Saturday, October 02, 2010

Guardian Angels

I love this feast day - I try to be conscious of my angel all of the time, but it is difficult to do. 
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Some people try to name their angel but I think in most cases that can be an exercise in self-love and vanity.  The angel names we dream up are often too romantic or even silly, while the images of our angels we concoct often reflect our own vain attachments to natural goods - beauty and grace - or sentimentality.  Of course there is nothing wrong for us to image them - artists have done so for centuries.  Some saints were actually told the names of their angel's - but that type of information (revelation) is always perceived according to the understanding of those so gifted.
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Anyway - I prefer to think of my angel as invisible and indefinable... but always present.  As Scripture tells us, they in turn "always look upon the face of God":  so just think how contemplative we become by uniting our prayer to theirs throughout the day.  I find that comforting.
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Happy feast day my angel.

Courses at the TOB Institute, 1000 Points of Light, The View from here, and other pressing issues for Saturday morning.


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Twenty Foreplay... (love that song)
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Seriously, as regards the TOB controversies, I don't really have a dog in that race and I'm mostly just adding a little Groucho vs. Margaret Dumont heckling into the mix with my posts.  Oh - to be sure, I'm against the Westian cult, for reasons explained by better people than myself.  (Dawn Eden, Fr. Geiger, Dr. von Hildebrand.)  Call me cynical if you must, but I can't help but be amazed and a little suspicious as regards all the efforts to defend the 'Institute' and West's position - if you know what I mean.  I sense there is more to all of this than theology.  The TOB tour has been looking more like a lucrative business venture lately... A research institute... publishing... the lecture circuit...  Too bad Oprah's going off the air - she could have had Chris West on to boost sales.
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Speaking of talk shows.
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Yesterday TV was on in the other room, and The View was airing - no I don't watch The View - on of the cats does though.  Anyway - they had a couple who went through hell and high water using invitro fertilization - $200,000 a pop BTW - and ended up losing the baby.  Naturally they wrote a book.

Two things here - First, all the gals were talking about the baby in the womb - no fetus - baby.  So these pro-abortion hypocrites know damn well abortion is murder - it kills human babies.

Second, Whoopie Goldberg seem's to be thinking she's some sort Maya Angelou now days, attempting to pass on sage advice to comfort the youngin's.  After the couple discussed losing the baby and their grief, Whoops solemnly interreupts the conversation with something like this:  "Now I have known many who have lost their child this way (miscarriage) and like I always tell them...."   Her voice lowers with an even more serious tone...  "I always tell them this little guy just came to see if you all were ready for him - but he couldn't stay yet - so he left... but he'll be back... he'll be back."
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Whatever.  "You keep talkin' girl, but you ain't sayin' nothin'!"  People are full of hot air - myself included.  All I could think of was Melvin Udall's line in "As Good as It Gets" - "Where do they teach you to talk like this? In some Panama City "Sailor wanna hump-hump" bar, or is it getaway day and your last shot at his whiskey? Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here."     
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Other pressing issues....
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I'm getting blamed for Tyler Clementi's suicide - well all of the gay suicides actually.  Okay - so I'm not personally to blame - but in conversation with a friend or two - I found out it is the Catholic Church's fault - driving gay kids to suicide - since I'm Catholic and support Catholic teaching, I'm just as much to blame.  Story of my life.  I grew up in a home wherein my dad hated the Church and kept threatening to take me out of Catholic school, refused to let me enter prep-school seminary after 8th grade, mocked priests and religious, while my Catholic siblings made fun of me for being too pious.  Believe me when I tell you, I know how to live through anti-Catholic rhetoric and blame. 
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Film clip:  "High Anxiety":  Courses at the TOB Institute: Marital Foreplay 101.

"Let the people come in procession..."


The last rites against evil...
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For many years I did not 'get' processions - I just thought they were like parades or religious spectacles.  I never 'liked' them - perhaps I was afraid to be thought of as too pious if I participated in them.  Nevertheless, processions have been coming back into liturgical 'fashion' after many years of disuse.  I know in Southern Europe and Latino countries processions are more common and popular, and of course at Lourdes, Our Lady asked for processions to come.
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I pondered thoughts like these after reading and posting about the Eucharistic procession Bishop Aquila led to the abortion mill in Fargo last Sunday.  I'm so impressed by the Bishop's faith in the Blessed Sacrament, his witness to life, and his courageous pastoral leadership.  I couldn't help but recall the many times throughout history processions have been made in supplication to God praying for the defeat of enemy invaders, the end of wars, plague, and even to stop storms and volcanoes. As you know, in Old Testament times the Ark of the Covenant was processed into battle - how much more appropriate in our day to process with the Real Presence; the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, carried in procession to the places of evil and death.  What a beautiful and efficacious witness for believers and unbelievers alike.
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Art - Illumination:   In the year 590, the city of Rome was in danger of becoming a desert, on account of the vast numbers who fell victims to the terrible plague then raging. Pope St. Gregory the Great, who also had been stricken with the dread disease, seeing that all human precautions had been in vain, had recourse to the most powerful of all protectors, Our Blessed Lady, the Virgin Most Powerful and Most Merciful. He gave orders that a picture of the Mother of God, believed to have been painted by St. Luke, should be carried in a general procession of all the clergy and laity as far as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The violence with which the plague was raging may be judged that even during the procession eighty persons perished from it, but before it came to an end an Angel in human form was seen above Adrian’s tower (since called the Castle of St. Angelo) sheathing a sword tinged with blood, and from that moment the pestilence ceased. At the same time angelic voices were heard in the air singing, “Regina Coeli, laetare, allelluia, quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.” The Holy Pontiff immediately added: “Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.” - Source

This isn't hard: Who's right? Janet Smith or Dawn Eden?

Who knows more about sex and theology?

Dr. Janet

Ms. Dawn Eden

I KNOW!  We ALL know it is Ms. Dawn Eden.
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“Dr. Smith's assessment reduces my thesis to a critique of a single author and speaker. On the contrary, my thesis demonstrates an overriding concern to critique a certain approach taken by West and his 'disciples' to interpreting recent teachings articulated by the Holy See.”
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“In the wake of Vatican II, there were many who asserted that the open windows of the Council enabled a radical break that would bring fresh air inside a stale and fetid Magisterium.”
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“It remains my contention,” she added, “that Mr. West and a number of popularizers formed by his catechesis – while intending to be faithful to Holy Mother Church – often use language disconcertingly similar to those propounding what Pope Benedict XVI calls a 'hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.'” - Dawn Eden responds to Smith's attempt to discredit her thesis.
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"Consensual actions that culminate in intercourse are morally permissible."
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Oh!  If emails could talk!  God bless Dawn Eden!  Anyway - I'm pretty much being facetious here regarding the idea who would know more about sex and theology - based on looks?  Not a mature argument, right?  Maybe even a bit sexist.  But read this ridiculous defense by Dr. Smith for Christopher West's quasi-endorsement of sodomy as an option in heterosexual foreplay:
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"I never like to talk about anal sex (sorry, I don’t know a good euphemism).  As one of my friends has observed about my sensitivities regarding sexual matters, "You would censor Shakespeare!" (I would.) But the fact remains that Catholic couples in today’s world have questions about such issues. Many cannot understand why anal sex could possibly be appealing to anyone (include me and, indeed, West in that group), while others seem to find the act attractive. Certainly there isn’t any “Church teaching” about this action at a magisterial level, but few seem to know that there is a tradition of approval of such behavior as foreplay to intercourse (not to be confused with the biblical condemnation of sodomy which replaces intercourse) by orthodox Catholic ethicists. The principle generally invoked is that consensual actions that culminate in intercourse are morally permissible." - Moral Theologian Says Christopher West's Work is 'Completely Sound'
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Condescending theories...
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"I think it is important to keep in mind who West’s audience is. It is largely the sexually wounded and confused who have been shaped by our promiscuous and licentious culture. People need to think long and hard about the appropriate pedagogy for that group. [...]  For those whose lives are not spent in the academic world, a world in which minutiae can take on epic proportions... we scholars disagree not only with our archenemies but also with our closest and dearest allies."Dr. Smith.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The prophet trodden underfoot...


Just for Kat.
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Crescat inquired about the image I used of St. Michael the Archangel trampling upon Satan for the feast of the Archangels, thinking it may have been the prophet Mohamed he was trampling instead.  I too had seen an image similar to the St. Michael sculpture.  In fact I think it was once a rather common image used to commemorate some victory over Islam, or to represent the truth of Catholic doctrine over Islam.  In times of terror (and/or conquest) such allegorical images are considered incendiary.  (As Basil Fawltey would say: "They started it!")
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The image shown above may be the one Kat was thinking of.  It is the base of a pulpit from a church in Belgium.
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"Belgian police are guarding a 17th century pulpit in a Catholic Church in the Flemish town of Dendermonde after threats from muslims. The pulpit depicts a man subdued by angels and is believed to represent the triumph of Christianity over Islam. The man is generally thought to be Mohammed. He is also holding a book which is generally assumed to be the Koran. The pulpit in the church of Our Lady dates from 1685-- two years after the battle of Vienna when the Christian armies of the Polish King John III Sobieski defeated the Turks who were poised to overrun Europe." - Full story from 2008


Will I be killed for publishing this now?

The accuser of our brothers is cast out. - Revelation 12:10


The suicide of Tyler Clementi.
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On the feast of the Archangels I meditated upon the verse from the Book of Revelation, referring to the Devil and Satan as the accuser of our brothers... who accuses them night and day before our God.  How often do we align ourselves with the Devil and Satan when we accuse our brother?   Or seek to expose his deeds before men?
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I think this is what Clementi's roommate and his girlfriend did - they accused and exposed a young man - just for the satisfaction of proving their accusations to be true, they streamed it online.  The upshot:  the tormented, humiliated and shamed Tyler Clementi committed suicide...   Tyler was an 18 year old kid, he had parents who love him.  Imagine their grief.
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Suicides and gay bashings and the ensuing gay battles are increasing day by day by day by day.
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Going forward we must only speak the truth in charity, without duplicity, and with respect for the dignity of each person, ever keeping in mind that "the accuser of our brothers is cast out..." and God's mercy is limitless.
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Photo:  George Washington Bridge - site of Clementi's suicide.

Little Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face


Happy Feast Day.
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There are now so many innumerable students and experts on the life and doctrine of Little Therese that I could add nothing to the many beautiful eulogies, praises, and testaments said about the saint on her feast day today...  except perhaps...
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Whoever is a little one, let him come to me... seated at the table of sinners.
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"Sometimes it happens that despite their best efforts, some souls remain imperfect because it would be to their spiritual detriment to believe they are virtuous or to have others agree with them." - My Sister St. Therese

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mass ad orientem or facing the congregation?


Fr. Z has a poll up - I voted ad orientem.  Mass facing the people is so distracting. - especially during the consecration.   
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Photo credit:  Missa Gregoriana 

Jeronimo, St.


Patron saint of hot-heads.
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St. Jerome is one of my favorite saints - he is said to have been irascible...  I'm sure that fault has been explained away and sanitized by most of his biographers - but I like a saint who speaks his mind and then spends the rest of the day beating his breast bloody with a rock as a penance for what he said.  That is so me.  (I wonder why he's always shown naked in art?  I once knew this old guy at the gym (CB Club) who always walked around the men's locker room naked, talking to everyone - not just near the lockers or showers either - he'd watch the news in the men's lounge naked too, talking to his fully clothed buddies.  I don't know, I thought it was weird.)  Anyway.
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St. Jerome's advice to bloggers:
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Beware also of a blabbing tongue and of itching ears. Neither detract from others nor listen to detractors.
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"Thou sittest," says the psalmist, "and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done and I kept silence; thou thoughtest wickedly that I was such an one as thyself, but I will reprove thee and set them in order before thine eyes."
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Keep your tongue from cavilling and watch over your words. Know that in judging others you are passing sentence on yourself and that you are yourself guilty of the faults which you blame in them.*
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It is no excuse to say: "if others tell me things I cannot be rude to them."
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No one cares to speak to an unwilling listener. An arrow never lodges in a stone: often it recoils upon the shooter of it. Let the detractor learn from your unwillingness to listen not to be so ready to detract.
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Solomon says:--"meddle not with them that are given to detraction: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the destruction of them both?"--of the detractor, that is, and of the person who lends an ear to his detraction." - Letter of St. Jerome to Nepotian
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*"Know that in judging others you are passing sentence on yourself and that you are yourself guilty of the faults which you blame in them." - Holy crap!  I ALWAYS forget that part!


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Thanks to Idle Speculations for the text.

Religious Vocation Discernment: Trust your gut.



"In the spiritual life we must always be a little suspicious of feelings." - a minor friar

But...  I, along with many others, have at one time or another found myself in dysfunctional religious communities during the period of time I was discerning my vocation.  From experience I can tell you this - if the community seems disordered, it most likely is.  That doesn't necessarily mean one shouldn't enter if one feels called to that particular house or community - St. Therese entered a somewhat dysfunctional community and became a saint... you simply enter at your own risk, trusting the interior conviction while depending upon divine providence.  (Nine out of ten you don't stay.) 
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Anyway, with that introduction, I want to highlight a few insights from Fr. Charles of A Minor Friar blog; a friend of mine directed me to Father's post exclaiming - "This is exactly what I've been thinking since I left that awful abb...."
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Irreligious life.
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Many of us who have come to religious life, myself included, have struggled with the impression that the life we have found doesn't seem very religious. We are bothered that our communities do not seem to be prayerful places, that we ourselves to do not feel as devout as we used to, and that our conversations about the pressures and problems upon us do not often turn to God.
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First, we must trust ourselves and our instincts. I failed to do this in my own early experiences of religious life and did myself a lot of harm. I arrived young and much more innocent than I thought I was, and much of what I found in my first try at religious life was confusing and scandalizing. When I expressed my concerns to my directors and superiors I was told to 'get over myself' or was given unfortunate labels: 'neo-con,' 'traddy,' someone who wants to 'go back' to the bad old days.
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So, do not listen to those who tell you 'get over yourself' or dismiss you with labels. Trust your instincts. Religious life in our time--and here I can only speak to my own geographic and cultural context--is afflicted with various forms of decadence, moral confusion, and theological error. I thank God that he has led me, by the circuitous paths of grace, to a pretty solid community, but that doesn't mean we are exempt from the problems and errors of our time. We who are younger religious must trust our instincts and always be a little suspicious. When someone tells you the Church or your community or Vatican II teaches something and it doesn't sound right, look it up yourself. Be empowered. - finish reading at Irreligious Life
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Remember the proverb, 'if it quacks like a duck...'

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bishop Leads: Samuel Aquila


This is what it takes.  This is what we need.
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.- In time for the upcoming Respect Life Month of October, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota presided over an annual Mass and led a procession over 700 people to a local abortion clinic last Sunday, encountering oppositional protestors for the first time.
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The Diocese of Fargo estimated that on Sunday, 700 to 800 people from St. Mary’s Cathedral processed to the local Red River Women’s Clinic, North Dakota’s only abortion facility in downtown Fargo. Director of Communications for the diocese Tanya R. Watterud told CNA that Bishop Aquila led the procession several blocks, carrying a monstrance with Blessed Sacrament and also sprinkling the clinic with holy water amidst pro-abortion demonstrators. - Finish reading CNA
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Praise God!  We have real Bishops again! 

St. Michael Archangel...


The feast of St. Michael the Archangel.
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Michael shares his feast with Gabriel and Raphael now - they each had their own feast at one time.*
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In time of terror...
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1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

and abides in the shade of the Almighty
2 says to the Lord: "My refuge,
my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!"
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3 It is he who will free you from the snare

of the fowler who seeks to destroy you;
4 he will conceal you with his pinions
and under his wings you will find refuge.
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5 You will not fear the terror of the night

nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the plague that prowls in the darkness
nor the scourge that lays waste at noon. - Ps. 90


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*May 8 is the memorial of the Apparition of St. Michael on Mt. Gargano on Italy.

Fashion Relief...

...just not to be so serious and remember I used to have a job, a long, long time ago now...
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This is nice, Dolce Gabbana.  Below the knee - very pretty.  Throw on a little sweater, she could get into St. Peter's in the 1950's.
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Photo credit: Sartorialist

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quick shot: Christopher Hitchens - prayers for.


Discernment of spirits
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I've hardly read anything written in its entirety by Christopher Hitchens save for an article in this month's Vanity Fair concerning his reaction to the day of prayer for his conversion, salvation, healing, what have you.  He makes some very good points about illness and suffering and how the good and the bad all share the same fate.  It is no wonder he doesn't 'get' religious people or faith after reading some of the stuff written about him online.  (I know, he's said hateful things himself.)

One blogger/commenter Hitchens' cites hoped CH suffered eternal torment for his blasphemies - after suffering the full effects of his cancer of course.  Others prayed for his healing, conversion or salvation.  It seems to me most of these had some sort of self-interest in the outcome of their prayers - like they might be winning a bet or something - indeed, Hitchens found a betting site online for just that purpose. 

I'm wondering now, if Hitch converts on his death bed - which I always think is a nice way to go - does that mean prayers were heard?  And if he doesn't - does that mean the prayers went unanswered?  Does either outcome prove there is a God?  If he's lost for all eternity, does anyone win?
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I think we Christians get in God's way many times.  I appreciate today's Gospel from Mass, when Christ rebuked the disciples for wanting to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans who would not welcome Jesus because he was heading towards Jerusalem. [Luke 9: 51-56]  Other sources reveal what Christ told the disciples in his rebuke: "You know not of what spirit you are."

I had a dream.



I had a dream about Obama last night - I was explaining to him why people didn't trust him and stuff - I mentioned the fears people have that he is a socialist and is planning on taking over the country after implementing martial law.  A friend of mine scoffed and I got mad and yelled at everyone because they wouldn't listen to me.  Then Obama invited me upstairs to the White House, which was really white BTW, and we talked and he explained how it wouldn't be that bad after he was done and people were worried needlessly.  He was so nice and friendly that he had me completely convinced he is truly a great president.
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Returning home from Washington, I realized I was flying without a plane and when I looked down I was flying over Fr. Z's farm - suddenly my anxiety and depression returned and then everything went black.
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You know what they say.... once you go black, you never go back.

Gay Marriage: A bourgeois pretension?

I think so too.

Honestly - I don't understand it - aside from financial benefits - why gay people want to be married - and don't even mention adopt kids to me!  I'm no fan of Eve Tushnet - but that doesn't mean she can't make sense:
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Eve Tushnet, a self-identified lesbian, holds the position that "homosexual activists are merely picking up on a trend begun by and for opposite-sex couples." In her view:
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Same-sex marriage is just the next step in the divorce culture. The belief that marriage is merely the way that our culture expresses its approval of atomistic adults' sexual and romantic partnerships isn't new - it's the same "me generation" worldview that produced "fatherless America."

It is my contention that some leftwing homosexual activists are hungry for approval, and that they're consciously or subconsciously trying to mirror traditions.
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Approval-hungry homosexual activists who "speak" for the "gay community" like the feeling of dressing up, making vows, and pretending that redefining the "m" word will make them sanctified citizens. Though apparently astute in the art of public relations, many are easily tripped up when confronted with facts. And perhaps, some of them are trying to create "happy family" experiences because of their own wounded backgrounds.
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Critical thinkers, like Tushnet, by way of contrast, see the dangers in trend-picking causes or romantic imagery traps. One can't simply manufacture or "lawyer" in an institution that grew out of complex ancient heterosexual/religious customs, without inviting problems. - Source
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Works for me.
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H/T pewsitters

Monday, September 27, 2010

In memoriam: Rev. Thomas Dubay, S.M.


Master of the spiritual life.

St. Vincent de Paul


"As it is most certain that the teaching of Christ cannot deceive, if we would walk securely, we ought to attach ourselves to it with greatest confidence and to profess openly that we live according to it, and not to the maxims of the world, which are all deceitful. This is the fundamental maxim of all Christian perfection." - Vincent de Paul

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More from the Vortex...


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Victim Souls?





Post Vortex: Just some thoughts...



Victim - no, no, no.
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A lot of people today think that the goal in life is to make everyone whole and happy and prosperous.  We walk for cures of this and that disease, prolong life artificially, take pills for everything from the slightest headache to feeling a bit discouraged because we are not as successful as we'd hope to be.  I see this especially in discussions connected with the topic of homosexual orientation lately.  There is a trend to over-psychologize and/or over-spiritualize the disorder and seek a cure for it.
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Gay people who have no use for Catholic Church teaching as it applies to homosexuality, along with those who simply are content to be gay, have real issues with some of the research espoused by Catholic groups and churchmen - especially as it concerns therapeutic healing for the homosexual person, and or reparative therapy:  making the gay person straight.  Needless to say this presents a heavy burden for those people who have embraced the teachings of the Church and strive to live chaste and celibate lives according to the commandments.  As such, they often live a deeper spiritual life of prayer than their ordinary Catholic friends, incorporating the proper level of ascesis to remain faithful, as well as frequenting the sacraments more often.  These persons are not concerned with 'changing' their sexual orientation but rather are more focused upon their personal sanctification and doing God's will - seeking Jesus alone... blooming where they are planted, or dealing with the cards they've been dealt, so to speak.
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Rehab - no, no, no.
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Naturally in the study of homosexuality researchers seek to understand its cause - which in turn often explains its effects.  This is useful for the person seeking to live a well ordered life - self-knowledge is a very important tool in the spiritual life, as we all know.  On the other hand, gay activists dedicate their research to prove the opposite - that homosexuality is an alternative, albeit natural sexual orientation and lifestyle.  Don't mention a cure to them.  As it stands, most persons cannot or will not be cured - very few have the will and funds to go through questionable therapies to become heterosexual.  Thankfully, the Church does not ask that, nor does she require it - the Church only asks that a person live a chaste life according to Church teaching and the commandments.  The Church also admits she is not able to determine the causes of homosexuality, what the Church does offer is holiness - the way and means to sanctify one's life.
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The 'cure' - no, no, no.
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The upshot of all of this is that many well intentioned church people are piling on another band-wagon claiming they have proof of what is at the root of homosexuality, and in some cases - they have a cure.  (Just like gay activists are convinced it is perfectly normal - natural law be damned.)  But the fact is, the faith healers and reparative therapists are missing the point.  Not everyone is supposed to be healed - if that was the case, why isn't everyone healed at Lourdes, or why didn't Christ heal everyone in Israel in his day?  Why did Our Lady of Fatima tell the children, "Some I will cure, others, no."?
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I'm convinced some people are not meant to be cured - their sufferings and struggle is their sanctification, and to the degree they are conformed to God's will, the sanctification of those around them.  What is more, their sacrifice can be accepted as reparation for sins against God and nature.  But don't say 'victim'.
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N.B. I'm writing about adults here, not children and adolescents who may have gender identity issues and so on.
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How do you get ordained for the Old Catholic Church anyway?

It's not difficult.
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Today there are several denominations claiming to be offshoots of the Old Catholic church.  What kind of seminaries do these people go to?  What kind of education and training do they have?  It's usually the Old Catholic church and it's assorted denominations or offshoots, claiming Apostolic Succession, which seems to be doing most of the ordaining of women and gays and other misfits.  Maybe some of their priests have excellent credentials, and please forgive me for stating it this way, but it seems to me many of them are rejects from the Roman Catholic Church.  
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For instance.
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Heartland Old Catholic Church    I know two of the priests on this site.  One was a counsellor at a neighborhood community center when I was a teenager.  As a kid he wanted to be a priest, instead he tried his vocation as a Franciscan brother.  That didn't work out, so he came home, got married, and was eventually ordained a permanent deacon for the archdiocese...  Now he's divorced and ministers as an Old Catholic monsignor.  Not too stable.