Saturday, 25 July 2009

25 July: The Feast of St James the Greater

St James the Greater is the Patron Saint of Spain as Santiago de Compostela.

St James is known as the Greater in order to distinguish him from the other Apostle St James, our Lord's cousin, who was St. John's brother.

With SS. Peter and John he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration, as later he was also of the Agony in the Garden.

He was beheaded in Jerusalem in 42 or 43 AD on the orders of King Herod Agrippa.

According to legend, in the early days of the Church, St James was evangelizing the Gospel in Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza in Spanish today), but his mission was making little progress until miraculously, he saw the Blessed Virgin committing him to return to Jerusalem.

In his vision, she was atop a column or pillar, which was being carried by angels. That pillar is believed to be the same one venerated in Zaragoza today. Miraculous healings have been reported at the scene and today the name Pilar is a common name for a girl from Nuestra Senora del Pilar.

Since the 9th century Spain has claimed the honour of possessing his relics.

Legend holds that the remains of St James were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

The magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela houses the relics of St James and is the destination of those who travel to the city on pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago or Way of St James.

The pilgrimages to St James of Compostela in the Middle Ages attracted immense crowds; after the pilgrimage to Rome or the Holy Land, it was the most famous and the most frequented pilgrimage in Christendom. The pilgrim paths to Compostela form a network over Europe; they are dotted with pilgrims' hospices and chapels, some of which still exist.

In Spain, he is called El Senor Santiago, "the Lord St James", the patron saint of horsemen and soldiers, and of the military-religious Order of Knighthood named after him, the Knights of Santiago, one of the four great and ancient military-religious orders in Spain.

A Knight of the religious-military Order of Santiago, one of the four great such orders in Spain. The Order's symbol is the red dagger cross shown here on the knight's cloak and jacket.

St James was one of those that Jesus called Boanerges, "son of thunder," the brother of John the Evangelist and the son of Zebedee the fisherman from Galilee.

His prominence and his presence in Jerusalem must have been well known, for, scarcely a dozen years after the Resurrection, he was arrested and executed by King Herod Agrippa. This was followed by the arrest of St Peter also, so his death must have been part of a purge of Christian leaders by Agrippa, who saw the new Christian movement as a threat to Judaism.

St James's death is the only biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles, and he was the first of that chosen band to give his life for his Master.

He is often pictured as a pilgrim and his emblem is a cockle shell or a scallop shell.

The cockle shell or the scallop shell is the symbol of St James of Compostela

The equestrian image of St James of Compostela crushing the defeated Moors epitomizes the way Spaniards conceived their religious identity for nearly a thousand years.

The Spanish Church was a crusading church compelled to defend itself from the invasion of Islam and to fight to regain its territory over the space of 800 years.

St James appeared to the tired crusaders, led by King Ramiro of Asturias, during the Battle of Clavijo in 844, and led the flagging crusaders to victory against the Moorish army. He was thereafter venerated by the Spanish under the title of Santiago Matamoros or St James the Moorslayer.

Santiago Matamoros, the statue of St James the Moorslayer in the Cathedral of Santiago made to commemorate the appearance of St James during the Battle of Clavijo in 844 to aid the flagging crusaders to defeat the Moorish army

Sancte Jacobe Majore, ora pro nobis!



Nate Wildermuth said...

Somehow I doubt that Saint James the martyr would approve of men killing in his name, or attributing killing others due to his intercession.

Tribunus said...

The Catholic Church, which permitted the devotion to Matamoros, thinks you're wrong, Nate.

A just war is a moral war. So teaches the Church and so teach all the saints.

If, as your website seems to suggest, you think that even just wars are immoral then your position is outside Catholic teaching.

The reason is simple enough: if you are not prepared to fight against evil then evil will triumph. For example, Nazism would have triumphed if no-one was prepared to fight it.

Having said that, I think it is fair to say that war under modern conditions with modern weapons requires a much higher threshhold than the wars of the past to be just, because of the devastating damage that can be caused.

Modern wars are, and need to be, much shorter, too. Otherwise they cause unacceptable damage, loss of life and are too financially expensive.

But to say "no, I will never fight" is to give in to evil and is not consonant with Catholic teaching.

I notice that you claim to be fighting against war.

Would you go to war to fight war?


Well, then, there you are!

That's exactly what a just war is!

Nate Wildermuth said...

I agree with you, that we must always fight against evil. You are also right that war is not always immoral (if fought according to the principles of just-war theory). My website doesn't suggest otherwise.

The links you'll find at my website (especially the 'Church' resources) will point you to the Church's teaching on war - that it is our duty to learn how to fight for peace without bloodshed, and that war is always a tragic failure for all humanity.

The first people to gain from abolishing war would be soldiers. I myself was a soldier once.

Tribunus said...

So was I a soldier but I didn't feel the need to re-write Catholic doctrine as a result of my service.

Your website is a mish-mash of ideas borrowed from unCatholic sources and intertwined with misquoted and misinterpreted extracts from Catholic sources taken out of context.

In short, you have chosen those parts of Catholic teaching that suit you and dumped the rest - the resort of every heterodox thinker since the beginning.

We have everyone from Mennonites to Anarchists, and Walter Wink to Wee Willie Winky - everyone, that is, except true Catholic doctrine.

It's a lot of eclectic self-deception.

You seem to think you are going to get peace through superior heresy. Actually, the reverse is true. Every war-monger started that way.

Nate Wildermuth said...

It is true that you will find non-Catholics links among the directory. I certainly don't agree with everything that is found on every link in the directory. But a discerning reader will find what he needs.

In the Church resources, every link takes you to an actual Church teaching, entirely in context. The reader is not only free to read for themselves, but the directory exists for that very purpose. Did you read any of Pope Benedict's homilies in full?

These teachings may appear to be out of context to you, because you may never have seen them. I suggest reading the World Day of Peace Messages from 1968-2009, as well as the Peace chapter in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church - which is heavily footnoted, and can lead to more study as well.

It is possible to admit that war can sometimes be legitimate, but also that war is a tragedy and must be abolished. That is not my teaching, but is the Church's.

Tribunus said...

Without wishing to dampen your enthusiasm, I'm sorry to say that a teaching does not become Catholic teaching merely becuase you say that it is.

You will have difficulty showing that it is Catholic teaching that war can be legitimate and yet, at the same time, must be abolished.

In fact, that is no teaching at all but merely a non-sequitur.

You claim that every link in your blog on Church teaching is " entirely in context".

I disagree. Many of them are entirely out of context.

To claim that a reader is "free to read for themselves" is to state the obvious and proves nothing. A person reading any material at all is equally free but that does not make the reading matter any the more relevant, accurate or in context.

I have read Pope Benedict's homilies. They do not:

(1) teach that war is never legitimate;

(2) teach that all war must be abolished;

(3) raise homilies above the level of exhortations or statements of counsel; and

(4) do not teach infallibly.

There is a hierarchy of teaching authority in the Catholic Church. A homily is not at the apex thereof.

Your links, likewise, are mostly to non-Catholic teaching and some of a very spurious kind. This sort of mixing of Catholic sources and non-Catholic sources with the aim of undermining Catholic teaching is the resort of every heterodox teacher since Simon Magus.

What you need to read and study is authentic Catholic doctrine on the subject of the just war. You might start with the Catechism, move onto the definitive papal and conciliar teachings and then St Thomas and St Augustine.

You will find that, even in the awful conditions of modern warfare, there is justification, properly limited, for certain types of warfare.

The fact that you objected to the Gulf War (so did I, by the way) is not a good reason for re-writing Catholic doctrine in your own image.

Neither is it a good reason to mis-apply Catholic doctrine.

Nate Wildermuth said...

You have said that I have 'dumped' and 're-written' Catholic doctrine. You are wrong. I do not condemn the just-war theory. Some wars may be legitimate. I've said so three times now.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1996 Peace Message, "let us all unite to fight violence and conquer war". He wrote in his encyclical Centesimus Annus, "may people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class warfare in internal disputes and war in international ones." He has repeated these teachings repeatedly and authoritatively.

These teachings belong to the ordinary Papal magisterium, and are owed religious assent of mind and will (even if they are not infallible). Surely you aren't one of those Catholics who rejects Vatican II and the modern papal teachings?

I think you have some strange idea that I'm a typical cafeteria heterodox Catholic. Far from it. I'm 100% pro-life, use NFP, and think homosexual marriage and ordaining women are fantasies. But I also listen to my Church when it comes to war and peace.

Tribunus said...

You have also said that it is Catholic doctrine that war must be abolished.

How can war be both just and abolished?

You are failing to see the logical flaw in your argument.

And your argument is not improved merely by repeating it - whether 3 times or 30 times.

You also ignore the point that a "peace message" or other such homily is not magisterial teaching binding upon the universal Church, the definitive source of Catholic doctrine.

Here, again, there is a flaw in your argument: you do not seem to understand the hierarchy of authority in the Church's teaching.

Once again, repeating your failed argument does not improve it.

Pope John Paul II rightly urged in the encyclical Centesimus Annus, "may people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class warfare in internal disputes and war in international ones", but, contrary to what you claim, he did not propose this as the definitive magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church on just war.

Your assessment of the doctrinal authority to be attributed to such statements is misconceived.

They do not belong to the Ordinary Magisterium - and certainly not the infallible Ordinary Magisterium - since they are proposed as prudential policy statements not binding in conscience upon Catholics.

They are simply not proposed by the Pope as requiring "religious assent of mind and will" and, in so saying, you misconceive which statements are authoritative teaching and which merely prudential statements of policy.

You will find this distinction set out in Vatican II (e.g. Lumen Gentium 25). If you think that prudential judgements and statements represent authoritative, binding Magisterial teaching then it is you who reject Vatican II and papal teachings.

I don't think you are some typical cafeteria heterodox Catholic but I do think you misunderstand the nature and theology of authoritative and magisterial teaching in the Catholic Church.

You invest some papal statements with more teaching authority than they possess or are proposed to possess. There is a hierarchy of authority in the Church with varying grades of authority or weight to be accorded particular statements of popes and bishops.

It is an elementary mistake to invest all statements of popes with the same or similar degree of authority.

That is the mistake that you repeatedly make.

Nate Wildermuth said...

You seem to have two objections: 1) That one cannot logically maintain that some wars are legitimate while working to abolish war, 2) That the modern Papal teachings on war are not authoritative.

So at this point, I'm agreeing to disagree. Peace, friend.

Nate Wildermuth said...

Just saw an article about the former Archbishop of the Military Diocese, Edwin O'Brien. He gave a talk to some military people the other day. Worth reading.

"'Ultimately we must work for a world without war,' he added."

Tribunus said...

Dear Nate,

Agree to disagree by all means but truth is truth and cannot be "agreed away".

Of the 2 objections you have the first one one is accurate but the second, is inaccurate.

Some papal statements on war are prudential and not binding but some are formal teaching and are thus authoritative. You make no distinction between the two and quote all as if they are of the same level of authority.

That - not papal teaching - is what I object to.

As to 1), it is merely a truism that one cannot both have just war and yet, at the same time, consider that all war should be abolished.

It is a classic non-sequitur.

You might as well consider that banking can be just but that all banking should be abolished.

Or that stockbroking can be just but that we should abolish all stockbroking.

A just war is, by definition, a war to bring about peace and justice when all else has failed and only war can achieve the aim.

If you abolish that option then you may find that you have simply enshrined injustice.

If country A invades country B contrary to international law, and terrorises its people, then it may be incumbent upon the UN or other powers to use force to free country B.

In your scenario, you are working for a time when there is simply no hope for country B.

That would be unjust.

Therefore, my friend, you are simply working for injustice.

Wake up and think again!

Peace is a worthy aim but let it be peace with justice - and backed by appropriate sanctions against the peace-busters and the war-mongers.

Nate Wildermuth said...

When Archbishop O'Brien says, "Ultimately we must work for a world without war," and Pope JPII asks us to unite to "conquer war", you are saying that 1) they are not speaking authoritatively, and 2) they are making logical fallacies?

In terms of analogies, a better analogy is a soup kitchen. We run a soup kitchen while working to abolish the need for soup kitchens. We are not abolishing the 'option' of soup kitchens, but the 'need' for soup kitchens. Same thing for just-wars - not abolishing the option, but the necessity.

Tribunus said...

Dear Nate,

Once again you:

(1) Presume to tell me what I am saying when I haven't said it; and

(2) Demonstrate your ignorance of the degrees of authority of the Catholic Church's teaching office or Magisterium.

So long as you do these 2 things you will persuade no-one except, perhaps, those as weakly instructed as yourself.

The statements you quote are what are called "prudential" statements contained in local addresses, not exercises of the teaching office.

Moreover, when the Pope speaks of "conquering" war he includes the use of just war to conquer unjust war. He does not (and cannot) mean that he is changing Catholic teaching on war.

You have put your own construction on his words rather than a construction based upon the Church's teaching.

Take care - that is what heretics always do.

I have no brief to defend Archbishop O'Brien's words (and I don't need to) but I suspect that he, too, is referring to unjust war, not just war. Would he, for instance, say that Israel had no right to defend itself from unjust invasion or that the Palestinians have no right to defend themselves from unjust Israeli attacks?

Your soup kitchen analogy also fails,

Firstly, war is not a soup kitchen and, secondly, our Lord himself taught us that the poor would always be with us. It is unlikely, therefore, that we shall ever abolish the need for soup kitchens entirely, let alone permanently.

We live in a fallen world, Nate. We do best to repair such damage as we can rather than wasting our time on utopian schemes that will inevitably fail.

Tribunus said...

For those following this thread:

Nate has now fallen to abuse and insult, usually a sure sign that arguments are not being supported with evidence but only emotion and anger.

I have therefore not published it since my policy is not to publish mere insult.

Nate describes himself as a "faithful and well-formed Catholic" with "something important to teach" us.

I'm sorry to say that if this discussion is anything to go by (and I hope it isn't) he is far from any of those things.

If he wishes to reply with some evidence for his views, instead of mere insult, then I shall publish it. But not otherwise.

Take it or leave it, Nate.

Tribunus said...

And everyone will, of course, have noted the further irony and self-contradiction in Nate's resorting to insult (which can lead to conflict and, in international terms, war) whilst all the time claiming to be working for peace.

Own goal, Nate?

commodore said...

"Whosoever lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Words by our Lord Jesus Christ. Though I do believe in fighting for Good, it is here even by Jesus' own words that we "shall not kill". Even the Church at times does not follow the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is better to, "lose your life than to save it, for if you lose it for His sake then you will have found eternal life."
James the Greater did that by standing up to evil and meeting his death in front of King Herod. According to the Virgin Mary's order from God.

Tribunus said...

Typically heterodox poppycock.

It is simply heterodox to say that the Church does not follow the teachings of Christ, if, by that, you mean that the Catholic Church, established by God to teach all truth, formally teaches error and falsity.

If you think that, it simply means that you are no longer a Catholic.

Christ did not say war is always immoral. He did not say "thou shalt not kill".

The 5th Commandment says, in Hebrew, "thou shalt do no murder". This does not exclude legitimate self-defence or military defence.

St John the Baptist told the soldiers to "be content with their pay".

How could they be entitled to their pay if being a solider were intrinsically immoral?

For that reason, the Baptist is the patron saint of soldiers.

You make the classic error of thinking that you know better than the Church itself, its Magisterium, the authorised teacher of faith, and its bishops and theologians.

The Church, the Magisterium and the doctors and theologians of the Church teach that a just war is moral.

What makes you think you know better than 2,000 years of Christian teaching?

The Church also teaches that it is forbidden for clergy to bear arms and fight which is why St James the Greater was forbidden, whilst a bishop on earth, to engage in combat.

However, that stipulation never prevented clerics from leading men into combat so long as they did not bear arms or draw blood.

The same ban applied to women which is why St Joan of Arc, although she led the armies in battle, never used her sword in battle.

The only time she used her weapon was to use the flat of the sword to chase away "camp followers" (i.e. prostitutes) from the camp.

In both cases, St James and St Joan were following the Church's teaching meticulously.

Likewise, saints like St Louis of France and St Ferdinand of Spain followed the Church's teaching faithfully when they defended the Church, its lands and people by the sword, when necessary.

Neither of them minced words on the subject of defending Christendom from invading Muslim marauders.

The reality is that you have not understand Scripture, the Church's teaching or Christianity.