Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On the Seventh Day of Christmas: Pope St. Sylvester sewed the mouth of a dragon shut.


Sylvester, Pompous Maximus

Yes he dee-id.
Thus as S. Peter had said, S. Silvester did. And when he came to the pit, he descended down one hundred and fifty steps, bearing with him two lanterns, and found the dragon, and said the words that S. Peter had said to him, and bound his mouth with the thread, and sealed it, and after returned, and as he came upward again he met with two enchanters which followed him for to see if he descended, which were almost dead of the stench of the dragon, whom he brought with him whole and sound, which anon were baptized, with a great multitude of people with them.
Story here.

Anyway.

Merry Christmas, dear, brave defenders of the true faith, embattled warriors on the front lines, saving the Church from Pope Francis and the Novus Ordo!

And now, for your listening edification, the solemn Christmas chant for the 7th day of Christmas, originally composed by Sylvester I ... click here.

New Year's Eve trivia:
The dragon's name was Bonnie.
(I bet you thought I'd say Tweety Bird, or Corky.)


Bonus:  Did you know St. Hyginus was the 9th pope?  He promoted good hygiene and mandated hand sanitizers at all the holy water fonts in the catacombs of Rome.

Miracle of the Sun repeated, Cataract surgery, and anesthesia-dreams about Fr. Z




I finally had cataract surgery - at such a young age - I know!  Everyone remarked about me being so young and thin and handsome and how much they liked my full head of hair, but I digress.

Seriously, my doctor said it was an extraordinarily large cataract, which is why I heard all the Star Trek type noises from the ultra sound cataract vaporization equipment.  The surgery went well.  A few hours ago I already returned from my post-op and everything seems to be going well.  So we'll see - I have many drops to use.  As I write, the lap top screen is really, really bright now - so I may not be online very much.  (My expose of more-Catholic-than-the-Pope-fanatics will have to wait.)  Thanks to all the (two) people who wished me well before I went in for surgery yesterday.  What would one do without friends, huh?  Again, I digress.

Where do cataracts come from, Dad?

(Cats always want to know.)  Well, I spent too much time in the sun, without ever using sunglasses.  That was bad enough.  But I'm thinking looking directly at the sun may have contributed to the problem, disorder, what have you.

Frequently, at false apparition sites, people shout 'miraculo!  miraculo!' while pointing at the sun, and then everyone looks up to see it.  I fell for that several times at San Damiano in Italy as well as at a couple of other places, some approved, others not - Fr. Gino's ...

It doesn't matter where these things happened - because I'm quite sure someone in your parish probably sees the sun spinning in their backyard all the time, in between locutions about the anti-Pope.  Just don't go there, however.  I stupidly looked up, directly into a stationary sun - too many times.  Don't be so flipping gullible.

All I'm saying is, don't ever do that.

Anesthesia.  I used to love that stuff.  Not so much anymore.  The effects remained with me through the night.  I had nightmares about Fr. Z.  Candice Bergen was the prioress of a Poor Clare monastery and she was curator of an exhibition of my art, which Fr. Z was trying to destroy and then I exposed his connections to a money-laundering scheme he was conducting by increasing the number of donation apps on his website, setting monthly fundraising goals beyond imagining.  His cronies and followers were sent after me to kill me and destroy my artwork and writings - crazy Tenth Crusader people were after me and I took refuge in the Poor Clare enclosure - where it turns out Candice Bergen was just portraying St. Clare in a docu-drama on monastics who made Medieval GIF's instead of illuminations.  We were making it for Steven Spielberg.  Which was another reason why Fr. Z wanted me killed.

Isn't that sad though?  Not that anyone wanted me killed, but it's sad my hallucinations were about the blog and blogging personalities and stupid rumor mongering.  None of that is real.  None of it - even if you live off of donations - that is not real life.

Oh!  I don't like drugs no mo!

Happy New Year!

If you are having visions and seeing solar miracles,
wear sunglasses.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sixth Day of Christmas



I thought of the soul as resembling a castle*, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal, and containing many rooms, just as in heaven there are many mansions. If we reflect, sisters, we shall see that the soul of the just man is but a paradise, in which, God tells us, He takes His delight. What, do you imagine, must that dwelling be in which a King so mighty, so wise, and so pure, containing in Himself all good, can delight to rest? Nothing can be compared to the great beauty and capabilities of a soul; however keen our intellects may be, they are as unable to comprehend them as to comprehend God, for, as He has told us, He created us in His own image and likeness. - Interior Castle


*I thought of the soul as resembling a nebula.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Who are these people?



I have nothing to blog about for the 5th Day of Christmas.  Nothing.

Really.

I even checked all the legitimate news sites, as well as all the Catholic gossip portals, and those blogs I link to, including some I don't - and nothing interests me.  I don't care.

Who cares what I think?

Who cares what you think?

Who do we think we are?

What fools.

Saving the Church from the Pope - my ass foot.

St. Thomas Becket



What happened when the powers that be turned on him... 

They always do, you know.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I didn't know this: A couple of weeks ago, Sister Hatune Dogan visited Minneapolis and spoke about ISIS ...


On Sunday, 14 December at the historic Ft Snelling Memorial Chapel (MN), our Christian Education Class heard a first-hand report about the persecution of Christians as victims of jihad and Islamic Sharia law. The presentation was by Sister Hatune Dogan – a Syrian Orthodox nun who has been ministering to these victims. She was accompanied by Father Dayroyo Gabriel. From the almost 40-persons in attendance, a $400 freewill offering was collected and presented to their ministry. Photo: Sister Hatune Dogan and Father Dayroyo Gabriel with Chaplain Ken Beale at the Chapel altar.

What did she talk about?  What is the warning she issues?
An Orthodox Christian nun, Sister Hatune Dogan, is struggling finding a location that will allow her to speak on the atrocities she has witness in the Middle East and around the globe. Though Sister Hatune has spent her life helping Christians who have been persecuted, and helped countless people in need, the nun has found that her message is not welcome in many communities.
What is so controversial about the nun’s speeches? Sister Hatune uses her speaking platform as a way to warn against the atrocities of the Muslim faith.
Though her message is not always welcome, Sister Hatune seems to remain consistent in her message that America is inviting a slaughter into their country. 
“America is inviting its own slaughterers to its door. You have already a parallel society in America. In 50 years they will kill your grandchildren before your eyes. The Middle East is already here. It is here. It is not far from here. It is at your door.” - Link
Something to think about.

Much to pray about.

Song for this post here.

Why Jesus is depicted naked, lying on the bare ground - the Virgin, fully clothed, adoring the Lord?



The Virgin Birth.

Many Christians, even Catholics I've encountered, no longer really believe in the Virgin Birth, despite the dogma and the definition that Our Lady, Holy Mary, Mother of God is Ever-Virgin, before, during and after the Birth of Christ.

"The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin." - CCC

In art, painters have attempted to represent this truth in various ways.  Iconography does so magnificently in icons of the Mother of God of the Burning Bush and those like it.  Western painters have done likewise, as in the image at top.  It has been the way mystics have described the moment of birth, as well.  Western artists have shown the Child Jesus lying naked upon the bare ground, our Lady serenely adoring the Divine Child - St. Joseph often in the 'wings' fast to sleep - or more correctly, in ecstasy, the sacred moment hidden from his view.  Its mystery only matched by the unseen moment of the Resurrection.

The Gospel is masterfully depicted
in this narrative by Lippi.


Although the naked Christ in the Nativity is meant to convey several layers of meaning and inspire the hearts of the viewer, it is also meant to convey much deeper, doctrinal truths.  God became man - but his birth was miraculous - it wasn't like ours - it couldn't be if the virginal integrity of the mother was to remain intact.  But how does this happen?  How did the Incarnation happen?

In art, His nakedness and the impression of abandonment on the bare ground in the cold of winter definitely reflects the hearts of men and their rejection of God, as well as the human condition of poverty and want.  Yet the painter also attempts to depict the precise moment, as well as the 'nature' of His miraculous birth ... and as in the Lippi interpretation above, one may immediately recognize a connection to the creation story of Adam ... taken from the earth, naked, and so on.  Christ is the new Adam.

Who is this gate (Ezekiel 44:1-4), if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity. (St. Ambrose of Milan, The Consecration of a Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, 8:52; c. 391 AD)

Perhaps no greater sign of creeping apostasy just may be the denial of these mysteries, these dogmas:  The cornerstone of Christian faith ...

I wrote about this before here.

Holy Family, Holy Innocents, A Christmas of Tears



He shall seize and shall dash
your children on the rock!
- Psalm 137

Families are killed, their homes burned - one couple buried alive.  

Babies and children are beheaded and dashed against rocks.

Another airbus has gone missing with 162 people on board.

Another priest was murdered in Mexico.

These are just the latest on the list of atrocities ...

A Christmas of tears.

Carry on.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Nuns of Misrule ...

Just for fun ...

Didn't someone just write something on 
why nuns should dress as nuns?
Written by a man no less.


I found these looking for Renaissance Christmas.  It's by artist James Kerr (Scorpion Dagger) 'Remixing the Renaissance as GIFs' - what could be more perfect for Christmas?  I love it too much.



Happy Christmas!


Merry Christmas ... Dear Friend



First.  If you sent me an e-card, or an email with attachments and I've never heard from you before - I don't open that stuff.  (Sorry, but my computer has crashed too many times.)  So - I know you and you, and that friend sent me this or that - and I thank you for thinking of me.  It wasn't necessary.

Second.  If we used to be friends, if we used to send cards, emails, call, all that stuff - and we really, really actually knew one another ... Merry Christmas.  It's all good.  It's good.

Third.  There are maybe five dear friends in my life - well, maybe six or sixty.  A couple are dead now.  The rest I haven't heard from - except for one or two or three.  That's cool too.  You know what they say, If they say 'We should get together' say why?


Merry Christmas, dear friend.


Thanks for letting me go ...


[The secret is letting go.]


Many thanks.


Song for this post here.  It used to mean something to me - now, not so much.  Amazing.  That's the odd thing about conversion ... the vain rejoicing is completely drained out of such things.


[Oh.  One more thing.  If you don't like the blog, what I write, or what I paint and talk about, or even how I live my life - we could never really be friends anyway.  How freeing is that?]


It's all good!

My favorite season ... it's Christmas.

Sometimes they call her Nan. What?


For Twelve Days ...

Merry-making and fun and the Lord of Misrule ... and the witch who brings gifts to kids.


(Medieval Christmastide lasted until February 2.)

Happy Feast of St. John*,
patron of tipplers and winebibbers.
What?


Friday, December 26, 2014

Fans of Christmas past ...

 Excruciating. 

Rating Midnight Mass at the Vatican.

Evidently it didn't meet with approval by some Catholics - the music was off.*
I turned on the Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica for a little bit.  It was an object lesson in how not to sing Gregorian chant.  Excruciating.  The pace of this would put a funeral face one just about anyone.  It’s great that they have some Gregorian chant, it being the sacred music that Second Vatican Council elevated above all others, but… at least sing it right.  How hard is this?
The complaint used to be there was no chant used, or the choir was notoriously poor - even when the acceptable popes were celebrating Mass at Christmas.  This Christmas chant was used, but it wasn't right - it missed.  People stopped their ears, turned the tv channel, while a near riot was caused in the basilica, people shouting for it to stop.

Do people just go to Mass to hear it read properly, to be entertained by delightful music and elaborate vestments and elegant decor ... while every little detail must be slavishly accurate for them to be properly edified?  Perhaps that is what brings in the donations?


*I don't have cable and to my knowledge the Mass wasn't broadcast on local channels.  I went to a very early Christmas Mass on Christmas Day - gloriously ordinary.

Corked you say?  I'll ask people to send
you more Christmas cards then, if that will make you happy.

Merry Christmas!

On the feast of Stephen ... Parish Offices Closed - No Mass - Church Closed

St. Stephen - Ulisse Sartini


Archdiocesan Offices are closed too.

Now some parishes will probably have Mass on the Second Day of Christmas - but some will not.  Some may have the church or chapel open, although some are all locked up.  Sort of seems like taking the Mass out of Christmas.

What?  I'm not complaining - it just strikes me as ironic.  I'm not saying priests shouldn't have a day off, or go on holiday.  I also realize there are fewer priests these days.  I know many priests live off 'campus' and no longer live in rectories, and some have more than one parish as well.  I live in the city, if I had to, I could drive to another church.

It just seems contradictory however.  Catholics complain that Christmas is anticipated, decorated, celebrated far too early - during Advent, oh my gosh! no! - and yet in Christmas season - the Second Day of Christmas in fact, the parish church gets locked up.  The same thing will happen over New Year's weekend.

Christmas too secular?  Too commercial?

Really?  I think it's funny when religious people say that.

Happy Christmas!



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have yourself a merry 'little' Christmas ...

It's A Wonderful Life


The perfect joy of the imperfect Christmas.

Didn't 'feel' like Christmas?  Disappointed about something?  Someone?  Hopes dashed?  Feeling lonely and abandoned?  Christmas has lost it's charm?  It's glow?  It wasn't like it used to be?  It didn't turn out the way you expected?  Your prayers weren't answered?

Therein lies the 'grace of Christmas' spiritual people like to talk about so much but often miss when it comes their way.  St. Francis of Assisi thought of such adverse experiences as 'perfect joy'.

The example of St. Therese comes to mind as well.  Her famous 'Christmas conversion' experience reveals the hidden joy in one's hopes being disappointed.  It seems a trivial thing; a fourteen year old girl feeling reprimanded by a comment overheard from her father, about not having to fill her shoes with gifts any longer since she was beyond the age children would expect such things.  Nevertheless, Therese was the 'baby' and was treated as such - and the shoes were filled.  Her sister Celine expected tears - Therese expected disappointment, but instead, she returned downstairs and acted as if she had not heard her father's complaint.  She went to the hearth to find the little gifts in her shoes, and rejoiced so as not to disappoint her father.  Therese later remarked on the effects of her experience, saying: "My heart was filled with charity. I forgot myself to please others and, in doing so, became happy myself."


Still disappointed?

Then have yourself a merry 'little' Christmas, and thank God for his gift of 'perfect joy'!


It's the most wonderful time of the year.


Still sad? Go to a movie maybe - go see
 The Interview - that's Christmassy.


Song for this post here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Morning: Prayer at Mass ...

The Adoration of the Infant Jesus - Filippo Lippi


"Come quickly we pray Lord Jesus, and do not delay!" - Mass In the Morning

That's the excitement of a little kid.  It's also the desperate call of the families whose sons and dads have been shot and killed - on our streets, in their squad cars, in war zones.  That is the cry of those who have lost everything in storms and financial crashes, through terrorism and persecution.  That's the cry of the poor ...

Come quickly ... that those who trust in your compassion,
may find solace and relief in your coming.

I did a quick check online of the news.  I also checked some blog links and 'news portals'.  Legitimate news sites report the news, what's happening - 'and the news is rather sad' to quote the Beatles.  As for the bloggers and gossip portals - they seem to be still fighting, still pointing out one anothers faults/sins, complaining and crticizing ... It seems to me these folks must be missing something in their lives - I think there must be a hole in their soul or something.

Jesus says: Come to me, all you who labor and find life burdensome ... give it up.  Give up what you can't fix.  Give up what you can't control.  Give up the endless theologizing and moralizing and blogging for dollars...  Call a Christmas truce.

Listen!  Do you hear what I hear?
Whoever is a little one, come to me ... - Proverbs 9:4
Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One more day ... Then ... The Birth of Our Lord.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - The Cripples.

Even before the gifts and the friends and family get together, one may be able to sense the pre-Christmas traditions wearing thin.  Therefore it makes sense to me that the Holy Father encouraged Vatican lay workers to avoid making Christmas "a feast of commercial consumerism, of appearances or useless gifts... that it might be the feast of the joy of welcoming the Lord in the crib and our hearts."
"This is the real Christmas," Francis said, "the feast of the poverty of God who made himself into nothing, taking the nature of a slave; of God who places himself to serve at table; of God who hides himself from the intelligent and the wise and reveals himself to the small, the simple and the poor; of the 'Son of man who didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.'" - Source
This is the real focus of pre-Christmas, what we prepare for throughout Advent.  This is the cause of our joy.  When Christmas arrives, all of the decorating and traditions can finally be put in perspective, the sentimentality and artificial emotional expectations diminished, they too can fade into the background - because nothing compares to Jesus.

I can rejoice in the measure I feel my poverty, my insignificance, my lack of accomplishment, my loneliness, my lack of merit, even my outcast state ... because Jesus is born in abject poverty, a helpless infant, with no place to lay his head, but in a manger.  And heaven and earth rejoice.

Merry Christmas!  If you are depressed and disappointed - Merry Christmas!  You share the lot of the saints in light.  You are very close to the Infant Jesus.

The Census at Bethlehem, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker, RIP

 “simply unique”




Song for this post Unchain My Heart.



Viva il Papa! The Holy Father speaks frankly on the reform of the Curia.

If a good man reproves me, it is kindness. - Ps. 141:5


Avoiding sentimentality at Christmas ...

This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments. - Vatican Information Service

The Holy Father warns against the 'terrorism of gossip' ...

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider has the full list of 15 diseases Francis named. They’re also available, in Italian, on the Vatican’s press office site. Some of the highlights – or lowlights – depending on whether you are a member of the Curia or not: 
On feeling “immortal:” “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body’.” 
On what he means by “spiritual Alzheimers:” “A progressive decline of spiritual faculties’ which ’causes severe disadvantages to people’, making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’. We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory’ of their encounter with the Lord, in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions’.” 
On the disease of “existential schizophrenia:” this refers to “a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill’.” Ouch. 
Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the “sowers of discord.” which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips “cold-blooded murderers” of reputations. “It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back… Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!” he said.  - Washington Post
An examen.

There are so many helpful points for our own personal examination of conscience in what the Holy Father notes.  He is like a good spiritual father, and kindly spiritual director pointing out the pitfalls of the spiritual life.  I especially like these:

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.


“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person (fall) instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”. - VIS

At the very end, the Holy Father asks everyone to pray for priests.  

The Christmas season is very difficult for priests - many penance services and confession, some priests have no assistants and offer all the Masses scheduled alone, and there is always a demand for their time.  Imagine a busy priest falling asleep in prayer.  Or a priest too busy to follow what the Pope really says and gets his information from crack pots  bloggers like us - imagine how discouraging that can be?
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”. - Pope Francis

Pray for priests.

At the end of the address some news reports said
the applause was 'tepid'.  My source told me
Monsignor Ganswein was heard to say:
"I was told this was supposed to be a party!"
What?

2 Days Away!

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem- Hugo van der Goes

Christmas Eve is only two days away!

All the kitschy, kitschy, ya, ya, build up will culminate in the Sacred Nativity of Our Lord ...  The pre-Christmas season, Advent, is filled with prayerful wonder and joy ... and sometimes, great saddness.

And then, and then, and then Christmas comes, Christmas begins!

Don't forget those who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed by weather, sickness, depression, poverty, homelessness, terror, and war.  How does the Birth of Jesus impact those who sorrow?   We can't forget or distance ourselves from that.  I wonder if that's one meaning one might take away from the Gospel passage, "keep salt in your hearts" [Mk. 9:50]?



The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
- Luke 2:10

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Travelers ...


Not wanted home for Christmas?  Go West young man.  Make your own traditions.


Christmas on the move.

I have friends heading for the slopes, Hawaii, Santa Fe, and Florida.  Holiday getaways.  Many Families duck out on Christmas Day, others leave early to spend the holidays elsewhere.  Personally, I'd love to spend Christmas in a forest wilderness, staying in a well appointed hermitage with electricity and all the provisions I needed.  On Christmas Eve, I'd be there waiting until all the little wild animals came along and gathered round, to peer into my windows, admiring the Christmas tree lights and the gas-powered fireplace all ablaze ... and then, and then, then I'd go outside and we'd all wrestle in the snow and play and decorate the forest with lights and berries and nuts ...


Just before nightfall, all the elves and animals
are getting ready for Mass at midnight
at Terry's hermitage in the forest.



Anyway.

Denver airport will be having Christmas Day Mass for all the travelers passing through, on their way to the ski lodges because their loved ones wouldn't invite them to Christmas dinner.  (It could happen.)   The Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 25, at 2p.m. in the interfaith chapel on level six of Jeppesen Terminal.  I like that.  I like chapels in airports.  Boston's Logan has one.  I think there is still a chapel in the Prudential as well.  I think chapels should be everywhere - in the heart of the city, in malls, airports, across the street from my house, and so on.

If one happens to be stuck in the wilderness and can't get to Mass, then I think St. Nicholas should fly in and celebrate it for me and the critters - I suppose I could settle for a bi-locating priest who liked to hand-feed peanuts to blue jays instead.  What?


St. Nicholas descending for Mass.





Aren't the holidays fun?





God comes to us - right where we are...

Avoiding rash judgment ...



Putative father.

St. Joseph was the putative father of Jesus.

St. Joseph was also the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Ever Virgin Mary - Who, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, was found with child through the Holy Spirit ...

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly... - Matthew 1:19


That worked out well. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Problems in the blogosphere some spiritual persons miss ...





Big mistake...

THE TENDENCY TO DERISION

Among the causes of tepidity in retarded souls, the tendency to derision should be particularly noted. St. Thomas speaks of the derider when he discusses the vices opposed to justice: insult, detraction, murmuring against the reputation of our neighbor. He points out that to deride or to ridicule someone, is to show that we do not esteem him; and derision, says the saint, may become a mortal sin if it affects persons or things that deserve high esteem. It is a grievous sin to ridicule the things of God, or our parents, or superiors, or good persons who lead a virtuous life. Derision may even become very grievous by reason of its consequences, for it may turn weak souls forever away from the practice of good. Job replied to his friends: "He that is mocked by his friends as I, shall call upon God; and He will hear him. For the simplicity of the just man is laughed to scorn."  But it is also said of deriders: "He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them."  The terrible irony of heaven will chastise that of earth. 
The derider is himself a retarded soul, holding others back and becoming, often without being aware of it, the instrument of the spirit of evil. His cast of soul, which is the direct opposite of evangelical simplicity, is the one most opposed to supernatural contemplation. The derider, who wishes "to play the rogue," ridicules the just man who tends truly to perfection; he emphasizes the latter's defects and depreciates his good qualities. Why is this? Because he feels that he himself has little virtue, and he is unwilling to admit his inferiority. Then, out of spite, he lessens the real and fundamental value of his neighbor and the necessity of virtue itself. He may greatly harm weak souls which he intimidates, and, while working his own ruin, he may labor at their perdition. - Three Ages of the Interior Life; Part II, Ch 37 

Austin Ruse Challenges the New Homophiles



Ed. note:  A reader asked me once who Austin Ruse is and what is interest in all things gay?  Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy.  Hence is personal views and concerns expressed in the articles he writes for Crisis.  

His latest essay challenges the New Homophiles (his term) and when I first read it I was slightly concerned the tone was off, but as Austin said in the article, "They have PhDs. They can take it."  My concern was perhaps unwarranted to the extent that we are all adults and therefore serious, frank conversation is especially necessary when discussing critical issues related to Catholic teaching and opposition to it.  Straightforward language is not necessarily mean-spirited or uncharitable. 

Though I perceived a scornful tone in Austin's article, I forgot that he has been disparaged by some 'gay-Catholics' for even questioning the novelties suggested by the more progressive elements within the so-called Spiritual Friendship movement.  I apologize for the misunderstanding on my part.  I reprint my comment here with strikethroughs:

I've read Eve's book, and though I disagree on some points I have to say she strikes me as very faithful to Catholic teaching and deeply devout. Her book is astonishing in it's honesty, and at the risk of being mocked here, I couldn't help but think of Dorothy Day and Madeleine Dubrel - as well as Teresa of Avila whose writings were similarly as honest and sincere. I know from people who write to me that they found her story encouraging as regards their own children who are actively gay.
Young people today, those alienated for whatever reason, simply want us to listen to their stories and recognize that they exist. They know what the Church teaches already and many just can't make it fit - yet. We all need to pray and be open to those trying to be faithful.
If the new homophiles seek to change Catholic teaching - they are mistaken - it can't change. I'm not sure they all agree with one another on that either. I don't read them very deeply and to be honest - their exchanges seem more academic/philosophical theoretical experiments than anything else. I know bishops and priests are listening - but Catholic teaching can't change. To be sure, their writings help people to examine their lives and grow in self-knowledge - that isn't narcissism since self knowledge is critical for any spiritual growth.
I'm definitely pro-Courage for ssa persons - but many people may not feel that type of program is designed for them, for whatever reason. Some are convinced that gay is their identity - precisely because they have been educated, formed to think that. Conversion from the 'lifestyle' takes time and is often confused, interrupted, sometimes because of critical posts such as this one. I always appreciate what you write, but this article seems just a tad sarcastic and/or scornful. Otherwise your points are well taken and I generally agree with you.
We need to have great charity - as well as patience. These people are some one's kids. The culture proclaims gay from the rooftops - as equal, as normative - that constant message pulls upon those trying to be faithful to a Church whose members often scoff and condemn - and as people who comment on my blog say - 'beat them over the head with doctrine.' Hopefully they can come to understand that gay is not the gift they were given, likewise, if they are to understand that friendship is not a vocation in itself - they can only do so if those outside their paradigm can befriend them. I often think of Vanier's book title "Befriending the stranger" in this regard.
My apologies for writing so much - I maybe should do a blog post on the subject, but I doubt it would affect any one's thinking on the subject.
God bless you and your readers. - My comment on Fifteen Minutes article.

Austin Ruse replied very graciously to my comment, which can be read at the end of the article.

I didn't finish Eve's book - with a close reading, that is.  I will probably return to it over the Christmas season.  As I mentioned in the comment, I very much admire Eve's candor about her life and spirituality, and what we commonly refer to as her 'journey'.

Gay people are not known for their honesty.  Eve is very honest.  It really struck a chord within me.  I regretted ever dismissing or treating Eve or the Spiritual Friendship group with scorn.  Eve's honesty caused me to examine my own life - how honest have I been with others, the heavy burden of shame and secrecy I carried for so many years - despite the fact people knew my story - and accepted me that way.  While others didn't know my past, and so on.  Yet I never wanted to be that way.  It's crazy - and too complicated to discuss here, and I may never discuss it - but I have to give Eve Tushnet so much credit for dealing with the reality of her life.  If I had never prayerfully read her, listened to what she said, I never would have understood how necessary it is to listen and really hear what individuals from this group are saying.

I've often remarked that things have changed and the experience and education of younger persons has been deeply affected by acceptance of homosexuality - like or not, that has to be understood as a major cultural shift.  Therefore one cannot simply shove a crucifix in their face and demand they accept Catholic teaching.  Considering the cultural climate, it strikes me as nearly miraculous that gay-Catholics are so accepting of chaste celibacy as necessary to remain a faithful Catholic - to continue in the state of grace.  That has to be Divine grace at work in their lives - in and through the sacraments.

The idea of a development of doctrine seems unlikely, as well as unnecessary to me.  Likewise, the Church can never approve same sex marriage or homosexual acts - even some form of 'foreplay' or 'spooning' between 'spiritual friends'.   That cannot happen.

That said, we need to respect those who disagree, and love them as our own brothers and sisters.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Many do the best they can at the stage they are at.  All of us need one another's prayer.

I'm sure I waste my time writing this because I'm not at all accepted by any group - which is best for me.  I'm just a Catholic man - that's my identity.

As Fr. Angelo Mary said in a post on blogging recently:
As I would guess, the vast majority of man-hours spent connected are purely elective and strictly speaking unnecessary. We really don’t even have a God-given right to all the information we have access to. Certainly, it is very rare animal indeed, that creature who quite literally must blog for his livelihood or wellbeing. No one’s blog, vlog, website, YouTube channel, Facebook page or Twitter feed is necessary for the perpetuation of life in our galaxy. And I seriously doubt that there are many, if any, Catholic bloggers whose work is necessary for the Church, or his diocese, parish or community. We have confused our pastimes with our duties, just as people have confused televised narcissism with reality. We have all become paparazzi. - The Creature Named Catholic Internet

I'm now trying to figure out why I blog or make comments elsewhere.

Anyway - be kind to one another.  Life hurts.


Friday, December 19, 2014

North Korea, The Interview, and Sony

The time has come.


Katherine Hepburn once said Hollywood people were pigs.  I wonder what she'd say about Sony executives and their emails dishing their employees and contractors?  Hollywood execs have the reputation for being pretty greedy and not too concerned about morality - in case you haven't noticed - so I don't feel bad about their loss.

As far as the film, The Interview, I suspect it would have been another lame attempt at gross comedy - so no loss for me.  The plot is offensive - no doubt about it.  Not just to N. Korea either, especially since every late night comedian makes fun of N. Korea's leader all of the time, so no big deal.  However, portraying 'journalists' or tabloid talk-show hosts as spies and assassins doesn't bode well for real journalists in the field, many of whom risk their lives to do real journalism in countries already hostile to American interests.  Our enemies will now have reason to be even more suspicious of journalists.

Liberty and freedom has been corrupted and misused in our country.  North Korea just gave us a 'warning'.  Someday it may be taken away completely.

Obviously there is cyber war and we lost this round - but that's another issue.  A film with an assassination plot doesn't give us much moral ground for us to stand on.  Just saying.

Just think: Worldwide Order of Franciscans - Friars Minor - in grave financial distress!



I wonder ... what would St. Francis say?
The minister general of the order, outlined “a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself.”
First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt. Second, the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management. We have initiated steps to address these concerns. Third, there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium. Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk. - Source

Just imagine that.  The poor brothers of St. Francis actually facing financial distress - just like real poor people.

The perfect joy of St. Francis.


Saint Francis’ spoliation tells us simply what the Gospel teaches us: 
to follow Jesus means to put Him in the first place, 
to despoil ourselves of the many things we have that suffocate our heart, 
to renounce ourselves, to take up the cross and carry it with Jesus. 
To despoil ourselves of the pride-filled “I” and detach ourselves from the desire to have,
 from money, which is an idol that possesses. - Address of Pope Francis




O Little King, attraction of all hearts, 
we hail that blessed hour and moment 
in which you were born of 
the most pure Virgin Mary 
in the poverty of Bethlehem.  
You did not need earthly pomp or riches, 
for they could add nothing to your Infinite Majesty. 
 Teach us that true riches are within 
and that it is not what we have 
but what we are that counts. Amen.


One thing I really like about Santa is this ...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Well this is earth shattering news: New Ways Ministry meets with Archbishop Cordileone - It's a gay Christmas miracle Mame Darlin'!

Gramick, Cordileone, DeBernardo


According to Sr. Jennine Gramick, she also had a nice meeting with Bishop Paprocki not too long ago - they disagreed on Church teaching though.

Michael Bayly?  Can you hear me now?

This is the type of dialogue gay and lesbian 'dissenting' Catholics have been waiting for.

Remember, I've maintained the New Ways Ministry approach has been the doctrinal slant in most dioceses and parochial schools - especially colleges and universities - since the 1980's.  Readers may disagree, but it's true - and now, today, with the new homophile gay Catholic movement, there is an opening to dialogue with the dissenting half.  I knew it would come to this - although I'm surprised how quickly these things have developed.  Gramick - though forbidden to  'teach' or work for New Ways has continued to do so while continuing to influence the clergy and hierarchy - behind the scenes?  Until today I wasn't aware of the latest encounters.

I definitely agree that such open dialogue is far better than 'shunning' - something the Amish do and some very traditionalist Catholics would like to do with these types.  Nevertheless, I have to agree with Fr. Martin who had this to say about the meeting with Cordileone:  This is a significant attempt at Catholic bridge building, and an "encounter" (to use a favorite word of Pope Francis) for which we can be grateful.

The Holy Father has helped us open our hearts - to listen to one another and not be afraid.  I disagree with the principles of New Ways Ministry, I'm not a 'new homophile', but there is a different reality today among younger people - to shun and condemn 'them' is difficult for contemporary gay persons to understand as charity in truth.  No.  I'm a die hard Courage type of guy - I'm convinced the Church is effective in bringing Christ to all people, straight or LBBTQIXYZ, in and through the ordinary form of things.  The sacraments, the Mass, prayer and self-denial, love of neighbor, and so on ... it works.  We encounter Christ in and through the Church.  We encounter one another on the way - and we befriend the stranger even when we don't understand everything.

That said, here are a couple 'takes' from New Ways blog on the meeting with the Archbishop of San Francisco:
Two groups took Cordileone up on his offer for a personal meeting: New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. Earlier this autumn, Cordileone met in San Francisco with representatives from Dignity. New Ways Ministry’s meeting occurred on December 15th at our offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, while the Archbishop was in the Washington, DC area on other church business. 
DeBernardo met Cordileone and drove him to our offices. Gramick introduced herself, while Matt Myers and Bob Shine, two New Ways Ministry staff members, were also on hand to greet the archbishop and serve a light lunch of sandwiches. After the archbishop opened with a prayer, Cordileone, DeBernardo, and Gramick shared some of their life stories and experiences. Both Cordileone and DeBernardo have similar backgrounds, sharing an Italian heritage, and having attended public schools while being very much involved with the Catholic Church. Gramick talked about her Polish roots as an only child in a non-practicing Catholic family, but surrounded by Catholics until graduate school when she was first introduced to the gay community. 
As the conversation progressed, they discussed how Catholic groups with opposing views on marriage can better understand and speak with one another. Cordileone mentioned Pope Francis’ idea of “encounter,” of meeting people where they are and beginning a dialogue with them. Cordileone stressed the importance of breaking down stereotypes on each side of the issue. He noted that both groups sometimes say things that cause harm to the other side, and that the harm is often not intended. 
New Ways Ministry asked for advice on how LGBT Catholics and their families can initiate dialogues with their local bishops. He noted that bishops often have many demands on their time and many requests for appointments. A more practical route may be for people to request meetings with directors of diocesan ministries, such as family life, or with other chancery officials. - Source

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

(Crap!  Now I have to be nice to Sr. Jeannine.  What?)

What?!

St. Joseph's Day in the Novena for Christmas



Do not be afraid ...

Can you feel the weight being lifted?  The fear leaving?  The joy that is coming?

It seems to me all the depression, the fear, the dissatisfaction, the dreariness is lifted - even if for a moment, with the angel's command to Joseph:  "Joseph, do not be afraid to take Our Lady St. Mary into your home, because she brings to you your God and Savior Jesus Christ ..."  St. Joseph was the husband of Our Lady, the foster father of Jesus.

The joy is so palpable.

I pray that all of those suffering may experience, may taste and see this joy in their hearts ... even amidst the terror - for a moment - to look up at the sky and to know behind the clouds, the Son of Justice shines and is near.

On the third day of the novena I pray with and for all of those who suffer, all those who are terrorized and afraid, all of those who have been massacred.

St. Joseph, protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, pray for us!

Ignore all the naysayers, the negative, toxic voices online, in the news - look up and believe.  The LORD is so near ... so close ... BELIEVE.

Ever hear of Tomte?



Tomten also bring gifts at Christmastime ...



Saint Birgitta of Sweden warned against Tomten because they originated in pagan mythology.  The mythological character persists to our day however, becoming the Swedish version of Santa.  Needless to say, the legendary tradition is just one more element in the observance of Christmas for fundamentalists to condemn.