Monday, January 4, 2010

Is Novalis questioning the humanity of the fetus and endorsing divorce?

Novalis is a "Catholic" publishing company based at St. Paul's University in Ottawa.  In the past two weeks, I came across some troubling stuff in their French daily missalette.

If you know anything about St. Paul's, you'll understand why I put the word "Catholic" between quotation marks.  While St. Paul's used to be a world-renowned Catholic institution several decades ago, it is now more renowned for it's liberal brand of Catholicism.  In an effort to increase enrollment, the university has diluted the teaching in order to welcome Christians from all denominations.  Tragically, successive Archbishops of Ottawa have done little or nothing to fix the problem.  There are still good teachers there, but there's too much crap.  It's not a safe place for a beginner to learn about theology or philosophy.  

Novalis is best known for the daily missalette called "Living With Christ" (in French it's called "Prions en Église").  But they produce a wide variety of other books too.   In 2004, they caused quite a stir among faithful Catholics when
they published a book called "The Hidden Pierre Elliott Trudeau".  The book is a collection of memories from politicians and others that "examines our former prime minister's spirituality, theology, and faith. It shows how his faith influenced public policy and the 'public' man."  Yeah, right.  You mean like his policy to legalize abortion? His womanizing behaviour? His distorted Charter of Freedoms? His joy at scoffing at the Church at every possible occasion?  Wonderful theology indeed.  Read a good review of the book from the pen of Fr. Alphonse de Valk C.S.B. of Catholic Insight.

During these Christmas holidays, I was visiting my parents who live in the suburbs of Montreal.  On New Year's Day, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, we went to Mass at a French parish. When we came to the prayer intentions, we read the suggested intentions from the Prions. We came across this dubious prayer intention (my translation):

On the day of the Nativity, Mary gave Jesus His humanity. That we may also know how to give Christ to the world, let us pray to the Lord. (Au jour de la Nativité, Marie donne à Jésus son humanité. Pour que nous sachions à notre tour donner le Christ au monde, prions le Seigneur)

Is your Spidy sense tingling? Christ received His humanity from Mary on the day of His conception, not the day of His birth. The same applies to the rest of us. This notion that a baby is not human until it's birth is eerily similar to the fallacies vehiculated by pro-abort activists. Is Novalis trying to subliminally suggest that the fetus isn't human until birth? That would certainly match Trudeau's "theology", eh? I hope that was just sloppy writing.

At the same Mass, another intention read as follows:

On the day of the Visitation, Mary set off to see the sign given by God. That we may know how to recognize in daily events the ways of love and service, let us pray to the Lord. (Au jour de la Visitation, Marie se met en route pour voir le signe donné par Dieu. Pour que nous sachions reconnaître dans les événements quotidiens les chemins d'amour et du service, prions le Seigneur)

This intention implies that as Mary hit the road to visit her cousin, she was mainly looking for a sign to confirm what the angel had said about Elizabeth being pregnant. Her desire to help her elderly cousin seems secondary. This strikes me as a distorted image of Mary's faith.  Again, I hope that was just careless writing, but you never know with Novalis.

On Sunday, December 27th, we went to Mass together again at a francophone parish. One of the intentions read as follows:

Let us pray for separated parents that endeavour to build a new family:  God of Jesus Christ, help them (Prions pour les parents séparés qui s'efforcent de constuire une nouvelle famille: Dieu de Jésus Christ, assiste-les.)

To me, that intention sounds out of place in a Catholic Mass.  At best, it's a very poor choice of words.  At worst, they are advocating for divorced couples to commit adultery by remarrying (coming from Novalis, that wouldn't surprise me one bit).  Maybe they're thinking of couples that got an annulment?  Or maybe couples that weren't married in the Church?  It doesn't sound like they're talking about couples separated by death because they refer to "separated parents" in plural, so both parents are presumably still alive.  If they meant to remain within Church teaching then they should have been more explicit in their choice of words.  The overwhelming majority of separated couples are the result of divorce.   

I sympathize enormously with parents who have been divorced, but the bond of marriage cannot be undone.  One liberal Catholic once told me that there's nothing wrong if couples married in the Church find themselves a new spouse after they get divorced. She argued that God is so merciful and is willing to forgive any sin, so surely He would "forgive" the mistake that the couple made when they chose to marry each other.  True, God is infinitely merciful, but her position is pure fabrication and unbiblical.  Christ was extremely explicit about the indissolubility of marriage.  Why?  Because marriage is so important, not only for the stability of society, but also because it is an image of the Trinity.  Once you distort the image of God, the rest falls apart.  Like many liberals, this friend of mine was trying to ignore the words Christ actually said and stick some other words into His mouth.

These are but a few mild hints of the more substantial re-engineering of the Faith that St. Paul's and Novalis have been implementing over the years.  I pray that our Archbishop, Terrence Prendergast, will clean house at the university and make it worthy of the Catholic name again.