See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ever hear of Tomte?



Tomten also bring gifts at Christmastime ...



Saint Birgitta of Sweden warned against Tomten because they originated in pagan mythology.  The mythological character persists to our day however, becoming the Swedish version of Santa.  Needless to say, the legendary tradition is just one more element in the observance of Christmas for fundamentalists to condemn.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Holy Father!

More photos here.


Song for this post here.

Cuba and Pope Francis and President Obama: It's A Christmas Miracle!

 Pope Francis played a "key role" in the historic normalization of relations, 
announced today, between the United States and Cuba. 
As the first Latin American pope, 
he had great credibility in the negotiations, 
said one official quoted in this story. 
As someone named after St. Francis of Assisi, 
he is also someone committed to working for peace. 
Blessed are the peacemakers. - Fr. Martin, SJ



Obama thanked Pope Francis on National TV.

Although negotiations had been brewing for some time, the first face-to-face meeting between Cuban and American officials took place in Canada in June 2013. Many of the ensuing meetings took place in Canada, but senior administration officials said that the Vatican played an important role in bringing the sides together as well. When Obama visited the Vatican in March, he and Pope Francis discussed the issue, and the Pope sent Obama and Castro personal letters to encourage them to press forward with negotiations. - Cuba Releases American Prisoner

There will be lots of press on this - lots!  I think it is wonderful news!

I wonder if the enemies of Francis will now begin to compare him to the Borgia Pope Alexander VI - the only other pope I can think of at the moment who effected any major change in the New World (Treaty of Tordesillas) - I may be wrong of course ...

"We drew the line between Spain and Portugal."
- Papa Alexander VI

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve is only a week away ...

Then shall all the trees of the forest exalt before the Lord,
for he comes: he comes to rule the earth! - 1 Chronicles


What was I thinking?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1st Day of the Novena for Christmas: Pakistan Taliban Massacre 141



Devastating news.

When I hear a child scream or cry at Mass ... I'm reminded of the suffering of children ... and now especially those massacred by ISIS and today, the Taliban ...

And I pray.

I pray today for the victims of the atrocious killing in  Pakistan.  On this, the first day of the novena for Christmas.

"A voice is heard in Ramah, 
weeping and great mourning, 
Rachel weeping for her children 
and refusing to be comforted, 
because they are no more."



Catholic Church-Lady Complaints Department


So, now you want to kick them out of church?


Crying babies, restless children at Mass?

The Pope says, "Let the children be."  I agree.
Calling children’s tears “the best sermon,” the Pope told parents of children baptized in the last year that “children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.” - Source
People complain about a lot of stuff at Mass - especially single people.  They claim they don't feel welcome.  They claim they don't fit in.  I've heard the very pious claim people are too noisy, kids uncontrolled, the sign of peace too much.  These are church-lady complaints.  These people have unreal expectations.

I love kids at Mass, babies who cry, developmentally disordered kids - and sometimes adults - whose presence is impossible to ignore.  Kids who escape the pew and run towards the altar - or do something else to embarrass their parents.  It is life.  Are we pro-life?  That is life.  We can still pray and worship - we have that freedom.

If single people feel unwelcome or find kids annoying - they may want to examine their conscience a bit more closely...

Crowded churches at Christmas - an irritation for the pious?

Ever hear of 'Submarine Catholics'?

A friend sent me an article from a Catholic website discussing those Catholics who return to Church for Christmas Mass yet never step inside the church throughout the year.  So she cleverly calls them 'submarine Catholics' because they surface once or twice a year.  Actually her article was a positive spin on how to evangelize them and make them feel welcome to come back regularly.  That's nice.

Imagine complaining that Mass is too crowded, no place to sit, and worse, no place to park.  Imagine complaining that people at Mass might sit where you normally do, or might ask what's going on, or dare to speak to the people they are with?  How very dare they.

Nice Christmas spirit, huh?  Yet despite the exclusive reputation church-people have, there is something about Christmas which attracts even the most secular, the most alienated ... the Infant Jesus wants his house to be full.  How can you complain?  Why would you jump in with your learned evangelization techniques and pamphlets, when these folks were never welcomed by you in the first place?  These souls were brought to Midnight Mass or Christmas Mass during the day by the Father - as Jesus said: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me."  Leave them alone.  Let them take in Christmas.  Smile, be kind, and let them receive Christ-Mass.

It should also be remembered that many people who crowd the churches are simply returning family members and friends - home for the holidays.  Are we pro-family?  That's life.

All are welcome?

Solemn Novena for Christmas begins today.



The most appropriate prayer for the novena is the prayer of the Church - the liturgical prayer of the Church:  Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.  Today the entire Church unites in prayerful preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.



Little Jesus, unto thee I flee,
through thy Mother praying thee
in my need to succor me.
Truly I believe of thee
God, thou art, with strength to shield me;
full of trust I hope of thee,
thou, thy grace, will give to me.
All my heart I give to thee,
therefore of my sins repent me;
from them breaking, I beseech thee,
Jesu! from their bonds to free me.
Firm my purpose is to mend me,
nevermore will I grieve thee;
wholly unto thee I give me,
patiently to suffer for thee,
thee to serve eternally;
and my neighbor like to me
I will love for love of thee.
Little Jesus I beseech thee,
in my need to succor me.
That one day I may enjoy thee,
safe with Joseph and with Mary,
and angels all, eternally. Amen.
(Prayer of Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The ... Pope ... of ...



All right ... I'll say it real quick:  CHRISTIAN UNITY!

What?  Seriously, all the popes have been popes of Christian unity - so one sees how such arbitrary titles are vain and obsequious, especially as they are applied by adoring fans to this or that pope.  Nevertheless I just can't help recalling how Pope Benedict XVI was so often hailed as the pope of Christian unity whenever he acknowledged other Christian leaders or made overtures of friendship, while poor Francis is so often disparaged.

Pope Francis follows in his predecessor's footsteps, yet apparently no one thinks it all that significant.  I do.

Just recently he met with the leader of the Salvation Army, welcoming him to the Vatican.  The meeting was in response to the request of  General André Cox, leader of the Salvation Army.  The story here.  It was another papal first ever-s.

Pope Francis shared a childhood memory with General Cox I found very touching - and which also clarifies very well the 'peripheries' the Holy Father regularly refers to.

Greeting warmly a delegation led by General André Cox, the Pope said Catholics and Salvationists, together with other Christians, recognise that those in need have a special place in God’s heart – so much so, that the Lord himself became poor for our sake. As a result, the Pope said, Catholics and Salvationists often meet at the same peripheries of society.
[...]
After the meeting ... Describing Pope Francis as “a peoples’ person”, the Salvation Army leader said the pontiff spoke off-the-cuff to describe his memory of walking, as a four-year old, with his grandmother in Argentina and seeing two Salvation Army ladies in their distinctive hats and uniforms. Despite the prevailing Catholic view that Protestants “were destined to Hell”, Bergoglio’s grandmother told him they were “Protestants, but good people”, awakening in the young boy an opening to ecumenical encounter. - Source
I like that.  The Salvation Army does much good.


Anyone remember the Friends episode when
Phoebe was a bell ringer for the SA?
"Watch out for that bitch!"

Msgr. Pope on the WAPO article covering Gay Christians who choose celibacy.



Monsignor Pope's commentary is excellent.

Things are getting better for Catholics who are same sex attracted.  There's honest recognition and understanding of the inclination itself, as well as increasing support for celibate and chaste 'gay' people to live faithful lives in accord with Catholic teaching - without pretending.

I like what Monsignor says about 'what the Church offers same sex attracted persons', and I will reprint that commentary here:

Of course the truth we offer in terms of human sexuality is out of favor among many today. But the truth, in accord with Scripture and natural law, is that human sexuality is ordered to the good of procreation, and by extension, to the good of the husband and wife so that they may be strengthened for their role as parents through the bonds of sexual intimacy and the stable love and loyalty cultivated there. This benefits not only them, but even more so their children, who need a loving and stable family in which to be best raised. It is to this that human sexuality is properly ordered and why its legitimate expression is only within the bonds of marriage. All other types of sexual expression are, in one degree or another, disordered (i.e., not properly ordered to the proper ends of sexuality). Thus sex as recreation, fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery, pornography, masturbation, and homosexual acts are disordered.
This is the truth that the Church offers to all who give us the gift of their attention. We affirm, as did St. Paul, that We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor 4:2). We do not discriminate or exempt anyone from this teaching. It is a teaching that applies equally to all and is the clear and consistent stance of Scripture and Church teaching extending all the way back into ancient Jewish times. Even if not all have lived it perfectly, it is what is taught and what is true from the Revelation of God and backed up by Natural Law. - Read the rest of his editorial here.

I'm not sure what seems to be so confusing for gay people in understanding, and or accepting what the Church, in the name of Jesus Christ calls us to.  Sometimes I get the impression people are trying to figure out just how far they can go and still be in the good graces of God.  In adolescence Catholic school boys used to discuss how far a kid could go with out committing full self-abuse.  Likewise, not a few gay people wonder about cuddling, kissing, hugging, and so on if they continue to live with a friend and want to stay chaste and celibate.  Mature men and women do not do that stuff.

What really does the Church call gay people to?

The Church calls us to sanctity - to holiness - that is our vocation.  He didn't make us gay or call us to be gay - gay is not a vocation.  Our sanctification is God's will for us.  It is so completely simple.  What does the Church offer gay people?  Salvation.  Eternal salvation.

The ordinary means are sufficient to attain this: The sacraments, Mass, prayer, instruction in the faith and spiritual life, love of God and neighbor - serving one's neighbor.  Fidelity to the duties of one's state in life - that is the sacrifice and penance God requires.  For celibate/single persons, that includes celibate chastity - loving God with our whole heart and soul, and our neighbor as our self.

That's pretty much it.

Tom Ford Jewelry - Should Christians be offended?


Nah!  I don't think so.


The designer, Tom Ford is not religious - he is spiritual.


In fact, there is no mention of his religion anywhere online - at least any that I could find. It doesn't matter however, since he has clearly made statements such as, "I am a spiritual person in an eastern religion kind of way."  And, "Nature is the closest thing to God and I don’t mean God by any sort of religion but by the connection to the universe, which I think we have lost."  Sounds clear to me - he's not interested in organized religion.

I would like to suggest he is neo-pagan - his religion is materialism, his spirituality is nature based.


I think many post-moderns are spiritual but not religious, in the same way. I'm not a philosopher - and I'm not an academic - but this type of neo-paganism seems to me to be rather pervasive among celebrities and people in the arts - and more pointedly, Tom Ford's spirituality seems typical for gay men. I'm speculating of course, but Ford's new jewelry line is more suggestive of ancient phallic cult symbolism than Christian iconography.


In the ancient religions, the phallic symbol represented fertility and "cultural implications with the male sexual organ". Today these cultural implications clearly represent male to male sexuality, as well as the pervasive influence of pornography, not to forget the popularity of erotic sexual aids, as well as all sorts of penis enhancement medications and or surgeries.


So - back on topic.  Should Christians be offended that Tom Ford made a phallic amulet in the form of a cross?


Why?  St. Paul tells us the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  What can one expect?


I'm not a Ford customer of course.  Just remember, fashion is fickle.  Like cosmetics, it is an industry which lies to those who consume it - and it is fleeting; like Tom Ford's youth.  Tom Ford is not very kind to his clients - and he also restricts his clientele.  He very famously said he doesn't design for fat people.  Hence, he doesn't have to try very hard to offend anyone outside his purview or interest.


I'm going with 'No' ... I doubt Tom Ford's phallic 'cross' is meant as an insult to Christians.  I'll bet he is not even interested in Christianity enough to harass religious people.  I would refer to his amulet as a fascinus instead of a cross.  Fascinating - comes from the Latin fascinus, BTW.


In Tom Ford's line, I'm guessing it's kind of gay.  Gay jewelry - with a hefty price tag.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The lack of joy among Catholics.

Divina Pastora - Cause of our joy!

Rejoice!

There seems to be a lack of joy among Catholics - which can suggest the absence of the Holy Spirit - because the signs of the Holy Spirit are love, joy and peace.

Those who foment dissension seem to lack that.

Lately I've been thinking of how the Israelites so often complained against Moses - even Aaron and Miriam complained, and the Lord punished them for it.

In Today's Gospel the Pharisees challenged St. John the Baptist - seeking to 'obstruct' his message.  I read today that Aquinas attributed their rebellion to envy, explaining "envious persons hinder the progress of souls."

Could it be there are those today, even in the Church, who are envious of Pope Francis?

Perhaps the invented, fanciful 'brouhaha' over something Pope Francis supposedly said to a little boy is an example?  It's a very simple story, which if it was true, little children - and those who are like them - can easily understand.  Do animals have a soul?  Do animals go to heaven?

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here:  It doesn't really matter and it is not for me to know if they go to heaven or not because as one of the psalms explains, 'such knowledge is too great for me' - I trust Jesus.  Yet if a little kid would ask me, I would say, "yes, I think they do."

Why? How can I steeped in sin at birth say such a thing?

Because, as another psalm says, God sent forth His spirit and the animals were created.  Hence, when he takes back his spirit - his life-breath - they die... returning to their dust.  

Once there was a fictional Little Prince who said something which may help us understand this better:  "The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen... What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Who in this life can see spirit or breath? Who knows the mind of God? Therefore I'm convinced, when God takes back His spirit, He takes his breath back - a little kid might say he takes it back in or inhales it, as it were. Deep breath. It's just a metaphor. Hence the life, the spirit, the breath of that little pet returns to God - and God is in heaven... Yep - so I'm convinced that is how we can say little kitties and dogs and rabbits and mouses go to heaven - without contradicting doctrine. 

Now remember this is not dogma or doctrine and no one has to believe it at all.  Even if the Pope said something to console a little boy who lost his dog.  It doesn't matter - because God is God ... and as St. John of the Cross wrote:  "Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me." 

A section of psalm 104 may help explain these things for little children much better than I can:

 You made the moon to mark the months;
the sun knows the time for its setting.
 When you spread the darkness it is night
and all the beasts of the forest creep forth.
 The young lions roar for their prey
and ask their food from God.

 At the rising of the sun they steal away
and go to rest in their dens.
 Man goes out to his work,
to labor till evening falls.

 How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.

 There is the sea, vast and wide,
with its moving swarms past counting,
living things great and small.
 The ships are moving there
and the monsters you made to play with.

 All of these look to you
to give them their food in due season.
 You give it, they gather it up:
you open your hand, they have their fill.

 You hide your face, they are dismayed;
you take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.
 You send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

 May the glory of the Lord last for ever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works! - Ps. 104

God made the monsters to play with ... he gave us pets to play with ... he takes back his spirit, and they die ... returning to the dust from which they came.

And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
- Ecclesiastes 12:7

When the Son of Man arrives on Christmas, will he find any faith on Pewsitters?



Kat Christmas


Advent Saints ... for Guadete Sunday.

St. John of the Cross

"I find there are seven kinds of harm that can be incurred through vain joy in one's good works and customs, ... this harm is spiritual and is particularly ruinous ...
The first is vanity, pride, vainglory, and presumption. For one is unable to rejoice over his works without esteeming them. This gives rise to boasting, the critical spirit, etc., as is said of the pharisee in the Gospel: he prayed and sought friendship with God by boasting of his fasting and performance of other good works. [Lk. 18: 11-12]
The second is usually linked with the first. It is that a person judges others - comparatively speaking - to be evil and imperfect, supposing that their deeds and works are not as good as his own." - Ascent Bk III Ch 28, John of the Cross




Rejoice always! Rorate coeli ...


What?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yes Toonces, Poodles go to heaven too - but only if they're good.



The Pope didn't say that - but he could have.

He didn't say cats go to hell either.  That is so not funny.  Think of the St. Bernard Alpine Rescue Cats.  And don't forget - there are Dominicans* in heaven - some are canonized saints.


Alpine Rescue Cat.


Will there be animals in heaven?  If you want them there, of course.  Even Fr. James Martin, SJ agrees.  (Fr. Martin is kind of a poodle himself.)

That said, everything we need will be found in God - all our desires will be met.  Our Lord has promised a new heaven and new earth - all creation is renewed - nothing will be lacking in God.  Why is that so hard to get?  Why do people torment themselves with these questions?  Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.

A more pertinent question may well be:  "Do catty people go to heaven?"



What about Pitbulls?



*Dominicans - aka God's dogs.




What?



Song for this post here.

The Feast of Saint Lucy



I never thought I would need St. Lucy.

I do.
O God, our Creator and redeemer, mercifully hear our prayers that as we venerate Thy servant, Saint Lucy, for the light of faith thou didst bestow upon her, Thou wouldst vouchsafe to increase and to preserve this same light in our souls, that we may be able to avoid evil, to do good and to abhor nothing so much as the blindness and darkness of evil and sin. 
Relying on Thy goodness, O God, we humbly ask Thee, by the intercession of Thy servant, Saint Lucy that Thou wouldst give perfect vision to our eyes, that they may serve for Thy greater honor and glory, and for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in paradise. 
Saint Lucy, Virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.  Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fr. Pavone in trouble again?

Fr. Z with Fr. Pavone
Perhaps Fr. Z could help Fr. P with
financial transparency and accountability;
Fr. Z publishes his donation levels and causes
right on his blog for all to see.


You have placed men over our heads. (Ps 65[66]:12)

There is a hierarchy established in the Church - the Lord has indeed placed men over our heads.  Cardinal Dolan is one of them...
Father Frank Pavone, the founder of Priests for Life (PFL), once again faces possible disciplinary action because of his refusal to allow episcopal oversight of his organization’s finances. 
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan has revealed, in a letter to the bishops of the US, that the Vatican conducted an apostolic visitation of Priests for Life last year. After that investigation, the cardinal says, he was asked by the Congregation for the Clergy to “assist Father Pavone with several necessary reforms.” 
However, Cardinal Dolan writes, Father Pavone has not cooperated with the reforms. As a result, the cardinal has told the Vatican that “I am unable to fulfill their mandate, and want nothing further to do with the organization.” - Catholic Culture

I only know what I read in the news about these latest developments, but I bet the blogosterium will erupt over this story - and Dolan gets slammed into the doghouse again.

Just a note:  There is something about some pro-life Catholics activists which 'seems' (to me at least) that some of them tend to believe their cause trumps every other issue - including war crimes, that they're above everyone else, including the legitimate authority of the Church - because the pro-life/anti-abortion cause supersedes all rules.  Sometimes I can get that impression.  I've also met activist types who act as if they are a shoe-in for heaven because of their activism.  (No doubt they are good people who have sacrificed much - there's no denying that.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe ... and discernment ... of apparitions ...



The signs.

1) Our Lady instructed St. Juan Diego to take her requests to the Bishop.

2) The Bishop didn't believe the apparition was authentic.

3) Obedient to the Bishop, the Blessed Virgin, rather than excoriating the Bishop's lack of credulity, sent him a sign ... a "Great Sign" in fact.

4) The Bishop came to believe and millions were converted to the True Faith.

5) A "permanent sign" remains to testify to the events.  The inexplicable preservation of the tilma itself is considered miraculous.

For more information on the miraculous image not made by hands, Our Lady of Guadalupe, go here.


Happy feast day to all!
  (Especially Yaya!)

Maybe we need to remind ourselves that the Catholic Church's pastoral care extends beyond the United States.



So why is Rome now 'suddenly' discussing Marriage and family?

First of all it isn't a 'sudden' turn of events and no one is wringing their hands about marriage.  The Church doesn't act like the blogosphere.  In fact the Synod was planned, it was foreseen before Francis; both John Paul II and Benedict XVI had concerns over the the issues so hotly discussed today.  Not a few Catholics in the United States are caught up in what seems to me to be the self-referential Catholicism Pope Francis speaks about from time to time.  They seem to think everything discussed in Rome is all about the Catholic Church in the United States.

Many have no idea what the situation for ordinary people is like in Latin America, Africa, India, or countries such as the Philippines.  Marriage and family life is culturally quite different.  Many of us have heard that in Latin America, Protestantism has been making inroads - often welcoming the disenfranchised.  In the Philippines and elsewhere, many cannot afford to get married, or may have a spouse who left them, found another to live with, and so on.  I'm being especially vague here simply because as Americans, we normally do not understand the cultural differences, much less be aware of individual circumstances which affect family life in other countries.

Yesterday one blogger asked, "So why the hand-wringing all of a sudden in Rome? If there's a problem in the Church, it's certainly not a lack of pastoral care for bigamists. Honestly. Matrimony is in a shambles, and "remarried" Catholics don't seem to have consciences that trouble them. Where's the pastoral crisis?"

I'm not so sure about that - why else would a divorced and remarried spouse(s) long to be reconciled to the Church?  Circumstances in the US may have a different set of problems - we can certainly argue that - but threats against the family and the crisis in marriage is a bigger problem across the globe than we in the US may be able to grasp.  The situation in the US is only part of the discussions in Rome.  We who cast aspersions upon those we imagine are obstinate sinners are acting like self-referential Catholics.  We judge others from our subjective, limited perspective.  As Pope Francis said early on in his papacy: "When the church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light... The self-referential church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out," he added.  Likewise, self-referential individuals may judge people and circumstances from their subjective POV and experience.

A quite recent example of cultural differences can be found in this story from the Philippines:
DAGUPAN CITY – A total of 346 indigent couples in this city exchanged their marriage vows in a Catholic wedding ceremony sponsored by the local government last December 6 at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. 
Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, together with Fourth District Representative Gina de Venecia, former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr, and the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese sponsored the mass wedding for unwed couples, who were given the chance to legitimize their union as husbands and wives, some of whom were already living together and have children. 
The mass wedding was one of several activities lined up during the month-long city fiesta coinciding with the celebration of the 400th year of Dagupan as a parish. 
Also present during the ceremony were 2014 city fiesta hermano mayor Councilor Jeslito Seen, Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo, Councilor Alfie Fernandez, and punong barangays who also served as ninongs and ninangs to the married couples. 
Rev. Fr. Ariel Aquino from the St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort parish officiated the wedding ceremony. 

Mayor Fernandez cited the importance of legalizing marital unions of live-in couples for every member of the family to avail of various benefits under the law. 
Fernandez also reminded the newly-married couples to maintain respect, understanding, and love within the family unit, which in turn will result in a stronger community.
“We are always here to guide you in attaining progress and happiness for every family in Dagupan,” Fernandez said. 
Meanwhile, de Venecia advised the hundreds of newlyweds to have a relationship built on trust and communication. 
Most of the couples who had been living together without the sanction of legal marriage for years now were elated for the opportunity given them by the city government.
“We are very much happy that we are officially married and to be part of this grand occasion. It is really a blessing for couples like us to have this kind of celebration given us,” newlyweds Leonardo and Darlina Velasco said. - Source

Very few in the United States would understand a ceremony like that.  We just don't get it.  We have big, extravagant weddings for just one couple.  It's an event - a production - an extravaganza starring two people.  We do pre-nups, we plan our families, we plan our lives.  We have no idea how other people live.  We think we do, but when we talk as if the Synod on the Family is only discussing marriage and family and liturgical/sacramental abuses in the mid-western United States we clearly demonstrate we don't know what we are talking about.

Yes.

Indeed.

That goes for me too.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"At the risk of seeming ridiculous - our God is so good." - Pope Francis

I come before you
with empty hands…

Very often Pope Francis seems to echo the saints and mystics.

He speaks of the tenderness of God - the great love of God, who, as many mystics have noted, 'loves us unto folly'.  The Holy Father seems to have that sentiment at heart, as well as the spiritual childhood of Little Therese of Lisieux - who incidentally, preferred to be known as little Therese - no one great in the eyes of the world.  I think the Holy Father is very much like her.

Today's homily from Pope Francis touches upon this great love of God - especially for those who feel estranged from it:
God loves is free - the Pope continued - just as a mother’s love is for her child. And the child "allows himself to be loved": "this is the grace of God." "But many times, just to be sure, we want to control the grace". He said that "in history and also in our lives we are tempted to transform grace into a kind of a merchandise ...
"In this way this beautiful truth of God's closeness slips into a kind spiritual book-keeping: 'I will do this because it will give me 300 days of grace ... I will do that because it will give me this, and doing so I will accumulate grace'. But what is grace? A commodity? That’s what it appears. And throughout history this closeness of God to his people has been betrayed by this selfish attitude, selfish, by wanting to control grace, to turn it into merchandise".
"St. Paul reacts strongly against this spirituality of the law.’I am right, and this and this. If I do not do this I am not right'. But you are right because God has drawn close, because God caresses you, because God tells you these beautiful things with tenderness: this is our justice, this closeness of God, this tenderness, this love. At the risk of seeming ridiculous our God is so good. If we had the courage to open our hearts to this tenderness of God, how much spiritual freedom we would have! How much!  - Vatican Radio

How Thereseian.  How much like the Desert Fathers when the Holy Father speaks in his little commentaries on the daily readings.  These are heartfelt meditations which seem to echo the simplicity of the little saints.  The message today very much parallels the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, who desired to love God unto folly, recognizing and accepting that God loves us unto folly - the folly of the cross.

What St. Therese did encounter in her own culture was the preoccupation with perfection, merit, degrees of sanctity. The situation of the child enables her to accept weakness and limitation and to trust in God's love and mercy. God as father is a warm and inviting image for her. While perhaps not the ipsissima verba of Therese, the sense of 'spiritual childhood' is recorded in the Last Conversations:
"It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaming our living. ... To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices. ... It is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much."
St. Therese is providing an alternative view of relationship to God: not a formal, stiff, perfectionist, scrupulous, fearful model, but a relaxed, loving, open and meaningful one. - St. Therese and Spiritual Childhood

Pope Francis seems to be doing the same thing. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Pope likes to use colloquialisms when he speaks.

Spinster archetype, Mary Bailey 
It's A Wonderful Life




What's a colloquialism?
col·lo·qui·al·ismkəˈlōkwēəˌlizəm/
nouna word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation.
the use of ordinary or familiar words or phrases.
Many people use colloquialisms - it's a 'folksy' way to express a thought.  It's probable 'mature' Americans may be more accustomed to such words, or at least understand what they signify.  I'm guessing most ordinary people understand them.  Perhaps a colloquialism could be better understood as a sort of literary archetype, a word or phrase which contains a descriptive sense or meaning immediately recognized or understood by an ordinary person.

The Pope uses that sort of language in his more casual speeches and feverinos or daily homilies - sometimes he uses it in more official addresses and the Wednesday catechesis as well.

For instance, last year when the Holy Father addressed 800 superiors of women religious, he told them: The consecrated must be mothers and not ‘spinsters’!  More than one journalist found the admonition to be offensive to women, especially women who have given up marriage and family for religious life.  (Part of the problem may be the general perception that the vocation to religious life is simply another career choice.  It's not.)  Within that same speech the Holy Father counselled against 'using the vocation for personal ambition or advancement.'  A seasoned religious would understand exactly what the Holy Father meant - it echoes everything his predecessors have said about consecrated life, as well as that which more doctrinal documents have taught.

Journalists and careerists, academics and armchair theologians, may not get the use of simple colloquialism to convey a point - but I think an ordinary nun would.  Before he was made pope, the Holy Father was very close to the Discalced Carmelite nuns, whose language and way of life is very ordinary and simple, and I am told the nuns loved him much.  I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised the Holy Father speaks publicly in much the same way he spoke to enclosed religious as well as the ordinary people he joined around their kitchen tables in the slums.  Maybe that is lost on the more sophisticated, aesthete Catholics in the West as well?

Sadly, it appears the Catholic 'faithful opposition' is just as quick as secular journalists to reject such 'patriarchal' colloquialisms from a Pope they seem convinced is their theological/doctrinal inferior.

What's 'spinster'?
spinster
a woman who is not married, especially a woman who is no longer young and seems unlikely ever to marry.
Note* A woman who never enters marriage contract is so smart.
"Spinster means a woman who can stand independently and doesn't need a man for her life" - Urban

Full Definition of SPINSTER
1
: a woman whose occupation is to spin
2
a archaic : an unmarried woman of gentle family
b : an unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying
3
: a woman who seems unlikely to marry - Merriam Webster

Very few people ever use the term any longer, but it can be used as a colloquialism, and often in a derogatory sense - to make a point. It's become a loaded word in our rad-feminist, everyone-must-have-love-affairs-sex-and-partner(s) dominated culture.  Hence my insistence it's use is colloquial.  Yet Catholics today love to mince words, especially from a Pope they do not like.

One of the more ridiculous assertions that the Pope's language is offensive and distinctly derogatory to 'single' women comes from a Catholic blogger known for some pretty outlandish criticisms of Catholic priests and bishops, and now Pope Francis.  Though the term itself is 'derogative' - the Pope was not suggesting single women are inferior - that was demonstrated in the use of the term in his address to women religious last year.

Nevertheless, the blogger took offense to the Holy Father's homily yesterday wherein he used the word 'spinster' once again:

“The joy of going out to seek the brothers and sisters who are far off: This is the joy of the Church. Here the Church becomes a mother, becomes fruitful”
However, the Pope warned that when the Church closes in on herself, it becomes stagnant and disheartened. Without joy or peace, he said, it becomes "a Church that seems more like a spinster than a mother." - Zenit

The Church has always been understood as Mother, Holy Mother Church, a fruitful vine - the term 'spinster' suggests a barren womb - it is actually a very understandable - even traditional analogy - much like saying the weather outside is colder than a witch's tit.  Forgive me, it's vulgar and derogatory, but it's descriptive.

The Catholic blogger I refer to deliberately misconstrues the Holy Father's words, deliberately reads into them something that is not there.  She says she supports sound Catholic doctrine yet takes a rad-feminist approach to 'catch' the Holy Father in an error.  She twists his words to make him look foolish and uses them to write a post which invites her followers to further scorn the Holy Father.  She interprets his words to mean single women, unmarried women, are not welcome in the Church.  While claiming to write her 'private' reactions on her blog, while insisting she supports the Catholic Church whose leader is the Vicar of Christ, she and her readers speculate upon the Pope's mental health, condescending to suggest and discuss that he may have developmental disorders:  "His inability to filter the thoughts in his brain could well be Asperger's."  



I waste my time on this, however.  How can one even respond to the following remark the same blogger made on another post maligning the Pope?

It is obvious he is imposing his hillbilly style upon 2000 years of respect and dignity of that which is holy. Deconstructing marriage and the family, the Deposit of Faith and Sacraments--the army guarding the safety of our Popes is now under deconstruction. - Catholic Blogster


Really?

No wonder so many websites, as well as her home chancery no longer tolerate her.
       

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The guy with MS.



There is a man at church who has MS - at least I think it is that.  He uses a walker now.  He's young, somewhere in his 30's I'd guess.  He does everything on his own.  I've also seen him at the grocery store.  He always says 'hi' and gives me a big smile whenever I see him.

Last evening while leaving Mass, he did the same.  A smile so genuine and warm - as if he had seen an old friend.  He goes to Mass daily and I've seen him around for years.  I don't really know him though.  Last evening I ran to hold the door for him, but he didn't need assistance - "Ah, that's okay - I do this every day," he said.  He thanked me however, and I'm sure he knew I wasn't being patronizing.

Sure enough, he made his way out, down the stairs, and I expect, into his van, unassisted.  Obviously it is difficult for him to walk, to move and coordinate taking a step, handling the walker and doors, it's even difficult to speak clearly sometimes.  Yet he can look you in the eyes, he can smile, he can show kindness towards me, and of course, he does speak.  He's young, disabled, single, on his own - and it appears he doesn't want to bother anyone - and I doubt he complains about anything.  He volunteers at the parish, helps out with the youth, goes to daily Mass and adoration.

Like I said, he always has a smile on his face, and seems happy to see everybody.

I think he is 'full of grace' ...  I got the distinct impression that he really is holy.

He's okay ...


Correcting the Pope

Do not stay in the company of scorners.

I never fail to be amazed at how many are willing to correct - even scorn Pope Francis.  The scorn is especially offensive and not from a good spirit.

I am reminded of those Fatimists who have insisted upon resisting the Pope to his face - appropriating to themselves the expression used by St. Paul the apostle.

The other day, a reader left the following comment on my blog, which I reprint here - because I agree wholeheartedly with it:  "The idea that Abbey Roads gets right what everyone else has gotten wrong is itself quite a fantastic notion."  The writer is absolutely correct - I often tell people not to 'follow me' or take my word for this or that which I write about.  I also enjoy offering a humorous slant on current events in my 'crackpot news' posts.  I adopted the term 'crackpot bloggers' from Fr. Euteneuer - who was busy spinning his own stories online.  It seems to work - for me.

When we take ourselves too seriously online, we tend to establish ourselves as a sort of magisterium, perhaps even an extraordinary form of the Holy Office - judging and condemning - or looking down on everyone else - online or in the pews.  Some prefer to call it faithful dissent, faithful opposition, or faithful resistance.  Those terms are definitely Catholic - progressives-liberals have used them for decades.  Although, more recently, the rhetoric sounds more 'protestant'.

To help illustrate my point, here are a couple of mildly crackpot criticisms of Pope Francis, from faithful Catholics online:

Newspapers are splashing headlines about Pope Francis' admission that he is ignorant about what is going on in his Church. He is reportedly claiming his "unawareness" was "bestowed" upon him by God, and this is where he gets his license to continue on with the destruction of Catechesis in spite of the chaos of The Ferris Bueller's Day Off Papacy.

Willful ignorance may make him feel blissful but it is not a gift of God's.

From another authority:
It's time to pray for this pope's conversion to authentic Catholicism.

And another:
Pope Francis is not only publicly saying that unrepentant divorced and remarried Catholics need to be integrated into the Church, he is politicking for this big time behind the scenes.

Many Catholics online know what I'm talking about - these pundits believe themselves to be the faithful remnant who continue to keep the faith.  They have criticized, mocked, and scorned their parish priests, their bishops for years - now the pope is maligned and called a heretic. claiming he is bent on the destruction of the Holy Faith.

Neither Our Lord nor Our Lady would approve of the language used by these writers, and they would especially decry the doubt and division fomented by this sort of 'catechesis'.  I say that because at Fatima Our Lady pleaded that prayers be offered for the Holy Father, who will have much to suffer.  Long before that, the Blessed Virgin expressed deep sorrow to St. Catherine Laboure regarding the sufferings coming upon the Church and the hierarchy:
"I then asked the Blessed Virgin what was the meaning of certain things which had been shown me. She answered: 'My child, the times are evil and misfortunes are about to overwhelm France. The throne will be destroyed and the whole world convulsed by all sorts of calamities.' The Blessed Virgin looked very sad as she said this. 'But,' she added, 'come to the foot of this altar. Here graces will be poured out on all who ask for them, great or small. There will come a time when the danger will be great and it will seem that all is lost. But have confidence. You will feel that I am with you and that God and St. Vincent are protecting the communities. Have confidence, do not be discouraged, I shall be with you.' Then with tears in her eyes, Our Lady continued: 'There will be victims in other communities. There will be victims among the clergy of Paris. The Archbishop will die. My child, the cross will be despised and trodden underfoot. Our Lord's side will be pierced anew; the streets will run with blood, and the whole world will be in sorrow.'" - Source

How can we honor the Blessed Virgin one day, and the next day condemn the Holy Father?  How can so called Catholic news sites place a question mark after every headline quoting a statement attributed to Pope Francis?  These tactics are Catholic malware which infect our thinking - they embed in our memory - it's a virus.  Some people online imagine their mission in life is to spread their own message, their own version of the Gospel, failing to understand that all is subject to the authority of the Church.

I've also sinned in this, and ask God's forgiveness and the grace to repair the damage I have done.