Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Correction


I removed the posts on the Cowboy Monks because of a Tweet from Fr. Ray Blake revealing Church Militant coercive tactics to elicit a condemnation of the Wyoming group and what was revealed by the whistleblower.  I posted the following on my FB page:

I was duped again. CM and Niles are underhanded and can't be trusted.
Evidently they contacted Fr. Ray Blake seeking commentary on the Cowboy Carmelites. I'm removing my links to the CM report.
fr. raymond blake
Church Militant has threatened me, or is this blackmail to stop any criticism.
"Are you ok with that? Your flock and bishop should know."
How else should that be interpreted?
Quote Tweet
Church Militant
· 6h
Replying to @raylblake
That's not an answer, Father. We asked you about what's taking place at the Wyoming monastery: a priest stripping down naked with novices under his care, and conducting spiritual direction in nothing but tight briefs.
Are you ok with that? Your flock and bishop should know.
3:16 PM · Jan 17, 2022·Twitter Web App

"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue - deceives himself, his religion is worthless." - James 1:26

I was deeply disturbed by the Tweet to Fr. Blake - it was indeed coercive and inappropriate.  

Today I restored the posts simply because of the comments left by readers, which were so insightful and thoughtful, offering a more objective perspective than what the CM Report offered.  

I'll never link to CM again, because of this incident.  I have to be so careful regarding my online reading and news reports, so tainted by bias and vindictiveness, not to mention those who publish in the hopes of increasing their stats and generate buzz - or simply to defame others through gossip and detraction.

Anti-clericalism is opposition to religious authority, especially in social or political matters.

Just about every site, every Catholic site; FB page, blog, Twitter, social media fringe news sites, apologetics sites, are at each others throats, digging up dirt, accusing one another, spreading propaganda and conspiracy theories and so on. Be they so-called liberal or conservative - all are busy with judging, condemning one another - especially those who dare criticize or refute their 'work' - for which they request donations!  All of this is done in the name of the Church, of Christ, defending the TRUTH, or to save the USA, to defend Life, or whatever their claim to orthodoxy may be.

"Nothing so tends to mask the face of God as religion; it can be a substitute for God himself." - Martin Buber

Friday, January 14, 2022

Novus Ordo Mt. Carmel Hermits

Counterfeit Carmel?

This is a follow up to the post anticipating the special report from Church Militant concerning the Cowboy Monks of New Mt. Carmel in Wyoming.  (My title is a take on their novus ordo of Carmelite rules.)  The report by Christine Niles was actually very good, non-sensational, well-researched and documented.  I found the whistleblower especially credible since he was backed up with a letter from a former Discalced Carmelite I had met.  Sr. Anne was a member of the monastery of nuns, adjacent to the original foundation of Carmelite Hermits the Wyoming founder came from.  I had no idea the nuns sponsored him for seminary and that Fr. Daniel left to found his own community so abruptly.  (Sr. Anne's dossier tells the story. It's a sad betrayal.)

I wasn't aware Sr. Anne left our Carmel (in good graces) to follow a call to found another community. She was a very practical, balanced religious, as far as I could tell in my interactions with her. I personally thought she would have made an excellent prioress. The letter reveals a lot about Fr. Daniel, and her account of his temperament and manner while he was here seems accurate. I found him rude and dismissive.

I don't want to add much commentary at this point, especially regarding the two Carmels here - both of which are very solid and healthy communities.  The Hermits - the male community - were taken in by the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance before Fr. Daniel left Lake Elmo.  Under the Calced Carmelites means they are a secure, autonomous community, within the Carmelite tradition, with what I assume are their own constitutions?  I'm not sure of the canonical terms.  Of course, our local Carmel of nuns is part of the Discalced Carmelite Order.  

That said, I'll post links to the Niles interview, the dossier of the whistleblower and Sr. Anne's account.  It's quite a story.  The Wyoming group sounds like a cult, the Prior - if all of this is true - sounds unstable and controlling to the extent of spiritual abuse.  

"Spiritual abuse is especially rampant in communities with sectarian aberrations." - Dom Dysmas de Lassus, O.Cart.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Pope Francis Endorses Courage!

It happened at the General Audience.

December 29, 2021.  Catholic media pretty much ignored it.

"“Courage is synonymous with fortitude, which together with justice, prudence and temperance is part of the group of human virtues called ‘cardinal,’” Pope Francis said. 
“It is a common misconception to consider courage a virtue exclusive to the hero,” he added. “In fact, the daily life of every person — you, me, all of us — requires courage: one cannot live without courage. Courage to face the difficulties of every day.” 
“In all times and in all cultures we find brave men and women, who in order to be consistent with their beliefs have overcome all kinds of difficulties, enduring injustice, condemnation, and even death,” he stated." - CNA

Some of my friends always feel slighted that Pope Francis seems to ignore Courage Apostolate, never officially endorsing the group.  Rather he praises Sr. Jeannine Gramick, New Ways Ministry and Fr. James Martin  for their outreach to LGBTQ persons who either do not agree with Catholic teaching and the principals of Courage, or resent those who consider Courage the only path to sanctity for gay people, and of course to those who reject Catholic teaching on sexuality outright and yet desire to live in communion with the Catholic Church.  It's another sign of contradiction on so many levels.

Seriously, when the Holy Father applauds 'courage' he is endorsing the faithful Christian who lives his life in courageous witness to Catholic teaching.  How can we not see that?  “It is a common misconception to consider courage a virtue exclusive to the hero,” he added. “In fact, the daily life of every person — you, me, all of us — requires courage: one cannot live without courage. Courage to face the difficulties of every day.” 

My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.

Again, to understand the Holy Father, we need to turn to the Gospel, in this case Luke and the story of the prodigal son - and in this instance, the father's gentle rebuke to the older son.

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. - Luke 15

In fact, that whole chapter reveals the Holy Father's method.  Calling souls, inviting them into the 'wedding feast' because the Father wants his house to be full - when the Bridegroom comes, he will separate the good from the bad.  

Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. - Matthew 22

Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.

I'm convinced the Pope recognizes that many go out to be with those on the peripheries, to accompany them, to be present, despite the risk of scandal and misunderstanding.  Some make mistakes, others remain faithful and sacrifice a great deal, but all are sinners in need of mercy - just like me.

This closeness is beautifully exemplified by the Little Sisters of Jesus, especially one the sisters who recently passed away, her name, Sor Barbara.

Last farewell to Sor Barbara, the 'sister of Muslims', in a mosque in Hermel (Lebanon)
At the funeral of Barbara of Jesus, the Shiites recited an invocation of Islam, Al-Fāti ḥa, which constitutes the first surah of the Quran, by the soul of the religious who worked in the poorest neighborhoods
A poster synthesized the popular feeling: «All the people miss it as a model of devotion, charity and purity»
Christians also mourn the death of the sister: “Great sorrow on earth and great joy in heaven for the passing of sorrow
During the years of the Lebanese conflict, that house represented a symbol of peace and peaceful coexistence for the inhabitants of the area. - Source


Sor Barbara of Jesus


There is another nun who does similar work with transgender persons in Argentina - a Discalced Carmelite, la Hermana Monica Astorga.  I've written about her before, when the Holy Father praised her work, as well.  We all know the Holy Father is against gay marriage and gender ideology, yet he praises the sort of outreach, accompaniment these religious do.  It is a sign of contradiction.

La hermana Mónica Astorga

The New Evangelization.

It is obvious that the Holy Father has a different perspective on evangelization than what we have been accustomed to - one that is closer to the mission and vocation of the Missionaries of Charity and followers of St. Charles de Foucauld.  I may be wrong, but it is how I understand the Pope.  Pope Francis' letter to Sr. Jeannine:

December 10, 2021
Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL

Dear sister,

Many thanks for your letter. It made me happy to receive the news about your 50th anniversary.

Your letter reminded me of “the style” of God… God has his own style to communicate with us. And we could summarize that style in three words: closeness, compassion, tenderness.

And I am thinking of your 50 years of ministry, which were 50 years with this “style of God,” 50 years of closeness, of compassion and of tenderness.

You have not been afraid of “closeness,” and in getting close you did it “suffering with” [compassion] and without condemning anyone, but with the “tenderness” of a sister and a mother.
Thank you, Sister Jeannine, for all your closeness, compassion and tenderness.

I pray for you. Please do not forget to pray for me. Greetings to Yayo (Obdulio).

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you.

Sr. Jeannine


It's a remarkable recognition and turn from the many censures Sr. Jennine has suffered in her outreach.  Because of those, I at times lacked charity and understanding towards her, New Ways and even Fr. Martin on occasion.  I apologize for that and pray in reparation for my sins against them.  I have lived my life in a great struggle to live according to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage, and I have no regrets - except for the times I failed to do so - or thought I was better because of it.  Thank God for the grace to recover through the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist, and for this Pope who has taught me so much.

'If I had not been accepted in Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge (for fallen women) and lived out my days there, unknown and despised among the poor penitents.' - St.Therese of Lisieux

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Another Monastic Community Under Investigation?

Premiering Thursday, Jan. 13th

I saw the CM ad on Facebook of course. The community they are looking at is the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming, a diocesan community - not sure of the canonical term, association of the faithful? They are also set up legally as The New Mount Carmel Foundation, Inc.. Which protects them from outside interference and assures their right to exist. Something like that, I'm not a legal expert.

Fr. Daniel is the founder and prior. He studied at the seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and was ordained for a community of Carmelite Hermits in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. That community has since merged as an autonomous community with what used to be known as the Calced Carmelites - Brothers of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. I'm avoiding technical details yet mention it to show that the hermits here are regularized within an established Carmelite order, with their own constitutions and so on. Therefore they may enjoy fuller canonical recognition because of their merger.

Effeminacy is a vice, in opposition to the virtue of fortitude or courage and perseverance.

I never asked why Fr. Daniel left to establish his community, sometimes referred to as the cowboy monks.  It is said Archbishop Etienne, the bishop of the diocese at the time invited them, and that would make sense.  I never heard anything untoward about either community.  There is an obvious perception of 'machismo' which colors the grandiosity of the New Mt. Carmel development.  I use grandiose loosely since the ambitious construction of hermitages, retreat center and chapel over the last ten years, reminds me a bit of the Grande Chartreuse - which developed over centuries.  New Mt. Carmel developed quickly.  The machismo comes across on their website with photos of manly-monks/cattlemen on horseback herding cattle.  It's pretty cool.  They also have written about Manliness and Manuel Labor on their Monastery website.  

All Carmelite Monks are required to root out effeminacy from their characters, learning to take responsibility for themselves in attaining all the virtues of a true man.

The Carmelite Monks' manual labor helps young men to discern their vocation. If young men despise manual labor, it is a good sign that they are not called to Carmel. With so much silence and solitude in Carmel, manual labor keeps a young man balanced in his nature. 8 hours of work, 8 hours of prayer and 8 hours of sleep provide a perfectly balanced lifestyle for monks to attain to holiness.  Men need a challenge. John Wayne explained it best when he said, "I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either." - Manliness and Manual Labor

 I don't disagree with that, though manual labor emphasis might be more typically associated with the role of lay brother in a Trappist abbey.  The emphasis is obviously a safeguard against effeminacy, which is stated plainly, although the vice of effeminacy isn't necessarily a problem limited to those with feminine mannerisms or even same-sex attraction - but the admonition seems to imply gay men need not apply.  I could be wrong.  Back in the day when Fr. Joseph was here, the seminary rectors were careful to avoid admitting gay men to seminary.  I recall a former rector, Fr. Michael Becker emphasizing that in an interview at one time.  (Can't find the source at this time.)  The emphasis on masculine spirituality and formation was and is important in the spiritual direction of seminarians in this archdiocese.  I mention this to perhaps help explain Fr. Joseph's POV. 

To the virtue of fortitude is also linked that of magnanimity, which leads to the lofty practice of all the virtues, avoiding pusillanimity and effeminacy, but without falling into presumption, vainglory, or ambition. - Three Ages

I've known very good men, some priests, with feminine characteristics and mannerisms; slight lisps, hissy esses, all the stereotypical mannerisms one can attribute to gay men. It does not ever mean a man is gay or even has homosexual inclination, nor that he is prone to the vice of effeminacy. I've also know men who have been very masculine who nonetheless exhibited faults and failings which suggest the vice of effeminacy. Frequently it has involved the failure to be perform or be faithful to the duties of their state in life, seeking comfort and ease, neglecting those in their charge , and so on. Effeminacy is a vice more aligned with cowardice, fear of effort, delicacy/weakness, even sloth, I think. Weakness related to pusillanimity and temerity - fear of the effort or difficulty involved in the acquisition of virtue.
If there is anything odd about the Carmelite Monks it is that their communal life is a bit more like OCD nuns than monks.  They also have a speak room with a double grille - which is unusual for men - yet in our time, perhaps it is a wise safeguard.  That said, there is nothing not to like about the community and the foundation.  It seems sort of a miracle how it has grown so quickly.  

So what is Church Militant up to with its upcoming 'expose, claiming the monastery needs to be shut down, with a provocative sound-bite claiming, "No straight man does that"?  I've written all of the above pretty much to demonstrate that there could be no room for anything which could warrant such a criticism.  I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Oh My! Look at the time - it's 2022

New Year means nothing to me.

Just a new calendar.

Nothing new here.  So.  We're all caught up then?

I spend too much time on FB and monitoring Twitter.  Although most of my FB time is spent watching home improvement videos, along with arts and crafts videos.  Otherwise I come across Catholic posts which generate controversy over fake news and conspiracy theories, which annoy me and sometimes I comment or post on it here, only to have my POV ignored.  Sometimes I form an opinion without knowing the facts and when I do, I sometimes moderate my tone.  I should really just shut up.

It's kind of fascinating having been on social media for so many years.  I've learned a lot, especially about others, no doubt others have learned a lot about me as well.  Knowing aspects of one's private life and beliefs contradicts what many people thought they knew about you - that works both ways of course.  

Now that I'm old a lot of that no longer matters.  At least I hope it doesn't.  Friending and unfriending on social media is absolutely meaningless.  People I have never met or knew once upon a time in the workplace are not friends in the sort of flesh and blood sense - therefore when they unfriend me, it's fine.  Unfriending means they never knew me in the first place - they believed me to be someone they wanted me to be.  Hence they were never friends in the first place.  

I was looking for something I once wrote on friendship.  Especially as it applied to same sex friendship.  It is an issue that has been gravely exaggerated due to the fact that same sex couple may now legally marry, although the Church cannot recognize SS marriage.  It's also been a concern to some Catholics if two men or two women share a house - are they lovers?  I've wasted much time on that subject, but again, those who did not know me, never understood what I was saying.  To be sure, it never should have been an issue and now, in 2022 it no longer is.

That said, I came across an extraordinary statement made by a former Priory of a monastic community who had been accused of certain improprieties with a member of his community.  I don't want to get into details of the scandal - both men have distanced themselves from me because I have shared my reflections on their situation and considered both actors were sufficiently aware of the objective boundary violations within the relationship.  The former prior unfriended me simply because I questioned the authenticity of his vocation within a vocation, for various reasons.  That's another story.

I do have to conclude there probably is something to the whistleblower's accusations and the prior's behavior.  A little thing the prior wrote, which I copied and pasted for a post I did, thinking it just might help people understand a chaste, same-sex friendship between laymen, could be very telling.  The link to the author's 2012 blog post has since been deleted.  The quote:

"... one must have friendships in life. [ . . .] Let yourself love. There is no danger so long as the spirit of prayer exists in you. And young priests have hours of loneliness that are very hard. They need affection and tenderness. If you don't give it to them, they will go looking for it just anywhere.

Also, at certain hours we need someone to show us affection: a mother, a sister, a brother. Otherwise, if the heart is not anchored, it goes anywhere at all, and is lost." - One must have friendships in life.

I believe this is significant, and ought to be reassuring to the whistleblower that something inordinate was involved in their rather small, albeit intimate community.

A long post about nothing. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Pray For Vocations

 I'm told the Trappists have very few vocations and many houses have small communities of mostly elderly monks.  I was reading the biographies of a few monks who were part of New Melleray Abbey.  One, Br. Conrad, I was able to meet before he died.  Such an edifying life.  Pray for us Br. Conrad.