Saturday, August 26, 2006

Net of Deceit...

Pictured: Scene from "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

"Lie to me" by Jonny Lang - remember that song - I wonder if it's written on my forehead? Well, lately, that's just about all I've been hearing. If not out and out lies, then dissimulation and deceit.

I was speaking to a friend recently returned from Rome and when the conversation turned to someone we both know, she said "Oh! You can't believe a word he says." I had heard that before about this person, but coming from my friend these suspicions were more or less confirmed. It turns out the individual is something of a pathological liar. (Did you ever see "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - this fellow reminds me of Tom Ripley...scary.)

Once again, I was speaking to a woman who is friends with an individual whom I also know well. The discussion turned to some negative experiences in our relationship with him - mostly involving conflicts concerning confidences. Although I realized that he is also something of a gossip and detractor. He has not been above resorting to flattery in order to elicit information about others - which he repeats of course. (Unfortunately, this friend we had been discussing is also a cleric. This conversation with my friend, in addition to others I've had with our mutual friend, taught me an old lesson. Not to engage in, or listen to talk about others, it does nothing but bring down one's spirit, and the reputation of others.)

Needless to say, I was rather discouraged with these revelations. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but an environment of lies can leave the impression that no one is to be trusted. That is exactly what happens when lies infect relationships and permeate society - no one can be trusted. I think that is why there is a breakdown of confidence in the Church as well. Aren't there any straight-talkers anymore?

More St. Pius the Tenth week thoughts...

The Eucharist as 'fast food'?

Monday was the feast of Pope St. Pius X, known as the "Pope of the Eucharist" because he permitted frequent if not daily Communion, and allowed the reception of Communion for little children. A wonderful favor for the modern Church.

Sometimes I wonder about daily reception, not to mention Sunday reception for those who rarely ever go to confession, or may not be properly catechised, much less prepared to communicate. I have met persons whose determination to communicate daily almost borders on obsessive compulsive.

I had a woman who worked for me once who either had to come in late or leave early from work to make it to Mass in time to receive Communion. She would become agitated with the prospect that she may not make it in time to receive. While it wasn't uncommon for her to speed when driving to the Church. I've known a few people who would do similar things in order to get to Mass - or, more specifically, to Holy Communion. I have often heard people say things like, "I can't live without daily Communion!" It is not unusual for them to occasionally request the priest, or an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, to give them Communion outside of Mass when they were unable to attend the same day. After receiving, they left the chapel almost as quickly to go about their business shortly after receiving. This practice is where I get the title of this post, "Eucharist as fast food."

In the movie "The Nun's Story", Audrey Hepburn's character Sr. Luke, because she had to assist in surgery early in the morning and therefore miss the conventual Mass, received Holy Communion at the door of the operating room when the priest came through the hospital to distribute for the sick. That is a different situation all together - however it didn't appear to do Sr. Luke much good. Daily Communion, in some people's eyes, may be more important than the actual celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass. In some instances, it may even be a sort of "point system" tally-thing going on for them. People often forget that before Pius X the faithful rarely received Holy Communion on a daily basis, even in religious houses. Many of the saints did not even have this privledge. (Although, on the other hand, you have the very devout who assist at more than one Mass a day and receive Communion at every Mass. I believe two Communions may be permitted at two different liturgies in one day, but anythings else, other than for a priest who celebrates more than once, seems exagerrated to me.)

Here is a part of Pius X proclamation concerning daily Communion. Notice the emphasis on proper preparation and disposition:

"Accordingly, the Sacred Congregation of the Council, in a Plenary Session held on December 16,1905, submitted this matter to a very careful study, and after sedulously examining the reasons adduced on either side, determined and declared as follows:

1. Frequent and daily Communion, as a practice most earnestly desired by Christ our Lord and by the Catholic Church, should be open to all the faithful, of whatever rank and condition of life; so that no one who is in the state of grace, and who approaches the Holy Table with a right and devout intention (recta piaque mente) can be prohibited therefrom.

2. A right intention consists in this: that he who approaches the Holy Table should do so, not out of routine, or vain glory, or human respect, but that he wish to please God, to be more closely united with Him by charity, and to have recourse to this divine remedy for his weakness and defects.

3. Although it is especially fitting that those who receive Communion frequently or daily should be free from venial sins, at least from such as are fully deliberate, and from any affection thereto, nevertheless, it is sufficient that they be free from mortal sin, with the purpose of never sinning in the future; and if they have this sincere purpose, it is impossible by that daily communicants should gradually free themselves even from venial sins, and from all affection thereto.4. Since, however, the Sacraments of the New Law, though they produce their effect ex opere operato, nevertheless, produce a great effect in proportion as the dispositions of the recipient are better, therefore, one should take care that Holy Communion be preceded by careful preparation, and followed by an appropriate thanksgiving, according to each one's strength, circumstances and duties.

5. That the practice of frequent and daily Communion may be carried out with greater prudence and more fruitful merit, the confessor's advice should be asked. Confessors, however, must take care not to dissuade anyone from frequent or daily Communion, provided he is found to be in a state of grace and approaches with a right intention.

6. But since it is plain that by the frequent or daily reception of the Holy Eucharist union with Christ is strengthened, the spiritual life more abundantly sustained, the soul more richly endowed with virtues, and the pledge of everlasting happiness more securely bestowed on the recipient, therefore, parish priests, confessors and preachers, according to the approved teaching of the Roman Catechism should exhort the faithful frequently and with great zeal to this devout and salutary practice." [snip] Go here for the Full text.

My whole point here, is not against daily Communion, rather the manner in which we present ourselves to communicate, as well as the attitude we may have of "the right" to do so. In some ways, it may be analogous to someone grabbing the host out of the hands of the minister, as opposed to devoutly receiving it upon the tongue or upon the sacred throne of our hand before consuming the host. Can daily Communion lead to nonchalance and taking the sacrament for granted? I think so - I think it does even among the devout. I often share with others the suggestion to frequently make acts of "spiritual Communion" as a means of recollection and a way of continuing the effects of their sacramental Communion. Aside from the proximate preparation of prayer and devoutly assisting at Mass, there is no better preparation than to spiritually unite ourselves frequently to Our Lord in spiritual Communion.

Never take the Lord for granted in His Eucharistic Presence - someday we might find ourselves deprived of it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reverend Father Robert Altier


Fr. Altier will be opening the new season for Catholic Parents Online cable television this September. He will be taking questions in the segment entitled, "Simple Answers to Tough Questions", hosted by Colleen Perfect. This ought to be a very informative program. (CPO is open to your questions, since it is a taped program you would have to submit your questions in advance, via email. If you're interested, click on this link.) Some of the questions may be like the following:

"How does a Catholic respond when they receive a wedding invitation from a Catholic relative who is getting married in a non-Catholic Church?"

(My answer would be, just don't go - that's because I rarely go to anyone's wedding. Seriously, I would politely excuse myself, without lying, and gladly tell them why -I just don't get enough real excuses to use and I'd jump at the chance to use this one - I just don't like to go to weddings.)

"What do you say if you have out of town relatives staying at your house, who are not practicing Catholics, and while on your way to attending Sunday Mass they inform you that they think it's okay to receive Holy Communion even if a person attends Mass only occasionally."

(I would say, "Whatever - you are not going to Communion if you haven't been to confession." And I would berate and humiliate them and tell them they are going to hell if they do! Just kidding. Actually I would gently and kindly inform them of the rules regarding the reception of Holy Communion, and pray they would abide by them.)

"What do you say, if anything, if the mom-to-be has undergone in-vetro fertilization? And do you attend the baby shower?"

(Again, my answer would be, "I can't go to your stupid shower because you're going to hell." No - I'm so kidding. I would say, "The last baby shower I was at was for "Rosemary's Baby" and I don't trust any of them anymore." Again, I'm kidding. I would just go and keep my mouth shut. Well actually I wouldn't go because I'm a guy - men are so fortunate that they get to avoid that crap.)

Some people have commented that they thought Fr. Altier was prohibited from speaking on any media, but I think he just agreed to not presenting on radio, specifically Relevant Radio. Otherwise I know he speaks at conferences and stuff, and as spiritual director for CPO, I would think he's more than entitled to speak on their show.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Something is happening...

Deceit - that's the name of the painting.

"Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?" - "Ballad Of A Thin Man" - Bob Dylan

The other day I ran into a priest who said, "It's the traditionalists that cause all the problems." Until recently he had been a member of the personnel board for the Archdiocese of Mpls/St. Paul - really not very long ago, maybe a couple of years? - although he is no longer. That means he had a hand in deciding which priests are assigned where.

Today I ran into this extraordinary couple. He was once an elder in the Jehovah Witnesses, a well educated man, and now very well educated in Roman Catholic theology and liturgy. They began their conversion in a standard Novus Ordo parish. They were attracted to St. Agnes and yet found their way to the traditional Mass - the Tridentine rite. To hear their testimony is truly awesome. Their understanding of the Mass puts my own understanding to shame. They attend the Novus Ordo when they have no alternative, and they accept the Novus Ordo as a valid Mass. Yet their love of the ancient rite is profound. Their understanding and ability to navigate the Latin is unusual, especially for former protestants. They are totally devoted to Pope Benedict XVI and are in no way 'sedevacantist'. Neither do they tolerate any vindictive criticism or detraction of the hierarchy. I was very impressed with their testimony. Very moved indeed.

I posted on my 'other' blog about the Altar of the Chair having been removed from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It was jack-hammered out of there. One has seen what has happened over the years to countless Churches, stripped of ornament and the old altars. Was someone trying to get rid of every vestige of the traditional rite? Was there some sort of iconoclasm occuring in our midst? Nothing like this ever happened since the Protestant Reformation - nothing. What happened? Why have people been silenced, exiled, marginalized, and ostracized?

Something has been happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you,
Mister Jones?

Take some time off why don't you...

One never knows what the future holds.

A man I know is dying today. He just retired about three months ago. He was a security guard, although he worked at many jobs throughout his life. With his wife he raised a family of two, sent them to Catholic schools, owned a house - all the while working very hard in relatively low-paying service jobs. He is a devout Catholic and is a member of the third order of Mt. Carmel. He was looking forward to retirement, hoping to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes and Fatima, paid for in part by his children. His spirituality, as well as that of his wife's, was very simple, very pure - he was a "little one". I often thought of the psalm, "this is the man I approve, the lowly and afflicted one who fears my word" when I saw him. He had a limp that came from injuries at his work years ago; this, with his complete simplicity and joyful smile, endeared him to me.

Soon after retirement, he got a cold, then pneumonia, then was diagnosed with leukemia. Chemo seemed to eradicate it - we thought he would be okay. Then more respiritory problems, then an infection. Soon his kidneys stopped functioning, he needed dialysis. Today everything is shutting down, he is in fact, dying. Please pray for him, his name is Rudi Sepeda.

I thought of Pope Benedict XVI recently recommending that we "not work too hard." Something difficult for the poor to control. In regards the well paid however, one may take the Holy Father's words to heart - especially in light of Mr. Sepeda's short retirement. Recall the Gospel of the rich man who hoarded his possesions. He said to himself, "This is what I will do, I will tear down all my barns and build bigger ones, and store all of my grain and goods in them and will say to my soul: 'My soul, you have plenty of good things laid aside for years to come, take life easy, eat drink and have a good time.'" Yet God said, "This very night the demand will be made for your soul." Luke 12:16-21.

"Be prepared, for the Son of God is coming at an hour you do not expect." Luke 12: 40

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Unlikely pro-life spokeswoman...

Sharon Osborne against abortion?

My friend Shayne, who does what I can only call a "News Blog" - I used to call it a wyrd news blog because he does wierd news, often dealing with aberrations in the homosexual subculture - gosh - how oxymoronic is that? Anyway, he finds good "sound bites" of information sometimes - although rarely editorializing the topic.

He currently has a post on Sharon Osborne talking about an abortion she had when she was seventeen. She presents as one surprisingly pro-life. I say suprisingly since she is Ozzie's wife and surely did not come off that way in their reality TV show. Nevertheless, in interviews I found her very genuine and quite level headed. I like her. I like her even more for her candor about her abortion. Let's pray for her.

Check out Shayne's post.

Why are some traditionalists so angry?

And why are some liberals so subversive?

I found out that some traditionalists are indeed very angry, as well as defensive, and in some cases offensive. I found out so-called liberals are as well. I'm trying to understand why.

Traditionalists have been labeled with all sorts of names, they have been marginalized and ostracised and off-handedly dismissed as fanatics. That is extremely unfair.

Yet, simply because one is a "novus ordo Catholic" that does not mean one is a liberal. Nevertheless, in the post-Vatican II Church there definitely has been quite a lot of subversive behavior going on, while there has been constructed a sort of Berlin-wall against anything traditional. Every one knows this, including myself, although some people do wonder what I see under all of that sand.

Today's first reading made me think about some of our shepherds, such as Archbishop Roach, now deceased, his predecessor, and a couple of other local Bishops from our recent past, such as Bishop Bullock. (He once said he wasn't aware of any homosexual clergy in the archdiocese, that was in the '90's - not 1890's.)

At the beginning of today's first reading for Mass from Ezekiel we hear:

"Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?"

I think I will lift my head out of the sand and take a look around. I'll keep the mocked and wounded Christ as my light however, realizing it is He both sides sometimes wound. Let us pray for healing of our wounds, and pray that our splintered Church may once again be assembled into that holy cross of Christ.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Another, should I say, "big" man...

Bishop Thomas Doran, Rockford, Illinois.

I came across an article written by him and reprinted on New Advent (8/17/06). It is pretty straight forward as well as an insightful take on where our country is headed. It may even be prophetic, if stating what is obvious is considered so. Very few others address the issues he addresses.

Reading the piece, I was reminded of how I used to read the dictionary in grade school, coming upon words that are hardly in general usage any longer. The Bishop employs a couple of these words that skirt the politically correct terms one uses today. Here are two I forgot about:

Buggery - Once a vulgar term for sodomy. (A teacher once told me that when we say "Don't bug me." the term originated from this word. Yeah, so please don't.)

Invert - A term most often found in old psychological textbooks and literature used to denote a homosexual. It means reversing the natural order, more or less.

"Reaping the whirlwind of abortion.

I want to touch on this matter before we get too close to the November madness. As human beings, as citizens of a “first world country,” as Americans, and as Catholics, most importantly, we have to take count of the circumstances in which we live. We know that the only creatures of God that outlast time are those created having intellect and will. All other things, with the passage of time, break up or break down. Many of the issues that confront us are serious, and we know by now that the political parties in our country are at loggerheads as to how to solve them. We know, for instance, that adherents of one political party would place us squarely on the road to suicide as a people.

The seven “sacraments” of their secular culture are abortion, buggery, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, feminism of the radical type, and genetic experimentation and mutilation. These things they unabashedly espouse, profess and promote. Their continuance in public office is a clear and present danger to our survival as a nation.

Since the mid-1940s we have been accustomed to look askance at Germans. They were protagonists of the Second World War and so responsible for fifty million deaths. We say, “How awful,” and yet in our country we have, for the most part, allowed the party of death and the court system it has produced to eliminate, since 1973, upwards of forty million of our fellow citizens without allowing them to see the light of day. They have done their best to make ours a true culture of death. No doubt, we shall soon outstrip the Nazis in doing human beings to death.

How accustomed we have become to the immense loss of life in our wars throughout the world! Those who have killed millions under their mother’s hearts cannot be expected to balk at a mere few thousand killed in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Somalia, in Darfur, in Bosnia, in Madrid, in London, in Baghdad, in Beirut, in Washington, in New York. The violence of abortion coarsens the lives of all of us. Once it was said, “... for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) So we see the rise in the number of predations among youth, even among the youngest, the rise of domestic violence. We speak of road rage as a common thing. It is true what the theologians have said, that sin darkens the intellect, and weakens the will.

Having sown the wind of abortion we now reap the whirlwind. This appears in every quarter of our culture and on every day. And that just from the first of the “sacraments of death” of our secular human culture. The toleration of sexual perversions among inverts, widespread contraception, easy access to “no fault” divorce, the killing of the elderly, radical feminism, embryonic stem cell research — all of these things defile and debase our human nature and our human destiny.

These unholy sacraments of our secular culture are the seeds of the destruction of our nation.Think for yourself: what nation that kills its young, perverts marriage, prevents new life, and destroys the family, kills those deemed useless, makes the war of the sexes into a real war, and manipulates the genetic basis of human nature, can long endure?"

I like the "big" man.

Blonde and loving it!

No one got the joke except me - but I still insist it was funny - to me. I took it down anyway. Oh, and I really do welcome all comments about heterodox priests.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some people think he is a saint...

Pictured; The Execution of Savonarola.

Indeed, his cause for cannonization is currently under study. From Zenit archives, an interview with the Postulator of the cause:

"But is he a Saint? To get more information on the figure of Savonarola, ZENIT interviewed Fr. Innocenzo Venchi, O.P., who is in charge of studying and promoting the cause his beatification.

Fr. Venchi: Savonarola returns to view because we feel the need for precision in historical reality. He was the victim of calumny and was poorly understood. We must illuminate the truth so that the spiritual figure, the virtuous man, the saint emerges. The questions on which we must clearly respond are his obedience to the Pope (Savonarola never disobeyed him), the excommunication and its validity (This is a very controversial question), and his political influence (which was probably the cause of his condemnation to death). On the basis of all the proofs and counterproofs that I have seen, I can affirm that the previous questions can be resolved in a more than sufficient manner.

ZENIT: In the collective imagination, Savonarola is remembered as a fanatic preacher against feminine vanity, a severe moralist who burned Botticelli's paintings simply because nude women appeared in them.

Fr. Venchi: Savonarola was a morally integral person. He was honest and coherent, and his life corresponded to what he preached. He was severe, but we must also consider the reality of the times in which he lived. Faced with rising neopaganism, the decadency of customs in Rome and Florence, it was enough to ask that people follow the Gospel to be branded as severe censors. Savonarola, nonetheless, loved Florence -- you can see this in his preaching; he felt a great tenderness for that city. If you can make the comparison, Savonarola wept over Florence just as Christ wept over Jerusalem. He was rigorous, but at the same time balanced, not fanatic. This is evident in a few of the questions in which he took action. He intervened before the Republic of Lucca to find a reasonable solution on behalf of the Jews. As for women, Savonarola held them in great consideration. In a period when prostitution reigned and women had no self-esteem, he proposed to allow them to participate in the guidance of civil life in the city. He even wrote a book on the life of widows. He showed maternal tenderness for children.

ZENIT: And how do you explain the "House of Vanities" that he organized?
Fr. Venchi: A great deal of uproar has been caused and many falsehoods written about the "House of Vanities" where they burned jewelry and paintings disrespectful of morality, but this had already been put into practice by St. Bernardine of Siena and Blessed Bernardine of Feltre. They were not Savonarola's invention. They say that he didn't like painting because he had Botticelli's paintings with nude women burned, but very few know that Bartholomeo della Porta, Raphael's master, was a disciple and follower of Savonarola. After meeting Savonarola, Br. Bartolomeo began to paint religious themes. It is well known that Michaelangelo admired Savonarola, and it appears that Raphael did as well, since the great painter put him in the "Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament." Another follower of Savonarola was the painter Paolino Detti, better known as Paolino del Signoraccio. So, he had many artists among his followers.

ZENIT: It seems clear that an injustice was committed against Savonarola, but was he really a saint?

Fr. Venchi: The cause was born from the fact that despite the calumnies and condemnations, the cult and veneration of Savonarola has continued across the centuries into our time. Among his admirers we find dozens of saints, such as St. Philip Neri, St. Catherine of Ricci, St. John Fisher, St. Pius V, and St. Pius X. Even in modern times, we find great admirers of Savonarola, such as Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Don Orione, and the Servant of God Giorgio La Pira. In addition, as the investigation has progressed, the more we came to know his writings and historical successes, the more we esteemed Savonarola, even if he will always be a sign of contradiction due to his strongly held positions.

ZENIT: Can someone who criticized the life of the clergy so be beatified?

Fr. Venchi: Important historical studies prove that not only was Savonarola not disobedient, he was neither excommunicated nor insane. Some hold that if Savonarola had been listened to, perhaps there would not have been a Reformation. While at that time no one would raise his voice against the reigning corruption, Savonarola made himself heard, preached against the bad customs, denounced the dissolution of his times, had the courage to speak to the end, was coherent, never gave up, never bent even before the threat of death, and paid with his own life.

ZENIT: Then for you, Savonarola is a saint, with all that that would imply?

Fr. Venchi: The sanctity of Savonarola is shown in the moment of his condemnation, when as a prisoner, he was tortured, humiliated, and made fun of for forty-five days, and then killed and burned. In that difficult moment, he had the strength to write a commentary on the Miserere [Psalm 51], which is one of the most beautiful in the history of the Church. This is the comportment of a saint. In a certain sense, he walked the Passion of Jesus Christ again: he was betrayed, imprisoned, tried, abandoned by all, and stripped of his habit. He suffered all these humiliations without bitterness toward anyone, and never disobeyed the Pope."

It makes you really wonder about Fr. Altier doesn't it? What if...

I mean, he has preached against the evils of rock music, the vanities of our times, the immorality of television. He says Harry Potter is wicked. He talks about the end of the age, the corruption in the Church. He spoke out against the "VIRTUS" sex-ed program for Catholic schools. He is no fan of contemporary immodest fashions. He has said a lot of things that kinda, sorta sound like Savonarola. I know some people who are devoted to him who even have had book burnings - I don't know if Father condoned that however - I'm sure he would see no harm in it. Oh well, at least we don't imprison or burn people at the stake any longer.

(I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd post this as a follow up to my other post on Savonarola - after rumaging around the net looking for his meditations on the Miserere.)

Thinking about the Fat Man.

I hate to quote from G.K. because it seems everyone else always does. I like reading him however. Although I don't want to belong to any Chesterton society. I love Carmelite spirituality yet I would never want to be a Third Order Carmelite. I love Opus Dei and their spirituality as well, but I would never want to be a member. I just don't join things. (I have joined a parish however, mainly because I want someplace to be buried from. It's safe to say no one will be there.)

But here are some quotes I like from the Fat Man:

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes being corrected."

(It seems to me that same thought could be stated substituting the labels, Traditionalists and Liberals.)

"If men cannot save themselves from common sense, they cannot save each other by coercion."

(That makes sense, huh?)

"If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church; but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world."

(Maybe this is what is occurring in our midst. Are the Trads rebuking the worldly Church? Maybe the followers of priests such as Fr. Altier are doing likewise. If this is the case, who gives them the authority to do so? Another blogger I know enjoys quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, (Obviously the basis for this statement by Chesterton.) here is that blogger's favorite maxim: "It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.")

"I am not urging a lop-sided idolatry of the past; I am protesting against a lop sided idolatry of the present." (It's kind of a seesaw thing isn't it?)

(I like the Fat Man.)