Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Pope and the call of Matthew...

It's always about the gaze...  What?

While all the disciples, the scribes and Pharisees and the teachers of the law chatter and kibitz over the Pope's interview in America magazine, Francis directs our attention upon that gaze of Christ, that look of love, which welcomes sinners and acknowledges them... invites them.

Jesus looks Matthew – a tax collector, a public sinner whose whole life was money, which he idolized – right in the eye. Then, said Pope Francis, “[Matthew feels] in his heart the gaze of the Lord who looked upon him.”:

“That gaze overtook him completely, it changed his life. We say he was converted. He Changed his life. ‘As soon as he felt that gaze in his heart, he got up and followed him.’ This is true: Jesus’ gaze always lifts us up. It is a look that always lifts us up, and never leaves you in your place, never lets us down, never humiliates. It invites you to get up - a look that brings you to grow, to move forward, that encourages you, because [the One who looks upon you] loves you. The gaze makes you feel that He loves you. This gives the courage to follow Him: ‘And he got up and followed him.’”
“And sinners, tax collectors and sinners, they felt that Jesus had looked on them and that gaze of Jesus upon them – I believe – was like a breath on embers, and they felt that there was fire in the belly, again, and that Jesus made ​​lifted them up, gave them back their dignity. The gaze of Jesus always makes us worthy, gives us dignity. It is a generous look. ‘But behold, what a teacher: dining with the dregs of the city!’: But beneath that dirt there were the embers of desire for God, the embers of God's image that wanted someone who could help them be kindled anew. This is what the gaze of Jesus does.” - Vatican Radio

 Why is that so hard to understand?

Did anyone see the Charlie Rose interview with the Jesuits last night?  Seriously, even Charlie Rose gets it, he initiated the conversation pointing out that the Pope wasn't changing Church teaching, but rather simply placing a different emphasis.
"Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy not sacrifice'.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." - Matthew 9:13


St. Matthew

Friday, September 20, 2013

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who when the world was growing cold, in order that the hearts of men might burn anew with the fire of Your love, you chose Francis to be our Pope...

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Anyway, continuing to celebrate with the Church and especially the Jesuits, I want to share with you a piece Fr. James Martin, S.J. wrote for Time:
But this new interview came with the pope’s complete approval and cooperation. 
Originally, the editors of America approached the Vatican for an interview, but we were told that the pope generally doesn’t enjoy the interview format.  Not long afterwards, we learned that the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica was also interested in the idea.  Once we teamed with Civiltà, and later joined forces with other Jesuit journals, the pope agreed.  Questions were sent to Antonio Spadaro, SJ, the editor in chief of Civiltà, and in a series of sit-down interviews, Fr. Spadaro and the Holy Father had a long conversation. 
Finally, and most importantly, the Italian-language version was personally approved by the Pope. Thus, this interview is an even more reliable indication of the pope’s desires for the church, and affords us a clearer idea of the pope’s new course for the church. - Time

The love of money leads to vanity, self-importance and the sin of pride...

The Human Poodle.  What?

The love of honors and celebrity do too.

When I first began to blog I did so for a Catholic company I worked for.  The intention was to draw traffic for the website.  I had some marketing ideas and knew that to get noticed online I needed to use catch phrases, names, handles, key words for search engines to pick out.  I wrote about Church issues, celebrities, I editorialized stories from popular blogs and commented on what they were discussing - I also begged for people to link to me, and so on.

When the stats went up and comments came in, it was really exciting.  (I thought it was all for me.)  I soon began to mix in controversial issues and critical discussions on the blog - as well as sarcastic and contentious remarks for anyone who disagreed with me or criticized my writing.  Favorite topics such as the Novus Ordo vs. the TLM really pulled in readers.  Gossip, such as which Catholic blogger left the Church for another Church and why would anyone ever read him again, also generated traffic.  Stories of the priests who left or got caught in scandals was a guaranteed stats booster.  Picking on Catholic journalists and pop-Catholic writers was another source of 'revenue'. 

Controversy and contentiousness and just pushing buttons did wonders for the stats.  Sadly, when I went 'independent' - I started out relying on some of the same tactics - convincing myself I had noble intentions, but deep down I knew it was a quick way to get myself noticed, or just blow off steam.  Despite the fact I wrote many sincere posts on the spiritual life, some days I also used the blog in a passive aggressive sense to air 'dirty laundry' and to comment on a lot of negative crap that was definitely none of my business.  I'm ashamed of that.

Many antagonists online continue to operate that way.  They seem to love the controversies, the attention it attracts, the honors, the notoriety, as well as a sense of their own celebrity.  I think, like the love of money, it leads to vanity, self-importance and the sin of pride.

For the past few years I have tried really hard to avoid all of that.  I hope to do better to avoid such traps in the future and once again, apologize for the many mistakes of the past.  I hope to be a better blogger, to say the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them, with some humor and silliness thrown in of course.  Perhaps I will be able to make amends for all the bad posts I've written thus far.

The Pope said something today which may be helpful:

Instead of focusing on money, (drawing attention, hits, stats, etc.) the Pope said, we should strive for justice, piety, faith and charity, as well as the gifts of patience and meekness which are the ways of the Lord. Pope Francis concluded with the wish that God will help each one of us to avoid falling into the trap of making money (the blog) our idol. - Pope Francis

Caption H/T to Nan. 

Who is the guy who interviewed the Pope?

Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J.

I've had a link in my sidebar to Fr. Spadaro for a long time - since he wrote on Pier Vittorio Tondelli, the Italian writer (gay) who had been reconciled to the Church before he died.  The essay by Antonio Spadaro is titled Lontano dentro se stessi. L’attesa di salvezza in Pier Vittorio Tondelli [Far off within ourselves. The expectation of salvation in Pier Vittorio Tondelli]  (BTW - I think Fr. Martin S.J. should see to it that the essay is translated and published in America asap.)


Find out more about Fr. Spadaro here
A Civilization of writers, poets and web surfers

Father Antonio Spadaro is the new editor of La Civiltà Cattolica.
He has written for years in the review of the Society of Jesus on literature, music, art and new technologies of communication. Interview

Interview with Antonio Spadaro by Paolo Mattei

Thursday, September 19, 2013

America Has a Papal Exclusive ... Today!

"I no like-a to give interviews, Eh."

The exclusive interview with Pope Francis...

Thinking With the Church
“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be. You see, when I perceive negative behavior in ministers of the church or in consecrated men or women, the first thing that comes to mind is: ‘Here’s an unfruitful bachelor’ or ‘Here’s a spinster.’ They are neither fathers nor mothers, in the sense that they have not been able to give spiritual life. Instead, for example, when I read the life of the Salesian missionaries who went to Patagonia, I read a story of the fullness of life, of fruitfulness.

“Another example from recent days that I saw got the attention of newspapers: the phone call I made to a young man who wrote me a letter. I called him because that letter was so beautiful, so simple. For me this was an act of generativity. I realized that he was a young man who is growing, that he saw in me a father, and that the letter tells something of his life to that father. The father cannot say, ‘I do not care.’ This type of fruitfulness is so good for me.” 
My favorite:
“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up."
And another...
 “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.  - America

Now remember - these are excerpts - read the entire interview to get the context.  I think I get it.  I have tears in my eyes... repentance in my heart.

Song for this post here.

H/T Fr. James Martin, S.J.

Fr. Martin also 'unpacks' what the Pope had to say in his commentary here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On becoming a saint...

Why did the rich young man go away sad?

He asked: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?"  He obviously kept the commandments - but he was rich... and we all know the rest of the story.  Yet as John Paul II points out, there is a deeper meaning to the question the nameless young man asked: ""Then someone came to him...". In the young man, whom Matthew's Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality. For the young man, the question is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life.  [...]  In order to make this "encounter" with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church "wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life".15

We all ask this question ourselves - we all seek the meaning of life, to understand - especially the moral teachings of the Church, which run contrary to modern culture.  We look for examples of holiness and goodness, to inspire and help us live according to the Gospel - hence we question moral teaching and its apparent limitations.  We want to find someone, something, to support us, to inspire us on the narrow way, which may be in fact, far more constricted than we at first imagined ...

34. "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?". The question of morality, to which Christ provides the answer, cannot prescind from the issue of freedom. Indeed, it considers that issue central, for there can be no morality without freedom: "It is only in freedom that man can turn to what is good".56 But what sort of freedom? The Council, considering our contemporaries who "highly regard" freedom and "assiduously pursue" it, but who "often cultivate it in wrong ways as a licence to do anything they please, even evil", speaks of "genuine" freedom: "Genuine freedom is an outstanding manifestation of the divine image in man. For God willed to leave man "in the power of his own counsel" (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God".57 Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known.58 As Cardinal John Henry Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience, forcefully put it: "Conscience has rights because it has duties".59

Veritatis Splendor - what does it have to do with gay saints?

Gay people seem to have an especially hard time today, since everything in the culture militates against any sort of moral censure on homosexual behavior and same sex marriage.  Catholic teaching is said to constrict, to limit personal freedom.  Many gay people go away sad.  Veritatis Splendor is for me, one of the most important documents and keys to understanding all that the Church teaches - and under girds the more specific moral teachings on the homosexual person from the Ratzinger CDF and papacy. 

Faithful and chaste 'gay' Catholics look for ways to make Catholic teaching more understandable, more acceptable to gay people.  Nothing wrong with that, to be sure.  Some religious and non-religious gay people also look for saints to inspire and elevate 'gayness'.  On some level, I think that is part of the reason some people search for gay saints.  (Secular gay saints are people like Harvey Milk, Matthew Shepard; such 'gay icons' are often exploited for propaganda purposes.)   Some may even look for a spiritual 'lover' in the saints, a romantic hero.  I think that is why some of the saints gay saint makers write about, are very often depicted in art as ideally handsome and in a homoerotic manner. 

Of course, there are sincere, devout persons who look for a saint they can befriend, someone they feel they can know intimately - one who understands what they go through, what they suffer, what they rejoice over, aspire to, and so on.  Patron saints are often very personal - in fact some imagine they choose us, that we do not really choose them.  I see it as Divine Providence and simply a natural dimension of the communion of saints.

Are there really gay saints?

Until the 19th-20th century the terms gay/homosexual didn't exist.  Same sex sexual behavior, like masturbation, was considered unnatural vice - contra naturam.  Homosexuals would probably have been referred to as Sodomites - a vice too wicked to speak its name.  An unnatural vice even the devils reject - according to the Dialogues of St. Catherine:
It is not its sinfulness that displeases [the devils], for they like nothing that is good. But because their nature was angelic, that nature still loathes the sight of that horrendous sin actually being committed. It is true that it was they who in the beginning shot the poisoned arrows of concupiscence, but when it comes to the sinful act itself they run away. - Chapter 124

Of course there were several saints who condemned same sex sexual behavior.  Their teaching is like a thorn in the side of contemporary LGBTQ persons, Catholic or not.  Nevertheless, it is important to take it into consideration in order to counter claims that certain 'couple' saints, or BFF saints were actually gay and the Church somehow knew and approved.  From St. Peter Damien:
“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
Long story short - the saints and Church Fathers, in accord with Scripture, condemned homosexuality.  Therefore, one is not likely to find a 'gay saint' - although today, if it makes one feel better, they can imagine people such as Sergius and Bacchus, who were known to be friends, to be really close friends who lived chastely and became martyr saints.  In fact, saints such as Blessed Cardinal Newman, can be a very good example of holy friendship - friendship which is completely chaste and disinterested - untainted by any romantic/erotic disorientation.

I'd like to suggest that if one is looking for a patron, one ought to cultivate devotion to one's guardian angel - who could be closer to us than our angel?   If you want a canonized saint to be a patron for gay people, one might do better to look amongst the penitent saints, the martyrs for purity, the misfit saints, and more specifically, the saints who preached against the vice.  Seriously - who better to help someone struggling with same sex attraction than those who condemned it?  Out of charity, they owe it to those who strive to live according to Catholic teaching.  All saints endured the spiritual battle - that is how heroic virtue is forged.

These days, I understand things much more simply than I did when I was younger.  So for me the issues surrounding 'gay' is really not so much about overcoming something, as it is about embracing chastity - loving God with all of my being, and my brother as myself.  It is about becoming holy, our sanctification is God's will. 

All I can say to this saint business, if you really want a special saint - there are many, many in the Church calendar, and many newly beatified and canonized to look to. 

However, if you really want a gay saint - become one yourself.  Go to Christ, in the Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and ask:

"Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What does the Pope mean when he "told priests they should welcome couples that live together"?

What does Pope Francis mean when he speaks about accompanying people?  When he speaks about going "out to the 'existential peripheries'”?

He insists that "the truth factor is crucial here. 'The truth must always be told,' not just in the dogmatic sense of the word but in the sense of 'love and God’s fullness'. The priest must 'accompany' people."

I do not believe the Holy Father is speaking in contradiction of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce, nor is he recommending the Gospel be compromised.  In fact, I think the only way to understand what the Pope is saying is in the light of the Gospel, and in the light of his own way of accompanying those under his pastoral care in Buenos Aires.  Remember, he did not just visit the slums, he spent time there - he was a guest in their homes.  If society and culture is dysfunctional, we know - especially by experience - that ordinary family life is too.  Bergoglio visited ordinary families, in their home, around their kitchen table, relatives and neighbors coming and going.

It seems to me what the Pope means when he says priests "should welcome couples that live together" may also be better understood in light of today's Gospel, when Christ raised the son of the widow of Nain: the Lord was moved with pity for her, he had compassion for her.   With that attitude in mind, I thought of the Gospel of the Woman at the Well and her 'unexpected' encounter with Christ.

Christ asked a Samaritan woman to have compassion on him - he revealed his thirst to her, knowing full well she herself thirsted for love and acceptance.  Christ visited her, in her own neighborhood.  A Jew, who shouldn't have anything to do with a Samaritan 'dog', Christ visits and drinks with her.  Christ was moved with pity for her, he had compassion for her.  He also tells her truths about herself no one else could know, yet he wasn't repulsed, nor was she offended by his simplicity and straightforwardness.  She welcomed him who welcomed her.  God assuaged her thirst as she assuaged his, in the 'existential peripheries' of the era, if you will.

The disciples returned, confused and somewhat scandalized that Christ was speaking with a Samaritan - and a woman.  Christ had not compromised teaching, the woman herself boasted of that, "He told me everything I ever did!"  God met her where she was.

I think that is what the Pope is saying, that is what he means when he says priests "should welcome couples that live together"... While insisting, “The truth must always be told,” not just in the dogmatic sense of the word but in the sense of “love and God’s fullness”. - Citations from Vatican Insider

...  in the sense of “love and God’s fullness”. . . the fullness of truth - with compassion.

Today is the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who when the world was growing cold, in order that the hearts of men might burn anew with the fire of Your love, did in the flesh of the most blessed Francis reproduce the stigmata of Your passion: be mindful of his merits and prayers; and in Your mercy vouchsafe to us the grace ever to carry Your cross, and to bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Amen.

On stigmatization.
The first known stigmatic is St. Francis of Assisi. Since his day the cases have multiplied, but it seems certain that stigmatization occurs only in ecstatics and is preceded and accompanied by very acute physical and moral sufferings, which configure the soul to Jesus crucified.

Theologians have often asked how it is that the majority of stigmatics received the divine wounds without suggestion or autosuggestion, without expecting them, and without wishing them?

Blessed Raymond of Capua relates in his Life of St. Catherine of Siena,(20) that on August 18, 1370, the saint received the stigmata in an altogether unexpected manner following a prayer and a divine promise of the salvation of several persons; stigmatization was produced to confirm this promise. The absolutely unforeseen pain was as sharp as if her hand had been pierced with an iron nail driven by a hammer. At the petition of the saint, the stigmata remained invisible during her life. Later in the presence of several witnesses worthy of credence, the supernatural renewal of the fact took place with such effect that the saint swooned suddenly before their eyes, as if she had been mortally wounded. The fact and its supernatural origin are, moreover, attested by the saint, and her testimony is confirmed by the humility of her entire life, which led her to ask and obtain immediately the invisibility of this exceptional favor. In this case we see how all the physical and moral circumstances of the fact confirm its origin.

Thus we return to the explanation offered by St. Francis de Sales, which seems the wisest. It is our crucified Lord Himself who, by means of luminous rays, imprints the wounds on the bodies of stigmatics, whom He wishes to configure to His passion that He may remind us of it. Evidently the traditional argument of Bartholomew of Pisa, preserved by Benedict XIV, retains all its value. To sum it up again: Many men and women saints, of widely different temperaments, have been absorbed with ardent love in the infused contemplation of the sufferings of Christ and, nevertheless, they have not had the stigmata. Among them must be numbered the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist, St. Mary Magdalen, and many others prior to St. Francis of Assisi, the first stigmatic, and many others subsequent to him. This is a sign that ardent love, united to infused contemplation, does not suffice to produce the stigmata. Christ Jesus grants them to whom He will, when He will, and as He will. Stigmatization is an essentially extraordinary grace that is not in the normal way of sanctity. 

To enkindle love for Jesus crucified in the hearts of the faithful, Paul V extended the feast of the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi (September 17) to the universal Church. The prayer for the Mass is as follows: "Lord Jesus, who at a time when charity was growing cold in the world, to enkindle our hearts with the fire of Thy love, didst renew the sacred stigmata of Thy passion in the flesh of the Blessed Francis, grant us, in Thy goodness, that by his merits and prayers, we may continually bear the cross and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Thou who livest," and so on. In this prayer we see the great realism of the Church, which to the highest elevation of thought unites the effective practice of all the virtues. - Three Ages of the Interior Life 

"Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future." - Pope Francis

"The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed." - Francis

Yesterday the Holy Father acknowledged to the priests of Rome the reality many of us are just coming to recognize as a change in epoch"That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.

His words are in line with what his predecessors have pointed out when calling for a New Evangelization.  His words define for us the rapid changes in culture we are witnessing: "The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work."

The Holy Father's acknowledgement appears to be in line with what critics of the hierarchical structure of the Church have to say, as well as what dissidents who reject traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality say.  Two comments on a post I wrote last week illustrate that:

"They (bishops) realize they lost a lot of the faithful on this issue (gay marriage), so they are trying desperately to keep the people they do have."MM

"The bishops may have power (to fire church workers, for instance, who disagree with them), but they have no influence." - MB 

No doubt the bishops understand and know that a great number of the faithful have gone missing, that their (bishops) credibility and influence has been compromised - yet they also have to know, together with the Holy Father, that Christ's "grace is sufficient, that His power is made perfect in weakness.”  That His love, at work in those who believe, "can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine."  Hence the Holy Father's solution is not to change Catholic teaching, or preach a new gospel, but rather to take it to the streets, even outside the 'institutions', to the most remote corners of cultural collapse:  "To become once again a Church driven by evangelical momentum and audacity, we must again become faithful and evangelised disciples”.

At least, that is how I see it.

"Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow."



Francis urges priests to give a helping hand to couples that live together. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Don't mention the Devil...

... I did, but I think I got away with it.

Anyway, gay people get upset.

Recently both Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Nienstedt mentioned the Devil - the father of lies - in relationship to gay marriage.  Critics rejected their statements and claimed Pope Francis would never make such claims or be so divisive ... 

In an interview, Cardinal Burke stated:
The alarming rapidity of the realization of the homosexual agenda ought to awaken all of us and frighten us with regard to the future of our nation. This is a work of deceit, a lie about the most fundamental aspect of our human nature, our human sexuality, which after life itself defines us. There is only one place these types of lies come from, namely Satan. It is a diabolical situation which is aimed at destroying individuals, families, and eventually our nation. - Source
What the Cardinal said is not that different from Archbishop Nienstedt's statement in an address which drew so much criticism by Catholic dissidents:

Today, many evil forces have set their sights on the dissolution of marriage and the debasing of family life.  Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilization.  The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies.  Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on earth. - Legatus Magazine 

These bishops are not alone however.  Contrary to popular opinion and media spin regarding the popularity of Pope Francis and his alleged 'liberal' POV, as Cardinal, Pope Bergoglio also associated gay marriage with the deceit of the devil:
[Letter of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires (June 22, 2010)]
I write this letter to each one of you in the four Monasteries of Buenos Aires. The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex.
The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy.
I recall words of Saint Thérèse when she speaks of the infirmity of her childhood. She says that the envy of the Devil tried to extort her family after her older sister joined the Carmel. Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth."

In fact, the Holy Father has mentioned the Devil rather frequently - it's kind of a Jesuit thing, I think.  Since his election he has not been 'embarrassed' to speak about the Devil's influence upon society and men.  It should be noted, all of the modern Popes have taken the Devil very seriously, thus Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke, and Archbishop Nienstedt are not alone, and very much in step.

To make a long post short, I'll cut to the point and post just a few quotes from Pope Francis on the Devil since his election, as a reminder that the Pope supports his brother Bishops, and Church teaching on faith and morals.
The Evil One is smart. He dupes us into thinking that human justice can save us and save the world. In fact, only God’s justice can save us! And God’s justice revealed itself on the Cross. … - 15 September 2013, Angelus address.

“When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil ..." - homily, first Mass as Pope
 On 24 March in St. Peter’s Square, while celebrating World Youth Day, he recalled the fact that a Christian’s joy comes not from owning many possessions but from encountering Jesus, “from knowing that with him we are never alone, even when we come across problems and obstacles in life that seem insurmountable – and there are so many of them! That is when the enemy comes, when the devil comes”. Furthermore, on 4 May, during the morning Mass at Santa Marta, Francis reflected upon the persecution of the Christians, speaking of the “hate of the prince of the world for those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus”. - Catholic World Report

In the book "On Heaven and Earth," originally published in Spanish in 2010, the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said, "I believe that the devil exists" and "his greatest achievement in these times has been to make us believe he doesn't exist."

"His fruits are always destruction: division, hate and slander," he said in the book. - CNS

Just remember, the Pope is Catholic.

Now back to regular programming... ;-)


This looks like me with Tondelli...

But it isn't.

Pier Vittorio Tondelli was born fifty eight years ago on September 14, 1955. 

I think he is an important example for Catholics who struggle with same sex attraction and chastity.  Tondelli repented and was reconciled to the Church not long before his death.
“Tondelli was fascinated with the works of Jewish mysticism, the Imitation of Christ, and the mystics like St. Teresa of Avila. “I love to look through them, to find and read stories, and the idea of holiness,” he wrote.
In 1989, the Italian writer said, “Everyone that has been raised in the bosom of a religion has his own religiosity. I have always tried to seek out not so much a discussion about the Catholic faith, but rather to express my own religiosity—without a doubt in the bosom of Christianity—which seeks out or questions its own positions, especially in confrontation with other authors.”
Speaking about chastity after his conversion, Tondelli called it “a mystic virtue for those who have chosen it and perhaps the most superhuman use of sexuality.”” - Catholic News Agency

Pier Vittorio Tondelli died December 16, 1991.

Prayers for the repose of his soul.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Envy.

"The sin of envy is a precursor to wrath, much more subtle than its counterpart, and able to slip past one's watch over their heart easily if one is not vigilant.  Envy is like a thief, planting seeds of poisonous foliage round about the interior castle of the heart, lighting little fires of irritation and anger here and there.  Where wrath rages, envy smolders." - Jason Liske

Poor Matthew Shepard

I sincerely mean that.

When I first heard of his story, I felt horror and revulsion and deep sympathy.  I remember praying for him, that he would be saved.  It was a horrible crime.  I pray in the same way for others, such as the Indian woman who had been gang raped, her murderers now condemned to death.  Remember the black man - in Texas, I think - who had been dragged by a truck, and he was decapitated?  likewise, I prayed for the dead soldier whose body had been dragged by Somalis.  Similarly, I prayed for  Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, brutally murdered in Benghazi.  These savage tortures and murders are distressing.  Murder is especially heinous when the victim's salvation is so uncertain.  I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of Hell, for myself and my brother.

That said, Shepard's murderers were never charged with a hate crime since there was no such statute on the books in Wyoming at the time.  Though public opinion clearly perceived it as a hate crime, some people believed there was more to the story.  Since the conviction of the two perpetrators, many have speculated that drugs were involved and there may have been more to the story than what was told at trial.

The Book of Matt, by Stephen Jiminez

The new book claims to tell the true story of what happened to Matthew Shepard.
But what really happened to Matthew Shepard?
He was beaten, tortured, and killed by one or both of the men now serving life sentences. But it turns out, according to Jiminez, that Shepard was a meth dealer himself and he was friends and sex partners with the man who led in his killing. Indeed, his killer may have killed him because Shepard allegedly came into possession of a large amount of methamphetamine and refused to give it up.
The book also shows that Shepard’s killer was on a five-day meth binge at the time of the killing.
As to be expected, Matthew Shepard Inc. is rallying to denounce the new narrative that his homosexuality had little or nothing to do with his murder. - Source
To be honest, I thought everyone believed that now - at least I was convinced there was not enough evidence to prove the murder was a hate crime - since I had heard most of the other reports not too long after the trial and conviction. 
Gay journalist Aaron Hicklin, writing in The Advocate asks, "How do people sold on one version of history react to being told that the facts are slippery --- that thinking of Shepard’s murder as a hate crime does not mean it was a hate crime? And how does it color our understanding of such a crime if the perpetrator and victim not only knew each other but also had sex together, bought drugs from one another, and partied together?” -ibid

The Brietbart article concludes:
The agenda of the sexual left lives on lies. As we all know now, the back-story that brought us Roe v. Wade was a lie. And here we find the Matthew Shepard story was also a lie.
The sexual left approves of such lies because they get to what they consider to be an underlying truth. The author of The Advocate piece writes, “There are valuable reasons for telling certain stories in a certain way at pivotal times, but that doesn’t mean we have to hold on to them once they’ve outlived their usefulness.”  -ibid

As I said in the beginning, I was moved to pity by the story - not because of Matthew Shepard's sexual identity, but because a kid was brutally tortured, beaten, and left for dead - he died later, a murder victim.  Eternal salvation is so uncertain - God save us from an unprovided death.

Thinking like a Samaritan...

I once did a painting which I titled Matthew Shepard, only to retitle it, Male Figure. Not a few commenters on my art blog expressed disdain for it, as well as the fact I would dare paint him with a halo.  It's unfortunate they misunderstood the image, although it demonstrates why I'm not a successful artist - if I can't convey an  simple idea understandably - I'm not very good.

 My original subject for the painting was St. Sebastian.  While painting the piece - which in fact is more or less simply a study, I received news of an art show.  The curator of the gallery knew of my work and asked me to show what I had in a group show, which also happened to be the inaugural show of his new gallery.  I abandoned work on Sebastian, and decided to call the unfinished piece Matthew Shepard - because he was in the news at the time and the figure's face and hair reminded me of the man - and the figure in its unfinished state,* appeared a little 'scorched'.  I left the halo to suggest the goodness of all men, made in the image and likeness of God - I was not 'canonizing' the poor man. 

I wanted the figure to be viewed as a human being, tied to a fence, left by the roadside, beaten, stripped by robbers - hoping the viewer might recall the parable of the Good Samaritan.  In one sense, the politicization of the murder of Matthew Shepard caused many passers by to look the other way, some even condemning the victim.  No one stopped to help him, to nurse him, to save him - rather they exploited him for their own agendas - and continue to do so today.  Hence the painting isn't really of Matthew at all, but a roadside casualty of violence: a victim of robbery and exploitation; and worse - in death, a victim of political agenda, as well as fear and anger - culminating in hate.

*I never finished the figure - what the viewer sees is pretty much the under painting.  The figure was intended to be clothed in a transparent loin cloth as well.

Our Lady of Sorrows

In thanksgiving for progress in the Syrian peace effort...
and the many, many favors we have received.