Saturday, October 30, 2010

New religious orders and stability.


Failure
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In the early '70's I left the monastery novitiate to live as a 'pilgrim' in emulation of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, convinced it was God's call to me.  My father master wasn't so sure, but he reluctantly let me go, although he first had me compose a rule of life, and after some modification, he approved it, with the stipulation he would continue to act as my spiritual father.  I set out for Europe to try the life with a two year commitment.  Needless to say, I failed miserably and it turned out not to be my charism or gift or call.  My personal aspiration yes, but it wasn't God's will.  Neither was it God's will that I should be a priest or a religious, despite the fact I wanted to be one since I had been a little boy.  Sometimes God places in our hearts deep attractions to a certain way of life or spirituality in order to call us into a much more interior, deeper spiritual relationship with him.  The various lifestyles and examples of the saints are very often icons or images to inspire our spiritual life and help us interiorize the ideals they represent.
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The grass is always greener.
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I think this is sometimes what happens in the case of active religious and priests who feel called to leave their assignments in the world and enter contemplative communities of strict enclosure.  The more holy card the image of the life, the monks and nuns, or the more remote and beautiful the setting, often plays a role in the attraction.  The same goes for the housewife or husband who always imagined their true vocation was to religious life, frequently regarding consecrated life as a higher calling than marriage.  In many cases I'm convinced the attraction is to a deeper interior life, a call to sanctify one's daily life in and through greater detachment and the right ordering of one's life as one continues in their state in life in the world.  I may be wrong of course, but this is why discernment and spiritual direction is necessary in these matters.
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Stable groups. 
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In the above photo I am speaking with a friar of one of the Italian renewals in Naples.  I was invited to come and see by one of the groups founders, Padre Humile, while I was in Assisi.  I visited them in their house at Capidimonte, a group of railway cars formed the brother's cells around the chapel.  I was very much attracted to them, but felt I had to be faithful to my pilgrim experiment. 
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The group was one of several I encountered of 'new' religious communities and hermits.  Naturally, each of these groups was imbued with the charism - vision - of the founder.  Some of these I encountered exist to this day, although rarely retaining the original members - save for the founder, while the community never had more than 5 or 6 members at a time.  Some of these are disintegrating as the founders age and donations dry up as the economy is on a downturn.  Of course, the reformed Franciscans, like the CFR's and the Friars of the Immaculate and some other groups are definite exceptions with their own success stories.
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Personality cults.
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I just mention this because I wanted to say I was never convinced that some of these groups were much more than pious associations gathered about a personality, and I had little to no confidence in their stability.  Some of the groups I encountered fizzled of their own accord or through some disagreement with diocesan authorities, especially when a new bishop took over.  The case of the Intercessors of the Lamb is a perfect example - especially as it concerns the founder's personal piety and convictions evolving beyond the original charism or purpose.  I often think of the one Carmelite prioress I knew who had been intent upon reforming Carmel, carrying forth the reform she claimed was only begun by St. Teresa of Jesus, and after 3 or 4 failed foundations, she lives alone in a hermitage somewhere.  (BTW - priests always have a place to go when the order is suppressed - the 'religious'?  Not so much.)
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Discretion and prudence.
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Personal failure in one's vocation can be a great benefit to the individual soul, yet it can also be a source of scandal and devastation to those who once hoped to consecrate their lives to God by following the founder's charism.  As I mentioned once before, that is the reason Bl. M. Teresa of Calcutta's bishop was so slow to grant her permission to found the Missionaries of Charity.  He recognized many souls were at risk if the community failed.
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Great discretion and prudence is necessary when it comes to 'new' orders and communities, and it isn't wrong to look for some type of 'stability' of life - I believe canon law even requires it.
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Remember - to be a nobody in the Church is not a bad thing.

Couple of things...


To whom it may concern:
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I'm sorry if you haven't heard from me for awhile.  Here are a few of the reasons:
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I've been busy with a project.
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My email has been screwed up - I hate the internet sometimes because email access gets screwed up all by itself apparently.  I finally noticed it because a response I sent to someone in Utah never went through - evidently I had to confirm I was the one sending it.  Seriously.  And then there is a problem with my spam filter, but I still get all the Kenyan "dearly beloved friend in Christ" send me money crap.
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I haven't been answering my phone either.  Nope - I haven't been checking messages either.  Yep - I've been busy with a project that will never be finished.
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Normal programming will continue on the blog however.
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Love,  Terry

Nadine Brown: Archbishop Lucas responds.


Once again Diane at Te Deum is on top of this story, printing the actual statement of the Archbishop of Omaha accompanied by her own good commentary on the matter.  It is a serious matter, and the Archbishop is demonstrating deep compassionate pastoral care for the many former members of the Intercessors as well as the Companions of the Lamb.  As this case evolves it seems clear that doctrinal issues posed a real concern to the archdiocesan authorities, and the Archbishop seems intent upon reforming former members towards a 'deeper and more profound appreciation of the charism of intercessory prayer.'
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Excerpt from the archbishop's letter:

Many of you have had questions over the past few days on the use of books written by Nadine Brown and on the use of other media that contain her teachings. Prior to the suppression of the Intercessors I appointed a trustee to govern the community and help them work on a variety of issues and concerns that had been raised as the result of an official visitation I conducted of the community. One of the tasks I gave to the trustee was to review these teachings for theological accuracy and conformity to the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church. As a result of the suppression this review has not taken place. It is therefore not possible to state that the teachings of Nadine Brown are free of doctrinal error.

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As we move forward I am asking that former companions and all Catholics refrain from using any materials and websites associated with Nadine Brown and all other material provided by the former Intercessor community. I also ask that you cease “group discernments”. However, if you decide to continue to meet with your prayer group, I encourage you to offer prayers of intercession for the needs of priests, for the former Intercessors in community discernment, and for our Holy Father’s intentions. I also encourage you to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church with special attention given to Part IV: Christian Prayer. If you continue to meet in your prayer groups I ask that you do so under the guidance of your Bishop or local pastor.
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With best wishes and prayers I am
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Sincerely yours in Christ,
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Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha
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Continue reading Diane's post for more details and a letter from former Intercessors to "Lay Companions"

Poltical ads.


Listening, reading, watching all the political ads, I'd say they are pretty much all about money.  The moral issues seem to have taken a back seat.  That said, the Massachusetts Bishops have gone all out to focus Catholics' attention on the more important issues...
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The bishops urged, "Go to the polls on election day and, through your choices at the ballot, act on your vision of a better society." - Source
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Fortunately, Cardinal-designate Archbishop Burke is more forthcoming in his advice:  "No, you can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion." 
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But of course people say Burke was sent to the Vatican to shut him up, so it doesn't matter.  Or does it?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Over-rated stuff...


And other stuff people worry about.
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The Democratic party.  I think the party is over - it seems to be collapsing.  I could be wrong.  Yeah - I'm probably wrong.  But Bill Clinton just discouraged a black man from running for office in Florida, and in Minnesota the DFL party distributed anti-clerical, anti-Catholic campaign literature.  The party is breaking up.
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Halloween.  It is pagan, it's not pagan, it's Christian, it's not Christian.  Whatever, it is over-done.  All my favorite television sit-coms turn into copy-cat costume parties the week before the holiday.  (LOL!  I don't watch TV.  ROFLOL!  What?)  So anyway - aside from being a fun American tradition for kids - it has turned out to be the American version of Carnival and masked-costume-balls for adults.  Although this coming weekend the pastor at my parish encourages the children to come to Mass in their costumes.  Oh, so see - it's Christian... yet the Vatican is against it - should I tell my pastor?
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Women in politics.  I know.  This country has been going down hill ever since women got the vote.  Now look at the mess.  Nancy, Sara, Hilary, Anita, Monica, Michelle, Anna Nicole...  But get this:  A candidate for the Broward County School Board in South Florida, Jaemi Levine filed a complaint with the Broward Sheriff's Office claiming David Thomas squeezed her hand so hard during a post-debate handshake Tuesday that it now hurts.  Gosh!  Man up!
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Catholic bloggers aim to purge dissenters.  It's a dirty job but someones got to do it - and dirty, filthy, liberal CINOs better run scared.  We're coming for you slime-balls.  What if that was why we blog?  I know...  let them think it.
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Scriptural basis for women wearing chapel veils.  It just says - women should cover their heads in church.  So I have to ask - if this passage is so binding, what about the one that says women should be submissive to their husbands?  Oh!  Oh!  What about the one that women should not teach or have authority over men?  [1 Tim. 2:12]  Or the passage that says a woman shouldn't even speak in church?  "Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith." - 1 Cor. 14:34  Uh?  Uh?  Why not follow those rules just as fervently? 

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HAPPY HALLOWEENIE!
Trick or treat?  You never really know, do you!

Warning: When nuns overstep their bounds. Redux



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Back by popular demand.

Spiritual activity is quite unknown to us. We are completely engrossed in bodily activity and that with the purpose of appearing pious and holy in the eyes of the world and to get its reward. We have abandoned the hard and narrow way of salvation… - St. Ignaty Brianchaninov


The monks praised a brother to Antony. So Antony went to him and tested him to see if he could endure being insulted. When he saw that he could not bear it, he said to him, "You are like a house with a finely decorated facade, but burglars have stolen all the furnishing through the back door."
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A brother spoke with abba Theodore, and began to discuss matters of which he had no experience. Theodore said to him, "You've not yet found a ship to sail in, nor put your luggage aboard, nor put out to sea, and you are already acting as if you were in the city you intend to reach. If you make some attempt to do the things you are discussing, then you may talk about them with understanding."
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Once a magistrate journeyed into the desert to see abba Simon, and the clergy who accompanied him went on ahead and said to Simon, "Abba, get ready for the judge has heard of you and is coming to be blessed by you." So Simon covered himself with sackcloth and took bread and cheese in his hand, and sat in his doorway and began to eat. The magistrate arrived with his entourage. When they saw him they despised him and said, "is this the hermit about whom we heard such great things?" Disgusted, they turned around and went straight home.
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A hermit said, "Do not judge an adulterer if you are chaste or you will break the law of God just as much as he does. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery' also said 'Do not judge'".
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H e who bears scorn and injury and loss with patience, can be saved.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nuns and their Bishops - not always a good fit.



"The bishops would have no lien on a purely autonomous, lay-run, civil entity..."  -  Most Diligent Mother: Angelica
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No matter what one thinks of the charismatic Nadine Brown and her Companions, one ought to be very careful in passing judgements on her - I include myself in this as well.  Is this woman any different than some of the 'good girls', or for that matter some of the 'bad girls' that have caught the public attention in the history of the Catholic Church?   Brown's 'mission' or spirituality does not attract me in the least - before or after the inquisition - and to be sure, I am not qualified, nor eligible to assess her spiritual state or purpose, but in a way, it seems to me she is not so unusual among the 'sisterhood'.
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Take St. Mary MacKillop for instance.  Excommunicated.  She cooperated and the excommunication was eventually lifted.  She like several other women religious saints suffered from the decisions of churchmen as well as members of their own communities.  I'm not defending Nadine Brown here - I'm just reminding everyone that such things have happened to better people than ourselves in the history of the Church.
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More recently, Mother Angelica of EWTN took some pretty defiant stands against the country's bishops and at least one flaming cardinal in LA.  I wonder if Nadine Brown is not trying to emulate Mother Angelica on some level - convinced of what she perceives as her own divinely inspired mission?  (Be assured, I am not suggesting Nadine Brown is another Mother Angelica.)  Excerpt from A Most Diligent Mother: Angelica:
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It was never easy. Every time Mother Angelica thought she was in the clear, another bishop would raise objections to her venture. Indeed, the bishops tried to outdo her by launching their own effort, the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America (CTNA). It was clear from the beginning that Mother Angelica was seen as a threat: EWTN had a traditional orientation and CTNA took a modernist stance. EWTN won. CTNA collapsed. 
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It was not easy for the bishops to watch their own creation flounder while EWTN won the admiration of Pope John Paul II. Adding to their chagrin was their inability to get Mother Angelica to switch to a new interfaith satellite network. As to her own operations, Mother Angelica did not take kindly to those clerics who questioned her authority to showcase some bishops, but not others. "I happen to own the network," she instructed. When told that this would not be forever, she let loose: "I'll blow the damn thing up before you get your hands on it."
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While she survived in the end, Mother Angelica had to ward off attempts by the bishops to take control of EWTN (one archbishop allegedly told her that certain bishops "want to destroy you"). To make sure this would never happen, Mother Angelica resigned from the network in order to save it: the bishops would have no lien on a purely autonomous, lay-run, civil entity. - Free Republic
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Then there are the 'bad girls' - who do and say exactly as they please, and never seem to get in trouble.  Take the madams of the LCWR for instance, and don't forget Obama's nun, Sr. Carol Keehan.  Many progressive sisters staff retreat houses promoting New Age mysticism.  Colleges run by religious women are often bastions of radical feminism which condone choice and equality issues in defiance of Catholic teaching.  Few, if any of these ladies get so much as a reprimand from bishops.  Oh sure, they are undergoing a visitation these days - but I doubt any of them will be suppressed.  I may be wrong of course.

The Bellwether Foundress addresses the Companions of the Lamb.



Who's the Foundress?
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I expect it is Nadine Brown, but the author of the statement only refers to herself as Foundress.  I suspect she is not quite sure how to identify herself due to the fact her vows have been annulled.  Just as I suspected however, the group is 'reforming' as a private association:
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As Catholic Laity and as priestly people, we continue to participate in the intercessory mission of the Lamb.  Archbishop Lucas has stated in his news release of October 15, 2010 “Of course, Catholic faithful are always welcome, in virtue of their Baptism, to associate together and to pray. I would encourage those companions and associates to continue to pray for the former vowed members of the Intercessor community, for the Church, and for the needs of the world.” This means that your prayer groups are able to continue to gather together for intercession. Please let us know if you would like us to continue visitations to your groups.
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Since the Companions have never been part of the Public Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb, the suppression of the Public Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb does not mean that this extends to you as Companions. - Foundress statement.
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Obviously the Foundress has been talking to lawyers, canonical as well as civil.  Seems to me she is acting within her rights as a baptized Catholic lay person:
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Many of you have also inquired about the civil corporation. The civil corporation, Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., is a separate legal entity than the former Association of Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb and has always functioned as such, as an independent civil corporation, which owns and manages the property and other business affairs associated with supporting the mission and charism. On September 30th, when Archbishop Lucas asked me to resign as the General Director of the Public Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb, I was also asked to resign from the office of President of the civil corporation and from its Board of Directors. I obeyed both of these requests.
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It is important to note that the civil corporation, which remains a non-profit corporation in the State of Nebraska, has been in existence since 1980, a full twelve years before the Hermits were recognized as a Private Association of the Faithful, and eighteen years before the Public Association of the Hermit Intercessors of the Lamb was erected by Archbishop Curtiss. Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc., is a 501 (c)(3) (tax exempt) corporation, separate from the Catholic church. On page 2 of the original Form 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption, it states, “The organization was formed in response to the need to call persons to the experience of prayer and contemplative solitude, in the midst of the complexities, haste, and multiple demands imposed upon the individual by contemporary society.” Since the mission remains the same as is stated in the original exempt application, all of your contributions to Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc. continue to be tax deductible. - Foundress statement.
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Mother Nadine and companions were never excommunicated or placed under interdict, although their Public Association was canonically suppressed and they were dispensed from their religious vows.  (I've been told these were private vows and they were not technically religious.)  As a lay person, Nadine Brown appears to be acting within her rights and is not using the name "Catholic" except to identify the Companions as a group of Catholic laity.  Brown's statement doesn't mean she is not a faithful Catholic either - she did exactly what the Archbishop asked her to do...  One big mistake may be in her statement:  "Our mission continues and our charism is the same."  I doubt the Archbishop would agree with that. 
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Religious people do this kind of thing all of the time anyway.  Medjugorje still goes on despite the local Bishop's prohibitions.  Locally, a holy woman continues to have prayer meetings wherein she receives locutions despite the fact she was asked not to publish them and was forbidden to conduct the meetings at church.  So she does it elsewhere.  Don't forget, dissidents have worked the system just as well without ever getting themselves excommunicated, much less disciplined. 
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Just watch out for those holier than the Church types, and work out your own salvation in fear and trembling..
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Link:

Archdiocesan warning on Intercessors of the Lamb Resources.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Followers



I like to think of my readers as welcome guests.  It's a good thing.
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I have to admit however that I hate the fact I gave in and posted the Followers app on my sidebar.  No one should be called a follower of mine - but it is there and I appreciate all of you who have so kindly patronized me.  I am continually surprised I even got to 100, and now days it seems it runs steady at about 120 followers.  I'm more than fine with that.  If it were possible, I'd give you all a big hug.
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The reason I'm actually bringing this Follower thing up is that yesterday I believe I had 122 followers.  Today it is back to 120.  Now I think it is just fine that one enjoys playing volley ball with the friend, foe, and follower button - I love crazy!  But if you are going to snub me and withdraw your friendship, why not tell me why.  Leave a comment or something.  Don't be shy.  I would really like to know - you don't have to be nice either.
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Some people have told me they simply can't stomach me, that I am a blog to avoid - and much harsher things that I can't really recall any longer.  Oh!  Oh!  One man said I was a horror.  I thought that was kind of scary.
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Newcomers may not be aware of it, but I welcome insults and personal rebukes and accusations and humiliating attacks.  So please, don't be shy, and tell me why you would bother to sign up as a follower one day and delete yourself the next.
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Don't feel bad either, as I tell everyone, eventually you'll drop me from your links as well. 
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Thanks so much and God reward you for telling me off and explaining to the world what a horrible man I am.
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BTW - I know of no way to find out who stopped being a follower either - unless I'm really familiar with your avatar.

Forget the Poor? Minnesota DFL way off-base.

But it got my attention.
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When I got Ray's email about this story I didn't pay much attention - the candidate wasn't from my district.  Call me dull-normal - but that is what I am when it comes to State politics.  Not that these races are not extremely important and consequential - but by this time of the campaign season I am so sick of all the ads and the candidates, I just want it all to be over.  I doubt I'm unlike the majority of people in this.  So I kind of blew off the ad for what it is - an anti-Catholic ad to dissuade people from voting for candidates who are pro-life or against gay marriage.  I got it - but I didn't think it was any worse than an ad I saw on TV using the Catholic name when urging voters to reject any candidate who is pro-gay marriage.  Then there was the Archbishop's DVD of course.
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Am I offended the Democrats got it wrong by implying the Catholic Church is defending marriage on the backs of the poor?  Yes, but secular anti-Catholics along with Catholic dissidents always say that kind of stuff.  For instance - in the AIDS battle, Catholic dissidents along with other pro-gay activists have often insisted the Church preferred dogma to helping AIDS victims.  Such lies fly in the face of the fact that the Church was the first to come to the aid and defense of these sufferers around the globe!  In NYC - the Church was the first to open a hospice under the care of the Missionaries of Charity.  Likewise today, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and other such organizations are on the streets and in the front lines defending the poor.  So how can a practicing Catholic not even be aware of that fact what with all the fund drives and donation seeking mailings we all get?  That said - the attack wasn't necessarily anti-Catholic - but anti-clerical.

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Nevertheless, the ads are nothing but cheap shots at the Church, to be sure - but political campaigns are nothing but cheap shots at one another's contender and opposing political platforms.  So that is pretty much why I never paid any attention to the ad in the first place.  I never watched the Archbishop's DVD either - I agreed with it - but I never watched.  Nor did I read the entire Archdiocesan plan on the closing and merging of parishes.  You might call it detachment... defensive detachment.  However, I definitely feel compelled to vote (pressured is more like it) - but I do not like any of the candidates or their platforms. 
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Actually, I feel as if I am forced to vote for the only candidate who happens to be pro-life and anti-gay marriage - I don't like the guy.  I can't stand people like Michelle Bachman either.  Mark Dayton is a zombie.  And so on.  See how I am.  I'm scared I'm a liberal stuck in an out of shape conservative's body - or is that a conservative in a liberal body?  No - I'm fairly certain I'm some sort of an anarchist with a conscience, always on the wrong side of the fence - but tear my heart open and you will find love.
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Anyway - the DFL ad?  I'm against it.  God bless Ray of Stella Borealis for making dolts like me aware of it. 
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NB:  Although it may seem as if I'm riding the coat-tails of Ray's superb post, as a prominent Roman Catholic Minnesotan, I feel it is only my duty to make a statement on where I stand in this controversy.  Hi Cath!

Mass Chat: Adoration cancelled... merging parishes... cluster headaches...



Mass Chat on a Wednesday?
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I know - it is usually my Sunday feature, but adoration day at my parish was cancelled today so they could have a Holy Hour for Life.  They do it once a year.  Last year they kept all day adoration and simply dedicated an hour at midday for formal prayers and Benediction.  Few people showed up.  So I'm guessing today they figure if they pull out all of the stops and have the piano and songs and some special prayers with ribbons tied to sticks - in church - with or without the Blessed Sacrament exposed - they will attract more people. 
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They say they want to promote adoration, but I don't think they do.  None of the religious who work at the parish ever spend a minute in adoration, neither do they show reverence for the Blessed Sacrament as they pop in and out of the Church to lock it up at 3 PM, or get their albs ready for the next day's Word and Communion service.  I'm not judging - but one just can't miss seeing what goes on in the sanctuary as they saunter through.  I get the feeling adoration was simply a concession to a small group of church ladies a couple of years ago - otherwise it is never promoted, and very few people show up.  Oh - so anyway, this is why Mass Chat is on today.
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Merging parishes.
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One parish not far away is merging with our parish - when?  I'm not exactly sure.  The incoming parish has a larger group of 'adorers' - their adoration day is Thursday.  Hopefully, they will spike the fervor of our parish when they come over.  I haven't spoken to any of them so I don't know how they feel about the merger.
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The pastor at my parish seems excited.  He keeps repeating, "The receiving parish of the merging parish gets all of their assets (and liabilities)".  I'm sure Father doesn't mean to sound so mercenary - he just has a way of saying things.  Remember the time he told the 80 something lady not to bring her 90 year old sister to Mass anymore if she is going to get sick or pass out and require an ambulance.  It distracted him while celebrating Mass.  (Another good reason for celebrating ad orientem.)  Just last month Father annoyed the same old lady as she arrived to get the bulletins ready for Saturday vigil mass, telling her, "You're late - I need you to get the flowers from yesterdays' funeral onto the altar for Mass."  Poor volunteer old lady arrives an hour before Mass and can hardly even walk some days.  Anyway - Father just doesn't realize how insensitive he can sound sometimes.
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9 to 5

Father also mentioned that when the parishes finally do merge, a new 12 year term of pastor begins with the new date.  A man in his early 60's, he said he is not planning on staying around that long.  As it is, Father seems to be frequently absent from the parish for archdiocesan business, retreats, vacation, long weekends, studies, priest support-group get-togethers, and so on.  Some people think he'd rather be elsewhere, although he does live off campus in his own place - these days, such an arrangement is not unusual.  I suspect even more priests will be doing the same thing after parish mergers and cluster parishes are in place.
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More and more the Church can seem like a business, the priesthood - a job.  I think the same attitude prevails with the religious formation sister who has her own apartment, works 9-5 and has weekends off. 
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(NB:  Please understand that this is my personal opinion - personal thoughts, albeit expressed as a result of my very penetrating anthropological studies and scientific observation of a species of church people and their leaders.  I know!  I'm so like Jane Goodall and her work with chimps.)
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Kumbaya.
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The end of Bourgie, Bourgie...


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The new homeless.
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Did anyone watch the 60 Minutes piece Unemployment and the "99ers"  The 99 week extension for unemployment benefits is coming to an end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shine A Light: The Catholic Blogisterium



Out to reform the Church?
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Or do we just write what we know and experience and observe?  Michael Voris** thinks there is more to it than that:
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RealCatholicTV.com, working from studios in suburban Detroit, is hunting for "traitorous" nuns, priests or bishops throughout the American church.  "We're no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt," said Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com and St. Michael's Media. "We're just shining a light on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith."
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John Allen, Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, has dubbed this trend "Taliban Catholicism." - Source
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Remember they burned Savonarola.
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I'm not sure I'm shining a light on people who do not live the faith - but I will discuss public figures - including clergy and religious - who may be misleading or confusing the faith.  I'm not sure why the blogosphere is so scary just because the average Catholic now has a voice.  For years people who have questioned novel teachings and practices in their diocese have been dismissed by chancery functionaries and pastors and bishops as trouble makers or sentimental old-believers: right smack in the middle of their denials regarding their abuse and cover-up in the sex-scandals.  To be sure people are not always nice - but that is definitely not a new development.  Diocesan bureaucracies have been downright vicious towards conservative Catholics in the past.  However, I think constructive criticism should be heeded by Catholic bloggers and journalists, lest anyone gets too big for his bandwidth... if you know what I mean.
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For your consideration.
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Nevertheless, Jesuit Fr. James Martin* makes some reasonable points regarding the issue - I'll add my commentary - just like the important people do!:
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This is a disastrous trend for the Catholic church, for several reasons. (And, by the way, what I say applies to both the left and the right. And the middle, for that matter.)  [No it is not - the disaster happened - this phenomenon is part of the assessment and clean up.]
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First of all, too many inquisitorial bloggers attack anonymously, which makes it next to impossible to hold them to any real accountability.  Likewise, some commenters on such blogs also hide their real identities when carrying out their attacks, which are linked to and repeated by other bloggers.  [I use my real name - just not a real photo.  I do have anonymous commenters but I will hunt them down and beat them up.  KIDDING!  Just kidding! Or am I?] 
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Second, many of these attack-bloggers betray little theological knowledge.  It is one thing to be informed by a theological scholar with years of relevant experience working at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for example, that your article or book or lecture is not in keeping with the tenets of the Catholic faith.  [Seriously, this is a very good point - especially when it comes to passing judgement on canonical issues and juridical problems.  Who's a heretic and who is not.  Nevertheless - it sounds rather elitist to me - like the only valid blogs are those by academics and theologians.]
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Third, the focus of their blogs is almost visibly narrow. Here are the sole topics of interest, in the order in which they cause foaming at the mouth (or on the keyboard): homosexuality, abortion, women's ordination, birth control, liturgical abuses and the exercise of church authority. Is this really the sum total of what makes us Catholic?  [No - it is not the sum total of what makes us Catholic - so let's get rid of the Ten Commandments.  C'mon - these are major issues which have undermined the faith.  These are real life issues.]
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Fourth, anonymous attacks drummed up by these bloggers often make their way, slowly but surely, to the offices of church leaders, where they can do real damage to real people with real jobs in Catholic schools and universities, parishes and chanceries.  [Drummed up?  I don't think so.  There is almost always a paper trail, financial records, arrest warrants, news paper articles, and so on.  Document, document, document - I learned that in management.]
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Fifth, there seems little apparent desire on the part of some of these watchdogs to speak to their targets. Rarely are the targets of ad hominem attacks contacted for any comment or explanation. And, in my experience, when you respond to some of these bloggers, while at times you will receive a thoughtful apology, or a revision on a blog, or you will agree to disagree in charity, most often than not you are met with even more invective and further hateful comments. After a while, you just find yourself give up.  [This may come as a huge surprise, but very often Catholic officials won't even respond to an email or agree to meet with a person of little or no importance.]  - America
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All rightey then.
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*BTW - I still Like Fr. Martin.  Some people think he looks like Stanley Tucci.  I can see it.
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**Did you know some people think Voris looks like Robert Redford.  I can see it.

Are there few who will be saved?


Regarding Fr. Z's post: Can non-Catholics be saved?
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Father had to know he would get tons of comments on this one - and it is a classic.  As of now he has 104 comments - I hope he leaves comments open - just to see how many more he gets.  What if it makes Guinness?  Cool.
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Can non-Catholics be saved?  Father Z answers in the affirmative, and I agree with him.  "Yes, non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church can be saved."  Then Father goes on briefly to defend his opinion - which accords with Church teaching of course.  For the record, I agree with him as well.  Some of Father's commentators do not however - and it is that conversation, or rather debate, which demonstrates the dissension lurking amongst otherwise well intentioned, faithful Catholics - or church people, as I always refer to our types.

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The traditional remnant picked up Fr. Z's statement however, I haven't read everything on what they are saying - but evidently it's getting a bit twisted.  I'm always amazed that a priest as orthodox and conservative as Fr. Z is still not Catholic enough for some of these people - a few of whom most likely think they are more Catholic than the Pope.  Yet, even if they could be more Catholic than the Pope, that is no guarantee of salvation.
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It seems to me not a few of these people are not fully aware they are steeped in pride.  ... They often seem to be full of hidden self-esteem and satisfaction, more pleased with their own spirit and spiritual goods and orthodoxy than those of their neighbor.  They pride themselves as a remnant of the true faith, preserving the dogma of faith intact, frequently rejecting any development of doctrine or liturgy beyond a certain date.   They sometimes resemble the pharisee who thanked God he was not like other men, and that he had the various virtues, and who from the thought of these virtues and observance derived self-satisfaction and presumption.  Though these people may not express these sentiments as the pharisee did, they habitually exhibit them in attitude and behavior, as well as online.  Indeed some have become so proud that they are worse than the pharisee, since they frequently hold in contempt those who disagree with them, and worse, they publicly disparage particular individuals. - Adapted from various counsels of John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel.
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That said - I'm guilty of the same kind of pride and presumption.  Preferring to think of myself as the repentant publican in the corner beating his breast, upon closer examination I discover a hidden self-esteem and satisfaction over my so-called humility and observance of Church teaching, while secretly disparaging the pharisee for his very real perfection.
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The Intercessors of the Lamb: Making a comeback?

You can't be holier than the Church.
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Diane at Te Deum discovered that the Intercessor's website is back up and running, with the announcement  that a statement from their Foundress is forthcoming.   And of course they are asking for donations - as Paul told Tomothy, "there's great gain in religion..."  The website is Intercessors of the Lamb Inc..  Diane wonders if it presages a schism.  I'm not sure a fringe organization can create their own formal schism, can they? 
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At this point - if it turns out they are pushing the restart button - I think they would simply become  another renegade group acting in defiance of the Archbishop.  Their disobedience could well earn them an excommunication - but I doubt they will claim to be the true Catholic Church and thereby end up in formal schism.  I don't know canon law of course - but I suspect all of this is much more complicated than we know.  For one thing, the consecrated religious have been laicized - so they would be organizing or incorporating as lay persons - not even using the name 'Catholic'.  It will be interesting to see what develops.
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Thanks again to Diane for keeping us informed on this matter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"The tottering gird on strength." 1 Samuel 2:4


This morning I woke up repeating this part of Hannah's hymn of thanksgiving: "the tottering gird on strength".  Thanks be to God.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It gets better... and other random thoughts.



Gay marriage, gay adoption, gay parents, gay soldiers, gay priests, gay, gay, gay.
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What to do?  I edited an earlier post on homosexual parents raising gay kids because of inappropriate humor - I said something like:  "How very sad - and yet the cycle continues, these kids too will be disowned by their homosexual parents.  Why?  Because no one wants gay kids."  I know - how offensive.  I thought what an awful thing to say in light of teen suicides and all - so I didn't post it.  (I know, I did here.)  Why would I want to say that anyway? I don't know.  Maybe because I wouldn't wish being gay on my worst enemy.
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False hope.
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Contrary to the YouTube video campaign, it doesn't really get better.  Unless you are taking a butt-load of anti-depressants.  Many of the gay people I know all take some form of medication for depression and anxiety.  In the old days alcohol was the drug of choice in self-medicating - today there are prescription remedies and pornography to take your mind off things.  Though well intentioned, telling kids it gets better is rather deceptive however.  In truth, it doesn't necessarily get better, it is just that if you give life a chance, and suffer yourself to mature, you learn how to cope and handle stress - you learn survival skills - you become a better person.  Just like anyone else who is different has to do.  eventually one finds friends along the way to support you - some will even exploit you, and there is an entire gay culture out there just waiting to take you in... to make you feel normal.  If you believe what that culture tells you - then yeah, I suppose it gets better.   
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New sexual ethics.
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As I always say, contraceptive culture leveled out the playing field of sexuality, and laid the groundwork for general acceptance of homosexuality as a 'natural' variant in human sexuality.  I'm convinced that is why we see so many gay people today - why so many can come out publicly, and so on.  Call me Dr. Janet Smith, but I think contraceptive culture is a big part of it.  Likewise, the women's movement or radical feminism has pretty much always partnered with the homosexual movement.  I'll stop here because I don't want to pretend this is something academic and follow up with footnotes and links to prove my point.
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Gay all around us.
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They're here and they're queer - as the proverb goes.  They are here - they've always been here.  So what to do?  I don't know.  I'm accused of writing about this stuff all of the time - 'all gay all day' - but gay activists write about this stuff all of the time as well, while the news and entertainment industry is almost all about gay stuff - so why am I the bad guy for writing my opinions on the subject?  It's turning into a gay world.  Thankfully the Church is currently teaching more clearly on this issue, than it did on contraception.  It is hard teaching.  For the person able to accept it and who orders their life in accord with Church teaching, it does indeed get better - the state of grace is the only true happiness on earth - but that doesn't mean it gets easier.  I think the it gets better people really mean to say it gets easier.  Not for the Christian however. 
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Gays in the military.
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At first glance, I can't see why gays in the military, or the repeal of don't ask-don't tell is a big deal.  They have women in the military - so the increased-sexual-assault threat/argument goes rather limp when you consider that arrangement.  Yet obviously there are deeper considerations, as pointed out by Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio:
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Broglio also detailed his concern that Christian chaplains, and those of several other religions, might lose the right to proclaim teachings that oppose homosexual behavior. The danger to religious liberty, he said, “is latent in the agenda being advanced by many” under the guise of mere tolerance. In reality, he said, “there is an agenda to force everyone to accept as normal and positive behavior that is contrary to the moral norms of many religions, including the Catholic Church.”
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“While the Armed Forces will never oblige a priest or minister to act in an official capacity contrary to his or her religious beliefs,” he noted, “there is the danger that teaching objective moral precepts or seeking to form youngsters in the faith could be misconstrued as intolerance. Then indeed, freedom of religion would be compromised.”
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The archbishop also articulated the crucial difference between constitutionally guaranteed “free exercise of religion,” and the much more limited idea of a mere “freedom of worship.” If the military opts to silence many faiths' opposition to homosexuality, he said, their religious liberty would suffer.
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"As Catholics,” he warned, “we must be attentive to the protection of our freedom of religion”-- neither subordinating it to the idea of tolerance, nor trading it for the mere “freedom of worship.” If members of the Church do not defend this freedom in the public square, he said, “we may well lose it.” - CNA
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To me, the Archbishop makes sense - I get it, I can agree with it, and I accept it.  But just as with the say no to gay marriage thing, or the exclusion of gay men in seminaries, I wonder if it will be listened to.  These matters have taken on a political trajectory of their own and I don't see how it can be stopped in our moral and political climate.  Moral relativism seems to have been the one key dynamic at work in the attempt to normalize homosexual behavior these days. 
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Consider these statements - a sampling of personal testimonies as it were:
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"I don't know what is wrong with gay marriage, my neighbors are two really nice lesbians, and they are okay."  "My brother or some other relative is gay, and he's really successful and happy - what he does in his bedroom is no one's business."   "My dad is transgender - we love him because he is more himself in women's clothes."  "My kid is gay and has a boyfriend - I just want him to be happy - even though they drink too much."  "Father So'n'So used to be gay but he isn't now."  "Brother Arnold just thinks he is gay - he'll get over it during the dark night." 
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I suppose one could go on and on with anecdotal evidence on how normal everything has become and how happy everyone is with their choices in life.  Individually.  Over the years, tolerance paved the way for acceptance, and acceptance has opened the flood gates of equality.
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But will it get better?