Saturday, April 26, 2014

Did you know I wrote letters to both John Paul II and John XXIII?

Yes I di-id.

They both wrote back too.  They told me I was doing nothing wrong and could go to communion.


I lost the letter from John XXIII but still have the one from JPII - although I've since learned both were written by a secretary.  (I convince myself both Popes dictated the contents after reading my sweet letters.)

Too good to call me I guess.

Pope Francis: There are "bat-like Christians" ...

"We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humour we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.” - Pope Francis

I thought he was talking about bat-shit crazy Catholic bloggers.

*Dawn French - Psychoville

Prophetic Prayer of Pius XII to Our Lady of Good Counsel

Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at thy feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech thee: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.
Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.
Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.
(By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953)

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Deposition of Archbishop Nienstedt and Fr. Kevin McDonough

Is someone lying?

The lawyers and media seem to think so.  I can't bring myself to believe that an Archbishop and a former Vicar General would lie under oath.  So what's the deal?

Bad management, imperious culture, lack of communication and dysfunction - made worse by legal representation telling them what to say and how to answer questions - even demonstrating “a consistent pattern of deny, minimize and blame.”

I don't trust any of them.

Archbishop Nienstedt is out of town, in Rome for the Canonization.  He should be here.  He was gone for months while he was himself was investigated for inappropriate conduct.  Found innocent, he returned to work - yet now he is in Rome while local media has a field day with the depositions.  I don't get it.  A pastor should be with his sheep - who are confused and bewildered.

In his deposition, it appears Fr. Kevin McDonough, former Vicar General contradicts some of the things Nienstedt stated when he was deposed.  Interestingly, McDonough indicates something about the Archbishop's management style which may explain why he's not especially well liked by several of his priests.  He mentioned he had little contact with the Archbishop because "Nienstedt managed largely by memo..."

McDonough denied this week’s assertion by Nienstedt that he had advised the archbishop not to record or keep records of certain conversations about child abusers. 
“First of all, he [Nienstedt] and I would never have been in a position for much casual conversation,” McDonough said. “Archbishop Nienstedt managed largely by memo … but I don’t recall the question ever being asked about recording conversations with — between the archbishop and myself.” - StarTribune

Nienstedt is in Rome for the Canonizations.

Futility or ineffectiveness do not dispense one from speaking the truth, declaring what is wrong, and standing for what is right and just. [...] Whoever considers success, or makes his decisions or attitudes dependent upon whether something is futile or certain of success, is already corrupt. Then authenticity no longer means his personal encounter with what is real; it is rather his personal dependence upon success, upon being heard, on popularity and applause, and on the roar of great throngs. He is already corrupt. And woe if the prophets are mute out of fear that their word might not be heeded. - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Going to Rome for the Canonizations?

Be on the lookout for saints in the crowd.

Seriously.  There will be saints in the crowd - several people in the crowd will become canonized saints themselves - it is always like that.  One reads stories of saints who were present at the canonizations of other saints.  One who pops into mind is Bl. Pierina Morosini who was present at the canonization of Maria Goretti - only to die a martyr of chastity herself.

One other thing to be on the lookout for is people who are present via bi-location.  Yeah, that's right.  In former ages saints have gone to Rome and elsewhere in that way.  I know!  They just show up.  Padre Pio comes to mind.

I had a mystical encounter in St. Peter's once.  I really did.

Things happen in Rome.

Random factoid:  Did you know that before Vatican II the only people to reject the canonization of saints were nonbelievers and Protestants.  Pretty much.

Look for Larry in Rome.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Singing Priest Sings Again: You Raise Me Up

It's a Susan Boyle moment.

It's just weird.  I wonder if he knows "Wind Beneath My Wings"?

He has a fine voice.

So does the Italian nun Sr. Cristina - but at least she saves her pop tunes for television... Nuns just want to have fun?

What is with this stuff?  I blame Simon Cowell and all the People Can Sing reality shows.

Lately it has been difficult to take priests and bishops seriously - consistently, that is.  After all the scandals, all the confusion about priestly lifestyle - bishops building and selling mansions.  Priests as pop stars and celebrities, exorcists and demons.  Catholics protesting Catholic moral teaching in their schools, Cardinal against Cardinal, and so on.  The scandals, the conflicting messages, the strange behaviour of priests and religious in the world - out of the world, on stage - off stage, what have you: These 'scandals' have really hurt the image of the priesthood - not to mention religious life.

I have never been as tempted to be critical or skeptical as I have been lately.  The Church is being made a fool of and it isn't the folly of the cross doing it.  If only it was.

Mass isn't a performance or a talent show.  Neither is religious life.

Pope Francis makes private phone calls.

"No, we do not listen in on the Holy Father's phone calls
 - check with United States NSA."*

Everyone knows the story by now.

The Pope called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man.  The woman's husband was the first to inform the media - claiming the Holy Father told his wife she could go to Communion - that she was doing nothing wrong.  The implication being it is now permitted that divorced and remarried Catholics may receive the sacraments.  Even the Pope cannot say that a sin is not a sin.  Tongues are wagging, but none of us know the details of the alleged conversation.

Did the Pope really say that? - The Vatican is not commenting.
"It's between the Pope and the woman," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant for the Vatican press office. - CNN
Take note - the husband alerted the media - not the wife.  The Pope did not tell the husband what the wife claimed he said to her.  Only the wife spoke to the Pope, because she had written a letter 6 months earlier. She only told her husband what the Pope had to say to her after she got off the phone.  I suspect an excited somebody may have gotten a few things mixed up - or maybe heard what they wanted to hear.  Perhaps the wife didn't tell her husband the whole story?  Maybe the couple already lives together as brother and sister?

We don't know.  We won't know unless the Holy Father makes a statement or someone in authority issues a clarification.

That said, the advice given to another penitent should remain confidential, between the pastor and the penitent.  One size does not fit all.  We just do not know what was said.  Truth be told, what was said is none of our business nor is it our responsibility.

Just remember, Catholic doctrine on marriage and divorce cannot change.

St. John of the Cross wrote several precautions on how to be a good religious.  Though they are directed more or less to cloistered religious, the 'spirit' of his doctrine may be helpful for ordinary Catholics to consider.  Especially for those of us who can be distracted by sensationalized stories regarding the Pope and what he purportedly said in private conversations.  The following precaution pertains to the attitude the subject should have towards his superior.

The second precaution
12. Let the second precaution be that you always look on the superior as though on God, no matter who he happens to be, for he takes God's place. And note that the devil, humility's enemy, is a great and crafty meddler in this area. Much profit and gain come from considering the superior in this light, but serious loss and harm lie in not doing so. Watch, therefore, with singular care that you not dwell on your superior's character, mode of behavior, ability, or any other methods of procedure, for you will so harm yourself as to change your obedience from divine to human, being motivated only by the visible traits of the superior, and not by the invisible God whom you serve through him.
Your obedience is vain and all the more fruitless in the measure that you allow the superior's unpleasant character to annoy you or his good and pleasing manners to make you happy. For I tell you that by inducing religious to consider these modes of conduct, the devil has ruined a vast number of them in their journey toward perfection. Their acts of obedience are worth little in God's sight, since they allow these considerations to interfere with obedience.
If you do not strive, with respect to your personal feelings, to be unconcerned about whether this one or another be superior, you will by no means be a spiritual person, nor will you keep your vows well. - Collected Works
Official Catholic teaching is not released over the phone or through social media.

*UPDATE: What Fr. Lombardi really said:

Several telephone calls have taken place in the context of Pope Francis’ personal pastoral
Since they do not in any way form part of the Pope's public activities, no information or
comments are to be expected from the Holy See Press Office.
That which has been communicated in relation to this matter, outside the scope of personal
relationships, and the consequent media amplification, cannot be confirmed as reliable, and is
a source of misunderstanding and confusion.
Therefore, consequences relating to the teaching of the Church are not to be inferred from
these occurrences. - Vatican Radio, 4/24/14

Jimmy Akin has the best analysis of this story, go here.

"Listen here! I've just about had it with your prank calls!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Divine Mercy and the Canonizations

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands
 that stand before the Lord of the earth.

A great event is taking place the weekend.

Something Blessed Pope John Paul II said:
“Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter’s See in Rome, I considered this message (of Divine Mercy) my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God.” - JP II 1981, at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Italy
Something Blessed John XXIII said:
"In these days, which mark the beginning of this Second Vatican Council, it is more obvious than ever before that the Lord's truth is indeed eternal. Human ideologies change. Successive generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as they came, like mist before the sun.

The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ's Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations." - John XXIII Opening Address for the Council
Something Pope Francis said:
In his homily for the Canonization, which took place in 2000, John Paul II emphasized that the message of Jesus Christ to Sr Faustina is located, in time, between the two World Wars and is intimately tied to the history of the 20th century. And looking to the future he said: “What will the years ahead bring us? What will man’s future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina’s charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium” (Homily, Sunday, 30 April 2000). It is clear. Here it is explicit, in 2000, but it was something that had been maturing in his heart for some time. Through his prayer, he had this intuition. 
Today we forget everything far too quickly, even the Magisterium of the Church! Part of this is unavoidable, but we cannot forget the great content, the great intuitions and gifts that have been left to the People of God. And Divine Mercy is one of these. - Address to the Parish Priests of Rome

Jesus, I trust in you.

Happy Feast Day to Jorge and Georg ...

Feast of St. George.

I think it may be transferred this year because it falls in Easter Week.

Happy feast day anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day ...


"We are living on borrowed time ..."

“Oh Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Lk. 18:13).

Pope Francis said that.

He was speaking to the priests of Rome during their retreat last Month.  He was speaking on Divine Mercy, once again pointing out that we are "living in a time of mercy, for the past thirty years or more, up to today.
“We are not here to take part in a pleasant retreat…but rather to hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to the whole Church of our time.” Any place, even Rome, is every place. The Spirit speaks to “the whole Church of our time, which is a time of mercy.” - Pope Francis
A couple excerpts from Fr. Schall's article:

"Logically, a time of mercy or of grace would mean that era should be otherwise. We are living on borrowed time. Here, Francis recalls the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska and the Divine Mercy Sunday that John Paul II began. At that time, John Paul II clarified a most significant doctrine. God, John Paul observed, would forgive everything that could be forgiven. Some things even God could not forgive. What are these? On those men who refused to be forgiven—who reject mercy—God cannot impose His will. He does not wish to undermine genuine free will. To do so, would undermine the whole redemptive order, the whole worth of His free relation to man. Heaven cannot be populated by human beings who refuse to be there, whose lives indicate they do not want to be there.

The Pope adds that besides “open wounds,” we have “hidden wounds.” “There are people who distance themselves through shame.” They do not want their wounds to be seen, so they hide themselves. They are “bitter against the Church, but deep down there is a wound. They want a caress!” The Pope then asks the Roman clergy whether they know “the wounds of your parishioners?” To be close to them is “the only question.” This reflection leads the Pope back to the rigorist and laxist priests. “It is normal that there be differences in the style of confessors, but these differences cannot regard the essential, that is, sound moral doctrine and mercy.” Francis doubts if either the rigorist or the laxist confessor ever really knows the problem of the penitent. “True mercy takes the person into one’s care, listens to him attentively, approaches the situation with respect and truth, and accompanies him on the journey of reconciliation.” This journey has to include “pastoral suffering, which is a form of mercy.” It is not an easy journey to suffer with someone. - Catholic World Report
Divine Mercy - if you have left the Church and the sacraments, if you are sad like Mary Magdalen, weeping, unconsoled at the tomb; or if you are like the disciples who disappointed, left Jerusalem for Emmaus, do not lose heart - turn to the Divine Mercy.

H/T PML for Catholic World Report article.

I kind of like Earth Day.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Can you draw?

Portrait of an old man. 
Shania McDonagh

The artist is 16 years old.  Story here.

I'm burning all my work.

Spring clean up: First, the blog.

This morning I went through the archives deleting posts - it takes so much time and as far as I know there is no easy way to do it.

I'm trying to eliminate 'gossip' posts and the negative-complaint style of posts - rants, and so on.  In the process I've come across posts wherein I thought I was being humorous, although it now comes off as sarcastic and flippant - I didn't think it was funny.  In fact the majority of what I post is rather embarrassing.  I almost deleted the blog.  Someone suggested I keep all the old writing - but it's worthless to me now.

There are a very few posts I think are worth keeping, otherwise it's been a waste of eight years and countless hours.

I know I write about quitting or deleting my stuff from time to time - and do nothing - but lately it really strikes me as a waste of time.

It's not just the blog.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If you ever leave the Church - or cease going to Mass and the sacraments...

Remember you still have a Mother.

Keep praying - at the very least, the devotion of the three Hail Marys.  Never give Our Lady up.  The Blessed Virgin never gives up on us.

Mass Chat: Easter Sunday, Cardinal Dolan on Face the Nation and the Church is so much bigger than this little Catholic bubble we call the Blogosphere.

Christ appears to His Mother.

My apologies ahead of time...

I went to the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis for Easter Mass this morning.  I felt as if I just got out of a cloister and was thrown into the real world - albeit a beautiful world.  Truly, the liturgy was awesome, on a grand scale.  The church was magnificent, candles everywhere, chant and Latin and traditional hymns.  So not like my bare bones parish church.  Did I mention the church was packed?  A devout and reverent crowd, kneeling, bowing, standing, participating.  I don't get out much - obviously - but let me tell you there is nothing wrong with the Ordinary Form of Mass.  Nothing.  The people in this little Catholic bubble of online gossip, complaining and condemnation, who write against the Ordinary Form of Mass and the Pope and the Bishops, are really a minority within the Church - if indeed all of them actually are part of the Church.

That said, Carinal Dolan was on Face the Nation this morning, this mornings show was heavily focused, and favorably so, upon Pope Francis, Catholics, Hobby Lobby and so on.  Nora O'Donnell interviewed the Cardinal and mention a recent poll was highly favorable as regards the Church and newcomers coming in.  The Cardinal attributed it to Pope Francis - yes - the Francis effect is warmly regarded.  Dolan did well in the interview - yes he is media savvy and seems to be choosing his words more carefully.  When pressed about 'changes' the Pope might bring - Dolan was specific in affirming Catholic teaching, while emphasizing the fact that nothing doctrinal can change, in fact it was his most solemn moment in the interview.  Did he say he approved civil unions, nope - but he said he would support the civil rights of those who can't live up to Catholic teaching - including insurance benefits for 'partners' and so on.

Later in the show, the panel once again discussed the Pope Francis effect.

Driving home from Mass this morning I once again wondered how many people at church would even know about Catholic bloggers?  How many ever heard of most of the blogger personalities?  How many share their concerns about washing the feet of women or men or poodles at Holy Thursday.*  How many of these people really care if someone had a sip of something before communion, or if someone ahead of them is chewing gum?  I laughed to myself wondering how many in the congregation even knew about the 3 Days Darkness, an what they would say if you told them about it?  I thought to myself, 'they'd probably look at you, silently pondering what you just said, and then say, "So anyway, Have a nice Easter!"' and then walk away.

The Church is a big place - people can build private chapels, but be really careful you don't separate yourself - or worse - excommunicate yourself.  Especially those of you who would love to see so many others excommunicated.

Yeah.  So anyway, have a nice Easter.

*A commenter on Fr. Z's blog mentioned the story of a priest with a foot fetish as a sort cautionary tale against washing the feet of women.  I couldn't find the comment when I looked again.


Happy Easter

Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia