Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Great Pretender: Marcie Maciel


And the subject of recalcitrant priests.
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I just read a fascinating review in The New York Review of Books on the life of Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.  The Maciel scandal seems to have been extensively covered in Mexico, and amazing revelations have come out about the man.  The holy founder priest leading a double, maybe a triple life - in the public eye no less: "Maciel was also a bigamist, pederast, dope fiend, and plagiarist."  If the information in the article is true, Maciel showed signs of trouble even as a young seminarian.  (Be forewarned, the review is also considered anti-Catholic/anti-Church - the author makes some rather derogatory remarks.)
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In 1938 Maciel was expelled from his uncle Guízar’s seminary, and shortly afterward from a seminary in the United States. According to witnesses, Maciel and his uncle had a gigantic row behind closed doors, and one witness, a Legionary who had known Maciel since childhood, told the psychoanalyst González that the bishop’s rage had to do with the fact that Maciel was locking himself up in the boarding house where he was staying with some of the younger boys at his uncle’s seminary. - NYR

How could that be?  How did Maciel manage to become so 'great' in the eyes of the Church, even in the eyes of John Paul II?  It is such an unsettling mystery how this man got away with so much.  His story would make a great film however, given the right script and director.  Jim Cavezial could play the more mature Maciel, with Raymond Arroyo playing the youthful seminarian.
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How to keep your job:  “obedezco, pero no cumplo" - obey but don't comply. 
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Exchanging emails with a friend concerning a few local priests who, unlike Maciel, openly support causes in opposition to Church teaching, and publicly participate in protests, parades, and unauthorized synods and the like, I asked him;  "Why aren't these guys disciplined and removed as pastors from their parishes?"  My friend, who has connections to the chancery explained to me; "It's like tenure with an university professor - you just can't fire them." 
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Really?  So you can't transfer them someplace else?  You can't give them early retirement?  But you can let them live and minister in open opposition to Church teaching?  I know many older priests have long owned their own homes, they have their own lives as it were, and perhaps ministry has become more a career, a position they paid their dues for.  Is that why a local ordinary can't just transfer a guy who has settled down someplace?  Because you can't expect him to leave a nice home and a dog, even if he lives a kinda/sorta irregular life, or who teaches error...  I'm not saying throw them out on the street - let them keep their homes, just remove them from active ministry.
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Why not? 
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The other question I always ask - "Why do dissidents and hypocrites stay in a Church they disagree with?"  The author of the Maciel piece offers one answer to that question at the end of his review.
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"In 1979, at the time of John Paul’s first visit to Mexico, I had a conversation with a progressive Spanish priest who lived with his partner, a middle-aged woman, about the split life he lived. Why, I asked, didn’t he leave the Church if so many of its norms violated his own convictions and desire for honesty? I remember his saying, in effect, that the possibility of doing good within an institution as enormous and influential as the Church was greater than the chances for doing good outside of it."

And perhaps more lucrative if you have tenure.  Will scandals never cease?
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Photo: Source   Creepy.  Caption:  "Who's your daddy?"

H/T Spirit Daily for the Maciel story.

One hair of your head...


"Even if you were in the vestibule of hell, and if there remained outside but one hair of your head, that would be sufficient for me to drag you from the claws of the devil and transport you to heaven." -St. Joseph Cafasso speaking to a death row inmate who doubted whether with his many crimes he could be saved. (Thanks to Magnificat.)
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Art: Unexpected Joy

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fortitude and Temperance


Necessary Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
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Ven. Matt Talbot. (Bio) Matt Talbot exemplified the heroic virtue of temperance. He practiced the Christian life more or less as a solitary, although he was a member of the third order of St. Francis. The spiritual combat Talbot engaged in was associated with alcoholism, which in his case demanded the renunciation of a behavior, as well as an adjustment in lifestyle.
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Image:  Matt Talbot, by Terry Nelson

Getting towards the end of the month...


And the end of the Pride posts.
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Seriously - the Gay Pride issue can be a creepy subject.  If any political movement - outside of the pro-choice/abortion/euthanasia movement - has a dark underbelly - this political movement definitely does.  My intention is not to insult gay rights advocates or gay friends with that statement either - it's my personal experience.  Yet there are reasons to be vigilant - just believe me when I tell you that.  One of the key indicators that it is not of God - aside from the fact the lifestyle promoted is opposed to the Commandments as well as natural law and therefore in a state of rebellion, is the confusion and chaos the subject engenders, not to mention the hostility and violence which accompanies it.
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I appreciate what Thomas Peters of American Papist (CatholicVoteAction.org) had to say explaining why he posts on the subject, I certainly share his motivation:

...[P]art of my motivation in talking about this subject is my sincere belief that there are many individuals with homosexual inclinations that do not wish to act out on these inclinations, that wish to live chastely (as all non-married – and married! – persons are called to live) and who, sadly, are given no support for their lifestyle choice because of the overwhelming pressures given to affirming homosexuality in our culture today. - Homosexuality In the Light of Faith

After clearing that up, I think there are sections of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, beyond the classic condemnation of homosexuality, which can be accommodated to defend the so-called ex-gay phenomenon which active homosexuals so vehemently condemn.
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The call to chastity.
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First of all. I think everyone needs to understand and keep in mind that the Church is not asking homosexual men and women to change their sexual orientation, but to live chastely and celibate - it is the same requirement the Church and the Commandments obliges all unmarried persons to observe.  For some people the very thought of changing one's sexual orientation is unthinkable and would deter them from even attempting to reconcile with the Church.  For others, same sex attraction is completely abhorrent and unwanted and they would do anything to be rid of it, given the means and resources.  Again, Peters refers to an excellent source on the topic which helps to understand and respect their attitude.
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“To men and women tormented by homosexual emotions who do not want to live as homosexuals, who want constructive help and support, and who are forgotten, have no voice, and get no answers in our society, which recognizes only the emancipatory homosexual who wants to impose his ideology of ‘normality’ and ‘unchangeability and thus discriminates against those who know or feel that that is a sad lie.”  - Dr. Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, The Battle for Normality
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Not everyone is convinced of this however, therefore the Church, reluctant to "bind up heavy burdens too heavy to carry" [Mt 23:4] simply asks persons with homosexual inclination to live chastely and celibate.  No sex, no gay marriage, no porn, no auto-eroticism, no cruising, and so on.  Gay lifestyle stuff - however, that does not mean a man with homosexual inclination must trash his friends and relatives who are gay, or quit his nursing job, or stop going to Broadway shows and hi-lighting their hair... No, no, no - gay lifestyle refers to the practice of homosexuality.  Two or more men can live together - just like anyone else - to "help carry one another's burdens" as the Apostle commands.
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"God has various ways to draw us to himself." - Br. Lawrence
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However, these days Courage Apostolate is often criticized, if not condemned because their website links to organizations such as NARTH, or recommends self-help books such as van der Aardweg's, The Battle for Normality.  Why?  Because the research and science behind these organizations and literature is sound.  Gay activists fight against the findings of course, and claim real science refutes their data.  Who is lying?  Perhaps neither side is, however, men and women who have left the gay lifestyle have been helped immensely by the work Courage, NARTH, and other resources.  It works for them.  Many have found insight into the origins, the why and wherefore of their same-sex attraction - for themselves - not all claim cures or consider themselves ex-gay - but they do acknowledge that they have moved on from the compulsion to act out and even the desire to act out homosexually.
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If someone wants to call themselves ex-gay, let them.  I think another reason out and about gay people hate that term is because they feel threatened by it.  They fear a return to the days when homosexuality was illegal or considered a mental illness to be cured of, therefore they seek to squash any notion of change.  (And yet straight people are permitted to suddenly change and be gay.)  However, in their fight for gay rights, many activists are working to establish a sort of moral dictatorship which rejects everything opposed to their 'agenda', hence the term homosexualist is sometimes applied to these activists - just as some radical feminists are referred to as femininazis.  These are labels which permit outsiders a better understanding of their political goals.  Their tactics are at times similar to totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, and they employ many of the same methods of intimidation and fear.  Consider the backlash against opponents to Prop 8 in California.
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Just hate the sin - not the sinner.
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More recently and locally, this form of intimidation took the form of outing a vociferous critic of homosexuality, a Lutheran pastor who happened to be a member of Courage - seeking support to live chastely and celibate in accord with his Christian calling.  As I noted elsewhere, he was outed by a local gay magazine.  The magazine claimed the man was a hypocrite and because he condemned homosexuality from his radio show pulpit, he deserved to be outed.  In effect, what they did was retaliation and intimidation.  Very Nazi-like tactics.
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That said, although I never heard of the minister nor his radio show before the story hit the news, I understand he came off pretty strong against gay people on the air.  If that is true, I have to wonder if he may not have benefited from St. Paul's continuing exhortation to the Romans, which seems to fit anyone who leaves behind a sinful lifestyle...
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"That is why every one of you who judges another is inexcusable.  By your judgment you convict yourself, since you do the very same things.  'We know that God's judgment on men who do such things is just.'  Do you suppose then that you will escape his judgment, you who condemn these things in others yet do them yourself?'" - Romans 2: 1-3

Covert activity.


Stealth activism.
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I don't receive any newspapers except for the Saturday and Sunday Minneapolis StarTribune - call me Sara Palin - but I don't read them, I only use them for my cat box area.  Otherwise, I get my news online.  I just now learned however, that the article about the Lutheran Pastor who had been outed by a gay-activist-journalist-for-a-gay-magazine and splashed across the cover of the same (Lavender magazine) is receiving rather harsh criticism from professional journalists and many others for unethical reporting.  (Not the Pastor, but the journalist, John Townsend and his editor.) 
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"I think anybody who appreciates confidential support groups would just be aghast at what they did," Fr. Livingston, spiritual director of the group said. "It's one thing to be opposed politically to someone; it's another thing to worm your way into a group like that and expose the secrets of the group."
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Kelly McBride, an expert in journalism ethics at St. Petersburg, Florida's Poynter Institute, said she found Lavender's approach "troubling."  "It's kind of like being a spy," McBride said. "For most groups that deal with something where members of the group find it shameful, there's a strong presumption of confidentiality." - Read more here and here.

I am happy people rallied to the Pastor's defense and that he will be keeping his job.  After all, he was seeking support and guidance to live chastely according to Christian teaching.  He ought to be commended for that, and at the very least, his privacy respected.  In fact, many gay journalists and activists have also joined the others in voicing objections to the unethical tactics employed by Lavender in outing the man.  Click here.    
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Two sides of the same coin.
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The situation reminds me of the post I did a  few weeks ago wherein I wrote about my decision not to infiltrate a meeting to be conducted by a progressive Catholic group which advocates positions against Church teaching, specifically as it regards a pro-gay agenda.  I had been invited to do so by a Catholic with close ties to the Chancery who informed me my expenses would be covered by the same.  I politely refused.  If you will recall I stated that if the Archdiocese is so interested in what these groups are discussing, why don't they attend the meetings openly?  In my opinion - the undercover initiatives suggested to me were not that much different from Townsend's tactics with the Courage group expose. 
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This is one of those double-standard inconsistencies in life which tend to annoy me - especially when it involves religious people.  There exists a convenient inequity amongst religious extremists - on both sides of the fence - although I suppose you'd have to label progressive elements as revolutionaries, while die-hard-trad-dogma folks are fundamentalists.  Anyway - elements in both groups like to dig up dirt to discredit and harm the other.
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Fanning the flames.
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Although it may seem to the reader I'm veering off-topic here, I was once again reminded of how inconsistent religious people can be just the other day.  After reading a post where women religious of the LCWR were roundly condemned for their alleged cover-up of abuse cases amongst their ranks, comparing their tactical evasion to the bishop/clergy sexual abuse scandals that swept the Church in the US.  The story was a year-old and it seemed to come out of nowhere.  I'm not suggesting the report isn't a concern, although I could not help but recall how not that many years ago, the same types people were voicing a  different sort of protest. 
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Back then, several faithful Catholics, along with Catholic Defense League types jumped all over people reporting on stories accusing bishops and clergy - eventually including sainted types like Maciel and the Legion of Christ - of heretofore unheard of cases of abuse and cover-up.  Not so many years ago, defenders of the Church insisted such revelations were exaggerated at best, and that the whistle-blowers behind them were anti-Catholics bent upon destroying the Church.  Likewise, many vocal Catholic defenders were virulently condemning as anti-Catholic movies such as Priest and The Magdalene Sisters, insisting their stories were exaggerated or down right lies.  Today we know differently, that the stories were based upon real events - and the good guys have joined those they once accused. 
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Such things trouble me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pondering the vanity and brevity of life...

"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
     I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself, and curse my fate..." - Shakespeare, Sonnet 29
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"Let us fall into the hands of the Lord
    and not into the hands of men.
 
For equal to his majesty
    is the mercy that he shows." - Sirach 2:18

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

St. John's Eve


Midsummer's Night.

I snapped a photo of my St. John's Fires tonight. LOL! - I'm the worst with a camera!

What is Midsummer madness?  From Fountain of Elias:

It is St. John's Eve. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Baptist. It was a tradition in the days of Christendom to have a bonfire in honor of the saint who was a "burning and shining light." (John 5:35) In some places, they still do...

Ah!  Reminds me of a play I once saw... the dialog echoes in me mind...

"But after all, it has only been midsummer madness. Lady Iris, wouid you be good enough to ring for my wrap?"
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" Certainiy, princess!"
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" And get rid of those damn cowbells!"
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"May I help you, princess?"
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" Thank you, Lady Iris... Goodbye, goodbye. I shall always feel a strong attachment to you all. (Let go!)"
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"I can't. I'm stuck."
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" Let go!"
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"It's my bracelet. It's caught on you...
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"Bring down the curtain!"
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Yes dear readers, I shall always feel a strong attachment to you all... after all, it has only been midsummer madness!
Posted by Picasa

A Great Find!


I found the greatest site of beautiful photographs from the 1950's and '60's of many famous people, such as the one shown above.  It is John Jr. with Mrs. Kennedy in the background.  I'm keeping the site secret for now - sorry.
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Today is my hermit day and I'll be at adoration all afternoon - a break from the yard work which also keeps me from daily painting.  I miss painting.
  

These days there is so much going on...


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Just ignore all the others -

You got your memories...
You got your memories.

Just a thought.

What if you were the reason a person refused to come back to Christ?  What if your self-righteous, judgemental, dogmatic, theologically correct attitude repelled a soul from accepting Church teaching, from reconciling with the Church, from faith itself?  What if they were just on the edge of conversion and one of your contemptuous sneers, caustic remarks, or hostile snubs drove them away?  That is one aspect of what Jesus is talking about when he warned against "scandalizing one of these little ones".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

John Paul II - The Musical!

Not long ago I noticed a comment by a priest someplace in response to Obama declaring June gay pride month, he wrote something like this:  "So what are we supposed to do, watch musicals and install track lighting?"  I thought that was funny.
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Then today I come to find out two priests in Rome actually wrote and produced a musical on JPII, with real priests acting in it.  I know!  How stimulating! 
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The BBC narrative refers to John Paul as "something of a rock star himself!"

A musical about Pope John Paul II called Don't Be Scared is being staged in Rome.

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The production has 18 songs and tells the story of his life in two hours.
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The musical was written by two priests, one who wrote the script, the other who crafted the songs. - BBC News

I love how they translated "Non Abbiate Paura", John Paul's famous exhortation, "Be not afraid" to be, "Don't Be Scared".  (What if that is the title song however and it is sung to Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel"?)  I wonder if the Irish priests who made that CD are in the musical?  I'm fairly certain a famous priest blogger we all know was in theater in college.  So much to say... but I digress!
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I'm told other songs in the musical include:
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A dazzling rendition of, "Don't Rain On My Procession!"
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"I'm Going To Wash That Devil Right Out of My Hair!"
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The show-stopper song about the excommunication of Archbishop Levebre:
- "Did he Need A Stronger Hand?" (Otherwise titled: "If He Walked into My Life" - from "Mame")
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As well as the hit, referencing Vatican II and the New Millennium:
-"Open a New Window!" (Another Mame re-write!)
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And the uproariously funny send up on the NO:
"You Gotta Get a Gimmick!" from "Gypsy".
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I hear the dance numbers are especially rich.  Clerical costumes - cassocks - were carefully constructed and shortened for some of the more athletic numbers.  Copes and cassock hems have been weighted for flare, Velcro closures added for easy opening during high kicks and twirls.  The choreography is supposed to be breath-taking - view an example here.

Nasty habits...


Bend and SNAP:  So, did Catholic school sisters, you know... abuse kids?
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According to Fr. Z there is "voluminous new data emerging concerning the sexual abuse of children by women, and, in particular, by Catholic nuns..."  A few other bloggers, now including me, picked up on the story, which originated from the 2009 Salon opinion piece by Frances Kissling, "Nuns On the Run From the Truth".  In her report discussing the LCWR last year she observed; "LCWR leadership refused to allow survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic sisters to address the past few annual meetings..."
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Two things - I at first found it hard to believe sexual abuse could have been pervasive, if indeed it existed at all amongst Catholic school sisters.  I knew from experience severe, mean and nasty disciplinary actions were commonplace.  Such corporal punishment and ridicule of children would never be tolerated today.  But anything sexual?  I never heard about it - with priests yes - nuns, no.  So gross.
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Secondly, I couldn't figure out why Fr. Z and others would even post about the issue - it seemed to me to be a form of cyber mudslinging, flaming more scandal, and so on.  I wondered if it was perhaps revenge for the pro-Obama health care 'apostasy' participated in by the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuit.  Then Fr. Z intervened in his own comment box to clear up any confusion as to why this is a big deal once again.   


It is time for a mid-course clarification comment:

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Liberal LCWR types, who are at war with the bishops over who gets to speak for the Church and who want to force a fracture in the Church’s discipline (celibacy) and teaching (male priesthood), claim that they – women with their “relational wisdom” – would make better priests than men, because – and here is the slimy irony – women wouldn’t abuse children.
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SNAP disagrees and has been trying to engage the LCWR for years.
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The LCWR is in denial and won’t have anything to do with SNAP. - Source
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Perhaps a bit off topic, but I thought SNAP was bad - but now they are good?
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Apparently.
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Anyway, the LCWR is a hornet's nest I sure wouldn't want to stir up.

Nuns on the run...


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It's the talk of the Catholic Internet - the LCWR cover-up of nymphomaniac nuns.  I for one just can't bring myself to believe it!  I think these poor women are being framed.... 
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That's just what Rush Limbaugh said.
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Remember Peggy Noonan's op-ed sometime back, where she said saving the Church would require a woman's touch?
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Closet case...

Outing.
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So yesterday I posted about an 'outing' of an area Courage chapter by John Townsend in a local fag-rag, Lavender - it's a magazine devoted to GLBT news, gossip, and ads.  My Dr.'s office always has a stack of current issues scattered about, but since I haven't been there for a year, I haven't seen a copy until yesterday.  After a friend sent me a link to their website, I was able to read their coverage of the Roman Catholic support group Courage, as well as an outing of a local Lutheran minister - who attended Courage meetings in his efforts to walk the straight and narrow. 
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Expose.
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There are lots of misunderstandings about Courage Apostolate, and naturally so.  It's a bit counter-cultural.  The meetings are conducted privately - some say secretly - but that's only to protect the identity of persons not willing to go public about such personal matters of conscience.  Such people are often mocked as closeted by gay activists who really ought to be more sympathetic to their struggle, yet are not.  Aside from preserving anonymity, another reason for a certain level of 'security' is to protect members from protesters who would otherwise disrupt regular meetings, annual conferences, and 'out' participants.  Unfortunately, Lavender did not respect these boundaries when it published the expose which did exactly that.
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Transparent closet.
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No matter how 'out of the closet' gay folk think they are - they remain bound by the same dynamic they always had been - they are 'gay'.  They still self-segregate.  In reducing their identity to a sexual tendency; their sexual attraction has become the defining aspect of their existence, which ultimately restricts, confines and limits one's freedom of spirit.  In a sense, their 'closet' remains, so long as they define themselves as 'gay' - 'coming out' simply made the closet walls more transparent.  Nevertheless they will always be 'other', regardless how many legal rights are granted them in the short term.  In our day and age, legal rights are no longer a guarantee.

Student Nurse

She explained that the reason she went into nursing was because at her old job she worked with a bunch of cats.

Freakish Coincidence

Every time I went back to edit my last post on exorcism it jumbled - the photo's moved, the layout changed, paragraphs switched, fonts switched.  Seriously.

Fr. Amorth would like to lighten the restrictions on exorcism.


Desperate times - desperate measures.
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I have no way of knowing if the news report is accurate or how far 'out of context' Fr. Amorth's comments have been taken, but if what he said is true, I think it is a bit reckless.

"Do you know what I would do if I was the Pope for a moment?" he asked. "I would provide every opportunity for exorcisms. Like the Orthodox Church. There you do not need the permission of a bishop." - Source
I don't think that's going to happen, nor do I believe it's a good idea. How many priests are trained in the rite? How many priests have even studied mystical theology beyond one course? Maybe they all have, nevertheless it would still be a crazy thing to do. Wasn't it just a few years ago an Orthodox Romanian priest and a nun killed someone during an exorcism? If exorcism were permitted without the knowledge and permission of the bishop anything could happen - some parishes could get to be like Pentecostals at Wednesday night prayer meetings, slaying all the sinners in the spirit and charming snakes. Deliverance prayers and simple exorcism prayers are permitted of course, but even this practice can be sensationalized by the very, very spiritual.
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I remember stories of a visiting priest supposedly performing exorcisms at the grill of a cloistered monastery with a crazy prioress who thought just about everyone was possessed.  Seriously - they used official prayers of deliverance, so it wasn't technically an exorcism - but the whole thing was weird.  That was several years ago and Mother is gone now... living somewhere near Steubenville... I know!
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Morbid curiosity.
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Of course this Archdiocese has another well known priest who gained a reputation for his private deliverance ministry.  I believe he was transferred in an effort to break up what seemed to be something of a cult following.  He's a good priest, don't get me wrong, but one must be discreet about such activities and checking in with the bishop is a good idea when you're fighting the devil.  A lot of people, devout as they may be, can often develop a morbid fascination with that stuff, and they start seeing the devil everywhere.  Teresa of Avila liked to say she was more afraid of these types of people than the devil himself.  For good reason.
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There are extremists out there who could just go overboard on the exorcism bit.  The one priest I mentioned had admirer's whose favorite thing to do was sprinkle holy oils and exorcism salt all over town - and sometimes even in consecrated places, such as the Cathedral and Basilica, or at the four corners of sinful person's property.   
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70,000 exorcisms?
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That is how many exorcisms Fr. Amorth claims he performed.  I don't know, he's quite old.  I have a great deal of respect for Fr. Amorth and especially his more practical take on getting rid of evil - frequent confession, prayer, Mass and communion, devotion to Our Lady, and so on.  It is good that he is under obedience to the local ordinary where he acts however.
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Fr. Euteneuer of Human Life International also sees the need for exorcism.  An exorcist himself - his approach strikes me as more intelligible, or understandable for contemporary culture.  He has suggested that priests will soon be inundated with requests for exorcism or some form of deliverance prayers, due to the increase of evil in society today, as well as growing interest and participation in the occult and new age spirituality.  Euteneuer stresses, “exorcism is a pastoral ministry and the explicit form of exorcism is a liturgical rite which can only be done by priests.”
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"The Church has good reason to avoid popularizing exorcism, and affirming the sensationalist or dismissive accounts of the culture at large," said Father Euteneuer. "At the same time, this necessary discretion has led to the rite being neglected in many areas, at precisely the time when it is most needed to deliver those who have succumbed to the increasing deceptions of the devil in these troubling times."
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"Our culture is ever more saturated with enticements to the occult and other dangerous spiritual and moral choices. Clarifying what exorcism is and underlining the urgency for both clergy and the faithful is key if we're going to start confronting Satan where he is making so much headway, in our homes and communities." - Source


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Remember the disgraced former Archbishop Milingo got his 'start' in the deliverance ministry.  It's nothing to fool around with.  One should never take such a ministry on by themselves, without permission.
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And parents, don't try any of this at home.

S. Luigi Gonzaga




A favorite saint from my youth - his story here.

21 June is his feastday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cathy's make-up lesson: Purse essentials.



Once, Ray and I were out with Cathy and one of her eyelashes fell off into her beer and so then she showed us how she fixes things up in a jiffy.  Ray said, "Ghaaashhh!  Not at the table ladeee!"

I should post something for today...


But I don't feel like doing a big post...

Today's Father's Day of course - so happy Father's day to my readers who are dads.  Especially Catholic dads who are neither alcoholics, drug addicts, wife beaters or child abusers, thieves, adulterers or other creepy things that have their effect on their children whether they are willing to admit it or not.  So happy Father's day to you good guys.
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Hey - I just got an email from a Muslim, Rahabbi-watzupawitu Muhhumiditi or something - it was labeled: "Please open the attachment!"  How dumb are these people?
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Alrighty then...
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So anyway - there was a post yesterday on a gay blog about a guy who infiltrated a local Courage meeting.  I know!  The guy was actively gay of course, and he pretended to be a Catholic hoping to walk the straight and narrow.  Instead he wrote an expose unbeknownst to the Courage members.  (Remember when I told you someone wanted me to infiltrate a group not too long ago?  Read the spy's article and you will see why it is not a good idea nor very Christian to do such things?!  I know!)  You can read the post here:  Notes From the "Laughable but Tragic" World of Courage.  I wasn't going to blog about it, but I thought I should publicize my comment to the post, since here I can correct spelling and stuff.  (I don't know how to do that when I place comments on other blogs.)
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Terry Nelson said...  (I indicate additions with italics and parenthesis.)

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Michael, the article could be laughable if the subject matter were not so tragic. I often recommend Courage to those folks reading my blog who may be seeking to live a chaste and celibate lifestyle in accord with Catholic Church teaching. The fraternal support is often necessary for those men who struggle to live according to the teaching of the Church.
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I only know one member of Courage really well - a man who reads my blog. However, I do know Fr. John Harvey as well as Fr. Benedict Groeschl - both instrumental in founding the apostolate. These men and their writings are very sound and instructive.  (I should add, based upon solid research and years of ministry.)  I also know two of the priests mentioned in the article, although I doubt they know or remember me. Both priests are also very sound, good Catholic priests - both very down to earth and deeply spiritual and compassionate men.  (With many years of pastoral ministry, as well as a good grasp of mystical theology - something essential when dealing with such matters.)
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The tragedy in this article is how the participants involved in the support group have been presented. I've never been to a support group but from what I've seen in documentaries and heard from those who have, there is a candor amongst participants due to the private nature of the meeting, a vulnerability expressed while speaking of their interior struggles which might otherwise sound laughable in other circumstances, or to an outsider who is convinced their struggle is unwarranted in the first place. In fact such comic scenarios - taken out of context - work very well in sit-coms and stand-up. Nevertheless, such conversation and self revelatory dialogue must be assessed in the privacy of the setting.
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Additionally, people should understand there are many stages penitents go through in transitioning from any unwanted lifestyle or habit, especially from gay culture into faithful Roman Catholic culture. It takes great courage and the gift of fortitude to do such a thing, and is the stuff that saints are made of.
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Conversion is an ongoing process and there are differing expressions or safeguards individuals employ. There are differing degrees of ascesis, as well as degrees of delicacy of conscience for each individual. Crazy as it sounds, maybe some guy really did have to throw out his computer or another fellow really had to stop going to the gym for awhile. There is something in the Gospel about that you know - "cut off your right hand..." No one is permitted to do that of course - but throwing out a computer isn't so radical a concept when compared to cutting off something else. Most likely the guy who did throw it out will eventually get a new one anyway - only to face the same issues until he learns how to deal with them appropriately. Maturity also takes a long time for many people.  (I have posted about a saint who in her penitence made a huge bonfire of her clothes and jewels - a dramatic gesture not without comedic potential.  Looking back upon my own conversion I too had moments of drama.)
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Generally speaking, the article picks up on the foibles of the Courage movement very well.  (It is easy to pull conversation and stories out of context in order to sound strange or bizarre.)  Yet the author was successful in representing the participants as repressive and and their means to combat these issues just plain dumb. (He mocked the priests and their celibacy as symptomatic of arrested development.)  I think if he studies the situation and concept of chaste celibacy more closely he would realize that it is the active homosexual who is more a victim of arrested development than a celibate priest - but that is a difficult reality for gay men to accept.
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That said, if anyone is genuinely interested in the Courage Apostolate they should read the books by Harvey and Groeschl - as well as the Courage handbook - they would then be able to discern that the apostolate isn't a crazy idea at all. Nevertheless, Courage isn't a fix-all either. Which may be why some people who tried it and failed denigrate it so. It's a support group, providing an outline, or guide to living chastely amidst a culture hostile to chastity and purity and fidelity to Church teaching.
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Anyway, despite such articles - I'm convinced most Courage members, as all Christians today, are prepared to be ridiculed for their faith.  The very fact that Courage receives such hostile criticism and ridicule indicates it is definitely the work of the Holy Spirit. - End of comment.
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One thing Catholics struggling with SSA - which can sometimes be like SA (sexual addiction) - is that a person is not obliged to join Courage - though it seems to me to be a very good help - it is a choice.  A man or woman can find equal support from fellow Catholics - if their new found friends aren't too freaked out about that SSA thing.  Sometimes 'lovers' decide to reform their lives together and live according to Church teaching - in a sense they have their own little Courage group.  But just as for an alcoholic - AA isn't always a requirement - though a lot of alchies will say that's heresy.  We all have free will - with prayer and proper direction, you 'can leap over any wall' as the Psalmist says.  And don't forget - saints are sinners who keep trying.  Remember the scene from What's Up Doc?  (This link is not that scene however.)  It shows an old lady trying to get to her hotel room despite a guy in the hall who kept tripping her?  She kept getting up determined to get to her room - that's how it is sometimes - we may fall at every step, but keep getting up - seen from a distance (after we get through it) or by an outsider, it's even kind of funny.  The one who perseveres however, has the last laugh.
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Something very queer is going on.  (That should be the title of my next post on the subject.)