Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Just a kiss.

The Koran and Assisi.

This image of Pope John Paul II is one of the chief images that send traditional Catholics, as well as sedavacantists way over the edge. There are albums full of other images from around the world and the Assisi interfaith gathering to add fuel to the fire. They will not be very happy with Pope Benedict XVI today either.

What is the problem? I don't know why JPII kissed a holy book of another faith, one that is anti-Christian in nature. This brilliant man knew what he was doing...did he not? No, I do not think he realized that many traditional Catholics would be deeply scandalized. Seeing him thus appeared to contradict everything his predecessors - Pius XII and beyond, ever said about false ecumenism and pan-religious endorsements. Pius IX, Pius X, Pius XI, Pius XII all warned against much of what we witness today. It generates confusion, division as well as mistrust amongst Catholics.

Today Pope Benedict endorsed interfaith prayer, as well as the Assisi conference. Cautioning against relativism and abuse of course, yet how does one control that? Especially in the trickle down effect that insinuates itself in more or less dissident parishes, such as St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis Cabrini, or Pax Christi? The clarity of the faith of old is obscured by vague notions of ecumenism and relativism. (Check out the "trickle down" effect on Rorate Coeli - it's an example of interreligious celebration that could only have precedence in the Assisi event - a black dead chicken was placed upon the altar of sacrifice in the cathedral.)

Pope Benedict had this to say regarding the Assisi conference today,

"In his message, Pope Benedict said Pope John Paul II had correctly perceived the value of having leaders of different faiths gather to send a message that true religion builds bridges and has nothing to do with violence. (Trads only consider 'true religion' to be the Roman Catholic faith.) His invitation for a choral witness to peace served to clarify, without any possibility of misunderstanding, that religion can only be a source of peace," he said. (Assisi caused enormous misunderstandings.)

The 1986 meeting and those that followed have also highlighted the importance of prayer in changing human hearts and helping to clear the often difficult path to peace, the pope said."We need this 'education to peace' more than ever, especially looking at the new generations," the pope said."Many young people in areas of the world marked by conflict are educated in sentiments of hatred and vengeance, in ideological contexts that cultivate the seeds of ancient animosities and prepare hearts for future violence," he said.

The pope addressed bluntly the accusation, aired in some conservative church circles, that the Assisi meeting represented an injudicious blending of different faith elements and prayer expressions. (Gosh! There was a lot of abuse going on there right under the Pope's eyes - the impression is what it was.) He noted that 20 years ago Pope John Paul emphasized that the religious leaders had not come together to seek a religious consensus or "negotiate" their faith convictions.

Pope Benedict said the policy chosen in 1986, which continues today, is for the various religions to pray in their own distinct way even as they gather to witness in the same place. (Many trads often say, "Pray to whom? Some of the gods of gentiles are demons.") In this way, confusion is avoided, he said. "The convergence of diverse representatives should not give the impression of a concession to that relativism which negates the very meaning of truth and the possibility of taking it in," he said. (Yet confusion is what was generated.)

The pope also offered a historical perspective on the 20 years that have followed the first interreligious prayer meeting. He said the fall of European communism and the promise of a more cooperative globalized economy generated hope for a new era of peace."Unfortunately, this dream of peace did not come true. On the contrary, the third millennium opened with scenarios of terrorism and violence that show no sign of dissolving," he said." [snip: CNS]

Trads are not going to be very happy with the Holy Father today, even if he's wearing the same hat Pius IX wore. (It made it's debut today. Pretty cool, huh?)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Religious, that is.

Audrey Hepburn as Sr. Luke in "The Nun's Story" - Dr. Fortunati was challenging her on her vocation - as well as her hiding behind her religious decorum when confronted.

Hepburn played the perfect nun - that is why viewers of the film are so disconsolate when she leaves the convent at the end of the film. Nevertheless, she did not have a vocation. It was upsetting in 1959 and is upsetting today, considering so many women left their convents after Vatican II. You just want Sr. Luke to be the perfect nun and become a saint because of it.

What was so great about the film is how it portrayed religious life. however it wasn't difficult to see that it had stagnated into external religious observance; perfectly pressed coifs, rigid adherence to communal practices, otherwise called decorum. Etc, etc. The perfect nun was the nun with the perfect habit, who became a "living rule".

One may experience it today. It's almost play acting in some cases. The otherwise affable religious or priest can easily slip into a sort of pontification of superiority when challenged. Making grand pronouncements on the morality of a given situation or anything else that tends to betray their humanity - or their mistaken notions. It's a useful tool in "fraternal correction" - it can also be a charitable put-down in some cases. It's a form of hypocrisy, or pharisaism. It entails taking the higher moral ground and letting the person you are "correcting" know it. While the person one is correcting realizes you are no better. It's a power thing.

People may disagree, but it happens. One doesn't have to be a priest or religious to employ such tactics. Religious people are notorious for it. If it is consistent, it isn't so bothersome. It's when someone is inconsistent, yet takes out "the guns" in the name of truth, and religious superiority - that is when it becomes annoying. You recognize then that some religious are simply on a "God is on my side" power trip - especially when their power is challenged.

That is so when they need Dr. Fortunati. (I've pulled a few 'Fortunatis' in my time - 'they' don't like it - it seems to hurt their pride somewhat. Nonetheless, nuns, monks, and priests are people too. Oh! And I almost forgot! So am I. I must confess, I've employed the tactic in the past as well.)

Monday, September 04, 2006


"He walked in peace through the midst of them." - Old translation of today's Gospel which now reads, "But he passed through the midst of them and went away."

Jesus was walking away from the angry townsfolk who were intent upon throwing him over a cliff at the edge of Nazareth. Someplace, in Paul I believe, scripture says,"Avoid anger in all of its forms." Another scripture cautions, "Calm your anger and forget your rage, it only leads to evil." It is good to recognize that and get to confession.

I confessed yesterday. I've been pretty angry of late and anger clouds one's judgement. Fr. Stromberg, one of the wisest priests I've ever known discussed obedience with me. I understood that we are safe when we are obedient and realize Christ has promised us to be with His Church until the end of the world - "the gates of hell will not prevail."

For the rest of the day I pondered what this means. I considered how the martyrs suffered, enduring patiently for the love of Christ all the difficulties of being a Christian in a pagan society. I recalled Lot, who suffered the corruption of Sodom, his faith fixed upon God. Before him there was Noah, who built the Ark amidst revilement and insult. Of course there was Job, whose own friends taunted him after he lost everything.

After the persecutions began to wane in the early Church, men and women went into the desert to embrace a sort of 'white martyrdom' patiently enduring fasts and vigils, along with temptations. This evolved into cenobitic monasticism. The concept of martyrdom always at the root of monastic spirituality. Patient endurance. "Fratrum frequentatio" - enduring with charity and patience the sins or faults of one's bretheren, even one's self. In the Gospel Our Lord tells us that by patient endurance we will save our souls. Monk or martyr, the Christian vocation was from the onset expected to reproduce in one's life the patient endurance of Christ. In both a willingness to die for the Lord, and in the resolute determination to live a life of faithful adherence to the Gospel, despite the sacrifice stemming from the taunts of others, their faults, and even their sins.

The sins and errors of others, coupled with our own transgressions - perhaps even more serious, can be a source of great moral suffering for the Christian. Remember Lot, who was scandalized by the Sodomites - he suffered these torments waiting upon God, sharing in the Divine suffering, "pati divina" the word from whence patience is derived. His patience was not simply 'for a time' but was ready to endure unto death; he and his family remaining faithful to God amidst flagrant indecency for as long as God willed.

The concept of patient, long-suffering endurance - enduring the various abuses in the Church, irregularities in the liturgy, as well as distorted translations of liturgical texts and scripture - accompanied by the confusion and misunderstanding generated by these things - often does add up to a sort of suffering for the person seeking to live a faithful Catholic life. Many of us can attest to that.

Rather than flee the situation, or worse yet, grow angrier and more rebellious, thus isolating myself in some secure refuge apart from the mainstream of the Church, I must remain where the Lord has placed me. What keeps me Catholic is my faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and fidelity to the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, and the Bishops - with their fellow priests, in union with him. If I am mocked for my confidence, then so be it, "obedience is better than sacrifice." If I suffer for the faith, praise God, who I trust will supply me with the patience and endurance to persevere.

Confession is good for the soul. I'll bet if more people frequented the sacrament, we would have less dissension and anger in our midst - universal reconcilliation could take place.

"I have more understanding than all who teach me,
for your decrees are my meditation.

I have more discernment than the elders,
Because I observe your precepts.

From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me." -Psalm 119 (Today's responsorial.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Postcards from the edge...

Or, peace and justice slick.

Pictures of the 25th Anniversary celebrations at Pax Christi, Eden Praire, Minnesota.

Another so-called, dissident parish?

Altar girls? Nothing wrong with that. The costumes seem to be inspired by ancient Rome's Vestal Virgins attire - which after all, is liturgical.

The Archbishop as main celebrant for the event. The deacon is actually behind him - but who is the old Vestal Virgin?

Pat Kennedy is the pastor and Bill Murtaugh is the assistant - both were assigned to St. Joan of Arc at one time. SJA is not the only parish in the area that plays at it's own version of Catholic Church. PC is pretty slick however and has a nice website.