Saturday, October 09, 2010

Violence against gays.



An age-old crime.
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Last week the big story was Clementi's suicide from the George Washington bridge.  This week gangstas in NYC beat and sodomized a gay kid and the man he slept with as well as the older man's brother - because they were gay.  Despite proposed bullying laws, hate crime legislation, diversity education in schools, multiple television sitcoms and dramas, along with movies showing how 'normal' homosexual relations are, there will always be an element in society who will never tolerate or accept homosexuality on any level.  In a very primitive sense, nature itself revolts against it as it were, and human nature being what it is...
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An unfortunate matter of fact.
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Such violence was alluded to - but NOT condoned - in the  CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH,  LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS:
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10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
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But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase. - CDF
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Our Lady of the Rosary and monks.


Is the Rosary superstitious?  Is it simply a prayer for old ladies?  For the unsophisticated? 

Absolutely not.

The Holy Rosary is a very monastic prayer, not unlike Lectio Divina.  With the prayers of the Holy Rosary the person praying more or less unconsciously exercises himself in the prayer of Lectio Divina:  lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio.  In the recitation of the Rosary we announce the mystery of each decade - a sort of lectio, then ruminating the mystery as we pray - meditatio, while praying the word - oratio, thus opening the soul to contemplatio - lifted up, as it were, into the very bosom of the Holy Trinity, through the intercession of Our Lady.  Of course the Rosary is a prayer focused upon the Gospel and the words of the prayer are the words of the Gospel itself, thus it leads the soul ever deeper into the very heart of the Gospel.  The Rosary becomes a wonderful companion and continuation of the exercises of communal liturgical prayer and private sacred study.  A monk shouldn't leave his cell without it.
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Going forward, for the month of October I will try to post more on the Holy Rosary.

St.'s Sergius and Bacchus: Martyrs, Soldier Saints.


Erastes, erastai, pederasty in the post-modern myth.
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Contemporary gay Catholics celebrate the feast of the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus (October 7) as a special interest patron saint day, especially since controversial 20th century historian John Boswell presented the two martyrs as examples of homosexual lovers and partners, suggesting gay partnerships were approved by the early Church.  Real scholars may debate the issue, but I say Boswell's theory is just that - a mythical theory of wishful thinking - totally prejudiced by his own homosexuality and 20th century sexual myopics.
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Early records refer to Serge and Bacchus as erastai - plural for erastes - which strictly speaking usually refers to a relationship between an older man and a male youth - hence the term pederasty.  Sometimes the Greek word erastai is used in non-sexual terms in the sense of 'beloved' - as is most probable in the case of the two martyrs.  Male friendship, bonding, closeness, brotherly love, loyalty - especially amongst soldiers, and in the case of Serge and Bacchus - because they were secret Christians - would not have been sexual, unnatural or immoral.  Their persecutors and executioners would have treated them with contempt - not unlike the humiliation Christ endured in his passion.  In a culture where homosexuality may have been recognized to some extent, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary, nor an exaggeration to expect the courage demonstrated by the martyrs to have been mocked and themselves shamed as homosexuals.  One legend claims the martyrs were paraded through the streets dressed as women - if true, it was a shameful act certainly not celebrating homosexuality.
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It must be remembered that the term erastai is archaic and originates from pre-Christian times, in a period when the acceptance of certain homosexual practices was much different than in our own day.  There is evidence homosexuality was not as exulted and respected across the board as modern gay historians like to imagine - especially by the time of Christ.  There is no credible evidence the Church ever blessed same-sex sexual relationships, just as there is no credible evidence the Church ever ordained women as priests, or that there was ever a woman-pope.
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"... Among you there will be false teachers who will smuggle in pernicious heresies.  Their lustful ways will lure many away.  Through them, the true way will be made subject to contempt." - 2 Peter 2
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Iconography:  As you can see most iconography of the saints depicts them as soldiers, friends.  There is no evidence that their friendship was any more than friendship in Christ, and their witness and example to be that of martyrs for Christ.  As such, the blessed martyrs St.'s Sergius and Bacchus are wonderful examples for all Christian men striving to live faithfully in an anti-Christian culture - but they do not belong to anti-Catholic political movements.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Silencing the lambs - the Bishops and new media.



Active participation going a little too far?
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Titles and cowtowing aside - the hierarchy doesn't seem to like hearing what the pew-sitters are thinking... and saying: 
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Many people believe that Catholic newspapers are being superseded by new media. But is that a good thing? The Catholic blogosphere is rude, argumentative, and fractious: it exposes the divisions of the Church in an ugly light. It flattens Church hierarchy, too: bishops and cardinals are abused regularly by Catholics in the pew.
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On the other hand, the online Catholic world has a huge amount of vitality and enthusiasm, and offers the kind of robust debate, and up-to-the-second coverage, that is not often found in traditional media. - Source
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As Anna Arco points out:
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In an age when people are cynical about the messages they receive from both the hierarchical Church and the traditional media and are used to spin the Catholic blogosphere can offer a refreshing antidote. Genuine discussion and genuine witness, by real people. - Source
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Art:  Bishop, Fernando Botero

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Good Habits - Bad Habits: Good Habits

A friend suggested I post some photos of women's religious habits I actually like.  (Sorry - I didn't note the order.)



If you really believed...


Would you be so careless?

At the conclusion of adoration last evening, I returned the monstrance to the sacristy, with the candles and the tabernacle keys, after reposing the Blessed Sacrament.  I noticed a large pyx on the cluttered counter - I looked at the design wondering if the pyx was empty or not.  I noticed a note to the visiting priest who had the Mass that morning.  The religious who wrote the note asked Father to consecrate the low-gluten hosts contained in the pyx.  I realized the Blessed Sacrament was present - and the pyx was just sitting on the counter.  It should have been placed in the tabernacle for Sr. Adult Formation Director to retrieve. 

Sometimes I really doubt these people believe in the real presence at all.

And we wonder why contemporary Catholics do not understand the faith, or why sacrilegious communions occur with such frequency.

Archbishop Nienstedt's 'Gay' Mass...



Nienstedt upstaged by a prof.*
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Actually, Archbishop Nienstedt did NOT have a gay Mass.  But  there were a contingent of gay students at a Mass he celebrated at St. John's University at Collegeville, Minnesota this past weekend.  The students, sporting gay emblems, approached the Archbishop for Holy Communion.  He denied them Holy Communion and instead administered a blessing.  Big news item, right?
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So anyway, afterwards, a priest at the college celebrated a Mass wherein the students were allowed to receive Holy Communion:
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The Rev. Rene McGraw, a professor of philosophy at St. John's, said he held a short Mass for the small group later the same night in which he served all of them Communion. He took issue with the archdiocese's interpretation of canon law when it comes to who can receive Communion.
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"My understanding of church law is that one is not to deny communion to anyone unless he or she is a public sinner, and that has traditionally been interpreted very narrowly," McGraw said. "My instinct was these are people who were in need, I'm supportive of them, therefore I'm happy to say Mass for them." - Source 
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It sure seems to me Fr. McGraw doesn't give a crap about Church law - he celebrated a Mass to undermine the Archbishop and distributed Communion to the protesters.  So what happens now?  This is where things could get interesting:  How will Archbishop Nienstedt deal with this priest, who more or less "opposed him to his face"?  (Although Fr. McGraw may not be under the Archbishp's canonical jurisdiction.)
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But then there's Michael Tegeder.
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Fr. Michael Tegeder, pastor of St. Edward’s Church in Bloomington, MN.  Fr.  Tegeder argues that the bishops would do better to focus on a real threat to marriage: poverty.
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What are the real threats to marriage? The Sept. 29 story “Economy is Hitting Hearts and Wallets,” about the effects of our current economy on marriage, said that “being broke and unemployed is not conducive to matrimony, young Americans are finding. In 2009, the number of young adults (25-34) who have never tied the knot surpassed those who had married for the first time since data collection began more than a century ago.”
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In every serious study, poverty is the top reason for marital breakdowns. It is very hard to make the case that a small percentage of the population who bond with members of their own sex and seek to live in a committed relationship could have anything but a positive effect on the general population’s appreciation of stable, faithful, life-giving unions. - Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Tom Roberts of NCR interviewed Tegeder, who has never hidden his disagreements with Nienstedt’s leadership style.
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Asked if he feared reprisal, he recalled that he’d already been threatened by the archbishop “with excommunication and interdict” for installing a cremation garden at the church. When he was called on the carpet, he said, he was able to produce documentation that showed his parish had complied with all of the diocesan and state regulations.
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“If he throws me out I can walk away from this with my head up … I love ministry. I wake up at 5 every day and stay busy until midnight. I love it. I’m energized by the opportunities.” But some things just need to be said, he remarked. - Commonweal
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Denying Communion is one thing, getting the priests in line and on board is another matter.
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Photo:  St. John's Abbey church - on a cold day in hell.
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*H/T to Cathy

Breaking News: Religion really IS the problem.



"War broke out in heaven..." - Revelation 12:7
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Religious people are so on the defensive these days.  A few days ago I told you I was being blamed for Taylor Clementi's suicide - because I'm Catholic and support Catholic teaching on homosexuality - Catholic teaching does NOT condone suicide or gay bashing BTW.  (Very different from the Fred Phelps' version of Christianity.)  Still other pundits are blaming Christianity as well.
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That said, it is obvious that religion is part of the problem...  Why else would the non-believers attack religion if it did not pose a problem for them?  I'm not addressing the issue of bullying and suicide so much as I'm responding to the claim that wars and persecutions and other evils in life have all been waged because of religious differences, intolerance, etc..  There is a level of truth to that.  After all, it is God's creation and God's world - and there are innumerable people from every walk of life in this world, and demons as well, trying to screw it up.  We in the Church Militant are engaged in a cosmic battle between good and evil.  If the enemies of religion had their way and were able to eliminate religion - the result would be tyranny and enslavement, and the world would be no better for it. 
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So the next time some relative or friend or co-worker tells you - "religion has caused more wars and whatever..."  Just say, "Yeah!  I know!"

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Pray your Rosary.

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Art:  Our Lady of the Rosary At the Battle of Lepanto.  Believe me - Lepanto was ALL about religion.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"What did you go out in the desert to see?" - Luke 7:24



When St. Bruno went into the 'desert' of the Chartreuse he and his followers built a rustic chapel and huts for hermitages.  No heat, no electricity, no television or phone, no health insurance...  No grand charterhouse was envisioned or planned.  No fundraising or advertising campaign was initiated - nor did any of them make the rounds of the lecture circuit, or publish books.  They went in to the wilderness to pray.  Some of the men were quite learned and of a mature age - even over fifty.  They devoted themselves to prayer and divine study.  Whenever Bruno was called out - it was at the request of the bishops or the pope, and even then he remained as hidden as possible.

St. Bruno

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Gee - That's different! More odd religious habits...





Beato Alberto Marvelli


October 5 is the feast of Blessed Alberto Marvelli.  Layman
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From the Vatican website:
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Alberto was very athletic and loved all kinds of sports, especially bicycling; this was providential, because it enabled him to carry out his future apostolate and works of charity and assistance.
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In October 1933, following the unexpected death of his father on 7 March of that same year, Alberto began to keep a spiritual diary at age 15 in which he detailed his daily schedule: "I rise as early as possible each morning, as soon as the alarm rings; a half-hour of meditation every day, not to be neglected except for circumstances out of my control; half an hour at least dedicated to spiritual reading; Mass every morning and Holy Communion as regularly as possible; confession once a week normally and frequent spiritual direction; daily recitation of the Rosary and Angelus at noon".
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When he was only 18, Alberto was elected president of Catholic Action. At Bologna University where he continued his studies, he was active in the Catholic organization, in addition to directing his Catholic Action group in Rimini. Every Saturday, upon returning home, he would give lectures, visit the poor and prepare programmes for the upcoming days. His primary concern was the plight of the poor.

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Alberto graduated in 1941 with a degree in engineering and left immediately for military service, only to be exempted from it after a few months because two of his brothers were already in service.
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Upon his return to Rimini, he was elected diocesan vice-president of Catholic Action. He began teaching in a high school, devoting his time to designing projects, to prayer (he was especially devoted to the Eucharist) and to helping the sick and poor.
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During the Second World War, the Marvelli family was forced to move to Vergiano, seven kilometres from Rimini, because of the devastating air raids. After each bombing, however, at the risk of his own life, Alberto returned to the city to help the wounded, dying and homeless.
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He gave to the poor what he had collected or bought with his own money: food, clothing, mattresses and blankets. Then, on his bicycle, he would carry what he could and distribute it to the needy. Sometimes he returned home without his shoes or even without a bicycle, all because he had given them to the neediest he met that day.
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During the German occupation, Alberto was able to save many people from deportation to the concentration camps, courageously freeing them from the sealed carriages of the trains that were ready to leave the station of Santarcangelo.
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After the liberation of Rimini on 23 September 1945, the Marvelli family returned to the city, now in ruins and without running water, electricity or sanitation.
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On the evening of 5 October 1946, as Alberto was cycling to attend a meeting for the local elections, for which he was a candidate, he was run over by an army truck and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. He was 28 years old. - ALBERTO MARVELLI (1918-1946)

Saving the Blessed Sacrament in Madison.


I picked up this photo from Fr. Z's blog.  It shows firefighters rescuing the Blessed Sacrament from the fire which burned down the Cathedral of St. Raphael at Madison, Wisconsin in 2005.  Bp. Morlino told Fr. Z that no one would let him into the wreckage to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament.  The Bishop then found some Catholic firefighters who rescued the ciborium and luna containing the Blessed Sacrament from the ruins. - Story and more photos here.

Intercessors of the Lamb: An intervention...

For bad habits?
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I wish - look at those colors.  Anyway - some people think the group is a cult.  I've seen them on EWTN and I have heard wonderful things about them... so who really knows for sure?  Mother Nadine is from the St. Paul, Minnesota Good Shepherd Sisters of the Cross, which may account for the lack of taste, but I'm sure that is not a canonical issue.  Nevertheless, Archbishop Lucas seems concerned:
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On Thursday, September 30, Archbishop George Lucas accepted the resignation of Mother Nadine Brown, foundress and general director of the Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb. Lucas appointed the Rev. Gregory P. Baxter trustee of the association. Baxter is charged with governing, managing, and guiding the association.
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In May, Archbishop George J. Lucas retained the services of a canon lawyer to act as his delegate in conducting a canonical visitation of the Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb. The Rev. James J. Conn, SJ, JD, JCD, a canon law professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, conducted the first phase of the canonical visitation last summer before returning to Rome. Conn examined the association’s  governance structure, in addition to reviewing the doctrinal, spiritual, moral, and financial aspects of the association. The visitation was conducted in accord with the Intercessors’ statutes and in accord with the Code of Canon Law. - Press Release
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From what I can tell, the group does seem a bit cultish - in a Medjugorje-Charismatic sort of way that is.    Let's see what the visitation turns up.  To be fair, it is my understanding the community is simply undergoing a visitation and is not under any form of canonical discipline or penalty. 
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Mother Nadine
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"Oh!  Oh!  I know!  Let's start our own order and we'll make the habits real pretty!  Then we'll go on EWTN and tell stories and we will help lots of people and we'll build a big foundation, and then, and then..." - Just pretending.
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H/T Spirit Daily

Monday, October 04, 2010

Discernment



"I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another)." - Galatians 1: 6-12
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How easy it is to be led away by new teachings - not only in our times, but in the days of the apostles as well. 
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"There are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ."
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Sound familiar?  You know how in our times the scriptures have been manipulated to seemingly condone immoral behavior...
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"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let that one be accursed.  As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed."
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Though addressing a different set of circumstances, I love what St. John has to say:  "Anyone who is so 'progressive' that he does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God, while anyone who remains rooted in the teaching possesses both the Father and the Son." - 2 John 9
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Works for me.
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“…the Lord gave me, and gives me still, such faith in priests who live according to the rite of the holy Roman Church because of their orders that, were they to persecute me, I would still want to have recourse to them…..And I act in this way because, in this world, I see nothing physically of the most high Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood which they receive and they alone administer to others. I want to have these most holy mysteries honoured and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places.” - St. Francis of Assisi

When St. Francis renounced the world and its seductions.


"My God and my all." - Prayer of St. Francis
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When St. Francis removed the clothing his father had provided for him and donned the rough garb of the penitent, he really and truly renounced absolutely everything.  There is a maxim from St. John of the Cross which says, "Sell your will, give it to the poor in spirit, come to Christ in meekness and humility, and follow him to Calvary and the sepulcher."  St. Francis had pretty much already done that by the time he was brought before the Bishop... Calvary and sepulcher would come later.  The fact is, Francis renounced the world and its seductions by faith, burning with seraphic love... 
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In renouncing his patrimony and all support - even food and shelter, Francis was like the ancients St. Paul wrote about in his Letter to the Hebrews:  "He thereby condemned the world and inherited the justice which comes through faith." [Heb. 11:7]  His poverty was complete.  Even as the first companions gathered around him, they lived in abject poverty, "they wandered about in deserts and on mountains, they dwelt in caves and holes in the earth." [Heb. 11:38]
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"The world was not worthy of them."  [Heb. 11:7]
Brother Leo's cave at Eremo di Carceri, Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Happy feast day to all!

Art: St. Francis in Glory.  Jacopo Ligozzi ( 1547-1627 )

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The New Normal: Disorientation



Hitting the gong... secularism, consumerism, relativism, ism, ism, ism, ism, ism........
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The new normal is that there is no normal any longer...  Sounds like bar talk, huh?  But it is so true.  How can you be a Christian and buy into all of these errors?  Every day is a new controversy, as today's first reading from Habakkuk says, "destruction and violence are before me; strife and clamorous discord."
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Don't you think a sitcom, reality-show mentality was also at play in the voyeuristic, character assassination of Tyler Clementi?  On the other hand, haven't you noticed the increase of young people killing themselves - not just because they were harassed or bullied either - across the globe young actors and models and designers end potentially successful careers just as they begin to prosper.  Are not these 'special interest' suicides equally as tragic?  It seems to me suicide has become an acceptable final solution to life's problems for a new generation who have been raised to accept abortion as a way to end the "burden" of unwanted children.  As the children of the culture of death mature - government sponsored choice has become the solution, the alternative to reality.  (Government sponsored suicide isn't the norm - yet - but euthanasia is on it's way.) 
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Sexual disorientation.
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Believe me, I see suicide as a tragedy, and like everyone else, I consider the suicide of Tyler Clementi  as a horrible thing.  That said, it is almost a sure thing Clementi's suicide will lead to some sort of new legislation regarding 'domestic voyeurism', internet use, privacy issues, etc.  It will undoubtedly lead to more GLBT support groups in schools and on college campuses, as well as sex re-education programs.  We already know that in other states kids in the first grade are taught that gay marriage is no different from traditional marriage - Archbishop Nienstedt notes that fact in his communique regarding the Minnesota Bishops' Preserving Marriage DVD.
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How does a parent guide a child through all of this?  What if your kid presents as being attracted, or interested in the same sex?  What do you do when popular culture, government, schools, and science insist it is the new normal?  How has our culture become so disoriented?  A new generation has already been indoctrinated through media and education, and the process is accelerating in both private and public education.  If one opposes it, one is called a bigot.  What to do?
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The Christian Normal.
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I really don't know.  However, I take some consolation from today's second reading from the Letter of St. Paul to Timothy:  "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.  So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord...  Take as your norm the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us."
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In these days when it seems the love of most has grown cold and faith seems weak, we must cling to the faith as taught by the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him - even though our faith be the size of a mustard seed...
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Pray for the Church and families - as well as the disoriented.  We maybe can't solve everyone's problems, but we can have faith and hope, as long as we do what we are obliged to do.
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Photo:  The Gong Show

Mass Chat: The Archbishop's DVD on Preserving Marriage in Minnesota - not a big hit.


This Sunday's homily was all about the Bishop's of Minnesota DVD mailing and subsequent protests Father has received since it was announced and delivered.  I have no idea if that is the experience of pastors across Minnesota, but I kind of wanted to respectfully ask Father, "What did the Archbishop, and you, expect?  Kudos?"  If stats are correct, it is my understanding a high percentage of Catholics have ignored Humanae Vitae and Church teaching regarding artificial birth control and in-vitro fertilization, divorce and remarriage, sterilization procedures, and so on and on - for decades.  A recent poll suggests Catholics do not even know the basics of the faith - like, 'what is communion anyway'?  So the fact that people are not going to take a liking to the Preserving Marriage in Minnesota campaign should not really be a surprise - at least in more liberal Minneapolis.

In his homily, the pastor also expressed regret that most of the people he has spoken to haven't even bothered to watch the DVD.  I read the cover letter and all of the media coverage and I know what the DVD is all about - In fact, as readers already know, I completely agree with the Archbishop's statements and teaching.  I accept it and support the Archbishop.  I will watch the DVD sometime soon.  Other's won't.
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Prayers for the Archbishop and his priests - the other shoe will drop when changes in the archdiocese are announced  in the next couple of weeks... hold onto your pews - literally!