Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"How to be nice" - on this blog

WikHow has a useful article on "How to be nice". I thought I might adapt it for "How to be nice on this blog". It might help some people in the combox...

How to Be Nice

You've been told to be nice since you were a child, but what exactly does it mean to not be mean? "Nice" is a vague term to put it. If your parents never gave you the break-down, here it is.


1. Smile. Well, obviously that's going to be difficult on a blog for a start - since we can't see your face. But if you write with a happy smile on your face, that might help you adopt "a smiley tone" in your comment. It will let people know that you are pleasant and inviting. If you adopte a smiley tone with someone, they won't do anything but adopt a smiley tone back. If they don't, then maybe they are just having a bad day. It is up to you to set the mood of the encounter. Make it happy by being the first to adopt a smiley tone. Normally, the internet equivalent of making faces or moody looks at someone is not nice.

2. Say hello. If you are new to the blog, introduce yourself and let us know where you are coming from. Don't just butt in. Try to acknowledge the presence of other readers with a simple "hello" or "hi" or a nod in their direction.

3. Be a good listener. Bother to read what other commentators have written and take the time to understand them. It isn't nice to just ignore other peoples' opinions and stories. If you find that someone is becoming rude or pushy, acknowledge their opinion, issue a compliment ("Having your own set of values and beliefs is pretty admirable") and excuse yourself politely ("I'm sorry, I've got to go get the groceries so I can meet my husband/wife when they get home.").

4. Be courteous. Always say "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome." You can also address people by sir or ma'am, but that might be a bit formal for this blog. Be patient, observant, and considerate. Treat people with respect. Even if you don't particularly like someone at first, they could end up being a really interesting and kind person. Remember: People aren't dogs or the ground you spit on.

5. Be positive. Well, it's hard not to be negative or critical at times - and even the blog owner finds difficulty in being positive all the time. But keep looking for the positive in any given situation. Think of it this way: Your job is to cheer other SCE readers up and make their day!

6. Be humble. This applies to everyone on this blog except the owner. No, alright, it applies to me too... The key to being nice is remembering that you are not "better" than someone else. You're an individual, but everybody has their struggles, and being nice to one another makes life better for everyone.

7. Be sincere. This is a blog where you can be honest. I don't want to suggest that anyone should hide their true beliefs or opinions on this blog. Don't be nice just because you don't want your comment deleted (which it probably will be if you aren't nice). Be nice because you want to look back on what you have written in the combox and know that, yes, you are indeed infallibly right in your opinions, and yes, you really told those heretics a thing or two, but you are still a nice person, and they will still want to dialogue with you more in the future, and they will still be open to your ideas next time you post a comment, and you don't have to add what you wrote to the list for your next visit to the confessional.


Always remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Even though some people may not be nice to you at first, they will the more they get to know you.

Assume the best about people. Most people don't mean to insult or offend others most of the time. Unless it's overt, assume the slight was accidental. Don't assume that someone is a heretic until you really know that they are!

If you find yourself thinking poorly about someone, don't worry; you're not a terrible person because we all do this from time to time. However, try to catch yourself doing it, and think of something nice about that person instead. It'll help you look at people more positively, and you'll quickly break the habit of seeing the worst in someone.

Don't laugh at other people's mistakes and don't point out their faults too harshly. It's okay to joke, of course, but use your common sense; think about what you're about to say, and consider the fact that just because you may not be offended by a certain comment, others could be.

Be optimistic about everything, even when you don't particularly feel like it. Always look on the bright side!

Never underestimate the power of optimism, but at the same time, you can crack a joke in a funny way to make you more likable or just something unexpected so long as you counteract it with a lot of positive behaviour as well. Funny, I find, is nice.


While being nice, do not be a total pushover. You don't have to compromise your opinions on this blog, but you also should expect to be treated fairly. Don't be afraid to stand up for what is right and do not hesitate to defend someone.

You may have heard that "It's not what you see, it's what's on the inside that counts". This might be true, but on this blog all we see of you is what you write. That's all we have to judge you on. If you are barbarous in your first comments, that is how you'll be known. It will be hard to expect others to treat you fairly since all they know of you is what you write. If you are friendly the first impression, people will know you as nice and sincere.


At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:53:00 am , Anonymous Carlo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:57:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had too much Real Life happening to be here much in recent days, but Good Lord! That combox below was a veritable train wreck! I couldn't rip myself away, ghoul that I am!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:58:00 am , Anonymous Carlo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:00:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit lost here, Carlo. Did Fish the Bish appear in a previous post, because he don't seem to be in this one.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:08:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

PE thanks for the explanation. Louise-got that washing machine yet?
Lucian-like your blog and have bookmarked it.I even deleted a blog from a RC(Reformed Church ) minister to make way,besides Calvinism is ,well Calvinism is too
heavy-even makes Carlo's thoughts look tame!!!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:35:00 pm , Anonymous Carlo said...

Louise, Bishop Fisher told Mr Schutz that a friend of his who was remaining in the Lutheran "church" that he should come and see him because "he [the friend] might die tomorrow". Clearly he was implying that Mr Schutz's friend needed to convert without delay or face eternal damnation. He was right.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:52:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

I have been away for a bit, I am wondering whether Carlo actually thinks this discussion would help anyone who is not Catholic to see the truth of the Faith, or has a tendency rather to give scandal...

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 12:56:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...


"Be humble"

Is this for me? :)

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:07:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Hi Carlo,

regarding one of your comments about Dogma. (another com-box!)

I read about the re-introduction of Plenary Indulgences recently,
(by J-P II) and that Bxvi is promoting their 'use' (if that's an appropriate term?)
Is that something you're happy to see?
Is it a widespread practice amongst Catholics now?
In a way it's a pity that payment
to the CC was banned (1567)
(-they could use the money, if comments made by folk recently are correct!)
I think you have to donate to a charity, or do other Good Works to buy one?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:22:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Dear David,

I've watched with dismay the degeneration of the conversation. I hope you will forgive me for any part I played in arousing the strong passions we have seen in play here. I disagree with your decision to enter full communion with Rome, but I rejoice that you are and remain my brother in Christ through the bonds of Baptism and I am saddened to hear those who would question those bonds. Even though I disagree with you, you've given a good defense for your choice, and I wish you only the best. May Christ bring His people to unity at last and may this endless rending of His Body come to an end!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:57:00 pm , Anonymous Carlo said...

Vicci, I'm very pleased about the Plenary Indulgences and I have secured two of my own. I did not have to pay for them.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:19:00 pm , Anonymous Carlo said...

I remember the days when we used to go along to talks at St Joseph's Port Melbourne on Natural Family Planning with Fr Richards who came from out Richmond way. Father was a funny fellow. He was very informative on mucus. I remember our PP at the time Fr Tuncks O'Carm. made what I thought then was a bit of an off-colour remark about ovulation. He later left the priesthood, which didn't surprise me too much. The Billingses came along sometimes and they had a little diagram and a catchy little jingle based on the pop song of the time called "The Rhythm of Life". I thought that was a bit tasteless and unnecessary too.

I was so disturbed by what I then thought was a form of contraception that I went and took counsel from an elderly retired priest, Fr Knuppel O'Carm. He told me then that whilst Humanae Vitae was a Papal Encyclical, it too (like Pius XII's series of fallible utterances to the Italian midwives) did not have to be believed as infallible teaching.

Since then I have steered clear of NFP and the like. I do not say that it is wrong to use it, but I tell you that you must never tell others that they must use it.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:36:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Carlo, I am sad that you are taking a little while to get the point. I deleted two of your comments because they were rude, but am happy to leave up comments that are helpful. I welcome your participation on this blog, just BE NICE! (or I delete you!)

Pastor Bill, you were in no way to blame.

As for plenary indulgences, Vicci, they were not "re-introduced", but have always been around. JPII ordered the manual on indulgences to be reworked in a new edition in 1999 in preparation for the Jubilee year in 2000 - which caused a bit of a stir because it came out just at the same time as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and many Lutherans could not see how the practice of indulgences squared with the declaration (from the JDDJ) that: "Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works" (JDDJ 15).

I guess the misunderstanding is that Protestants think indulgences are about salvation. They are not. They are about the "final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned". (It is worth noting that there are two types of language used in the tradition regarding purgatory. The older language, which the name suggests, is the language of purification (cf. the Council of Lyons in 1274). The more common one in the middle ages was the language of punishment (cf. Council of Florence 1439), but that is often not used these days as it is too regularly confused with the punishments of the damned.)

There are two types of indulgence: A "plenary" indulgence (in which the complete purification from the temporal effects of sin has been attained) and a "partial" indulgence (which in which complete purification is not attained).

There is a lot more to it than this, but I find the idea of a plenary indulgence very inviting, and yet at the same time am quite aware of how difficult the thing is to obtain in real terms (certainly just buying them won't work!). For it is not just the prayers and the works that must be done, but one must also be in a state of grace, receive holy communion AND be completely unattached to sin.

It is that last one which is a doozy. I am going to Rome in a short while and will visit the tomb of St Paul, an act which, with the rest of the requirements, does receive a plenary indulgence IF I am completely unattached to sin at the time. That's a big IF. If I am still attached to sin (something that is probably quite possible) it will only be worth a "partial" indulgence.

Which should all make perfect sense. After all, if I am completely unattached to sin and in a state of grace when I die, why wouldn't I go straight to heaven? On the other hand, if I die in a state of grace yet still attached to sin, that attachment has to be purified from me before I enter into the Beatific vision (which may well be a momentary process - time is not the issue here - the effect is the issue).

In both cases the "state of grace" is due to the unmerited grace and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ, not my doing. So this isn't about salvation. I have to work on the "attachment to sin" bit. This is where good works, the merits of Christ and his saints comes into it (and a bit of merit on my part too!).

So yes, I am with Carlo on this one. I am actually glad that we have a renewed emphasis on indulgences, because it means a renewed emphasis on the problem of sin in our lives and on the universal call to holiness.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 2:40:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Carlo, your most recent comment was quite friendly (I disagree with bits of it, but there you are) and show you can do it when you want to! :-)

But what has NFP got to do with this discussion? Were you posting to another forum and posted here by mistake?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:02:00 pm , Anonymous Siddha Jacky said...

I've just come across this blog and my first reaction was to post something spiteful about what a load of pointless prattle it was - then I saw David's request that we be nice to each other.

So, in the service of the god of niceness, the best thing I can do is to tell you all to stop fretting over an institution that has long since served its purpose (about 1800 years ago, I'd say - if it ever had one), take a deep breath, gather yourselves up, and go and find something really beautiful to do. There is nothing to see here, folks.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:04:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

O, you are a spoil sport, Jacky. Thanks for dropping by! Glad you could pick up a few points about Internet etiquette while you were here. See? We do serve SOME purpose!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:16:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Hi David,
-thanks for starting to be nice to Carlo.
-thanks also for your reply, on PI

Sorry to clog your blog, but the following disagrees with your interpretation:

"The indulgence is among the less noticed and less disputed traditions to be restored.
(I said reintroduced -sorry) But with a thousand-year history and volumes of church law devoted to its intricacies, it is one of the most complicated to explain.

According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death, in Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.

There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed. You can get one for yourself, or for someone who is dead. You cannot buy one -- the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in 1567 -- but charitable contributions, combined with other acts, can help you earn one. There is a limit of one plenary indulgence per sinner per day. "

(from Vitello; NYT )

I've been to St Peter's tomb!
But seeing that I'm going straight to my room in heaven when I die, I don't need any PI's!
But have a lovely trip.

('totally unattached to sin' Now, there's a topic for a new com-box!)

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:18:00 pm , Anonymous Siddha Jacky said...

A fearfully marginal purpose though I fear, David! There's a blog somewhere about butterflies of the Syrian highlands, and it has a much stronger grasp of spirituality than anything I've seen here. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:30:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...



I remember reading that New York Times article - as far as religion reporting goes, it's not bad, but it's not necessarily accurate.

While it is true that the church did used to talk in terms of days and years, this has not been true since Paul VI rewrote the Handbook on Indulgences in 1968. The reason for the rewrite is that people thought the Church was teaching that an indulgence granted one time off one's punishment in purgatory. It actually referred, historically, to a reduction in the time performing the heavy penances imposed on account of sin the early/medieval church.

Make sense?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:37:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...

On topic: Wasn't there an article in the Australian a couple of weeks ago arguing that "niceness" was responsible for the social breakdown being experienced in Britain, particularly in its classrooms....

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:45:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Dear Vicci,

I am always ready to be nice to people who are nice to me!

By "Vitello NYT" I take it you mean this article?:

There was a saying Fr Richard John Neuhaus (whose present opinion of this article would be priceless considering he now knows much more about the subject from personal experience than Mr Vitello does!) used to have which went: "Is that true, or did you just read it in the New York Times?"

This really is a dreadful piece of info-tainment. Please don't base your understanding of Catholic Church teaching on such journalistic pieces.

For the record:

1) the 2nd Vatican Council didn't say anything about indulgences as far as I am aware, much less discouraged them.

2) they never went away

3) the article fails to make the distinction between temporal and eternal punishments - which, as I said, is confusing for the man in the pew.

Also, could someone correct me on this, but I understand that Vitello is not correct when he says "According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment after death". He seems to be suggesting that they still face punishment "after death" for the sins that they have just confessed. As I understand it, the penance given in the Sacrament is sufficient reparation for the temporal punishments of all sins confessed, as they have added to them the grace of the sacrament. The sinner may still have attachments to those sins from which he needs to be purified, or even unconfessed venial sins for which penance will still need to be done, but that isn't the same as saying that the penitent who has received absolution will still be punished for the sins he has just confessed. Repeat after me, folks: "the final purification of the entirely different from the punishment of the damned".

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:47:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

siddha jacky thanks for saying high and for telling us what are also written on the sides of London Buses.Perhaps the spirituality you refer to on the Syrian butterfly blog is meant to be deeper than what you perceive here. Also liked the nice condescension about the church living past its use by date .

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 3:56:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

The bishop gets it right at the end of the article: "It [indulgences] faded away with a lot of things in the church," said Bishop DiMarzio. "But it was never given up. It was always there. We just want to people to return to the ideas they used to know."

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:10:00 pm , Blogger Vicci said...

Hi David (and frdamian)
yes, that's the link.

I agree with frdamian about the article (generally well-reported),
AND 'niceness' !!
One would be quite 'unnice' to suggest that the article was fabrication.
Ergo, somebody holds the Teaching,
as described.
As for the 'smear' of NYT , one could look no further than this fine Blog to see a range of opinion, interpretation, even violent disagreement on CC Teaching. From posters supposedly on 'the same side'. But popes down thru history have regularly 're-interpreted' (contradicted!), so no poster should feel isolated in their position.

It really supports the argument that scripture >>> tradition.

Sorry, David !

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:21:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...


With regard to this statement:
"According to church teaching, even after sinners are absolved in the confessional and say their Our Fathers or Hail Marys as penance, they still face punishment AFTER DEATH"

The last two words are the problem here. The justice of God demands satisfaction for sin. We attempt to respond to that divine justice by our acts of penance. When we, with a repentant heart, engage in certain practices because of the judgement of God on our sins, the Church in her mercy, as bearer of the Keys, dispenses to us from "the treasury of satisfaction" won by Christ.

It need be remembered that indulgences go hand in hand with the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. The former does not exist without the latter. Those who perform the prayer or good works connected to particular indulgences do so precisely to atone for particular sins and the just punishment those sins deserve.

Further, the penance given in the Sacrament may, in fact, not be sufficient to satisfy the justice of God (3 hail mary's for an act of murder).

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4:47:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...


Do you read the blog "Get Religion"? It constantly highlights the problematic way in which religion is reported by journalists who just don't get religion. If I remember correctly, the New York Times itself acknowledged that problem a few years ago in a report that that highlighted the gap between the worldviews of its journalists and those of most Americans.

As to this statement in the article (Thanks David for the link):
"There are partial indulgences, which reduce purgatorial time by a certain number of days or years, and plenary indulgences, which eliminate all of it, until another sin is committed."
Paul VI explicitly suppressed the counting of indulgences in days and years and replaced it with the ideas of partial and plenary. They are not synonymous. The author gets it wrong here.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:05:00 pm , Anonymous Siddha Jacky said...


It's not nice to accuse others of condescension. It was merely a statement of fact about the lack of spirituality here. What you are discussing here is trifling and shallow in the extreme. "A time of hope for Africa"? Purgatory? Joint Muslim-Catholic pilgrimages to....where exactly? Some posters have a bit of academic learning, but the bulk of their output is no more weighty or significant for all that. The church is little more than one gigantic barrier to enlightenment masquerading as a spiritually-inspired institution, no less so now than it was before Vatican II. It is an empty shell, has been for centuries if not millennia, and you won't fill it with this kind of drivel.

I'm sorry about the hostile tone, I really am, but some things have to be put bluntly. I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:12:00 pm , Anonymous Frank said...

Please comment on how we are to quantify the temporal punishment due to sin. Also the "new" Catechism says that Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead. I want to hear from fr damian his explanation of this, explain "temporal punishment" You said that Indulgences don't exist without Confession. How come I got one for saying the memorare 9 times on 9 consecutive days? And it NEVER mentioned I had to go to Confession to get it. Even though I was a weekly penitent.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:21:00 pm , Anonymous Frank said...

Carlo and Louise clearly the man you rather flippantly refer to as "fish the Bish" by his comments to Mr Schutz clearly believes the EENS".

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:24:00 pm , Anonymous Frank said...

Siddha Jacky I pray that Mr Schutz is taking the Mahometans straigh to Papa Benny as he calls him for Holy Baptism. Is that a littleb too much to expect from dialogue. I recall with relish the great opening of Exsurge Domine Pope Leos Bull on Luther...we need more of this unashamed Catholic teaching!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:26:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not nice to accuse others of condescension. It was merely a statement of fact about the lack of spirituality here.

It's not nice to accuse others, but it is nice (or at least, nice enough) to accuse people of a lack of spirituality? Interesting.

Personally, I don't give a fig about "nice," but scripture oes tell us that love is always patient and kind etc. I'm pretty sure that's the sort of thing David is getting at here.

Spiritual enough for ya, Jacky?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:27:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an empty shell, has been for centuries if not millennia, and you won't fill it with this kind of drivel.

Now *that* is a load of drivel. The facts do not support such a statement.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:27:00 pm , Anonymous Frank said...

Carlo I have just read your reminisceses of Fr Richards, he was a true priest! Can you or others comment on why NFP has been labelled by some as murderous and sodomitical? I for one think that Pope Pius the Twelve was aware of his series of fallible utterances re this and never defined this matter infallibly.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:30:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louise-got that washing machine yet?

It's a sore point, I'm afraid - we did, but the wretched thing has gone all spacko, so we need to get the washing machine man back again!

Oh dear, Matthias, not very spiritual are we? Next we'll be talking about sox!

But then, being a Baptist, you don't like sox, because they might lead to dancing!

Judas in a Spin Cycle! Where the hell is PE?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:40:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carlo and Louise clearly the man you rather flippantly refer to as "fish the Bish" by his comments to Mr Schutz clearly believes the EENS".

Dear Frank, the fault is mine only, Carlo did not employ such flippancy. I do actually hold +Fisher in high esteem and typically do not mess with people's names, it's just that I thought this nickname was rather cute.

I think PE gave us a fuller treatment of the EENS, did he not?

And FWIW, I consider that everyone's entry into the Catholic Church to be an urgent matter, but I'm just not sure that taking a harder line on it than Trent will necessarily affect such an outcome.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:57:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...


Could I beg the courtesy that if you would like to ask me a question that you actually address me. It sounds like you are on a heresy hunt.

I "misspoke" (to use a politican's turn of phrase) in my earlier post. PLENARY indulgences go hand in hand with sacramental confession - one cannot gain the full remission of the punishment due for sin without sacramental reconciliation.

My point regarding "after death" in the article was most definitely not to deny the efficacy of interceding for the souls in purgatory (through indulgences or the Mass or other means) but that we face punishment here and now on account of our sins not simply after we are dead. If we experience punishment / purification after death because of our sins it is because we have not atoned sufficiently during this life.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 6:25:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...

Louise: I don't really like "niceness" either. I'm probably damaged due to a homily about 20 years ago in which the refrain was "nice people turn nasty." The preacher held that "niceness" was often a mask that took great effort to maintain - eventually it would slip or crack and the result would be an eruption of suppressed nastiness. I can't remember agreeing or not at the time - but, the refrain has stuck with me.

The article in the Australian from Mar 21 "Discipline overthrown by the new-found tyranny of niceness" is here:,25197,25217259-26040,00.html

I like the sound of this book: The Tyranny of Niceness

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:29:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Well, I really ought confess that I have got riled up many times when reading others' comments, and then fired off a comment that wasn't worthy of a Christian. I have a short temper (in other words, I have the vice of anger): pray for me, a sinner.

(And hopefully I will in time decrease in vice and grow in virtue.)

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:04:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

Joshua I have been in the same boat.
could have got quite angry and unChristian and acted all Calvinistic ( i am not one, thankfully) at the remarks by Carlo in previous combox, but thankfully PE encapsulated precisely and succinctly what i would have clumsily stated.
Which reminds me of my wife's grandfather who was a very senior fireman here in melbourne.At the annual Fire brigade ball that year(1934/35?) he found the Chief Commissioner of Police-TBlamey (later Field Marshall) quite drunk. several days later when he was approached by Blamey to hush this episode up,Blamey said "Well between officers and gentleman ----" to which grandad replied "Between officers anyway Sir Thomas'.
Just like PE got the point across in this instance without being rude.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:17:00 pm , Anonymous Frank said...

Fr Damian,
Nice to see that cleared up a little. ANd I am not on a heresy hunt, indeed there is afill field among many modern Catholics so it would ahrdly be a sport to bag a few ;-) I was looking for a detailed explanation of temporal punishment and how it is served in this life. We were always taught that if you die with even one venial sin you would go to Purgatory to pay for it there. I recall with great fondness the All Souls Day devotions; 6 Paters, 6 Aves and 6 Glorias sadi in Church, then you had to leave the Church and return and keep on doing it for weach time you did you got a sould out of Purgatory. In our lttle was we thought of that as a kind of race we could have to get as many out as possible. I'll bet that Catholic kids today would turn pink if I asked them what they were doing for the Holy Souls. Looking back on those days, when Sr Honorata and Sr Theresiana taught us our religion I realise that I got what is lacking now; a solid grounding and a sure foundation that has ensured I kept the Catholic faith. Doing those prayers for the Holy Souls wasn't a race as we silly kids thought it was indeed a supreme act of charity. And how beautiful it was as an alktar boy to gather the names of the faithful departed for Fr to pray for at Holy Mass. Many's the time I served Holy Mass for Fr Maher and was on the cruets or better still on the bell, I only got to be dummy once or twice as Fr liked the way I recited my Latin. I recall the joy of going into town to get my first pair of ALtar Slippers and trying on my surplice and soutane......I am sorry for digressing I just truly wish you folks could really know what it was like to hear Holy Mass back then! " Introibo ad altare Dei" it's good morning every body my names jaclk and I'm the president of the assembly today!!!!!! Sorry back on track here....Fr Damian please consider my request for a detailed explanation as I am alittle confused by what the "new" Catechism says. I do admit that I get a little flustered sometimes because I've had too many bad experiences with clergy who are raving modernists and vandals, but you seem serious and I would like your words on this.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 10:42:00 pm , Anonymous Siddha Jacky said...

"Spiritual enough for ya, Jacky?"

No Louise, not even close. But keep trying, the need is urgent.

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:01:00 pm , Blogger frdamian said...


Could I suggest that you begin by reading Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Indulgentiarum Doctrina. What appears in the Catechism is only an incredibly brief summary of a small part of this fine document.

I hadn't even looked at the Catechism until after you mentioned it. Interestingly, there, indulgences are dealt with in connection to the Sacrament of Penance.

On temporal punishment: MY understanding (and I admit to not being perfectly clear on this) is that this phrase is used in two different ways.

Firstly, it refers to a punishment that is not eternal - it is that punishment or purification we experience in purgatory awaiting our entry into glory. The problem or difficulty is that we cannot properly speak of time when we are dealing with the afterlife as it is beyond time.

Secondly, it refers historically to the length of punishment we ought experience here and now on account of our sins. This is, in part, where the days and months come in to play. According to the medieval penitentials, each sin was to be amended for by a certain period of penance. Different indulgences remitted varying lengths of time for these penances. Unfortunately, people understood the days and months to refer to time in purgatory, which I believe was never the intention.

Considering that I offer Mass almost every day for the intentions of one of the Holy Souls (when I'm not offering Mass for a member of the Church on Earth), I do believe that God responds to our fervent intercession on behalf of those who experience the pain of separation from God during their purification.

It is indeed an act of great charity not only to pray for the Holy Souls and to offer Mass on their behalf, but also to intentionally offer up works of charity or penance as an act of intercession for them. I still quite frequently encourage people to offer up their minor hardships for the suffering souls.

Is that clear?

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:08:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

How to Be Nice

Have a Nice(ne) day! :D

1. Smile.


2. Say hello.

Good bye!

3. Be a good listener.

Sorry, son, what did You say? (I didn't hear You).

4. Be courteous. You can also address people by sir or ma'am

Yes ma'am! :D

5. Be positive.


6. Be humble.

Hey! I'm the humblest guy there is!

7. Be sincere.

But I AM.


No, thanks. [See #4 above]. You may keep those for Your cheap aussie waiters, sir.


Shameless touristic self-promotion scheme, son!

At Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:12:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

5. Be positive.

I can't...

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:01:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Fr Damian said: Further, the penance given in the Sacrament may, in fact, not be sufficient to satisfy the justice of God (3 hail mary's for an act of murder).

I know it sounds whacky, but I thought the grace of the sacrament makes the penance imposed sufficient for the task at hand?

Jacky said: "A time of hope for Africa"? Purgatory? Joint Muslim-Catholic pilgrimages to....where exactly?

Istanbul, Konia (place of the tomb of Rumi), Rome and Assisi to be exact. And to me these seem pretty weighty issues. "Hope for Africa" less important than a butterfuly somewhere? One's eternal destiny? The first time Muslims and Catholics have ever made such a pilgrimage EVER together? Go figure...

Frank said: "I pray that Mr Schutz is taking the Mahometans straigh to Papa Benny"

We sure are. But unfortunately Papa Benny doesn't do private audiences any more, so the most we can hope for is an honourable mention at the end of his audience on Wednesday 22nd April. Listen out for it! We are also taking them to the tomb of St Paul, and the they are coming with us to the tomb of St Peter where Bishop Prowse will celebrate mass for us on Sunday 26th of April. Expect many graces!

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:47:00 am , Anonymous Frank said...

Thank you for your comments Fr Damian and yes they were quite clear. It is also clear that the Holy Souls have fallen off the radar of the modern practice of Catholics. I went to a funeral of an old friend a few weeks back and the first thing we were all told was we were here to celebrate her life! Well I expect that from the UCA or the low church of england but to hear it from a Catholic was unbearable. I was there to pray for her soul and to offer up my communion for her. There was not one mention of praying for her in the priests comments, yes there was mention in the prayers of the new funeral service but the whole emphasis was on her life which had just ended....he went on and on about her entry into eternal life...but that was it, and by the way although she was a good woman by the way he spoke you'd think she was a Saint, which was going too far. Anyway there was the now almost obligatory slideshow of old pictures projected on the wall behind the altar and the playing on a cd of John Williamson's true blue as they carried (sorry wheeled) her was all very poorly done and I made a promise then that I'd never go to another funeral at that church...the atmosphere was very casual and the priest was half dressed.....anyway this is the modern church and it seems like the bishops won't do anything about it....

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:06:00 am , Blogger frdamian said...



According to the CCC: "Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused." This is a brief rewording of Trent 6.14. Guilt and Eternal Punishment are remitted, temporal punishment is not wholly remitted by Absolution - thus the need for penance.

The introduction to the sacrament (and its precis in the CCC) both emphasise the need for the confessor to impose appropriate penances which take account of the personal situation of the penitent and the gravity and nature of the sins committed.

Does the grace of the sacrament make the penance sufficient? If one has stolen something from another, restitution is required by divine justice. If the penance imposed does not address this, divine justice is not satisfied.

The introduction to the sacrament (and its precis in the CCC) both emphasise the need for the confessor to impose appropriate penances which take account of the personal situation of the penitent and the gravity and nature of the sins committed.

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:15:00 am , Blogger frdamian said...


I am as guilty of most other preists today of canonising the dearly departed. I struggle with finding words to express our hope that those who have died in Christ will see him and with the belief that those who do not die in a state of grace require purification.

I usually begin by saying that we do three things: we remember the life of the one we have loved and lost; we give thanks to God for the gift of that life; we entrust that life to God praying that God will recognise his son or daughter and call him or her home.

Rome wasn't built in a day: I have enough difficulty telling people that there are no eulogies but that we allow "words of remembrance" - which I permit only prior to the rite itself. People find it difficult to understand that a eulogy praises the person for their deeds whereas a Catholic funeral is about praising God for his goodness (and beseeching that God exercise that goodness upon this child of his).

Because so many churches allow secular songs to be played at funerals, people find it very difficult to understand that we should sing hymns. This is a very sensitive moment in people's lives and clergy need to exercise great pastoral sensitivity. My solution, and one that is deficient, is to allow a secular song as we carry the body from the church. The way I reason it (to try and justify what I don't like) is that the funeral proper is over...

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:18:00 am , Anonymous Frank said...

Fr Damian, many people tell me that they haven't had a penance imposed for years and a lot of parishes like the communal reconciliation and I'm told there's no penances imposed there either. I understand the the traditionalists like SSPX and others who criticise the new rites they have a strong point to make. Just by way of example if I came to you for Confession and I confessed say that I had deliberately missed Mass on A Holy Day of Obligation what penance would you give me? Or if I'd been drunk anfd beaten my wife?

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:20:00 am , Anonymous Carlo said...

"We sure are. But unfortunately Papa Benny doesn't do private audiences any more."

Yes, but does he do private baptisms?

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:40:00 am , Blogger frdamian said...


Not sure why people wouldn't have penances imposed...

I'm not sure what grounds "traditionalists" would have for criticising the new rite in terms of penances. The rite is very clear that penances must be given, that they must be appropriate to the situation of the penitent, and they must be appropriate to the sins confessed - no 3 our fatehrs and ten hail marys to every penitent as was oft the practice in the past.

As to your hypotheticals: the rite simply does not envisage that such hypotheticals can be answered. I would have to know whether these particular sins are part of a long standing habit of sin or whether there is a chance you would repeat them. I need to make inquiry of the penitent so that I can judge the penitents disposition, knowledge concerning the gravity of the sins confessed, intentions regarding these areas of his/her life in the future.

When someone confesses to missing mass on Sunday: I begin by ascertaining the circumstances. Many people confess this even though it was through no fault of their own - people who have been in hospital or camping on an Island. In these cases, I encourage them if they find themselves in such circumstances to make a spiritual communion and to ensure that they still sanctify the Lord's Day through prayer.

If it was "intentional," I give a brief catechesis regarding the importance of keeping the Lord's Day. That God has given us this commandment for our sake, not to burden us but to enable us to know, love, and serve him. I then encourage them to pray for a greater appreciation of Sunday and Sunday worship (usually as part of their penance).

As to wife beating... I'd really have to talk with the penitent about this... how can they make amends, is this an expression of a deep seated problem, do they need to undergo some sort of anger management....

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:13:00 am , Anonymous Frank said...

Thank you Fr for your words but can you please give an example of a penance that you would give. I sometimes feel that the priest are uncomfortable with giving penances these days and often they wont unles you ask for one.....

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:52:00 am , Anonymous Son of Trypho said...

Is it not somewhat distasteful to speculate on sins and appropriate penances?

One would expect their brothers/sisters in faith to exhort each other to avoidance of sin rather than speculation on its intricacies...

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 11:32:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prayers for those who struggle with anger.

Please pray for those of us who struggle with gluttony and sloth.

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 11:44:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is also clear that the Holy Souls have fallen off the radar of the modern practice of Catholics.

This is, I fear, sadly true, Fr Damian. But bit by bit, God can reintroduce this practise. Only this year, I have taken to praying for those people I know who are in the first year since their death. (Does that make sense??!) Anyway, this practice has been mde easier by the fact that we now have a family altar on which sit their funeral booklets or cards of remembrance and so I have a visual reminder.

No Louise, not even close. But keep trying, the need is urgent.

Just for the gods like you, we lesser mortals shall do our best to keep up with your staggering spirituality. ;)

Although, of course, even Satan is spiritual.

At Thursday, March 26, 2009 11:55:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to a funeral of an old friend a few weeks back and the first thing we were all told was we were here to celebrate her life! Well I expect that from the UCA or the low church of england but to hear it from a Catholic was unbearable.

God help us! Apart from anything else, does not this whole "celebrating their life" schtick make light and even invalidate grief? For Heaven's sake! What drivel. I even read on the FB page of a UCA minister friend of mine recently the inane comment by someone else that she hoped the funeral of such and such a person was a great celebration for the family of her life. I mean, what if they were celebrating because she is now dead? Does not this whole "celebrating" bizzo get out of hand and just look plain tacky? The only celebrating I wish my loved ones to do, is to drink copious amounts of beer after Mass. (And before, if they like!)

I have in my instructions for when I cark it, that no-one will attempt to give a eulogy. In any case, what could they possibly say?!

No, eulogies really have no place in the Mass, but you have my empathy, Father, at such a time of deep grief, it must be next to impossible to convince people of the necessity of the Mass being all that it should be. I guess you have to try to convince them that all their other ideas would be best carried out at the morning/afternoon tea.

Frank, I have not had any trouble receiving penances from priests, thankfully. Although I have been known to confess a mortal sin, only to be told it is not a sin at all! At least they have still absolved me.


At Sunday, March 29, 2009 3:04:00 pm , Anonymous Siddha Jacky said...

Louise, I'm staggered that you're staggered by my spirituality. If only you knew me, you'd know that I am ever so humble. And please don't think of yourself as a lesser mortal. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here; and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Also, I am shattered to hear that you committed a mortal sin. Say it isn't so.


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