Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fine Art Friday On Saturday... Painted Bronze Sculpture: Wellesley Campus.

Sleepwalker - Tony Matelli

Tony Matelli

Tony Matelli creates realistic bronze sculpture.  It's so life like.

Wellesley girls don't like it.

Did you know some people have an underwear fetish?  It's really gross.  I found out about it years ago - someone showed me the personal ads in the Advocate, and there it was - men willing to trade their soiled underwear.

That's what Matelli's sculpture reminded me of.

Something like this could maybe work well in the Vatican gardens.  I would title it, The Raising of Lazarus.  It would be pretty next to the lake in LarryD's backyard too - situated as if it was walking out of the lake maybe.

Hi Kat.


Friday, February 07, 2014

Montana Catholic Teacher, Shaela Evenson: Punished with a baby...

That teacher who was fired because she got pregnant.

Obama's infamous statement about being punished with a baby came to mind after I read this story at Deacon Kandra's blog.  The deacon suggests a better way the situation might have been handled here.  Deacon Kandra is a good man.

The Montana diocese defended the decision to terminate the teacher, details here.

But it doesn't say much about being pro-life.

Update:  What The normal Catholic response... should be.

Leaving the Church

It makes me sad when I hear that.

I have friends who have left the Church because they were scandalized by priests and fellow Catholics.  We've been reading about people shunned by Catholics because of their mistakes.  In the past I have read good Catholics, even priests, say 'good riddance' when they hear of people leaving the Church or even excommunicated by whatever means.

That is not charity.

Pray for those who have fallen away.  Pray for those who have left.

Since I was a child, my parents and siblings ridiculed me for my piety, my devotion - they called me a hypocrite - I have prayed all my life for their salvation.  My brother, my mother and dad, all were reconciled to the Church before they died.

I have friends who think I'm crazy because I am Catholic.  I pray for them every day - and I repent if I have scandalized them.

I pray daily for my conversion and the conversion of sinners, I pray for the salvation of souls.  I pray for the fallen away - I pray for those who are away.
King David had sinned: he calls himself a 'sinner', but he never left the people of God!" "Sinner yes, but not a traitor! And this is a grace: to remain with the People of God until the end. Having the grace to die within the Church, among the People of God, and this is the first point that I would like to emphasize. For us too, to seek the grace to die at home. To die at home, in the Church. And this is a grace! This can not be bought! It is a gift from God and we have to ask for it: 'Lord, grant that I may die at home, in the Church!’ Sinners, yes, all of us, we all are! But not traitors! Not corrupt! Always within [the Church]! And the Church is such a Mother, that she wants us just as we are, often dirty, but the Church cleans us: she is our Mother.” - Pope Francis

What kind of evangelization wants to alienate people from the Church?

Calling to mind how Saint Therese of Lisieux 
experienced a voice in the final moments of her life 
telling her “don't be foolish waiting in the dark. 
You expect only the darkness of nothing!”
 The Pope noted that “the voice of the devil, of the demon…
did not want her to trust God.” - CNA


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Adam and Eve and a forensic analysis of the original sin.

It's more complicated than over eating.

Monsignor Pope has an enlightening essay on the stages of sin.

I found this section especially significant, keeping in mind some of the arguments on sexuality and gender theory I've encountered online these past few weeks:
Cunning and subtle, Satan uses intellectual arguments to appeal to aspects of what would later come to be called pride and sensuality. He also seeks to undermine her trust in God’s goodness.
He begins his temptation by attempting to make God seem unreasonable, suggesting that God had forbidden them to eat from any of the trees in the garden. Eve easily deals with this temptation and dismisses it, correctly stating that it is only one tree that has been proscribed. Of course this is a common tactic of Satan even to our own day; namely, that God is unreasonable, that He demands too many things, forbids too many things, etc. This accusation of course, wholly ignores that God has given incredible liberty to the human person,  who, unlike any other creature except the Angels, is able to say “no” to God.
Satan’s second attack is more successful. He declares that God is not telling them the truth. In effect he says that God who has given them everything, is holding something very important back. In effect Satan argues that God is restraining them from being the gods they deserve to be. In pointing to the fruit of this tree, Satan says,  in effect, “Why do you let anyone have power over you? Why do you let anyone tell you what to do? Why do you not instead say, “I will do what I want to do, and I will decide whether it is right or wrong!” Satan temps to an incredible pride, “You will be gods!” - Monsignor Pope
Thank you Monsignor Pope.

Abbey Roads Exclusive! Sneak Peek at Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Sponsored by Wendy's!

Bad girls?

Missouri lesbians getting smeared...

Before I go further, the priest involved is just fine - he was being a good pastor.  He's a good guy.  He did nothing wrong.

The fall out after the news broke is getting a little nasty however.  The way discussions online are going, the women involved are beginning to sound more like LCWR women and gay dissidents than ordinary parish volunteers and EMHC's.  Women of Grace blog offers a comment from another blog which suggests the women were 'not that innocent'.

“We are blessed to have Fr. Kneib as our pastor! Stand Strong Fr.!” said the commenter named Cws94family. ” . . . We have not lived here for a very long while, but these two have been seen off and on at Masses over the last several years. We have been told they go back and forth between our parish and the local Episcopal church. Now, while we didn’t really know what was going on, we suspected it, but still hoped for the best…that perhaps they were living as sisters. And as far as we know, only one of them is actually a Catholic.” - See more at:

Most of the comments like that one seem to be based on conjecture and hearsay.

It is always better to wait for the news to distill than to react without knowing the details of the story.

In my opinion, I believe the priest, Fr. Kneib acted charitably and humbly, respectfully and discreetly, contacting the women in advance of the funeral.  Naturally, the women would experience the phone call as a negative.  Afterwards they 'alerted the media' - what their motivation was is not clear.  Do they really want to "let’s-try-to-force-the-Church-to-change-her-teaching" by going public and seeking support from an LGBTQ rights group?  Perhaps they do now, after all the reaction to the story.

The fact remains that until Fr. Kneib came along the women either didn't know any better, or they were convinced everything about their private life was just fine.  Fr. Kneib helped them see things differently.   If they weren't able to correct the priest's impression, and since they indeed refrained from Holy Communion, the priest's pastoral guidance is more than validated.  No one knows if the women are in the state of mortal sin, although some commentators have said as much.  

I think Catholics need to be a bit more careful to avoid demonizing folks who may simply be confused about Catholic moral teaching, or who have received bad catechesis along the way.  The reaction of the two women is understandable in that light.  

The Women of Grace blog ends with the best advice:  Let us keep all involved in this incident in our prayers!

Smearing the priest...

As more of the details on this story come out, the poor priest is likewise being 'demonized' by those who oppose Catholic moral teaching and the discipline of the sacraments.

As I said, Fr. Kneib did nothing wrong - neither was he insensitive.  He must be given credit for his charity and discretion.  In the first place, he took the extraordinary measure of contacting the women privately, in advance to let them know there was a problem - he was clearly acting to avert a greater scandal.  What transpired after the fact - the press reports and criticism of the priest and the Church - has annoyed and angered ordinary, faithful Catholics.  That too is understandable.*  Unfortunately some of the remarks against the 'lesbian' women are angry, sarcastic, and mean spirited.  Yet that is what happens when a group attempts to discredit the Church and her ministers who uphold Catholic teaching.

Though a funeral is not the ideal emotional situation to offer pastoral correction, I'm grateful Fr. Kneib helped to make Catholic teaching more clear on this issue.

I too pray for all involved - and especially pray these two older women can be reconciled with the Church.

*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

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Sochi Olympics: Comedy of errors.

People have asked me what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It's this. Without question ... it's ... THIS.

How refreshing!

The Russian Olympics are so far turning out to be better than any screwball comedy ever.  It is a welcome break from all the nasty news in the world, in the Church, online and on TV - and on the street.  (A guy from the half way house a few blocks away walked by my house this morning, all alone, yelling and cursing and screaming.  It reminded me of Simei yelling at King David.)

Sochi taxi driver.

Random stories:

Richard Engel reported last night on NBC that all visitors to the Sochi Olympics are getting hacked as soon as their electronic devices connect to any Russian network.
"As tourists and families of athletes arrive in Sochi, if they haven't been warned, and if they fire up their phones at baggage claim, it's probably too late to save the integrity of their electronics and everything inside them. Visitors to Russia can expect to be hacked. And as Richard Engel found out upon his arrival there, it's not a matter of if, but when," reports NBC's Brian Williams. - NBC
Water restored, sorta. On the bright side, 
I now know what very dangerous face water looks like.

Amid continued debate over whether or not Sochi is prepared to host the 2014 Olympics, which begins Thursday, reporters from around the world are starting to check into local hotels — to their apparent grief. Some journalists arriving in Sochi are describing appalling conditions in the housing there, where only six of nine media hotels are ready for guests. Hotels are still under construction. Water, if it’s running, isn’t drinkable. One German photographer told the AP over the weekend that his hotel still had stray dogs and construction workers wandering in and out of rooms. - More here.

Sochi plumber.

The Amish

And shunning.

I watched the PBS American Experience episodes on the Amish and shunning.

Many of my readers know about shunning ...

Don't we.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

To Never Despair of God's Mercy ...

The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” 

Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” 
The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” 
Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” - John 4

That is what I meant the other day when I said that same sex couples, partners, friends - whatever they call themselves, cannot be married, nor represent themselves as in an 'equivalent marriage':

As I said in another post, it is important to avoid scandal - to give the impression homosexual relationships are equal to marriage. Chaste friendship is not equal to marriage. Even if civil law allows for same sex marriage, same sex friends living together is not a marriage on any level, in truth, in the eyes of God. The dishonesty lies there. That is where the lie is. If the lesbian couple thinks they are somehow married or their particular friendship is equal to marriage, they are mistaken.
Chaste and celibate friends can and do live together under the same roof and receive the sacraments. - TN
People can and do repent and amend their lives.  It is the call of the Gospel.  In some circumstances, two friends may agree to share a house and act as supports to one another in order to live in fidelity to Catholic teaching. With good spiritual direction, they can and do return to the sacraments.  (After repentance of sin and/or a sinful lifestyle, Catholics are reconciled to God and the Church in and through the sacrament of penance and are thus free to approach Holy Communion.) 

Church teaching on Marriage is clear.

To claim homosexual friendship is analogous to marriage is false. 
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.
Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. 
The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil. - CDF

This explains why I say that same sex persons cannot be married - and that they are not married - despite what public opinion may be, or civil legislation permits.  

Never despair of God's mercy.

It is important for people to understand the Church welcomes sinners, that the mercy of God is always available to them in and through the sacraments.  Nothing is impossible with God.  If you do not know how to change your lifestyle, or how to return - if you feel there are impossible obstacles - do not despair of God's mercy.  Ask him, pray, pray, pray - ask God.  He will open a door, he will open a way.  Prayer is the trapdoor out of sin.  He appeared to the Samaritan woman and she was saved.
Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.  More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have forfeited everything and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. - Philippians 3

Nothing is impossible with God. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

More speculation on what will be decided on Medjugorje.

From Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli.
The question thus remains open. The fact that the phenomenon is ongoing means it is unlikely a statement will be issued confirming it as supernatural. But those who are hoping for a negative assessment may also be disappointed. It may be useful to recall what has happened in Argentina over the past thirty years, in terms of the two apparitions witnessed in San Nicolas which is located 250 km outside Buenos Aires (but not in the diocese of Buenos Aires) and in Salta.
The apparitions of San Nicolas started in 1983 and have not stopped since (250 thousand faithful gather to pray on each anniversary); the seer, Gladys Quiroga de Motta, mother, grandmother and a very simple woman, gave herself up completely to the Church authorities and spends most of her day in silent prayer. The current bishop, Héctor Sabatino Cardelli, has celebrated mass and led processions in the place where the apparition was seen, on the banks of the Paraná river. A large shrine marks the spot, where a spring was also discovered. The Church has also approved the white scapular created especially for those who experience physical and spiritual suffering. The seer’s spiritual guide, Fr. Carlos Pérez, says he is convinced the apparition really did take place. More than 1800 messages relating to the apparition have been published in a volume approved by the former Bishop of San Nicolas, Domingo Salvador Castagna, who once stated: “I firmly believe this is an event of the Virgin Mary.”
Another case Jorge Mario Bergoglio dealt with, albeit from a distance, as an Argentine bishop, is that involving the apparitions in Salta, a province located 1,500 km away from Buenos Aires. In this case, the local archbishop, Mario Carniello, was far more sceptical.
Cardinal Bergoglio had invited his priests to handle the case of Salta with caution, to consult with the local clergy and to follow the instructions of the local archbishop. But here too, although ecclesiastical leaders were reluctant to acknowledge the supernatural nature of these apparitions, they did not prohibit pilgrimages to the site and efforts have always been made to ensure pastoral care is given to the pilgrims that visit.

Despite what other commentators say about Medjugorje and the Pope, it appears the Holy Father may be more favorable, more open to these events than we think.  From the same article:

In the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, Francis states: “Popular piety enables us to see how the faith, once received, becomes embodied in a culture and is constantly passed on. Once looked down upon, popular piety came to be appreciated once more in the decades following the Council. In the Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI gave a decisive impulse in this area. There he stated that popular piety “manifests a thirst for God which only the poor and the simple can know.”
It is “a legitimate way of living the faith,” Francis continues, referring back to the concluding document of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Aparecida, “a way of feeling part of the Church and a manner of being missionaries”; it brings with itself the grace of being a missionary, of coming out of oneself and setting out on pilgrimage: “Journeying together to shrines and taking part in other manifestations of popular piety, also by taking one’s children or inviting others, is in itself an evangelizing gesture”. Let us not stifle or presume to control this missionary power! To understand this reality we need to approach it with the gaze of the Good Shepherd, who seeks not to judge but to love.” - Vatican Insider
Paraphrasing Tornielli, this is what I think will happen:  Church officials will be reluctant to acknowledge the supernatural nature of the events at Medjugorje, but they will not prohibit pilgrimages to the site and they will make every effort to ensure excellent pastoral care is given to the pilgrims that visit.

Here's an idea...

I think the pope should have the Wednesday Audience on Mondays.

That way hairdressers and museum workers who have Monday off could attend.  Oh!  Oh!  And people who call in sick on Mondays could watch it on TV.

I know.  And I bet it wouldn't be so crowded either.

A single man.

Today's Gospel tells how Jesus healed a man who lived in the tombs.  The man had an unclean spirit - many of them.  Christ in turn commanded them to leave the man.  They went out, into the swine nearby who threw themselves into the sea and were drowned.  The witnesses and others who arrived on the scene didn't know what to make of the man once possessed, once so feared, now sitting there clothed and in his right mind.  The man wanted to remain with Jesus and to follow him, yet Jesus wouldn't permit it, telling him instead to return home to his people and tell them all that the Lord had done for him.

That's sort of like my story.

A Bishop speaks on 'Pop Culture'

The greatest trick of the devil isn’t convincing the world he doesn’t exist—it’s convincing the world that Jesus Christ is the champion of his causes.
- Bishop Conley

The Bishop has a very good essay on First Things related to the Rolling Stone cover and article on Pope Francis.  It is excellent. The problem the Bishop points out is pervasive... and at times, rather subtle.
Rolling Stone and its collaborators are working to hijack the papacy of a loyal, though often unconventional, son of the Church.
The reason is simple. Sexual and social libertines have little interest in discrediting Christianity. They’re far more interested in refashioning it—in claiming Christ, and his vicar, as their supporters. The secularist social agenda is more palatable to impressionable young people if it complements, rather than competes with, the residual Christianity of their families. The enemy has no interest in eradicating Christianity if he can sublimate it to his own purposes. - Read the entire story here.

"Well-formed Catholics know that Pope Francis isn’t breaking new theological ground." - Conley

Practical art instruction...

Icon image of Christ
Pastel on paper.

Image reworked.

A practice image.

As I always tell my students*, practice with pencils and pastels before you begin to paint - or 'write' an icon if you are very, very spiritual.  That way you can see right off what is wrong with your eyesight which may prevent you from accurately documenting what you see.  You can recognize your mistakes in that little scriptorium of your imagination before wasting your time on a well prepared panel.  In the case of the image shown here I see what is wrong.

*I teach cats.

Sunday, February 02, 2014