Monday, March 18, 2019

I want to go home ...

Recovering from the flu. 

I finally made it to Mass and confession yesterday.  I was able to spend time in adoration but had to leave because my cough, which sounds bad, was scaring other adorers.  I had to leave Mass early as well.

I just want to mention a couple of things I think need to change at Mass - especially in flue season.  Stop holding hands and giving the sign of peace.  Just stop it.  I have a feeling that could be how I got sick in the first place.  Not sure.

Now that I'm old, I have difficulty kneeling, so I have to go to confession face to face, because I can sit.  Face to face confession is distracting.  I don't know where to look, and I forget that I'm confessing to Christ and I get caught up in the personality of the priest, and sometimes get confused.  I'm not looking for approval or anything like that, but it sometimes breaks down to a more natural exchange - I'm not sure how well I expressed that.

In the Mass and contemporary homiletics, as well as face to face confession, there can be a self-conscious concern for 'performance' and an expectation of reward or at least approval and affirmation.  I wouldn't mind some reform of the Mass and the sacraments more in line with the traditional rites.

Just saying.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life complaining or arguing about stuff like this, it's just that I kind of get why younger people are attracted to the traditional rite.  There is something banal about the ordinary form as it is celebrated in parish communities.

The announcements before the final blessing along with some of the fund raising presentation performances,  strike me as especially disconcerting.  It's usually all in the bulletin or online.   What a huge distraction from any recollection attained in Holy Communion, despite the constant singing throughout the thanksgiving.  (If I remember correctly there was very little musical accompaniment during Lent - not now of course.)  No wonder a huge cacophony of greetings and conversation erupts immediately after Mass.

Looks like I'm whining again.  My apologies.  I'm just an ordinary layman, steeped in sin since birth.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Something I discovered about St. John of God

Something hardly ever noted in popular accounts of his life.

He was abducted as a child.
John of God was born João Duarte Cidade (Portuguese form, the Spanish form is João Cidade Duarte) in Montemor-o-Novo, now in the District of Évora, Kingdom of Portugal, the son of André Cidade and Teresa Duarte, a once-prominent family that was impoverished but had great religious faith. One day, when John was eight years of age, he disappeared. Whether he had been deliberately kidnapped, or whether he had been seduced from his home by a cleric who had been given hospitality in the home, is not clear. According to his original biography, his mother died from grief soon after this and his father joined the Franciscan Order. 
The young Cidade soon found himself a homeless orphan in the streets of Oropesa, near Toledo, Spain. There, in a foreign land, he had no one to care for him, nothing on which to live and he had to be content with whatever food he could find. He was eventually taken in by a man called Francisco Mayoral and the boy settled down as a shepherd caring for his sheep in the countryside. - Wikipedia
"Seduced from his home by a cleric..."

I never noticed that before, nor do I recall coming across it in any biography of the saint.  As I noted on Facebook, St. John of God suddenly becomes an even more interesting saint, deserving of our notice in these days of child sexual abuse scandals by clergy, as well as the problem of human trafficking - especially as it involves children.

The abduction question seems to me to be more credible since it arose with his original biographer, Francisco de Castro.
Francisco de Castro was the chaplain at John of God’s hospital at Granada. As a youth he knew the Saint and he used material gathered from eyewitnesses and contemporaries of his subject. It was published at the express wish of the Archbishop of Granada who gave financial backing to its publication. Castro began writing in 1579, twenty-nine years after John of God’s death, but he did not see it published for he died soon after completing the work. His mother, Catalina de Castro, had the book published in 1585. - source
The suspicion he was taken by a cleric who might have seduced him is startling, and relates so well to our times.  Clerical seduction and abuse, albeit seemingly pervasive in the 20th century, is obviously not endemic just to our epoch.

How did John deal with it?

Obviously in his days complaints of abuse and ill treatment were not dealt with in the same manner we do today.  John didn't file lawsuits or claim PTSD, much less write a book on what he suffered as a child.  There's no evidence he complained of parental neglect or blamed any of his failings on the abuse he suffered.  He joined the military and had a string of occupations, even accused of theft and dereliction of duty.  Military life wasn't exactly virtuous, so I suspect - I may be wrong - that the saint has some moral problems as well.

After many travels and troubles, the saint had a vision of the Infant Jesus who instructed him to go to Granada, and gave him his name, John of God.  There he became a bookseller of devotional works.

Mental illness and sanctity. 

Later, after an intense conversion experience following a sermon by S. John of Avila, the saint encountered mental difficulties.  Some biographers suggested he feigned mental illness as a sort of 'fool for Christ', I wonder if it wasn't more a sort of purification, mixed with a sort of mystical grace which Teresa of Avila mentions when discussing the foolishness for Christ St. Francis of Assisi experienced.  I don't know what the Church says in that regard however.
"At the age of 42, he had what was perceived at the time as an acute mental breakdown. Moved by the sermon, he soon engaged in a public beating of himself, begging mercy and wildly repenting for his past life. He was incarcerated in the area of the Royal Hospital reserved for the mentally ill and received the treatment of the day, which was to be segregated, chained, flogged, and starved. John of God was later visited by John of Avila, who advised him to be more actively involved in tending to the needs of others rather than in enduring personal hardships. John gained peace of heart, and shortly after left the hospital to begin work among the poor." - Wikipedia
John of God was instructed in a vision of Our Lady to work with the poor, which he did, while many continued to suspect he was mentally ill.  Eventually the Bishop helped him and others came to assist him in his work, leading to the establishment of the Brothers Hospitaller.

Abducted, abused, orphaned, inconstant, eccentric, and no support group or therapy save the Love of God - Caritas.

He's a wonderful model for losers.

 Sancta dels Folls Dona Nostra i Desamparats Innocents 

Monday, March 04, 2019

What to give up for Lent?

I'm not sure that is the right focus.

Give something up and give alms.  It's classic, but it is only a pious practice without love.  The older I get, the more I understand giving up candy and cartoons really isn't what it's all about.  Giving up sin, yes.  Giving up things that lead to sin, yes.  Giving up legitimate joys and pleasures, yes indeed.  But why?

For love.

To love God - and our neighbor as ourselves, but most importantly, to fulfill the will of God:  You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. [Dt. 6:5].  In and through this supreme act of charity, we accomplish the other, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I like to approach Lent in this way:  Meditating on the counsels of John of the Cross, noting especially his teaching on the purification of the will through charity.  For me, it lends a more profound meaning and purpose to the observance of Lent.

For a treatise on the active night and denudation of this faculty, with the aim of forming and perfecting it in this virtue of the charity of God, I have found no more appropriate passage than the one in chapter 6 of Deuteronomy, where Moses commands: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength [Dt. 6:5]. This passage contains all that spiritual persons must do and all I must teach them here if they are to reach God by union of the will through charity. In it human beings receive the command to employ all the faculties, appetites, operations, and emotions of their soul in God so that they will use all this ability and strength for nothing else, in accord with David's words: Fortitudinem meam ad te custodiam (I will keep my strength for you) [Ps. 59:10].
The strength of the soul comprises the faculties, passions, and appetites. All this strength is ruled by the will. When the will directs these faculties, passions, and appetites toward God, turning away from all that is not God, the soul preserves its strength for God, and comes to love him with all its might. - Ascent Bk III, Ch. 16

Talk about what to give up and give alms - all must be an exercise in charity, a response of love, since as St. John notes, Without works of charity, faith is dead [Jas. 2:20].

Works for me.  I still need to pray for the grace to do it.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

What predatory homosexuality looks like.

Last year Fr. Altier spoke about the origins of the 'crisis'.

I took some time to digest it, and despite his inclusion of the Bella Dodd communist plants conspiracy theory - which seems to have some foundation in truth - especially in Europe - I believe Fr. Altier's version of things.  Especially since he had to face a great deal of difficulties in his seminary experience.  He knows what he is talking about. 

We need a priest like him to affirm Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage, and especially to recognize what homosexual abuse is and how it works.  Hence the title for this post.  One can't wave this off.  Predatory homosexuality is an inconvenient truth.  Especially in an all boys to men situation as in seminaries, high schools, Boy Scouts, sports, locker rooms, and so on.  Such environments can be opportune for predatory behavior - as everyone knows.  A friend on Facebook posted a link to Fr. Altier's homilyalong with his personal experience of seminary life in the late '90's.  His comments prompted me to post Altier's homily in order to save it in my archives. 

Where is the doctrinal integrity? Where is the moral teaching? Someone that is not living it is not going to teach it.

Now if we just use the McCarrick situation, since that’s been in the news, everyone is disgusted with what this man did to boys and to young men, and rightly so. But anybody, by the way, who thinks that all of this is just great – they’re such nice people and they’re no different – look at what McCarrick did: that is what predatory homosexuality looks like. 
These are not nice people who are just like everybody else. But as disgusting as all that is, think about the fact that this man was in the pulpit for 50 years, he sat in the confessional, he was in the bishop’s office making decisions about priests’ lives, about diocesan finances, about the direction of the diocese and so on. He served on Vatican commissions, he was a consultant to the Vatican, he made lots of bishops. What kind of advice do you think somebody struggling with some sexual problem in the confessional would have gotten from somebody like this? 
What kind of men do you think might have been elevated to be bishops by somebody like this? - Fr. Altier

Monday, February 25, 2019

I'm tired of this ...

I'll post from time to time, but I've said what I needed to say, and a bit too much more.  I appreciate those friends who found me interesting.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Bella Dodd Conspiracies are back.

I noted that McCarrick is now thought to be a Bella Dodd plant.  

Beyond his horrendous evil of homosexual predation for decades, Church Militant has learned exclusively that McCarrick may also have been clandestinely trained by Soviet Communists here in Europe during his younger years, making him effectively a Communist plant in the heart of the Church. 
Through a back channel, Church Militant has obtained information from former Communist personnel who were instrumental in setting up a secret network of indoctrination and training centers throughout Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and their information directly implicates the involvement of Theodore McCarrick. 
A little history to set the stage first: When Stalin gained control of the former Soviet Union in the early 1920s, he set about plans to cripple the influence of the Catholic Church in the West, if not completely destroy the Church — all part of communism's plan for world domination and warned about by Our Lady in Fatima in 1917. 
A key component of the plans involved infiltrating seminaries with young men who would work to undermine the Church's teaching in the area of morality. 
This was testified to on multiple occasions by Bella Dodd, a high-ranking member of the U.S. Communist Party. She herself claims to have orchestrated the placement of 1,100 men into U.S. seminaries. - CM

I've read a couple of posts by a priest or two elsewhere agreeing with this theory.

Everything is based on hearsay and gossip, no proof such as names are ever provided to back up these claims.

I have no doubt Communist ideology has greatly influenced academia and culture, and even infiltrated the Church, but the Bella Dodd claims have always troubled me.  The reason being, if the claims are true, more people other than Bella Dodd would have known.  How is it that Dodd is the only defector?  No matter how secret, who were all of the agents who infiltrated?  Where are they now? 

Bella Dodd Seminary

Thursday, February 21, 2019

St. Peter Damian

 I hope he influences the Sexual Abuse of Minors Summit in the Vatican.

“Just as Saint Basil establishes that those who incur sins [against nature] … should be subjected not only to a hard penance but a public one, and Pope Siricius prohibits penitents from entering clerical orders, one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” - St. Peter Damian

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Just as in the days of Noah.

Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven...

Just a thought.

This morning's reading at Mass reminded me of those photos of the dove being attacked by a crow or raven in St. Peter's Square after the Pope would release them from the papal apartment window.  It always seemed like an omen.
At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth.
Then he sent out a dove,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
But the dove could find no place to alight and perch,
and it returned to him in the ark,
for there was water all over the earth.
Putting out his hand, he caught the dove
and drew it back to him inside the ark.
He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark.
In the evening the dove came back to him,
and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!
So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth.
He waited still another seven days
and then released the dove once more;
and this time it did not come back. - GN 8:6-13
It's probably just me.

Today is the feast of St.s Jacinta and Francisco Marto as well.  I'm praying they will guide the Holy Father and bishops assembled for summit on sexual abuse this weekend.   Pope Francis noted how those who are actively criticizing and hurling accusations may be guided by a bad spirit.
One cannot live a whole life accusing, accusing, accusing the Church. 
Whom does the office of the accuser belong to? Who is he that the Bible calls the great accuser - the devil! And those who spend their lives accusing are - I won't say children, because the devil doesn't have any - but they the friends, cousins and relatives of the devil. 
Well, when things are not right, one has to report the defects to correct, but when you report the defects, you make known the defects, you love the Church. Without love is something from the devil. - VR
St. Jacinta devoted herself to prayer and suffering for the Pope, may she intercede for him in these times of crisis.  St. Francisco was deeply contemplative and hidden, praying to console the 'Hidden Jesus' and making reparation for sins.  Both Jacinta and Francisco prayed earnestly and constantly for the conversion of sinners.  May these little saints, who have now reached full stature and maturity in Christ, intercede for all of us.

Monday, February 18, 2019

After the Fall.

McCarrick with young clerics.

Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. - CCC

I've wasted hours on Facebook posting stupid commentary and emotional soundbites while trying to avoid the reality of former Cardinal McCarrick's fall from grace and final laicization.  Why should it bother me?  What difference does it make to me?  He's so far removed from my way of life.  He's a retired, former prelate and we would never have anything in common.

Except I've been a Catholic all of my life, dependent upon the Church and her ministers.  The sense of betrayal, the temptation to skepticism and cynicism, assails my spirit.  It's a struggle many Catholics may be contending with.

Yesterday at Mass I couldn't even look at the priest.  I could barely stand his homiletic performance - which is what it seemed like.  In an older interview, Cardinal Muller described the sexual abuse by clergy as an anti-clerical act in itself.  I felt the temptation to anti-clericalism.  The only way I could deal with it was to recollect myself as best I could, and not look at anyone.

It is part of the crisis that one does not wish to see the true causes and covers them up with the help of propaganda phrases of the homosexual lobby. Fornication with teenagers and adults is a mortal sin which no power on earth can declare to be morally neutral. That is the work of the devil – against whom Pope Francis often warns – that he declares sin to be good. “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared.” (1 Tim 4:1f) It is indeed absurd that, suddenly, ecclesial authorities utilize the Jacobin, Nazi, and Communist anti-Church combat slogans against sacramentally ordained priests. The priests have the authority to proclaim the Gospels and to administer the Sacraments of Grace. If someone abuses his jurisdiction in order to reach selfish goals, he himself is not clerical in an exaggerated form, but, rather, he himself is anti-clerical, because he denies Christ Who wishes to work through him. Sexual abuse by clergymen is then, at most, to be called anti-clerical. But it is obvious – and can only be denied by someone who wishes to be blind – that sins against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue stem from disordered inclinations and thus are sins of fornication which exclude one from the Kingdom of God, at least as long as one has not repented and made atonement, and as long as there does not exist the firm resolve to avoid such sin in the future. This whole attempt at obfuscating things is a bad sign of the secularization of the Church. One thinks like the world, but not as God wills it. - Muller, Lifesite Interview Nov. 21, 2018
In the '70's while in Italy I ran into
cinema posters very much like this one,
but for x-rated films about priests, monks and nuns.
I was horrified by it and prayed
in reparation.  Now, today ...

Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!

 It's striking that Muller says: "ecclesial authorities utilize the Jacobin, Nazi, and Communist anti-Church combat slogans against sacramentally ordained priests."  Since I have often thought the chatter online from Catholic sources pretty much emulates the Jacobin-Nazi-Communist anti-clerical propaganda of an earlier age.  It also echoes the Protestant anti clericalism of the early 20th century and before, in colonial times and England.

What has happened today - so it seems - the terrible anti-clerical propaganda has become a reality.  Priests raping nuns, nuns raping novices, priests sleeping with seminarian, molesting altar boys.  All of that used to be anti-Catholic propaganda, and now it is being revealed as true, scandal after scandal coming to light.

I couldn't locate the quote, but elsewhere Cardinal Muller mentioned something to the effect that because of guys like McCarrick instituting policy, this may explain why prohibitions against admitting gay men to seminaries were ignored.  Likewise, he points to the general accpetance of LGBTQ ideology as a worldliness infecting the Church and her ministers.

So.  Be on guard.  Be humble.  Pray for the Pope and especially the conference this week in Rome on sexual abuse.

Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray for the upcoming anti-abuse summit at the Vatican.

I'm praying. Significantly the conference begins on the feast of S. Peter Damian, the great reformer saint who knew all about these things way back when. The eve of the conference is the feast of St. Jacinta Marto, whose devotion to the Pope was well known, and as a child saint, along with her brother St. Francisco, they are perhaps great intercessors for those who were abused. Then the conference takes place during the monthly novena to the Infant Jesus, which I do in union with the Carmelites, and my intentions are for the conference and the Holy Father. 

Prayer is good, but suffering is better. A saintly Carmelite once said that, so I am offering what little I have - otherwise life makes no sense.

I will also remember what St. John of the Cross taught: "Never take a man for your example - however holy he may be - for the devil will show you his faults."

France Anticlerical caricature at the time of the 
separation of church and state. 1905

Those who want the state to conduct investigations
into Church records, as well as laity
to oversee these matters, ought to 
be careful what they wish for.