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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Now back to regular programming...



So what's up with that Fr. Pavone?
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Just kidding - I'm not touching that story lest I too have to be afraid to leave the house.  But his call back to Amarillo did remind me of the reality and the demands of obedience in the priestly and religious life.  It's a really big deal.
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I used to joke and say most people could bypass the obedience requirement and do as they wish because there is such a shortage of priests and religious - but it doesn't work that way.  Some will say it does, pointing to all the liberals who seem to do as they please, and they may have a point - although even Fr. Pfleger had some explaining to do.  Gratefully faithful consecrated souls are usually too honest to live in disobedience or preferring their own way...  I better shut up now.
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Holy obedience in my life.
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I was thinking back this morning on how well I've done with obedience in the spiritual life.  When I first tried my vocation in the Discalced Carmelites I recall my discussion with the Prior concerning my progress and impressions of the community.  It didn't go well.  He had kindly suggested I do this or that to adjust to what I termed a more or less lax observance of religious life.  I wasn't buying it and ended the conversation by telling Father Prior he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.  I left the novitiate shortly after.
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When I entered the Trappists, the very first day as the Novice Master was showing me to my cell he said, "We'll have to do something about those glasses!"
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They were blue tinted lenses in very fashionable - at the time - aviator frames.  I protested, "Do you know how expensive these were?"
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Father looked at me smiling and said, "They just aren't appropriate for choir - don't you have other ones?"
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Excitedly I pulled out my Max Kolbe glasses - "I got these great tortoise shell 'nun's glasses' - they look just like Max Kolbe's!"  I put them on, placing the others on my back pack, which suddenly fell over, and my books inside fell out crushing the aviator frames.  After a moment of stunned silence, we both laughed and Father observed with delight, "That's providential."  
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Calling in sick in the novitiate.
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That was my first lesson in obedience, and so I decided it was not the time to complain about my cell.  I wasn't happy with the view for one thing, and it was way down the hall from the bathroom.  Though I thought I lived like an angel in the monastery I found numerous ways to do my own will and to keep my own schedule.  I got up earlier than the rest so I could shower before vigils.  I tried to call in sick once but they sent me to the infirmary - it was so dreary and I had planned to spend the day  alternating between the chapel and the library - making my own personal hermit day of it.  But oh no - they made me stay in bed. 
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We novices weren't permitted to fast beyond what the community did, so I invented 'just take whatever portion remains on the serving spoon'.  I ended up anorexic. Seriously.  One day I asked a fellow novice if the habit made me look fat.  BTW - when he left to return to the world the, rather than expressing any kind of sorrow or concern, first thing I did was ask for his cell - he had a better view.  (We were friends - I knew he was leaving anyway.) 
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Is there a heavier tunic - this one seems rather thread bare?
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As for the novice's habit, I really did have issues with it.  For one thing, I hated the cloth belt - I was convinced the leather belt the professed wore would look much better.  It turned out my shoes were not appropriate for choir either, so I had to get new ones.  I talked the Novice Master into getting me Earth Shoes instead of the normal black dress shoes the monks wore - explaining I had trouble with my feet.  I maybe did a little bit, but I hated black oxfords even more.  I also thought the habits could have been weightier or at least lined - you could see right through the tunics.  Happily, when I went into town for the shoes, I didn't have to wear the habit - the monks just usually dressed in work clothes when they had to do such things.  (I'm not a big fan of habits BTW - for me, that is.  I like blue jeans.)
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Oddly enough, when I left the abbey, I explained that I wanted to live a life of greater poverty than what was offered in the monastery.
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Where's the body wash Father?
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Even during my month with the Carthusians I thought to myself, "They at least could have put a shower in the bathroom."  Each cell had a private toilet and cold water sink - but you had to shower elsewhere.  And yet, before trying my vocation with the Carthusians, I complained I could never find an order penitential enough to suit me.  What foolish delusions I had about religious life - and myself.
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I've never really told anyone about some of this stuff, nor did I vocalize any complaint beyond the glasses and shoes - or maybe I did?  Anyway - I didn't want anyone to think I was disobedient.  LOL!  I never would have persevered, that's for sure. 

Feast of the Sacred Stigmata of our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi


I have always believed that the sacred stigmata received by St. Francis was unique in the history of the Church. I do not think that there has ever another saint, blessed, or mystic, who had been marked with the holy wounds of Christ, who experienced it in the same manner - or to such a degree as St. Francis. What I'm trying to say is that I think Francis was more closely conformed to Christ in his sacred passion than any of the others - the stigmata was perhaps more universally efficacious, as it were. 
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Clearly I don't know what I am talking about.  Neither do I have any way of proving it.  But happy feast day anyway.
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St. Francis, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Monarchist Factoid



An extremely obscure, albeit interesting factoid few people have ever heard of...

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Louis XIV loved to be called "Poodle" by his intimate companions, and had his hair done accordingly.
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(I just received a handsome book containing architectural drawings from the reign of Louis XVI.)

What is it about Mark Shea that people do not like?



Actually that's sort of a rhetorical question - like "Is the pope Catholic?"
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PART I [I added a part II now!]
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When I began blogging I never knew there were so many cliques.  I noted blogger award widgets on certain blogs, not realizing the awards were just someone's idea to promote their own blog - yeah - in a way!  I thought to myself, "Wow!  These guys are like professionals!"  Indeed - some got paid.  My favorite blog at the the time was Cafeteria is Closed - Gerald had a crazy combox and was quite traditional at the time.  I got into the snark and snappy dialogue. 
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Now I've always regarded myself as a traditional Roman Catholic - although not part of any group within that orbit.  Little did I know Trads would think of me as a liberal.  I know! Man, I was so naive to think that striving to live my life in accord with Church teaching, practicing daily prayer, going to Mass as often as possible - if not daily, while spending time in adoration each week, and trying with great difficulty to be faithful to the duties of my state in life, while searching for ways to exercise myself in works of charity ... not to mention being a stalwart Papist - I actually thought that was the way be a faithful Catholic.
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Yet after beginning the blog, while working amidst better Catholics than myself who on a daily basis showed and told me how much evil had infiltrated the Church - one guy going so far as to call a local bishop the 'antichrist', while others clued me in on all the homosexual priests in the diocese, as well as those who fathered children and drank and gambled too much.  Everyone seemed to blame Vatican II for that, and of course, the Novus Ordo Mass.  At the same time I learned about the evil AmChurch as the sedevacantists called it, the Bernadine conspiracies, the rash of possessed people just in my archdiocese, as well as the persecution the real Traditionalists suffered.  I was sucked into the outrage over Fr. So and So getting dismissed from his teaching position because of his views on the Jewish problem; and the fact that Fr. So and So had to go elsewhere to be ordained because he was kicked out of the seminary for being too traditional; or that Fr. So and So was exiled from his parish for being too orthodox; and how the archbishop refused to talk to Catholic parents who went public with their objections and conspiracy theories as to how the diocese is being run... and so on and so forth.
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What's my point?  My point is this - I got sucked into that negative culture - big time.  It is so easy to do, believe me.  Especially when you are told things like, "You just might loose your soul if you don't start going to the TLM!"  Sure there were problems - there are problems - but calling a bishop the Antichrist?  Nevertheless I fell into that "morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes" which Paul warns Timothy about in today's first reading.  "From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions and mutual friction..."  And I blogged about it.  I bought into that crap.  And a lot of Catholic bloggers continue to do the exact same thing.
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Very early on a very pietistic fellow blogger helped me see the foibles of a few other women bloggers whom I really knew nothing about except for their books, television appearances, and of course their blogs.  I formed my opinions from hearsay and gossip, read a few negative posts on the ladies to get some dirt - and then I wrote a couple of snarky posts about them.  All three of the women contacted me at some point asking what they had ever done to me to warrant my negative comments.  They called me out - charity.  I corresponded with them - some more than others, and hey - I found out they too were faithful Catholics!  Whaddya know?!  Likewise I used to hear that this blogger or that famous blogger was an unspecified jerk.  Although I never read them, I had it in my head something was wrong with them.  A couple of years later, I came across their blogs and I started reading these guys - whaddya know?!  They were neither jerks or bad Catholics!
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If you don't know it by now, there is a huge negative culture online that does absolutely nothing to attract people to the Church.  There are band wagons rolling around the net and if they are not collecting souls, they surely are repelling them.  We need to be careful - don't jump on any of them - even if they appear as an angel of light.  And if we ourselves start to think we are a stalwart defender of the faith - if we think we are on a mission from God, be really careful:  As St. Paul writes: "watch out lest you fall."
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Just for the record, I'm Roman Catholic.  I neither recognize nor do I answer to any other label.
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** UPDATE  - ADDENDUM **

PART II
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The real nutcracker, ball-buster, a spade is a spade, whatever you want to call it.
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So what else is behind it, huh?  Behind what?  Behind the covetousness of blogging?  Or why people do not like so and so - or me?  You know what I think it is?  More often than not I think it is pride, ambition, envy, jealousy and greed and the remembrance of wrongs, and resentment, and, and...
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Yep.  I actually wanted to be famous in the beginning of this waste of time.  I wanted my blog to get awards and attention.  I wanted big people to link to me and link to me and praise me.  For instance, I knew a famous priest who had a blog and I asked him if he'd link to me.  It wasn't that I admired him or even liked him that much - I just wanted him to link to me.  He didn't.  So I linked to him - writing some unflattering posts at times.  In the beginning, pride, ambition, envy, jealousy, and resentment inspired a few of those posts - although eventually I got over those motivations and just enjoyed his blog for what it is.  Like Sr. Vauzou's change of heart towards Bernadette, I actually got to like and admire the man.  I hope.  My point in revealing this however, is that it wasn't/isn't just me who had/has issues when it comes to other bloggers.  Some of you reading this have the exact same issues - your comments and posts tell the story.
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That said, pride, ambition, envy, jealousy and resentment and so many other evil inclinations infected my blogging even about others I never knew.  When we feel snubbed, ignored, not taken seriously, some of us get pissed if we are not as detached as we imagined ourselves to be.  We try to mortify - or rather deny the slight - but sometimes it festers.  Even with people we claim to like.  Once or twice I went to the defense of a blogger or two who felt persecuted and calumniated, incurring the wrath of their attackers - who subsequently punished me by no longer linking to me.  Eye roll.  Eventually I myself said something to offend the sensibilities of one or two of these damsels in distress, and suffered the loss of their friendship.  Ever since, I think of these women whenever I reflect upon or write about my own predisposition to ambition, envy, jealousy and resentment.  They taught me much about myself.
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Not all bloggers are like this of course - but some of us can be.  Many of us like to claim we are persecuted and suffer violence for the kingdom of God, or we are in some dark night of the soul, or purification of the spirit to suffer so much - and yet, truth be told, 'what goes around comes around' and  most of us deserve what we get.  I know I do.  And yes dear martyrs, it can be a purification of sorts, after we recognize and acknowledge that we ourselves are usually the problem. 
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To paraphrase St. Paul from today's first reading:  "Those who want to be famous, award winning bloggers are falling into temptation and a trap and into many and foolish harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of riches, fame, power, self-opinion and pride is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains."   It's so true.  If you don't believe me, just remember that in the past year we've seen a few examples of how great the fall can be.  Or just read the comboxes of posts that have well over 100 comments.  You'll see what I'm talking about.
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Yeah - I think that about covers it for today.  I know.  TMI.  (Too much information - and much too long - again.)



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Art:  Death's Bandwagon

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Afraid to leave the house...



It can't be dismissed as just a phobia anymore.
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At first I thought the story was a joke: "Afraid to leave the house because of the gays."  The woman who wrote it lives in Massachusetts after all - no one in Massachusetts could be so elitist or snobby - could they?  It is such a liberal PC state after all - everyone is well educated, free to be whoever they want to be.  After reading the story I realized the author is indeed an intelligent, well educated, and very normal young woman.  A mother and a housewife.  Her  'afraid to leave the house' statement - perhaps a bit of hyperbole intended, actually spoke to much deeper issues.  The gay couple with their son at a playground wasn't the only cultural issue this woman was addressing.
The same people who say I shouldn't impose my morality on them, are imposing immorality on me and my children to the point that I literally have a hard time even leaving my home anymore to do something as simple as visit the park. And this is freedom?
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I am a Catholic stay-at-home mother of seven, and I live in the state of Massachusetts where "gay marriage" has been legal for seven years and it's just one aspect of the larger secular agenda. Because we have so many little children, it takes a phenomenal effort to go anywhere. We have only filled our truck with gasoline twice this entire summer vacation. We go to Mass and we go two miles up the road to a small outdoor swimming pool. That's pretty much it.
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I find myself unable to even leave the house anymore without worrying about what in tarnation we are going to encounter. We are responsible citizens. We live by the rules, we pay our taxes, we take care of our things. I'm supposed to be able to influence what goes on in my community, and as a voter I do exercise that right. But I'm outnumbered. I can't even go to normal places without having to sit silently and tolerate immorality. We all know what would happen if I asked two men or two women to stop displaying, right in front of me and my children, that they live in sodomy.
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So now I go on a rant.

Our taxes are being used to fund contraception, abortion and IVF already. That offends me in ways that are inexpressible. I read last December in the Wall Street Journal how two men near us are raising two assembled daughters after announcing to the world how they killed two other siblings in surrogate mothers in India. Let me guess? I shouldn't offend them though, right? And what's next at the park? A needle exchange drop-box for heroin users? No joke. These things are not isolated, it is all the same issue at a fundamental level. We're being pushed to accept immorality and it's not just on TV and in Washington D.C. It's right in front of us too. - Finish reading: Can't even go to the park.
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I'll let you finish reading Mrs. Trasancos' piece.  Sadly, shamefully and offensively - yet not unexpectedly, members of the LGBT community attacked her for voicing her opinion and frustrations on her personal web-log.  It demonstrates to me that the reality everyone is in denial about is that immorality is indeed a source of suffering for good people, normal people, traditional people - whatever you want to label them.  It is a normal spiritual experience.  In the biblical account of Sodom, God recognized the suffering of Lot, living amidst similar immorality and decadence - and it wasn't limited to homosexuality.  Like it or not, divorce, contraception, abortion, gay marriage, and general immorality concerning war and the inequities of economics, along with all sorts of lawlessness, has become acceptable in our society - and the ‘freedom’ to do such things is more or less imposed upon citizens to accept it or be castigated, reviled, condemned, and even sued.  Justice demands an outcry against it.
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It's all around us.
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The other day I was in the drug store - Walgreen's - and at the register were the tabloids, right at the level of children’s faces, along with other magazines with provocative covers - amongst them there was the Cosmo cover promoting a story about 25 naughty things you can do in bed - or something like that.   Elsewhere there were condoms for sale - right in front of kid's faces.  That evening, I noticed that during the news hour on TV they advertise hormone treatments for women to raise their sex drive - the woman in the ad says, "Now I drive my husband crazy asking for sex all of the time!"  I'll bet he'd be okay however if he buys the erectile dysfunction products advertised during the same time slot.
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Of course, gays are not only at the pool or in the playgrounds with their kids these days, they are all over TV - Dancing With the Stars will feature two - talk about confusing the kids - it's a family show after all, although it's always been a good place to watch soft-porn all these seasons. Ellen is on in the afternoon - just in time for the kids as they arrive home for school, and then there is Glee for the High School Musical set.  But I guess it's all okay because the kids are taught about how normal it is to be gay in school now. 

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Immorality restricts the common good.
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Needless to say, good parents won't allow their kids to watch TV or listen to bad music or hang out.   Stacy Trasancos seems to be a good mom and doing her best to shelter her children, therefore I'm sure her kids won't watch or see anything bad on TV or in the drugstore.  Although Stacy's freedoms are curtailed by all of this vigilance.  Though creating a genuinely safe environment is difficult to accomplish, she most likely will be able to raise her kids morally and religiously. But it's going to be difficult and I’m afraid it may get worse. In the meantime comedy writers will have a field day with people who oppose what is really happening in society, making fun of them as Posh People and bigots and elitists - when all they are really trying to do is raise good kids.  Yep - at first I thought the story was nuts and should be a segment on Saturday Night Live.  Well, I still do a little bit - it reminded me of the Posh People episode from Catherine Tate - but then I realized it isn't funny in real life.  Protecting children isn't elitist - but do they have to live like Amish people to do so?  To be sure, families need our support and prayers.
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Oh - and just think of all the other kids raised in poverty, in broken homes, without any moral foundation or support - what is to be done for them?  Unprotected from the onslaught of immorality - many are raised without any guidance or sense of tradition.    
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I think what we need to do is to pray for the conversion of sinners and those most in need of God's mercy.

Issues at hand...

 Archbishop Vigneron leading a pro-life prayer vigil in pouring rain.

Fr. Frank Pavone.
Nothing much to say.  He's a priest with a ministry subject to his bishop.  He evidently devotes all of his time to his apostolate and is going through the appropriate channels to ensure that he can continue to do so.  It's all canonical at this point.  From what I know of Fr. Pavone - a priest I deeply admire BTW - he's a good and generous and faithful servant of God.  I've never sent money to Priests For Life however.  I have sponsored a friend or two who participated in a walk for life occasionally - but I'm not part of any 'pro-life organization' so to speak.  I'm not part of any organization - I'm Catholic.  That said, I pray pro-life, I vote pro-life, and I'm totally and unreservedly against contraception, abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, IVF, and so on.  Abortion:  I'm against it. 
Bishop Cupich.
I don't get it.  I don't get him.  I find it so strange that he would ban priests and seminarians from demonstrating outside abortion mills like Planned Parenthood.  He doesn't want his priests to be associated with the lowly 'extremeists who carry large placards with photos of aborted babies?  The priests - and not a few bishops who pray outside of these facilities provide the necessary leadership and direction for those who have stood there for all of these years - the priests and bishops and seminarians who pray outside the death chambers demonstrate solidarity with the faithful who support life.  I don't get it. 

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Shrews.
On a much lighter note, Crescat has a great post on women who are shrews and how they drive men away from innocent doves such as herself.  It's so refreshing to hear a woman actually admit 'it' is womens fault.  That said, the personality type she alludes to in her post is also the type of woman, if she had the misfortune to have been a mother, who is pretty much responsible for instilling misogyny into those boys who either grow up to batter women or turn a small percentage of them gay, not to mention the risk of turning their daughters  into some variation of Chaz Bono.  I'm generalizing of course... maybe even exaggerating...  What?
So, in my best Joel Osteen voice, I say to y'all:  "Have a nice day."  (Someone told me my blog is getting rather dull.  Sorry - Comment Moderation continues to be necessary - people with MPD you know.)
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Photo:  Archbishop Vigneron leading a pro-life prayer vigil in pouring rain.  Courtesy of Diane at Te Deum.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Faith in Action.



Fr. Jim Livingston on 'praying away the gay'.
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Fr. Livingston is the priest chaplain to the Courage group, known as Faith in Action, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.  Those who attend the National Courage Conferences would know who Fr. Livingston is.  Father had an excellent piece in the local paper this past Sunday, with a very kind response to a man who earlier had written about his struggle with homosexual inclination or same sex attraction.  The man identified himself as Ron Bates and had made the point that one cannot pray the gay away, while advocating that Minnesotans vote down a proposed marriage amendment to the State's Constitution.
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Ron Bates is a Catholic man who 'married' his same-sex partner.  He was married to a woman at one point and received an annulment, he struggled and prayed for healing from homosexuality to no avail.  Hence his orginal StarTribune piece, Growing up Catholic and gay in Minnesota.
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Fr. Livingston's response.
I am glad for Ron Bates that he was able to overcome the guilt and shame that burdened him for years and find that God loves him. ("I tried for years to pray away the gay. It didn't work," Sept. 1).
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But while I respect Bates' personal experience, I respectfully disagree with his conclusions about same-sex attraction and traditional marriage.
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As a confessor and confidant to many men and women who have homosexual attractions, I can say that people are not limited to the choices Bates offers.
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The plain truth is that people with same-sex attractions experience them differently.
For some, those desires are deeply rooted and long-lasting, while others experience them as symptoms of something else: loneliness, lack of confidence or frustrated childhood bonding with same-sex parents or peers, just to begin the list.
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In other words, some people really do find developmental and environmental roots to their same-sex attractions. And yes, some find release from them through therapy or through the mysterious grace of a spiritual awakening.
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Bates was not able to pray away his same-sex attraction, but some people actually do. And others, while unable to avoid homosexual temptations, still live lives of chastity and virtue by the grace of God and with the help of good friends.
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Marriage to a woman did not work for Bates, but for this you don't redefine marriage. And especially for this you don't tattoo a "GLBT" label onto teenagers who may be simply confused about their life choices. It took Bates 54 years to find his life direction after an imprudent start.
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By the same logic, many young people could be trapped for years with a mistaken gay or lesbian identity, goaded on by our disintegrating, sexually untethered culture.
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Like it or not, heterosexual behavior is rooted in human nature and the universal moral law. Both the body and the Bible witness to this truth in their own ways.
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Traditional marriage is rooted in this ancient if inconvenient truth, and it can't be scolded or legislated away by one misguided generation. History is not and never will be on the side of gay marriage. - StarTribune
Some people do move on.
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Fr. Livingston makes many excellent points that are true and good - his notion about labeling a child or teen as GLBT is so spot on - pointing out how it took Mr. Bates most of his 54 years to find his 'peace' in life.  How many people have been trapped for years believing they were gay because of misinformation or experiences in their formative years which caused them to settle for a label based upon sexual inclination/orientation?  I have friends from school who left the gay scene behind, realizing it wasn't what they wanted in life, got married and raised a family.  Similarly, people like Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute left behind an intensely active gay lifestyle and became a Catholic Priest - he changed.
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Some change - yet the the wound remains.
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More importantly, Fr. Livingston shines light on the fact that some people just might not be able to 'pray the gay away' - that they find themselves burdened with a very real cross, a wound in the flesh, as it were.  Father explains:
But what about the nerve root question that Bates addresses? What do you do when the "gay" just will not go away and your religious standards and traditions just seem to accuse, to point out what you can never do or be? Are the choices limited to either living in shame or just pitching the moral code out the window?
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Many of us can relate in our own way. You were unfaithful and your spouse will not allow you to forget; you have a prison record that shows up every time you try to get a job; you have a weakness for alcohol or spending or food and your life is unmanageable.
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Add your own weakness to the list. Regardless of how it got there, you want to move beyond it, but you can't. Who among us is righteous and qualified to cast the first stone?
St. Paul confided in a letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 12:7-10) that he had a "thorn in his flesh" that wouldn't go away. What God said to him was not "you're going to hell" or "you are disordered."
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He said, "My grace is sufficient for you." In the midst of his weakness, Paul found both steady direction and contentment in his friendship with Christ.
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My point is this: Whoever you are and whatever insurmountable problem you have, don't jettison your moral compass. Find friends who will support you in truth and virtue.
Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Does anyone here condemn you? Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more" (John 8:10-11). Minnesota citizens, you can support traditional marriage and be a friend to persons with same-sex attractions. It's not an "either/or" issue. - StarTribune 
Counter-cultural.
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 Fr. Livingston expresses it well.  Unfortunately the culture militates against everything he says.  Nevertheless there are souls, individuals, who hear the call of the Gospel, who renounce their very selves, take up their cross and follow Christ.  They receive in return, grace upon grace - even after fall upon fall - it is a matter of perseverance and patient endurance.  As Father affirms:  "[God] said, 'My grace is sufficient for you.' In the midst of his weakness, Paul found both steady direction and contentment in his friendship with Christ." 
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And remember, nothing is impossible for God.
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Note:  I do not know Fr. Livingston personally but I have had the grace to make my confession to him in the past, as well as benefiting from his good homilies.  He is a kind and gentle man.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross



 "Oh, who can explain the extent of the denial our Lord wishes of us..." - St. John of the Cross

Art: Workshop of Lorenzo Pardo Lagos, 1640-1660

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You are greatly deceived... [Mark 12: 24]



One of the very best things about blogging has been the acquisition of a deeper self-knowledge - the depths of which I wonder if I will ever plumb?  Astonishingly, discussing the faults and failures of others has helped me see myself as in a mirror - in other words, the judgment I've leveled against others falls back on me, as it were. 
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You have read posts where I mention retarded souls, today I will post something of an explanation of what that means in the spiritual life - and yes - you will say, "That is you Terry!  That is so you!  You do those things."  Retarded Souls:
Some souls, because of their negligence or spiritual sloth, do not pass from the age of beginners to that of proficients. These are retarded souls; in the spiritual life they are like abnormal children, who do not happily pass through the crisis of adolescence and who, though they do not remain children, never reach the full development of maturity. Thus these retarded souls belong neither among beginners nor among proficients. Unfortunately they are numerous.
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How did these souls reach this state of tepidity? As a rule, two principal causes are indicated: the neglect of little things in the service of God and the refusal to make the sacrifices He asks.
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The neglect of little things seems slight in itself, but it may become grave in its results. Our daily merit is ordinarily constituted by little acts of virtue from morning to night. As drops of water gradually wear away a stone, as drops of rain render the dried-up earth fertile, so our good acts by their repetition engender a good habit, an acquired virtue; they preserve it and increase it; and, if they proceed from a supernatural or infused virtue, they obtain the increase of this virtue.
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A second cause of tepidity in retarded souls is the refusal to make the sacrifices which the Lord asks. Some persons feel themselves called to a more serious, a more perfect life, to true prayer, to the practice of humility, without which there are no true virtues; but these souls refuse, if not directly at least indirectly, by seeking diversion. They do not wish to hear the words that recur daily in the invitatory of Matins: "Today, if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Some, who are preoccupied with doing something, for example, a book, a work that would let the world know they exist, say to themselves from time to time: "First of all, it is essential to become an interior soul; if the soul is empty, it can give nothing. To do something exterior is unprofitable unless the soul is united to God." To become an interior soul, only some sacrifices of self-love would be necessary; God would have to be truly sought instead of self. Without these sacrifices, how can anyone enter on a true interior life? If these sacrifices are refused, the soul remains retarded; it may stay so permanently.
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Then it loses zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of its neighbor, the fervor of charity. It falls into tepidity, which, with habitual negligence, is affection for venial sin or the disposition of the will to commit certain venial sins deliberately when the occasion presents itself. There is finally, as it were, the firm resolution to remain in this state. In addition to the lack of the spirit of sacrifice, other causes may produce this tepidity of retarded souls: namely, levity of spirit, the thoughtlessness with which one tells, for example, officious lies (i.e., lies of expediency) whenever the occasion offers; spiritual sloth, which leads finally to the abandonment of the spiritual war against our defects, against our predominant fault, which quite frequently tries to pass for a virtue, and gives rise in us to other more or less inordinate passions. A person thus arrives at carelessness and indifference in regard to perfection and no longer truly tends toward it. The fact that he has perhaps promised to tend toward it by the way of the counsels is forgotten, as is also the loftiness of the supreme precept: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind."
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THE TENDENCY TO DERISION
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Among the causes of tepidity in retarded souls, the tendency to derision should be particularly noted. St. Thomas speaks of the derider when he discusses the vices opposed to justice: insult, detraction, murmuring against the reputation of our neighbor. He points out (4) that to deride or to ridicule someone, is to show that we do not esteem him; and derision, says the saint, may become a mortal sin if it affects persons or things that deserve high esteem. It is a grievous sin to ridicule the things of God, or our parents, or superiors, or good persons who lead a virtuous life. Derision may even become very grievous by reason of its consequences, for it may turn weak souls forever away from the practice of good. Job replied to his friends: "He that is mocked by his friends as I, shall call upon God; and He will hear him. For the simplicity of the just man is laughed to scorn." (5) But it is also said of deriders: "He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them." (6) The terrible irony of heaven will chastise that of earth.
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The derider is himself a retarded soul, holding others back and becoming, often without being aware of it, the instrument of the spirit of evil. His cast of soul, which is the direct opposite of evangelical simplicity, is the one most opposed to supernatural contemplation. The derider, who wishes "to play the rogue," ridicules the just man who tends truly to perfection; he emphasizes the latter's defects and depreciates his good qualities. Why is this? Because he feels that he himself has little virtue, and he is unwilling to admit his inferiority. Then, out of spite, he lessens the real and fundamental value of his neighbor and the necessity of virtue itself. He may greatly harm weak souls which he intimidates, and, while working his own ruin, he may labor at their perdition. - Three Ages of the Interior Life; Part II, Ch 37

As with the writings of St. John of the Cross, these reflections from Garrigou-Lagrange are primarily aimed at religious who by their religious profession are in the 'state of perfection', nevertheless I personally find great help in such teachings, especially as they help me find my way again on the rocky road of my own conversion.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Against indiscreet zeal.



"You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?" - Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 18:21-35
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Do not think that, because the virtues you have in mind do not shine in your neighbor, he will not be precious in God's sight for something of which you are not thinking. - Sayings of Light and Love, St. John of the Cross
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Among spiritual persons there are also those who fall into ...  spiritual anger.  Through a certain indiscreet zeal they become angry over the sins of others, they reprove these others, and sometimes even feel the impulse to do so angrily, which in fact they occasionally do, setting themselves up as lords of virtue.  All such conduct is contrary to spiritual meekness. - Dark Night, Chapter 5:2
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Art:  Illumination - Christ healing the leper.  It is perhaps beneficial for us to keep in mind that Our Lord was not put off by the leper's vile raiment and condition.

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How Francis embraced the leper.

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Talking old soldiers...



I should say, talking old monks...

"The older I get the more I see that a lot of loving has to do with bearing with rather than doing things for others.  It has to do with being a life-giving presence to others, not pulling down but building up or at least not getting in the way of the building.
When I look back at the people who are respected and really looked up to in my community I think especially of two brothers who are these kind of men: both of them are discreet, not reactive, not loud, easy to be with, good humoured, people who can listen to others, who don’t threaten or speak about others; they are people whom the good and the wayward can talk to without any sense of being judged or taken to task.  They are both men of the word and of prayer; full of good sense and down to earth – fine human beings.
They are men who are happy to be monks." - O.C.S.O Abbot General, A View of the Order Today
Happy to be Christian.
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 H/T Idle Speculations for the quote.
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Photo:  Chapter, New Melleray

September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary



The victories of Our Lady, Queen of the Holy Rosary.
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I don't know how many Catholics realize that September 11 coincides with the feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  In the general liturgical calendar the feast is observed on September 12, while according to the Ambrosian calendar, the feast is September 11.  The feast falls within the octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and commemorates a victory of Our Lady Help of Christians and Queen of the  Holy Rosary over the Turks:  After the siege of Vienna and the glorious victory of Sobieskl over the Turks (12 Sept., 1683), the feast was extended to the universal Church by Innocent XI, and assigned to the Sunday after the Nativity of Mary.
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A feast of the Holy Rosary
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Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna. Pope Innocent XI united Christendom against the ominous attack of Mohammedanism. A great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians. On September 8th, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy Rosary.
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On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by Muslim extremists.  At Fatima in 1917 Our Lady offered the world a peace plan, which most importantly included her request that Christians pray the rosary every day.
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A few promises of Our Lady to those who recite her Rosary.
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I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
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It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
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You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.  - Source

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May the souls of all the faithful departed of 9/11, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mass Chat: The search for intelligent life in the Catholic blogosphere.



I think I found more evidence for it...
The first thing to keep in mind is that following Christ is not a career move. The mark of authentic conversion is that it costs you something, not that it gains you something. So if you’re trying to become, say, a “pro-life” or an anti-war or a convert celebrity, that is something, but it is not Christianity. That is to bring the world into the temple; that is to be a money-changer in the temple: to make a name for yourself, to cultivate a reputation, to strive for notoriety based not on your love, but on your “views.” Both the right and the left are simply variations on “the world” in which the goal is power, prestige, efficiency, triumph, and the goal is to shame or bully other people into changing without changing one iota yourself. The Catholic media that traffic in this sort of incessant "opinion"-driven "discussion" seem to me to have very little, if anything, to do with Christ. Keep your own side of the street clean and pray--pray for us all--is more my idea.
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To write some snarky “opinion” doesn’t cost anything. That’s cheap grace. Nothing infuriated or repulsed or grieved Christ more. The people who wear their five-inch aborted-fetus buttons, to take one of the more unfortunate examples of the religious right, remind me of the Pharisees who prayed loudly on the streetcorners and wore their phylacteries long. "We care," they proclaim; they insist. 'We care more than you do. We’re more outraged than you are. You’re wrong and we’re right."
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Here’s how, in my experience, you know you're becoming a follower of Christ. You begin to want to be seen less, not more. You begin to want to be quieter, not louder. Knowing you’re on the right track doesn’t come from scoring points among your “friends.” Knowing you’re on the right track doesn’t come from winning useless arguments. You find yourself making tiny sacrifices. You find yourself experiencing tiny moments of joy. You find yourself mysteriously drawn to the Gospels, to Confession, to Mass.
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“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda or even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery; it means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”
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Cardinal Emmanuel CĂ©lestin Suhard, Archbishop of Paris 1940-1949
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-Excerpt from Heather King, Avoiding Both the Catholic Left and the Catholic Right
God is good.
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Art: Source

September 11