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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallows Eve


The Vatican, the Vatican.
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The Holy See has warned that parents should not allow their children to dress up as ghosts and ghouls on Saturday, calling Hallowe'en a pagan celebration of "terror, fear and death".
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The Vatican issued the warning through its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an article headlined "Hallowe'en's Dangerous Messages".
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The paper quoted a liturgical expert, Joan Maria Canals, who said: "Hallowe'en has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian."
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Parents should "be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death," said Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites. - Source
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I agree Halloween can get too occultish - but parents can pretty much control that - for those kids that have two caring, heterosexual parents that is.  I have no problem with a priest issuing warnings about these things, but it is a little annoying every time the press acts as if it is an official declaration ex-cathedra from the Pope when they announce the Vatican, the Vatican said this or that.
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A celebration of terror, fear and death.
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Jeffrey of Roving Medievalist has a series of posts on medieval fresco cycles titled Danse Macabre which decorated churches in an earlier time.  Not unlike later vanitas paintings, they remind the viewer of the reality of death and the vanity of life - not excluding aspects of terror, fear, and damnation.
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I'm not saying the influence of the occult is not present in Halloween, I just posted on some of the dangers posed by curiosity, morbid interest and dabbling in occult based entertainments.  Nevertheless I think it is fair to point out that a respectable enthrallment with the macabre is not in itself evil.  Especially in our times when people cannot even say someone has died, preferring to say someone has passed.  We live in a culture of death which denies it's existence as well as more important eternal consequences.  In that sense I think the rejection of Halloween as a celebration of terror, fear, and death is somewhat misguided and overly protective.



Although it may sound hokey to some - kids dressing up as saints or souls in purgatory doesn't have to be all prettied-up and candy-flossed - it could be delightfully macabre.  Just imagine a costume of St. Denis - the decapitated bishop carrying his head through the streets of Paris.  Or St Agatha, carrying her bloodied breasts - what a great idea for the SBK walk for the cure, huh?  Or St. Lucy, carrying her eyeballs, being led around by her Roman soldier executioner.  Imagine a kid dressed as a priest in purgatory, covered in crepe-paper flames... a pregnant nun - oh, that's been done.  But you see my point, Christian iconography offers a great deal of freedom in the macabre department - so get over it.
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Thanks to Jeffrey for the wonderful images.
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Happy Halloween to all you fundamentalists!  Booooooooooooo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Halloween ghost story...




















Let the dead bury their dead.
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Shown above is an "ex-voto" painting commemorating the suicide of a local priest a few years ago - I painted the panel a few days after he committed suicide - and after having just learned that the priest's superiors had known about his history,  teen molestation accusations - and did nothing.  It is one of my favorite paintings ever.
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I don't know if my tale qualifies as a real ghost story, but what happened to me as I finished the painting was kind of creepy.  I knew the priest who had hanged himself.  He had been accused of murdering a funeral director and his assistant back in 2002.  The alleged motive was to silence the funeral director who was believed to have threatened to expose the priest's involvement in homosexual acts with adolescent boys.  The priest committed suicide but left a note claiming his innocence of the murders.  The exposure of his  homosexual involvement with teen boys may have been motive enough for the priest to take his own life.
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What kind of priest was he?
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The man was a good priest. Perhaps a bit doctrinaire, dogmatic and therefore rigid in his pastoral approach however. He loved being a priest.  He loved the cassock, wore it everywhere, and in the winter, he wore a cloak with golden frogs clasping it. He loved traditional trappings:  The hats and beanies and cape-lets and elaborate baroque vestments and man-lace.  He was orthodox in his spirituality, deeply devoted to Our Lady, and scrupulously faithful to the Roman rite - he was a Novus Ordo priest to be sure, yet totally traditional. Father also happened to be an impassioned homilist as well as moralist. I suspect he would have loved Savonarola. None of that is bad or wrong of course, although his zeal tended to alienate many - he came on pretty strong.
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When I first met him, he was wearing his winter cape, I thought he was kind of a fruitcake. After I got to know him, I still held that opinion, although I could see he was sincere and wanted to be a holy priest, and eventually I found him rather like-able. He had a good sense of humor, but there was something there that told me he craved affirmation, respect, and deep down, he just wanted to be liked. Human respect was very important to him - despite the fact he had so many critics amongst his congregation. Could it be that human respect became motive enough to murder someone who might have exposed his secret life, revelations which would ruin his orthodox facade? Maybe.  Father also loved guns and hunting, and he tended to be rather militant when it came to heretics and liberals - but was he capable of murder?  Personally, I think he could have been found guilty on all counts - but not necessarily damned.
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The ghost.
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As I finished adding the details to the painting, I considered adding some things to suggest his sexuality near the rosary in the snow,  as if they had fallen from his pockets.  Just as I began to paint the items in I felt a hand grasp my shoulder, as if to hold me back from proceeding.  A chill ran down my back and I sensed an interior warning to stop.  I turned quickly to see if anyone was behind me, but I was completely alone.  
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The next day at work I told a co-worker what had happened.  This man had great respect for the priest and could hardly believe the accusations against him, much less his suicide.  In fact, not a day or two after his death, my friend's mother had a dream of a priest coming towards her in church with a message for her son, "Tell him I'm okay."  It turns out my friend's mother had never met the priest nor had she heard of his suicide at that point.
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I no longer know what to think regarding the case, but I will continue to pray for the priest and the murder victims just the same.

Das Gänsebuch


The Geese Book
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I found this story on The Lion and The Cardinal blog...
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A book of liturgical chants, illustrated with geese, foxes, bears, dogs and cats, the Geese Book actually is a 500-year-old liturgical manuscript that once was used in Nuremberg, Germany...

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[ASU professor Corine] Schleif discovered the Geese Book when she was a doctoral student...
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The book was created by artists and craftsmen in Nuremberg to preserve the complete liturgy used in the parish of St. Lorenz, as it was sung by the choir of young adults and schoolboys. The book survived World War II and came came into the hands of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, whose founders trace their roots back to a patrician family in Nuremberg. The Kress Foundation helped the church rebuild after Nuremberg was bombed. In return, the church presented the Geese Book to the foundation. - Story 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Common, Ordinary Anti-Catholicism


Little persecutions...
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I often say that I grew up in an anti-Catholic atmosphere - my family did not practice the faith.  In fact, my dad was a non-practicing Lutheran until he converted shortly before his death.  His mother was an overbearing, Catholic-hating, denomination-switcher, who wanted to rescue me from the clutches of my fallen away Catholic mom.  My older half brother and sister stopped going to Mass shortly after I made my first communion - so I was on my own as far as the practice of the faith went.  While it is true my parents sent us to Catholic grade school and expected us to attend Mass on Sundays, my siblings usually only dropped me off and picked me up after Mass. 
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So where was the anti-Catholicism in the family?  That was pretty much it, aside from the fact that when I did anything wrong, or refused to lie or do something bad - I was ridiculed for being too religious, a holy Joe, a pious Mary, a hypocrite, and so on.  Without going into detail - there were other, more serious things - and in order not to make this into some sort of pitiable lament, suffice it to say I grew up knowing what it is to be marginalized for one's religious belief.
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Tolerating intolerance.
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As an adult most of my friends and coworkers have had issues with the Church, primarily regards discipline and morality, and they have often chided me for my faith.   "How can you be Catholic?"  they ask whenever anything negative is brought up about the Church or Her teaching, and in some cases, my devotion.  Hence my point:  This common, ordinary anti-Catholicism was so much a part of my life that I often paid little or no attention to the rapid popularization of anti-Catholicism in the culture. 
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For instance, I could excuse the anti-Catholicism seen in art and entertainment as simple expressions of a non-religious, secularized culture.  When talk show hosts and their guests - entertainers - blasted Catholic morality and teaching, I dismissed it as coming from otherwise ordinary disgruntled former Catholics who, aside from being famous, were no different from my friends or co-workers.  To be anti-Catholic or agnostic seemed to me to be the new normal, the new cool - simply a trend.  "Choose your battles"  I'd tell people who got all bent out of shape over an anti-Catholic film, or a celebrity bashing the Pope, or a print ad making fun of nuns.
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Well orchestrated...
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Obviously naive thinking and tolerance does not diminish the effects of common, ordinary anti-Catholicism which has become more mainstream than it has ever been in history, and to pretend it is not orchestrated and more institutionalized is totally disingenuous.  Anyway - this has been a long introduction to an article from the Catholic Defense League, sent to me this morning by my friend Paula - which demonstrates how well orchestrated contemporary anti-Catholicism really is - and it is time I take it much more seriously.
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Last Friday on the Washington Post blog, “On Faith,” English atheist Richard Dawkins said the Catholic Church was “surely up there among the leaders” as “the greatest force for evil in the world.” He labeled the Eucharist a “cannibal feast,” adding that “possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.” He also blamed the Church for sending missionaries “out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans” regarding condoms. The Church’s outreach to Anglicans, he said, makes it “a common pimp,” noting that those who convert “will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.” 
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On Saturday, a Los Angeles Times editorial said that “church leaders, including popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion….” It concluded, “You don’t have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the church’s views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.”
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These deranged comments—all voiced in America’s premier newspapers—demonstrate that anti-Catholicism is the most virulent expression of bigotry in the U.S.  - Bill Donohue
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Remember, we are the Church Militant.
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In conclusion I think it is obvious that we Catholics must continue to confront this bigotry wherever we meet it in our common, ordinary circumstances of every day life:  In our families, amongst friends, in the workplace, or even within the context of a parish, where dissidents and liberals may try to marginalize or dismiss us as papist pious Mary's and holy Joe's, pre-Vatican II fanatics, right-wing-nuts and homophobes.
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Gratefully, those of us with blogs are confronting this crap - so let's keep it up and encourage one another - especially when they try to make us stop.

Here's a ghost story...


She was just stopping in for a nightcap.
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One winter's night, long after I left home, my mother was sitting alone in the kitchen, smoking and sipping her drink while reading her novel.  The tv was on low so that she could hear the police radio plugged into her good ear.  Mom was hard of hearing.  Dad had gone to bed hours before, having had too much to drink - mom sipped - so she could drink longer.  Because it was a school night, my little brother Timmy was already in bed, sound asleep.
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"I don't know if it was because I was reading a detective thriller or what, but shortly after midnight, I got the chills when I heard what sounded like Mary calling my name outside the kitchen window."  Mom would begin.  "So I turned the radio down, switched off the tv and sat there listening while I continued reading, thinking if someone is out there, they will call me again."  (Try to imagine my Mom and Dad played by Katherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy)
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It was only a few moments after making herself another whiskey water that mom heard her name called again; beneath the tinkling of the ice in her glass she heard a woman's voice, "Betty!"  Mom jumped to her feet and looked out through the window curtains, certain the woman next door had come over after seeing the light in the house.  "Mary, is that you?"  My mother called out as she made her way to the back door.
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She looked out, but no one was there... just the cold wind and blowing snow... newly fallen snow...
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Suddenly my mother noticed the delicate footprints, the size of a petite woman's slippers, making their way to the door - yet none going away.  The scenario of the neighbor lady visiting late at night was so familiar to my mother that she had momentarily forgotten that Mary had died the previous year.  Mary was dead - yet she called to her that night, and her little footprints remained in the snow as proof. 
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"Isn't that right Kenny!  It happened just like that!"  Mom would always say to my Dad after telling the story.  And Dad would always give a tenderhearted chuckle and gently say, "It sure did honey - Mary thought the world of you."
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Oh, and then my brother Timmy would say all excited - "Yeah - I saw it too - it was Mrs. R's ghost come to see Mom!"
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And Dad would always give another tenderhearted chuckle and gently say, "You sure did hon - Mary thought the world of your Mother."  And then Mom would cry and start drying her tears with a dirty Kleenex while Dad fixed another round.
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After my Mom died, neither my Dad or Tim would admit they saw or heard anything that night but the tv and the police radio.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A request from Fr. ZZ Top...



Pray for the souls of priests.
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Remember that you can gain indulgences on All Souls Day and the days following.  Since 5 November is a first Thursday, you can also gain a plenary indulgence during this year for Priests.
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Therefore, would it not be a good idea in this Year for Priests, during the week after All Souls and especially for this 1st Thursday, to pray in a special way for the souls of deceased priests?
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Father Z asks:  May I recommend that you bring this up with your parish priests, who might make pulpit announcements this Sunday?
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If you are a blogger, would you post something on this?
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Would you recommend this to your prayer groups, friends and family? - WDTPRS
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BTW - Happy Birthday Fr. Z!  (Cathy informs us today is Father's birthday.)
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Also - check out Father's blog for a post about an exorcist, A priest speaks about demonic possession and exorcism.  Fr. Z offeres some great advice and commentary on the subject.

Some more stuff people don't know about me...



Abridged version.
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One of my favorite female performers and singers is Miss Piggy.  Seriously.
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I'm devoted to John Paul II but I have trouble with the "Great" title - oy - and all that writing!
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I can sing like Jack Jones - sort of a lounge singer to the unsophisticated -  but I can't play piano.  I'm especially good with the Love Boat theme, and surprisingly, I can take popular songs - rock, soul, hip-hop, what have you, and do it in a lounge singer manner - and it's danceable.  (Yes I can Mary J. Blige.)
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I love Blessed Teresa of Calcutta but I get tired of hearing about her all of the time.  Gosh!  We know already!
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I'm really handy around the house - like I can fix things.
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I admire Scott Hahn.
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Oh!  Oh!  Of all the people alive in the world today whom I believe is really great and a saint, it is Pope Benedict XVI - he outshines any saint or pope of the 20th century.  (Except for Pius X and Pius XII of course.)
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Anyway - this is filler.  I'll be at adoration today - pray for me that I will not put up any barriers to the love that comes to us in Jesus Christ.  I will be praying for all of you too - by name - especially you!  (If you felt that - you know who you are.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The fascination with Halloween



And hauntings...
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Anyone with a television or radio knows that Halloween festivities are in full swing, and every year they get bigger and scarier and more occult.  While driving yesterday I was listening to talk radio and the interview of a ghost-buster.  The night before, another local group of ghost-busters were on the news.  Ghosts are cool.  I've never seen one however... although I'm curious... and don't forget - curiosity is a vice.
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Most of the ads associated with Halloween appeal to our curiosity, our morbid fascination with death and what is not seen... the occult.  Halloween isn't just for kids anymore - it hasn't been for a long time.  The innocent Halloween of our youth is far more occult now days.  Or is it?
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When I was younger we went to costume parties - as a child I went out trick-or-treating - but I'm talking about as an adult now - Halloween is really about adults these days - arrested-development-syndrome and all of that you know.  Anyway - as young adults - we played with the Ouija board, visited haunted houses, had fortune tellers read our cards and palms, and so on.  Were we serious?  Beneath the just doing it for fun attitude was a very real curiosity, a fascination which translate to an openness to the occult.
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I actually have one fortune that continues to haunt me - I don't want to say what it is, but I am frequently reminded of it.  Yes, I've gone through many rituals - I'm not controlled by it, but I'm reminded of it as a sort of chastisement.  I know it is not true, because the devil is a liar, and thus I pay no heed to the prediction and place all of my trust in the Divine Mercy.  It isn't scary either.
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What I've noticed however, with all the ads, the TV shows with Halloween themes and shows such as Ghost Whisperer, is that a certain level of fascination creates a greater openness or curiosity to the phenomena, thus a desire to explore these subjects becomes almost inviting once again.  I think to myself, "Wow!  I'd like to talk to a ghost."  I know it is sinful to try and conjure up an apparition - but if one just sat down across the table and started moving things on my desk - that would be cool - and I wouldn't have started it.  So I wouldn't sin...  Or would I have placed myself in the near occasion of sin by entertaining thoughts - fantasies - about this stuff, which in turn creates an openness to the occult? 
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Creepy, huh?  And then the occult stuff has a way of 'sticking' to a person - muddying the waters as it were - only to re-present as a phantom memory.  We tell ourselves it is not real, it is just harmless fun and superstition, yet we can remain fascinated by it.
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Do you know what it means to  fascinate?  Or what it means to be fascinated?  Webster defines it thus:
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  • fas-ci-nate 1 obs: BEWITCH 2 a: to transfix and hold spellbound by an irresistible power b: to command the interest of all: ALLURE vi: to be irresistibly attractive.
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  • fas-ci-nat-ing adj: extremely interesting or charming: TERRY NELSON ; captivating
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So anyway - I came across two interesting commentaries regarding Halloween and it's increasing popularity.
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Spanish Catholic leaders lash out at growing popularity of Halloween
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MADRID - Roman Catholic leaders sounded an alarm on Monday over the growing popularity of Halloween in Spain, calling it "pagan," "anti-Christian" and a celebration of death over life.

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"Children dress as witches, vampires, ghosts, masks, corpses, skeletons. And parents favour this type of festivities which plays with elements of death. But when a relative dies they prevent them from seeing the dead relative," he was quoted as saying by the online edition of the El Mundo newspaper.
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Flurry of ghost hunting shows...
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Photo:  My kitchen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Read this:

"Few men—very few men, unfortunately—understand that the terrible crisis of the Church since the Second Vatican Council is a chastisement more terrible than any other, for this time the catastrophe is spiritual: what is wounded, what is noiselessly killed in the midst of an indifference worse than death, are souls. The loss of grace in a soul is the most terrible harm that can happen to it because it makes no noise, it is not felt. And the voice of the watchmen has fallen silent. The call to conversion, to penance, to the flight from sin, temptations and the world has given way, if not to indulgence, then at least to sympathy with the world. There is a real will to make peace with the modern world.  The mission of salvation has given way to a new sort of humanitarian mission; it is a matter of helping men of every condition and religion to live well together on earth." - Source
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Now read this...
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"She (Sr. Donna Quinn, OP) figures it's part of her religion to take these women in and protect them, and get them abortions," said Joe Scheidler of Quinn's recent activity. "Something dreadful has happened to make a Catholic nun become an escort at an abortion clinic - that's the lowest form you can reach, where you escort a woman with a living child in her into a place to have the child killed, and to ruin that woman's soul." - Nun Volunteering as Abortion Clinic Escort in Illinois 

"Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver."



The feminization of boys.
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I came across a story about a Danish study claiming gender-bending chemicals may be responsible for the feminization of boys.  It appears earlier discoveries of hermaphrodite frogs in the wild may have been taken more seriously by scientists than we realized.  It should come as no surprise however, when you consider how current research suggests contraceptive chemicals may also change a woman's natural attraction to men, causing her to choose unsuitable partners, and so on.    Then of course, it is believed by some that contraceptives pose a probable link to breast cancer.
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From the Telegraph.co.uk:
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"What a cute little squirt!"
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Here's something rather rotten from the State of Denmark. Its government yesterday unveiled official research showing that two-year-old children are at risk from a bewildering array of gender-bending chemicals in such everyday items as waterproof clothes, rubber boots, bed linen, food, nappies, sunscreen lotion and moisturising cream.
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The 326-page report, published by the environment protection agency, is the latest piece in an increasingly alarming jigsaw. A picture is emerging of ubiquitous chemical contamination driving down sperm counts and feminising male children all over the developed world. And anti-pollution measures and regulations are falling far short of getting to grips with it.
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The Danish government set out to find out how much contamination from gender-bending chemicals a two-year-old child was exposed to every day. It concluded that a child could be "at critical risk" from just a few exposures to high levels of the substances, such as from rubber clogs, and imperilled by the amount it absorbed from sources ranging from food to sunscreens.
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And it is in the womb that babies are most vulnerable; a study of umbilical cords from British mothers found that every one contained hazardous chemicals. Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York discovered that boys born to women exposed to phthalates had smaller penises and other feminisation of the genitals. - Source
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It's probably best not to use your cell phone to tell your husband about this either.
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H/T Western Confucian




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Get this...


I actually answered the phone when my sister called yesterday afternoon and we talked for quite awhile.  Among other things, I found out she volunteers as a grandmother or something to help kids in schools.  (I'm in awe of her volunteerism.)  She tutors kids who are having troubles in class - mostly first and second graders.

She told me about one kid she had last year - a resistant, somewhat rebellious little first grader.  My sister won him over of course and they became friends.  He confided in her that he preferred to play with girls rather than boys, and liked their games better and stuff like that.  It was a huge secret she had to promise to keep.  My sister encouraged him to be himself and all of that, but she wasn't able to do more. 
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My question is, how does a kid in first grade even know or care about this stuff?  Why would that be a big deal at his age?  When I was in first grade I would never have thought about that stuff.  Who is telling kids at that age they are queer?

My sister confided in the director in charge of volunteers concerning the young boy - he asked how she handled it and then he told her he was gay too. 

Anglican reunion...


And gay double talk...
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From one:
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"I also wanted to make a brief mention about those on both sides of the “political” spectrum who have tried to make this about “gay bishops” and “gay marriage.” The Pope did not erect the new structures for those who simply want to flee from a more progressive church discipline about gay people and their place in the Church. Most of those who will take advantage of the plan will not be those in the Anglican Communion whose feathers are constantly ruffled over gay people. That contingent is largely composed of evangelical Anglicans who would have absolutely no desire to become Catholic in any way, as their liturgies tend to be, at best, of the “prayer book” variety only (Book of Common Prayer), and who also tend to embrace Calvinistic theology. Anglican Catholics are usually not bothered nearly as much by human sexuality as they are adament about authentic worship, Eucharistic theology, and traditional disciplines and church order (eg., female priests and bishops)." - Ad Dominum
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To another:
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"Let history record this theological scandal for what it is. Touted by Rome as a step forward in ecumenical relations with a cousin communion, it is in fact the joining of two camps united in their rejection of women and queer people as unworthy of religious leadership." - Source
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Photo: Gay American Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson... he likes high church too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Politicizing the Prayer of the Faithful.


I've seen commentary on this subject elsewhere: using the prayer of the faithful to make political statements or promote an agenda - either personal, as in the case when individuals in the congregation are invited to call out their particular intentions to be prayed for; or communally, when the intentions are composed by the liturgist or a pastoral associate for the local assembly.  The latest Kennedy funeral is a good example of what I am talking about, when family members ascended the pulpit to promote a political agenda.

Last evening at Mass one of the intentions inserted into the prayer of the faithful had a particular political ring to it.  The intention was for the United States to abolish the death penalty.  I know we pray for an end to abortion and to overturn the laws permitting it, and therefore it is convenient to equate the death penalty on the same terms.  
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I get the irony of pro-life Catholics in support of the death penalty, while their pro-abortion (choice) counterparts are against capital punishment.  I wouldn't be surprised if many Catholic sisters who happen to be pro-choice are militantly opposed to the death penalty as well.  Nevertheless, the Church is clear in Her teaching on abortion and euthanasia, yet it seems to me there is some ambiguity as regards capital punishment.  
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As for inserting prayers concerning the death penalty, I can accept praying for an end to the need for it, or praying for an end to egregious capital crimes that many believe may warrant it, even praying for a better solution to capital punishment.  Nevertheless not everyone agrees that the death penalty should be absolutely abolished.  Although the Church believes the need for it be rare and practically non-existent, Catholic teaching does not forbid it.  Whereas Catholic moral teaching, indeed, natural law, forbids the killing of unborn infants and infanticide, it allows for limited use of the death penalty in extreme cases, just as it allows for just wars.
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At least that is my understanding of the matter.


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Church Teaching:  
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2266 The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.[67]
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2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
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"If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
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"Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.' [68] - CCC 
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"This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God's plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offence."(46) Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.(47)
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It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.
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In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'" - Evangelium Vitae

Speaking of Princesses...


Princess Grace of Monaco

Little known fact:  "In 1954, the 100th anniversary of the Immaculate Conception, Prince Rainier made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, to pray to Mary for a suitable wife. Several years later, Princess Grace revealed that her confirmation name was Bernadette, for the French girl to whom the Blessed Virgin appeared in Lourdes. On the 25th anniversary of the prince's pilgrimage, Princess Grace would also visit Lourdes in thanksgiving." - Zenit  (Prince Ranier and Princess Grace were married in 1956.)

"A touching exhibit opened in Rome last Friday: "The Grace Kelly Years" will be at the Palazzo Ruspoli until Feb. 26, 2010, and features photos, videos, clothes and other mementos from the extraordinary life of a beloved American actress turned European Princess." - Elizabeth Lev, Zenit
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Photo:  Princess Grace receiving Holy Communion on her wedding day.

Catholic Princesses


There is a pejorative term - sometimes even used by Jewish people - referring to a spoiled daughter or wife as a Jewish Princess or JAP (Jewish American Princess).  Every culture has their term for their prima donnas, and of course we have always had our Catholic princesses as well.  Even real ones.  Watching the Spanish documentary of Teresa of Jesus last evening, the story of the Princess of Eboli unfolded for those of us following the mini series on EWTN.  What a hoot.  Yet what a good lesson for and about beginners...

Both Teresa and John of the Cross discuss at length the faults and presumptions of beginners in the spiritual life, as do the other masters, Garrigou-Lagrange, Marie-Eugene, Tanquerey, and others.  I constantly re-read these passages, but nothing has sunk in yet.  (I'll have to post about it another time however.)

That said - if you get a chance to see the film, Teresa of Jesus, please do.  There is a scene where Teresa is obliged to accept the position of prioress over the community at the monastery of the Incarnation in Avila, and the nuns literally revolt...  I couldn't help think of the Apostolic Visitation of American women religious in the works today - it just demonstrates that it's not unusual for nuns to be rebellious.

But back to the Princess of Eboli and some of the other characters who annoyed St. Teresa.  There is so much to be learned from them - and they also help us understand why some people find many religious people to be so insufferable.  (I'll have to post about it another time however.)