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, July 14, 2012

Does the devotion of Hispanics embarrass the Bishops and other Catholics?



Or are we just dismissive church-people?

A New Jersey woman claims to have discovered a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a natural scar on a tree trunk on a West New York street.  Crowds have been gathering to view and venerate the image they consider miraculous.  Indeed, there is a resemblance to the Virgin of Guadalupe, although it is the reaction and spontaneous devotion of the people which seems to me to be the evidence of the presence of something spiritual and supernatural.  Like sheep without a shepherd, the people flock to the image they hope is a sign of Our Mother's love and protection.

Miraculous images and occurrences might be considered commonplace in the rich history of Spanish and Spanish Colonial Catholicism.  Many miraculous images were discovered throughout the centuries, some dug up from the earth, others floating in a river, still others appearing in the trunk of a tree, or on the sides of cave walls.  Were these images perhaps later embellished by artists to bring out the details or features only hinted at in the original?  Or simply to decorate or embellish what was already there?  Or did angels and saints do the artwork as legends suggest?  The most famous image not made by hands is the tilma of Juan Diego, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Everyone agrees, no artist ever created that.

Don't be  so smug.

Is it so unusual that Spanish Catholics continue to recognize the presence of the Holy Virgin in contemporary urban environments?  The latest case of the Virgin's image on a tree trunk in New Jersey could be a modern version of a 13th Spanish  miracle of El Rocio in Andalucia.  What if the original statue of El Rocio had to be carved away from the tree wherein it was discovered, then finished and polychromed?  There is another famous miraculous image found in a tree trunk in Mexico in the 16th century, revered as the Virgen of Ocotlan. 

There are similar stories told over the centuries, attested to by miracles as well as spiritual conversions and vocations.  Perhaps those occurring in our day are not always instances of pareidolia - random perceptions of religious imagery in nature or matter.  What if the response of simple, ordinary believers leads to an increase of devotion and amendment of life?  What if the image seen most recently, was extracted from the tree, embellished by fine artisans, and venerated in a shrine at the local parish, which would become a place of pilgrimage?  I'm not saying it should be done, I'm just saying I think that may be what used to happen in ages past - perhaps in the cases of El Rocio and Ocotlan? .

And yet today - these days of declining church attendance, when even the traditionally devout Hispanic Catholics leave for more charismatic denominations, Church authorities seem to be embarrassed by such popular expressions of piety and devotion - spontaneous outbursts of hope and cries to heaven for help - on the streets where these good people live and work amidst hardship and discouragement.  While the well-off travel on luxurious religious vacations called pilgrimages to European shrines, and promote excursions and unofficial tours to unapproved religious-commercial sites such as Medjugorje - a place far more curious than an innocent knot on a tree resembling the Blessed Virgin, which inspires devotion and prayer - in the public square.

No wonder many Hispanics do not feel welcome in predominantly 'white' Catholic parishes.

The Scapular Devotion

"I too have worn the scapular over my heart for a long time!" - JPII


A devotion perennially 'blooming as the rose, fragrant as the lily' ...

Yesterday I came across a Catholic news clip discussing the origins/history of the scapular*, and the reporter said the scapular became more popular since Vatican II.  I was surprised to hear her say that because I am quite sure Vatican II had nothing to do with it unless one includes the example of Blessed John Paul II, who was especially devoted to the scapular of Mt. Carmel and was himself a III Order Carmelite, immersed in the mysticism of Carmel.  Otherwise, devotion to the scapular pretty much fell out of favor after the Council, sometimes with Carmelite scholars practically bending over backwards to explain away the pious legends and traditions surrounding its origins and use.  Likewise, investiture in the scapular, once an add-on ceremony to the reception of First Communion for kids, eventually fell out of favor as well - right after the Council. 

I believe one frequently over looked reason for the popularity of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the 20th century has been the message of Fatima.  At the end of the cycle of apparitions at Fatima, on the day of the miracle, October 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared dressed in the habit of Mt. Carmel holding the scapular.  Sr. Lucy concluded from this apparition that Our Lady desired that the faithful should wear the scapular as a sign of devotion for the Virgin, and in recognition of her special protection, performing this work in addition to praying the rosary every day.  Devotees of Fatima have ever since stressed the importance of the scapular and promoted its use.

In the year 2000, the North American Carmelite Fathers issued a new document called, The Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Catechesis and Ritual.   It is a complete and up to date doctrinal statement on the devotion. At the end is a 2001 letter from Bl. John Paul to the Carmelites praising the tradition of the holy scapular.  I especially love this:
"I too have worn the scapular over my heart for a long time!  Out of love for our common heavenly Mother, whose protection I constantly experience, I hope that this Marian year will help all the men and women religious of Carmel and the devout faithful who venerate her with filial affection to grow in her love and to radiate to the world the presence of this Woman of silence and prayer, invoked as Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope and Grace." - JPII, 25 March 2011
Thus it seems to me that it was Our Lady and her pope who did the most to promote devotion to the scapular and the rosary - not the Council, and certainly not the "Spirit of Vatican II".  Just sayin'.    



*The scapular as an article of clothing goes further back than medieval times - it was part of the monastic habit - in one form or another - going back at least to St. Pachomius (4th century), who was believed to have received it from an angel, as part of the monastic 'schema' - still worn by Orthodox monks.

"My Lady's Knight": Charles Untz.


Charles Untz once wrote to one of his friends,

 "Don't take God's mercy for granted

 because death will come you when you least expect it,

 so make sure you are as blameless as possible

 when that time comes."*


The Scapular kid.

Charles Anthony Francis Untz, killed by a driver who did not see him, right in front of his family's home, as Charles set out on his short walk to work.  Charles died that day, March 20, 1998 at the age of eighteen.
On his college application, Charles wrote, "I go to Eucharistic Adoration and Mass almost every morning before school. I think that this sets a better mood for the day. "

Charles enjoyed country living, the horses and other animals, and his job across the street at the turkey farm. He especially enjoyed his scouting experiences. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout on July 8, 1998. For his Eagle project he wrote an altar server handbook for Epiphany Catholic Church, Coon Rapids, MN, and directed the training of the new servers.

Before moving west, he and his family mowed the lawn, and shoveled and plowed the walks and parking lot of St. John Bosco Church, Stamford, VT. Charles also mowed the lawn at St. Francis of Assisi Church, North Adams, MA. Both projects were done as a volunteer.

Charles became an altar server when he was eight. He was the only server at the small parish of St. John Bosco, where he served for 5 years. His family transferred to St. Francis of Assisi where he served for two years. In 1996, the family moved to Andover, Minnesota; and he served at Epiphany Church until his birth into eternal life in 2000. He had that "presence" about him when he was serving that can’t be taught. One could see that he truly believed that Jesus was present.
Charles began praying the Liturgy of the Hours regularly when he was eleven. At the same time, he started serving as a Youth 2000 New England volunteer. He designed the web page, maintained the mailing list, and designed flyers and nametags. During the retreats he was an altar server and sacristan, and the general gopher for whatever was needed. For Youth 2000 Minnesota, he maintained the mailing list, designed the nametags, served at the altar, and was available to help behind the scenes whenever needed.

Charles had a great devotion to Mary. He designed and made his own brown scapular on his Mom’s embroidery machine. On one side was "My Lady" and the other side was "Mary" with twelve stars around it. In 1999, he also made a Mother’s Day card for Mary (this was discovered after his death).

On his "Ambition and Life Purpose" sheet for attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, Charles Anthony Francis Untz wrote, "My life purpose is to do the will of God. My ambition in life is to become a saint. There is nothing harder to achieve than this, but I will continue to strive for it. " - Source

Pray for us Charles, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


More on Charles Untz

Young Knights...

   

Religious



Life.

I found an old blog post of mine with some stuff written by a former novice in a former monastery... on vocation and religious life.  It's really good.
I worry when those looking at the religious life look for a community that matches all of their thoughts, whether it is about theology, worship, or the world. The most traditional habit, the most detailed horarium, and the most conservative reading of the magisterium, still leave the day full of differing thoughts and opinions and require more walking by faith than by sight. The history of the church is littered with stillborn communities that were a collection of a would-be founder’s pet peeves and projects that left no room for others or even for the Holy Spirit. The rise of the great heresies and the proliferation of sects have their root in the same defensive narcissism. Likewise, many of those who leave the religious life after only a short while do so because they find that they still have to share their lives with other people, who turn out not to be perfectly like them after all. And, more terrifyingly, after a few weeks the postulant discovers that many hours are left between the community exercises of the horarium when he must confront all of the the unfinished business and ugliness within himself. - Br. Steven, O. Cist.

Preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel



Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.

From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and to the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before Him. - Ecclesiasticus 24, 14

Thanks be to God.

Hail, Star of the ocean!
Portal of the sky!
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord Most High!
Oh! By Gabriel's Ave,
Utter'd long ago,
Eva's name reversing,
Establish peace below.
Break the captive's fetters;
Light on blindness pour;

All our ills expelling
Every bliss implore.
Show yourself a Mother;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not you despise.
Virgin of all virgins!
To your shelter take us:
Gentlest of the gentle!
Chaste and gentle make us.

Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor,
Till with you and Jesus
We rejoice forever.
Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be.
Amen.


Grace is poured forth on your lips.

Therefore has the Lord blessed you forever.

Grant, O Lord, God, we beseech You, to us, Your servants, that we may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body; and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and come to the fruition of eternal joys. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Imagine getting killed just for wearing the Scapular.


"Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly."

Isn't there something from the UK and before the European Union about Orthodox Christians told they cannot wear a cross in the workplace?  One might expect such discrimination and prohibition in a country traditionally hostile to Christianity - as in Islamic nations, or the old USSR - but today?  In the Uk?  The EU?  The US?  It can happen. 

What if your life was threatened because of it?  There is a young saint from the Congo who was martyred in the early 20th century for wearing the Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: His name is Blessed Isidore Bakanja - his story here:

Blessed Isidore Bakanja

Blessed Isidore was born in 1887 at northeast Republic of the Congo, and at a young age was hired as a domestic boy. Many of the Belgian plantation owners and their agents were avowed atheists, who hated the missionaries because of the latter's defence of the natives' rights and their denouncing of injustices perpetrated against them. "Mon pere" was a pejorative name given to priests and to all that had to do with religion. Isidore soon experienced the hatred of the agents for Catholicism. He asked for leave to return home; permission was refused. He was told to stop teaching his fellow workers how to pray: "You'll have the whole village praying and no one will want to work", one agent shouted at him. Isidore was told to discard his scapular. When he did not, he was twice flogged.

The second time, the agent flew into one of his rages. He jumped at Isidore, tore the scapular from around his neck and threw him to the ground. He had two servant boys hold Isidore by his hands and feet and a third domestic flogged him. The whip was made of elephant hide with nails protruding at the end. The writhing Isidore asked for mercy. "My God, I'm dying", he muttered. But the colonizer kept kicking Isidore in the neck and head, and ordered his domestic to scourge him harder still. After 100, those assisting lost count of the number of blows. Isidore's back was one open wound; some of his bones were exposed. After scourging he was thrown, legs chained, into a hut for processing rubber. He could not even move to relieve himself.

Since an inspector was due, Isidore was banished to another village. But because he could not walk, he fell by the wayside and hid in the forest. He dragged himself before the inspector, who was horrified at the sight of this modern Job. The inspector himself left a written account of his impression: "I saw a man come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me -he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent appeared on the scene and tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but the inspector even physically prevented him. He took Isidore to his own settlement, hoping to help him heal. But Isidore felt death in his bones. He told someone who had pity on him: "if you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet the priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian".

Two missionaries spent several days with him. He devoutly received the last sacraments. He told them the reason for his beating: "The white man did not like Christians.... He did not want me to wear the scapular.... He yelled at me when I said my prayers". The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he had already done so and that he nursed no hatred for him. This "animal of mon pere", this convert of two-and-a-half years proved that he knew what it meant to follow Jesus - even to the point of being flogged like him, even to the point of carrying the cross, even to the point of dying. The missionaries urged Isidore to pray for the agent. "Certainly I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much". His agony - more painful than the actual flogging - lasted six months. He died on either 8 or 15 August 1909, rosary in hand and the scapular of Our Lady of Mt Carmel around his neck. - EWTN

Blessed Isidore, pray for us that we may be made worthy ... of the promises of Christ.

Prayers in preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel



Thou art fair and sweet!

Blessed Mother, and inviolate Virgin,
glorious Queen of the world,
intercede for us with the Lord.

From the beginning and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before Him.

Thanks be to God.

Bright Mother of our Maker hail,
Thou ever Virgin ever blest,
The ocean star by which we sail
And gain the port of rest.

Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On The Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel.


"I took hold of him and would not let him go till I should bring him to the home of my mother." - Songs 3:4


Shortly before my departure from the Charterhouse in Vermont, after learning that I could not be received, one night during vigils, I imagined that I saw the Blessed Virgin as she is depicted at her sanctuary on Mt. Carmel.  It seemed to me she assured me that she would take me under her protection.  That is how I understand my total consecration to Our Lady, as well as its sign, the scapular.  This morning's first reading from Hosea reminded me of that incident, putting the words of the prophet upon the lips of Our Lady:
Yet it was I who taught you to walk, who take you in my arms; I will draw you with human cords... with bands of love... my heart is overwhelmed, my pity stirred...

I am the Mother of fair love, of fear, and of holy hope, in me is all grace of the way and of the truth - in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
That's my personal meditation of course - nothing more, but it sustained me through the months of my pilgrimage back then, and remains a sort of signal grace for me to this day.  Before that time, I wrestled spiritually with a longing for deeper intimacy with Our Lord in prayer - misunderstanding some of the counsel I received, to cultivate a sort of carnal love for Christ - a level of prayer one cannot attain by oneself.  Thus it was at that time, I understood that to arrive at some semblance of union or intimacy with Christ, it was necessary - for me at least - to do so within Our Lady.  "In my mother's house" is how the Song of Songs phrased it for me.  "For the virgin shall encompass the man." Thus signifying the chastity, the purity required for union with Christ.  As St. Louis-Marie DeMontfort says:
"I do not believe that anyone can acquire intimate union with Our Lord and perfect fidelity to the Holy Spirit without a very close union with the Blessed Virgin and an absolute dependence upon her support."

How crucial this true devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to save us from error and presumption may be understood when one considers the strange romanticism and eroticism which can taint our spiritual reflections on the Sacred Humanity of Christ, and even our experience of prayer and intimacy with the Lord.  Popular Catholic devotion sometimes encourages a sort of intemperance in private prayer and meditation, lacking the sobriety which is always present in liturgical-scriptural based/supported prayer - which incidentally forms part of my personal understanding  of the prayer of the rosary of Our Lady.  It seems to me that praying in the refuge of the Immaculate Heart is also a defense and a help to avoid the overly sentimental familiarity many pious people tend towards, sometimes innocently, and other times while seeking to display their intimacy with the Blessed Virgin and state of prayer, employing such terms as "ma" or "mom" - or calling the Father, "daddy", and so on.  

We can be very vain-glorious and deluded in our prayer life, falling into presumption - mistaking feelings and sentiments for fervor and devotion.

Anyway - I'm writing as if I know something about it, but I only know what I know from personal experience - and even in that I may be deluded.  So always check with your spiritual director or confessor for real direction on prayer and devotion to Our Lady. 

That said, pray the rosary every day and wear the scapular devoutly - these will bring you to your Mother's house... "This one and that were born in her."

John Paul II as a layman
wearing scapular.

Preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel





He who finds me, finds life, and he will draw salvation from the Lord.

I love those who love me. And those who stand watch for me until morning shall discover me. With me, are wealth and glory, superb riches and justice. For my fruit is better than gold and precious stones, and my progeny better than choice silver. I walk in the way of justice, in the midst of the paths of judgment, so that I may enrich those who love me, and thus complete their treasures. 

Blessed is the man who heeds me, and who stands watch at my gates everyday, and who observes at the posts of my doors. - Proverbs 8

He who finds me, finds life, and he will draw salvation from the Lord.

Because you are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect. - Colossians 3
He who finds me, finds life, and he will draw salvation from the Lord.

O, beautiful Flower of Carmel,
most fruitful vine,
Splendor of Heaven,
holy and singular,
Who brought forth the Son of God,
still ever remaining a Pure Virgin,
assist me in my necessity.
O, Star of the Sea,
help and protect me.
Show me that Thou art my Mother.
Clothe me with the mantle of thy protection.

He who finds me, finds life, and he will draw salvation from the Lord.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

But thou O Lord have mercy on us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Nuns on the Bus Tour is over.


I heard it was a smashing success.

This just in - literally - I found it in comment moderation: "On sodomitic foreplay"...

So gross!

"Whether a man sins mortally by beginning intercourse in the posterior receptacle (the anus)..."

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1871, was the founder of the Redemptorists and one of the church's greatest moral theologians. Professor Smith summarizes his views on the issue in question in the following italicized quote: For instance, in the 1912 edition of Theologia Moralis, Editio Nova by St. Alphonsus Liguori (written in 1748), we read this question: "Whether a man sins mortally by beginning intercourse in the posterior receptacle (the anus), so as to consummate it afterwards in the appropriate receptacle (the vagina)?" The answer given to that question is: "[Various theologians] deny it is a mortal sin as long as there is no danger of pollution [ejaculation outside of the vagina] because all other touches (as they say), even if sexual, are not gravely illicit among spouses. But it is more generally and truly affirmed [to be a mortal sin] by [various theologians], because coitus itself of this kind (even if without insemination) is true sodomy, although not consummated, just as copulation in the natural vessel of another woman is true fornication, even if insemination does not take place."[1] Liguori supports the view of those who argue that anal penetration as foreplay is a mortal sin.  (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0211.htm) In his Encyclica Studiorum Ducem,

Pope Pius XI presents St. Thomas Aquinas as the church's preeminent theologian. In paragraph 20 of the encyclical the Pope states: " He also composed a substantial moral theology, capable of directing all human acts in accordance with the supernatural last end of man. And as he is, as We have said, the perfect theologian, so he gives infallible rules and precepts of life...." (see http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11STUDI.HTM).    

Father Harrison, in the quote which follows, shows how Aquinas saw this sin of sodomitic foreplay as a serious moral violation. Because he explains the matter so well, I quote at length from his article at marital+foreplay. - Comment made to my post on the same subject here.

Talk about an adulterous generation!

From the same source, this good news:

Fortunately (in my opinion), a few contemporary Catholic authors are now explicitly endorsing the teaching that Aquinas expresses in veiled, oblique language in the Summa. For instance, Fr. Thomas G. Morrow has stopped holding his breath waiting for the magisterium to speak on this issue. Instead, he has boldly 'taken the plunge' and published an article expressing what millions of devout and chaste married Catholics have undoubtedly intuited over the centuries without ever talking about it (Cf. "Rethinking Marital Foreplay", Homiletic & Pastoral Review, May 2010, pp. 58-63). According to Fr. Morrow, oral and anal foreplay partially simulate unnatural mortals sins, are therefore acts of lust that treat one's spouse as a pleasure object rather than as a person, and consequently do not measure up to true standards of conjugal love and respect for human dignity. Thus, he concludes, such acts "should be considered illicit, in (or out of) marriage" (p. 63).
Bravo! I find these considerations, together with the teaching of St. Thomas and my years of confessional experience, strongly persuasive. The total data available to me up till now ground a more probable opinion against that sort of foreplay, even though I can't prove I'm right by citing a magisterial document condemning it. And as a probabiliorist, I will continue to tell Catholics who ask my opinion that those practices are mortal sins against purity and should definitely not be carried out. - Father David Watt, STL (Gregorian), PhD (Cambridge)


Preparation for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Rejoice, the vesture of those
 stripped of confidence.


He has clothed me with a mantle of salvation... - Isaiah 61:10

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

We who were left naked through beguilement * have worn, through your Maternity, the garment of * incorruptibility; * and we who were sitting in * the darkness of our errors now have contemplated the light, * O dwelling place * of light, holy Damsel. * And therefore we extol you in hymns unto the ages.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

New creation was shown by the Creator in showing himself unto us whom He created, sprouting up from an unseeded womb, while pre­serving it just as it was, inviolate, so that beholding the miracle we might extol her, exclaiming:

Rejoice, O flower of incorruptness.
Rejoice, O crown of laurel for continence.
Rejoice, for in you resurrection is typified.
Rejoice, for angelical life you exemplified.
Rejoice, fertile tree with luscious fruit, by which believers are sustained.
Rejoice, foliaged tree beneath which are many sheltered in its shade.
Rejoice, for you were parturient with the Guide for the errant.
Rejoice, for of the Freer of captives you are the parent.
Rejoice, who plead till the just Judge surrenders.
Rejoice, forgiveness for many offenders.
Rejoice, the vesture of those stripped of confidence.
Rejoice, the tender love that conquers every longing.
Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.*

And thou O Lord, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

*Adapted from the Akathist Hymn

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How can a young man remain sinless?

First - don't let them watch TV.


The Psalmist asks, and so do parents...

And many times, young men, as well as older men - with 'arrested development'.  (Sound the dramatic music!)  Seriously - it is a perennial question, and one perhaps asked with a greater sense of urgency when kids are encouraged to be gay just because they feel 'attracted' or curious about same sex BFF's and sexual curiosity and teenage infatuation - for a schoolmate, team mate, coach, teacher - whomever an emotionally immature kid happens to have feelings for.  Guided as they are today by television, film, pop music, fashion, trend and inappropriate sex-ed programs in school, it is almost as if young people do not have a chance to 'remain sinless'.  Socially and culturally conditioned and coerced to make sexual preference choices at an early age - a lot of kids are sure to get it wrong. 

What's a parent to do?

One mother found a good priest and asked him to speak to her son - who in turn was willing to cooperate.  Sadly, the mother on her own tried to intervene with her son, but the young man was convinced being gay was alright these days, arguing, “It’s legal now, and everyone has the right to fall in love. Anyway, they have a special Mass for gays in Westminster and Jesus said not to judge”.

Thus we see the scandal caused by Catholic entities who encourage youth to accept their sexual inclination and or temptations as fixed and immutable sexual orientation - when even the 'out and about gay activists', in and out of the Church, promote and celebrate the 'queer' concept of genderless sexual-fluidity; something which strikes me as a rather fortuitous, although unintended, defense of choice and free will if there ever was one... it surely implies choice, don't you agree?  (Yes, I do.)

Anyway.  Read the post as written by Fr. D.  He's a compassionate priest - I'll reprint a sampling here:
I began by asking him to tell me his story, then asked why he thought it was OK to live a homosexual lifestyle. He told me his (Catholic) High School studies had presented him with several moral questions: abortion, divorce, homosexuality etc., where they were asked to share their own opinions.

Thus began a discussion of the meaning of authentic sex as opposed to sexual acts; on Truth and subjective ‘truth’, and on what Jesus really meant when He said ‘Do not judge’. In my most mild tone of voice I explained that the person is not judged, but the act must be -and for the sake of the person’s union with God. He then asked, “So if the Church says only the act is wrong, does that mean I can have a relationship as long as I don’t have sex?” Strictly speaking the answer is yes, which I gave. But his next question was more difficult: “So can we share a home if we don’t have sex?” This answer is, as I explained, a qualified yes since it puts one in a situation where sin is all but facilitated, could cause scandal, and would require heroic virtue. “Yes, but it’s possible isn’t it? And I could still go to Communion.” I had to answer, “With the grace of God, yes it’s possible, but not ideal: it’s like putting a kleptomaniac in a shop all alone –can you tell me nothing is going to happen? I have to remind you it takes heroic virtue, and while you might think you can do it sitting here, the reality of it might be very hard”. Sadly I believe he left holding onto, “I can have a relationship and even share a life with someone as long as there is no sex”, not with an understanding of homosexuality as a disorder of sexuality, nor the difficulty of his house-sharing goal. While I had spoken the truth, all I could do was leave it with him, but I shall pray for him and for his family, and for all in their situation. What a sad state of play that we have created a generation who equate good and evil with what is legal and illegal, and not with the Gospel. - Catholic Collar and Tie
On living together - chastely and celibately.

Father D is correct about living together - it can be done, but it is not ideal - especially for the young and emotionally/sexually immature.  I commented on the post going further, suggesting this thought:
I think living together in chaste friendship works best with ssa persons who may have been in relationship but find themselves called to conversion, or find themselves able to accept Church teaching on sexuality and wish to re-order their lives accordingly - in this they can become a support to one another. For this to happen however, there needs to be some sort of emotional, sexual maturity, as well as conviction regarding Catholic teaching and the recognition/understanding that ssa is objectively disordered.

Unfortunately, this maturity is often lacking in a young man educated in the liberal - permissive, pro-choice environment of today's Catholic and secularized education system. Indeed it would require heroic virtue and great maturity to live like that. - Terry
Fr. Blake of St. Mary Magdalen blog also commented on the post affirming that heroic virtue is neither that uncommon - he lives in Brighton after all - and is possible in many cases, saying:
I see many heterosexual couples who for one reason or another have to control their sexual desire, maybe more easily when they are older than in the first flush of youthful passion. 
Humanae Vitae presumes that we are in control of our sexuality, not it in control of us. Though temptation is increased by proximity, and although this young man has a disordered sexuality, in so far as he is a homosexual, it seems wrong to suggest that he will have an uncontrollable "mania" as far as his sexuality is concerned.



Heroic virtue is actually part of being a Christian, it is not rare, as celibates, we live it and witness it personally in our own lives. But you are right that this young man needs the sacraments and a healthy prayer life, to know the love of Christ, in order to be heroic. Without Christ there can be little heroism. What is also important is that he learns to deal with loneliness, which unless it is dealt with effectively saps heroism.
 [ ... ]
... The immanent danger for this young man is his emotional and physical attraction, it is easier to to keep a genii in a bottle but rather difficult to get it back once released. You are of course right that the problematic issues are of emotional bonding and sexual attraction and at the age of seventeen falling into culture that is hedonistic and destructive, and probably he doesn't quite understand that is actually what he is choosing, it is part of the package. - Fr. Blake comment.
Mutual support.

I contend it is difficult for a young man to think of being in a romantic but chaste relationship - living with a partner.  Commenters bring up the occasion of sin aspect, which is most likely present.  especially when 'gay-but-chaste-Catholics' try to say that kissing and hugging and spooning (I am so surprised people still use that term) are permitted - so long as there is no sexual/genital contact.  Really?  Are they nuts?  If you stick your tongue down your cute boyfriend's throat, someone is going to get aroused.  It's like the teenage argument that you can 'pleasure' yourself as much as you want just as long as you don't entertain/dwell on impure thoughts and have an actual orgasm.  Don't kid yourself - you are so disordered if you do.

My contention, affirmed by many priests, is that same sex attracted friends, and yes, former partners, can and do remain together and live chaste and celibate lives in accord with Church teaching.  These people have come to accept Church teaching, but more than that, they embrace it as a means to sanctify their lives through mutual support.  The occasion of sin thing is so over for them - they are mature, committed persons, intent upon ordering their lives according to God's will.  As I always say, "the Church does not bind up burdens for men too heavy to carry."   Meaning, the Church calls all persons to holiness and chastity.  People are wrong to assume that a gay relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship.  It is not - as you perpetuate that theory, you inadvertently lend support to the same sex marriage proponents.  Think it through, and you will see what I mean.  Gay sexual relationships need outside stimulus to endure - it isn't a love thang.

Who wants to be Catholic?

It is not at all uncommon for divorced and remarried couples to reconcile with the Church and remain married (civil marriage) to one another, albeit living in continence as brother and sister.  It is and can be done.  (I'm not suggesting gay relationships are the same as civil marriage; although in some States they can be legally recognized as such, it isn't my point here.)  As Fr. Blake rightly points out, emotionally mature individuals can attain control over their sexual impulses and need not be subject to any uncontrollable mania in regards to their sexuality.  It goes without saying such situations are discussed and discerned in the context of sacramental confession and or spiritual direction.  It ought not to arouse or concern the curiosity of fellow Christians who may imagine scandal where none is present.

Catholics need to understand that disinterested, chaste friendship is a necessary support for those striving to live according to the Gospel and Church teaching.  I have friends who have been together for decades, whose friendship has matured and who have pretty much integrated the sexual inclinations and often find themselves living a chaste and celibate life due to aging and frankly, disinterest.  I tell them - "Now you can come back to the Church!  Now you are free to return to the sacraments!"  On occasion I get the reply, "Are you nuts?  Catholics hate homosexuals.  We've been together for 40 years, and yet they would demand that we separate, dissolve our properties and live alone."

And they don't believe me when I tell them otherwise.


Readers:  If you are gay and want to return to the Church - repent, go to confession and just do it - just start going to Mass and praying - you don't have to announce it to the world or make a show of it.  You don't have to see a therapist, you don't have to join Courage - although you cannot join Dignity and other such groups - avoid them completely.  Pray and seek direction from a good priest.  Pray and frequent the sacraments, and especially pray the rosary.  You will be guided to the truth in all of its splendour, and you will find authentic peace and joy and freedom of spirit - you will not be alone.

“How shall the young remain sinless?
By obeying Your word.” - 119: 9-16


Link:  In 2006 I did a similar post titled: The low spark of low-rise pants - asking the same question, I thought it was pretty good.

Ornament and splendor of Carmel



We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities; but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Mother and Ornament of Carmel pray for us.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Ornament and splendor of Carmel, you who regard with an eye of special kindness those who wear your blessed habit, look down benignly upon us and encompass us with the mantle of your special protection.  Clothe and cover our unworthiness with such graces and virtues as will ever be pleasing to your divine Son and to you.  Assist us in life, console us in death with your most amiable presence, and present us to the most glorious Trinity as your devoted servants and children; that we may eternally bless and praise you in paradise.  Amen.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Katie and Tom: The divorce is amicable.

Katie


TomKat BFF!
Los Angeles (CNN) -- Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes "amicably settled" their divorce just two weeks after Holmes filed for it, an attorney told CNN Monday.

While no details of their agreement are public, the former couple said they are "working together" in the "best interests" of their young daughter.

In the June 28 divorce filing, Holmes sought sole custody of 6-year-old Suri. Holmes and Cruise have been married for five years.

"We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life," said Holmes' attorney Jonathan Wolfe. - CNN

So anyway, Kat says Katie joined a parish in NYC.  A few of her readers seem to think that's not Catholic enough.  For Christ's sake!  Can't people at least be happy that she took a first step to being reconciled to the Church - if indeed she hasn't been already?  Now it seems to be a Catholic you have to sign on with just the right parish right off the bat, and be absolutely perfect from the get go - just like the holier than thous are.

No wonder people don't like organized religion and hate Catholics. 

Oh!  Oh!  It appears the welcome would not be out for the husband either - that is, if he decides to return some day.  Nice.  Maybe if he was an atheist who decided to convert it would be soooooooooooooo different?  One would think he'd at least get a welcome at Patheos then, after all - rumor has it he is bisexual.

Breaking News! Canadian Psychologists Use Ouija Board To Prove Gay Is Not A Disorder.*

"OMIGOSH! It appeared to be a huge giant athletic supporter that came out of nowhere..."


Canadian Psychologists Using Ouija Board In Therapy.
Beloved of spiritualists and bored teenagers on a dare, the Ouija board has long been a source of entertainment, mystery and sometimes downright spookiness. Now it could shine a light on the secrets of the unconscious mind.

The Ouija, also known as a talking board, is a wooden plaque marked with the words, "yes", "no" and the letters of the alphabet. Typically a group of users place their hands on a movable pointer , or "planchette", and ask questions out loud. Sometimes the planchette signals an answer, even when no one admits to moving it deliberately.

Believers think the answer comes through from the spirit world. In fact, all the evidence points to the real cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.

That's why the Ouija board has attracted the attention of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Growing evidence suggests the unconscious plays a role in cognitive functions we usually consider the preserve of the conscious mind.

Take driving your car along a familiar route while planning your day. On arrival, you realise you were not in conscious control of the car, it was your "inner zombie", said Hélène Gauchou at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK, this week. "How can we communicate with that unconscious intelligence?"  - Continue reading here.
Dr. Helene, author of
"My Inner Zombie Ain't Me"

*I just made that up - the headline, I mean - oh, and the book title... and the author... and the photo.

Remember how Pope John Paul II didn't approve of socialism?

"I'm against it!"


I found an interesting piece on the failures and evil roots of socialism posted on the Acton Institute blog.  I knowAND, as you know, ze Acton Institute has ze Zood Zousekeeping Zeal of Zapproval - zo I zat up and took notiz.

Seriously, the article is a very good and timely reminder how the errors of Russia have permeated the West.
Russian warns on the _______ roots of Socialism.

In Rome to address a conference sponsored by the Dignitatis Humanae Institute on June 29, Russian pro-life campaigner Alexey Komov expressed amazement for the support that socialism gets in some quarters in the West even though it has “never worked in world history.” In an interview with the Zenit news service, Komov pointed to how this ideology had caused such great pain and suffering “all in the name of social reform, progress and improvement.” His criticism was also leveled at the “softer version of socialism” of administrations in the West led by President Barack Obama and recently José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the former prime minister of Spain.
Komov believes that if you “dig deep enough into the ideological roots of these socialist movements, you end up finding satanic roots in them.” And although only a softer version is prevalent now, “it is still very dangerous,” he says. “I would warn all those people fascinated by socialist ideas that they have never worked in human history — never worked.”

The traditional nuclear family is a particular enemy of socialism, he says, because it is the basic institution that preserves values and passes them on to the next generation. “The state, if it wants to dominate life and the individual from birth to death, needs to destroy the family, because the family is independent of the state,” he argues. “As Marx and Engels said, the family is a repressive, bourgeois institution that needs to be destroyed; they need to get rid of its patriarchal power and that of Christianity because they are the main obstacles of the social revolution.” - Continue reading here.
"No damn good!"

When you speak or write, do you sound like what you read?



Some thoughts on spiritual direction.

I once knew a cloistered nun whose deepest desire seemed to be the direction of souls, a desire which eventually led to her leaving her monastery.  During her term as superior of the community, she frequently invited visitors in to discuss their spiritual experiences at the grill in the monastery parlour.  She claimed Our Lady spoke to her and taught her certain prayers.  Another time she told me she had the gift of tongues - before the charismatic movement popularized the phenomena.  One day she said she found herself praising God in Slavonic, praying the orthodox 'Sanctus'.  She said she did not know Slavonic, nor had she ever heard their Sanctus.  If I remember correctly, I think it was only after a visiting Byzantine priest celebrating Divine Liturgy for the nuns, that she realized what she had prayed was something from the Eastern rite.   

Anyway - if sometimes I come off rather skeptical about extra-special-spiritual persons and their preoccupation with the stages of prayer and lofty mystical experiences, it is because of religious people like that nun.  She once had me convinced that I was a contemplative - indeed, at a high stage of prayer, when that was not at all true.  It did great harm for me to be convinced of such a thing when I was so young and newly returned to the sacraments. 

I mention my experience with this nun because in retrospect, I really believe she must have been  delusional.  One hallmark being, or so it seems to me now, is the way she spoke and wrote of spiritual things.  She expressed herself in the same style of language one reads in spiritual books and accounts of locutions experienced by some visionaries.  Ever since, that peculiar style of 'pious talk' has always raised red flags for me.  It is difficult for me to articulate the problem, but I recall something Thomas Merton wrote in in his little book on Spiritual Direction, which sheds some light on what I'm trying to express:
"Sometimes it seems that the so called 'interior life' is little more than a web of illusion, spun out of jargon and pious phrases which we have lifted from books and sermons and with which we conceal, rather than reveal, what is in us.  How often the director, listening to seemingly admirable religious souls, is saddened and chilled by the sense that a smug, unconscious complacency, armed with the cliches of pious authors, stands before him fully prepared to resist every advance of humility and truth.  His heart is contracted by a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that there is no way of breaking through and setting free the real person who remains buried and imprisoned under the false front that has been acquired, unfortunately, as a result of religious malformation.

Perhaps unwise direction is itself to blame for this spiritual 'warping' of the person." - Merton, Spiritual Direction and Meditation
Interestingly, this particular nun fostered an attitude of suspicion as regards other priests, as well as religious and lay people.  She was so convinced of her spirit, she felt she was well able to discern who was faithful, who was liberal, and so on.  Thus she remained closed or suspicious of anyone whose credentials didn't quite fit her criteria, and she fostered a similar near-paranoia amongst her 'followers', teaching them a sort of defensive detachment and interior reservation towards anyone who didn't approve of her style of mysticism, which relied heavily upon extraordinary phenomena, locutions, apparitions, and the like.


NB: Don't pay great attention to what I write here save for entertainment purposes.  All of what I write is based upon my personal opinion and personal experience.  Always check with your spiritual director or confessor if you have any questions regarding the spiritual life.

"You talkin' to me?"

Why I love Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.


Ave Maria!

It is all due to the scapular I suppose.  I like to tell the story how I begged, nagged, and tormented my sister's girlfriend to give me her scapular one day as I was going through her purse.  I was probably only four or five and Joanne defended her right to her scapular because she had received it - or more accurately, had been clothed in it - at her first communion.  I told her if she wanted to keep it so bad, she should wear it then, but she explained she didn't want to wreck it.  I told her I could wear it for her, and I'd never take it off. 

After cruel pinches, shouts, screams, vicious scratches, angry slaps and pushes - all from Beth and Joanne mind you - the girls finally succumbed, and Joanne relinquished the scapular.  It was if I were a little Jacob, snatching Esau's blessing - and I ran off to venerate my new treasure, studying closely the pictures of Our Lady and the Child Jesus, handing the exact same scapular to St. Simon.  After I found out what the words printed on the image said, I was ecstatic, and wore the scapular night and day - even in the bath tub.

I have loved the Blessed Virgin ever since that day she clothed* me with her mantle.  (I owe my sister and her girlfriend Joanne my thanks and prayers as well.)

Prayer

Thou art all fair O Mary
 - and the original stain is not in thee!
O Mary!
Make my body pure, and my spirit holy.
Draw me in the odor of thy oinments...
Encompass my heart within thine.
Show thyself my mother!

But thou O lord, have mercy on us.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.


*I was an adult when I was officially clothed and enrolled in the Scapular (Confraternity).  I'm not a Carmelite except for the connection with the order of Carmel I have through enrollment in the Scapular of Mt. Carmel.  "All those who are 'enrolled' in the Brown Scapular are considered linked to the Carmelite Family in a spiritual sense and part of the worldwide 'Scapular Confraternity'."  More information here.   That's enough for me.

One-a-Day: Greatest hits.



I'm bored with this category now.  The End. 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Now this is cool!

Mass chat. Playing dress-up and pretend...

The woman Folly is loud;
 she is undisciplined
 and without knowledge.
-Proverbs 9:13


I have nothing to add to the discussion on women pretending to be priests - Fr. Z and TheLarryD pretty much cover these issues as they arise on their blogs. They do a good job too.

Although I would like to make an observation regarding the photo:  How can anyone take their mock 'masses' or pretend 'liturgies' seriously?  And why?  Such farces* make a mockery of liturgy and ritual - they take the form of religious cult but deny its power, its efficacy, in the process.  Their inclusive 'celebrations' are ritualized, politicized, mythologized, new-age minstrel shows, performed by ditzy, barren, lace-curtain hags**.  Their mock masses resemble images from the Tarot, rather than the Catholic Mass - wherein they can impersonate and play the part of the Priestess and the Magus - yet they can never, ever act in Persona Christi.

I find no humor in it at all.

*Farce: A ludicrous, empty show; a mockery. - Online Dictionary

**A hag thought of as a 'wizened' old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children's tales.  Hags are often seen as malevolent, but may also be one of the chosen forms of shapeshifting deities, who are seen as neither wholly beneficent nor malevolent - in other words, barren or sterile, ineffectual. The term appears in Middle English, and was a shortening of hægtesse, an Old English term for witch.  As a stock character in fairy or folk tale, the hag shares characteristics with the crone, and the two words are sometimes used as if interchangeable. - Wikipedia

Flower of Carmel, Fruitful Vine.



"I have stretched out my branches as the turpentine tree, and my branches are of honor and grace.  As the vine, I have brought forth a pleasant odor; and my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches.  I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in me is all hope of virtue." - Ecclus. 24

But thou O Lord, have mercy on us.

O Virgin Mary, who hast borne the Lord, the Creator of the world.  Thou hast brought forth him that made thee, and ever remained a virgin.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

One-a-Day: Greatest hits.


Happy Birthday!