Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why young people are leaving the Church ... or - why young people interviewed on Hollywood Boulevard do not know who the Pope is.

This is the church, this is its steeple, open the doors, and - 
hey! where the hell are all the young people?

What's the Church?

There is an interesting article on Global Pulse asking the perennial question, "Why are young people leaving the Church in such numbers?"

Religious people, bishops and priests and Catholic educators, and apparently parents and grandparents seem to be constantly wringing their hands over youth leaving the Church, stop going to Mass, and living in sin together, with no time for religion.  "They're living like pagans Doris!"

How to get them back?  That seems to be the question - or should it be, "Why did they leave?"  How about, "Were they ever 'there'?"

Loosing my religion.

The Pulse article by Thomas Baker is actually his review of a new book on the subject:
Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Church by Christian Smith, Kyle Longest, Jonathan Hill, and Karl Christofferson, Oxford University Press.
A line in the review which caught my attention, pointed out that the majority of 'emerging Catholic adults" seem to be those who are "perhaps willing to identify themselves as Catholic, attending Mass sporadically at best, and in general living life with their Catholic identity as a more dormant, if not entirely irrelevant, force." Is this the demographic the Synod Fathers are concerned about? Are they the marginalized on the peripheries?  Because if they are, they are stuck in between two "pockets" of very, very traditional young Catholics, and those who are totally and completely "disengaged" - gone.

It seems to me all the discussion on the 'how to get them back'  needs to be dealt with after we understand the causes which led to their leaving in the first place - or perhaps admitting they - along with their parents - were never really there.


As Brown points out - but doesn't seem to be convinced it is the only reason:
So, what brought us to this point? Young Catholic America reminds us that bad as these statistics may look, in fact they are not new: Mass attendance and other measures of involvement and allegiance among young adults have been at low levels since the 1960s. To the authors, the genesis of the decline is clear: “After [Vatican II] ended, the church in the United States did a less than ideal job of instructing the faithful in the pews about its teachings and their implications.... It does not appear that such unified, lucid, authoritative instruction and direction was provided.”
This, of course, is a familiar trope from conservative analysts of the church’s plight, naïvely assuming that our crisis of membership and allegiance is primarily a failure of ardor in education and explanation.
It seems to be an appealing idea to some that our bishops could have prevented the collapse of Catholic culture in the 1960s if only they had preached doctrine and Catholic obligations more heroically. However, from my years in business, I can tell you there are few sadder phenomena than a company that thinks its failed product would surely have been successful if only customers could have had its greatness fully explained to them.
The theory that vigorous teaching could have saved Catholic culture understates the magnitude of what has happened to church authority and credibility. It also casts a rosy nostalgic glow around the preconciliar church, remembering it as an era of higher Mass attendance (definitely true) and religious literacy (more doubtful, in my mind, although it certainly was a golden age for Catholic facts and lists).
But never mind the post hoc theorizing—what do these young people themselves report about the reasons for their weakened ties to Catholicism?  - GP

The article goes on to discuss the issues young people use to explain their 'falling away' - reasons which also are an all too familiar trope:
But never mind the post hoc theorizing—what do these young people themselves report about the reasons for their weakened ties to Catholicism? There is little evidence from the authors’ interviews that the issues so neuralgic for many Commonweal readers—the male hierarchy, bad preaching, sexual abuse, the church’s position on gay Catholics and marriage, the alliance of so many bishops with Republican political agendas—are at the top of their list of problems. (Other studies, such as those cited by Robert Putnam and David Campbell in American Grace, do suggest a recent trend of young people abandoning religion because of its closer alignment with conservative politics.) Instead, the most obvious factor identified in both the interviews and the survey data in Young Catholic America seems to be disaffection from Catholic sexual teaching, dramatically so with respect to both premarital sex and birth control. - GP
I have no doubt we will be hearing the abuse crisis excuse for decades.  The problems with Catholic sexual teaching is nothing new - it has pretty much been the dominate complaint for the second half of the 20th century including today.  Hence the Synod on the Family.

Pope who?

Which leads me to the Hollywood Boulevard interviews I sometimes catch if and when I watch Jimmy Kimmel.  

The Pope and the bishops and intellectuals need to watch more TV - then maybe they will 'get it'.  Popular culture is a mirror - look real close, and you will see the underbelly of decadent 'virtue'.  Watch - but be careful - sometimes you may see real Catholics on late night who think they know something, but they sometimes just screw it up more.  Colbert too?  Yup.  And his quests.

That said, the other night, Kimmel did one of his interviews of passers by on the 'Walk of Fame'.  It is a funny sequence because they show the strangest people with the dumbest answers to the most preposterous questions.  Among the questions last night was, "Who is the Pope?" or "Do you know who the Pope is?"

Of course it is random and I know it is not scientific and all of that.  I know it is anecdotal and not real data - but believe me - it's not atypical.  No one knew who was pope.  One woman came close - responding, "Some guy - I think John Paul 2 or somethin'.  Did I get it right?  Did I get it?"  Others said, "Some old guy quit and another took his place - I dunno."  The standard was "Some old guy."  and one said "Huh?"  He didn't know what a pope was.

Some of the 'contestants' were high or on their way to get high - maybe that explains part of it?

My point here is that I'll bet not many young people care about what the Church teaches, or what the Synod Fathers are discussing, or how cool the Pope is - or even who or what he is.

I think that may be a point in Baker's review as well... maybe not.  

One thing I am convinced of however is this - any further attempt at watering down Catholic teaching will not attract authentic conversions.  It hasn't worked that way for well over 50 years, I don't see how it could be effective now.  

Instead of reformation, I think we need restoration. 

But who am I?  No one.  Just some guy without credentials.

A Kimmel interview on Hollywood Blvd.
Words of wisdom...

Remember when Obama said: “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents…”

British lawyer and Imam, Anjem Choudary said Obama is wrong.

Choudary * said that Obama may simply be saying that to appease U.S. Muslims, and to "anesthetize" the American people to the true threat of Islam.  I'm not sure if Obama even knows what he is talking about - but if he does know, it seems to me he has to be lying then.   

When asked if the beheading of American journalist James Foley was justified under Sharia law, Choudary said: 
“Every action for a Muslim must be based on the Koran, the word of Allah and the teachings of the messenger Mohammad … But those who are already Muslim must know that Allah mentions in the Koran, in fact if you look at Chapter 8 Verse 60, he said prepare as much as you can the steeds of war to terrorize the enemy. So, terrorizing the enemy is in fact part of Islam. I mean, this is something that we must embrace and understand as far as the jurisprudence of jihad is concerned.” 
Regarding “innocents” there are none.  The Imam explains: 
“The thing that people need to appreciate is that in war the Muslims are not distinguishing in general between civilians and military because those very civilians are those who put the people in charge and those people in charge like Obama and others are sending the troops to Muslim countries so they don’t making (sic) that distinction; let alone between people who are journalists, who are considered to the right hand in fact and the propaganda machine of the Obama Administration.” 
The Koran commands Muslims to engage in a holy war (Jihad) in order to impose Islam and Shariah Law on the entire world. 
“Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.” (Koran 9:5) 
Interestingly, the President’s counter terrorism advisor, John Brennan (now Director of the CIA), during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argued that the terms “jihadist” or “jihad” should not be used to describe America’s enemies. His reason: jihad is a holy struggle and a legitimate tenet of Islam... - Source

 Makes you wonder...

Pius V, vision of the victory at Lepanto.
Pray the Rosary every day.

*Wikipedia says Choudary receives little support from mainstream UK Muslims and has been largely criticised in the country's media.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Confusion in the Church is mind boggling ...

"Deadlock over remarried divorcees?"
Does that mean John the Baptist 
and the English martyr's died in vain?

After beginning with the Spirit,
are you now ending with the flesh?
Did you experience so many things in vain?

if indeed it was in vain. - Today's 1st Reading Gal. 3:1-5

I have never seen anything like it.

It is almost unbelievable.

Like sheep without a shepherd - I get that now.  Totally. Get. That.

Prayer of Queen Esther.

 “My Lord, you alone are our King. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you ... - Book of Esther

A couple of thoughts ...

A woman’s awra is her full body. 
She must cover her hair, torso, arms, legs and feet. 
The best way of covering everything is to wear a 
jilbaab/abaya and a scarf on the head. - Source

Beauty and culture.

I was at the grocery store last evening, and as I was exiting an aisle, I almost ran into a woman's cart as she came around the corner.  I looked up and was startled to see this gorgeous Muslim woman dressed in rich, dark hijab - her scarf around her head, her face exposed.  I have to tell you I stopped in my tracks.  She reminded me of the former Somali model, Iman Abdulmajid - so tall and beautiful.  The expression on her face seemed to become slightly sad, perhaps a bit irritated - and she quickly moved her cart to get around me with a whispered "excuse me".  I finally moved on to check-out.

Thinking about the experience later, I felt badly because I never said a word, never said excuse me, never adjusted my cart for her to get by.  I doubt that even if I told her I had been stunned by her beauty, that it would have been perceived as a compliment.  Indeed, it is likely she would have been insulted - not to mention very weird - LOL!  Anyway - I felt worse that she most likely interpreted my silent stare and blocking the aisle as prejudice.  That thought didn't occur to me until I left the store.  I wonder how many Muslims in this country feel discriminated against because of ISIS?  I'll be praying for that woman.

Many of the Muslim women I see are incredibly beautiful, and I kind of like how they dress as well.

I wish we were at peace in the world.

Taking advantage of religious people.

There is a story today of a Wisconsin priest who was scammed out of $300,000.00 by a woman who went to him for help.

Eau Claire (WQOW) - An Eau Claire woman has been charged with scamming a well-known priest out of more than $300,000.
Cheri Hofkes-Zerwas is charged with taking the money from father John Schultz, he was the longtime priest at Saint James the Greater Catholic Church in Eau Claire.
According to court documents Hofkes-Zerwas told Father Schultz that she needed the money to keep her electricity from being shut off, she owed money to social security and she was being extorted by a number of people.
Police were tipped off by a branch manager at Associated Bank when Schultz began withdrawing large amounts of money.
Police found that over the course of a year Hofkes-Zerwas was given more $300,000. We spoke with the attorney for the Diocese of La Crosse who is representing Father Schultz.
He told us that Schultz was scammed and that all of the money he gave to Hofkes-Zerwas was his own, none of it belonged to the church.
The criminal complaint says that Father Schultz kept a detailed ledger of all the money he gave her and the reasons why. - More here.

That is sad.  Fr. Schultz acted in good faith - he also used his personal savings.  As the article points out, priests are often called by people asking for money - sometimes legit, other times not.  The woman in this case gambled the money away.  As a kid one of my relatives hit on our parish priest.  He just got out of jail and went to the priest under false pretenses, asking for help to feed his family.  The money was used for booze.

Rectories attract scam artists as well as the poor most in need.  In the last few years, a couple of priests have been killed in robbery attempts.  Charity believes all things, as St. Paul says, but priests must be careful of being scammed or even framed.

Nothing Compares 2U

One of the most beautiful songs ever.  I was watching a local group (The Family) perform on local Public Television, and they performed Nothing Compares 2U, introducing it as a song Prince wrote.

I never knew Prince wrote it - I just knew Sinead O'Connor sang it and assumed she wrote it too.  Now that I know that, I can hear Prince's genius.

Anyway - Sinead did it best.  She was so beautiful in her youth!  Song here.

Nothing compares 2U...

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Pictures I like and have used, or will use, or use all of the time... or not.

I was going to use this photo for 
a series I wanted to begin online
but a friend told me I couldn't
steal his thunder.

I title this one: Disgusted.

All women used to look exactly like this in the '50's.

This is perhaps the only authentic photo of me 
which exists online today.
It is exactly how I look.

This photo explains why I left home in senior year 
and never, ever went back.

I was saving this to use one day...

The joy of Holy Communion.

My reaction to many people online.

Storia della sedia gestatoria e Papa Argentino.

No women allowed.  Ever.

Penitents Day

Penitents Day...

I say that  because today is the memorial of St. Thais (she made a bonfire of all of her slutty outfits), and St. Pelagia (a celebrated dancer and courtesan), both former harlots who repented and lived a penitential life afterwards.  Obviously the language of "repent and believe" was not too harsh for these girls - contrary to what Vatican spokesman,  Fr. Thomas Rosica had to say summarizing the work of the Synod Fathers and the need to avoid the "harsh language" traditionally used in Church documents*:
"To label people ... does not help in bringing people to Christ... our language has to change in order to meet the very difficult situations." - NCR


  • "Living in sin": a reference to couples who live together without benefit of marriage.
  • "Intrinsically disordered": a reference to homosexual acts.
  • "Contraceptive mentality": a reference to cultural conditions spawned by the deliberate separation of spousal love, or the separation of the marital act from the possibility of procreation.  I think Planned Parenthood represents the contraceptive mentality quite well.

Song for this post here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

That's what I've always said ... Once again - Fr. Z at his best.

On friendship - I believe this is what is meant by 'pastoral':
Here’s the deal.
Part of the problem of homosexual “couples” (and perhaps also civilly remarried couples) involves the corruption of friendship.
Say a man and woman are in an irregular situation.  One, a Catholic, is divorced from the previous spouse.  No decree of nullity.  Civil marriage follows to another Catholic.  They cannot receive Communion as is.  However, it could be possible for them to receive Communion (provided that they avoid scandal) were they willing to live in a “Josephite” marriage or a “brother and sister” situation.   As you can imagine, it could happen that once in a while they might slip, as it were.  In that case, they go to confession and start again, resolved to do better.
Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc.  They are heterosexual and they don’t have any attraction to each other.  They are simply great friends, like Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, Porthos, Athos and Aramis… okay, that’s three.   Jesus and the Apostles.   No problems here.
Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc.  They, however, are homosexuals and they do have an attraction to each other.  However, they have determined to live chastely, because they know that homosexual acts are sinful.  As you can imagine, it might happen that they slip once in a while.  They go to confession – like any other sinners do – and they renew their resolve to live chastely.   That is not very different from the situation in which the divorced and remarried couple find themselves in.
You might bring up the point that they have placed themselves in an occasion of sin, because the proximity of the other person is too tempting.  This would apply to the man and woman living like “brother and sister” and to the homosexuals.
I respond in two ways.  First, human beings are not brutal animals who have no control over their appetites.  Second, say they have separate dwellings.  There is nothing to stop them from getting into the car at any time of the day or night.  Separation in separate dwellings isn’t a guarantee of anything, in this highly mobile world we live in.  Yes, there are some less thoughtful reactionaries who will jump all over this like a trampoline, because they hold that, if you are attracted to another person, you should avoid even seeing that person.  Sure, that is one approach.  I don’t recall that it’s in the bible. It isn’t de fide.  It is one way to counsel a person, depending on the circumstances.
That said, those who want divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion without any commitment to living chastely, while continuing to have marital relations whenever, are, in effect, separating the sexual act from its proper locus, valid marriage.  Homosexualists, homosexual activists, will find this goal parallel to their own.  If they can disconnect the sexual act from its primary end, procreation, they score a victory. - Fr. Z
"The corruption of friendship."

Fr. Z has expressed a very genuine insight here.  That is absolutely correct.  Indeed, chastity is the way to heal disordered friendship and disordered inclinations.  The foundation of authentic friendship is based on charity and truth.  The true spiritual friend seeks what is best for the other - wholeness, virtue, holiness, culminating in eternal salvation.

Father brings up the argument posed by the near occasion of sin.  This supposes, as Father said, the friends lack control, Father corrects that notion pointing out that human beings are not brutal animals who have no control over their appetites.

That is absolutely correct.  Unless the person has some sort of sexual addiction issue, men and women are capable with the help of grace to control their appetites - it is why Catholics practice mortification.  I don't need to add to what Father wrote, however, the occasion of sin is all around us.  I tell that to straight guys too.  You walk down the street and you are surrounded by temptation.  You go online - looking for a photo - and you are exposed to temptation.  A guy goes to the gym - straight or gay - you are surrounded by bodies.  I have a single female friend, now in her 60's who picks up guys at the gym.  Obviously she's not interested in the devout life.

That said, a guy has to be able to function in society.  If he is gay and goes to the gym and showers - it shouldn't be an occasion of sin, any more than swimming in the pool.  A Catholic, no matter his sexual orientation, trains himself in and through mortification.

The problems begin and develop when you give in to temptation - like my female friend who picks up guys.  She's forged a great big chain of slavery to lust and dysfunction.  You want intimacy using sex and pleasure to get it?  That's like masturbation - a selfish act - it is self-gratification.  Friends do not use one another that way.

"If they can disconnect the sexual act from its primary end, procreation, they score a victory."

I just want to say something more about older 'couples', friends, straight or gay.  Believe me when I tell you, sexual temptation is not a big deal after a point - unless you want it to be and use Viagra or something else to enhance your experience.  Same sex friends who live together - and I know this because I have known many, actually lose physical/sexual interest in one another.  If they tell you otherwise they are using pornography to stimulate themselves - and to be sure - it's little more than mutual masturbation.  Understand that well - because a solitary person can be unchaste in the exact same way - engaging in masturbation, or what used to be understood as 'self abuse'.  Hence, the single person can be an occasion of sin for himself?

It's important to grasp that. A couple of years ago a young gay guy used to email me and comment on posts to argue with me about my posts upholding Catholic teaching, especially when I would make generalizations such as pointing out the narcissism involved in (many) homosexual relations.  One day he wrote in an email how difficult it was for him not to act out sexually and said that he was getting out of the shower that morning, looked at himself in the mirror, and couldn't resist 'loving himself'.  I responded that was what I meant - both about the element of erotic narcissism gay people are tempted to, as well as being a temptation, or a 'near occasion of sin' to oneself.

Anyway.  I say too much when I write about this stuff and I'm not sure I needed to editorialize Fr. Z's very good post.  Nevertheless, what I've expressed here helps explain why I insist that same sex marriage is an impossibility.  I repeat it today for the same reason (some) researchers have used to explain why a homosexual man cannot contract a valid marriage (canonically) with a woman.
The homosexual cannot give the consent necessary to bring into existence the reality of Christian marriage.
The homosexual is incapable of the genuine conjugal love required for proper marriage.
The homosexual is psychologically (canonically) impotent.*
I know that is a very controversial position to take now days, and I believe there are always exceptions and not everyone who is same sex attracted may be so incapacitated as to be unable to contract heterosexual marriage.  However, the 'impediments' most definitely apply to same sex marriage.

True friendship discerns that.  Not to do so suggests to me problems spiritual writers identify as inordinate/morbid attachment, while modern therapists might describe the relationship in terms of co-dependency.

I may be wrong in the application of terms, but I absolutely stand by what the Church teaches as far as sexuality and marriage.

*John Cavanagh, M.D., Counseling the Homosexual, 1977.  The Homosexual Person, Fr. John Harvey, page 183.

Photo: Beckham and Brady - just to offer a suggestion of normal BFF's.

Our Lady of the Rosary

The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

Let's pray for one another and all those most in need of God's mercy.

Monday, October 06, 2014

An admonition ...

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.

Grace be with you. - 1 Timothy 6:20-21

The Family in the United States - Can it survive genderqueer?

"Oh Billy, we want you to wear it,
that dress looks much prettier on you 
than it did on Tommy anyway."

The Synod Fathers - do they know this stuff?

The Synod on the Family embraces the challenges to family life all over the globe, although in many places around the world there may not be as much confusion regarding sexuality and gender issues as there is in the 'decadent' West.  Yet what is played out in media finds its way into the furthest reaches of every culture, no matter how remote, sooner or later.

So.  Do the Synod Fathers even know about gender ideology?  It is one thing to accept the homosexual person "with respect, compassion and sensitivity" insuring that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard" is avoided - but what about the wider repercussions of this general acceptance.  In 2003 the CDF still regarded "homosexuality (as) a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues..."  In a relatively short time, homosexuality now presents 'significant legal issues' - with unexpected consequences...

Zeam Porter speaks about being forced 
to play basketball on the girls team.


Last week on local news I saw the story of a Minneapolis high school junior, Zeam Porter, who identifies as genderqueer, making an appeal to change rules to permit transgender students to play on the teams they believe they belong on.  Confused?  Me too.
Zeam Porter, a high school junior who identifies as “trans genderqueer,” spoke about the psychological struggles of being “forced” to play on girls’ basketball teams. Porter stopped playing basketball after last season.
Porter, who broke down while speaking, said it hurt listening to those opposed to the gender identification of transgender people.
“It’s like, ‘I respect transgender people, but ...’ ” said Porter, who declined to name the high school in Minneapolis. “The ‘but’ is what I’ve been hearing my whole life. All I hear is, ‘You are problematic; you’re wrong.’ ”
Porter supports the policy, calling it “a great start” and believes it will be approved Thursday. But a policy might not bring Porter back to the court.
“I am not sure; it would be hard to be the only trans member on the team,” Porter said. “Sports were also very traumatic for me, although I still love basketball and do play pickup games.”
While Porter and other supporters said the policy would affirm transgender athletes by sending a message that the high school league recognizes their challenges and aims to provide a positive experience, opponents criticized the proposal as too vague. - StarTribune

Earvin Johnson III with boyfriend.

Beyond gay.

That same evening I saw a story on Magic Johnson's son.  It was an interview - I only watched it a few seconds.  The son identifies as gay - so far, at least - but I'm thinking 'genderqueer' is a better fit.  I may be wrong of course.

These people have parents/family who accept and approve their children's condition as normal.  It goes beyond transgender - obviously - it also goes beyond the classical understanding of homosexuality and same sex attraction.

It affects every aspect of society and culture - and family.  Across the U.S. it is having its impact upon schools, businesses, the workplace, calling for new regulation and legislation, and so on.

The consequences of redefining marriage and family, sexuality and gender, are here.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

I have to stop posting about gay issues (again) because people get upset...

Remembering Blessed Alberto Marvelli

October 5 is the anniversary of his death.

Today is also his feast day. The reason I favor lay saints is because they demonstrate that we can attain sanctity in and through ordinary life... And they didn't do it by endlessly trying to figure out what God wanted them to do.  They lived each day recognizing the will of God in the present moment... whatever the circumstances of their life.

Marvelli kept a diary since the age of 15 which reveals many details about his life. In one entry he wrote, "What a great deal of work is needed in this world which is so far from Christ; it is necessary for us to offer sacrifices; we must act to the utmost of our strength to make Christ known and loved. It is the call of duty we are urged by, and we are obliged to realize it."
Bl. Alberto prayed for the grace to be able to practice acts of mercy: “Jesus give me a bit of Thy infinite love for men and their miseries, of Thy endless and supernatural ardour of apostolate”.

Alberto was struck by a military truck and killed on October 5, 1946, while on his way to the aid of a poor family.

Today is also the anniversary of the death of St. Faustina.  Her story here.