Saturday, April 27, 2013

More on Carla Hale vs the Diocese of Columbus.

Anthony Layne has a good post on the Carla Hale termination, titled Picking on Gay People.

It's a very fair post.  He sums it up this way:
The point I’m getting to, though, is that if it seems gay people get fired for such morals provision violations more than any other kind of sexual sinner, it’s because some gay people make it almost too easy for the Church to out them; a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy doesn’t help you if you’re all too willing to blab.

If you’re going to be a hypocrite, take a lesson from soldiers: To blend in with the background, you wear camouflage, not fluorescent colors. If your job depends on keeping a secret, don’t reveal it publicly and expect it to not get back.

Better yet — don’t be a hypocrite. Live by the contract you sign, morals provision and all, or get a job where you don’t have to sign such a contract.
Don't be a hypocrite - good advice.  I'll repeat mine:
  • To Catholics who identify as ssa or gay - and those who do not - be faithful to Church teaching, live chastely. Pray very much. Don't look for approval.

  • Be faithful and do good works, remaining hidden - not out of fear, but out of love for God.

  • However, if you insist on identifying as gay and wish to go public about it, and in some cases - if you happen to be ssa and/or share a house with someone of the same sex, do not seek employment from the Church, avoid involvement in Church groups, councils, committees, and so on - that is, if you want to avoid being kicked off or fired. 

  •  An inconvenient truth.

    I support the Diocese of Columbus.  There was a contract and there is Church teaching.  Though she is not Catholic, Ms. Hale was a teacher at a Catholic school and agreed to abide by that.  It's unfortunate it came to this.
    The Catholic Diocese of Columbus released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
    Personnel matters remain confidential by policy of the Diocese of Columbus and thus cannot be discussed in specific terms by diocesan staff, even cases that are working their way through grievance procedures and/or have gained significant publicity. However, what can be said in general terms is that all Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ. The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church.
     “Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church.” - CNA

    I get discouraged...

    When Obama talks about gun control he always says something like - "If it will protect one child..."  Supposedly that's reason enough to pass laws.

    Yet he goes to Planned Parenthood and is received like a rock star - to the point he blushes and gushes.  Amidst hugs and praise, he promises that PP will endure and that the nation will never go back to the 1950's.

    Obama has never yet condemned the atrocities committed by Gosnell, and the other abortion butchers... who kill babies for profit.
     President Barack Obama praised the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for saving lives and helping women and families in a 12-minute, 3-second speech on Friday, which was enough time for 7.6 abortions to take place at Planned Parenthood clinics, based upon the abortion data in their latest annual report. - CNS
    Child protection is in the toilet - literally.

    What a nation of hypocrites.

    And then there is Cardinal Dolan.

    Art: Pieter Bruegel ‘Massacre of the Innocents’.


    I like this...

    The Pope's daily Mass.

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Another follow-up.

    You don't have to believe me.  I'm not reinventing anything.  I'm not trying to propose a new way of life - I'm just trying to demonstrate there is a way out of a sinful life.

    How can a young man remain sinless? - redux.
    The Psalmist asks, and so do parents...And many times, young men, as well as older men - with 'arrested development'. (Sound the dramatic music!) Seriously - it is a perennial question, and one perhaps asked with a greater sense of urgency when kids are encouraged to be gay just because they feel 'attracted' or curious about same sex BFF's and sexual curiosity and teenage infatuation - for a schoolmate, team mate, coach, teacher - whomever an emotionally immature kid happens to have feelings for. Guided as they are today by television, film, pop music, fashion, trend and inappropriate sex-ed programs in school, it is almost as if young people do not have a chance to 'remain sinless'. Socially and culturally conditioned and coerced to make sexual preference choices at an early age - a lot of kids are sure to get it wrong. 
    What's a parent to do?One mother found a good priest and asked him to speak to her son - who in turn was willing to cooperate. Sadly, the mother on her own tried to intervene with her son, but the young man was convinced being gay was alright these days, arguing, “It’s legal now, and everyone has the right to fall in love. Anyway, they have a special Mass for gays in Westminster and Jesus said not to judge”.
    Thus we see the scandal caused by Catholic entities who encourage youth to accept their sexual inclination and or temptations as fixed and immutable sexual orientation - when even the 'out and about gay activists', in and out of the Church, promote and celebrate the 'queer' concept of genderless sexual-fluidity; something which strikes me as a rather fortuitous, although unintended, defense of choice and free will if there ever was one... it surely implies choice, don't you agree? (Yes, I do.)
    [Read more here.]

    On living together - chastely and celibately.Father D is correct about living together - it can be done, but it is not ideal - especially for the young and emotionally/sexually immature. I commented on the post going further, suggesting this thought:
    I think living together in chaste friendship works best with ssa persons who may have been in relationship but find themselves called to conversion, or find themselves able to accept Church teaching on sexuality and wish to re-order their lives accordingly - in this they can become a support to one another. For this to happen however, there needs to be some sort of emotional, sexual maturity, as well as conviction regarding Catholic teaching and the recognition/understanding that ssa is objectively disordered.

    Unfortunately, this maturity is often lacking in a young man educated in the liberal - permissive, pro-choice environment of today's Catholic and secularized education system. Indeed it would require heroic virtue and great maturity to live like that. - My thoughts.

    There is still more to read here - if you are interested.  I think I'm done with the issue, which is why comments are closed on these posts.

    Art:  St. Jerome supporting two men on the gallows - Perugino

    "Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. - 1 Thessalonians

    Some follow up thoughts...

    "I go to prepare a place for you...

    "You know the way that leads to where I go...

    "Follow me...

    "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places..."

    All of those things Christ said to his disciple before the Ascension.  Christ, who came down from heaven and met these men in the ordinary circumstances of their lives.  He, who lived amongst them, shared their life, speaks to them, assuring them that in his Father's house there are many dwelling places.  There is room for them because he goes ahead of them to prepare a place for them, for us.

    He meets us, loves us where we are at, just as we are.  He can change our hearts - right where we are... as is. 

    I love how the Holy Father said the new Pope, and perhaps by extension, ourselves, must go out to the 'existential peripheries', to evangelize the fringe.  What that means for individuals may vary, but it makes me think of several off-beat saints - canonized and uncanonized.

    So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore... - Hebrews 13

    I often think of St. Therese who once wished she could live amongst prostitutes in a brothel so that she could show them the merciful love of God. Likewise I consider St. Simon Salus, who left the desert to live amongst the outcasts, criminals, and whores, to demonstrate the love of God, to be a sort of presence of merciful love amidst the unlovable. How could they do that if they spent all of their time condemning the sin and sneering and scoffing at the sinner?

    As I mentioned, St. Simon Salus left the desert to live amongst prostitutes and outcasts in Syria.  Stories such as his from the desert fathers captured the heart of Little Therese, discovering in the simplicity of their lives, the compliment to the doctrine of her 'little way'. One story I love is something she once confided to one of her novices, Marie of the Trinity:
    "To help me accept a humiliation, she once confided to me: 'If I had not been accepted in Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge (for fallen women) and lived out my days there, unknown and despised among the poor penitents. I would have been happy to be taken as one of them, and would have become an apostle among them, telling them what I thought of God's mercy.'" - Therese By Those Who Knew Her
    Like a tabernacle or a chapel in a bad neighborhood.

    The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and the Missionaries of Charity are much like that - they become the presence of Christ in a bad neighborhood.  Dorothy Day was like that.  Madeleine Delbrêl was too.

    Christ can do all things if we ask with faith.  "O Lord, I want to return to the Church and the sacraments but I don't know how."  The Lord finds a way.  When I write about two men or two women living together, agreeing to renounce sinful relations and determining to sanctify their lives and return to the Church and the sacraments, I'm saying that Christ can accomplish for them even more than they ask or desire.  The Church does not lay burdens too heavy to carry on those who wish to be reconciled.  The Church calls homosexuals to freedom, to chastity, to holiness.  The Church does not dictate with whom and where a person must live. 

    There are no obstacles to God's grace that cannot be remedied.

    It is not good for man to live alone.  Some people can and do live together after quitting a sinful life, mutually agreeing to observe continence, chastity and celibacy, living as friends and brothers, they help one another to be faithful and holy.  One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control - God is generous and pours out his Spirit to those who ask.  "Where two or three are gathered in my name..." There can be a community of two or three or fifty, as in a large monastery.  God's grace is limitless. 

    Mark asked Arsenius, 'It is right, isn't it, to have nothing unnecessary in one's cell? I saw a brother who had a few cabbages, and he was rooting them out.' Arsenius said, 'It is right, but each should do what is right for his own way of life. If he is not strong enough to endure without the cabbages, he will plant them again.'
    Have faith:  Ask, seek, knock.  It will be opened for you.

    Art: Japanese artist Tetsuya Ishida.  His art conveys isolation, anxiety, identity crisis, scepticism, claustrophia and solitude - the Christian life cannot consist in this.  Rather, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galations 5   "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." - 1 Corinthians 12 

    Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel

    When in doubt, flee to the Madonna of Good Counsel for guidance and light.

    Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.
    Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.
    Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.
    (By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953)

    The miraculous nature of the sacred image.
    The image as it is known in the West is traced to the year 1467 to Genazzano, Italy, a small town ca. thirty miles southeast of Rome. It is presently located in a side chapel, built between 1621 and 1629, in the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, whence the image derives its name. Measuring approximately 15-1/2 inches by 17-1/2 inches, the painting is a fresco executed on a thin layer of plaster or porcelain not much thicker than paper. One writer describes it as a fresco painted on a material resembling egg shell. It appears suspended in mid-air in its frame, with approximately an inch of space between it and the wall behind it. The only support is on the lower edge where it "rests on a small base on one of its sides, i.e. from the center to the extreme right." (Joao S. Cla Dias, p. 42)
    The image received its papal coronation on November 17, 1682. A canon of Saint Peter's chapter was sent to represent Pope Innocent XI. A report was written five days later describing the image as touching the wall only at the upper edge and not supported by other means. It is from this date on that the existence of the painting as such was considered miraculous, not only because of its arrival at Genazzano, but because it is for the most part suspended in the air. Eyewitnesses also testify to extraordinary phenomena regarding changing features of the image. Since that time, there have been many privileges granted to the shrine, papal visits and honors.

    Our Lady of Good Counsel became a symbol and special patroness of lay involvement and responsibility during the Counter-Reformation. The Jesuits have been instrumental in spreading devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel since the 1700's. 
    O Mother of Good Counsel, inflame the hearts of all who are devoted to you, so that all of them have shelter in you, O great Mother of God. O most worthy Lady, let everyone choose you as teacher and wise counselor of their souls, since you are, as Saint Augustine says, the counsel of the Apostles and counsel of all peoples. Amen.

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    What is it about Lesbians and their mother's funerals that cause so much trouble for Catholics?

    Carla Hale, P.E. teacher Watterson High School

    The Children's Hour.

    It's not a funny story at all, but...

    This is the second incident concerning a Lesbian and her mom's funeral to make headlines in the Catholic Blogosphere in a year or so.  The first involved a priest refusing a Lesbian Holy Communion at her mom's funeral.  This time around, a Lesbian included her partner's name with her own in her mom's obituary. 

    Carla Hale was fired for a spousal relationship - not her sexual orientation.

    Ms. Hale's mom died, she included her partner's name in the obit - at her brother's urging - obviously the family accepted her 'relationship'.  Someone at the Catholic school where she taught and coached for 20 years read the obit and informed the chancery and Carla was fired when she returned from funeral leave, because her relationship is immoral.  What the Church teaches and requires of those who work for the Church, is to lead moral lives in conformity to Church teaching - even if you happen to be Methodist, as is Ms. Hale.  Now it appears lawsuits are pending. 
    The Catholic Diocese of Columbus released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

    Personnel matters remain confidential by policy of the Diocese of Columbus and thus cannot be discussed in specific terms by diocesan staff, even cases that are working their way through grievance procedures and/or have gained significant publicity. However, what can be said in general terms is that all Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ. The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church. Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church. - Source
    Sad - for some - but true.

    I can imagine Ms. Hale feels deeply hurt, betrayed and angry.  I had trouble when I first heard the story myself.  She's worked at the school 20 years - I'm sure students and teacher alike 'knew' or suspected she had a 'private' life.  Ms. Hale certainly would have known Church teaching - perhaps she even brought up the subject of job security in the past?  Or at least had a concern about it once or twice.  Maybe she was even told her situation was just fine?  Maybe she and her 'partner' lived together chastely, as close friends, companions, in a platonic relationship?  Who knows?

    A Private Catholic School.

    Nevertheless, the Archdiocese is in the right.  Her private life became public and turned into a source of scandal.  Her lifestyle now public, contradicts Church teaching.  She works in a Catholic school, which exists to form children in accord with Catholic teaching.  It is an unfortunate situation.

    People who work for the Church need to abide by Church teaching and avoid giving scandal to 'little ones'.  It is a private, Catholic school, and there are rules.

    However, I seriously doubt Ms. Hale had an agenda, since no one seemed to complain before this.  I suspect she was simply doing her job. 

    So is the Archdiocese.

    Once again I'll repeat my advice to ssa/gay people
  • To Catholics who identify as ssa or gay. Be faithful to Church teaching, live chastely. Pray very much. Don't look for approval.  

  • Be faithful and do good works, remaining hidden - not out of fear, but out of love for God. 

  • If you insist on identifying as gay or are ssa and/or share a house with some one, do not seek employment from the Church, avoid involvement in Church groups, councils, committees, and so on - that is if you want to avoid being kicked off or fired.  If you think you have a vocation - think again.

  •  A similar case involving a religion teacher, Nicholas Coppola, is back in the news again as well.  That story here.

    Mrs. Tsarnaev complains: “America took my kids away from me” and wished she had never left Russia.

    “Why did I even go there?” Zubeidat Tsarnaeva said, crying, after CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata asked if she regretted the move. - Source

    Yeah.  Why?


    Why do the former Presidents all build memorial libraries to themselves?

    I really don't get it.

    I miss him though.

    Remains of the Winter...

    A Very Special Nature Report.

    It is a curious sight... a strange phenomenon not often seen.  I was able to capture this scant formation of snow upon my boulevard ... a left-over from the great glacial movement of recent snows which lifted this once giant boulder of ice and snow onto the ruined grasses of the plain.  The strange configuration withstood global-warming induced temperatures in the high 40's and low 50's yesterday.  Slowly melting as the temperature soars to nearly 38 degrees this morning... heralding a new springtime of yard work?  Or something more sinister?  Wild weather, severe storms, tornadoes... the effects of climate change threaten us all.

    How very ironic - the Church stands, the snow melts...
    what does it portend?  Is the snow 'poodle-shaped'?


    Saint Mark, the first Pope of Alexandria and the founder of Christianity in Africa.

    St. Mark was the first Bishop/Patriarch to be called Pope.  I never knew that. 

    I'm not sure what color shoes he wore though. 

    As evangelist, his symbol is the winged lion, so he's sort of a patron saint of cats.  And Venice too - because the Venetians stole his relics from Alexandria and made up a story about it. - Breviary of What

    I was in Venice once.  Only for a couple of days though. 

    Art: From the Book of Hours of the Countess De Gooch

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    How easy it can be to become a martyr ...

    This past week, Father Nicolò Rusca (1563-1618) was beatified.
    Father Nicolò Rusca (1563-1618), a priest who was tortured and killed at the instigation of Calvinists, was beatified on April 21 in Sondrio, the northern Italian city of 20,000 where he served for decades as a parish priest. 
    Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the beatification Mass.  
    Father Pietro Riva, the postulator of the beatification cause, explained that Blessed Rusca’s exhortation to Catholic youth not to attend a Calvinist school led to his martyrdom. - CWN
    Imagine, all Blessed Pietro Riva did was to exhort Catholic youth not to attend a Calvinist school.

    Many martyrs have been killed simply for their support of Papal authority, others for their faith in the Real Presence, others for upholding Church teaching on marriage, still others for resisting sexual sin... such simple, ordinary things. 

    Fr. Regis Scanlon on Pope Francis.

    As a "Jonah for our times"...

    Today is the feast of St. Fidelis, a Capuchin saint of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith - a dicastery which was sort of the "New Evangelization" of the 17th century, better known now as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  So it seems appropriate to write about another Capuchin, Fr. Regis Scanlon.  I won't be writing about him personally, but I want to call attention to his thoughts on homosexuality, specifically his most recent article on the subject in Crisis Magazine. I've referred to his writings on these issues in the past, and tend to agree with him on many points - which, needless to say, also accord with Church teaching.

    Father's most recent essay captivated me in the manner by which he discusses the much argued Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, especially the narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Contemporary 'gay Catholics' pretty much reject the notion the cities were destroyed because of homosexual sin, despite the fact the Church, as recently as 1986, affirmed it's traditional teaching on the matter in the CDF Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person:
    Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion. - Holy See

    Fr. Scanlon affirms the tone of the Biblical narrative which "includes the kind of “judgmental” language that is so offensive to modern sensibilities".  He goes on to say:
    The details are obscured in the terse language of Scripture but the meaning has always been clear. When male strangers arrive in the dissolute city of Sodom, the Sodomites demanded that they be turned over to them for sexual pleasure. Lot, the just man, objects: “Do not commit this evil,” he implores.

    A common sense reading of the passages, not to mention centuries of biblical exegesis—have been clear—the evil spoken of by Lot is homosexuality.

    The rest of the story is familiar, even to us “moderns.” In brief, the ancient Sodomites and people from Gomorrah refused to turn away from their evil intentions. God, through angel messengers, warns Lot that, because of their persistent evil, devastation will befall the entire region. The angels tell Lot and his family to flee. Everyone else is destroyed. - Crisis

    Fr. Scanlon goes on to say:  "It’s a grim scene. But it’s so central that, at least a thousand years after the event—and two millennia before our time—two epistle writers, including the first pope, refer to it." 

    Then Father points to "our times" based upon the Sodom and Gomorrah perspective, more or less.  The implication being that 'depravity' arises from time to time down through history, even foretold by the first pope: "And the apostle Peter included a future warning about Sodom and Gomorrah, saying that God “condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah [to destruction], reducing them to ashes, making them an example for the godless [people] of what is coming” (2Pt.2:6)." 

    What is most intriguing to me is Fr. Scanlon's insight into our times, contrasted against the warnings of the past:
    Now we come to our own times. Once again, an aggressive homosexual movement is sweeping the world. We know that the United States is beset with legal pressures to accept homosexual marriage and the requirement that gay couples be accepted as adoptive parents. The threat is so real, that as of 2013 traditional Catholic adoption agencies across the country are preparing to shut down rather than be legally forced to place children in homes without a married mother and father.

    But the aggression of the homosexual movement goes much further. In fact, so many nations have accepted, or are considering, expanding gay rights to include marriage (including France, once a cornerstone of western Christianity) that the countries have become too numerous to mention. Clearly, we are now surpassing the homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah.
    Today, the Christian concern and alarm over homosexual sins is not some arbitrary singling out of a “lifestyle”—it’s the modern day aggressive homosexual movement which is calling attention to itself, by making demands on civilization that clearly reject everything that tradition, human reason, and God‘s laws have set in place. Homosexuality’s merciless demands that society publicly admire their sin, turn over the institution of marriage, and even bestow the right to raise children—is the modern equivalent of Sodom’s men trying to break down the door of Lot’s house to satisfy their own lustful pleasure.
    Christians did not ask for this fight, but the times are clear. We must accept the unavoidable reality that, once again, gay rights are in full aggressive mode, as much, if not more so, than in Sodom and Gomorrah. St. Peter warns of “what is coming” and the context clearly indicates that another “reduction to ashes” is in store for depraved humanity. Clearly, we need another Jonah. - Crisis
    "This spring, an event occurred which should give us reason to hope."

    Fr. Scanlon views Pope Francis as a sort of Jonah figure:
    The event was the thoroughly unexpected arrival of Pope Francis—an event which our faith tells us was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Significantly, this pope has a track record of defending holy matrimony against the modern homosexual movement.
    Many who want to follow God’s laws are asking, in near despair, what is to become of our country? What is to become of our world?

    But now, take note that the relatively obscure prelate who fiercely stood up against the government in Argentina over the matter of homosexual marriage when others were silent is now our present Pope.

    Could it be that God has provided us with a Jonah for our times? - Pope Francis, A Jonah For Our Times?
    It's an interesting suggestion.  I don't know if the Pope is exactly a Jonah for our times, but I'm convinced he is certainly the Pastor, Shepherd appointed by God to lead the Church through these troubled times of persecution. 
     “Just as human history began with the creation of man and woman in the image of God - so it will end with Christ’s return and the final judgment.” - Pope Francis, Wednesday Homily 

    Our Lady of Syria, pray for us.

    Prayers for the Christians now suffering persecution in Syria.
    Intercede for Syria, O Our Lady, in this grave hour when from all around blow furious winds, bringing cries of death against Your Son and against civilization founded on His teachings, deceiving minds, perverting hearts and lighting the fires of hatred and revolution in the world. Help of Christians, pray for us!

    Intercede for Syria, Our Lady, in this troubled hour when the unclean waves of an open immorality, which has even lost the notion of sin, exalt the rehabilitation of the flesh in the face of the very Cross of Your Son, threatening to choke in this world the lily of virtue nourished by the Eucharistic blood of Jesus. Virgin most powerful, pray for us!...

    Intercede for Syria, Our Lady, in this hour of passions and doubts when even the good run the risk of being lost…Unite all the Syrian peoples around Your Son in the love of the Church and the cultivation of virtue, in respect for order and fraternal charity. Queen of Peace, pray for us! - Excerpt from the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Syrian Bishops 2012

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Reports that the two Syrian hierarchs have been freed appear to be false.

    There have appeared many reports in both the Eastern and Western press that the two hierarchs who were abducted yesterday by terrorists in Syria, Metropolitan Boulos Yazge, Antiochian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, and Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, Syriac Archbishop of Aleppo, have been released. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip spoke by phone this morning to His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, who said that these reports are false, and that the release of these two hierarchs has NOT taken place. - Source

    From John Allen:
    This afternoon, the Vatican spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, released a statement on the kidnappings to Vatican Radio.

    "The kidnapping of the two metropolitans of Aleppo ... and the murder of their driver, while they were undertaking a humanitarian mission, is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian people and its Christian community are living," Lombardi said. - NCR

    Prayers for the consolation of the Holy Spirit and safe release.

    She no do Earth Day.

    Ain't she nothin'.


    She no like hippies either.

    Although she claimed to have had a Mohawk...

    Who luvs ya more than I do, huh?

    Organ recital announcements!

    I think I wet myself.

    All over the blogosphere!

    I'm so excited. 

    France falls...

    PARIS (AP) — France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate and protests that flooded the streets of Paris. Legions of officers and water cannon stood ready near France's National Assembly ahead of the final vote, bracing for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country's faltering conservative movement.

    The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225, just minutes after the president of the legislative body expelled a disruptive protester in pink, the color adopted by French opponents of gay marriage. - Full story.

    That's too bad.

    The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken. - Pope Francis

    Pope Francis referred to Pope Paul VI as 'the great'!

    He said 'great'...

    Not in the context of a title mind you, but in the same way I did many years ago when the good professor, Fr. __, mentor to another famous priest, corrected me and said, "Well I wouldn't call him great..."
    [I]t is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful. - Homily for Feast of St. George
    The pope is the pope, is the pope, is the pope...

    Hierarchal and Catholic...
    Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it. -ibid

     Art: Rubens, S. Ignatius.  The Holy Father mentions him.  I wanted to show this photo because this is my favorite style of vestment in the entire history of the Church. 

    I Thirst

    "Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit:
    'No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.  Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all of your longing to be loved.  I stand at the door of your heart and knock... open to me, for I thirst for you.'"

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Bergoglio 40 Years ago today...

    Just found out:

    40 years ago, on 22 April 1973,  Pope Francis took his perpetual in the Society of Jesus! 

    I saw it on Fr. Martin's Facebook page.


    Pope Francis spoke about something I have pondered quite often...

    'And you who gave your life for me,
    please, open, that I may enter.'

    'You seek for each other's approval...'

    I think of this so often: "How can you believe when you seek approval from one another?"  The Holy Father gently zeroes in on what that means in the context of today's Gospel.

    'He is simple, the Lord. His words are not complex: He is simple.'
    In Monday’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, is not a shepherd, but a thief and a robber. In short, said Pope Francis, someone who seeks to profit for themselves, who only wants to climb the social ladder. The only gate to the Kingdom of God, to the Church - the Pope said - is Jesus Himself:
    "These social climbers exist even in the Christian communities, no? those people who are looking for their own... and consciously or unconsciously pretend to enter but are thieves and robbers. Why? Why steal the glory from Jesus? They want glory for themselves and this is what [Jesus] said to the Pharisees: You seek for each other's approval...'. That’s something of a ‘commercial’ religion, don’t you think? I give glory to you and you give glory to me."  
    "Some of you may say: 'Father, you're a fundamentalist!'. No, simply put, this is what Jesus said : 'I am the gate', 'I am the path’ [He] gives life to us. Simple. It is a beautiful gate, a gate of love, it is a gate that does not deceive, it is not false. It always tells the truth. But with tenderness and love. However, we still have […] the source of original sin within us, is not it so? We still desire to possess the key to interpreting everything, the key and the power to find our own path, whatever it is, to find our own gate, whatever it is. "

    "Sometimes - the Pope said - we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord":

    "And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God. We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus. We can only enter by that gate which leads to a path and that path is called Jesus and brings to a life whose name is Jesus. All those who do something else - says the Lord – who try to enter through the window, are 'thieves and robbers'. He is simple, the Lord. His words are not complex: He is simple”. - Finish reading here.
    "Whoever praises you deceives you."  I ponder that one a lot too.

    Just a note - I may be mistaken, but the Holy Father's daily reflections do not strike me as 'off-the-cuff' comments but rather the fruit of his prayer, his Lectio Divina.

    Mass Chat: Earth Day ...

    Earth Day was 'observed' at the weekend Masses at my parish.

    I didn't make fun of it this year.  After the ordinary prayers of the faithful, a series of Earth Day prayers were recited alternately, by one side of the church and the other.  I participated.  It didn't kill me or my spirit of prayer.  No climate change/global warming propaganda was mentioned.

    My parish has a school and Earth Day is something the students celebrate and know about.*  They have projects they do.  When I was in elementary school we had fire prevention classes and we got badges - we learned how to make our homes safer from fire.  It's kind of the same thing. 

    I sensed a certain freedom of spirit at Mass this weekend.  I attribute it to Pope Francis.  I allowed myself to be fed, as it were.  To be taught.  To accept the liturgy just as it is.  The hymns, the singing - I don't sing usually, so it didn't matter.  The Pastor's homily even seemed more enthusiastic - he mentioned things Pope Francis said - he also referred to the writings of Pope Benedict with equal inspiration - he wasn't simply reading a text.

    This morning I received a newsletter from a community of diocesan religious whom I once regarded with suspicion.  (They had a few problem brothers at one time who have since left the community.)  I was pleased to read of their apostolic work with some of the most needy and marginalized amongst us.  I saw their work with new eyes, as it were.  I saw how closely their apostolate resembles that of Bergoglio's.  I also think they have more vocations now than ever.

    Maybe because I'm praying more to the Holy Spirit than just my ordinary daily prayer, that could explain why everything seems new to me - or refreshed.  I don't know.  Something is happening - I sense a renewal... sort of a new springtime.

    Oddly enough, another winter storm is on the way - more snow - 4"-7" is forecast for Minneapolis...  I know it will melt though.  I know the sun is shining beyond the clouds.

    *FYI:  The parish also has a vibrant pro-life apostolate, pro-family apostolate, as well as a committed social justice committee; outreach to the homeless, as well as deep involvement in Haiti, mission trips, supporting a school, home for women, and so on. 

    The kindness of Pope Francis seems to have shown up the meanness in Catholics.

    'From whatever side...'

    Like I said a couple of weeks ago, it's not just the rad-trad factions either. 

    Haven't you noticed?
    The ideologues falsify the gospel. Every ideological interpretation, wherever it comes from – from [whatever side] – is a falsification of the Gospel. - Pope Francis
    Love is kind.

     I think it is all good, however.  Since by seeing our failings and defects more clearly, we are urged on to do better by the Holy Father's example.

    Sunday, April 21, 2013


    Denver smokes.

    That's too bad.

    Oh, three people were shot there too.  Story here.

    "... and go to confession." - Rose Castorini

    Scene from Moonstruck - Rose and Loretta Castorini after Confession.

    If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

    I loved that line in "Moonstruck".  Rose tells her husband ' and go to confession' - if memory serves me, she told Loretta that too.  Then there was the scene of both of them in the church for confession. 

    Fr. Z often recommends confession too - as a way to be ready for death in these uncertain times.  Think Boston, Sandy Hook, storms and earthquakes and meteors falling unexpectedly.  We not only need to be in the state of grace, we want to be in the state of grace. So go to confession is good advice.

    No mortal sin - that you are aware of?  You have to be aware of it right.  Full knowledge, grave matter, deliberate choice - criteria like that, right?  Right.  You go to confession because you need to and because you want to be clean - restored to grace.  Venial sins can be confessed - but you know you don't really need to go to confession for those.  Technically...  I wouldn't dance around rationalizing too much.  When in doubt - just go to Confession.

    "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

    It seems to me it's a good idea to confess venial sins as well - frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance is a source of spiritual growth and conversion.  What do we get out of it?  Isn't that enough?  We're already clean by an act of contrition, even through the reception of Holy Communion - venial sins are remitted.
    The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation. - Source

    So why go to Confession?  What if we go to Communion and come home and blog and call people we never met and don't know subhuman?  Bad Catholics?  Losers?  Idiots? Assholes?  Do we ever consider we may be lacking something when we do that stuff?  I think it just may indicate a lack of charity - call me a liberal, loser, idiot, or an asshole - but that's the impression I get.  I  eventually know when I lack charity - when I'm unkind, impatient, jealous, self-righteous, angry, offended... and I begin to experience rancor in my heart. 

    The Sacrament of Penance restores grace to the soul, restores charity to the soul when we repent and confess mortal sin.  Likewise, it increases charity in the soul even though we may not be in the state of mortal sin.  I'm only aware of my sins - not yours - so I'm not judging any other souls here - just commenting on what appears to be a lack of charity in the blogosphere - my own blog included.  Confession can help with that. 

    What we write and how we say things creates an impression on one another.  Do you know some people even stay away from Sunday Mass because they are disillusioned by Catholics behaving badly online?  If they stay away from Mass, surely they stay away from Confession.  This demonstrates to me at least, how much we need the Sacrament of Penance - just to be faithful to the ordinary duties of our state in life. 

    "Love never fails."

    To be sure, the Eucharist restores and increases charity to souls who devoutly communicate... That is, if  we communicate, and if  we are so disposed.  However, if we have something against our brother, maybe we should leave our gift at the altar and go to Confession first - then go to Communion.   Maybe don't just go to confession so we can feel squeaky clean and all self-righteous again - go to be restored, to be healed; for an increase of charity, for pardon and peace in our soul.  Pardon and peace begets pardon and peace.

    Go to confession to grow in holiness.


    By the very fact that it imparts or increases grace, the sacrament of Penance offers the gift of peace.


    In the sacrament of Penance the faithful legitimately seek to begin that interior process which the progressive conformity of their own psychological state with that higher peace which consists in compliance with God's will.


    One of the effects of the sacrament of Penance that the faithful can rightly expect and desire is to mitigate the impulses of passion, to correct intellectual or emotional defects..., to refine all our free action, as a result of restored and growing supernatural charity.  - Bl. John Paul II


    I said it out loud.

    Good Shepherd Sunday

    I shook my head as if to get rid of the thought, and exclaimed, "Oh my God!' 

    Out loud, during the presentation of the gifts at Mass.  Fortunately there was singing, and I sit alone off to the side, towards the back - so I don't think anyone noticed or heard it.  I can't recall ever doing anything like that before.

    I was praying for the victims ... in Boston ... as well as the Gosnell victims.  A baby. Swimming. In a toilet.  It seemed I could visualize what happened next.  I jerked my head toward my left, looking down at the floor, and spontaneously exclaimed, almost groaning, through clenched teeth, "Oh my God!"

    Immediately I looked up and noticed the Twelfth Station of the Cross above me.  Then I looked to see if anyone heard me.  I'm quite sure no one noticed.

    "Don't let anybody hurt anybody."