Saturday, June 17, 2006

Don Marco

Pictured, the Madonna with Tobit and the Archangel Raphael and St. Francis.

Why have I pictured St. Raphael and Tobias? It is because I am reminded that sometimes Our Lord sends us a special friend to help us on our pilgrimage toward Heaven. In His blessed Providence He has given me one of His beloved to help me, His name is Don Marco, monk and priest. His wonderful spirituality has enlightened me and given me untold consolation. The meeting of the Archangel Raphael and Tobias is a signal grace and mark of true friendship. (I have often prayed for such an encounter as Tobias had, once, years ago I met a person who spoke to me in similar fashion - I never saw him again. Sometime I should tell the story.) I am so grateful to God for Don Marco's counsel. Here is a homily of his for this day, I hope he doesn't mind that I share it with you.

Homily for the Memorial of Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant, Monk and Priest.

We celebrate today the memorial of Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant,a Cistercian monk of the Abbey of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert beatified by PopeJohn Paul II on October 3, 2004. Father Marie-Joseph died on June 17, 1903;he was twenty-five years old. Solemnly professed for three years, he hadbeen a priest for only nine months. From childhood he wanted nothing else.³Where his treasure was, there was his heart also² (cf. Mt 6:21).

Bl. Marie-Joseph Cassant

In his last letter to his family, he wrote, ³For such a longtime we hoped against hope to be able to have the whole family together after my ordination so as to share the joy of being present and receivingCommunion together at my first Mass. The good Lord heard our deepest wishes. It now remains to us to thank him and to enter more and more deeplyinto the greatness of the priesthood. Let us never dare to equate the Sacrifice of the Mass with earthly things.²

Americans first learned of Father Marie-Joseph Cassant fromThomas Merton in The Waters of Siloe, first published in 1949. Merton wrotethat, ³On the afternoon of June 17, 1903, the body of Father Joseph Cassantwas lowered into its grave in the préau of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert. Someone had thrown into the grave a few bright handfuls of petals from the flowers that had been scattered before the Blessed Sacrament in the cloister procession that same day - for it was the octave of Corpus Christi.²

The American Trappist made a novena to Father Marie-Joseph and through his intercession received significant favours. Merton was not alone in invoking Father Marie-Joseph. Since 1903 more than 2200 persons from thirty different countries have attested to favours received through the intercession of Father Marie-Joseph. The catalogue of graces attributed to the young monk is impressive: conversions, reconciliations, cures, and comfort in uncertainties and doubts. Father Jacob and I went in pilgrimage to his tomb in 1982 and prayed that both of us might become priests.

Father Marie-Joseph¹s road to the priesthood was not an easy one. His parish priest judged him intellectually inadequate for theological studies. After tutoring him for fifteen months in French and Latin, he saw that the young Joseph was not suited for the diocesan seminary. He directed him instead to the Trappe of Sainte-Marie-du-Desert where the monks were ordained to the priesthood after a simpler course of studies, given that they had no pastoral responsibilities or outside ministry.

Joseph entered ³Le Desert² on December 5, 1894. Sister Thérèsede l¹Enfant Jésus et de la Sainte-Face, five years older than Joseph, had three years left in her Carmel of Lisieux. Their lives were in some ways similar. Although Thérèse had a stronger personality, both were led to find their strength in weakness. ³Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me² (2 Cor 12:9).

Frère Marie-Joseph was timid, fearful, and scrupulous at times,suffering from insecurities. It was by trusting obedience to his NoviceMaster, Père André Malet, that he began to grow in confidence in the Heartof Jesus. ³My grace is sufficient for you: for power is made perfect ininfirmity² (2 Cor 12:9). Confidence in the Heart of Jesus became his way.Echoing the words of the psalmist, he called the Eucharist ³his one happiness on earth.² ³What have I in heaven? And besides you what do I desire upon earth?² (Ps 72:25).

Even in the abbey, theological studies were not easy for Joseph.The monk charged with teaching him often humiliated him publicly for his stupidity, saying, ³ You are totally limited! It is useless for you to study. You will not learn any more. To ordain you would be a dishonour to the priesthood.² Father André, his gentle and patient spiritual father, was always there to encourage Father Marie-Joseph, to set him again and again on the path of confidence in the Heart of Jesus.

Father Marie-Joseph was ordained on October 12, 1902 at twenty-four and a half years of age. Already tuberculosis was ravaging his young body. His abbot sent him home to his family for seven weeks of rest,hoping that his health might improve, but it was too late for that. Upon returning to the abbey, Father Marie-Joseph was sent to the infirmary. His lungs were irreparably damaged, his breathing difficult. As infirmarian he was given none other than the theology professor who had so harshly berated him.

Father André remained close to his spiritual son, offering reassurance and comfort, helping him to trust in the love of the Heart ofJesus for him. On June 17, 1903, Father Marie-Joseph received HolyCommunion for the last time and, a few moments later, passed into the contemplation of Christ face to face. The beautiful collect composed for his liturgical memorial sums up his life: ³O Lord, Glory of the lowly, who inspired a burning love for the Eucharist in Blessed Joseph Mary, and led him into the desert through the Heart of Jesus; grant, we beseech you, that by his intercession and example we may prefer nothing to Christ, that he may bring us to life everlasting.

The memorial of Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant, falling on this Friday in the month of the Sacred Heart, and on the day after SaintLutgarde, invites us to follow him along the path of confidence in the Heartof Jesus and burning love for the Eucharist. For Blessed Marie-Joseph
nothing equaled the Mass; the Mass became his life. At the hour of death his identification with Christ, priest and victim, was complete. Today,through Christ, with Him, and in Him, he makes priestly intercession in heaven for those who ask for it on earth.

"³In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment,there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host.Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful.It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering." -²Pope Benedict XVI, May 25, 2006

Blessed Marie-Joseph Cassant, pray for me a sinner. And thank you Don Marco for this homily - pray for me, for us.

Dysfunction at the junction...

Pictured, Rosselli's Sermon on the Mount, Sistine Chapel

When I was in high school there was a Motown song "Function at the Juntion" - so that explains this title somewhat - it rhymes.

Today's Gospel from the sermon on the Mount speaks about not taking a false oath, and that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no - no dissimulating, no lying, no passive aggressive 'round the back door behavior.

That stuff happens all too often in the work place. Many times employees lie, make false excuses, use their time deceptively, and complain about others to take the attention off of their mistakes, bad behavior, or incompetence, etc. Sometimes Management does the same things, thus enabling the offenders to continue their charade. They will look away from a problem, perhaps hoping it will go away, yet nevertheless prolonging it. They do not enforce rules, maybe because they sometimes are afraid of lawsuits, or just paying unemployment, or just unable to confront someone or something. They want to be liked and they do not like confrontation, so this 'stealth action' thing goes on. It's dysfuntional. Dysfunction always starts at the top, in a family it starts with the parents. In a business it starts with Management.

We have to "put aside lying" in all its forms. We must let "our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' mean 'no'. Anything beyond that is from the evil one." - Matthew 5

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mother Teresa's rule: No fund raising.

Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

I had an incident one day a month or so ago in the Store I work in. It made me do a lot of thinking. The Missionaries of Charity came in to see me. Every time they visit the Store I feel like I'm seeing Mother. Sometimes I even lapse and call them Mother instead of Sister. No offense to any other religious order but these nuns are exceptional examples of the religious life; they remain just as faithful to radical poverty and their original charism as when they were founded. They are women of prayer as evidenced by the rosary they carry in their hands and are actively praying as you meet them - their rosaries do not just hang on their belts.

When you encounter the sisters you cannot help but tangibly feel their charity. I love them. They had to talk to me about a mistake we made in our catalog. It concerns one of those latex wrist bands, a JPII memorial item, a piece of "I could care less merchandise" that is over-priced as well as a post-peak trend item. A seemingly insignificant item. In our catalog copy, that we took from the vendor we bought it from - I must hasten to say - it states that "a percentage of the proceeds from sales of this item go to the Missionaries of Charity." Mother Marcella, the provincial in the U.S. contacted me a few months ago that this was in error. I was totally unaware of the copy and promotion. I assured her I would look into it. I explained I had no knowledge of the connection and told her I knew very well that the Missionaries and Mother have always had a prohibition against fund raising. I knew that! I assumed everyone did. I told management and explained how important the matter is, they seemed to understand. And guess what happened? Another re-mail catalog had already gone to press and was subsequently mailed out. You can imagine the embarrassment for me and the Company when Sister came in and talked to me about the same mistake that had not been taken care of. I explained as best I could, I said I would take care of it for them and I apologized. I went immediately to the Owner of the Company and explained to him the problem. I called the Company we buy the items from and explained the situation. He explained that he had bought the business from another fellow and he was the one who promoted the item that way and he simply continued it. As I spoke to him on the phone he removed the line from his web site. I knew it was going to be taken care of. (And it was - immediately.)

The entire episode gave me pause however. The Missionaries themselves always remind me of the parable of the goats and sheep being judged at the end of time, because they are so hidden and humble and also because Mother often referenced this parable. (I shuddered because of what scripture says in regard to merchants and how they will be judged!) What struck me about this Gospel however is how the people to the right hand of our Lord, those who have done well, question Jesus saying, "When did we see you hungry and give you food? Naked and we clothed you?" and so on. They honestly did not know until Jesus told them that when they did this to the least among them that they did it to Him. The blessed were totally unaware of their good works - they were simply acting from the goodness of their hearts. They neither measured nor tallied their good works - they simply were acting and doing what was right, the right hand not knowing what the left was doing‌.

It is human nature to take an account of possessions, money, honors, etc. We deduct our charitable contributions from our taxes. (In our Store we even sell "Sacrifice Beads" a pious custom adopted from the life of Therese of Lisieux, you're supposed to count your sacrifices throughout the day by moving a bead every time you do a good work. Unless you are about five years old, as Therese was when she used it, I'd strongly recommend not using such a device. (It's for training kids - not for adults.)

We often carry this accounting practice into our spiritual lives. Many who practice prayer like to figure out what stage of prayer they are at. In my Store we carry a book called "The Stages of Prayer" written by an former Discalced Carmelite nun, it more or less 'retarded' my own progress in prayer since it focused so much on stages and levels of prayer - it isn't the best study on the practice of prayer. Teresa of Avila's famous book, "The Interior Castle"‌ documents the various stages of prayer as well. This is great for directors or to inspire a person to strive for the higher gifts, but it's a waste of time, in my opinion, to use it to try and figure out where you are at in the spiritual life. You're just measuring again. You're keeping score of your virtue - similar to what an overly solicitous parent does in regard to their kids sports activities or academic life. Jesus said not to let your right hand know what your left hand is doing and to keep your works of mercy secret. In other words forget your self and mortify your self seeking. Love and act out of love, "Love and do what you will" as St. Augustine wrote. We should neither count the cost nor the accomplishments of our charity - or prayer for that matter. We might take it a step further, maybe we should not use other people's charitable mission or accomplishments to raise funds or make a sale. If we are going to do an act of charity, we ought to do it in the name of Jesus, for Jesus, and let Him alone know we are doing it. Don't try to make a profit off the backs of the poor.

Remember the Pharisee and the Publican, the one guy recounted to God all of his merits and good deeds, he tithed, gave to the poor, he did a lot of good. (What if he was one of those who traipsed by that other guy laying on the side of the road that the Samaritan helped?) But the one who was justified was the Publican - who had nothing but his sins. At the end of her life St. Therese proclaimed she went to God "empty handed“ not unlike the Publican.

I think that is how the Missionaries of Charity think of themselves as well. Yeah, they never take account of what they do, they simply follow Jesus.

(We eventually got rid of the phrase in our catalog. The Missionaries were happy and hopefully we learned a good lesson.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Dyke-o-rama

Bishop Gisela Forster - she's the blonde I think. (No blonde jokes please!)

With just another ugly pseudo-nun.

See the Cafeteria is Closed for details.

The girls are getting 'ordained' in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31st. On a boat in the river, isn't that lovely? The press thinks it is real - that these are 'pedigreed' Roman Catholic women carrying out a legitimate ordination rite. That is so bogus.

They are not Roman Catholic , none of them are Bishops, and none of them are priests. It's not a story. It may be a funny skit for Saturday Night - but nothing more.

It's a sweet photo however.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Excerpts from my interview...

Jiminy Glick interviews me...
( This is a fantasy interview that was done at the Toronto Film Festival but landed on the cutting room floor - it's surprisingly current with todays issues however - how that happened is a mystery. This is transcribed from the audio by the well known Schwan audio services. JG is Jiminy and TN is me of course.)

JG: Well Terry, I have wanted to meet you for a long time. What brings you to Toronto?
TN: The Film Festival of course. You asked me here.
JG: Oh yes - you are correct of course. I was hoping you'd have something more original to say. Anyway, I understand you're blogging now days. Is that because no one will publish you?
TN: Pretty much.
JG: What do you blog about?
TN: Anything that comes to mind.
JG: (Laughs nervously.) Well, ahhhhh, Terry, can you be more specific? Doesn't your writing have a particular thrust? Do you have any agenda?
TN: Not really. (long, long pause.) Well I write about Catholic stuff. On the Rome-ing Catholics blog I write alot about saints and spirituality. On Abbey-Roads I'll do the same but I've gotten into writing about Catholic news items and controversies. I get to editorialize on my own without censorship, I can more or less say what I want and..."
JG: AHhemmmmm! (Jiminy interrupts me in mid-sentence)
TN: You just interru....
JG: Yes I know. But I want to stop you right there. You say you can say what you want - implying that there is no one to edit you. Is that correct?
TN: No. There are comments - people can contradict me or correct me. But I can say pretty much what I want, and when I review it, if it's out of line or I see I made a mistake, I can delete it.
JG: Like last week - the prediction that your local News channel was going to announce the new Bishop?
TN: Hey! I was just guessing like everyone else, only I was more emphatic than anyone else because I wanted to be first with the news.
JG: Okay then. So were you correct? No you were not. Were you embarrassed?
TN: You know so much, why don't you answer that.
JG: You don't have to get hostile.
TN: I'm not - did you ever hear my Cary Grant quote? He said, "Women always interpret a man's honesty as cruelty." I believe that was from "Philadelphia Story".
JG: Oh yes! (A glint of flaming recognition in his eyes!) That was the film where Katherine Hepburn said, "I carried Calla lilies on my wedding day and I'll carry them again today!"
TN: (Laughing wildly, choking and gasping words through tears and laughs.) You do her so well - it reminds me of Martin Short!
JG: Yes. Well back to the rumors. What have you heard this week?
TN: (Still laughing) It's still Bishop Aquila as far as I know. I heard Cardinal Arinze has been involved somehow, but I really forgot the details, also, the announcement probably will not be this week because of the Bishops meeting and also Bishop Sullivan died.
JG: Why do you think people are so interested in this matter? Do they dislike Archbishop Flynn?
TN: Some people may dislike him, but I think they misunderstand him. He has done some excellent things in this Archdiocese and has been very careful about preserving unity in the Church. One man cannot possibly undo all of the problems that have evolved since the Council.
Remember the parable of the tares and the wheat. Things take time, and after all, everything is guided by Divine Providence.
JG: Well, aren't you reconcilliatory this week!
TN: Yeah, I went to confession.
JG: So some people like him and some don't -
TN: Like who?
JG: Paul Reubens you idiot! Who do you think? We are talking about Archbishop Flynn -
TN: Well up yo - hey - I like him, so drop it. I feel sorry for him and can imagine he'd like to retire -
JG: Who? Peewee Herman?
TN: I thought you were talking about the Archbishop! Geesh!
JG: We were discussing him, yes. Let's move on however. How do you feel about all of this?
TN: About what?
JG: You are just about the worst interview I've ever done.
TN: And you are fat.
JG: And you're not? How many chins do you have? Let's see - one, two -
TN: Can we get back to the interview please?
JG: Well tell me about your son. I know he's not your real son, you just call him that because you wish you had a son, that's hard for you isn't it. I heard it is sort of like George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf".
TN: No, it's not really. But sometimes you get to have a friendship with someone and you really feel a sort of kinship with them. I actually have three guys I call my son, for fun of course, and I never believed for a second they were my son, although I love manic humor and so play around about it, but -
JG: (Interrupts) Yes, we get that. So these guys are not really your sons but they are friends? Yes? No? What is it?
TN: Well they are friends of a sort but not people I socialize with, I have a great deal of respect for them and like them and admire them. They would be perfect sons. Why are we talking about this?
JG: Well someone said you call these guys your sons and I just want to know about them.
TN: There's nothing much to say - they have all moved on and it was a fun relationship when they worked for me, but we've all moved on.
JG: So tell me, back to this blogging thing, why are you so into it?
TN: I don't know. It's fun to share ideas and my point of view.
JG: What do you think of Nicole Kidman?
TN: I don't think that much of her, her type of beauty, when she's made-up, is too pasty for my taste. I know nothing of who she is marrying but I've heard that she is being reconciled to the Catholic Church, I just hope she is sincere and perseveres.
JG: That is surely a sweet sentiment! Now what is your favorite blog?
TN: Abbey-Roads, I like the name - I love the name! "Abbey Road" was the Beatles album that most chronicles my life. But then I like the Cafeteria is Closed, as well as all the local blogs that ever mention me.
JG: What do you think of local Catholic publications?
TN: Pretty safe and boring.
JG: What about Catholic radio and TV?
TN: I'm not that interested.
JG: What is your favorite religious music?
TN: I don't really like religious music. I like chant but not to listen to but to pray.
JG: Are you a traditionalist then?
TN: I grew up with the so-called "old" Mass, and I like it. I do like the vernacular however. I like a quiet Mass, like the 6:30AM at St. Agnes. It seems more contemplative, to me at least. But I also like the "old" Mass. I really feel it's a mistake to say one is better than the other, or more holy. How can that be? It is the same sacrifice taking place isn't it? It's like the differentiation of a high Mass and a low Mass - does that mean a high Mass is holier? No of course not. Let's get off of this because I'm no authority and as Fr. "Z" would say I should be better informed when I speak.
JG: Speaking of traditional things, I hear you are not fond of chapel veils for women.
TN: That's so not true. But what is wrong with a scarf? Women don't wear scarves any longer. But chapel veils or mantillas are fine. I prefer black ones on older and married women, the white for young girls. I guess it's a woman's thing however, although I know some husbands who expect their wives to wear one. If I were a woman I would never wear one, but I would also keep my maiden name -
JG: (Gasps in disbelief!) Isn't that a sin?!
TN: Of course not you freak! But I don't think a woman has to cease being who she is - a marriage is two people becoming one, but what is wrong with keeping her maiden name, at least professionally?
Anyway - I don't want to discuss this because it bores me and I am single and never intend to marry.
JG: Okay, okayeee, (As he tries to cross his legs) let's talk about single life. A priest you know just said that he does not believe there is such a thing as a vocation to the single life, what do you say to that?
TN: He's wrong.
JG: He's wrong? Is that all you can say?
TN: Pretty much.
JG: Can't you elaborate? Can you defend your position on this?
TN: You know, this interview is just about the worst interview I have ever done. I'm so out of here! (As I pulled off my mic and walked off the set.)

End of interview.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Still the best game in Town!

I love a good mystery!

Now! Just for fun mind you - I'll just mention the fact that someone said we should hear either Tuesday or Thursday of this week who the new Coadjutor will be. Last week I was sure it would be announced and used this picture and so just for good luck I'm using it again.

I went with Bishop Aquila last week and I have not changed my mind, now Mitchell and Judith of Our Word have said they have heard from a reliable source that he indeed will be the man named. So maybe - just maybe kids - we will hear this week. Maybe tomorrow for the feast of St Anthony and the anniversary of the 2nd apparition at Fatima of Our Lady.

May God bless Archbishop Flynn and his successor. This entire matter is kind of fun though, isn't it? And being a guy, I love being right. As my assistant at work said, "Why Terry, I've never known you to be wrong!" Walking away I heard her mutter, "Men always have to be right."

I hope I am! I hope I am! I hope I am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Otherwise - Like Mitchell and Judith, I'm done with this story too!)

Religious liberty threatened?

Pictured, Roman catacombs.

Here comes the persecution...maybe! So before the world is rid of evil, there has to be some real suffering, don't you think? Fr. Altier often talked about a persecution coming. It could happen! The homosexual and liberal agenda is gaining steam - priests and religious and other Catholics could eventually be arrested and jailed for speaking out against immoral issues that secular law has legalized. Or maybe arrested for hate crimes if the right person reads the right blog...

Once again, from Catholic News Agency:

Same-sex marriage will impact religious liberty say experts

New York, Jun. 12, 2006 (CNA) - In a recent column, Newsweek religion editor, Peter Steinfels, discusses the opinion of several respected legal scholars, many of whom are proponents of same-sex "marriage", that the legalization of same-sex “marriage” will have an inevitable impact on religious liberty.

Steinfels, the former editor of Commonweal, contributed a commentary in Saturday’s New York Times, titled “Beliefs; Advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue see a potential clash with religious liberty.”In the article, Steinfels discusses comments made by several scholars during a conference last December, sponsored by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. One attendee of the conference, Marc D. Stern, who has handled religious freedom cases for the American Jewish Congress for many years, said that clashes with religious liberty would be "inevitable," if same-sex “marriage” was legalized.

While Stern doesn’t believe clergy will be forced to perform marriages that are against the values of the faith group they represent, other programs or institutions-like schools, health care centers and social service agencies-that operate by religious standards will be impacted. Steinfels referred to the decision of Boston Catholic Charities to withdraw from providing adoption services because the state license required placing children with same-sex couples.

Stern was joined by several scholars on the subject, including Chai R. Feldblum, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and a proponent of same-sex marriage. Feldblum agreed with Stern that religious liberty will be challenged. However, Feldblum holds, the dignity and equality of gay people should almost always outweigh considerations of religious freedom.

Arguments from the conference were initially reported by Maggie Gallagher and published in The Weekly Standard. Steinfels says that in her report Gallagher observes that legal scholars opposed to same-sex marriage are more hopeful about overcoming the potential conflicts with religious liberty than those in favor of it.While University of Chicago Law School constitutional scholar, Cass Sunstein did not attend the conference, he called the conflicts Feldblum and Stern's views point to "real and serious." Sunstein told Steinfels that same-sex marriage does not raise new issues. Rather, it intensifies existing tensions "between antidiscrimination norms and deeply held religious convictions." He also said the first great impact will be in the political realm.

Many morally contentious laws contain exemptions for religious bodies or even for the personal moral beliefs of some professionals. However, these exemptions are being challenged in the courts. [snip] from Catholic News

Vatican II - 40 years after!

Pictured, the incorrupt body of Bl. John the XXIII

Shortly before he died, John Paul the Great stated that an event was coming that would rid the world of evil, at least that is how his statement resonates in my mind. However, here is the exact quote that I just happen to have in my Bible: "Satan, the original adversary, who accused our brothers in the heavenly court, has now been cast down from heaven and no longer has great power. He knows he has not much time left because history is about to see a radical turning point in freedom from evil and therefore he is reacting full of great fury." ("for history is nearing the radical turning point of liberation from evil and he consequently reacts with 'great wrath'". - literal from Vatican archives.) -John Paul II, Allocution Wednesday General Audience, 1/12/05. This amazing statement is from the Fatima Pope, the "Pope of the third secret'. The great Pope who traversed the globe catechizing the masses, seeking to set straight the misinterpretations of Vatican II.

Are we now emerging from the desert we've wandered in for 40 years after Vatican II? Is the new springtime of the Church really dawning? Have all of the scandal and abuse fomenting lately been Satan striking out before his ultimate defeat? I read an article from Cardinal George regarding the 40 year anniversary of the close of Vatican II. Below is a snippet and if you find it of interest, go to the entire text at The Catholic New World, Newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese.

>>The Second Vatican Council (1962-1966), 40 years after its conclusion, remains for many Catholics a source of both joy and tension. What was the Holy Spirit calling us to think and to do? For some, the Council itself was the work of the Spirit, but its implementation has been hijacked by left-wing or right-wing ideologues, depending upon one’s choice of enemies. For others, the Council itself was flawed because its documents are ambiguous or even inconsistent with apostolic tradition. The extremists in this line made tradition another word for museum and lose the sense of a living Body of Christ. Some even believe that Pope John XXIII and all his successors are anti-Popes and that the Church has been without a Bishop of Rome since the death of Pius XII in 1958.

A few months ago, the current Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, offered an interpretation of the Second Vatican Council that merits close attention. The Council was called in order to give genuinely new impetus to the Church’s mission in the world. In order to overcome within the Church anything that might impede or obscure the Church’s mission, the Council called for an updating or renewal in the Church’s life. “Aggiornamento,” which is Italian for updating, was not, however, intended to mean that the Church should simply accommodate herself to the world. Ecclesiastical renewal is not a form of self-secularization. Pope Benedict says of those who took this path: “They have underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions of the modern epoch.”<<

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Angry voices...

Pray! Pray! Pray! Without ceasing!

Ever since the Fr. Altier deal in the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese people have not been afraid to go public with their anger, in fact the anger seems to be pretty deep seated, stemming back a decade or so, in some cases maybe even longer. It's catching up with the times as it were. The reassignment of Fr. Altier and the prospect of a new Coadjutor Archbishop in the Twin Cities has unleashed a hail storm of hostilities. I hear it, I read it. At times certain individuals seem down right bi-polar about it - one day they are incensed about the 're-assignment surgeries' happening in the Archdiocese and the next they are praising the current Archbishop for doing the best he could in a bad situation, only to bash him the next day for participating in a liturgical function that was anything but orthodox, or something else. Is this a Church in turmoil or what?

When I came back into the Church in 1972 I was so deeply impressed with the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist that I paid little attention to His ministers. When away from the Church I had a contempt for the hierarchy, and most priests and religious. Perhaps that was the result of having grown up and educated by mean nuns with cold and indifferent parish priests. I attribute my negative experiences to their knowledge of my mother as a divorced, re-married, and therefore, non- practicing Catholic, while my father was a non-practicing Lutheran who despised the Church; and both were alcoholic and of course we were poor. I cannot really say anything against these religious however, since they did accept me tuition-free in their schools, and I got a great education, and because of a childish reverence for their habit and status, I never thought I was being mistreated - until I got older. At the time I likened it to how the saints suffered from others in their lives, so I accepted the harsh treatment, considering anything better than what my home life was like. I have to thank those nuns now! Nevertheless, in my rebellious years I came to resent their harsh treatment and developed a nasty case of anti-clericalism, the scars of which remain today - now tell me the devil did not have a hand in that! As I said however, at my conversion, my faith in the Lord's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament became so living, I was able somehow to differentiate the priest, who stood in persona Christi, from the man with his human weaknesses and foibles. It was a supernatural grace, to be sure, because it freed me from preoccupation with any perceived faults I may have ever witnessed. Contemporaries have told me I have had my head in the sand, I hope it has been more that I have had my eyes fixed on Jesus.

These recent events in our Archdiocese have been a good wake-up call for me, to realize how distracted I have become from my true focus, turning my head 'like Lot's wife to look at the destruction' (St. John, III Precaution) while my spiritual life has turned to stone, as it were. Over the years I have encountered priests who refused to give me absolution for sins I confessed telling me they were not sins. I had to beg them to impart absolution by humbling myself and asking them to do so from a purely psychological viewpoint - at the very least - so that I could have peace. Strangely enough they would then absolve me, having more faith in psychology than the sacraments. (I was not having psychological problems, I was having difficulty with a habitual sin, one I knew was grave, I needed and wanted absolution.)

Over the years I've encountered all sorts of priests one might call heretical, unfaithful, homosexual, even debauched. One thing I could never disparage is their priesthood, again, it is a supernatural grace. I looked away all of those years, I prayed for them. I delighted when I'd encounter a good priest, such as Fr. Altier, or the other numerous faithful and devout priests of this Archdiocese, and I gravitated towards them.

So I've known about all of the abuses yet I refused to focus upon them. I don't think it does me much good to focus upon them. When I was in a monastery for a time, the prior was an alcoholic and for recreation we had cocktails and watched TV. I left. I enterd another monastery, my novice master turned out to be gay and asked me very personal and impertinent questions about my sexuality. I left. Then a priest I knew wanted to get into 'mutual massage' - and when I said "No way!" I was accused of being uptight, ashamed of my body, etc. I left. Like I said, I have been on the receiving end of bad theology, bad liturgy, bad celebrations of the sacrament of penance, and other eccentricities. I more or less had to be on my own for many years. Like the guy in The Way of the Pilgrim, I just continued on my way. It's a grace, and an act of Divine Mercy when one encounters a saintly priest - it's really not a right - everything is a grace, is a mercy. On some level I think it's always been this way. We may now be living in the era of the great apostasy, but I wonder. What I know for certain is that I have been distracted from the 'one thing necessary', and I must 'return to my early love'.

Having said that, check out this news story about persecuted priests, it seems to be happening all over, not just here. Let's not get mad, or try to get even by adding fuel to the scandal and fight, let's pray. Pray, pray, pray. "It is not human activity that can save us now, but only the sufferings of Christ." - Edith Stein.