Saturday, September 11, 2021

In Memoriam

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.

For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Prayers for Dom Mark

“Christ appearing to Saint Lurgarde” - Gaspar de Crayer

 Asking pardon and praying for his intentions.  May Our Lady Undoer of Knots undo every problem and difficulty.  May Our Lord Jesus take care of everything, repairing every slander, calumny and detraction.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Hypocrisy in the Church

Is particularly detestable.

Ever since the article concerning Fr. Benedict's version of the visitation at Silverstream, involving the former prior Fr. Mark, I have been pondering the story and why I involved myself.  I never had to offer information regarding my association or correspondence with those involved.  I suppose I thought I was lending support in the 'private investigations' conducted by others - first involving the book, In Sinu Jesu, and second, the troubling relationship experienced by Fr. Benedict with Fr. Mark.  Having been 'unfriended' by Fr. Mark, along with the sense of being 'scorned' maybe that influenced my decision - or maybe the developments revealed by news stories simply confirmed my sense that something was off, that I called it way back when, and desired to have my insights validated?  So what?

What is it to me?

Perhaps My insights into dissimulation, lies and cover-up is because I know how to do the same things?  Perhaps my skepticism regarding private revelations and ostentatious piety is because over the years, I had adopted an external show of piety and fidelity to safeguard my reputation and find acceptance in the Church.  Although I found out that doesn't work at all - there are always those who speculate and investigate to find out if you are gay or ssa?  If you live with a man - you must be active sexually? If you say gay or use LGBTQ you must be gay, and so on.  Likewise, when they got you pegged, it makes no difference if you are living in accord with Catholic teaching or not.  You're gay - even though they insist on SSA, or ex-gay - you are still branded.  It is what it is - disagree all you want - it is what it is.

Formalism and Decorum.

Pope Francis has consistently taught against that formalism and concern for honor and reputation which infects religious people and dictates decorum.  It is why he upsets so many in the church.  It is also why his precautions cause me to examine my conscience in ways I was never able to do before.

The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians and focused on the dangers of the law by looking at the apostle Peter's "inconsistency" at Antioch.

Gentile Christians were free from the Jewish law, but there was pressure from people from Jerusalem that caused Sts. Peter and Barnabas to draw back from what the Gospel said.

That is why, in his letter, St. Paul condemns St. Peter "to his face because he clearly was wrong" by trying to appease critics who still observed Mosaic law and to justify his hypocritical behavior.

"Peter had been eating with the Christians of pagan origin without any difficulty; however, when some circumcised Christians from Jerusalem arrived in the city, he then no longer did so, because he did not want to incur their criticism," Pope Francis said. - Hypocrisy in the Church.
"Watch out. The mistake was paying more attention to the criticism, to make a good impression than the reality of the relationships," the pope said.

So, I have to watch out.  I have to examine myself.  One has to be especially careful not to destroy the reputation of others to make a good impression or to avoid criticism.  It's better to be found out and be who you are.  Actually, I don't know what I'm trying to say, I can't sum this one up - I'm still examining my conscience in this regard.  I accuse myself...

The Father makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. - Matt 5:45

Perhaps Our Lord and Our Lady really do engage in book length locutions to show their love for mankind.  Though I'm skeptical of many locutions, which are subject to interpretations as well as limitations, my point is that they in no way are a guarantee of the recipients sanctity or impeccability.  So - they can be authentic and deeply inspire the person who prays, they can also be the product of seasoned meditation, albeit inspired.  (I think the The Imitation of Christ is a good example.)

That was an important understanding for me.  Remember from the film, The Sound of Music the song, 'Something Good'?  I was always charmed by this particular lyric, "So somewhere in my youth or childhood - I must have done something good."  Yet everything is grace, every good gift flows to us from the Divine Mercy.  

Last week I asked for rain - specifically asking for an inch to 2 inches.  It rained over night, 1.5 inches.  I thanked God, of course.  I asked for more, and by Sunday, 3.5 inches more filled my rain gauge.  I used to sometimes imagine 'because I pray, or because I'm in the state of grace, God heard my prayer.'  It's like thinking, 'I must have done something good.'  See how vain, even presumptuous that thought is?  Yet it is the "Father who causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust."  That doesn't mean we don't have to try and be good or that we shouldn't ask good things from the Father in prayer.  Nevertheless, it seems to me, being convinced of our own self-righteousness gives us an 'in' with God, is very much a part of that hypocrisy the Holy Father warns us against.  

"Hypocrisy can be seen as a "fear of the truth. It is better to pretend rather than be yourself," he said.

Wherever people are living "under the banner of formalism, the virus of hypocrisy easily spreads," he said, mimicking the kind of strained, forced smile one might see — a smile "that doesn't come from the heart," but comes from a person "who tries to get along with everyone," but, in the end, gets along with no one.

"Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth," he said. "For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving" because they are limited by their ego and cannot "show their hearts transparently."

Hypocrisy can be hidden at a workplace "where someone appears to be friends with their colleagues while, at the same time, they stab them behind the back due to competition," he said." - Hypocrisy

As for Silverstream - the ultimate decision as a result of the Visitation, is up to the Church to decide.  Sadly, the actors have all defamed themselves - reputations ruined, perhaps vocations lost.  That really is regrettable.   

""To act other than truthfully means jeopardizing the unity of the church, that unity for which the Lord himself prayed," the pope said." - ibid

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” - Dostoyevsky

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

You know what?

I changed my mind.

I don't know enough to discern whether or not the stories emerging from Silverstream Priory, concerning Fr. Mark Kirby, are all that serious as I once thought they were. (Including my skepticism regarding In Sinu Jesu.)  So far there appears to be no canonical or civil crime as a result of the 'whistleblower' complaint.  The most serious repercussion seems to be Fr. Mark being replaced as prior - while he remains part of the community.  As one friend on FB told me: "I read the whole thing. Lots of accusations but none of them appear nuclear. He hugged too much, etc. Why would he want to send them to prison for financial oversights? Lots of accusations."

After some correspondence with others, it appears the scandal didn't rise to any sort of cult activity, much less anything decadently sexual.  Boundary issues are real, as are inordinate attachments and affections.  It's obvious a negative culture developed, perhaps a co-dependent toxicity tainted the pastoral atmosphere, not to overlook issues related to religious governance and the duties of the Cellarer - which were perhaps not well managed.  Therefore the monk who called for a visitation, was not wrong in doing so.

After reading The Pillar piece several times, I have to say the article was rather objective.  I first read the piece persuaded by my own bias and suspicions regarding Fr. Mark.  There are things about Kirby I find very strange, some of Fr. Benedict's narrative confirmed many of my own misgivings, the relationship between the two also reminded me of my own experiences with other religious superiors, novice masters and even a couple friends of Fr. Mark.  So I assumed there was more to the stories - some sort of smoking gun of decadence and corruption.  I realize that is not the case.  

Therefore, as I responded to my FB friend: "I think you are right that it all seems pretty minor. The financial oversights can most likely be accounted for. I knew one of the owners at Loome's (A theological bookstore) and mentioned Fr. Mark once.  They loved him because he placed huge orders for books as soon as he began the house in Tulsa. Thus it appears, all the extravagant spending was to build and furnish a suitable priory. It's not a crime. I think Fr. Mark's main fault would have to be he's a bit eccentric and a bit grandiose. Otherwise the community seems to be doing well. Much ado about nothing."

I was wondering how something like this would have gone down in an established abbey.  What would the abbot do?  How would this be handled?  Yet that's part of the problem, Fr. Benedict had no one to go to save the bishop and the request for a visitation.  If the visitation is concluded, the known results are not sensational, and the community remains.  If it is ongoing, I do not believe a public disclosure such as The Pillar article will, be all that helpful.  I read a comment online from another monk who simply said, 'the whole thing is a mess.'  Or something to that effect.  

It's best left up to the Church to sort out.  I believe Fr. Benedict, BTW.  I hope he comes through this and no harm is done to him.  I also hope, if it is God's will, Silverstream survives.  Another monk-friend reminded me that God writes straight on crooked lines.  I hope Fr. Mark comes through this unscathed as well.  I apologize for budding in, trying to say 'I told you so'.*  I lose more than I could possibly gain when I do such things.  I repent.

"All are made drunk from the cup of the whore of Babylon."

"Where does this poisonous harm fail to reach? And who fails to drink little or much from the golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? ...There is hardly anyone of high rank or low, saint or sinner, who does not drink of her wine, subjecting his heart somewhat. For as pointed out in Revelation 17:2-4, all the kings of the earth were inebriated with the wine of her prostitution. She reaches out to all states, even the supreme and illustrious state of the priesthood, by setting her abominable cup in the holy place, as Daniel asserts [Dn. 9:27], and she hardly leaves a strong man who has not drunk a small or large quantity of wine from her chalice..." - John of the Cross, Ascent III, 22:4

Friday, August 20, 2021

All are made drunk from the cup of the whore of Babylon...

Vision of S. Hildegard
Giovanni Casparro

The miseries of the Church.

As a sort of follow up to my post yesterday, and as a kind of contradiction to those online opposed to exposing the latest priest and bishop using social media to hook up for sex, I want to share a 2010 Christmas address by Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia. In his extensive greeting, the Holy Father laments that amongst the great tribulations of that year, the worst seems to have been how the priestly sexual abuse scandal went global - right in the middle of the Year of the Priest.  (I wonder what he thinks today?)

The torn garment..

The Holy Father likens the Church to a vision of St. Hildegarde, wherein she saw the garment of the Church torn and her feet all muddied by the crimes of her ministers. Pope Benedict asks where these sins came from, and what must be done to avoid them. He cites the decadence of culture saying:
We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.

"In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.
... trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities...
We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity.
The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.
Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.
In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today." - Source

What is happening cannot be dismissed as homophobia just because vocal elements on Catholic social media are engaged in creating a sort of moral panic over every revelation of sexual activity or misconduct.  It is much deeper than all of that.  I've been so perplexed by how otherwise holy men and religious personages could engage in habitual sinful behavior, as well as somehow justify the behavior, while living what we've all considered an exemplary life.  I'm thinking of Jean Vanier, his spiritual directors, and even McCarrick and others.  What kind of spirituality admits sexual affections within a celibate, chaste life?  

It may be too simple, yet it seems to me, a key to understanding it may be Pope Benedict's conclusion: "Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today." 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

When they try to tell you to shut up...

They may have something to hide.  (Updated 7 September 2021)

Pope Francis famously said the very rigid have something to hide - I agree.  It's not just trads however.  In the news this week, Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva, 60, of São José do Rio Preto, Brazil, resigned over explicit images of him masturbating in a hook-up conversation with another man on his cell phone.  I wondered if he knows Monsignor Jeff Burrill - or is this just SOP among gay clergy?  Yet that's not what this post is about.

When they say you're being uncharitable...

They probably have something to hide.  That happened with a priest I knew.  (Actually, it happened with many priests who read my blog when I used to write critically on the subject of gay priests.  Who are not gay BTW, but same sex attracted.)  Sometimes my posts would be facetious and I'd get called out, other times I would be reminded of my own past, asked how I'd like it if it was exposed?  It had been, so been there, done that.  It wasn't until I began pointing out a few indiscreet conversations made by my priest friend, that I began to get these rebukes to shut-up, as well as corrections in the form of reprimands, accusations of being holier than thou, and eventually the silent treatment until finally complete 'unfriending' in the social media sense.  

Guilt ensues.

Naturally, I felt I was the bad guy - his manipulative, shaming technique worked.  I shut up, stayed away and second guessed every gut feeling I had.  I felt I was going against a holy priest, a mystic, a founder - one whose vocation it was to establish a safe place for priests.  He wanted to help priests who suffered with same sex issues and associated behaviors.  It was a magnanimous undertaking and well funded, backed by bishops, who was I to question?  It wasn't my place to do that.  Case closed.

A monk who alleges abuse came along.

I don't know the monk.  His name is Fr. Benedict Andersen.  His story reminded me of my own experiences.  I never lived with the priest I was referring to above, but Fr. Andersen's story is somewhat relatable, as well as convincing, based upon my limited impressions. Yet one must remember, Andersen's story is one sided - and although he made it a matter of public discourse, the findings of the visitation are not public.  I'll link to the story immediately below, and then editorialize a bit afterwards.

"Almost nothing about Fr. Benedict Andersen’s experience of the Catholic Church has been typical.
He was baptized a Catholic, but raised in evangelical communities, and spent most of his twenties in the Orthodox Church. He became a priest in 2014, but was never formally a Catholic seminarian, and was not yet a solemnly professed member of his monastery when he was ordained.
And all of his experience as an adult Catholic coincides with his time at Silverstream Priory, a well-known Benedictine monastery, of which Andersen was a founding member.
Unusually, he took the habit at the same time he returned to the full communion of the Catholic Church — he “went to confession, made a profession of faith, and a couple minutes later I was clothed in the habit,” he recalls.
Some of that is unusual enough to raise the eyebrows of canon lawyers. “As I’m learning, a lot of things were not done in the right Silverstream Priory,” Andersen told The Pillar.
Andersen now says he is in another unusual situation: he is out of ministry and without priestly faculties, living thousands of miles from his monastery, and accused of a canonical crime he insists he didn’t commit.
The priest claims that since he spoke out about years of troubling behavior within his monastic community, he has been ostracized, accused of violating the confessional seal, and been left without a ministry, a home, or a way forward.
That’s another unusual thing about Andersen: While his monastery, Silverstream Priory, is frequently praised by Catholics as an example of thriving Benedictine religious life, the priest says it was for him also a place of harassment and manipulation, which he reported to his bishop in April 2020, and to official visitors soon after that." - The Pillar 


What do I think?

First, there is so much wrong with this story. When M. Teresa sought permission to found the Missionaries of Charity, her bishop grilled her on the responsibility she would have for the souls of those who would sign on.  She was responsible for their welfare, for their vocations - for their souls.  Thus I cannot understand Fr. Mark.  The editors of The Pillar article seem to express a level of skepticism over the formation and what I at first thought was a rush to ordain Fr. Benedict.  Although I understand his seminary formation was in an Orthodox setting, I wondered about his formation as a Roman Catholic seminarian, especially regarding moral theology.  That said, the Bishop of the place accepted him and validly ordained him.

Fr. Kirby was a Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, shortly before the community was suppressed.   Before that, he was living in a Cistercian monastery in Canada.  I first met him at the Sisters of Jesus Crucified when he and another fellow were seeking to establish their own Benedictine community in the mid-1970's.  He was not ordained as yet, but later, he and his friend were ordained.   The story by Fr. Benedict led me to speculate on several points, which I have since removed simply because the subject objected to what I had written.  I apologize.

"A person's reputation may be injured in various ways, notably by detraction and calumny or slander. Detraction is the unjust violation of the good reputation of another by revealing something true about him." - Fr. Hardon

The Pillar article speaks for itself and encapsulates nearly every detail of Benedict's complaint against Fr. Kirby and his foundation.  He expressed hope that Kirby could be replaced.  

"Andersen said he hoped Kirby would be removed or resign, and that the Silverstream Benedictines would be encouraged or directed to join a federation of Benedictine monasteries, for the sake of some stability as they grew, and to provide temporary leadership for the young, small, and — in his view — dysfunctional Silverstream Priory." - The Pillar

That's rather devastating, coming from a co-founder of a community. It's one thing to reveal all of this to the Visitors and the diocesan authorities, it's quite another to do so publicly.  This is far more damaging than anything I could ever have said, even my writing about it here.   

I think, seeing the visitation appears to be open ended, enough damage may have been done that the community will be suppressed.  The irony in not lost on me, since the former Prior set out to found a refuge for priests suffering crisis - at least that was his intent in Tulsa.  Like I said, there is so much wrong with this story.

Is the truth is coming out?

In my experience, I sometimes thought some religious people leave established monasteries to make their own foundations, just because they want to do their own thing, adding in all the trappings of tradition and sacred atmosphere they prefer, to make them feel more religious.  Surrounding themselves with like minded people, if they can recruit them and form them into their own image of what they believe monastic life should be.  

As Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, is quoted as saying about the investigation of new religious foundations: “Therefore, much more attention should be paid when discerning the need, benefit and usefulness for the church when approving associations whose canonical recognition is underway.” - Source

Of course, this is all just my opinion, based upon my own experience and observation.  I may be wrong.  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Monsignor with a great deal of influence.

Monsignor Burrill.

For me, this story is similar to the McCarrick scandal - except it doesn't involve minors.  As General Secretary, Burrill had a great deal of influence at the USCCB.  He was the man in charge of sexual abuse policy.

"In 2018, the priest was a member of the USCCB’s executive staff and charged with oversight of the conference’s pastoral departments. He and several senior USCCB officials met with Pope Francis Oct. 8, 2018, to discuss how the conference was responding to ecclesiastical scandals related to sexual misconduct, duplicity, and clerical cover-ups.

Burrill, then second-in-command at the conference, is widely reported to have played a central role in coordinating conference and diocesan responses to the scandals, and coordinating between the conference and the Vatican.

Data app signals suggest he was at the same time engaged in serial and illicit sexual activity.

On June 20, 2018, the day the McCarrick revelations became public, the mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted hookup app signals at the USCCB staff residence, and from a street in a residential Washington neighborhood. He traveled to Las Vegas shortly thereafter, data records show.

On June 22, the mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted signals from Entourage, which bills itself as Las Vegas’ “gay bathhouse.”" - The Pillar

Burrill's use of Grindr, visits to baths and bars, is pretty gay.

It's not like a sort of accidental fall from grace, or a 'slip up' in behavior.  It signals a kind of hardcore activity involving gay encounters and familiarity with the active, gay social milieu.  From what I've read, Grindr is comprised of sexually explicit material.  Years ago, gay newspapers used to have personals columns, along with ads for bars and bathhouse, as well as massage, to facilitate hookups.  Today there is social media.  It takes guts to get involved with people for sex in that way.  The first time one does stuff like that is a bit intimidating.  After practise it gets easier, if you will.  If the app evidence is true, Burrill was seasoned and well practised.  

Having said that, what I'm suggesting is that The Pillar story did not out Burrill, since he is obviously gay.  What the article did do is reveal what is essentially public behavior, albeit clandestine.  Burrill is a public figure, morally compromised and corrupt.  He's a high ranking official in the American Church, responsible for how the Church handle sexual abuse cases and discipline for offender.  It wouldn't be a stretch to bring into question his attitude towards gays in the priesthood, his influence over seminarians and any cover up of a homosexual culture in the priesthood.  

So many questions pop up - for instance, we still have never received the full report on McCarrick.  

Lulled to believe gay is a neutral condition.

Or a third way, which 'if one seeks God' one should not judge.  If we are 'building a bridge' to LGBTQ persons estranged from the Church, those offended that the Church teaches the inclination itself is towards an objective disorder, one ought to let go of any attitude which can be interpreted as homophobic.  Hence, many ordinary Catholics, especially those who embrace Catholic teaching and strive to live chaste, celibate lives, are very careful not to judge, much less identify persons by their sexual preference or proclivities.  Bishops and priests, in a position of power and influence - even at the Vatican - can offer an impression of pastoral care and accompaniment, while privately, that accompaniment entails evangelizing on Grindr, at bathhouses in Vegas, and gay bars around town.

Upon hearing the news of Burrill's resignation, I too jumped to the conclusion that he was unfairly outed and he lost his job due to this invasion of his privacy.  Gradually - I woke up.  The influence this particular monsignor had warranted the report.  He chose to resign and so far hasn't been heard from. The greatest danger his active homosexuality posed is how he may have influenced the Catholic response to gay issues within the clergy and how gay people are treated in the Church.  Is it because of influencers like Burrill that Courage Apostolate is often ignored and bishops prefer Fr. Martin's way of evangelizing?  

As a gay Catholic - living in accord with Catholic teaching - I get it that gay people are protective of one another.  I respect a lot of gay Catholics who oppose the language in Catholic teaching.  I am sympathetic to their claims of homophobia, despite the fact they can look down on people who promote Courage, including those who accept, defend and witness to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage.  Yet, that's not called homophobia in their literature.  My point is, gay priests and bishops, just like all of us, protect their confreres.  They protest when their secrets are found out.  They cover for them and frequently demonize the messengers.  

I have maintained that The Pillar did nothing wrong.

They alerted the USCCB about their findings and then they published.  It happens all of the time in politics and Church news sources.  If not there - on social media.  There are private citizens, parishioners, coworkers who research the moral lives of bishops, priests and laity.  I've had people search my records, I know people checked public records to see if I was married.  It was only a matter of time that Msgr. Burrill's activity was revealed.  I'm sure a Catholic tabloid like Church Militant is pissed they didn't break the story.  The truth does come out - 'nothing is hidden that will not be revealed.'  To be morally outraged that two guys with a news site published the story is in itself an extension of the same mindset which guided the bishops to cover up the abuse scandal.

The fact the Burrill's private life never included sex with minors, but was consensual between adults, means he didn't commit a crime.  He failed to remain chaste and sinned.  We all sin.  Therefore it will probably get swept under the rug - which is unfortunate, because it is immoral behavior and an indication of deeper corruption.  Catholic teaching is compromised.

I think defunding the USCCB might help.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Motu Proprio, Traditionis Custodes and Divine Providence

The souls of the just are in the hands of God:

It seems to me that Job's friends are among the commentators and critics of Traditiones custodes, as well as those who support Pope Francis' initiative.  There is so much one could say for and against - for many, the big focus has been upon the Traditionalists who voiced the initial outcry, condemning the 'mean ol' pope' as hating the Latin Mass and being a modernist, heretical, anti-pope.  Pretty much everything they thought of him since his election.  Likewise, so-called liberals cite the trad hostile reactions as proof against them, that they brought it upon themselves.  I tend to agree with that - but after several posts on FB, my opinion doesn't matter on any of it, despite the fact I've witnessed traditionalist hostilities since the early '70's and did my best to navigate through that narrow channel which divided the 'Spirit of VII' crowd and the 'Trad-Remnant-CUFF' zealots.

As I always say, I love Pope Francis and have no problem with what he says or does - even if I don't quite understand how it is reported some of the time.  I trust God.  Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.

Son, when thou comest to the service of God... prepare thy soul for temptation.

That said, I can't help ponder how all of this is permitted by God.  I trust in Divine Providence, I trust in the Divine Mercy.  These intense reactions, from all sides, certainly remind me of the Prophet Job and the testing he went through, the sufferings he endured, the shame before his friends, who afflicted him even more.  St. Therese understood it well, when she applied the Prophet's words to her own suffering, proclaiming, 'even if he should kill me I will trust him.'  Therese at the time, was going through her trial of faith sharing the lot of unbelievers who have no faith, no life, as it were - and certainly no light.  Pious platitudes did nothing to help - the only thing she could do is make acts of faith - unfelt.  Her senses and faculties darkened, accusing her, mocking her, blaming her - like Job's friends.

So the commentary flying around online regarding the Pope's provisions for the TLM is only natural, the criticisms - more accurately, condemnations and calumnies against the Holy Father - are another matter.  God cannot be pleased by them.  Just as God was not pleased with Job's friends.  So that is what I'm thinking about now, along with the scandal of Msgr. Burrill of the USCCB and all the debate that has aroused, along with attacks against Fr. James Martin and those who object to the buying of datamined information used to out him.  I commented on that as well - but it doesn't matter what I think, and I'm better off imitating Job's silence.

That said, I'd like to share a short excerpt on Job from Garrigou-Lagrange, Providence:

The trials of the just serve a higher purpose

chap. 42) Job makes his humble confession: "I know that Thou canst do all things.... I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceed my knowledge." He thus acknowledges that his complaining was excessive and his words sometimes unconsidered. Nevertheless the Lord tells Eliphaz: "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends, because you have not spoken the thing that is right before Me, as My servant Job hath.... Offer for yourselves a holocaust. And My servant Job shall pray for you. His face I will accept, that folly may not be imputed to you." And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job with even greater blessings than before, and he died in peace very advanced in years.
The clue to the whole book is to be found in the first chapter, where we are told how the Lord permitted the devil to try His servant Job. The conclusion, then, is obvious: If men are visited by God with tribulation, He does so not exclusively as a chastisement for their sins, but to prove them as gold is proved in the furnace and make them advance in virtue. It is the purification of love, as the great Christian mystics call it. In the prologue Satan asked (1:9) : "Doth Job fear God in vain?... His possessions have increased on the earth." Now we see how even in the greatest adversity Job still remained faithful to God. That this is the meaning of the trials sent upon the just is shown in many other passages of the Old Testament. - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Private revelations - more thoughts.

Thus says the Lord God! They shall know a prophet has been among them.
- Ezekial 2:5

Last week I finally talked to a priest friend of mine. It had been well over a year. We didn't discuss why that happened or why I never returned calls. I realized I didn't need to except to say, 'sorry it took me so long to get back to you.'

Whenever we do talk, we are on the phone for at least an hour, if not more. Last Sunday was like that.

I was a bit surprised that my friend seemed to be into private revelations - although not deeply. He rejected most of those I also find questionable and spurious. E.g. the M. Eugenia Ravasio messages, Luisa Piccarreta revelations, as well as others. Yet he mentioned how wonderful the book, In Sinu Jesu is. I mentioned that I knew the author - he had forgotten that. He preferred to think of it as written by an 'Anonymous Benedictine Monk.' It's more romantic I suppose. He mentioned the Bishops plan for a Eucharistic renewal seems to be almost based upon or inspired by that book. No doubt, many priests, including the bishops here, have read, and do use the book. I know the late Bishop Sirba did so. Fr. Mark's book is a spiritual best seller. I've read it, I've also read the blog posts published by Fr. Mark, posted long before the book was conceived. The meditations are edifying, and they are based upon his locutions. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it had been difficult for me to believe.

We are more than sated with contempt... - Ps 123

Over he years, after encounters with dubious mystics and their very loaded 'locutions' tainted by politics and bigotry, I just find it odd that so many in the Church are attracted to private revelations and seem to some extent guided by them. Inspired is one thing, guided another. I recall Fr. Gobi and how many priests are still a part of his movement, based upon his private revelations - some of which are absurd in retrospect. In my opinion, his messages became part of the many distorted messages now in circulation concerning the Fatima secret - which has been distorted over the years.

I pointed out the 'Locutions to the World' series, at one time promoted by Monsignor Esseff, and how these achieved a certain amount of credibility for clerics and I suspect, cloistered religious - just because they were made available through Esseff, who also happened to be the spiritual director of the anonymous seer.

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place... - Mark 6

When Nienstedt was here, another renewal program was launched based upon Matthew Kelly's 'Rediscover Catholicism' book, a kind of prototype for his Dynamic Catholic Institute, with the mission of "re-energizing the Catholic Church in America by developing world-class resources that inspire people to rediscover the genius of Catholicism." Kelly's spiritual mission is pretty much founded upon his private revelations from God the Father - which are based upon locutions from God the Father. Not a few young priests and seminarians were perhaps formed by Kelly's locutions. Fr. Mark Goring CC, was deeply influenced by Matthew Kelly's private revelations, as I'm sure not a few clerics in my archdiocese were, as well. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, especially since mystics throughout the history of the Church have contributed theological insights, the development of doctrine and liturgical practice, as well as the introduction of numerous devotions, eventually approved by the Church.  So, I may protest too much.

It just seems strange to me that so many priests and religious are so deeply influenced by private revelations and assorted alleged apparitions and pop-up mystics. It makes me wonder if this in itself is part of a weakening of faith and fidelity to the Holy Father and the bishops in union with him, not to mention, Vatican II?  Or is it filling a vacuum of authentic spirituality and prophetic leadership created by a stagnant, divided hierarchy and its bureaucracy?
I just don't know.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Breaking silence for a moment - a sort of 'bookmark' for later reference.

I'm disappointed in Fr. Z again.

He's dedicated an entire post on 'The question of two popes..." shamelessly questioning the validity of Pope Benedict and subsequently the election of Pope Francis. He deals with it as a response to his followers who have posed challenges and doubts - as well as fears. He presents his theories as a sort of mind exercise to help an already confused group of faithful, sort things out. It's a clericalist parlor game, one might expect to be engaged in while attending some stuffy-old monsignor's dinner party, seated around the the dining table, engaging in after-dinner conversation, as they sip their drinks and chew on their cigars.

Fr. Z is undoubtedly an admirer of Ann Barnhardt, referencing her posts on several occasions.  The woman thinks Francis is an anti-pope and says horrible things about the bishops and clergy - she makes Voris and Niles look like legitimate journalists. If he reads her, he knows all that.  He also must be well acquainted with Taylor Marshall, since he mentions Ed Mazza in conjunction with Barnhardt. Mazza is author of the theory that Pope Benedict XVI may still be Pope with Francis just Bishop of Rome. More or less.

Ironically, those who reject Francis as Pope strike me as the real ultramontanists - a term some use for those who support Pope Francis.  

Among these people, who no doubt hold the Archbishop Vigano crackpottery in high esteem, we can now locate Fr. Z. What a crazy assortment of misfit characters that group has become. Trads are not just traditionalists, I think they are fast becoming Tridentinists - if they are not already. Reject Vatican II and the Franciscan papacy and Magisterium, what are they? Perhaps Fr. Z hasn't sold his soul to all of that just yet - but it could happen if he keeps playing games like this.

Let’s play the mind exercise out a little more and hack through some of the issues which I have heard raised by, for example, Ann Barnhardt, who is without question of the mind that Benedict is still Pope and Francis is a usurper antipope. Along with Ann is a smart fellow with well-articulated arguments, Edward Mazza.
I’ll try to spin out what they have been discussing. I hope I don’t put my foot wrong and mischaracterize their positions. I’m happy to be corrected. - Fr. Z


Corrected by whom?