Saturday, December 22, 2012

Luxury line...

"Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people.” - Our Lady to Bl. Jacinta Marto

The Voris cruise turned out to be a pretty hot topic.  I can't really speak for anyone else but me - which is why I remain an independent blogger and never sign on with blogomerates nor have I aspired to be a regular on major websites or news portals.  Nothing wrong with those places, but as Michael Scott liked to say, "I just can't be managed."

That said, I think I have an idea why some people think the Year of Faith* cruise is perceived to be a little much.  Forgive me, I may be wrong.

A luxury cruise in Lent. 

Why is that so bad?  I'm not sure it is.  I know lots of people with money who go to exotic spots such as Fiji for vacation during Lent simply because the deals are great, the kids are on Spring break and it is the only time a Catholic family can vacation together.  Obviously such people are not on welfare, default-on-the-mortgage financial dupes, nor are they among the working poor struggling pay check to pay check.  People can travel and still observe Lent.  Lent is easy anyway.  You can give up candy and abstain from meat on Fridays and you're pretty good to go.  

"All Fridays through the year and he time of Lent are penitential days and time throughout the universal Church" (CIC 1250).

So I suppose the cruise isn't necessarily a problem in itself.  However, other Catholics seem to think the timing is inappropriate, and I would have to agree.   The Church usually never permits weddings and fun receptions in Lent, and although they often give a dispensation to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the season is really supposed to be penitential.  For me, adding to the irony of a Lenten retreat at sea during Lent, is how two popular figures of Catholic whistle-blowers and everything orthodox, who've been known to call out CINO's for their extravagances, as well as faithful Catholics who may not share or endorse their interests and/or lack of observance in ritual, decide to get on board with the luxury cruise business and provide an exotic retreat experience.  Many religious groups do the same thing of course - centering retreats at spas are always nice.  Retreats in our era, much like the pilgrimage-tour industry, tend to be on the luxurious side anyway.  No doubt they can be spiritually beneficial as well.  So what's wrong with that?  Probably not much.

It's just not my idea of a retreat.  A conference maybe, but not a retreat.   To each his own I guess.

Comedic verve.

Personally, I thought the idea of pairing Fr. Z and Voris cried out for parody, and I blogged about it.  Saps at Sea - one of my favorite films.  I didn't necessarily mean to infer that Father and Voris were saps though...

After due consideration, it seemed to me that a priest who lives on the kindness of others probably could use the stipend, and probably deserves the break.  Nevertheless, I still think it isn't the best move to align oneself with a man who has become persona non grata to many bishops and clergy - a priest in need of an assignment has to be careful.  To be sure, it's none of my business what he does - please forgive me my concern. 

Oddly enough, followers of CIA director Michael Vortex Voris consider it their business to defend the project.  Many are offended Voris has been made fun of and criticized in some sections of the Catholic blogosphere.  Some people even want a couple of his critics fired from their jobs.  It amazes me these people go after their opponents with such vehemence and spite - frequently in exactly the same way they accuse others of doing to them.   Don't they realize both Voris and Fr. Z make fun of other Catholics and Catholic organizations themselves - CINO's though they may be?  Whenever the duo exercises any sort of discretion in their sometimes harsh and demeaning critiques, their followers pick up the thread and go in for the attack all on their own - on their blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, and in comboxes.  The Church Militant TV ground troops swell when their heroes are criticized or parodied online, accusing anyone who expresses an opinion contrary to theirs of heresy, modernism and liberalism.

So there you go - that's my take on why I think some of us who are weaker in the faith regarded the Lenten cruise as amusing, if not scandalous.

Let me talk to Arroyo:
*To my knowledge, Year of Faith use does not denote the event is sponsored by, nor authorized by a particular diocese, nor does it mean it is an official Year of Faith event.  No indulgence attached.

By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert." (CCC 540).


  1. I've been silent on this publicly, but not privately (with those involved). I'm in agreement with you, Terry, on the timing and on the word retreat. I've had my say personally. Excellent point on weddings and Lent.

    The priests at my parish have bent over backwards trying to instill in us a proper understanding of Lent as a penitential season. Whereas my childhood parish CCD classes taught me that giving up candy and sweets for Lent was for kids, these priests have shown me otherwise. One young priest said in his homily that if you think it's for kids, go ahead and say "no" to yourself as you reach for the next chocolate. If it was easy, obesity wouldn't be a problem. But, as they always point out, fasting and abstaining from certain foods or meals are not meant for losing weight but for mortification and penance. If we get healthier in the process that's okay, but it's not the primary purpose.

    As I reflect on this whole Lenten "Retreat at Sea" bit and why it shocked me so much I can't help but contrast the attitude of my very liberal childhood parish with that of the priests and religious at Assumption Grotto. Therein lies the irony for me - that I expect this from people who are anti-penitential, who reject things like mortification. Typically, it goes hand-in-hand with open dissent from Church teachings. However, it is not limited there. It also goes hand-in-hand with those who have never had an example set for them by a priest or religious who understands mortification and penance, and their roles in the spiritual life. The idea of a "Retreat at Sea" on a luxury cruise ship is just counter-cultural to the environment in which I have lived at my parish for the past seven years. I just can't reconcile it. Yet, I fully acknowledge, it is not sinful.

    But to avoid sin and tap-dance on virtue is something for nominal Catholics, not those who set themselves up to be warriors for the faith. The real battle isn't against "all those other Catholics" (most of whom are merely ignorant of the faith rather than truly dissenting); the real battle is against powers and principalities.

    No one sins if they do the bare minimum for Lent. That's what nominal Catholics do. That's not to say someone couldn't practice serious asceticism on a cruise ship, but it's not the likely environment for such things. Christ went out into the desert - a place devoid of entertaining stimuli. Those who want a spiritual experience only need turn everything off and go about their day in silence. Not all noise is audible; some of it comes in the form of too much activity and too much visual stimuli. Therein lies my problem with anything called a retreat on a cruise ship. Imagine for a minute if the retreat were held in Las Vegas. One could argue that the meals and hotel fees are cheap there. But not factoring in the various kinds of "noise" would be a lapse in judgment.

    Continuing in the next comment...

  2. Continuing from last comment...

    And I also agree that for anyone spending a good deal of air time pointing out the flaws in the words and actions of others (and I don't mean on dogmatic and doctrinal matters, but often on prudential matters), the old saying applies, "what is good for the goose is good for the gander."

    That said, I do believe some satire went over the top. Do I think anyone should lose their job? No. But I will say this much. I think everyone on all sides needs to think about how we can discuss disagreements in a way that won't look like we are one, big dysfunctional family to anyone looking in. I mean, we are on display. If we violate virtue, or we cross the line into grave matter with our words online, it's not like the days of old when it may be limited to the village.

    I'm not sure what the answer is. One thing that I think is lost is that we have abandoned the practice of attacking the position and have gotten on the secular band-wagon to attacking the person. Perhaps we just don't know the difference. I'm not talking about this latest controversy alone, but in general. Something has really changed in the Catholic blogosphere in recent years, and by extension I'm including all forms of media.

    Rather than follow the virtue of the saints we are following the "eat my shorts" communication mode of the Simpsons. Virtue is now considered a "vice" and vice is considered a virtue. It's true that some saints, like Jerome, yielded often to his irascible side, but that's not the part of St. Jerome I would want to imitate. People who point to Christ to justify their flaming tongues can only repeat over and again how he turned tables in the temple and how firmly he spoke to Peter ("get behind me, Satan.") What they fail to see is the Christ who said, "Follow me, for I am meek and gentle of heart." Christ made use of parables. Christ didn't chase after those who disagreed with him and call them names; that he reserved for the pharisees and there is probably a little pharisee on all of us at one time or another.

    I think the real problem is that our education was so dumbed down that without things like sound philosophy and rhetoric the only way we know how to handle disagreement is like cavemen with club in hand. There must be a chapter about that in the Screwtape Letters.

    I was making a post along these lines last night when my eyes got heavy and the thing went off in directions I didn't want, so let go of it. Perhaps after New Years I'll try again.

  3. Didn't I predict that we'd all need lots and lots of popcorn?

    This is the only place I've left a comment about this brouhaha. I've read several posts other places, along with the comments, and found them less than savory.

    So, I will harken back to my Corapi stance (which got me blasted by just about every "professional Catholic.") By the way - we still don't really know what the real outcome of that was - only what people have said.

    My Corapi stance as applied to the cruise?

    Listen up, Poodles (as Terry would say.)

    It's none of my business! I don't care who goes on a cruise, when they do it, what they call it, how much they pay for it, and who leads it.

    And, guess what? It's none of your business either.

    If I don't like what someone has posted about the cruise the solution is very easy. Computers come with a delete button. People have a right to make complete asses of themselves, but I don't have to participate.

    It's really that simple.

    I need to buy more popcorn.

    1. I still want candy - chocolate covered penuche from Maude Borup. Tell Santa.

    2. Candy it shall be. Means more popcorn for me. Heh

      Where's Larry?

    3. Larry has monkeys to care for.

    4. Anyone know someone who's good at handling flying monkeys? Altar serving chimps I can manage...these darn flying ones are giving me fits...

    5. I feel your pain, Larry...

      My Captcha?

      nowbut -- no lie...

  4. And to that, I could say, no one needs to read my comments on the matter.

    I just find it a little odd that it is "okay" to jump all over other Catholics when they do something that is outside of the prudential sense of a good many Catholics. I think the idea of a cruise during Lent does not sit well with a portion of the Catholic faithful, most especially with those of a traditional and/or orthodox bent. Notice I didn't say, "all."

    What is most deafening to me is the silence about it. I don't see too many of those who ordinarily share Vortex videos on a regular basis promoting it.

    You say it's none of our business. To some extent that is true. It's really no skin off my back what anyone does. However, I think there is a certain expectation that defenders of orthodoxy are the ones setting the bar for others. As I said, it is not sinful to offer a cruise during Lent, or to go on one. But it is far from orthodox, and far from traditional.

    I just don't know how you can talk to people about mortification while in a floating casino hotel. How does it really differ from holding a retreat at the Mirage in Vegas? I know people who vacation in Vegas without gambling just because they can stay at extravagant hotels with nice pools for low rates and get great food cheaply.

    Critiquing of "what other Catholics do" seems to be very relative - relative on who is doing what. If one is to say that critiquing something like a "Retreat at Sea" during Lent is none of our business, then we need to apply that universally lest we be duplicitous and hypocritical.

    I think that is part of the point. If a lot of blog and air time is spent critiquing other Catholics on prudential matters (some of it very good, BTW and helpful; and some of it disappointing in how it lacks respect for the dignity of the person), why should this be off limits for discussion, as long as it is done so respectfully? Surely, those who spend a lot of time critiquing other Catholics have thick skin, right? If someone else can't discuss their concerns over something like this without being mindful of the dignity of others, that ought not prevent others from doing so.

    For those who have a problem with it the solution is simple: Don't read it and move on.

    1. Diane - thanks for your wonderful insights and commentary. God bless you.

  5. Other than my initial surprise at the pairing, venue and timing, I haven't thought about this much. I'm not in a position to spend money on something like that; if I was, I'd visit the Holy Land. As it is, I'll be lucky to make it to the Holy Land Deli.

    1. I know! I can't afford nuttin'.

    2. Nan--If you were to visit the Holy Land, be prepared to spend at least twice as much.

      By the way, Karl Keating, president of Catholic Answers, posted this about the cruise. The retreat police are encouraged to read it:

      "I hold no brief for Michael Voris, but as an organizer of Catholic cruises (Mark has been a speaker–and a very good one!–for us) I should point out that the $1,084 Voris is charging works out to $155 per day. That includes the equivalent of hotels, all meals, and car expenses for a driving vacation that visits five far-flung cities in a week. You easily could spend more than that trying to do such a land-only vacation, so in that sense Voris’s cruise shouldn’t be labeled a luxury or expensive trip.

      I thought the critique at Simcha Fisher’s blog was very poorly done–so poorly that it never should have been posted.

      The reviewer starts by referring to “the Michael Voris Love Boat.” That migth be acceptable if Voris were sponsoring a cruise for singles looking for spouses, but that isn’t at all what his video or ad say. A cheap shot.

      The reviewer says that Voris “is going to charge the suckers who watch him thousands of dollars for a ‘retreat’ at sea. During Lent. That’s right. Thousand[s] of dollars spent to go on a spiritual retreat on a cruise ship with casinos and all night buffets.”

      First of all, using “suckers” is another cheap shot.

      Second, the fee isn’t “thousands of dollars” but just over one thousand dollars. (Can’t you read the man’s ad?)

      Third, nearly all Catholic cruises, no matter what time of year, are held on big ships that have casinos. Big ships mean lower costs per person, and big ships universally have casinos. (On Catholic Answers cruises we just ignore the casinos and go about our own business.)

      Fourth, “all night buffets”? I checked the description of this cruise at the Princess Cruises website and couldn’t find any reference to all-night buffets. Catholic Answers has used several cruise lines over the years (but not Princess), and none of them had an all-night buffet.

      Granted, Lent doesn’t seem the best time of year to set a cruise (maybe Voris chose March because the rates are low then), but–unlike something claimed in the comments above–his group won’t be partying on the ship on Good Friday–because Good Friday is on March 29, and his cruise ends 12 days earlier! Still another cheap shot.

      I don’t object to criticizing Voris when criticism is due (which is often enough, I’m afraid), but let’s play fair, shall we? Don’t make things up, and don’t exaggerate. Cheap shots (which are mainly plain old falsehoods) don’t bring any credit to their authors."

  6. @Diane

    I thought your comment was quite nice.

    1. Thanks. Perhaps I misunderstood some things you said.

    2. I don't think so.

      Fact is, I was typing my comment while you were posting yours. I didn't read your comment until after I posted mine which ended up under yours. My comment had nothing whatsoever to do with what you had said. Just expressing myself.

      You are always thoughtful and kind.

    3. Lord knows I'm not gifted with brevity so it's not too hard to imagine others typing a comment the same time as I. lolz

  7. Although a cruise ship would be way down on my list of places to go, if the retreat is anything like my typical retreat experiences, it could prove to be very penetential! I'm thinking of all the people I know who went on a cruise and caught Legionaires disease or Roto virus! You just beat vomiting and diarrhea for 10 straight days for pennance.

  8. @Pat,

    How about repeated exposure to televised baseball or basketball, depending on the season?

    1. YES!!! Big time off Purgatory too!

  9. I suppose you can grow spiritually on a cruise ship as well as anywhere else. Never having been on a cruise myself, I imagine if you are staying out of the on-board casino and lounges and going to meetings and meditating in the on-board chapel, why not? Although I confess it might be like trying to pay attention to a movie while a strobe light is blinking in your face and a band is playing Beatles tunes. LOL!

  10. Does anyone who is V and Z have made statements in defense of the criticism? Just curious.

    1. What? Is that Crescat-talk? I hate auto-correct. I suspect that is what it is.

      Some have been pasting in this email reply from Michael Voris, other than that, nothing. This sounds like Mike so I think it is authentic.

      Hello Frank,

      Thank you for your kind words and support.

      We are very much looking forward to the retreat as are the nearly 100 people who have signed up in the past few weeks. So many are coming, in fact, that we have had to go line to the cruise line to ask for more rooms. We are putting together what we think will be a wonderful opportunity for meditation and reflection during the Year of Faith, with a concentration on The Blessed Mother, The Scriptures and The Sacraments, in addition to The Church in the Modern World.

      We are also VERY excited that many many Catholics who up to this point, have not known each other, will have the chance to BE catholic with each other and develop what almost assuredly will become lasting friendships despite some great distances once they return home. We have people coming from Europe, Asia and Oceania, which is wonderful.

      They are coming because they want their faith to be reinvigorated, and emboldened – to meet, in short, others in The Communion of Saints. The presence of priests on board for Mass, Confession, talks and private guidance is literally a God-send. And one additional consideration – our cruise organizers have said they only with rare exception due members of the crew ever get to attend Mass because of their very long work hours. So we are going to open up our Masse for them and try to also have additional Masses said for them, in case some of them cannot attend Mass during our regular schedule.

      And you may be certain, that with 100+ solid Catholics on board, it wont be surprising, we hope, to see some perhaps wayward or lax Catholics, or others of good faith be invited to sit in on a conference or two. What added benefits of holding a retreat where other non-retreatant passengers can learn about the faith in the formal setting of a conference, or informally just talking with them casually over dinner.

      Thank you again for the opportunity to share our excitement.

      GOD Bless,


    2. Kat... yesh... zee do vee da dink doncha dive bar drunk again.


  11. I commend you on having a balanced outlook on this. At least for me, that is what has been missing in all of this. And I further applaud your desire not to be part of any blogging mafia. For in my opinion, many of those who have chose to criticize this cruise have done so in a way that not only makes them look bad but also detracts from the real topic.

    The venue for the retreat is indeed questionable. No doubt about it. At the very least it give a scandalous appearance which of itself could be enough to avoid such a venue. That being said,as a former Naval Officer, I can say being at sea does provide one ample time to reflect and I COULD envision a retreat being pulled off on a cruise ship given a full day of planned spiritual events for the participants. Whether than can be pulled off, I don't know.

    But even with the critics of this cruise have a valid point, they have in some instances made their points in a very poor manner. For instance:

    - A personal blog post on the subject written by a guest who seemingly take pride in being rude and over the top that simply wasn't constructive and only served to stir up anger in people.
    - A follow-on blog post on a corporate site that is supposedly about worthy charities to spend your money but opens up continuing with the aforementioned piece from the personal blog that makes me wonder where in the world was the author's editor to save her from making such a mistake
    - Multiple pictures of supposed accommodations to be used on the cruise that simply aren't accurate. A quick review of the cruise line website will show the actual size of the rooms one gets for the advertised price and it certainly isn't suite with balcony.
    -Routinely lumping Michael Voris' name in string with multiple priests who have recently fallen in terms of sin.
    -Charges against anyone who might take issue with the STYLE of those making a VALID CRITIQUE of the cruise as vorbots, cult members, etc and justifying their actions because Michael Voris supposedly does the same thing. (As if the "but Mom, Billy did it first" excuse has ever worked.)

    Valid criticisms abound for this cruise. Let's now lose them in how the message is delivered.

    And again, I commend you Terry on this post. It should have been the first salvo in the Catholic blogosphere for this discussion.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.