Saturday, January 04, 2014

No More Monsignors ...

The Pope put a stop to it.
Vatican City
Seeking to eliminate careerism in the Catholic clergy, Pope Francis has abolished the conferral of the title of ‘monsignor’ on secular or diocesan priests under the age of 65.
The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has communicated this news to Apostolic Nuncios around the world, and has asked them to inform all bishops in their respective countries of the decision in this regard taken by Pope Francis. - More here.

I never thought I'd see the day. 







It's like the Prince of Peace returning  ...

Song for this post here.


The narcissist loves the body of the other as a reflection of his own ...


I came across the post header quote in an essay on the art of Lani Irwin, a female painter I've often admired.  I don't usually 'read' the paintings of others, preferring rather to experience them as one might do with abstract expressionism.  I think that might make me 'self-referential' :).

Be that as it may, while reading the essay I was referred to this and that article on the subject of narcissism and recognized how large a role that condition plays in the life of gay men.  I only speak about gay men because I know very little about gay women, much less normal women.  Just last week I had to ask someone what a vagina was.  On one level, I was being facetious, but I have to admit I wasn't entirely sure of what the difference is from camel toes, and to be sure, I had no idea they could yawp. 

More seriously, I think a great deal of the problem with gay, especially in contemporary culture, is a problem of charity - love of God and neighbor - the first neighbor being ourselves.  Yet our self-love is inordinate, which to some extent is natural and grace is needed to overcome it.  Left unattended, it becomes disordered.

Years ago someone once left a comment on a post I wrote citing evidence of narcissism on blogs.  My critic remarked on how ironic it was for me, a man with 3 blogs, to be calling out others for what most of us consider a character defect.  She was right of course.  I'm a big narcissist.

Narcissism becomes a sort of impediment to not only friendship, but to love of God.  Indeed it is excessive self love which leads us to satisfy our every inordinate appetite and desire.  What heals that is surrender to God's love.  All traditional spiritual writers make that clear, so I have nothing to add.  I'm just sharing a light that dawned for me which helps me understand an aspect of what may be going on with younger gay men - be they the New Homophiles or just gay and happy with it. 

Just some thoughts ...
... to say my body is myself is to say that to love my body is to say I love myself. The narcissist falls back on what Freud called the “body ego,” and in a sense can never get beyond it: the narcissist loves the body of the other as a reflection of her own body. Self-love— narcissistic curiosity about, even fascinated concern with  the  female  body and with that the female self ... - Source
Men do that.  Porn is a staple for gay men.  Idolizing the male physique - addicted to the gym.  Fantasy romances with hot actors.  Gay is very much about idolatry and narcissism.  (Disclaimer: Before you hit me for generalizations... This does not apply for the perfect, well adjusted gay man of course, and certainly not ALL gay men, and to be sure NOT ALL gay Catholics.  Oh, and this is so not about clinical narcissism - the disorder.  What?)
As Arnold Hauser points out, narcissism, at its most serious, involves “self-observation, in the sense of self-examination and the acquisition of self-awareness.” - Source

And isn't that what all the writers end up doing?  Navel/crotch gazing?

Maybe not.

For me, the essay is somewhat provocative - here's another thought to mull over ...
The narcissist is peculiarly “self-alienated”: without her reflection—and Hauser, following the lead of Valéry’s “interpretation,” notes that the Narcissus of the legend is as much female as male—she feels incomplete and insignificant. She needs that reflection to be herself, even though the reflection is an illusion, a sort of false self. For Hauser, mannerist art is quintessentially narcissistic, suggesting that Irwin’s narcissistic art is quintessentially mannerist. Her use of mannerist “postures and movements” to “fetishize” the figure into static perfection, along with the mannerist view that “all the world’s a stage”—a sort of “costume” party in which everyone is playing a role, in which everything is artificial, however natural it may look—confirm the mannerism. Are Irwin’s roses artificial or natural? They must be artificial, because they do not decay. - Donald Kuspit

Narcissism can be healed of course - that's the Good News, in fact therein lies the secret of freedom from unwanted same sex attraction.  (If you want to be gay and same sex attracted, that's a different matter.)  The ordinary way of healing is pretty much a maturing process - yes, a self-acceptance - although not of what we project ourselves to be, or what culture dictates we must be.  As a Catholic it is found in and through the ordinary means offered through the Church, sacraments, prayer, ascesis, and going out from self to serve others.  It doesn't always mean one must join a group or an organization or even volunteering at church.  We go out of ourselves through self denial.  We can serve others through prayer and the ordinary fulfillment of our duties in our state in life.  That is the greatness of ordinary life.  The narcissist cannot tolerate ordinary life ... The narcissist needs to be exceptional and clings to that which makes him so.

Think about it.

If we have charity we cannot sin against our brother or his body.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces. -GMH

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS, RIP

I came across this on Fr. Martin's Facebook page:

R.I.P. Father Robert Nugent, SDS, co-founder with Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, of New Ways Ministry, which helped and continues to help many gays and lesbians feel welcome in the church.

In 1999, after many years of working with gays and... lesbian Catholics, Fr. Nugent was ordered by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to cease his ministry, and was told not to speak or write about gays and lesbians. Faithful to his vow of obedience as a Salvatorian, he accepted the Vatican's silencing. He remained a priest in good standing and continued a life of dedicated service to the church. - Fr. Martin, SJ
I intuitively never followed New Ways Ministry because of its dissent from Catholic teaching.   After reading the literature I recognized I was unable to agree with the group's tenets, and I moved on.  Nevertheless, the work accomplished by New Ways Ministry is extensive and without doubt its influence has made a huge impact on Catholic teaching in the United States.  Especially amongst clergy and Catholic educators, which may help explain why gay marriage has such a high approval rating amongst Catholics.  I think NWM has been successful in effecting a paradigm shift within the minds of many who claim to champion Church teaching in their efforts to minister to homosexual persons.  As the New Ways Ministry website makes clear:
“It is impossible to overestimate the impact and value of Father Nugent’s lesbian and gay ministry.  He educated a generation of pastoral leaders who began to put into practice the inclusive ideals that he taught.  A tireless researcher and writer, he produced a number of important works on pastoral care that helped to shape the movement in Catholicism of gay-friendly parishes.  In the mid-1990s, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life as they produced their landmark pastoral document, Always Our Children.* A sensitive counselor, he supported scores of gay priests and brothers as they worked at reconciling their spirituality with their sexuality. - Bondings 2.0

+ + +

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

*Bishop Bruskewitz referred to the document as a "calamity and frightening disaster".  As I noted, obviously the influence of New Ways Ministry has had a significant impact upon Catholic attitudes toward homosexual behavior.  Though NWM is officially 'condemned', the philosophy behind it has deeply influenced what is taught in many of our schools and parishes.

Going on a pilgrimage? A retreat?

Bar Italia, Paul Cadmus

"Whoever makes a pilgrimage does well to make it alone, even if he must do it at an unusual time.  I would never advise going along with a large crowd, because one ordinarily returns more distracted than before.  Many who go on pilgrimages do so more for the sake of recreation than devotion." - St. John of the Cross

On January 2

St. Therese and St. Seraphim.

Little Therese was born.

And... Seraphim Sarovski died.

Little teeny souls,

Make great saints.


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Development of Doctrine and Forming a Synthesis of Homosexuality ...


Locating The Missing Myth.

Which is the title of a new book by Giles Herrada, PhD.
Gilles Herrada, PhD, worked as a research scientist at Columbia and Harvard universities in the fields of reproductive biology and neuroscience. He now dedicates his time to understanding human sexuality and the evolution of symbolic realities in human cultures.
The “missing myth” needs to be invented.

 The gay Catholic movement* - new homophiles ;) - may be way ahead of Dr. Herrada, if not in sync.  Not that it's necessarily a bad thing - except when people claim medieval mystics were gay and the authors of a gay spirituality.**  But that's an old post.

The Missing Myth is an interesting study - I've only read reviews and excerpts so far, but I'm certain it will be helpful to those interested in contributing to the development of doctrine as it applies to Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality, as well as for those interested in developing a new mythology of homosexuality.

There are 9 controversial claims in The Missing Myth ...  (My comments in red.)
1 Biological and anthropological data do not support the existence of a “gay” gene but are consistent with the existence of a complex biological mechanism (the “loose switch”) responsible for generating the spectrum of sexual preferences that we observe among people.

2 Homosexual behavior has provided a startling evolutionary advantage by reinforcing social bonds and strengthening the coherence of the group.

3 The claim that homosexual can’t or don’t reproduce is inaccurate: historically speaking homosexual desire never was regarded as incompatible with the duty of reproduction; and even today many homosexuals would reproduce if only society would let them invent a new kind of family that is not based on the heterosexual model. - That's happening now. 

4 The way homosexual acts, love, and desire are represented in the myths of a particular culture constitutes the only trustworthy indicator of whether homosexual relationships are integrated or not in this culture.

5 Diverging from all other religious traditions, Judeo-Christianity is singularized by the total lack of positive depiction of homosexual love and desire in its mythos. - That's because homosexual behavior is a sin.

6 Today homosexual love still lacks a connection to the “sacred”. - I wonder why?  I'm being facetious of course.  Not to worry however, gay Catholics are developing a queer spirituality .

7 Modern homosexuality, which differs dramatically from all ancient forms of homosexual relationships, has evolved so as to largely embodies the modern Christian relational ideal, a fact that neither the Church nor gay theorists appear willing to acknowledge.  - Not true - gay Catholics are hard at it.

8 Ironically the strong homophobic character of Judeo-Christian culture created the evolutionary context that made the emergence of modern homosexuality possible. - I blame the Cistercians, Aelred and Bernard.**  Evidently their mysticism is very adaptable to LGBTQ sensitivities.  What?  Facetious again.

9 The greatest evolutionary puzzle about the human species is not homosexuality but menopause: most women past 50—nearly a quarter of the female population—cannot reproduce. - Source

 “What is the new mythology to be, the mythology of this unified earth as one harmonious whole?”  - Joseph Campbell.

*My apologies for depending upon labels, but I have no other choice when it comes to this subject.

New Year's Day explosion in Minneapolis

It happened in the West Bank neighborhood near the U of M.  I believe the area is populated by mostly Somalis, the building where the blast occurred is next to a mosque.  The reason for the blast has yet to be determined, but it appears it may have originated in an apartment on one of the upper floors.
An explosion ripped through an apartment building in Minneapolis Wednesday, sending at least 13 people to the hospital after several were forced to jump from the windows to escape the chaos, authorities said.

It is unclear what caused the explosion or where it happened. The first floor is a grocery store, with 10 apartments occupying the second and third floors. - Source

The Two Witnesses ...

You don't know.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Homage to Caravaggio

Happy New Year!

Giuseppe Veneziano's Head of Goliath, after Caravaggio

A partial examination of conscience ... for bloggers ... well, for me.

Take little notice of who is with you or against you... so long as you always try to please God and write what is true. 

Deacon Kandra posted a very good examination of conscience not long ago - check it out here.

The examination of conscience is something I was trained to do, so it is a regular practice for me - it is part of prayer - in fact a little examine and act of contrition is always the first part of prayer throughout the day.

Anyway.  I came across a sort of short-form examine at Shirt of Flame - it hit home:
And I'm ruminating on the year past and the year to come
One of the main things I see is that we cannot afford the slightest bit of resentment, bitterness and/or hatred. And I, for one, am utterly powerless to get rid of any of that on my own. No use trying to assert my "willpower," which only wants to win and will convince me that NOT loving the person in question is the goal and some kind of twisted triumph.
So I need to be in constant contact with a Power greater than myself. I've gotten in the habit these past few months of a nightly review, i.e. Examination of Conscience: where was I selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, fearful? In this way, my petty jealousies, enmities, resentments, meanness-es, and lies (I like to call these exaggerations for effect but they are lies!) are constantly revealed and then I get to ask to be forgiven and to do better. And I see how very much help I need. How very flawed I am. But also how much I yearn to do better so that, at least, is good and to be grateful for. - Source

 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" - Mark 8:36

For "life is so short, the path leading to eternal life so narrow, and I know the just man is scarcely saved, while the things of the world are vain and deceitful, and all comes to an end and fails like falling water. The time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy and salvation most difficult... My life has vanished, I know well I must render an account of everything - from the beginning of my life as well as this later part - unto the last penny, when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles, and it is already late - the day far spent - to remedy so much evil and harm..." - St. John of the Cross

7th Day of Christmas

New Year's Eve.

Nothing.  Means nothing to me.

So anyway - still didn't get your card, Chevy.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The New Homophiles and the Old Uranians

Untitled, Henry Scott Tuke
The third way...

Austin Ruse wrote a very good article on the 'new' homophiles - gay-faithfully chaste and celibate Catholics who identify as gay.  Some of the new homophiles mentioned replied they were amused, disturbed, angry, at first - but then Austin Ruse politely replied to their objections, and/or concern, explaining that he was making forming his judgments based on the literature they have produced.  Indeed, I liked Ruse's approach and analysis, as well as his conclusion that this new 'movement' bears watching.

It gets so complicated when we discuss anything gay, queer, SSA -  it all becomes very tiresome.

Of course, there are good things being discussed and explored by the 'new faithful-gay-Catholics' who have written books and online articles on the issue of same sex friendship and non-genital intimacy.  It's quite good - although with some of the writers, the ordinary reader must wade through a great deal of intellectual-philosophical discussion - not unlike the complexity of research associated with Theology of the Body.  If they are writing for an exclusively academic audience, that is fine - but it becomes a tad esoteric, even gnostic for my gay relatives on the East Side of St. Paul, not to mention some of my Beauty School, Art and Design graduate friends.  They aren't interested in religion anyway, nor would they be interested in such research, so I suppose it isn't an issue.

Much of the discussion on spiritual friendship is quite good, but it seems to me it can at times, become unnecessarily complex.  Speaking rather subjectively, often times some of the writers from this movement lay out arguments how (their) younger generation are very comfortable with same sex friendships, just as they are with opposite sex friendships - that neither pose any danger to chastity or romantic intimacy.  Evidently some church people have said such close friendships can be an occasion of sin.  (Straight Catholics have the same issues BTW.)

Nothing new here.  The acceptance and practice of close, intimate friendships is not exclusively something younger people have discovered and excel at.  It is completely naïve, if not exclusive to make such a claim.  I grew up enjoying very close friendship with males and females.  We traveled together, slept together, lived together - no sex, no physical intimacy - no problems.  We are all still friends - some have families, others remain single, and since we live in different parts of the country, some of us no longer get together as we once did, but we keep in touch.  Some of us are gay, some bi-sexual, but the majority are heterosexual.  No one identifies by their sexual orientation.  Each is comfortable with their gender ... and perhaps there lies the difference between the new homophiles and the old.  But that's another post.

Speaking of old...

Ever hear of the Uranians?   (Not anything from Uranus, however.)  The new homophiles should be familiar with this late 19th century movement.  Like some of the prominent new homophiles, the 'prominent Uranians were trained Classicists'.

I know of the Uranian movement because of my art studies.  In my research I came across the artist Henry Scott Tuke and his figural work (shown at top).  He painted nude males, mostly adolescent, but his work is not homoerotic, though it is highly esteemed by gay men, both in the artist's lifetime, as well as today.

Tuke's work strikes me as rather innocent, he never painted erotic images and rarely painted boys showing genitalia.  In fact, what he does very well is that he portrays same sex friendship uncorrupted - and natural.  I find the life of Tuke interesting - though he had gay friends, I've come across nothing to suggest that he engaged in homosexual activity.  So I'm not sure Tuke would have considered himself to be Uranian, nor would he have intended his work to be pederastic* - I may be misinformed however.  If he did, I hope he repented like Oscar Wilde.

If I may, I'd like to suggest another possible reason why some gay Catholics seek to develop a particular gay-spirituality of same sex friendship, which may have something to do with a classic symptom in homosexuals (men) - that is, an inability or difficulty in forming healthy, nonsexual friendships with the same sex.  Natural, healthy same sex friendship is a source of healing and wholeness for those with SSA, and I think it should be encouraged, not discouraged.  Having a man-crush is one thing, and it's natural - pursuing it or fantasizing romantically about it is disordered.  But that's also another post.

"To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble - more noble than other forms." - Oscar Wilde*

So what is it?  Definition of Uranian, from Wiki - for the sake of brevity:
Uranian is a 19th-century term that referred to a person of a third sex—originally, someone with "a female psyche in a male body" who is sexually attracted to men, and later extended to cover homosexual gender variant females, and a number of other sexual types. - Source
Today it is called 'queer'.  Queer is the third way.  There are queer Catholics who dissent from Church teaching and there are queer Catholics who are faithful to Catholic teaching and accept that homosexual acts are sinful.  Then of course, there are SSA Catholics who refuse to identify as gay or queer, and who live an ordered life of celibacy and chastity - just like the new homophiles, only the SSA's most often can be associated with Courage Apostolate, an organization the new homophiles are not comfortable with.  I could discuss that further, but I cannot take the time to do so right now.  Suffice it to say that many of the complaints about Courage suggest that well adjusted queer folk just do not need a support group, and so they formed their own - for normal gay people.

I've often speculated that gay people, especially gay Catholics like to think of themselves as a unique species - not unlike the Uranians, and within that paradigm, each person is a particular species - so no one may actually type them or generalize about them - unless they happen to be part of their movement.  It's difficult to ever pin them down however.

Their approach to spiritual friendship seems to me to tend toward the idealized and romantic, and in this they sometimes resemble another late 19th century movement, the Pre-Raphaelites, who imaged an idyllic chivalry.  At any rate, I can't help feel a few of the new homophiles are somewhat elitist and exclusive, not admitting challengers to their theory and research, and never, ever those 'parroting' traditional Catholic teaching.  Though they bend over backwards to be charitable, they can be rather condescending in their assertions.  That is not to condemn them, nor am I suggesting they are not having an impact for the good - insofar as softening the Church's official tone on homosexuality.  Gay Catholic dissenters have also had a similar impact, whether one is willing to admit it or not.  The 'new homophiles' have been rather well received by a number of churchmen - especially those who coincidentally, may not appreciate Courage Apostolate either.

Nonetheless, as Austin Ruse concluded in his essay, "The conversation is fascinating ..."

*Interestingly enough, the delectation for adolescent boys demonstrates something quite common to homosexual men, don't you agree?  Especially considering the sex scandals that keep popping up.  It is what happened to that monastery in Sketis...

6th Day of Christmas

Was the prophetess Anna a church-lady?

Or was she a contemplative, who never left the temple?  A prototype of early nuns, widows who dedicated their lives?  Or was she just homeless and took refuge in the temple?

Her example makes one appreciate the pious ladies we meet at church.  The faithful elderly who never miss daily Mass, who pray the rosary.  Those who volunteer to water the plants and tidy up.  Those who remind priests of the rubrics and how the Eucharist should be reserved and reverenced.

Old people are a blessing, not a curse. 
“let us ... think of those other exiles – I would call them ‘the hidden exiles’ who may be marginalized within their own families – the elderly for example who sometimes are treated like burdens”. - Pope Francis

Song for this post here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

5th Day of Christmas

A simple year.

Evidence of Christmas at Dogwood Cottage...

This year I didn't do a tree - just candles in the windows and random splashes of décor.  It was very hidden and monastic, all of it confined to the 'enclosure'.  Guests do not even get to see it.

Today is Gabby's birthday BTW!  She had salmon and got a lambs wool mouse stuffed with catnip. 

Merry 5th Day of Christmas!

The reason why there couldn't be a tree.
(The garland had to be raised a cat-length higher.)
The Von Baer brothers taking refuge from Gabby
at her birthday party.
The Rabbitowitz's were invited, but unable to attend.
The Infant Jesus with his friends and some of his toys.
(A little kitty and bear from Austria.)
Kitchen nicho.
The enclosure shrine.
No Christmas trim however.

How 'modern' art can document what may be otherwise unnoticed ...

Gustav Klimt “Il fregio di Beethoven”, 1902

This morning the windows seemed to depict a Klimt design.  Minuscule frozen beads of moisture formed in patterns very similar to the backgrounds of Gustav Klimt's figural paintings.  I looked at the manifestation for a long time.  Each bead, ever so tiny, became a sort of convex lens, a microscopic  diorama depicting the view outside.

I thought of documenting it - making a painting of the experience, but then I thought 'why?'  It would never be understood.  It could never be as fascinatingly beautiful as the reality.

How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?*


Then there is Richter.  I love this series.

Ice (4) - Gerhard Richter

Then imagine the Ice painting is an obscure rendition of a Dali...

The Ecumenical Council, Salvatore Dali
The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus

[Which reminds me - the television production of The Sound of Music was awful.  The singing was very good, even the staging - the acting was terrible.]  What?

Holy Family

Melkite Icon of the Holy Family
Returning to Nazareth, Nazareth, Galilee

For me, this is a very suitable image of the Holy Family.  I'm not fond of those showing St. Joseph with his arm around Our Lady.

Parents, love your children.  Be holy and faithful.  Children need parents who love them, provide for them and protect them.  If you are faithful to your children, they will be faithful to you.

The First Reading for Mass instructs the children.