Saturday, November 17, 2012

The importunate widow and the dishonest judge.

 

The purifying fire of prayer.

This isn't a sermonette - but I want to mention something about today's Gospel and chastity.

For years I prayed for chastity - without always avoiding the occasions of sin.  I know - how dumb.  Truth be told, the milieu I worked in, the people I worked with, was a sort of occasion of sin.  Over the years I changed friends, moved from this job to that job, did countless things to remedy the situation - to no avail.  I was my own occasion of sin.  My life was disordered.  It got worse the more I tried to isolate myself.  It was me - the things that came out of my heart defiled me, as another Gospel passage would have it.  I realized that even more keenly when I changed jobs and worked for a religious community - thinking I'd be safe there.  (I've always worked at another job to support myself and my art work.)

What I learned however, is that even though we can't always change our outward situation and live in an occasion-free environment, or as I said, we imagine that by changing our outward circumstances we flee the occasions, frequently some of us find we keep going back to the trough for more.  It is then we understand we are the problem.  We can't dissociate from ourselves, can we?   No.  But we can - we must - pray for the graces we need to be faithful in difficult circumstances.  Today's Gospel taught me that way back when... prayer is the trap door out of sin, as St. Teresa said... 'fornicator though I was.' (A Gorcum martyr said that.)

Saved in situ.

Modern life is an occasion of sin - and most of us are disordered in one way or another.  I'm not saying people do not need to avoid the near occasion of sin, nor a deliberate occasion of sin or anything like that.  You do what you can, yet we live in an adulterous generation and, like I said, we're all disordered to some degree.

Yet what today's Gospel taught me, way back when, is to "pray always and never lose heart."  Ask for the grace in prayer.  Be that widow and keep asking.  The more often you fall, the more often you ask.  A Carmelite once told me, 'go to confession several times a day if you must - but keep praying."  She exaggerated a bit I think, since very few priests would tolerate such things - but I understood her.  Confession and the sacraments and prayer.  You can walk through the fiery furnace with the boys of Babylon* if you remain faithful to these - because the angel of God is with you when you pray. 

One has to understand that carefully however, because I'm not encouraging the sin of presumption, or suggesting that prayer and the sacraments act as charms or something magical.  People who suffer from grave temptations will know what I mean.  We need to come to a point where we long for healing with all of our heart - then it is we can come to the point where we pray without ceasing for that grace.  Today's Gospel is testimony that it is possible and that God will free us from our enslavement to sin.  (I prefer that term to 'addiction'.)  When it happened to me, it seemed very sudden and unexpected - totally new.  One day at adoration I heard a voice say, 'you are free'.  That after nearly 30 years of struggle.  I didn't earn it however - it was sheer grace, which is why the experience was new and alive - living as for the first time, as it were.

There's a reason for that I think.  Sometimes God doesn't grant us what we ask right away because the asking is itself a form of purification - the asking, the falling and rising, make us humble after we rise, and God is thereby glorified in showing mercy and restoring our "rights".

This may not be very good moral theology, but just remember, nothing is impossible for God.  So pray always and don't lose heart - no matter what your situation.  Remember the disciples tried to keep people away from Christ - like the blind Bartimaeus, the Canaanite woman, and other 'unclean' people - but they got through to Him, and He healed them.


 *The Babylonian furnace offered in this instance as a metaphor for the occasion of sin.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Church and homosexuality.



Tackling the problem of teaching convincingly what the Church offers about homosexuality...

Yesterday I read Fr. Z's post with that title about Fr. Hollowell's new endeavor, to produce a documentary on what the Catholic Church teaches as regards homosexuality.  Fr. H seeks to do this work in the spirit of  the new evangelization as a means to reach young people, who have been more or less 'indoctrinated' that gay is good, Church teaching bad.  My words, not his - but that is pretty much the point.  I like Fr. H's idea and wish him well - click here to find out more about the project and to donate - he needs a lot of money to accomplish the work.

We all write and say things - sometimes crudely - when we are stressed or sometimes just tired of being nice after some very trying engagement in the culture war.  We post, and then we go back and edit or remove the post entirely.  I just did that today.  I think Fr. Z did so as well.  Unless I imagined otherwise, or mixed it up with another post, his post on Fr. Hollowell is missing a few comments and text.  Too bad, because I wanted to write about them.  I thought about what was said, and I wanted to comment in a post of my own.
Update:  Doh!  I did get the post mixed up with another one!  Oh well.  That other one here.

My first thought in response to a couple of statements about same sex marriage was: "Since the Church is against it, maybe there would be a bit more credibility to that prohibition if they enforced the rule against ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood?"  But the statement I was responding to is gone.


I had other remarks for a couple of the people who made comments on Fr. Z's post - but it appears their comments were removed - and I can't respond accurately to what is not there.  However, one guy pointed out that the arts have traditionally been a 'haven' for homosexuals.  I'm sure he won't let his son take an art class but will have him play sports instead - no homos there.  Oddly enough, priesthood and religious life has been somewhat of a haven as well - which brings me back to the first point.  Church teaching might be made more acceptable if they practiced what they preach.

That said, a former Dominican priest, who reads Fr. Z and is quite the conservative critic of all things liberal had this to say in response to Fr. Z's post:
One of the traditional RC blogs I check has a posting on "tackling-the-problem-of-teaching-convincingly-what-the-church-offers-about-homosexuality."

Well, the problem is that the church has nothing to offer.

As I have said I understand the inner logic of Catholic sexual morality and do not fault it for being true to itself. I do get the whole male/female marriage thing. To say "OK, cool" to homosexuality would unravel the whole thread of a bi-millennial organism. So it can't say that. For reasons similar to why it cannot say the same even about masturbation or contraception or shacking up outside marriage. At the end of that series of OK cools lies dissolution into liberal Protestantism. Which offers you nothing you can't get elsewhere.

But in terms of "having something to offer" besides "Don't Do It"? Nada.

Or worse, the thrill of sitting around in some Courage meeting acting as if your deepest desire for human connection is an addiction to a really bad drug.

My advice to Catholic homos is that you either have to ignore this and say to yourself that it does not really apply to you because the Church cannot really see you as the existing being you are, or get out. - USMale
 
The man is right.  The Church has nothing to offer - except salvation.  I'm wondering if he meant to say, 'the Church has nothing new to offer' - because it does come down to don't do it.  More than that, it is perennial teaching based on Scripture and tradition, and that horrid natural law. 

Fr. Hollowell says in his video that he had to search and search for what the Church really teaches.  Most of what the Church teaches and has taught is already online, so I'm not sure why it was so hard to find.  In his proposed documentary he plans to interview Church leaders and spokespersons on the issue - presumably Catholics who are SSA.  Will it be the usual line up?  I don't know.  But there can't be anything new.  Church teaching cannot change. 

The former Dominican priest also knows that.  He suggests:  "My advice to Catholic homos is that you either have to ignore this and say to yourself that it does not really apply to you because the Church cannot really see you as the existing being you are, or get out."  That works if you see religion or being a Christian as belonging to the right country club - but the Catholic Church is not that.  Despite the divisions and classifications and groups within Catholicism- religious orders, groups, organizations, trad and progressive, and so on - the Church isn't a corporation or conglomerate - it is the Ark - it is the Ark of salvation.  Sure there are mean spirited people in the Church who hate you, but they are everywhere in the world - hole up in a ghetto such as the Castro and live your life as you see fit if that brings you any peace.

So yes - if you want your cake and to eat it too - if you don't believe the Creed - become an Anglican or an Old Catholic - join the country club.  If you want acceptance and affirmation and approval from men - religious men or non religious men - join a fellowship church.  But if you really want Christ, the salvation of your soul, remain a faithful Roman Catholic.

The former Dominican priest knows that the Church cannot and will not change - it is why he left. 
I long ago concluded that the RC Church was not going to have female priests, married priests, or say it was OK to be gay or be on the pill. I adjusted my life accordingly. Nothing in the intervening years –evanescent blips notwithstanding—has made me change my mind. These things seem as unlikely to me as corporate reunion with the more-than-ever-fragmented Anglican “Communion”. Which has become a kind of cautionary tale of what can happen when you do embrace the above items.

The populist egalitarian obsessions of the post-Marxist liberal West will not, IMHO, be welcomed into the bi-millennial Catholic/Orthodox Churches. For that you have to go to cobwebbed and dotty Canterbury or the other restless and groovy progeny of the Reformation. So I am both fascinated and incredulous to observe people who keep hoping that the Camelot interpretation of Vatican II is waiting just around the corner. Or for the next pope. Etc. Hence, my kinship with King Herod.   - USMale
 
What I like about him is that he is honest - and really smart.

A couple of conclusions:

  • Living a chaste life doesn't kill you.
  • You're damned if you do and damned if you don't - in the eyes of religious people - but not in the eyes of God.
  • Go to confession and be faithful to prayer and the sacraments, seek the approval of God, not men.
  • Teach the truth to kids - the reason they don't believe is because they've been indoctrinated not to.  It will take more than a documentary to convince them.
  • To the bishops - you can't change anything if you don't change yourselves.  Be consistent in your teaching.
  • To gay Catholics.  Be faithful to Church teaching, live chastely.  Pray very much.  Stay away from involvement in Church groups, councils, committees, and so on - if you want to avoid the busybodies and bigots that is.  Be faithful and do good works, remaining hidden - like a Carmelite - not out of fear, but out of love for God.  Remember Lot's wife - in all the tumult and drama, she looked back - her passions stirred - and she turned to stone
  • If people ask you for advice, tell them to repent.

 

Medjugorje visionary Ivan Dragicevic in Lebanon.



Maronite Cardinal Beshara Boutros El-Rahi, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East in attendance for the apparition.

Say what you will about Medjugorje, I think it is rather significant that the Maronite Cardinal was in attendance with thousands of Lebanese followers.
“It is the first time that the Patriach of the East is present for a Medjugorje apparition. It is new for the Middle East churches. It is very important for Christians here” Charbel Maroun, the president of the Marian Movement for Lay People in Galilee tells Medjugorje Today. - Medjugorje Today
I need to be much more discreet and respectful in what I say and how I say things...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Canonization of Dorothy Day: I'm against it.



Really?  Who is that going to help or inspire?  Marxist-Socialists?

Look at how the woman dressed!  Get out!  What's with the peasant look?  Would a little blush have killed her?  C'mon!  It's NYC - the fashion capital of... well, maybe not much.

And would it have been such a sacrifice for her to crack a smile?  Ever?  She makes Catherine of Genoa look like a stand up comedienne.

I'm dismissing her.

What?


Leave her alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Justice Sotomayer and gender politics.



Justice Sonia Sotomayer stopped by Sesame Street this week and told little girls to drop the princess silliness.  Story here.  "Look what happened to me!"  Sotomayor said.

Yeah, whatever.  That kind of advice only works if she says the same thing to the boys in Glee.

I'm going to lunch



Arts and crafts: Statues without clothes...



I love everything Spanish Colonial.  Especially statues which need to be clothed.

There is a cool site which sells bultos - religious figures to be dressed.  If you are crafty - you could make your own Madonna dressed in elegant 17th century royal splendor.  The site is called Santos Cage Doll - you can get crowns, ex-votos, replacement hands and angel wings too.

T'is the season to make things.

Arts and crafts: If I were a rich man...



I would buy this statue of S. Diego de Alcala.

Isn't he handsome?  Polychromed wood, 25" tall.  Excellent condition, masterfully carved.  The little lay brother saint is shown with his garment lifted where he was carrying food for the poor, which miraculously changed into roses as another friar, annoyed with Diego checked to see what he was carrying.  The flowers are gone from the image, but the cord of St. Francis remains attached to the figure.

I can't afford him, but I inquired about the price nonetheless - I'll update when i find out.  If I could afford him, I'd like to run away to hermitage with him, and live the rest of my life - the hermitage would have to be attached to a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament of course, and another statue of Our Lady would have to accompany us.  See!  Too many necessities, conditions required.  It's not meant to be.

S. Diego, or Didicus is indeed the patron of San Diego in California, as well as the patron of a little friend of mine far, far away, whom I pray for all the time.

The saint's feast day moves about depending on which calendar one is using.  The OFM's have theirs, the Ordinary Form has it another day, and of course the old calendar has it another day.  I kept his feast yesterday, and late last night, when I couldn't sleep, S. Diego visited me with this image online.

Diego is one of those Franciscan lay brother saints who became very, very holy by living in fidelity to his state in life - ordinary life.

 
So sad - I just found out the retail is $15,000.00.

So it is a business...



Catholic blogs.

Patheos is the best organization I have ever worked for — they’re great people who, much like Rome, really do want to do their best for everyone — but they are very much like Rome, too, in that everything takes longer than the world thinks it should. - The problem with Patheos


 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is stunning. Archbishop Vigano at Notre Dame.



Not that Vigano was at Notre Dame, but what he said there.

I came across it at WDTPRS:
(CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ² has told the University of Notre Dame that there is a concrete “menace” to religious liberty in the U.S. that is advancing in part because some influential Catholic public figures and university professors are allied with those opposed to Church teaching.

“Evidence is emerging which demonstrates that the threat to religious freedom is not solely a concern for non-democratic and totalitarian regimes,” he said. “Unfortunately it is surfacing with greater regularity in what many consider the great democracies of the world.”

He discussed martyrdom, persecution, and religious freedom, with a particular focus on the United States.
“There is a divisive strategy at work here, an intentional dividing of the Church; through this strategy, the body of the Church is weakened, and thus the Church can be more easily persecuted,” the nuncio said. - WDTPRS
 
I say it is stunning not because I fear persecution and martyrdom so much - if God grants me the grace! - but because the hierarchy is acknowledging the threat publicly.  Most of my life I've been dismissed when I would talk about persecution and martyrdom coming to the United States.  As a kid, the nuns said it would never happen here - and over the years religious people have pretty much dismissed the 'likelihood' in our lifetime. 

Art:  Martyrs of Gorcum.  Imagine - they were killed simply for their faith in the Blessed Sacrament and their fidelity to the Pope.  Not all of them were all that holy either...
One of the secular priests killed was notorious for his unchastity. When accused of this by his captors, he offered his famous reply, “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was.” - Source
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Catholic New Media Use in the United States, 2012

Stepfordism


Inquisitor minds want to know...

Ha!  Just kidding.  Like Mark Shea wrote a few days ago - I write the way I speak in a conversation - this blog is a casual web log.  Dawn Eden calls me a 'diarist' - so you won't find great literature here - just a POV.  Catholic "New" media isn't so new - I've been blogging since 2006 - other old timers have been online ever since Al Gore invented the Internet.  New media is a term which works for conventioneers or Catholics with a mission, an apostolate to the digital continent, casting out into the digital sea.  I get it.

Nevertheless, I'm just a Catholic who has a blog.  I am a Catholic layman who writes about his life and his experience of life.  I'm a Catholic.

This past weekend in Baltimore Catholic bloggers gathered for “An Encounter With Social Media: Bishops and Bloggers Dialogue,” an event sponsored by the Department of Communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Not long ago there was a blogger convention in Rome.  Someday there will probably be a canonical recognition of the order of bloggers.
“The CARA report suggests many opportunities for the Church to engage with those who live on the ‘Digital Continent,’ as Pope Benedict XVI describes this new culture of communications,” said Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications. “We can approach this as missionaries, eager to find God already present among the inhabitants of this world and to engage them, especially young people, in meaningful dialogue about morals and values in this new public square.”
“In this context, the role of the laity becomes ever more central,” said Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in a message to the bishops and bloggers gathered in Baltimore. “The ‘voices’ of the many Catholics who are present in blogs, social networks and other digital forums are reaching people who might not otherwise encounter the message of Jesus.” - Source

 
Works for me - but I rather think this all comes under the heading of ordinary life.  Unless you are a professional writer/blogger - but then I'm about as interested in you as I was in the local diocesan newspaper.  Not so much.  It's like EWTN - it falls into a formula. 

Being online is part of ordinary life.  When grandma blogs about etiquette and dad blogs about beer and your daughter Tweets fashion and your nephew is into sexting - it's ordinary life.  Right now, the digital continent is exactly what the first world was to the third world - I doubt many people in the slums and barrios of the world are reading Catholic blogs when they don't even have broadband. 

Evangelizing culture then, are we?  That's ordinary life.  If you are interested, St. Josemaria Escriva developed an entire spirituality based on the greatness of ordinary life.

So anyway.  There is an etiquette in development by Catholics who write books and appear to lead the way in the new evangelization online as well as on the Church-basement-lecture-circuit.

Blunt Commandments for faith bloggers....

We are one body...  Of course we are, and the proceeds go to charity and - never mind.

One thing about Catholic bloggers however is they are way too sensitive to criticism.  There is a real tendency to believe everything they write carries some sort of imprimatur or that their interpretation of what the pope said is absolutely the correct one - or that everything the pope says is infallible.  "Ok, let's suppose the pope said that he thinks it's going to rain tomorrow..."  Not a few seem to see themselves on a mission from God, especially those who studied theology and are pretty much under-employed, or simply like to pontificate. 

Yes the Holy Father did say “Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for 2000 years.”   That's cool.

And here comes the Roman penchant for legislation...  the parochial system of approval and control... the Blunt Commandments:
As in the secular media, the social-media tsunami has rocked the old-guard religious publications.

For Catholics, diocesan newspapers long served as the official establishment voices, often clashing with independent publications on the left and right, as well as those produced by religious orders such as the Jesuits. Now, Catholic bloggers have emerged as a quick-striking source of alternative commentary and information — often from a sharply pro-Vatican point of view.

“The Catholic blogosphere is probably one of the most orthodox parts of the American church, in large part because there were so many people who feel like the church is being attacked and they want to defend it,” said T.J. Burdick, a Catholic educator who edited the new “One Body, Many Blogs” e-book.
First, said Marc Barnes of the Bad Catholic blog: “Don’t suck. There is a tendency within the Christian world to think the work we do will be good work, if only we do it for God.” Anything less than excellence “is no service to God, no matter how well we think we are witnessing, giving testimony, or whatever Christian euphemism we want to use to disguise the fact that we can’t be bothered to make something awesome.”

Never assume “everyone who reads your work has the same viewpoint on issues of faith,” wrote Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.

com. “Find a Jewish, Protestant or even atheist friend or acquaintance and invite them to join you for a cup of coffee and a peek at your blog. While they view it, watch carefully how they interact with your content and what lasting impressions they have in reading your work.”

Along that line, but in pews, Deacon Greg Kandra advised: “Keep an open mind to the many ways there are of being Catholic. Not everyone loves the Latin Mass. Not everyone adores strumming guitars and liturgical dance.” When in doubt, he added, “Ask yourself periodically: WWJB?” - Source
 
Please, don't go making wrist bands or bumper stickers that ask WWJB.  Please don't go looking for a token Jewish, Protestant, atheist friend to read your blog. And Barnes is right - don't suck.  Don't suck-up, that is.  It's so Stepford, and sort of pathetic too.

I'm just a Catholic. 

Oh look!  I have a blog too. 

Kumbaya!

Dental hygiene



And latex-plastic gloves.

I think dentists and other health care workers began using gloves when the AIDS scare began.  Food service workers also use them to avoid cross contamination of food and utensils.

I was at a bagel shop ordering a sandwich a few years ago and watched the gloved worker make sandwiches, wiping the sandwich board with a damp rag - the same rag he used to wipe his gloves after ringing up customers and coming back to make the next person's sandwich - never washing his gloves nor bothering to change them between each activity.  Needless to say, he never sanitized the tools he was using either.

Likewise at the dentist's office.  Both the hygienist and the dentist wore gloves.  Both worked in my mouth - the dentist coming into the room from working on another patient had his hands in my moth to inject anesthesia.  The hygienist did paper work, dropped an instrument on the floor, picked it up, then went to retrieve an ex ray, came back in, worked on  cleaning my teeth....  never cleaned, changed, or removed her gloves at any point.  In fact, as I was paying at the desk, she wrote in my chart, invited the next patient in, and never washed her 'gloves'.

Yeah.  So I wonder where I picked up my infection?

I used to be a hypochondriac when I had health insurance, I went to the doctor all the time, mostly to get attention and pity.  Kidding - or am I?  Now however, since I've been uninsured for six years, I do not like to go at all.  I'm not and never have been a mysophobe, nor do I go to extremes to protect my health.  Of course I do things like get a flu shot and wash my hands frequently and do not use other people's chapstick - but that's about it.  I'm fine with getting sick - it is something to offer up.

But listen up health care workers, food service people, barbers and hairdressers* - remember your training.  Wash your hands, sanitize your instruments and workplace.  You can protect yourself - but it is your duty to protect your clients in the process.  That's why you wear the gloves.

*I go to a neighborhood guy to get my haircut - he has a shop - he never cleans his instruments, even after he drops them on the floor.  He used a towel to dry my hair before cutting it and was offended when I told his it smelled like mildew.  I know!  I sound like an old lady, but how hard is it to sanitize your tools and launder your towels?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting crafty...

S. Pascal Shrine


Painted by the blind.

I've been sick and cranky lately - I bet some readers may have noticed.  Add to that, my eyes are getting worse, so the surgery I keep putting off has to be done fairly soon.  I had to get my yearly physical and some dental work done first.  In the meantime, I've taken a break from serious painting to make my retablo stuff.  I've updated the art blog with a couple pieces that are somewhat presentable.  The one shown here is a wood panel I outlined with brass and added a tea-light votive holder to work as a kitchen shrine.

Religious Broadcaster News: Al Gore to launch 24 hour show.

Al



Signs... The Warning.

Al Gore, Climate Change* prophet on the "disturbing signs of things to come."
OTTAWA – Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore will try to make the case next week that "dirty energy" is contributing to what he calls "dirty weather" events around the world.

"Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come," Gore wrote in a recent opinion piece in the Huffington Post. "We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather."

Gore will deliver his message on Nov. 15 through a new presentation in New York as part of his Climate Reality Project, to be broadcast on the Internet. The initiative was launched last year as a 24-hour event with slide-show presentations from around the world, highlighting the latest news about human influence on global warming.

In his victory speech Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that Americans want their children to live in a country that "isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet." - Source
 
Sins... "vexatious litigant"

Greed and avarice and, and, luxury and deception?  There's money in religion - any religion.  Take your pick.
Amid the latest drama surrounding the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), should mainstream ministries seek reform or pull their programming?

Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch and its chief financial officer until September 2011, has accused network directors of illegally distributing "charitable assets" worth more than $50 million for their personal use. In response, TBN has filed half a dozen lawsuits nationwide accusing Koper and her husband of engaging in a smear campaign to divert attention from their own financial sins.

The filings recently prompted a California federal judge to threaten to brand the network a "vexatious litigant" because its lawsuits seemed designed to "overwhelm the courts … so as to avoid a rational decision on the merits."
 
The Trinity Foundation, a group long critical of TBN, publicly called for ministries associated with evangelical icons such as Billy and Franklin Graham, Charles Stanley, Ron Luce, Jack Graham, and the late Adrian Rogers to withdraw from the network's airwaves.
 
"It's a spiritual and moral snake pit," said Trinity founder Ole Anthony. "TBN uses these legitimate preachers to justify [its] existence." - Source
 
""TBN uses these legitimate preachers to justify [its] existence."  Gee.  I wonder if bloggers ever thought about doing that in order to boost donations and ad revenue?

"We were just trying to make a living!
A minister has a family to feed, house, clothe,
and vacations to take ..."




Disclaimer:  BTW - I accept global warming theory - but I'm just not convinced man is entirely responsible for it.  It just might be part of Mother Earth's cycle - PMS maybe.

H/T Meryl Streep for the Jan Crouch photo/story.