personal sacrifice for the love of God cannot be overemphasized in Christian perfection.
    According to St. Thomas, ‘nihil est intellectum non quod primus furiet in sensum’, therefore for perfect chastity, the body’s abstinence from immoral acts ought to be strongly followed by a firm intellectual prohibition of the thoughts or ideas circumventing the sins of impurity. The body only confirms the actions already done in the mind; therefore we always ought to be fighting against the concupiscence of the flesh and the eyes (1 Jn 2:16). The passion of the flesh is very volatile hence with the grace of God, built on the struggling nature we can win. Untamed and uneducated Christian spirituality possesses the filthy and shadow minded character with less deep self control, which leads to constant life of lust and licentiousness. Sexuality is a gift from God, with the chemistry of the body, the physical and biological functions are ever at work and dynamic. Hence, care be must be taken that the dynamism in the chemistry ought to be regulated with the spiritual and moral principles of the will. This regulation and discipline of the biological senses finds tranquility in the continence.
    The Psalmist said: ‘If the Lord does not watch the city, in vain do the watchmen keep vigil’ Ps 126: 1. Though the Lord guides us in all our ways, we shall not keep our fingers crossed without making efforts on life. Therefore carefulness and vigilance is highly needed for our spiritual growth. God continues to shower his abundant favours on us irrespective of our inability to ask for healing and protection.
    After each sincere sacramental confession, one actually feels light and being relieved of a big weight of timber in his life. This is consequent to the contrite, repentance and reparation done. The fruit of good repentance restore the spiritual dignity and renew the virtuous life which is illumined and graced by the divine flame of the Holy Spirit. This is because there always exists scar or wound of sin in our hearts and intellects, even after metanoia, therefore constant trust and hope in the Lord is very necessary. A devout acceptance of one’s nothingness before God increases the speed of reparation.
    The images and thoughts we busy ourselves with during the day time comes to us as a reality in the dream at night. This buttresses the Thomistic fact that, nihil est intellectum non quod primus furiet in sensum. Ipso facto, the discipline of the senses constantly is a sure way in which we can build up our spiritual life. Being immaculate implies without sin. In Christian life we are called to holiness, the power of being immaculate is the same as the person and dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, as Christians more so priests and religious, our dignity is intrinsic in being immaculate.
    Conscious rejection or detachment from what gives us happiness even when it is so dear to us brings us to the world of mortification. We ought to feel this sentiment on our body that it may be really fruitful in our spiritual life; the feelings should be a constant practice and not just once. The act of charity needed a lot of patience to be present before we can joyfully carry it out.

    Rev Fr Paul Ikechukwu Ogujioffor is a priest-student in Pontificia Università della Santa Croce Roma.

  11. REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR on March 9th, 2010 11:08 am

    Virtue as a strong quality of the will in man in the light of Moral Narrative Theology

    BY PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR

    Introduction

    By Aquinas treatise of virtue, we understand that it is tightly link with habitus which is habit. This revolves on the whole human person and his integrity. Therefore, virtue can be seen in the dimension of the operation of the intellect and passion and how judgment is passed by the ethics or morality of man’s existence. The passions and feelings are governed by the will so that appropriate examination is ever at work in reference to human habit irrespective of who is at the plat form of stage. By this simple fact, the self determination is always measured with the basic moral principles of the Act, Object and End. Holding tenaciously to a disciplined way of living is not just a form of temporal character but an in-depth acquisition and manifestation of good habit. In being disciplined we are directly strengthening and showing the bed-rock of character formation. When our lives portray a form of contradiction we actually and intrinsically manifest a form of debasement of human person in its full integrity.

    Notion of virtue

    Man ought to be the image of God and that we are. Ipso facto, our actions ought to gear towards a good, bearing in mind the golden end. A gradual process of development and acquisition of strong and qualitative habit is a lasting will of man. Therefore, the end of a thing in morality is the significance of the physical thing or material object in view of the moral good or bad. Thinking in line with Aristotle, moral virtues is not inborn; rather it is acquired and perfected by consistent and thorough exercise of a virtue. This is exactly the action of the will as to remain stable. The idea of virtue comes from an understanding of a human being as having a tremendous capacity both for good and for evil. Hence, it is through virtues that one grows in the promise of life, and through the vices that one self-destructs. In a totally sound or sane situation and circumstance, can man actually act without the will? Is a known or cherish virtue of someone, something that is just sui sponte? By the constant imbibing and following of the dictates of the will, habits become sui generi to a person.
    Will is a concept so central to moral anthropology. In view of this, will is seen always as an act, faculty, subject and content or object of the willed. Will as an act, go into desiring, resolving, determining or choosing. The power or tendency within the person that tends toward acts of will implies the nature of the will as a faculty. Since the will is a spiritual reality, it has to be conceived by analogy, and thus we can talk of a seat or faculty. Looking at the will as content or object of the willed act, one’s will is described in terms of its principal goals and objectives. Ipso facto, will is related to freedom, since will is the origin of the problem of moral indetermination and responsible choice. The dominant power of the will can be seen in the relation between the willing person and the object desired. In this way, the will recognizes that the object of its intention will be joined to itself. From this point of view, it is not only the case that everyone needs the virtues to grow in a way that promotes the proper development of themselves. By repetition of acts the external practices become internalized and part of the human person.
    In other words, they represent how a person has been characterized by his or her most consistent behaviour.

    Virtue as a second nature

    Virtues are qualities of character acquired through corresponding actions. Virtues change a person and are a transformative activity that involves the restructuring of the self. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, virtue is a “modification of a subject”. If the habits that qualify the human capacities for knowledge, passionate response, and action are known as virtues. In this sense, the concept of virtue expands the usual definition of a morally good quality to include such purely intellectual qualities as wisdom and understanding. In a more properly moral sense, a virtue is a habit qualifying those powers of the human soul that result directly in action, namely, the passions, will, and the practical intellect. Aquinas’ systematic treatise on the virtues, presupposes his theological anthropology and his neo-platonic understanding that all things comes from God (exitus) and are oriented back to God (reditus). This exitus-reditus schema implied that humanity could acquire the means (naturally and supernaturally) by which a return to God was possible. Virtue is from the etymology vir which means man. Therefore, virtue means moral, excellence, uprightness, strength, vigour, courage, courage and worth. From this view point, virtue is a habitual readiness to do well and it gives man an ease or facility in doing good. The virtue cannot be practiced if there is no strong will of the human person, this character is very distinct. It is view of that that we reflect over these:
    1) Will as act – Here will refer to desiring, resolving, determining, choosing, and the like. All are forms of willing.
    2) Will as faculty – This means the power or tendency within the person that tends toward acts of the will. Since the will is a spiritual reality, it has to be conceived by analogy, and thus we can talk of a seat or faculty of willing as a human capacity.
    3) Will as subject – The ego or the person is thought of as the subject who wills. Since the will reaches out for union with spiritual reality, for God even, the will belongs uniquely capable of intersubjective relation with other spirits, and the human person must be so conceived in order to sustain a viable concept of the will.
    4) Will as content or object of the willed act – The law speaks of a last will and testament, a concrete example of specified actions that pertain to the disposition of human will. Will is related to freedom, since the origin of the problem of moral interdetermination and responsible choice.

    Will and Character

    Developmental psychology shows will to be foundational to one’s moral evolution as a person. This is a condition in which will is imagined to be a domination over interpersonal reality rather than a force for dialogue and reciprocity. Therefore, the will is the appetite of human intelligence and as such is moved by the knowledge offered by intellect; but choice is still a matter of free self-determination, which touches precisely what, whether, when, and how deeply one wills that which intelligence has identified as good. The freedom of will engages not simply the resolution of conflicting claims but the formation of character. Ipso facto, the reality of character refers to moral elements which are considered internal to the person: motives, dispositions, attitudes, intentions and basic options. These belong to the oral being and constitute part of a person’s moral identity. Character is a totality of attitudes and motivations and motivations, on account of which a person usually prefers a certain moral conduct as against another one. Character as a moral reality refers to attitudes and motives which a person can influence and over which he has certain control. The formation of character is by no means only the result of the aspirations and inclinations of a person’s will and not least of the influence of his environment. Character includes a person’s moral capacities as well as active moral options. Its formation is a continuing process, which is never entirely finished. Character is a deeper ground for a person’s concrete moral decisions and actions. Character informs actions.
    Suffice it note that there are changing images of the will, in human reflection; we must deal with equal integrity with both the given (nature) and the desire (freedom). Willingness is a surrendering of separateness and an entering into the forces of life itself; this demands a contemplative vision of the world as a Creator’s gift. Willfulness is attempting to master, direct, control, or manipulates existence. The dominant power of the will can be seen in the relation between the willing person and the object desired. Once some reality is intended as a goal of human willing and action, the willing person enters into a relation with the object that is specified not by his or her limited understanding and agency but by the reality of the object in its own domain.

    The training of the will

    The will is in man the governing faculty. Being free, the will imparts its freedom, not only to the acts it performs itself, but to those acts it bids the other faculties perform; it gives them their merit or their demerit. The discipline of the will means the discipline of the entire man, and well-disciplined will is one that is strong enough to govern the lower faculties and docile enough to submit itself to God. To govern and to submit are two functions of the will. Both are difficult. Oftentimes the lower faculties rebels against the will and submit only when one has learned to add tact to firmness; for the will and submit only when one has learned to add tact to firmness; for the will does not exercise an absolute power over our sense faculties, but a kind of moral influence, a power of persuasion that leads them to compliance. Hence, it is only with difficulty and through oft-renewed efforts that we succeed in bringing the sense faculties and the passions under the sway of the will. Likewise, it is not easy to yield full submission of the will to God, because we aspire to certain independence, and because God’s will, in order to sanctify us, often demands sacrifices from which we naturally shrink. We often prefer our own tastes, our own whims, to the holy will of God. Here again, mortification becomes a necessity.
    In the ethics of the will, there involves the willingness to do things morally. In some way the will have the character of tendency. Man ought to be the author of his act, by his liberty and deliberation he is conscious of what he does. His liberal option ought to follow within him morally. In reality he ought to be pure in his moral character. In the quality of personal virtue, the mode of evaluating an action gravitates on the principle of the Bonum ex integra causa (object, end and circumstance).

    Ethical ontology as a center of man’s will in Bonum ex integra causa

    The moral rectitude or certainty can be easily seen in the Will, which grew from the inner voice (conscience) of man. The full aphorism reads: Verum et falsum sunt in mente, bonum et malum sunt in rebus; bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defuctu – Truth and error exist in the mind, good and evil in things; good demands fullness of being, evil is predicted of any defect. The moral good of an act comes from its causal integrity act plus intention; moral evil comes from any defect in either act or intention. This statement can be read also from a metaphysical principle and not just a moral principle. The statement presupposes a certain understanding of metaphysical principle and has been the focus of considerable debate among contemporary moral theologians as to its precise meaning and ethical significance.
    The sources of morality should be good for the action to be good. If one of the aspects is missing, it is not good in all its integrity. Therefore, virtue as a strong quality of the will in man ought to be the character of the acquisition of habit, which of course cannot be if devoid of freedom. In contemporary moral theology, liberum arbitrium (free will or choice) is the type of freedom that is related to categorical acts and would be contrasted with the transcendental freedom exercised in the choice of one’s most basic stance towards god, which is often termed the fundamental option in contemporary moral theology. The basic definition of this freedom was given by the medieval theologian Peter Lombard: Liberum arbitrium est facultas rationis et voluntas – Freedom of the will is the faculty or power to reason and to will or intend. As a basic concept for any understanding of moral agency, the individual must have liberum arbitrium in order to make and act on moral choices. Conversely, anything that impedes this freedom also would diminish or eliminate moral responsibility for the acts performed.
    When a character is devoid of personal freedom of the will, it has nothing to do with the second nature and the ethical ontology of the person. Ipso facto, Impedimenta libertatis – Impediment to freedom, are those conditions or factors that are understood to reduce or block one’s freedom, both morally and physical. It suffices to note that, “the right to freedom of conscience accordingly comprises two claims. The first one is the right not to be forced to act contrary to one’s conscience; this right is unconfined. The second claim is the right not to be restrained from acting according to one’s conscience; this right meets with restrictions where it happens to collide with the demands of the common welfare”. In this case, there cannot be proper acquisition of virtues or better still a good moral character formation of the will. Hence, “Character is the deeper ground for a person’s concrete moral decisions and actions. Character informs actions. But this must not lead to an attitude of indifference towards concrete, good actions. Actions on their part also have repercussions on character. Aristotle rightly observes that we become just by doing acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. The interaction between character and concrete moral actions shall find greater attention in the following considerations concerning the fundamental option, which are essential aspects of a person’s character and determine it decisively.”
    The act must be freely willed with determinations; these are extensively treated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Freedom, therefore, is not the ability to bring about any kind of situation one wishes. It is the ability to deal with the situation which really exists. It is the ability to act for reasons which we choose but do not invent out of nothing. It is the ability to operate within the possibilities that actually exist. However, there must be in all human freedom an element of accepting the reality of the universe in which freedom operates. In a moral sense, one is said to be truly free when he is the master of his actions. They are said to be really free, not when they can do whatever they wish, but when they, realizing their condition as creatures, exercise dominion over themselves and choose to obey God’s will. Man is free because he possesses the faculty of determining himself with regard to what is good and possesses the faculty of choice. To be free is to be able to choose and to want to choose. To be really free is to live according to one’s conscience. Freedom indeed is one of the constitutive elements of human dignity. It is a property of man as a child of God. It is a good which belongs to the inviolable intimacy of the person and which cannot be trampled underfoot, without, in a certain sense, putting the person interiorly to death. Freedom is not an end in itself. It is the means, the path, to attain the true good, objective good, in a responsible manner.

    The matter around which – Materia circa quam

    Generally the goodness or badness of acts is judged by their relation to the principle from which they proceed, as to whether or not they are in accordance with the principle’s order. Materia circa quam is a matter about which an action or faculty moves; can also refer to the object of an action and its corresponding faculty. Hence, Thomas Aquinas said “object is not the matter out of which, but the matter about which (materia circa quam) and stands in relation to the act is its form, as it were, through giving it its moral species”. Since the end is properly the object of the will’s interior act, the goodness or badness that the end gives clearly belongs first to the interior act and derives from it to the exterior act. As for the goodness or badness that an exterior act has according to its genus and circumstances, absolutely speaking this too belongs first to the interior act – to the very act of the willing the exterior act – since this is the principle moving the exterior act’s execution. Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the image in man. For God willed to leave man in the power of his own counsel (cfr. Sir 15: 14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God.

    Conclusion

    Man’s personality is the summarized in his moral being. This personality brings out his image as child of God. Each day man continues to work towards perfection because of his totally trust and hope in God. Our faith is deepened by our struggles; hence the moral virtue plays a lot of role in our daily lives and character. This character is maintained by our act of disciplining our selves, which of course is deliberate action of the will couple with freedom. Therefore, man continues to increase his moral qualities of the will through by being virtuous. Ipso facto, man’s habit is his second nature of which he is associated with such each moment of his life.

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