Sunday, November 29, 2015

Romantic notions ... on the heart of a monastery.

Someone recently wrote a sweet little meditation on the 'cloister' as the heart of the monastery.

People have romantic notions of monastic life - which may explain why many come away from it sad.  Some monks and nuns have no physical cloister in the classic sense.  Some houses do not have a structural quadrangle around which the physical cloister is formed.  Cloister is a term for enclosure used by enclosed religious, monks and nuns.  Some communities have strict Papal enclosure.  It's technically about separation from the world.  There used to be semi-cloistered religious who maintained enclosure with a separate convent or house, including refectory and living quarters - often attached to the facility in which they worked.  They still exist of course in orders such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, or active Dominican congregations, as well as friaries and priories.  Again, it's a practical matter, as well as a canon law requirement I think, and it's about separation from the world.

The lovely architectural enclosure found in traditional monasteries and great abbeys is only part of the cloister - but it is not the heart of a monastery.  The heart of the monastery is the Opus Dei, the work of God - hence the location of the heart of the monastery would most likely be the choir, the monastery chapel or church.

Unless the monks make ale - then it could be the brewery for some.

When I was in the monastery there was a funny novice who liked to go to the quadrangle, his hood up, arms beneath his scapular, pacing meditatively.  None of the monks used the quadrangle except to tend the garden.  The cell was the normal place for meditation and prayer.  Some of the brothers would snicker about our little brother playing monk.  He had very romantic notions of monastic life, and he soon left, rather disappointed.  Monastic life is completely ordinary - no drama - ever.


The Holy Year of Mercy ... Just can't wait any longer.

"The Year of Mercy is inaugurated not in Vatican City, 
but in one of the poorest and most war-torn countries in the world."

From Fr. James Martin S.J.

Honestly, this is just amazing to me, and amazingly moving. The Holy Door is not at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, but at the Cathedral in Bangui, in the Central African Republic. The Year of Mercy is inaugurated not in Vatican City, but in one of the poorest and most war-torn countries in the world. The Prince of Peace comes not to the wealthy but to a poor family in Nazareth. Jesus goes first not to the powerful but to the powerless. God is a God of surprises--always going beyond our boundaries and always inviting us to the margins. Amen. - Fr. Martin's Facebook page

The Spiritual Marriage of Blessed Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J.

Holy Communion is like that ...

There is a young saint - recently beatified, whose devotion led him to the most exquisite union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus ... the spiritual marriage. Yes. It is no less strange however, that the Word, left his Father, to become one with man, to become Bread from Heaven.

Blessed Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J., First apostle of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spain.

I read someplace that Bl. Bernardo's intercession is especially helpful to those who struggle with the vice of impurity. I think Bernardo's devotion to the Sacred Heart - the complete surrender of all his affections - is an antidote to all impurity. The grace of espousal seems to me to be similar to the consummate love of Jesus in the Eucharist for us, wherefore he gives us his body, blood, soul, and divinity at every Communion. Isn't it like that? Isn't that total union what we are called to? I like to think so at every Communion - even when I feel nothing, see nothing, hear nothing - it seems especially then that faith supplies.

I'm sure I would rather not have experiences such as those Bl. Bernardo participated in - I prefer to love in deepest obscurity... silently recollected after each Communion. Knowing he is there and I am with him. I like the way Bl. Bernardo put it: “I see that everything in my heart is moving towards God, drawn like iron to a magnet. It desires only God, searches only for God, and longs only for God….” For Bernardo, that was his constant state - and he remained faithful to the graces he received. For me, perhaps this desire is only imperfectly experienced in the thanksgiving after Communion. Which is why I never want to waste those moments of recollection.

Always holding my right hand, the Lord had me occupy the empty throne; then He fitted on my finger a gold ring.... “May this ring be an earnest of our love. You are Mine, and I am yours. You may call yourself and sign Bernardo de Jesus, thus, as I said to my spouse, Santa Teresa, you are Bernardo de Jesus and I am Jesus de Bernardo. My honor is yours; your honor is Mine. Consider My glory that of your Spouse; I will consider yours, that of My spouse. All Mine is yours, and all yours is Mine. What I am by nature you share by grace. You and I are one!” - The Visions of Bernard Francis De Hoyos, S.J. by Henri Bechard, S.J. (Ed. note: I am unable to verify this quote.)

Gay/SSA Catholic men  seem to be especially taken by this particular image of spiritual betrothal.  It shows how carnal or sexualized our understanding can be.  The Blessed Virgin takes care of such romantic misunderstandings regarding union with Christ and the spiritual marriage in those devoted to her.  Other gay Catholics, male and female, sometimes see in this incidence some significance for the cause of same sex marriage, which strikes me as rather absurd.

In the ascetic-mystical life of the saints, God himself purifies the soul of disordered passions in and through purifying trials and temptations.  Thus proving true Christ's words, 'what is impossible for man is possible for God.'  Blessed Bernardo was no exception.
Apart from being favored by mystical graces, heavenly visions and saintly visitations, Bernard also suffered excruciating attacks from demonic forces. As happens to those who arrive at the threshold of mystical life, he was not spared “the dark night of the soul”, through which he struggled for five months. 
During this period, the devils began to taunt him: “Now you will see, you sanctimonious hypocrite, what it is to trifle with God when you fall into His hands!” His mind was filled with images of God as a Just Judge, Who was displeased with him. Bernard became despondent. His meditation, Mass, Communion, penances… instead of assuaging his sufferings, made him feel more wretched. The great graces and favours he had received in the past months now appeared as objects of ridicule. He could not find comfort in his companions, either. The periods of recreation after meals degenerated into pure torture.
In despair, he felt a furious urge to beat his head against a wall, to gnaw his lips or tear out his hair, or even jump out the window. More, he was violently incited to blaspheme God, the Blessed Virgin, the angels and his most beloved saints. Whenever he begged God for assistance, the devil would taunt him by saying that he had become unworthy of any grace because of his degenerated behavior. Bernard’s biggest harassment was in the temptations regarding impurity; he was bombarded by obscene thoughts and his reactions brought him to tears and made him gnash his teeth. Worst of all, he was getting more and more convinced that all the divine favors he had presumed he had received in; the past were merely illusions and only snares set up by the devil to drag him to hell.
Through it all, the power of Christ stayed with him and prevented him from going to extreme measures. Thus, in reality, he did not ever say the least word or do the slightest action that would have surprised or shocked his companions. Nonetheless, he suffered continually day and night, especially during his prayer and while going to Communion. He was facing a period of the dark night of the soul”. - Source

Blessed Bernardo died on November 29, at the age of 24 in 1735.

This is interesting: Has 'Courage Apostolate' changed? Is it getting to be about 'treating' homosexuality?

I always thought Courage was about supporting gay/SSA persons to live chastely?

I always thought it was about helping gay people live a chaste life in accord with Catholic teaching, to sanctify their lives in and through the observance of chastity and celibacy.  I always thought that.  Though Courage uses the 12-Step approach - it is not a 12-Step program.  Courage members have told me it is not about orientation change.

That said, it sure sounds as if those associated with the Apostolate are focusing more and more on treatment, therapy, and/or reparative techniques.  Case in point, an interesting essay by Mark Latkovic at Crisis.  Latkovic is Professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.  Janet Smith teaches there as well.  Both have Courage connections.  Latkovic's essay is titled, Using Modern Science to Treat Homosexuality.

That might come as a surprise to many gay Catholics.

For those who have deep seated conflicts regarding homosexual attraction, tendency, acting out or fantasy, I see nothing wrong with strongly motivated men and women seeking psychological counselling, even some sort of therapy to overcome disordered sexual appetites, compulsive behavior, sexual-addiction, what have you.  Even if so desired, to change and find wholeness in and through natural love and marriage and family.  It can happen.

I'm not sure all that many gay people are motivated to do that however - and the idea of therapy and psychological intervention may not be something everyone wants, feels a need for, or can afford.  I always like to point that out, especially to professional Catholics.  Insurance may not cover it, and someone living in poverty or scraping by day to day, may not have access to such middle class luxuries.  Likewise, some people may not have the desire to go through all of that.

As I see it, Christ's call to conversion doesn't come with strings attached, or some prerequisite for medical/psychological intervention.  For many decades there have been confessors and spiritual directors passing the buck of pastoral care to psychologists, group therapy, and/or psychotropic medications.  Likewise, not a few bishops and religious superiors sent their gay priests to therapy to fix all sorts of sexual disorders - to little or no avail.

The reality is that science hasn't treated homos much better than the Catholic Church.

It would be a sad situation if Courage Apostolate sells gay people short by relying on 'science' as opposed to grace and the sacraments, spiritual direction, friendship and support.  The Church is fully equipped to deal with sinners.  The scientific strategy may work for parents and under-aged kids in their formative years - or maybe even in seminary formation.  (I think Latkovic is at the same seminary where bathrobes were mentioned as a precaution to avoid leading latent SSA seminarians into temptation.)  I had a friend in a seminary where he saw a psychologist regularly for 'therapy' and counselling.  The friend didn't stay, and the therapy didn't change anything.  An isolated incident of course, but generally speaking, adult gay men and women are not going to be attracted to the Gospel if they think they have to go through some sort of therapy first.  While very few, if any will welcome the idea that they are mentally ill and require treatment.

Just saying.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Back online ...

I tried to touch them to make sure they weren't holograms or anything ...

This is probably the longest time I've been offline in years.  No Internet, no email - nothing.  I caught the news on network TV and PBS - no print news, no radio.  Aside from a bit of television I was probably as unconnected as a Carthusian.  I didn't even follow coverage on Francis in Africa on EWTN.

It was an excellent break.

I got the laptop back today.  I surfed a couple of blogs and Catholic social media portals and realized I didn't miss much.  Just a quick skim at Pewsitters was enough to jolt me into a fresh sense of recognition that the site is corrupted by detraction simply in and through their headline copy.  New Advent struck me as a sort of scolding school for bad Catholics ... the same old, same old Catholic authorities criticizing 'faux' whatever.  Writing faux religious rules in the ethernet.  It reminds me of the Scripture: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world ... and online-evangelists.

The Internet can be oppressive - you think you're in control, but these weird people infect your interior life with bits of malware.  People need to unplug from time to time.  A friend asked if my computer was possessed - in a sense it was - by trojans and malware.   Our brains pick up crap like that as well - our faith gets corrupted - we pick up these negative bits and criticisms, calumnies and detraction, all sorts of filth and we are influenced by all of it - whether we think so or not.

I jokingly emailed my friend, writing:  I just skimmed through blog links - same old same old. I talked to real living people at Best Buy and it was so weird. I tried to touch them to make sure they weren't holograms or anything - but they backed away. I've been sequestered for far too long - I have been living online. The wonderful thing I discovered is that the 'real' people I meet - they do not talk or act like the people online say they do. They are really pretty nice - they don't scream at me or tell me mean things or anything like that.

I may not return next time. I may follow one of them home and ask if they'll adopt me.  You can't do that with online 'friends and followers' - they're not real - they are just online.  When I was offline - no one was there.  No one.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hello friends ...

We'll be offline for computer updates and repairs, reprogramming and rehab ... if I don't get back in time, have a happy Thanksgiving ...

We love you family! - Toonces and Terry

And now, words of wisdom from Fr. Phil:

Song for this post here!

Oh!  And don't forget to send your donations to the Catholic Campaign For Human Development
sponsored by the USCCB.  

DealDaesh.Com ... These are not actors... They're real people.

You can tell they're real people because the way they talk.  What?

Deal Daesh.Com

Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J.

A painting did a long time ago.
I think I should do a new one.

A martyr for our times.

At the time of the killing of Pro, Mexico was under rule of the fiercely anti-clerical and anti-Catholic President Plutarco Elías Calles who had begun what writer Graham Greene called the "fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth." - Source

Today, November 23 is his feast day. It seems to me he needs to be better known - he should have a larger cult in the United States.


God our Father, 
you gave your servant Michael Augustine 
the grace to seek ardently your greater glory 
and the salvation of your people. 
Grant that, through his intercession 
and following his example, 
we may serve you and glorify you 
by performing our daily duties with fidelity and joy 
and effectively helping our neighbor. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The extraordinary Image of Christ, the Returning King

The Image of Jesus Christ the Returning King


Solemnity of Christ the King

Almighty ever-living God, 
whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, 
the King of the universe, grant, we pray, 
that the whole creation, set free from slavery, 
may render your majesty service 
and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. Amen

"My Kingdom does not belong to this world - if it did - my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over ..." - John 18

I don't get this feast until I pray.  I can't understand it if I listen to Christians who want to engage in armed crusades, or who want to 'bomb the hell out of Syria', or who insist that Jesus would support the 2nd Amendment.  (Palin said that.)  Don't be upset by that - it's just my inability to understand people who rely on weapons and killing.  (I'm not saying nations and people can't defend themselves or their families of course.)

I think I get what the Church teaches though.  I think I understand what the Popes say about Christ the King.  I think I understand what Our Lord meant when he told Pilate, 'my kingdom is not here'.  

This morning I read in Magnificat something Pope Benedict wrote: "God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out, on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right ways ... The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know they are in the hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines."

I immediately thought, I bet if Francis said that, he'd be called out for it.

Today the Holy Father greeted pilgrims saying:

“The kingdoms of this world sometimes build themselves on arrogance, rivalry, oppression; the kingdom of Christ is ‘a kingdom of justice, love and peace’,” he said. The Holy Father went on to say, “[T]o reign as He does means to serve God and the brethren – a service that flows from love: to serve for love’s sake is to reign: this is the regality of Jesus.”

Happy feast day!

What if ... discrediting Bishops is a veiled form of anti-clericalism ...

“To silence the moral voice of the Church, the preferred option has been to discredit its ministers.” - Elizabeth Lev*

Consider the attacks against the Pope, the Magisterium, as well as individual cardinals and bishops.  *Elizabeth Lev made that statement which heads this post during the aftermath of the clerical sexual abuse scandal.  A few years ago she reminded readers of revolutionary France, when propagandists directed similar calumnies to what we hear today against Catholic clergy.  Thus setting the stage for the Reign of Terror and the execution of countless priests and religious, and the confiscation of Church property, and so on.

These days, otherwise faithful Catholics, accusing cardinals, bishops, and priests of infidelity and conspiracy to change Catholic teaching, or just living lavishly, may be inadvertently helping the enemies of the Church who seek to silence the 'moral voice' of the Church.  No doubt there are 'progressive' clergy in the Church - even those who would have the Church change its moral teaching, but not every "Francis-bishop" is necessarily guilty by association.  And that is where I'm in agreement with Bill Donohue when he suggested:
The crazies on the Catholic right have set their sights on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. Why? Because he is close to Pope Francis, and they hate the pope.

Nevertheless, critics from Donohue to Voris to writers and pundits from the 'other side', are all cut from the same cloth, and I'm not sure the infighting and mudslinging is all that helpful.  Though they proclaim themselves defenders of the faith and orthodoxy, their invective tends to further alienate those whose confidence in the clergy is already badly shaken.  Calling out a cardinal, accusing him of a lavish lifestyle is a direct smear, a gutter-snipe attempt to discredit his character, just as it was to infer homosexual tendencies.  It's gossip and scandal mongering.

In some ways it's funny - as Donohue brings up the 'drag name' given to Cardinal Wuerl in seminary days.  If he went to an all boys Catholic high school, he would know girl's name were given to the more aesthete among the students.  Seminaries were no different.  I knew several students and what they called others, and vice versa.  They had names for the Archbishop and other bishops and cardinals in the Church.  Often unflattering girl's names or stereotypical effeminate titles.  Cardinal Spellman had his, as did Archbishop Sheen, and so on.  Donohue calls out Voris for referencing Wuerl's name.  Voris uses the name to speculate upon Wuerl's sexuality.  It's cheap, Catholic TMZ- style gossip. Homosexual in the UK called Pope Benedict Pope Betty - it doesn't mean Benedict is gay.  They are the flip side of the same coin.

You know what makes me sad?  You do.

I apologize I cast a slur upon Niles yesterday - I removed it.  I especially apologize to my friend who was offended by it.  To be honest, I'm more sad by the character assassinations which come out of Catholic social-media 'news-sites'.  As I noted yesterday, neither Church Militant or the Catholic Defense League speaks for me - and I'm not sure either organization is deputed to speak for the Church.  As I said, what makes me sad are the attacks and dirt digging people seem to devote their time to, attempting to uncover further scandals.  This happens on both sides - I've heard of Catholic defense people acting as spies to report back to chanceries as well.  This intrigue and and political maneuvering doesn't strike me as anything Christ would approve of.

It seems to me many online debates and condemnations may have the same effect upon ordinary Catholics as do false apparitions and locutions, suggesting this or that innovation in Catholic practice since Vatican II is evil.  I've frequently reminded readers of the false apparitions from the early 20th century, the effect of which certainly helped to foment mistrust of the clergy and the authority of the bishops.  Just as modern apparitions and private revelations have affected the confidence of believers in Catholic teaching and more especially, the authority of bishops.

I'm willing to bet Church Militant and their 'journalists'  have the same impact on faithful Catholics foolish enough to follow, or rely upon their 'newscasts' and exposés, sometimes based upon dubious conjecture and innuendo, resulting in statements frequently just a hairsbreadth from calumny and outright detraction.

I am amazed that Catholics cannot discern the problems associated with and created by people active in Catholic social media - the biased reporting and gossip perpetrated by popular sites, often based in dubious MSM reporting or leaks of what was purported to have been said, threatens to undermine the confidence and faith of many.  Nor would it appear it attracts anyone to the Church.

Media manipulation

Sometimes I wonder if anti-Catholic elements in mainstream media deliberately print provocative snippets from what is said in the Church, by the pope or bishops, in order to incite 'right wing' Catholic bloggers and independent social media news sites?  If that 'conspiracy theory' is correct, I'd say it's working.

Yesterday, I mentioned in a comment, now deleted, that I watched Charlie Rose Friday night.  He interviewed Peggy Noonan, a writer, a journalist who never lets you forget she's Irish-Catholic.  She's an incredible witness in the marketplace and in media.  She's a great writer - surpassing most contemporary Catholic bloggers and writers.  Highly professional and well spoken, not given to gutter-snipe or character assassination - many so-called social-media-journalists would do well to study her.

To be sure, this discussion and outing of bishops and cardinals is beyond my expertise, likewise the subject of French revolutionary ant-clericalism and its parallel to what is going on today, is over my head.

Fortunately few people read me and what I have to say is inconsequential.  It's just a mystery to me how people can remain faithful Catholics while tearing down the hierarchy by engaging in detraction, calumny, and scandalous gossip. It's especially sad considering the state of the world and the persecution of Christians and terrorism.  What are we doing to one another?

Moving on now - talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pope Francis reportedly said he is afraid of rigid priests.


Quoting Jennifer Lawrence, "I know what they're like ..."

According to the report I read it came off as if he was being slightly facetious, but once again, I felt consoled he recognizes such problems.  I think most religious formators do as well.  It is why some people are asked to leave novitiate or seminary.  Sometimes it may be a mistake, and the candidate can usually find another diocese, religious house, or bishop to ordain him. Sometimes it is not a mistake.

What the Pope reportedly said:

Pope Francis on Friday said a good priest “creates serenity,” and a priest “that is often sad, nervous, or has a hard character” is not good for himself or his people. - Vatican News

Another site reports the Holy Father said this:

"I will tell you sincerely, I'm scared of rigid priests, I keep away from them. They bite!" - Source

He's said as much before, I think.

This time, the Pope used humor to make his point, suggesting candidates may have problems they are not themselves even aware of.
As well as assessing the spiritual state of candidates, seminaries should also seek to judge their physical and psychological condition, Francis argued.
"There are often young men who are psychologically unstable without knowing it and who look for strong structures to support them. For some it is the police or the army but for others it is the clergy," the pope added, warning that such disorders inevitably resurface at a later date.
"When a youngster is too rigid, too fundamentalist, I don't feel confident (about him). Behind it there is something he himself does not understand. Keep your eyes open!"
Improved selection and training of priests is a priority for the Church in the wake of the huge clerical sex abuse scandals which highlighted how easy it was for totally unsuitable candidates to be ordained. - ibid
Anyone who has been in religious life or seminary understands this.

The Suicide of Ryan Erickson - T. Nelson
Narrative here.

"I will tell you sincerely, I'm scared of rigid priests ..."

A senior-monk friend of mine, who had been novice master and prior on and off over the years, once told me that candidates for contemplative monasteries are pretty much the same type of guy the Pope describes:  Men "who look for strong structures to support them. For some it is the police or the army but for others it is the clergy."  My monastic friend's assessment may appear to contradict what the Holy Father said, but one must remember that life in an enclosed monastery is not the same lifestyle as that lived by a priest, secular or religious.  Within the monastery is a completely different support system, as well as an abbot or prior overseeing the monastic horarium and discipline.  (Depending on the stability of the superior of course.)

I doubt the Holy Father is singling out traditionalists here - especially since he just reproved the more or less liberal German episcopate.  Although the rigidity of traditionalists is rather well known - so is the exclusivity of progressives - which is another form of rigidity ... I think.

The other day I mentioned I would be afraid to go to confession to some of the younger priests.  A few years ago, one priest I encountered, who has since resigned, didn't understand me when I made my confession and rebuked me, sending me out to get a confession guide for the next time.  I was never sure why.  I'll never forget it, but I also accepted the rebuke and found it helpful.  That said, this particular priest pretty much seemed to me to white knuckle his priestly life.  Solid guy, but pretty tense, and he might have had a 'clerical' chip on his shoulder.  I knew another priest who said he thought he might need a great fall in order to acquire humility.  It is not that he was a bad priest - but he seemed terribly rigid, if not aloof. 

Another example would be Ryan Erickson - the priest who fooled around with kids and allegedly murdered two men, one of whom was going to expose him to the police.  He committed suicide.  Erickson slipped by all the formators, despite alcohol problems and homosexual inclination.  As a priest he was a firebrand, emotionally preaching and saying Mass, loved clerical capes and elaborate vestments and so on.  Impassioned about training boys to be chaste. 

Then there is Curtis Wehmeyer.  His story here.  In this archdiocese alone, there are enough cases to support and make understandable what the Holy Father meant, when he said:

"I will tell you sincerely, I'm scared of rigid priests, I keep away from them. They bite!"

That said, I believe it was St John of the Cross who said the holier the confessor the less he would be shocked by grave sins; holiness does not equal rigidity.  So don't be afraid - even if you encounter a rigid priest who bites.

Think of poor St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she died at 24, but her director/confessor, Meister Conrad of Marburg, enforced rigid penances upon her and treated her brutally - she even said she feared him greatly, but she recovered from every difficulty, humble and obedient - she said she weathered every storm, springing back like the grass after a heavy rain.

I've become a big fan Of Bill Donohue ...

He just kicked the right-wingers-in-the ...

Bill Donohue addresses recent attacks on Cardinal Donald Wuerl:
The crazies on the Catholic right have set their sights on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. Why? Because he is close to Pope Francis, and they hate the pope. The attacks are coming from The Church Militant, a loose gang of angry right-wingers who specialize in character assassination, andAmerican Spectator hater George Neumayr.
Three recent hit pieces by Church Militant author Christine Niles set the agenda. She says “today’s archbishop of Washington owns a penthouse in a complex valued at $43 million.” That is a lie. He owns not a centimeter of his third-floor “penthouse,” an apartment that sits atop Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish. Like bishops all over the world, he resides in a spot that was specifically designed for the local Ordinary. There is nothing scandalous about this Church patrimony.
Church Militant head Michael Voris says his unidentified sources claim that when Wuerl was the Bishop of Pittsburgh his gay-friendly approach earned him the nickname “Donna the Girl.” I taught at a Pittsburgh Catholic college during Wuerl’s years and never once did I hear anyone tag him as such. Voris also says that Wuerl stole a “Catechism work composed by Fr. John Hardon by simply putting his name to it.” That’s another lie. I guess Wuerl was channeling Hardon when he gave his TV series of lectures on the subject. 
Neumayr is so far gone that he accuses Wuerl of being a Communist because someone spotted a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book in his office in the 1970s. That would make me Chairman of the Politburo: I have a copy of Das Kapital in my office right now.
These crazies are mad at Wuerl because he doesn’t believe in using the Eucharist as a weapon to smack liberal Catholic politicians. Wuerl has said that the refusal of Holy Communion “should be made only after clear efforts to persuade and convince the person that their actions are wrong and bear moral consequences.” Exactly. Wuerl is a great gift to the Catholic Church. These critics are as ignorant as they are malicious. - Right-Wing-Nuts Rip Cardinal Wuerl.

I like you too, Ter.
Would you stop using
my photo now?

Sound effect for this post here.

PS:  I neither support Church Militant TV or Catholic Defense League.  I don't believe the Catholic Church needs either group.  We have a Pope and a Magisterium, and Christ's guarantee.  That's all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Listening to the Pope and reading what he actually said: There's a website for that.

The Holy See, Vatican News, Vatican Radio.

Whenever I read what the Pope actually said, within context - especially within official context - he is not preaching a new gospel as some allege.  Frequently he echoes Benedict, John Paul II, Paul VI - his predecessors.  I don't understand what people are talking about in their confusion, feeling they are beaten down, and so on.  Maybe it really is the way I was brought up that what the Holy Father says and how he says it doesn't feel like abuse to me?

As I've said time and again - or at least referenced, I come from a dysfunctional family - a lot of people do, I know that.  I come from a harsh and abusive background - a lot of people do, I know that as well.

As a little kid I loved Stanislaus Kostka because he once 'suffered' staying in a Lutheran household - today I can't recall the details - but it was a trial for him.  His older brother was also something of a bully.  There were other saints who came from abusive, faithless childhoods, or who were disowned by their families - Elizabeth of Hungary, for instance.  These saints gave me hope, enkindled devotion and sustained my faith.  Priests and school sisters suggested to me I was being escapist in my piety - that my piety was merely a coping mechanism, or an effort to gain approval and esteem.  Imagine that.

Some traditionalists think the Pope might be saying something similar to them.  Imagine that.

Stanislaus beaten by his brother.

Imagine that.

Growing up, my family did not practice the faith - I went to Mass and confession alone.  A little kid all alone at Mass.  No one talked to me, welcomed me, asked where my family was.  Imagine that.

My family made fun of me for being religious - they knew I was a bad kid - so they pointed out my hypocrisy - 'go to confession Saturday and act like a creep after Mass on Sunday'.  'Only sissies go to church anyway.'

For most of my life, almost all of my friends and family were apathetic about religion, and or, away from the Church.  Today, some may follow other denominations, others just do not 'speak' or 'understand' Catholic. They don't like church people, or religious people. I grew up like that.  A frequent comment over the years has been, "Well if the Church is so good - how come you're not any better."

Recently in an interview, actress Jennifer Lawrence said something to the effect, that she grew up around fundamentalist Christians, and therefore knows what they are like.  I know what she means - yet a Catholic blogger found what she said offensive and dismissed her for it.  Imagine that.

From my first confession and first communion on, I was the outsider. I too know what these people can be like. Faithful Catholics didn't know - although some did - what was going on in my childhood.  If they did, I carried the sins, the shame of my parents whenever and wherever I went.  I could explain in detail, but I would be accused of whining.  That's not my intention - in fact, I'm grateful for the experience, it toughened me up and helped me to recognize my own sins better.  The mercy of God is glorified.

I still have a couple of childhood friends who remain Catholic - a couple are very faithful, a couple of others may be more the CINO-type, the ones faithful Catholics tend to condemn because they are too liberal. I fell into that trap for awhile - I think I've left that behind now. No one wanted me telling them how or what to believe, what to think, or exactly how messed up their thinking was.

I started to take care of myself instead - to examine my own conscience - and I continue to always discover my need for repentance.

Now I'm glad that we have a Pope who speaks clearly - who speaks and understands the language of ordinary people, in ordinary time.

That's a long intro, to some recent quotes from the Holy Father which I want to highlight - demonstrating his sense of urgency for the time in which we live, and our need for mercy and love.

To the German Bishops:
He turned the bishops attention to the biblical figures of Priscilla and Aquila, the married couple who witnessed with their words and lives to the love of Christ.
“The example of these ‘volunteers’ can help us reflect, given the trend towards a growing institutionalization,” Pope Francis said.
“We always inaugurate new facilities, from which, in the end, the faithful are missing,” Pope Francis said.
“It is a sort of new Pelagianism, which puts its trust in administrative structures, in perfect organizations” – the Pope continued – “excessive centralization, rather than helping, complicates the life of the Church and her missionary dynamics.”
He told the bishops to give more attention to Confession during the Jubilee of Mercy, since “in Confession is the beginning of the transformation of each individual Christian and the reform of the Church.”
“It is also necessary to highlight the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood,” the Holy Father said.
“The precious collaboration of the laity, especially in those places where vocations are missing, cannot become a surrogate for the ministerial priesthood, or give it the semblance of being simply optional,” he said. “If there is no priest, there is no Eucharist.” - Source

I'm reminded of Pope Benedict XVI speaking about a smaller Church, the loss of institutions and so on - a simpler, poorer Church.  I think Francis and Benedict are very close.

For priests:

The Pope said a priest is “a man of peace” who surrounds himself with serenity, even during hardships.
“It is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous, or of a hard character; it is not good, and does no good, neither for the priest nor for his people,” he said.
Pope Francis said “our humanity is the ‘clay pot’ in which we guard the treasure of God,” and so care must be taken to protect it.
The Holy Father reminded priests they are called “to serve our brothers and sisters.”
“We are not priests for our own sake, and our sanctification is closely linked to that of our people, our anointing to their anointing,” he said, adding priests should be “authoritative, not authoritarian; firm, but not hard; joyful, but not superficial…in short, shepherds, not functionaries.” - Source

Christmas charade.

Pope Francis recalled, “Jesus is in heaven, watching us”, and “he will come to us here, on the altar”. But “today too, Jesus weeps, because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of hostility”. This is even more glaring now that “we are approaching Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, trees lit up, even nativity scenes... all decorated: the world continues to wage war, to wage wars. The world has not comprehended the way of peace”. - Source

Growing up, Christmas was always a charade at my house ... I know exactly what the Pope is saying.

I'm grateful I never had a comfortable life, a warm and cozy life - otherwise how would I know?

I may try to go to Rome to die next year.

Everybody wanna know ...

Just watch until 5:30 if that's all the time you have.  Notice that Etta James kind of looks like Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Men at church ...

Seemed like old times.

The first parish I ever registered at was St. Olaf in Downtown Minneapolis - that was in the 1980's.  I was able to make it to morning Mass there today - the first Mass at 7 AM.  Fr. Kennedy celebrated the Mass - seemed like old times because he was newly ordained when I first started going there way back when, for adoration on Thursdays.  That was the olden days in the early 1970's - shortly after mu conversion, when hardly any church still had exposition all day - which was usually on Fridays - as at Assumption in St. Paul.  Fr. Kennedy always had the reputation of a more 'liberal' priest but I always found him orthodox in homilies and confession.  This morning it could have been the Pope giving the homily ... it was excellent.

Notably, the chapel was fairly full for such an early Mass, mostly businessmen in their 30's or 40's, a few older guys, and what seemed to be downtowners - people who live someplace downtown.  Like I said - there were mostly men.  Everyone knelt for the Eucharistic prayer and at the Agnus Dei.  After communion I don't know what happened.   I mention this because there is a lot of talk that men don't go to Mass.  Just because men were at Mass this morning - and most likely every morning noon and evening at St. Olaf, doesn't mean that observation is wrong of course - but it does indicate to me that men really do go to Mass.

Mass this morning was not effeminate.  Fr. Kennedy is a 'manly man' and a serious minded priest and Mass was celebrated according to the rubrics.  The men at early Mass seemed like manly men as well.  I wasn't on watch there, but I took in the crowd.  I prayed and participated in Mass - I simply noticed who was there, what was going on, aware of my surroundings - not looking for errors or lack of formality.

St. Olaf

Here's the deal.

I think.

Men go to Mass when they believe, when their faith is living, when Mass is straight forward - and straight plays a big part in that - like honesty.

It seemed like old times to me - the daily Mass goers downtown have a living faith - they are not there because of an obligation, nor does their faith depend on the person of the priest - downtown churches get a variety of substitutes during the week.  Downtown parishes host a huge diversity of persons.  It's a microcosm of the Church I think.  It's as different from my rich parish in South Minneapolis, as my parish is to the FSSP parish in North Minneapolis, or the traditionalist 'Remnant' parish in South St. Paul.

There is a distinct freedom of spirit in a living body.

Love casts out all fear.

Years ago when I got caught up in the fear mongering which trails ultra conservative trad-minded Catholics, I ran into a priest at a store I worked at and he asked, "What the hell happened to you?"  He asked in passing because he was in a hurry to get out of the store we were in, and I laughed and said, "What?"  I just thought he meant I'd gotten a bit older or something.  But now I know what he meant.  He assumed I'd gone 'back' - that I was one of those people who wanted everything to go back to tradition.  I never had.  But I worked in a milieu he associated with the St. Agnes cult he had warned me years ago to avoid.  And there I was.

I haven't seen him since, but I'd like him to know nothing happened to me.  I'm just fine.  I never rejected Vatican II or the Ordinary Form of Mass.  This morning reminded me of all that.

I kind of think most men don't go to Mass because they don't like church-lady-talk, Mass chat, coffee and donuts gossip.  They're not into the Fellini ecclesiastical fashion show of vestments, and grand style.  Some may like it - some may not.

In my neighborhood, a lot of guys stopped going to church because of the bishop scandal - which included gay priests and teen boys, adulterous priests and parish secretaries and or female penitents, as well as billions of dollars of payouts in legal funds.  That erodes trust - one guy down the street will probably never step in a Catholic church again.  I also don't think most guys are all that interested in talk show apologists, dressed up in safari outfits, or talking like post-game wrap-up commentators.  Going after men doesn't need to involve chest bumps and back slapping stereotypical imitations of successful mainstream media pop-culture marketing.  I don't think you have to try to sell men on masculinity with another spokesman in lace and red satin talking about how feminized men have become.

I might be wrong - but I don't think evangelization is the same thing as marketing.

This anti-Pope thing is so not going to attract more men to Mass either.  Talking about the pope and the church in political terms doesn't work.  I think most ordinary guys think this pope is great.  I know non-religious people do.  I'm no expert - just speculating here.

I don't know.  Like I said, I'm probably wrong.

It was good to experience downtown again - I miss it in a way.  I realized something did happen to me - in some ways, I am different today.

BTW - I never resign St. Olaf's, just stopped going downtown, and they stopped sending me newsletters.  I was actually 'involved' with the parish - unusual for me because I don't usually get involved with church people.  The people I knew weren't there this morning, and so I expect everyone has moved on or away.  Nothing stays the same.  You can't go back.

I'm just a single Catholic man.

This may be the appropriate to replace a comment from an earlier post discussing Pope Francis.  Today I realized not everyone has a negative opinion of him - thanks be to God.

Yesterday I wrote: I must be an idiot - I just don't see Francis abandoning Catholic teaching. I see him as consistent with his predecessors - a lot more frank and talkative, to be sure, but I do not feel my faith is in the balance because of him. Actually when he calls out Pharisees and the hypocrites I've taken it to heart - I totally accuse myself. If it wasn't so indiscreet to do it, I would proclaim my sins online - just to prove it. Rather than feel put down by the Pope, I feel his call to repentance and reconciliation - to drink deeply at the font of Mercy. I'm not just saying that either.
"If a good man reproves me, it is kindness."
My first waking thought every day is prayer - it is hours later that I even check online - my spiritual life comes first.  Neither do I check what the pope has said every day.  It isn't my first priority. I avoid those who 'report' on what he said, or how he said it. I believe only what is confirmed by Vatican authority, and if I don't understand it, it isn't for me.
I understand that a priest or director may have need to know what he said, what he meant, to refute what gossip media reports, so I pray for priests.
Personally, I just keep thinking that finally I have a pope, a father who understands me - who understands the outsider - the freak. I don't have to try to fit in with any faction because he welcomes the stranger.
If I feel like that think, of all the people who feel excluded from the Church now feel. Think of all the ordinary people who don't identify with the liturgical class wars and politics. There is hope after all for all the prodigals - while our elder brothers grumble because they have always been good and never wasted their lives on prostitutes.

I can't make excuses for the pope or church people - so that is not my intention here.  

I've been steeped in sin since birth - so I dare not try to instruct anyone.  Pay no attention to me.

I've always taken my cues from the Church - especially the Pope - be it Francis, Benedict, JPI and II, Paul VI and so on.

It's none of my business who is or who is not in church, any more than it is my business or under my control, who goes to communion or who does not go to communion.

I only have to make sure I go to Mass and I'm able to receive.

Song for this post here.

A week from today is Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Something to think about for preppers and storm chasers ...

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

“If God has shown us bad times ahead, it's enough for me that He knows about them. That's why He sometimes shows us things, you know - to tell us that this too is in His hands.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

“And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

On forgiveness. 

“Didn't he and I stand together before an all seeing God convicted of the same murder? For I had murdered him with my heart and my tongue.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

And for those who want to leave the Church:

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” 
― Corrie ten Boom

Pornography a mortal sin now?

The Gaiety painting by Patrick Angus 

New Yorkers and tourists to Manhattan before 2005
 would remember this theater.

But Father!  But Father!  What about it's use as foreplay in marriage?

I always thought porn was a sin - a very grave sin - a mortal sin.

Good news, the US Bishop have issued a Pastoral  Letter on Pornography and the breaking news headline appears to be: US Bishops say pornography use is a mortal sin.  Hence my response, I always thought it was.  Despite the fact TOB formulators have sometimes suggested that it's okay as fore-play in marriage.  Which is creepy and ugly because pornography is not victim-less - the people who do porn - the 'actors' are dehumanized and exploited, and it also drives a burgeoning sex-slave business, not to mention sexual abuse of children.  There is a lot of crime associated with the porn business.  If anything is evil - it is the pornography industry.

The Bishops finally issue a statement on the evil business.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a statement on pornography on the second day of their Nov. 16-19 fall general meeting in Baltimore.
"Producing or using pornography is a mortal sin that needs to be confessed in order for the person to receive God's forgiveness," says the draft version of "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography." "Those who produce and distribute pornography harm the common good by encouraging and even causing others to sin," it says.
The proposed statement, prepared by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, adds, "There are many victims of pornography. ... All child pornography is automatically trafficking and a crime, because it involves the sexual exploitation of a minor for commercial gain and it is against the child's will due to the inability to give consent."
It noted, "Many people struggle with pornography use, including faithful Catholics, people of faith, people of no faith, married and single people, fathers and mothers, the young and the old, clergy and those in consecrated life." - CNS


As noted, people who 'struggle' with this vice span all the labels and categories of sinners and sexualities, but on some level it seems to me they/we are just as sinful and perverted as the worst sinner who preferred physical contact instead of virtual reality - of any sort.  One could possibly even say we are all "Sodomites" if you will.  We are all part of this "adulterous generation" - we've all drunk of the cup of the Whore of Babylon to various degrees.

Link to the pastoral letter:

Create in me a Clean Heart - A Pastoral Response.  USCCB

+ + +

"Where does this poisonous harm fail to reach? And who fails to drink little or much from the golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? ...There is hardly anyone of high rank or low, saint or sinner, who does not drink of her wine, subjecting his heart somewhat. For as pointed out in Revelation 17:2-4, all the kings of the earth were inebriated with the wine of her prostitution. She reaches out to all states, even the supreme and illustrious state of the priesthood, bysetting her abominable cup in the holy place, as Daniel asserts [Dn. 9:27], and she hardly leaves a strong man who has not drunk a small or large quantity of wine from her chalice..." - John of the Cross, Ascent III, 22:4

Song for this post here

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What the Pope said.

From Fr. Z:
The Pope made a clear statement:
I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence.”Before anyone gets out onto the ledge outside the window, read that again and repeat it to yourself.  The Pope is not saying that Lutherans can go to Communion. - Fr. Z

Garabandal in the news again.

New restrictions imposed.

I left a comment on the post that reported the new development but the author neither answered or published my comment - which is fine, but I wonder if he thought I was challenging him for his belief in the events at Garabandal?

These are the recent developments:
Restrictions imposed by the new Bishop of Santander Msgr Monge, appointed by Pope Francis in May 2015, as below :
Prohibition of any Mass at the Pines or at the St Michael Chapel
Prohibition to talk about the Appartions of our Lady of Mount Carmel in the village of Garabandal
Prohibition to any Priests to come in Garabandal as a representative of the Church except privately
Prohibition in the village of Garabandal of any religious manifestation in connection with the Apparitions.
The New Bishop Msgr Monge refused also to bless the new center of the Apparitions, opened recently as he imposed a strict control on its website. - Source
My first impression after reading the post and comments was that the restrictions were regarded as an imposition with a negative jibe towards Francis - I'm not sure if Spanish Catholics have a negative impression of the Pope the way English speaking Catholics do.  I may have been reading all of that into the post.

What caught my attention was a claim in the com box that Bl. Paul VI 'believed' the apparitions were true.  I simply asked for documentation on that - I recall he responded favorably towards the seers, but never heard that he pronounced any belief in the authenticity of the events.  What has always impressed me most about Garabandal is the number of holy people who believed the events were authentic and the message worthy of belief. Among them, St. Padre Pio, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. Maravillas of Jesus, the great Carmelite restorer of the Teresian Carmel in post-revolutionary Spain.  Likewise, Carmelites I've known have always expressed their confidence in the events and the messages.

I mentioned in my comment that I spent some time at Garabandal as a pilgrim, though I never experienced any interior sense of the authenticity of the events, it was a peaceful, prayerful experience.  I also met one of the seers - can't recall who.  I was also impressed by the solitude and poverty of the village at that time.  While there, if I recall correctly - because it was in the early 1970's - I noted for the first time, restrictions posted in the parish church that nothing supernatural could be determined at that time - so there were restrictions which indicated the local ordinary didn't approve.  My Carmelite friend never told me that.

A few weeks later, I met Joey Lomangino in Fatima and talked to him.  It was common knowledge that his sight was to be restored when the promised miracle took place.  He died without gaining his sight and without boarding the plane he was said to be able to charter whenever the miracle would take place.  (The miracle hasn't taken place of course.)  Roughly - that was his role in the messages.  Today Garabandal adherents are saying that wasn't exactly what was promised him.  Perhaps my reminder of that fact is why my comment was not published.  It doesn't matter.

It is one of the more troubling aspects of alleged apparitions and locutions when things do not turn out as scheduled or predicted.  Naturally one is reminded of Jonah and the disappointment he suffered because Nineveh wasn't destroyed - but in the case of modern prophecies - entire regions or peoples do not show evidence of repentance or conversion - or even demonstrable penance to move God to mitigate the proposed chastisements.  I'm not saying Our Lord is not merciful, nor that Our Lady does not hold back divine retribution in some way - after all there is Biblical precedence for such things.  That said, I am concerned when the bishops and the pope are contradicted as regards judgement on the authenticity of private revelations - it is their responsibility to do that.

"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church." - CCC 67
"Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." - CCC 66

That said, as with all such reports of apparitions and messages, details on the events and persons involved, as well as interpretations of what was said, can become confused over time - and their literal sense is not always what is meant. Which is another reason I try to remain aloof.  I'm not able to make these things the focus of my spiritual life, as it concerns a warning, or the illumination of conscience, or even a miracle and a permanent sign left in the pines or any other place.  When people of prayer, contemplative monks and nuns get caught up in such things, I always wonder why or how it concerns them?

We already have that sign in the Blessed Sacrament - in the Church.

We have been experiencing warnings since Fatima, wars, persecutions, the slaughter of the innocent unborn, moral collapse of entire nations, the incursion of paganism and idolatry, the Holy Father suffering greatly.

We now have a Pope illuminating the conscience of Catholics and others throughout the world and rather than repenting, Catholics revolt and accuse him of heresy and of being an anti-pope and so on.

We look for signs and miracles and yet our churches are empty.  Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is left alone.  

Priest and prophet forage in a land they know not ... a virtual world ... their so-called 'digital continent'.  What will happen when the powers of space will be averted, their radios jammed, no signal for their cell phones and tablets?

If they tell you he is here or there - don't believe them. 

The Church is the ark of salvation - wherein the deposit of faith is safeguarded.

NB: Many seem to ignore this fact, but an alleged series of apparitions in 1931 took place not far from San Sebastian, a city near Garabandal. The visionary was Ramona Olazábal and her visions began on the feast of Mt. Carmel, July 16, 1931 at Ezkioga, Spain. The visions became popular and attracted crowds, but it was said they became corrupted by opportunistic Freemasons and were subsequently politicized. The apparitions were later condemned. You can read about them here.

The popular support of the events was also linked to anti-clerical factions, used in an effort to discredit the bishops.  Not unlike today when we see the bishops and even the pope opposed in response to restrictions imposed upon claims of apparitions or private revelations.

Monday, November 16, 2015

"I did not have sex with that woman ..." Of course, it depends on what your definition of sex and sexuality is ...

Famous words.

I manipulated former President Clinton's words to demonstrate the confusion of language in our times regarding sexuality and sexual acts and identity.

Deacon Russell stepped into it with his recent post for Crisis.  I like Deacon Russell.  You can read what Deacon has to say here.  [Homosexuality is not Sexuality]

Dan Mattson has an article touching on the subject, and pretty much makes what Deacon Russell is saying more understandable for 'simple souls' precisely because he's sharing some things on sexuality and sexual identity with little kids.  You can read what he has to say here. [Our Children need to Know No One is Gay]

I get what both spokesmen are saying.

I'm just not sure other people do.

"You just think you are gay."

A monk I know was told that by his abbot.  The monk really acted gay - engaged in homosexual activity - but the abbot was telling him the truth about his nature and God's plan.  The monk understood what the abbot was saying.  When the monk was 'out and about' identifying with gay worked - attracted to the same sex for sexual relations worked.  Sexual behavior, deviant, abberosexual behavior is commonly understood and accepted by every one except Catholic spokesmen as 'sexuality'.

Every educational institution, Catholic or otherwise, teaches in that vein.

The Church even uses the term 'homosexuality', homosexual acts', 'homosexual person', and so on.  Priests and bishops use the term SSA and gay interchangeably.  It's common vernacular and it is used in the Catechism and Vatican documents.  To be sure, Catholic teaching does not approve of homosexual acts, and considers the inclination itself is disordered:
... [A]n overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not. - CDF

Deacon Jim Russell and Dan Mattson do an excellent job of pointing out 'that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is not a morally acceptable option.'  Thanks be to God.  Nevertheless the CDF document used the word 'orientation'.

Mattson references the same document in his article when he asks:  "Did you know that the Church ‘refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life’? I have found great freedom in this truth of who I am as a sexual being. Even though I might feel attracted to the same sex, it doesn’t mean I’m a different sort of man than every other man who has ever lived.”

That is true and it is a beautiful reply to a child's question, "If I'm attracted to a person of the same sex, does that mean I'm gay?"  The Church does indeed affirm that here:

The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life. - CDF

I accept that.  I accept what Deacon Russell and Mattson have said.  I embrace and live what the Church teaches.

So what's my point?  What bothers me about this stuff?

Insisting on language and terms of identity is fine for the 'Initiated' as in 'RICA-ed' as it were, but it creates a lot of confusion for ordinary people - gay or straight.  If a gay person wants to repent, convert, come into the Church - it seems to me these terms may make him feel he can't if he is gay?  If he uses that term to describe himself and sexual attraction as his sexuality - he's definitely going to feel excluded.  Is it too academic, too dogmatic to stick out your hand and say stop - you can't talk like that?  You can't say that?  I know these writers are not saying that - but other people may not.  I think we can place too much emphasis on terminology in 'pastoral care' - like insisting 'you can't be gay and Catholic'.  Yet some Catholics actually tell other Catholics that.  Some Catholics simply think of themselves as gay, although they are faithful to Catholic teaching, live chaste, celibate lives, people they've known have always considered them as gay.  It probably has been their experience of themselves their entire lives.

The arguments opposing such terms are enlightening and help define Catholic teaching, but they do not strike me as all that necessary outside the classroom or faith formation classes and spiritual direction.  Culturally it has become the norm.  When someone is coming out of a sinful lifestyle, or simply converting from an agnostic life, there are usually more challenging temptations and issues to deal with than that stuff.  It's necessary to avoid putting obstacles in the way of those coming to Christ, of giving them added complexities or burdens too heavy to carry, as it were.  The conversion process is ongoing.  The Church acknowledges that and even recognizes and identifies the individual as the homosexual person, exhorting them:
Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God's personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance more faithfully and receive the Lord's grace so freely offered there in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way. - CDF
When I made my first confession when I returned to the Church, I confessed my sins - which were many.  The holy Capuchin who heard my confession took me through the Creed, line by line, and gave me absolution.  I asked him "But what about the gay thing?"  Before he could say anything, I said, "Do I just accept that as a cross to bear?"  Fr. Gabriel answered, "Yes - that is good."*

That was over a decade before the CDF Letter, which said this:
What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian's suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.
It is, in effect, none other than the teaching of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians when he says that the Spirit produces in the lives of the faithful "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control" (5:22) and further (v. 24), "You cannot belong to Christ unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires." - CDF
So all the literature before now is obsolete?

We need to try and stop making a big deal over terminology and disordered identities - Christ calls people where they are at.

Let the grace of God work - allow the Holy Spirit to teach and convict the interior man.

I know many fallen away Catholics who are gay, as well as non-religious gay people I would like to see become Catholic - they don't know what you are talking about when you tell them they just think they are gay, or that homosexuality is not a sexuality.

 In the past, gay people spent a lot of their lives trying to fit in, trying to be accepted just as a person.  They they wanted just the freedom to live their lives and be who they wanted to be.  The political act of coming out intensified the experience of identity, the need for acceptance and so on.  Those who left the 'life', those who came back to the faith, continued to struggle to be accepted, to fit in.  So often there was someone, some moral, theological interpretation they felt they had to measure up to first - before they could fit in.   The gay religious person has a lot of hurdles to jump over - and he is never good enough.  No matter what he calls himself.  The debate over gay, ssa, queer, lgbtq, and so on is a distraction, another distinction people feel they have to live up to.  As I said in another post:

Personally - the academic discussions get a little boring and set apart from reality - the reality of ordinary life in modern times. The arguments and discussions gets a little over people's heads I think. At any rate, it's not an issue for me, not something I feel I have to live up to. I feel a little sad, maybe a bit more impatient, with and for the people who torment themselves with these debates and struggle to be whatever they think they are or are not or should be. There are so many voices out there trying to define you or correct you or make you live up to some sort of ideal. - Packaged and labeled and put in a box on the shelf.

Honesty is the best policy.

Don't live your life seeking the approval of men.

Christ said, "How can you believe when you seek approval from one another?"

Repent - every day.

Seek God alone - everywhere.

Pray - become one with the Heart of Jesus.

Go to Confession and Communion as often as possible.

Serve - defer to one another out of love for Christ.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly

*Odd story - damned if you do, damned if you don't category: Later I entered monastic life.  Strange things happened - although I hadn't noticed much until after I left.  I was faithful and even fervent, but as time went on I was restless, I felt called elsewhere.  The novice master wanted to know more about me, why I felt so restless - when he found out my past - he was upset with me because I never disclosed my sexuality.  It hadn't been an issue with me since my initial conversion and confession.  I didn't think in those terms any longer - so I never felt a need to discuss it.  Then I was told I should have said something.  I was told it wasn't a problem - 'they' just wanted to know.  So you see how schizoid religious people can be about this stuff.  "Ask don't tell."  "Tell, don't identify."  That kind of stuff.

NB: Some 'gay-Catholics' and most gay activists object to the idea of sexual orientation change or reparative therapy for unwanted same sex attraction or homosexual behavior.  Thy claim that is the purpose of Courage Apostolate - a sort of AA group therapy, 12 step program to make people straight.  The Church does not mandate such therapies nor does the Church address the issue of 'orientation change' as some sort of requirement to be Catholic.  

Song for this post here.