Saturday, June 15, 2013

Doctor, doctor, give me the news...

Oh please let this happen across the country!

A Kansas physician says he makes the same income and offers better quality care to his patients after he dumped all health insurance companies. 
Thirty-two-year old family physician Doug Nunamaker of Wichita, Kan., said after five years of dealing with the red tape of health insurance companies and the high overhead for the staff he hired just to deal with paperwork, he switched to a system of charging his patients a monthly fee plus the price of an office visit or test, CNN/Money reported. - Finish reading here.
Health insurance is a scam and the health industry is a cash cow...  My Dr. tells me, 'if you had insurance, we could run more tests.'  You must have insurance because they make more money that way.  I go to the Dr. just to get my prescriptions refilled.  He's an internist, so when something is wrong, all he does is refer me to a specialist. 

If anyone knows of a good doctor in Minneapolis - who dumped health insurance companies - please tell me.

Did you know that "Cindy" is the most common name for little girls' imaginary friends?

The Pope speaks of dialogue - in a good way, I think.

Although dialogue has nearly become a dirty word amongst some faithful Catholics.

I can think of some groups who have been pretty much shut out.  How often do you hear or read something like, 'this person cannot call himself a Catholic if he _____'?  I try not to say things like that, but there are times I think it - or I just don't want to hear what 'they' have to say - again.  Dialogue can at times seem like a dog chasing his tail.  So why does the Pope encourage it?

The Pope is very Vatican II - no doubt about it.  Yet he expresses himself more clearly, more straightforwardly than those who espoused the 'spirit of Vatican II - I think.  I suppose comparisons to Bl. John XXIII are appropriate, especially when he says:
Your fidelity to the Church still needs you to stand strong against the hypocrisies that result from a closed and sick heart. But your main task isn't to build walls but bridges. It is to establish a dialogue with all persons, even those who don't share the Christian faith but “who cultivate outstanding qualities of the human spirit” and even with “those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways. … Through dialogue it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another.” Pope Francis reiterated that dialogue means “being convinced that the other has something good to say, making room for their point of view, their opinion, their proposals, without falling, of course, into relativism. For dialogue [to exist] it is necessary to lower the defences and open the doors.” - Lower the defences and open the doors

Although in another context, he repeats the words of Paul VI:
In this context, the Bishop of Rome quoted the words of Paul VI's address to the College of Cardinals in June of 1973: “The conditions of the society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern man. For it is only in the Christian message that modern man can find the answer to his questions and the energy for his commitment of human solidarity.”

I would like,” Pope Francis added, “to encourage the entire ecclesial community to be evangelizing, to not be afraid to 'go out' of themselves to proclaim, above all trusting in the merciful presence of God who guides us. The techniques are certainly important, but even the most advanced ones couldn't substitute the gentle but effective action of He who is the principal agent of evangelization: the Holy Spirit. It is necessary to let yourselves be led by him, even if He takes us along new paths. It is necessary to let yourselves be transformed by him so that our announcement might be made with words that are always accompanied by the simplicity of our lives, our spirit of prayer, and our charity towards all, especially the lowliest and poorest, by our humility and self-detachment, and by the holiness of our lives.” - At Service of Church's Mission and Communion
Nevertheless, the Holy Father is Francis - he is his own person, he is the Pope of the present time, and he speaks directly to the Church:
This people's mission,” the Pope continued, “to bring God's hope and salvation to the world: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to friendship with him … It is enough to open a newspaper to see that the presence of evil is around us, that the Devil is at work. But I want to say out loud: God is stronger! … Let's all say it together … God is stronger! And I want to add that reality, which at times is dark and marked by evil, can change if we first bring to it the light of the Gospel, above all with our lives. If, in a stadium … on a dark night, one person lights a light, it can barely be seen. But, if over 70,000 spectators each light their own light, then the stadium lights up. Let us make our lives the light of Christ. Together we will bring the light of the Gospel to all of reality.”

The goal of this people is “God's kingdom, begun on earth by God himself, and which must be further extended until it is brought to perfection, when Christ, our life, shall appear. The objective [of the people of God], therefore, is full communion with the Lord, familiarity with him, entering into the divine life itself, into his family, where we will live the joy of his boundless love.”

Being the Church, being the people of God,” Francis concluded, “... means being God's leaven in this our humanity. It means proclaiming and bearing God's salvation in this our world, which is often lost and needful of having encouraging answers, answers that give hope, that give new energy along the journey. May the Church be the place of God's mercy and love, where everyone can feel themselves welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged to live according to the good life of the Gospel. And in order to make others feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged, the Church must have open doors so that all might enter. And we must go out of those doors and proclaim the Gospel” - Keep the door open.

I wonder if people aren't a little gun shy?  What we have learned since the Council is how easy it is to misinterpret that mission, how easy it is for abuses to creep in, for heterodoxy to infest and confuse.  Many in the Church remain confused.

Providentially, Pope Francis knows how that happens - and warns against it - calls it out.  I think with Pope Francis steering the ship, things will work out this time, provided the agenda-driven do not take advantage of his kindness.

Pray for the Holy Father and the Church.


Friday, June 14, 2013

If your _____ causes you to sin, castrate.

Supposedly Origen did.

Today's Gospel has Jesus telling his listeners - us, "if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off."  I was always told Church Father, Origen castrated himself, either because he had very strong temptations , wasn't 'master of his domain', and or, because he would be teaching women.  Perhaps it was just self-loathing?  Who knows, huh?  Some say that is why he cannot be a saint, however it may be more accurate to explain his rejection for canonization on account of a little bit of heresy called Origenism, which tainted an aspect of his teaching.  (Read about him here.)

Truth be told, at one point in my young life I thought it might be a necessary procedure for myself, if it wasn't for the fact I was always pretty proud of my manhood and experienced a sort of terror at the thought of losing it.  You go through some crazy stuff when suffering through extreme temptations.  Which may explain why I'm still alive, to prove that one doesn't have to go to such lengths to keep the commandments.  Sorry, TMI.

"Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart."

Christ's words are hyperbole, yet they reveal the demands necessary to keep the commandments and follow him.  Remember how John of the Cross 'cried out' as to the self denial Christ commands of us in The Ascent? "Oh who can make this counsel of our Saviour understandable... Oh who can explain the extent of the denial our Lord wishes of us..."  When Christ says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him - he doesn't mean we should be walking to the bus dragging a huge cross behind us, no more than he wants us to go around gloomy when we fast or give up things, or stand on the street corners or in the blogosphere, adjusting our phylacteries while proclaiming how virtuous we are.

"it is out of the heart that evil thoughts come..." [Matt. 15:19]

An alcoholic quits drinking - he cuts it off.  He avoids people, places and things that 'cause him to sin' - that lead him to sin.  Matt Talbot did that.  He quit the pub, I think he even avoided walking past the the old hang out for awhile.  Until he got stronger, until his spirit matured.  Matt didn't need to worry about his old friends leading him astray, drinkers don't usually like being around non-drinkers, his drinking buddies were nowhere to be found after his conversion.   Therefore we see how Talbot cut off those parts in his life which led him to sin.

Always about the will and freedom of spirit.

Gay people can and often do likewise, as Matt Talbot did.  They can change.  They realize they are more than their sexual inclination or 'preference', that they are neither defined by their 'manhood' nor impotence, i.e. sexual behavior.  Aside from cutting out the sinful behavior - self-abuse, anonymous sex, porn; or gouging out the eye of their concupiscence - cruising every 'cute' person they encounter and so on, sometimes they need to cut off bad friendships and inappropriate social recreations as well. 

"Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame" (Lk 14:21).

It's better to go through life maimed, maybe even a little disabled or damaged, perhaps even a sort of outcast, than to end up in hell.  Matt Talbot lost his bar friends, lived alone, pretty much kept to himself, yet he insisted he was never lonely - he had Christ in the Eucharist.

So.  Cut off/out the behavior.  Gouge out the eye of concupiscence - you eventually get over it.  Although temptations you will always have - but remember,  they are just temptations.

Anyway.  That's my take on today's Gospel. 

Bonus addendum:

One who has contemplated the message carved in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance and learned to read it in adoration has but one language in which to speak to the world: the language of the heart.

It is learned not in conferences or classrooms or books, but in silence and in the contemplation of the Pierced One. It is learned especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The language of the heart encompasses a thousand local dialects, a million accents. Devotion to the Sacred Heart impels the Christian to an inventive charity, a charity ready to explore every dark and treacherous place in search of the lost sheep.
"Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame" (Lk 14:21). "The great gesture of embrace emanating from the Crucified has not yet reached its goal; it has only just begun."16 - Pope Benedict XVI 

Bonus II:  I was reminded of a couple things I wanted to post here while at adoration this afternoon.

The thorn in the side thing St. Paul discusses.  That's the sort of disability which requires us to depend upon God's power - it's the powerlessness that glorifies Christ: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Then this lame idea:  In the old days, people entered monasteries and convents - to cut off that which caused them to sin.  For instance, life in a monastery may be safer than ogling sun bathers in a park.

14 things you should know about Friday, June 14!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Charlie Rose, John Galliano and anti-semitism...

Oh the inhumanity!

I watched Charlie Rose's - not tough, but rough - interview with John Galliano, former head designer of Dior and his own couturier.  His collections numbered up to 32 a year - each collection numbering about a 1000 items each.  That is a staggering amount of work - I think the man truly burnt himself out by the time his drunken rants about loving Hitler made it online.

Rose is tough - almost cruel in the interview.  Galliano deeply repentant and humbled.  It's been two and half years, treatment, therapy and at least 3 close friends standing by him, Anna Wintour, Oscar de la Renta, and his partner of 14 years.  If I remember correctly, Wintour more or less 'discovered' him and promoted his designs.  De la Renta's friendship makes me the happiest, because aside from Wintour, he might be the male, stable mentor needed for the now disgraced design genius.

Underneath that ugly veneer is a human being with a soul.

I once passed Galliano off as decadent and trampy, insipidly gay - though he was at his peak in the world of haute couture and the fashion industry/market.  His fall from grace strikes me as fortuitous in so far as it reveals aspects of the decadence inherent to the fashion industry, and also reveals the sort of cut throat exploitation by which the industry and its investors eats up talent, people and resources.  From the concentration-camp-style starvation of fashion models, all the way down to near slave-labor conditions of third world ready to wear clothing manufacturers; the 'Galliano story' inadvertently exposes the exploitation of the designers themselves.  I'm reminded of not only of the suicide of Alexander McQueen, but the problems Yves Saint Laurent suffered from depression and drug abuse.  It also explains why Valentino got out after his House went public.

John Galliano doesn't seek excuses for his behavior, but Charlie asked him to explain it and he tried to do so giving examples from childhood and the inhumane working schedule he submitted himself to.  Galliano obviously takes responsibility for his irresponsible behavior and actions, as well as the unfortunate consequences which resulted.  Charlie Rose, along with the world and the power brokers backing the fashion industry, seem unable to forgive the anti-Semitic diatribes made by a drunken and out of control Galliano.  The designer explained the rants came from a place of adolescent self defense and anger, striking out as he could to compensate for a sense of his own powerlessness and personal shame.  At least that is how I took it.  Personally, I suspect they were simply just the nastiest things he could think of, not emanating from any core belief.  As most know, anti-Semitic speech is hate speech around the Western world, and in France, it is a crime.  Despite being fired from Dior, losing his business, civil prosecution and public shaming, as well as treatment for addiction, therapy, recovery, etc. - Galliano remains a persona non grata - at least that is the impression I picked up from Charlie Rose.  The 'industry' rejected and abandoned him entirely - lest the de-personalized couture/prêt-à-porter business - profits - be lost.

Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands. - Proverbs 14:1

It strikes me as very sad - and a bit scary.  Alcohol and drugs and a vicious queen made the slurs:  Stupid, empty anti-Semitic rants from a fashion designer.  Listening to Galliano, with all the make-up, bizarre costume and pretense gone, one realizes people can change.  One understands the pain, the hurt he suffered and still does, albeit self-inflicted,  as well as other-inflicted.  I was so impressed by his humility, his submission to the extremely difficult position Charlie Rose put him in, and his sincere repentance, and expressed desire to atone,  I can't imagine the world being so cold not to forgive him and give him another chance. 

I pray for him, that his recovery leads him more deeply into the merciful love of God.  I pray he learns to no longer seek the approval of men, nor allow himself to be seduced by the illusion of success.

There but for the grace of God...


Highlights: Galliano-Rose
John Galliano Interview

Celebrity Nun: Delores Hart

She's going on a book signing tour now.  CNS Story

So anyway...

This is an even better story:
A 105-year-old nun, who has been living in a monastery for 86 years, has died in Spain. Sister Teresita Barajuen, who belonged to the Buenafuente del Sistal monastery northeast of Madrid, is believed to be the world’s “longest-serving” cloistered nun.
Barajuen entered the monastery when she was 19-years-old – she said she never wanted to be a nun but yielded because of family pressure, AP reports. In 2011, she left the monastery for the first time in 40 years to meet retired Pope Benedict XVI, when he came to Madrid. She entered the order on his birthday, AP reports. - Source 


St. Anthony and Liberace

Liberace with Pope Pius XII.


I don't know anything about Liberace's private life, but I do recall stories I heard as a kid, especially his devotion to St. Anthony.  Since the making of the HBO film, billed 'too gay for theaters' critics have disputed the Catholic faith of Liberace, especially since his former 'lover' supposedly failed to mention much about it in his tell-all book the film is based upon.

St. Anthony of Padua

That being said, I have always heard that Liberace was a faithful Catholic.  I was never a fan of the man, although my parents appeared to be, and that was the talk.  My mother always liked to pick out all the Catholics in the entertainment industry.  Obviously she only knew what she read in the fan magazines.  Was Liberace a Catholic?  Yes.  A faithful Catholic?  Probably.  But he was gay and engaged in unnatural vice. 

How can that be defined as faithful?  How can a sinner be a faithful Catholic?  Aren't we all sinners?  Therefore, it seems to me if he attended Mass but did not receive Holy Communion without first going to confession, that can be a sort of profession of faith.  Divorced and remarried Catholics do that.  Moreover, if he died a good death, receiving the sacraments, that is truly an act of faith, accepted by the Church.  (I could be wrong of course, so stop reading now.)

That said, the man was Catholic, no matter his lifestyle.  He also had a huge devotion to St. Anthony - which I always attributed to his Italian heritage - having forgotten the story of his 'miraculous cure'.
Liberace's Palm Springs St. Anthony home chapel.

Thus, in honor of St Anthony, special intercessor for 'lost souls', the following is a brief account of Liberace's miracle.  Liberace had a lobby in a Catholic hospital dedicated to him after his miracle...  At the dedication of the lobby in 1986, "Liberace made his entrance while a protege played "When the Saints Come Marching In."  What?
Liberace's link to the hospital dates back to 1963, when he was rushed to St. Francis from a performance in Monroeville. The gilded pianist had inhaled fumes while cleaning one of his trademark costumes and suffered kidney failure. 
The story goes that a nun came to Liberace's hospital room and suggested he pray to St. Anthony for a miracle. Dependent on a dialysis machine and facing only a 20 percent chance of survival, Liberace took the advice and prayed in earnest.His recovery was dramatic. 
Grateful for the medical and spiritual care, Liberace made several visits to the hospital in subsequent years. He supported fund-raisers and always made sure the sisters had tickets to his shows. In 1986, when St. Francis opened the $1.8 million lobby, the sisters dedicated it to Liberace. - Source
And from Liberace's autobiography:
The Wonderful Private World Of Liberace:
"A very young and lovely nun wearing a white habit came to see me late one night, when I was very near death. She said she was going to pray to Saint Anthony for me, and he would make me well.

The very next day, I began to get well. I described the nun to the Mother Superior at the hospital and asked who she was. The Mother Superior said 'There are no nuns in the hospital who wear white habits.'" - Source

Whispers in the Lobby ... maybe the Pope really didn't say it quite the way they say he did.


Evidently the news story covering the gay lobby conversation with the Pope may be ... inaccurate!  I. KNOW!
In response to media flurry, the Latin American Confederation of Men and Women Religious (CLAR) released a statement on June 11 claiming that the assertion of a gay lobby at the Vatican “cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father.”
Regarding the decision of “Reflexión y liberación” to publish the story, CLAR says that “in fact, no authorization was requested.” 
“It is clear that, based on these facts, it cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father, the specific expression contained in the text, but only in its general sense.” - Read more here.  
Too late - it doesn't matter.

The story that the Pope actually said it, is out there - it's history.  Remember the story of how John XXIII cried when he read the Third Secret?  It's still out there.  Remember how Paul VI supposedly wept Pentecost Monday, when he realized there was not going to be an Octave of Pentecost any more?  It's in a book of memoirs no less.  Then there is the report of what JPII supposedly said in 1980 at Fulda about the Third Secret of Fatima.  It was roundly disputed at the time that he even said it - now it is claimed to be historically accurate.  Oddly enough, Bl. John Paul never read the contents of the secret until after the 1981 assassination attempt.  Yet the Fulda statement continues to be circulated as true.

So, did Pope Francis really acknowledge the gay lobby in the Church?  I have to believe it doesn't matter now - since that's the story interested parties are going to stick with.  Once it is in print, it takes on a life of its own.

Anyway - if he didn't acknowledge it, he will probably have to do so, sooner or later.

Art:  Catherine of Siena at the Papal Court.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013



“Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while working.” ~Alberto Giacometti


What will Pope Francis do about the 'gay lobby'?

Gay lobby.

Redecorate.     [Ba-duh-dum]

Get it? 


Jimmy Akin has posted 10 Things to know and share... (my comments in parenthesis)
  1. What he said. (I know what he said.)
  2. Where and when did he say it?  (I know where.)
  3. Did he really say it? (I think so too.)
  4. What did he mean?  (You know...)
  5. What might a gay lobby do?  (Unmentionable stuff.)
  6. How big is the lobby?  (Does size matter?)
  7. Where have we heard about this before?  (Online. In the news.  The Vortex.)
  8. Where did Pope Francis get this information?  (You have to ask?)
  9. What will happen now?  (Remodel.)
  10. What else might they do?  (Start practicing what they preach.)
There.  I know and I shared.

For starters, they probably should close down the baths or sell off the property.  Relocating a few residents might be a good idea as well.  (If they haven't done so already.)

I may be wrong, of course.

We piped you a tune, but you did not dance...

Breakdancing man mural in UK.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Clifton said the new piece should "get people talking about religion" in Bristol. - Source

What is wrong with people who work as spokesmen for the Catholic Church?


Freedom of Spirit

The Pope talked of it today at morning Mass.

He spoke about the risk: "Moving forward on this road is somewhat risky, but it is the only road to maturity, to leave behind the times in which we are not mature."

I don't pretend to know the Pope's mind, nor do I intend to 'teach' anyone or anything on this blog - I simply log my thoughts, sharing some of them here.  Don't put a lot of stock in what I say, listen to your teachers - the Church, the pope and the bishops.  I'm often wrong about things.

That said, the Pope's words today remind me of my learning to paint.  I never studied figure painting because I was afraid of temptations against chastity.  My temptations were so intense when I was younger, I thought maybe I was possessed.  Therefore, if I had taken a class and had to paint a nude, I probably would have ended up in a bathhouse on my way home from school.  So I avoided studies. 

Eventually, many of my paintings required that I paint nudes - so I depended upon good photography books - which also sometimes included erotic images - although not pornography, sexual acts, etc..  I worked through the physical responses my body made - ignoring impure movements. I adopted the habit of praying while I painted - not just while painting icons, but even while painting profane subjects.  (Profane: Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music.)  With the help of grace, I worked through my issues and objectification of the body.  I understood I could have studied at a wonderful Atelier after all! 

Without getting into detail - this is where I kind of, sort of, understand Christopher West and his version of Theology of the Body.  I said I understand something of his theory - I do not have the competence to enlarge upon that, nor am I qualified to.  Yet other bishops and priests seem to approve of West's work - so what can I say?   Except that I always recommend Fr. Richard Hogan's work.

To sum up, all I'm really saying here is that today's homily from the Holy Father made me think of that growth experience in my painting. 

Painting, risk and Matthew Shepard and...

I once did a painting around that period which I titled Matthew Shepherd.  Not a few commenters on my art blog expressed disdain for it, as well as the fact I would dare paint him with a halo.  It's unfortunate they misunderstood the image, although it demonstrates why I'm not a successful artist - if I can't convey an  simple idea understandably - I'm not very good.

 I originally intended the figure to be another St. Sebastian.  While painting the piece - which in fact is more or less simply a study, I received news of an art show.  The curator of the gallery knew of my work and asked me to show what I had in a group show, which also happened to be the inaugural show of his new gallery.  I abandoned work on Sebastian, and decided to call the unfinished piece Matthew Shepherd - because he was in the news at the time and the figure's face and hair reminded me of the man - and the figure in its unfinished state, appeared a little 'scorched'.  I left the halo to suggest the goodness of all men, made in the image and likeness of God - I was not 'canonizing' the poor man. 

I wanted the figure to be viewed as a human being, tied to a fence, left by the roadside, beaten, stripped by robbers - hoping the viewer might recall the parable of the Good Samaritan.  In one sense, the politicization of the murder of Matthew Shepherd caused many passers by to look the other way, some even condemning the victim.  No one stopped to help him, to nurse him, to save him - rather they exploited him for their own agendas - and continue to do so today.  Hence the painting isn't really of Matthew at all, but a roadside casualty of violence: a victim of robbery and exploitation; and worse, in death, a victim of political agenda, as well as fear and anger - culminating in hate.

Obviously, this post took a different turn from what I intended. 

A friend has been posting on the recent violence against gay men in NYC.  I'm not aware that violence is spreading against gays around the country - in fact I assumed it was no longer much of an issue, but evidently in NY there has been an increase of attacks and beatings.  In the past week 3 gay men have been attacked, I think a couple of weeks ago, a couple of others were attacked as well.  Stories here and here.

Is it significant?  It is Gay Pride Month after all - even the gay publications point that out, warning gay people to be aware of those who really do hate gay people, may be out to bash - despite the fact that they can be prosecuted for a hate crime.

My friend, whom I respect, asked why Cardinal Dolan hasn't spoken out.   

The question wouldn't have occurred to me.  In Manhattan I think there are many beatings of a whole range of individuals every week.  I don't know the crime statistics - but I'm sure they are rather high.  I'm not excusing it - I'm just saying.  For instance, a couple of weeks ago in Minneapolis, 2 male joggers were attacked and beaten by 6 Somali men.  The men weren't gay - they were white.  Archbishop Nienstedt never mentioned it.  I'm not sure it is the local ordinary's job to speak out every time there is a possible hate crime, although in NYC, law enforcement and the Mayor have done so in the cases involving gay men.  Perhaps the Cardinal will say something eventually.  I totally understand my friend's frustration however - I feel badly that men are attacked by other men out of hatred for who or what they are.  It is occurring by the thousands to Christians throughout the world.

As for gay bashing - the Church really does condemn it already.

I often refer to the CDF Letter to Bishops on the subject.  It strikes me as an interesting combination of condemnation, as well as what I would term 'prophecy'.
10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. 
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase. - CDF Letter
The Church absolutely condemns irrational and violent reactions against homosexual persons.
7. “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. 
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase”   - CDF Considerations
Pray for God's peace, for God's way of holiness, to seek first His kingdom.  Love one another, do good to one another.
"The law of the Spirit makes us free! This freedom frightens us a little, because we are afraid we will confuse the freedom of the Spirit with human freedom. " - Pope Francis, Homily, 6/12/13
My apologies to my friend Thom if this seems less than supportive, it isn't intended to be.

If I offend any of the readers, please accept my apologies and pray for me.

Observing behaviour: Online narcissists favor Twitter and Facebook... Who knew?

I knew that.

Adults (average age of 35) who exhibit narcissism tend to prefer Facebook, which serves as a mirror. 
"It's about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image," said Panek. "Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles."
Vain college-age students favour the mouthpiece of Twitter to amplify their opinions and views in cyberspace. 
"Young people over valuate the importance of their own opinions," said study researcher Elliot Panek. "Through Twitter, they're trying to broaden their social circles and broadcast their views about a wide range of topics and issues." 
"Among middle-aged adults from the general population, narcissists posted more frequent status updates on Facebook," said the report. 
"It's important to analyze how often social media users actually post updates on sites, along with how much time they spend reading the posts and comments of others," said Panek. - Source

I know!

I understand they are still working 
on the Patheos study.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Freely. "Freely you have received, freely give."

St. Peter did not have a bank account...

 "Freely you have received, freely give." Pope Francis said everything is grace and when we leave grace “a little to one side” in our proclamation, the Gospel “is not effective".

"Evangelical preaching flows from gratuitousness, from the wonder of the salvation that comes and that which I have freely received I must freely give. This is what they were like at the beginning. St. Peter did not have a bank account, and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch fish and find the money in the fish, to pay. Philip, when he meet Queen Candace’s finance minister, did not think, 'Ah, good, let’s set up an organization to support the Gospel ...' No! He did not strike a ‘deal’ with him: he preached, baptized and left".

Pope Francis said the Kingdom of God, "is a free gift”, but he also added that from the beginning of the Christian community, this attitude has been subjected to temptation. "There is the temptation to seek strength", he said, “ elsewhere than in gratuity”. This temptation creates "a little 'confusion," he warned, where “proclamation becomes proselytizing”. Instead "our strength is the gratuitousness of the Gospel." The Lord, "has invited us to preach, not to proselytize." Citing Benedict XVI, Pope Francis stated that "the Church does not grow through proselytizing but by drawing people to her". And this attraction, he said, comes from the testimony of "those who freely proclaim the gratuity of salvation".
"Everything is grace. Everything." - Homily 6/11/13

St. Therese said the same thing. 

Francis is a 'little' Pope.

H/T Jackie

I rejoice to be a little one...

"The righteous can justify themselves. … Jesus came for the sinners.” - Francis
"[T]hink of the gossip after the call of Matthew: 'but that one keeps company with sinners!' And He has come for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee before the altar—'Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector.'—then we do not know the Lord's heart and we will never have the joy of feeling this mercy! It is not easy to trust in God's mercy because it is an incomprehensible abyss. But we must do it!”

The Pope explained that sometimes people say to priests: “'Oh, Father, if you knew my life you wouldn't say that.' 'Why? What have you done?' 'Oh, I've done bad things.' 'Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.' He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same … We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us. Let us ask for this grace.” - Pope Francis: Homily for  Fifth Sunday in Lent

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind... the damaged.
"If God wants you to be as weak and powerless as a child, do you think your merit will be any less for that?  Resign yourself then, to stumbling at every step, to falling even, and to being weak in carrying your cross.  Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self-satisfaction and pride." - Therese By Those Who Knew Her, testimony of Marie of the Trinity, OCD 
"Sometimes it happens that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree that they are." - My Sister, St. Therese 
I rejoice to be imperfect... and damaged.

Fascinating quotes attributed to Pope Francis... "The 'gay lobby' is spoken of, and it's true, that's there... we need to see what we can do."

He is a new kind of Pope - to be sure.

He has proven to be candid, focused, prayerful, kind, loving, merciful, patient, respectful of others, and rather casual.  I like to say he knows what we know.  He's like us - he is one of us 'ordinary people'.  He sees the problems the way we do - I think.  If he speaks of them, sitting around in a group - I think he knows.

Rocco Palmo wrote about the 'audience' pictured above - making clear that the transcript of what the Pope supposedly said is unofficial and comes from a Latin American news source...
During an audience last Thursday with the leadership of the religious conference of his home-continent and the Caribbean, the Pope is said to have aired (without apparent prompting) the realities of "a current of corruption" and a "gay lobby" in the Roman Curia...
What did he say?
"In the Curia there are holy people, truly, there are holy people. But there's also a current of corruption – there's that, too, it's true.... The 'gay lobby' is spoken of, and it's true, that's there... we need to see what we can do.
The reform of the Roman Curia is something that almost all the cardinals sought in the congregations before the Conclave. I sought it myself. [But] I can't do the reform myself, these matters of management.... I'm very disorganized, I've never been good in this. But the cardinals of the commission are going to carry it forward. There's [Oscar] Rodríguez Maradiaga, who carries the baton [as the group's coordinator], there's [the Chilean Francisco Javier] Errázuriz, they're very organized. The one from Munich [Reinhard Marx] is also very organized. They will take it forward.... Pray for me that I make the fewest mistakes possible."

He also spoke about strange gods - or spiritualities.  Recall, early on in his papacy he mentioned praying to God - that some people do not pray to God - these things remain on his mind:
"I'll share two worries of mine. One is a pelagian current that's in the church at this time...
There are certain restorationist groups. I know them as I took to receiving them in Buenos Aires. And you feel like you've gone back 60 years! 
The second [worry] is over a gnostic current. These pantheisms... they're both currents of elites, but this one is of a more formed elite. I knew of one superior general who encouraged the sisters of her congregation to not prayer in the morning, but to give themselves a spiritual bath in the cosmos, such things.... These bother me because they lack the Incarnation! And the Son of God who became our flesh, the Word made flesh, and in Latin America we have this flesh being shot from the rooftops! What happens to the poor, in their sorrows, that is our flesh. - Francis Unplugged
I do not purport to know what the Pope really said, but it sure sounds like the way he speaks.  I especially love his emphasis upon the poor - or the 'damaged' - those on the fringes.  That is where I am happy to be.  Pope Francis is reported to have said: "The Gospel is not the ancien regime, nor is it this pantheism. If you look to the outskirts; the indigent... the drug addicts! The trade [trafficking] of persons... That's the Gospel. The poor are the Gospel.... "

Likewise, he appears to allow for mistakes - because they can be corrected...  Pope Benedict said something similar when speaking of priests who work in youth ministry, that in searching for a way to convey Church teaching sometimes mistakes are made - but they can be corrected.  Sounds a bit lenient in our day when errors abound, but 'that's the way love goes'...  I think.

The 'gay lobby' is spoken of, and it's true, that's there...
we need to see what we can do.


Patriarch Kirill: Monastics should stay offline...

What have I said?

I know!

Patriarch Kirill, "the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has urged monks not to use cellphones to access the Internet in order to avoid temptation."

"Now the Internet appears to be a great temptation," Patriarch Kirill said during a trip to the Zograf monastery in Greece, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the church's website. 
"Many monks act, in my view, quite unreasonably. On the one hand, (monks) leave the world in order to create favorable conditions for salvation, and on the other hand, they take their mobile telephone and start to enter the Internet where, we know, there is a large number of sinful and tempting things." 
The monastic tradition is by definition strict and does not need to adapt to modern conditions, he said. - Source

"What did you go out to the desert to see?" [Luke 7:24] Something on YouTube?

Imagine rising in the middle of the night, and after Vigils, going online instead of going to your cell for Lectio Divina?  


Monday, June 10, 2013

"I'd like to thank my husband."

I watched the Tony's last night.

So?  I can watch the Tony's.  How 'bout those Chicago Blackhawks nailing the LA Kings in 2nd overtime Saturday night, huh?!

So anyway.  I was very happy for Cyndi Lauper - I love her.  I knew nothing about the shows though.  Well maybe a little bit.  What?

I couldn't help but notice a couple of guys thanked their husbands in their acceptance speech.  It almost seemed normal - but then my inner kid said, "Men don't kiss!"  Remember that's what I told my molester who wanted to kiss me when I was a teenager.  "Men don't kiss... men can't have husbands..."  Of course it's legal in NY State, right?  But that doesn't make it real.  Yet everyone at Radio City thinks it is real.  More than one acceptance speech was about accepting and loving one another ...  I felt like a complete A-hole.  I felt mean.

Yesterday, reading Sunday's obituaries, I came upon a successful young man, thirty seven years old, who died at his home.  He was survived by loving family and loving friends and his husband.  I read the obit with interest.  He was raised in an excellent home, had the best education, was very successful - and apparently very happy.  He was active in charitable works - especially with homeless youth.  He struck me as a man of impeccable character.  A very good man.  No mention of religion or religious service, but he was a good man.

If I were to have met him and he asked me what was wrong with he and his partner getting married, and I repeated Church teaching, it would probably be meaningless to him.  If I told him his salvation and eternal happiness was in jeopardy, he could probably show me a multitude of good works and successful accomplishments, and overall good intentions - which would put me to shame.  (I wouldn't be telling anyone those things unless they asked me, or unless they challenged me for something I said or wrote or the way I live my life.)

I felt bad nonetheless.  I felt badly that the Tony Award winners could probably not be convinced that gay marriage isn't really marriage in the eyes of God.  That homosexual behavior is sinful - in other words - evil.  The act is disordered.  When questioners asked St. Bernadette what a sinner was, she answered, "Someone who loves sin."  We sinners can't get to heaven unless we repent, and ask for forgiveness.  If say we are not sinners or that we have no sin, well, St. John tells us we are liars.

I pray for the man whose obituary I read.  I pray for his 'husband'.  I pray for the guys who thanked their 'husbands' last night.  They must know, that like the rich young man, Christ looks at them with love.  He sees them.  He sees all that is good in them and he says, 'If you wish to be perfect... sell what you have... deny your very self... take up your cross... follow me.'  I pray we see and feel Christ's love, and experience his penetrating gaze, and respond generously.  Don't go away sad, settling for the consolation of the spirit of this world...
"This is salvation: to live in the consolation of the Holy Spirit, not the consolation of the spirit of this world. No, that is not salvation, that is sin. Salvation is moving forward and opening our hearts so they can receive the Holy Spirit’s consolation, which is salvation. This is non-negotiable, you can’t take a bit from here and a bit from there? We cannot pick and mix, no? A bit of the Holy Spirit, a bit of the spirit of this world ... No! It’s one thing or the other. " - Pope Francis, Morning homily 6/10/13

"From the Heart of Jesus, the Lamb slain on the cross, flow forgiveness and life for all men." - Pope Francis

"The Scriptures say, God loves us.

And what is the fruit of this love? It is life! Jesus said to the widow of Nain, “Do not weep,” and then called the dead boy and awoke him as from a sleep.  The mercy of God gives life to man, it raises him from the dead. The Lord is always watching us with mercy, [always] awaits us with mercy. Let us be not afraid to approach him! He has a merciful heart! If we show our inner wounds, our sins, He always forgives us. He is pure mercy! Let us never forget this: He is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus!

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her Immaculate Heart – a mother’s heart – has shared the “compassion” of God to the full, especially at the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. May Mary help us to be meek, humble and compassionate with our brethren." - Pope Francis, Sunday Angelus

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Edward Snowden - my new hero.

The NSA whistleblower.
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell. 
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

Well, he may have broken the law - or his oath of secrecy or something - but at least he isn't lying, Lila Rose.  What?

Seriously - without this guy we would all be saying these stories are just conspiracy theories perpetrated by some vast _________.
  • Right wing conspiracy
  • Left wing conspiracy
  • Both
Without people like Snowden, we would probably not believe Archbishop Chaput when he says religious freedom is at stake:
"The day when Americans could take the Founders' understanding of religious freedom as a given is over," said the archbishop. "We need to wake up." - Chaput
It's not just religious freedom...

Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, Snowden fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. "I am not afraid," he said calmly, "because this is the choice I've made." 
He predicts the government will launch an investigation and "say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become". 
 "The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight." - Edward Snowden  
This is just the beginning.

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon - some consider her a saint.

Mme. Guyon

June 9th is the anniversary of Mme. Guyon's death.

I decided to write a bit about Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon*, a French mystic and promoter of a little heresy known as Quietism, who died in 1717.  Mme. Guyon's story reminds me that idiosyncratic mystics have always been around in the Church - often getting in trouble - just like today.  It seems rather fortuitous that I'd come across Madame Guyon today, not just because it is the anniversary of her death, but because I've been thinking about the recently deceased M. Nadine Brown, foundress of the Intercessors of the Lamb as well.  (Like Mme. Guyon, many of M. Nadine's followers hold her in the highest esteem, and I have no intention, nor competence, to criticize that, much less denigrate M. Nadine's reputation.) 

That said, I often write about charismatic new monastic, religious groups, and or idiorrythmic hermits, mystics and contemplatives.  For one - I'm fascinated by them; two, I kind of sort of used to be attracted to such groups; three, I'm suspicious of such groups.  "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

While reading about Mme. Guyon I was led to the religious phenomenon of the Beguines-Beghards, lay-religious folk:  a sort of school of mysticism developed around these folks throughout the 13th-15th centuries.  If you are looking for scholarship here, read no further - I'm not writing a study - just sharing my thoughts and making a few observations.  For brevity sake I will cut and paste information about who, what, and where.

Like this:
The Beguines and the Beghards  were Christian lay religious orders that were active in Germany and the Low Countries in the 13th–16th centuries. Their members lived in semi-monastic communities but did not take formal religious vows. 
They were influenced by Albigensian teachings and by the Brethren of the Free Spirit, which flourished in and around Cologne at the same time but was later condemned as heretical. - Read more here.

And this:
Madame Guyon was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on the topic, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer
After her husband's death, Madame Guyon initially lived quietly as a wealthy widow in Montargis. In 1679, through circumstances, she re-established contact with François La Combe, the superior of the Barnabite house in Thonon in Savoy . 
After a third mystical experience in 1680, Madame Guyon felt herself drawn to Geneva. The Bishop of Geneva, Jean d’Arenthon d’Alex, persuaded her to use her money to set up a house for “new Catholics” in Gex, in Savoy, as part of broader plans to convert Protestants in the region. In July 1680, Madame Guyon left Montargis with her young daughter and travelled to Gex. 
The project was problematic, however, and Madame Guyon clashed with the sisters who were in charge of the house. The Bishop of Geneva sent Father La Combe to intervene. At this point, Guyon introduced La Combe to a mysticism of interiority. While her daughter was in an Ursuline convent in Thonon as a pensioner, Madame Guyon continued in Gex, experiencing illness and great difficulties, including opposition from her family. She gave over guardianship of her two sons to her mother-in-law and renounced her personal possessions, keeping a sizeable annuity for herself. 
In consequence of the effects her mystical ideas produced, however, the Bishop of Geneva, D'Aranthon d'Alex, who had at first viewed her coming with satisfaction, asked her to leave his diocese, and at the same time expelled Father Lacombe, who moved to the Bishop of Vercelli. - Read more here.

[So.  As Frank Costanza might say:  "So what you got here is this: you got your mystics, your contemplatives, your hermits and your new orders and movements - you got trouble!  (He yells that - "YOU GOT TROUBLE!"  And Estelle gets upset.  That's how this blog works - but I digress.)]

Quietism.  What is it?

Centering prayer.  What?  Tongues then?  The Jesus prayer?  I'm just throwing that stuff out here to upset Estelle.  But the following is a brief description:
Quietism is the name given to a set of Christian beliefs that rose in popularity in through France, Italy, and Spain during the late 1670s and 1680s, were particularly associated with the writings of Miguel de Molinos (and subsequently François Malaval and Madame Guyon), and which were condemned as heresy by Pope Innocent XI in the papal bull Coelestis Pastor of 1687. The “Quietist” heresy was seen to consist of wrongly elevating ‘contemplation’ over ‘meditation’, intellectual stillness over vocal prayer, and interior passivity over pious action in an account of mystical prayer, spiritual growth and union with God (one in which, the accusation ran, there existed the possibility of achieving a sinless state and union with God.) - Read more here.**
I suspect things are crazier today because everyone is so 'learned' and mystical teddy bear books abound to teach people how to pray and become mystics - and imprimaturs are few and far between..   Likewise, there are charismatic visionaries and mystics popping up all over, and there are religious instructors and spiritual directors - some priests - who are there to guide the eager contemplative along their way. 


So put your discernment caps on - not the 'sorting hat' - but the Roman Catholic discernment hat.  Don't go to strangers, trust only what is approved and authorized by the Church.  In Guyon's day, just as in our day, one was able to find priests and bishops who were just as misled as the souls they approved.  They too were sanctioned - some obeyed, some did not - some were called Protestants back then.  Today they are usually identified as dissenters.  One more reason to wary, and maintain a healthy skepticism.

The amazing thing about the earlier mystics and Quietists is they had a substantial following and influenced many religious and churchmen... just like today.  Errors are often deeply embedded in traditional teaching and observance - all heresies are like that - very easily mistaken for what is true.  We usually think of these leaders as saints - sometimes they may be.  Sometimes not.  One can't help but think of personalities such as Fr. Gino, and Fr. Maciel and others who have gone off the rails and perhaps unintentionally deceived others by their show of piety and 'schools of spirituality'.  Then of course there are so many seers and locutionists who purport to have a direct contact with God... what is one to do?

IMHO, more insidious are the false mystics who began well but drifted into quietist types of spirituality.  Think of some of the Cenacle nuns who run retreats, or traditional retreat houses and monasteries which host New Age retreats and speakers.  Then there are the charismatic leaders of spiritual movements, some good, some cult-like.  When the local ordinary finds a problem with them - you can be sure something is not right.  If it goes to a higher authority, such as the Vatican - you wait and see.

Don't go to strangers.  Oh.  And just because someone has a spiritual director that doesn't give them carte blanche to promulgate their personal meditations as 'teachings'. 

Random factoids:

Some see Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement as a sort of modern day Beguinage.

I would think L'Arche communities fit that description better.

I personally think Centering Prayer borders on Quietism and New Age spirituality.  I know many disagree with me on that.

If a blind man leads another blind man, both fall into a pit.  John of the Cross said something like that.

*Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon died in the good graces of the Church as well.

**Yes, I used the Wiki descriptions because they are more succinct and are basic enough for my purposes here.

If an Archbishop told you to wake up, would you listen?

Or just praise him for having the courage to say something?

Whenever he speaks, Archbishop Chaput needs no interpreter to tell us what he really said - he's a straight talker.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is calling on Americans to wake up and recognize that the Founding Fathers' vision of religious freedom is now threatened by the federal government. 
"The day when Americans could take the Founders' understanding of religious freedom as a given is over," said the archbishop. "We need to wake up."
Chaput, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, pointed to Obamacare's sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation as one example. The regulation, issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, requires almost all health-care plans in the United States to provide coverage for sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to all women of reproductive age--even if the person or employer providing the insurance coverage and even if the female beneficiaries themselves do not want the coverage and believe it is morally wrong and violates their religious beliefs. 
"[T]he HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion," the archbishop wrote in a recent column posted on the website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The column is entitled, "Religious Freedom and the Need to Wake Up." - CNS

 I'm awake now.