Saturday, January 21, 2012

Calls by the Spanish faithful to remove the photograph "Inferno" by Sergio Parra



Inferno, Sergi Parra


I'm rather liberal when it comes to art, for instance, I wasn't immediately offended by the African style  Dung Madonna, since it seemed to me to be a sincere attempt at portraying the Madonna in primitive simplicity, reminiscent of tribal art, not to mention, dung was/is a material of many uses.  Of course people can and will disagree with me, and that is their prerogative to do so.  Unfortunately, after the initial hoopla, I eventually found out the artist embellished the work with representations of female orifices... and the political, anti-religious sentiments became obvious to me.  I soon understood the offense. 

I must admit I do from time to time, find secular interpretations of religious people and themes by contemporary artists to be offensive, chiefly because it seems to be the intent of the artist - the works are usually meant to be offensive, or at least provocative.  Likewise, I find it disturbing that many secular artists usually know very little about the themes they choose to exploit, themselves apparently lacking any in depth understanding of anything academic outside of their subjective interest.  Although, who can fault an art major for not comprehending natural law or Catholic moral teaching?  Nevertheless, I can appreciate in their work such things as composition, technique and style without personally liking a particular piece.  Yet if it be a politicized work, it strikes me less as a work of art and more a piece of propaganda. 

A few years ago there was a magnificent corpus or crucified body representing Christ made entirely of chocolate.  It was beautifully done, yet the purpose was highly suspect; the nudity, the fact it was made of chocolate, and on display in a commercial setting during Holy Week and Easter - it wasn't appropriate.

That said, Parra's work is offensive in the extreme.  At first when I read about it I imagined it to be a nude model with the actual cross covering the genital area - as in Christ holding the cross, instead I discovered a small painting - holy card - of the Crucifixion by Diego Velazquez covers the genitals - the actual photo is shown above, but I cropped out the genital area.  Clearly the work is anti-Catholic, exhibited in Catholic Spain.  To take the work of Velazquez and make a G-string/posing strap out of it is offensive enough, but to mock the crucifixion of Christ is blasphemy and an abomination.  The boycott and petition to remove the work is right and just.

I think it is important to note that some artists, though they resort to erotica and sexualization of sacred subjects, themselves may be on a path seeking what is true, authentic, and beautiful, and their work may display that process.  Their exploration and search for truth, sorting the good from the bad, and so on, in all of its rawness, just might be their response to an interior call.  Although we the viewer may find it offensive, I'm not sure we need to condemn the artist.   It's kind of a love the sinner, hate the sin deal going on here.
Posted by Picasa

Thoughts for the feast of St. Agnes.


  "For St. Agnes martyrdom meant agreeing to spend her young life, generously and freely, completely and without reserve, so that the Gospel could be announced as the truth and beauty which illuminates existence. ... In martyrdom Agnes also confirmed the other decisive element of her life: her virginity for Christ and the Church. Her path to the compete gift of self in martyrdom was, in fact, prepared by her informed, free and mature choice of virginity, testimony of her desire to belong entirely to Christ. ... While still young Agnes had learned that being a disciple of the Lord means loving Him, even at the cost of one's life". - Pope Benedict XVI on Priestly Life

A beautiful witness...

From a recovering lesbian.

"And finally, I could NOT disagree with you more that we are called to live a celibate life if we are gays or lesbians who wish to be faithful to Jesus. Celibacy is a discipline, but CHASTITY is the right ordering of our sexuality and THAT is what we are called to. Perhaps you have not read books like Beyond Gay or any of the testimonies of those who have been helped by Courage, the ministry for Catholics who struggle with same-sex attraction. If you had, you’d know that God’s call is more than just being celibate or following the rules about sex. It is about changing your heart and soul and reordering those desires that have become so distorted. You sorely underestimate God if you imagine that the best we can do with His grace is celibacy."A 37-year-old Catholic woman who has been happily married for nearly 15 years. We have five children that I homeschool. I also struggle daily with same-sex attraction.

Beautifully stated.

UPDATE:  Sorry, I closed comments because they were STUPID!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bloggers in Michigan try harder...




But they are no match for Minnesota bloggers.

Exposing the real St. Sebastian - redux.



Because it bears repeating.  (I know!  I said 'bears'!)*

Look - everyone needs their patron saints, but it might not be so wise to try and remold them into our own image and make up things about them.  Take St. Sebastian, whose feast we celebrate today...

Who was he anyway?

Is it true what some people say?

The dates of St. Sebastian's martyrdom are not known. In fact very little is actually known about him save that he was a Roman soldier martyred under Diocletian and he was buried on the Appian Way where the catacombs (his tomb) exist today. (St. Philip Neri used to pass his nights there in prayer.) Sebastian's feast day is January 20. St. Ambrose claims Sebastian was born in Milan, others claim Gaul as his birthplace.

The classic story is that St. Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army and arrested for being a Christian. He was sentenced to death to be shot with arrows. Bound to a column or a tree, the archers left him for dead. St. Irene, the widow of another martyr discovered he was still alive when she went to collect his body for burial. She nursed him back to health and it is said that Sebastian continued to witness and evangelize his fellow troops. (In the ancient hagiographies there is a lengthy exhortation to martyrdom supposedly spoken by Sebastian. It's a beautiful treatise and may be found in an Orthodox book called, "The Arena" by Archbishop Brianchinov.) Eventually the Emperor learned of Sebastian's recovery and had him arrested once again and ordered him to be battered to death with cudgels, which finally killed him.

Sebastian has been venerated since the earliest centuries but it was in the Renaissance that his cult became widespread in the West, due mainly to the many painters who chose to depict his dramatic martyrdom. He is most always depicted as a young, robust, athletic, and handsome man - nearly naked and bound to a tree, shot through with arrows. For centuries he has been the patron of athletes and soldiers and because of his faith and courage he became popular as a role model for boys and men.

I do not know how long ago the homosexual community decided St. Sebastian was their special patron, but somewhere along the line they did. There is absolutely no historical foundation for this claim. Anyone may claim a saint to be their personal patron but it is not morally permissible to claim a saint as a patron for a sinful way of life. How did this distortion arise?

To be sure it is the celebration of the male physique when painters depict him half naked - it is also probably the reality of the circumstances surrounding the execution. However, homosexuality is much about physical attraction and narcissism, hence the attraction to a naked saint. His being tied to a tree may appeal to the more base behaviors some homosexuals engage in, known as bondage and discipline. I would wager the entire myth is based upon wishful (if not lustful) thinking.

There exist fictional accounts of his life which claim he was a homosexual officer attached to the Roman Imperial Court. The only tale that could possibly be accepted, for those prone to flights of fancy, is the one which claims he was martyred because he renounced and condemned homosexuality (for the modern mind: homosexual acts) in and through his conversion to Christianity, which resulted in his death. Naturally active homosexuals reject that story, which in turn happens to be another novel fabrication anyway.  I think it was just a crime to be Christian that got him martyred, but I digress.

Those who wish to promote homosexuality sometimes attempt to out anybody and everybody as being gay, I regard it as simple conjecture by guilty bystanders at best, although sometimes it is a deliberate, grandiose lie. (Everyone knows Liberace was straight.  What?) 

However, as a martyr, St. Sebastian's intercession is powerful with God, and since by his baptism he became a "whole" and uncorrupted man, he would indeed be a good patron for anyone struggling with un-chastity and or same-sex attraction - especially men - or lesbian weight lifters.  What? 

Likewise, I'm not sure there is anything to worry about for those few who erroneously believe Sebastian was a 'gay' saint. I'm convinced the Saint's charity would compel him to pray for their conversion, regardless of their misunderstanding, and if they keep praying, even though they see things in a different way than the Church, perhaps, since the door of their heart is already open, the Holy Spirit will help them accept the truth and see things another way.

*'bears' - 'bares'.  get it?  Sebastian is sometimes shown bare-naked.

Art:  I have often painted St. Sebastian, the martyr shot with arrows, left to die, only to be revived and submit himself for martyrdom again. In a sense, for me, he became an allegory for what happens to a person who has been sexually abused in childhood. The image shown here by Rotella, is particularly poignant since the saint is visible only as an outline, his body simply a shell, his identity obscured.

Blogs and bloggers - vicious attack poodles.


It's getting out of hand.  Nasty retorts, attacking innocent commenters, spewing venom on public figures, maligning one another.  For what, I ask?  For what?  Oh the humanity!  Vindictive vixens!

What? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forty years ago this year.




"Do you not know that God's kindness to you is an invitation to you to repent?" - Rom. 2:4

Forty years ago this year I experienced a profound, life changing conversion...

But it was only the beginning.  Since then...  Well, as I look back, all I see is infidelity and failings more numerous than I would like to relate.  I've dedicated this year to the work of conversion, since time is short, the day is far spent... although I don't like to admit it. 

Anyway, I found the following, which might help me to be more intent upon trying to remove the log in my own eye, as opposed to my misguided attempts to remove the speck from my brother's eye...

"If you want to be a true, zealous son of the Church, you can do so in fulfillment of the commandments of the Gospel in regard to your neighbor. 
Do not dare to convict him.
Do not dare to teach him.
Do not dare to condemn or reproach him.
To correct your neighbor in this way is not an act of faith, but of foolish zeal, self-opinion and pride.  Poeman the Great was asked, 'What is faith?'  The great man replied that faith consists in remaining in humility and showing mercy;  that is to say, in humbling oneself before one's neighbors and forgiving them all discourtesies and offences, all their sins.

As foolish zealots make out that faith is the prime cause of their zeal, they must express themselves in humility regarding our neighbors and in mercy towards them.  Let us leave the work of judging and convicting people to those persons whose shoulders is laid the duty of judging and ruling their brethren.

'He who is moved by false zeal', said St. Isaac the Syrian, 'is suffering from a severe disorder.  O man, you who think to use your zeal against the infirmities of others, you have renounced the health of your own soul.  You had better bestow your care on the healing of yourself, and if you want to heal the sick, know that the sick need nursing, rather than reprimand... 'You who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak' (Rom. 15:1) ... 'Correct a sinner in a spirit of meekness and gentleness.' (Gal. 6:1)" - The Arena

Art:  Christ liberating the prisoners of Dachau.  This is behind the altar in the Resurrection chapel built by the Russian Orthodox Church on the grounds of Dachau.  I posted it because I like it and it expresses a certain hope and confidence in the Divine Mercy, and the power of the Resurrection.

Something to consider...


"St. Poeman the Great relates that a certain monk, carried away by zeal, was subjected to the following temptation.  He saw another monk lying with a woman.  For a long time he wrestled with the thought that urged him to stop them from sinning.  At last he gave them a kick with his foot shouting: 'Stop it!'  Suddenly he realized that it was only two sheaves of palm branches." - Counsels For the Spiritual Life of Monks

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Digging up the past.


She's gonna blow!

Marianne Gingrich is out to destroy Newt - she's going to spill the beans - and some people are pissed.

I don't care.   

Did you know that Lawrence Welk was a wife beater? - in other words - he beat up his wife.  What?  I wanted to make it clear that readers understood that he beat up his wife and not just random wives in the audience, so I said the same thing twice.  What?* 

How do I know?  Well, my mother always told us that as she and my dad danced together in our living room, to the music of the Champagne Orchestra on the Lawrence Welk Show, while it aired each Saturday night. 

Here's a curious factoid:  At the time, few people knew Mamie Eisenhower was an alcoholic - or so I was told later, by an actor who played her in an underground film titled, "Tricia's Wedding".  Mrs. Eisenhower was never glamorous - so I don't think anyone really cared.*

This post has nothing to do with anything.

*Correction: 

I cannot find any verification regarding Mr. Welk's treatment of his wife.  As noted, it is just something my mother frequently repeated - she probably read it in a magazine.  From all accounts, Welk was a virtuous man devoted to his family and his faith. 

Likewise, the rumors about Mrs. Eisenhower are false.  Mamie suffered from Meniere's Disease, a disorder of the inner ear. It caused her to suffer bouts of severe dizziness that caused her to stumble at times. This resulted in false rumors that she was an alcoholic based on her public stumbling.

As it turns out, this post is indeed about something and is quite significant, especially as it concerns tale bearing and repeating unsubstantiated rumors.  Mea culpa.

He got that right.



Fr Z, I mean:
 “The typical Catholic”
We are, in fact, as “typical Catholics”, a Church of sinners.

The possibility of salvation consists in knowing just that about ourselves.

I’d rather be associated with home-wreckers, abortionists and alcoholics who know they are sinners, than with smug elitist “saints” whose presumption may very well land them in Hell.

In Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce suggests that the Catholic Church can be described as “Here comes everybody.”

Christ is the only Just One.

Never forget, if you are despondent about your present state or worried that perhaps you have done something dreadful and are afraid that you cannot get out of the jam you are in, that there is no sin that we little mortals can commit that the omnipotent power of God cannot take away provided we are truly sorry and we intend to amend our lives.

Though your sins be as red as scarlet, they will become white, by washed away in the Blood of the Lamb.

This is not a covering over of the sins, that might still stain us. This is not an ignoring of our sins, as if by slick bookkeeping.

When you confess your sins to a priest confessor and he gives you absolution those sins are gone.

They are taken away. They are no more.

They are removed from you and will never be held against you.

They have been cleansed and eradicated by Christ Himself acting in the person of the priest.

You will have the memory of the sin, but not it’s guilt. You will have to do penance for the harm, but you will not have to suffer separation from God for eternity.

Sinners, “everybody”, go to confession. - Rev. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf 

Some personal thoughts on a cold day...



For the most part, reading - good reading - is far more important than writing.  Likewise, thinking - meditation - is far more important than speaking - which is one reason why they say silence is golden.

I think there are very few real contemplatives outside of monasteries and hermitages.  That said, I do think there may be  many, many, spiritual/religious/devout/prayerful people who have experienced contemplative graces.  Some of these good people have from time to time believed themselves to be contemplatives already, because of a particular signal grace, or the delight they find in spiritual things.  Presumption is sly as a fox. 

What does that mean?  Many of us can mistake our so-called spiritual insights to be important.

One cannot turn straw into gold.

That's all.

Chaste friendship...



You may distinguish between worldly friendship and that which is good and holy ...,  worldly friendship is profuse in honeyed words, passionate endearments, commendations of beauty and sensual charms, while true friendship speaks a simple honest language, lauding nothing save the Grace of God, its one and only foundation.

False friendship upsets the mind, makes its victim to totter in the ways of purity and devotion, inducing affected, mincing looks, sensual caresses, inordinate sighings, petty complaints of not being loved, slight but questionable familiarities, gallantries, embraces, and the like, which are sure precursors of evil; whereas true friendship is modest and straightforward in every glance, loving and pure in caresses, has no sighs save for Heaven, no complaints save that God is not loved sufficiently.

Wordly friendship confuses the judgment, so that men think themselves right while doing evil, and assume their excuses and pretexts to be valid reasoning. They fear the light and love darkness; but true friendship is clear-sighted, and hides nothing—rather seeks to be seen of good men. Lastly, false friendship turns to evil desires, upbraidings, slander, deceit, sorrow, confusion and jealousies, too often ending in downright sin; but pure friendship is always the same—modest, courteous and loving—knowing no change save an increasingly pure and perfect union, a type of the blessed friendships of Heaven.

When people indulge in looks, words or actions which they would not like to be seen by their parents, husbands/wives or confessors, it is a sure sign that they are damaging their conscience and their honour. Our Lady was troubled when the Angel appeared to her in human form, because she was alone, and he spoke to her with flattering although heavenly words. O Saviour of the world, if purity itself fears an Angel in human shape, how much more need that our impurity should fear men, although they take the likeness of an Angel, if they speak words of earthliness and sensuality. - Introduction to the Devout Life

I suspect this will be barely understandable to some who seem to feel the need to describe even the love of Christ as sensual and erotic...

Image:  Newman and St. John

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michael Voris in Minneapolis.... What?




Mickey!  Mickey!  Mickey!

Caution:  The HofbrÀuhaus style shouting and table pounding towards the end of the video may be slightly offensive to more delicate dispositions and/or sensitive temperaments.  What?

H/T to Ray-dar.

H/T to Real Catholic TV

Thinking about sexual attraction and infatuation as 'romantic love' in friendship...



"Whatever is founded on mere sensuality, vanity, or frivolity, is unworthy to be called friendship. I mean such attractions as are purely external; a sweet voice, personal beauty, and the cleverness or outward show which have great weight with some. You will often hear women and young people gay men unhesitatingly decide that such an one is very delightful, very admirable, because he is good-looking, well-dressed, sings, or dances, or talks well. Even charlatans esteem the wittiest clown amongst them as their best man. But all these things are purely sensual, and the connections built on such foundation must be vain and frivolous, more fitly to be called trifling than friendship. They spring up chiefly among young people, gay men who are easily fascinated by personal attractions, dress, and gossip—friendships in which the tailor and hairdresser have the chief part. How can such friendships be other than shortlived, melting away like snow wreaths in the sun!" - St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

Born this way?



Gay and Catholic.

Many Catholics are convinced people with homosexual attraction are indeed born gay.  The Church doesn't really teach that - although people in the Church do. 

I'm coming across a lot of born this way talk from gay Catholics.  There is a point - a period of time in one's life when that notion seems to be absolutely true.  Guided by our emotions and passions, we think we are what we feel.  we think our attractions reveal what we are, that our sensate experiences - as in sensuality - define us.  I believe it much more complex than that.  I came across a fine article written by a man who refuses to be defined by his same sex attraction.  I know many people will disagree with what the author has to say, but I'm convinced his story is very important for Catholics to take into consideration.  Please keep an open mind. 
I am Not Gay . . . I am David      
Are people born "gay" or do they choose to be gay?

The answer to both questions is no—although in many passionate debates generated by this topic, we are quick to dismiss objectivity. In reality, these questions provide a smoke screen to a much bigger problem that is pervasive in our society, in religious circles, politics, and clinical settings. The problem I speak of is the idea that homosexuality is an identity.

I used to believe I was a "gay" person. I had been attracted to the same gender for as long as I could remember. Because this attraction was present from early on in my life, without my conscious choice, I concluded that I must have been born this way. After all, that’s a logical conclusion . . . right?

The attraction I had to the same gender when I was a little boy was normal and similar to what many boys experience. Boys look for heroes, role models who they respect and want to emulate. For me, the attraction to men started out with normal admiration but then began to take some dysfunctional turns. As a child, I was often made fun of and told by my peers that I wasn’t like them. This made me question what the difference between us was. At this point, shades of covetousness characterized my admiration. I secretly wondered, "If I looked like so-and-so, would I be accepted?"

In puberty, this attraction or admiration became eroticized. The derogative homosexual label was given to me by my peers, and I yielded to their accusations because I truly did have a sexualized same-sex attraction. Eventually, I embraced this label and called myself "gay."

Although I didn’t freely choose same-sex attractions, I did willfully choose to act upon them. My decision to sin brought me intense pain, loneliness, and—worst of all—separation from God. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explained this reality in a statement that observed, "As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood."[1]

Eventually, in my brokenness, I responded to the Lord’s loving call to forgiveness and healing. He has brought me through the valley of shame and out of the darkness of my past and shined His light of truth upon the many lies I believed about myself—especially the one that claimed that I was a "gay" person. - Continue reading...
Please continue reading the entire article before commenting.  

Please pray for Gerald and Barbara Heil and their family...



Gerald and Barbara Heil were the only Americans still unaccounted for from the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which was carrying 4,200 people, including 120 Americans, when it hit rocks on Friday night near the island of Giglio off the Italian coast and ended resting on its side. - Source

The retired couple are devout Catholics from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and parishoners of the church of St. Pius X.  They are still missing.

Under thy protection we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God;
In our needs, despise not our petitions,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Photo credit.
More information here.

Some Teachings of St. Antony of Egypt


Today is the feast day of St. Antony. 
Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey, which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, 'How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?' They said, 'How do you know about that, Father?' And he told them, 'The demons showed me what happened.' So they said, 'That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.' Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

Abba Anthony said, 'I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, "Humility."'

The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, 'You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers.'

Monday, January 16, 2012

If Tebow can do this...


SO CAN I...

Why can't Catholics I kneel for Communion?

Or genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament?  (I really do though.)

Or make a sign of reverence while passing a church?  (Sign of the Cross.)  (I do that too.)

Or say grace before meals in public places?  (I do that too.)

But really, back to my original point - kneeling for Communion - let's do it I should do it.

And it should go without saying: Kneel through the Eucharistic Prayer and the Consecration. - Go without saying for me - oh, and I do.


Even dogs do it.


I updated the post so no one feels like I'm telling anyone what to do.  Updates in red.  What?

The Father Spaulding Mysteries...



... And Medjugorje.

Diane at Te Deum Laudemus has an update on the Fr. Spaulding case, as well as an interesting discussion making the connection between Medjugorje and the Scottsdale Visionaries.  I clearly recall when the Scottsdale thing began, since I was part of a prayer group at a downtown parish which included devout pilgrims who had been to Medjugorje and who believed they were able to discern the authenticity of just about every new apparition and locution which made its way down the pike.  Back in the late 1980's through the '90's, things developed so quickly, it became a sort pandemic of mystical phenomena.

Anyway - this is what Diane has to say about it all...
Fr. Spaulding, Medjugorje, and the "Scottsdale Visionaries"

What I want to explore here, is a bit of Fr. Spaulding's history with regard to an entirely different matter: The "Scottsdale Visionaries", and Medjugorje. I had read about the case being sent to the Vatican by the Diocese of Phoenix, and thought I had recognized the face; but, I set it aside until I got an email from Andrew Rabel, Australian correspondent for Inside the Vatican magazine who visited Assumption Grotto in September of 2009. With his permission, I share a part of that email:


In the early 1990's, he took a group of young people from his parish, St Maria Goretti in Scottsdale, to Medjugorje on pilgrimage. Shortly after he returned, he claimed that he and some of the young people, were claiming revelations. (Just as an interesting aside. I believe this is the most striking Medjugorje copycat event that has happened in the world, ie another group of young people in a parish claiming visions!)[...]

One of the young people in the parish, later moved to another part of the United States, and claimed to have continuing apparitions. These events to Mrs Gianna Talone Sullivan, were condemned by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in the strongest terms.


We'll get to what happened in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in a moment.

There are many "offshoots" from Medjugorje - people claiming to have visions, private revelations, and other phenomena following a visit to that place or involvement with the visionaries. I have to agree with Andrew, that the case in Scottsdale was remarkably similar in that it involved a priest and a group of young visionaries. This all began after several pilgrimages to Medjugorje:  - Finish reading here

Link: 

Another interesting source of what went on in the 80's and 90's, as well as background on the Scottsdale claims, may be found here:  The U.S. Marian Apparition Burn-out. 

John Kirby at the Walker



I had been looking forward to a retrospective of John Kirby's work to open at the Walker Art Center/Gallery in Minneapolis.  I epected to read about the opening in Sunday's paper, since it was scheduled to open January 13.  I called the Walker yesterday and they had no idea what I was talking about - in factamundo - they had never even heard of John Kirby.  I was then sure I had entered the Twilight Zone...

Then it dawned on me.  There must be a Walker Art Gallery in the UK.  It is in Liverpool.

My loss.

Painting:  Lost Boys, John Kirby

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Only manly men need apply...


Another opinion.

In an earlier post on the subject I realized I may have made a mistake, to the extent I did not take all things into consideration as it concerns the vice of effeminacy in a cleric or religious, or at least the perception of, by the faithful.   

That said, I remembered a very good, serious post on the subject I had come across about a year earlier.  It relates to seminary training and the vice of effeminacy.  It offers some very good information and practical advice.
This is an article that I wrote during my years of seminary formation but I was advised to wait to have it published until after my priestly ordination. It deals with a touchy subject, that will offend many involved in the work of seminary formation, but with the current atmosphere of scandals and talk of a more thorough screening process for seminarians, I believe it is a topic that must be dealt with. Sioux Falls is a rural farming diocese that is having great success in vocations with both numbers and quality and one of the consistent complaints or difficulties our new seminarians have had in adjusting to seminary life is the issue of effeminacy. The fact of the matter is they are not used to and are uncomfortable living in an environment that is often effeminate. Recently one of our seminarians from a farm family was embarrassed to say that he would not want his brother to visit his dorm because of the way the men acted on his floor. While not, perhaps, stating it in the most precise manner it was understood by all when he said that many seminarians on his floor, “acted like a bunch of women.”

Saint Thomas includes effeminacy under the vices opposed to perseverance. It is from the Latin Mollities, which literally means “softness.” Mollities is the verb used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 which deals with the sexual sin of sodomy. It involves being inordinately passive or receptive. It may be true that some cultural prejudices are being revealed here with this comparison because a vice is a vice, whether it is found in a man or a woman, but it is also true that some vices are more perverse or disordered when found specifically in men or women.

What Saint Thomas means by persevering is when “a man does not forsake a good on account of long endurance or difficulties and toils.” An “effeminate man is one who withdraws from good on account of sorrows caused by lack of pleasures, yielding as it were to a weak motion.” Thomas states that this effeminacy is caused in two ways. First, by custom, where a man is accustomed to enjoy pleasures and it is, therefore, more difficult for him to endure the lack of them. Second, by natural disposition, less persevering through frailty of temperament, and this is where Thomas compares men with women and also mentions the homosexual act of sodomy and the receiver in this act as being effeminate or like a woman. The vice of delicacy for Thomas considers those who cannot endure toils or anything that diminishes pleasure, and thus delicacy is a kind of effeminacy. Thomas quotes from Deuteronomy 28:56, “The tender and delicate woman, that could not go upon the ground, nor set down her foot for softness.” In priestly or seminary life we are not called to such softness, and these issues must be addressed in formation.

Saint Thomas also speaks on modesty concerning the outward movements of the body. Here, he quotes Saint Ambrose in stating that, “Beauty of conduct consists in becoming behavior towards others, according to their sex and person.” Thomas states that, “Outward movements are a sign of the inward disposition” and quotes Ecclesiastics 19:29-30, “You can tell a person by his appearance . . . the way a person dresses, the way he laughs, the way he walks, tell you what he is.” Saint Ambrose adds that, “The habit of mind is seen in the gesture of the body,” and that “the body’s movement is an index of the soul.” Ambrose goes on to say, “Let nature guide the movement: if nature fail in any respect, surely effort will supply the defect.” This effort is lacking in almost all seminary formation. Such things should be noticed and discussed by seminary faculty in both external and internal formation, as they can often be signs of deeper issues.

Saint Thomas, moreover, asserts the truth that it is often from our outward movements that other men form their judgment about us. Thomas encourages us to study our outward movements so that if they are inordinate in any way, they may be corrected. Such things need to be addressed in formation because they have a definite effect on our ability to be and bring Christ to others. Does the seminary deal with a seminarian that sways when he walks, who has limp wrists, who acts like a drama queen or who lisps? It must. This not about a witch hunt but being honest enough to admit that such external behavior affects our ability to share Christ. I knew a seminarian that spoke in a very effeminate manner, and to his credit he recognized this impediment to his future preaching the Gospel, and on his own sought help from a speech instructor. The seminary did not see this glaring problem and did not move this man to get assistance. That is the problem.

When we are at the altar or preaching the Gospel, we are Jesus Christ and must do our best to image him to our people. Anything we do that takes people’s attention away from this reality must be addressed. Over dramatic movements, purposeful lisps, swaying, in short, effeminate behavior removes attention from Christ and His word and puts it on the priest. This is not just distracting to other men but I know my sisters will roll their eyes when the Liberace-like priest celebrates himself while celebrating the Mass. - Continue reading here.

This grabbed my attention the other day while I was looking for something else...


"The danger of a dictatorship of opinion is growing, and anyone who doesn't share the prevailing opinion is excluded, so that even good people no longer dare to stand by (such) nonconformists.  Any future anti-Christian dictatorship would probably be much more subtle than anything we have known until now.  It will appear to be friendly to religion, but on the condition that its own models of behavior and thinking not be called into question." - Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, On the State of the Church (1996)