Saturday, March 28, 2015

Baron Corvo, aka Frederick Rolfe, aka Frederick William Serafino Austin Lewis Mary Rolfe; Eccentric, artist, fantasist, novelist, aspiring priest ...

Baron Corvo, aka Frederick Rolfe

Robert Hugh Benson was a devoted friend.

Frederick Rolfe was gay.  R.H. Benson formed a chaste but passionate friendship, wrote many letters - which were destroyed after his death by his brother, E. F. Benson, who was also gay.  I discovered all of this when writing about the the child martyrs associated with blood libel, yesterday.  I was attempting to link the martyr's deaths to child sexual abuse rather than ritual murder by anti-Christian Jews.  (I still think that's more likely.)

The connections among these English gentlemen is something I may have read about, long ago, and moved on, but now, with all the discussion of same sex friendship - or more to the point, spiritual friendship among gay-Catholics, stories involving men such as Benson and Rolfe take on a greater significance.  In fact, to such an extent, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about these days regarding Eve Tushnet and the Spiritual Friendship movement.  (The New Ways Ministry sympathizers seem to me to pose a more real, and ever-present threat to Catholic teaching.)

A chaste but passionate friendship.

I understand the arguments of the importance of how one identifies - 'don't say gay' - I also understand the error of seeking civil/ecclesial approval for any form of same sex union, and so on - it inevitably leads to legalizing gay marriage, for one.  I get that and accept that - but aside from that, I'm not sure why these folks are regarded with so much suspicion since there is a sort of precedent for their ideas among the British Catholic intellectuals at the turn of the 20th century.  It seems to me the English Catholics were pretty gay.  "In England it comes when you are almost men." - Cara

Anyway - I find it interesting.

I've written about such things in the past as well, before I even heard of people like Ron Belgau or Wesley Snipes Hill.   I'm sure they know more about this than I do, but I'll re post a couple of things I wrote before anyway ... when I may have been a better writer.

E.F. Benson

Transitional Homosexuality
"I know of these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans. They are not Latin. I think they are very good if they do not go on too long... It's the kind of love that comes to children before they know its meaning." - Cara, Brideshead Revisited
The relationship of Charles and Sebastian in Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited can be said to illustrate the concept of what I call a transitional homosexuality; Cara remarking, "In England it comes when you are almost men." In the book it is clear Charles moved on, while Sebastian seemed unable to, although in the end, as a sort of porter for the monastery, he was obviously converted and found peace. I expect fans of the novel will disagree with me.
Yet I believe it true that not all men who identify as same-sex attracted are 'fixed' in homosexuality, which happens to be a fact glossed over by homo-activists who see it as an irreversible sexual orientation. Indeed, activists seem to think 'once gay always gay', rejecting the idea that some men, given the motivation can change, although one must first be able to move on and out of the behavior. This is why homosexual molestation, or pederasty is so very evil, not to mention the indoctrination through sex education programs in primary school, middle school, and high school. (And yes, it is true, as the catechism states, the orientation is not sinful in itself, just the behavior, and by extension, advocating for normalizing or promoting the behavior.)
Now that I am older and witnessed close friends who renounced homosexual relations, married and fathered children, not unlike Evelyn Waugh, I can tell you change is possible and homosexual inclination can be transitory. Not a few of my friend's homosexual acquaintances were quite unhappy with their decision to leave the culture and get married, they felt betrayed. Yet after 30 years or more, their marriages turned out to be successful, their love sincere and lasting, and their lives quite happy and fulfilled. Thus, it seems entirely possible to me, that men with similar motivation, who renounce homosexual behavior and opt for a chaste, celibate life, could be admitted to Holy Orders and religious life, provided they are in agreement with Church teaching on the issue. Again, the ordinary superiors would have the final say in the matter and be responsible for making that decision.  It's not my call.
Off topic, but when I was a kid I think it was Jack Parr, who in a conversation with Bea Lillie said something to the effect, "British men are notoriously bisexual."  She seemed to agree, if I remember correctly. 


Ordinary same sex friendship is a necessity for normal maturation.

Chaste and disinterested friendship of course.  That is, normal friendship.  It can't be ritualized or 'sacramentalized'.  Ordinary same sex friendship need not be celebrated as some special spiritual vocation.  Neither is it appropriate to eroticize friendship.  I'm convinced that is a corruption of friendship, an exploitation of the other for personal gratification.  Men with same sex attraction-homosexual inclination, need normal friendship with men - especially normal men.  But that's just my opinion.

I came across a discussion on another site dealing with the issue of homosexual friendship, and was caught by the following quote from C.S. Lewis:
“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love, but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros, betray the fact that they have never had a Friend,” - C.S. Lewis
It seems to me, since the 19th century invention of the term 'homosexuality' the traditional understanding of friendship has been confused, and become nearly incomprehensible to many in our day of overt sexuality. Perhaps authors such as E.M. Forster and Christopher Isherwood were still able to differentiate the platonic-philia love from the erotic - which they popularized in their writing - thus contributing in no small way to our contemporary acceptance of homosexual erotic relationships. For instance, in the Forster novel, Maurice the main character, enjoys a close platonic relationship with his friend Clive Durham while at school. Clive intended to marry and have a family and had no interest in a homoerotic relationship - though the friendship between the two was indeed exclusive and mildly intimate. Later, disappointed in that prospect with Durham, Maurice falls in love with a woodsman and (unrealistically) is supposed to live happily ever after, hidden away in the woods with the love of his life. 
The friendship between Maurice and Clive is a bit reminiscent of Brideshead, and the friendship between Sebastian and Charles. Though their friendship may have had homosexual overtones, it isn't exactly clear that the two shared homoerotic interests or relations, despite this insightful comment from Lord Marchmain's mistress.

I mention these friendships in particular, since they may help to explain the deep platonic friendships men forged with one another, and given the context, with or without homoerotic interest. Albeit in the case of Maurice, he desired to have had such intimacies with Clive Durham; and as I say, the situation between Sebastian and Charles may have included at least a one sided homoerotic attraction. Be that as it may, a healthy sense of non-sexual close friendship was not unknown in the early 20th century. - People no longer know what friendship is.

There seems to be a rather duplicitous history when it comes to gay-Catholics.

As I always say, I think it much better just to be Catholic and faithful.  Don't make yourself crazy.

St. Teresa's Birthday

28 March 1515

Santa Madre.

St Teresa knew that neither prayer nor mission can be sustained without authentic community life. Therefore, the foundation that she laid in her monasteries was fraternity: "Here everyone must love one another, care for each other and help one another" (ibid., 4, 7). And she was very careful to warn her sisters about the danger of individualism in fraternal life, which consists "all or almost all in the denial of ourselves and of our own comforts" (ibid., 12, 2) and to place ourselves at the service of others. To avoid this risk, the saint of Avila recommended to her sisters, first of all, the virtue of humility, which is neither outward neglect nor inner shyness of the soul, but each knowing their own abilities and what God can do in us (cf. Relations, 28). The opposite is what she calls "false point of honour" (Life, 31, 23), a source of gossip, jealousy and criticism, which severely damage relationships with others. Teresian humility consists of self-acceptance, awareness of one’s own dignity, missionary courage, gratitude and trust in God. - Letter of Pope Francis to the Discalced Carmelites

St. Teresa is the perfect saint for sinners.  I need to renew my devotion to her... promptly.

No chiacchierare...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Errors Repeated: Retelling the Stories of Simon the Infant Martyr and William of Norwich.

Catholic Lane posted the stories - without noting the cultus for these saints has been suppressed.

The stories of such saints are extremely controversial and widely disputed - both William and Simon were said to be tortured and murdered by Jews out of hatred for Christ - during Holy Week, no less, a time when antisemitism was especially inflamed among Christians in former ages.  The feast days of these saints often falls in Passiontide, Simon commemorated on March 24, William on March 26.  In 1965 the cult of Simon was officially abolished.

Of course, there are other saints and supposed victims of 'blood libel' who were said to be ritually murdered by Jews as well.  Little St. Hugh of Lincoln is another, although he was murdered outside Paschal time.  The stories fired the imaginations of ordinary folk as well as clergy and religious.

Simon of Trent

There is evidence these stories are based in a fanatical antisemitism and in some cases may have been used by civil authorities for monetary gain from the Jews.  In the case of Hugh, the accused murderer was tortured into a confession, wherein he also implicated the entire Jewish community.  Nothing in Jewish tradition ever called for any type of ritual murder of children.

In the case of William of Norwich, the charges of ritual murder by Jews only came to light five years after the mutilated body had been found in a wood.  The authorities apparently didn't find the story credible, but the ordinary people did, and William was hailed a martyr.

The story of Simon of Trent is perhaps the most notable - from the beginning it was tainted with controversy, although Simon was entered into the Martyrology, his cult was later suppressed by Paul VI.  Before Post-Vatican II traditionalists make objections, they ought to know that at least two popes before Bl. Paul VI were opposed to the cult.

Burning Jews - Blood-Libel.

In every case of so-called martyrdom by ritual killing, Jews were put to death, properties confiscated, and greater restrictions enforced against them.  Sound familiar?

That being said, I think our vantage point in the 21st century may help us understand what may be a more plausible explanation as to why these so-called ritual killings gained such credibility among the general populace.  In the 1980's there was widespread 'hysteria' over ritual abuse in day care facilities - these stories captured the interest of ordinary people and was a staple for daytime talk shows and kept investigators busy.  If I remember correctly, most of the stories of abuse were unfounded and greatly exaggerated.

Homo-erotic depiction of
William of Norwich

The medieval child martyrs were certainly murdered, even tortured, but why they were killed and who the perpetrators were cannot be determined.  Nevertheless, in our age, we hear of child abuse cases all the time, and as we know, the sexual abuse of children is a huge problem.  I doubt pedophilia and the abuse of children is simply a 20th century phenomenon.  Contemporary investigations reveal how perpetrators cover their crimes with lies and dissimulation.  We know well how authorities such as bishops and priests have covered for perpetrators.  We know well that human nature, society, looks for a scapegoat to account for the most horrific crimes.

Hence, it is not at all unreasonable to suggest the deaths of these children and youth were probably cases of child abuse, sexual abuse and sadomasochism - even fetishism.  The Jewish community was simply a traditional and convenient scapegoat.

Victims and survivors of a pogrom against the Jews of Proskurov, Ukraine,
which took place after the revolution. Representing the antisemitism that never goes away.

Addendum: The Eastern Church has its own child martyrs with similar stories. Of some concern is the re-emergence of the cult of St. Gabriel, infant martyr of Białystok. In the 1990's his relics were re-enshrined in the Bialystock Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
According to the legend, in 1690 the six-year-old boy Gabriel was kidnapped from his home in the village of Zverki during the Jewish Passover, while his parents, pious Orthodox Christians Peter and Anastasia Gavdel, were away. Shutko, a Jewish tenant in Zverki, was accused of bringing the boy to Białystok and the city’s Jews of crucifying the boy, poking him with sharp objects and draining his blood for nine days… then of bringing the dead body back to Zverki and dumping it in a local field where it was found.
The parents quietly buried the boy. Thirty years later, the coffin of the boy was ‘accidentally’ damaged, while burying another man and the Gabriel’s body allegedly was found incorrupt. - Read the rest here.  

Today in Western and Eastern Europe, antisemitism is growing and some are reporting Jewish people have been leaving because of it.

Holy Child-Martyr Gabriel of Białystok

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Is it gossip or news?

I'm not one to gossip, Bernice, but I did hear him shout,
'Turn in your cape and buskins, you filthy whore, you're a disgrace to the college!'

And should we care?

I noted two stories online that I kind of wanted to post and comment on, then I held back, thinking it may be more gossip than news.  Then two respected Catholics online posted on the same stories I had been thinking of commenting on - one has an open combox, the other doesn't - so I'll just do my own post.

Remember Dave Stone?*

Life on the Rock host, Franciscan priest, left, got married?  He's in the news again.  Story here.  I'm thinking he's innocent of abuse charges.  The story has inspired me to pray for him however.

  • Moral of the story: Priests, only do spiritual direction in the confessional and never, ever get chummy with women - unless you're gay.  What?

Cardinal O'Brien, the Sean Connery of the Catholic Cardinalate...

The Cardinal who had to turn in his cappa magna may have inadvertently brought unwanted attention - and threats of exposure to other prelate(s).  Story here.

  • Moral of the story: If you are gay and you know it, don't become a priest.  Refuse episcopal honors.  Don't become friends and hang out with your penitents and/or those you direct spiritually.  Stay out of the parks.  What?

*Did I ever mention how I knew he might fall away?  He was handsome, rolled up his sleeves on his habit, and just the way he comported himself on set.  Nutty, huh?  But I always go back to St. Teresa's counsel about vanity in a priest.  She warned her nuns to stay away.  It's a fine point of discretion - but one picks up on certain things.  I've been fooled at times as well - so it's not infallible.  Penitents and directees can fool themselves too - going after a certain priest one may esteem for any sort of reason - vainly rejoicing in natural goods for instance.  Priests have to be very careful of this sort of thing in penitents, and not fall for flattery.  "Oh Father!  That homily was perfect and you look really good in that semi-sheer alb with the lace hem - is it silk?"

Teddy Bear Rabbits! I knew it!

They do exist!  They do exist!

The Ili Pika.

Song for this post (and teddy bear rabbits) here.

Ivory Coast Bishops in line with Pope Francis...

Remember when the Holy Father said this?

Our Lady is not a postmaster... 
“Curiosity, the Pope continued, impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: "But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady.” And the Pope commented: "But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day. Such responses to these situations, he affirmed, "distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God." "Jesus says that the Kingdom of God does not come in a way that attracts attention: it comes by wisdom. The Kingdom of God is among you,' said Jesus, and it is this action of the Holy Spirit, which gives us wisdom and peace.” - Source

Earlier this month Ivory Coast Bishops denounced the circulation of purported text messages from Our Lady...
“People, claiming to be from the Catholic Church, have given themselves the mission to disseminate messages that, according to their authors, are from the Virgin Mary,” said the bishops. 
After reviewing their content, the letter said, “the conclusion is that the content of most of these messages is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … for some messages may even disturb public order and create psychosis and fear among the people.”
The apocalyptic messages, which describe impending calamity for Ivory Coast and the coming of “the victory of God,” call people to prayer and repentance. 
In response, the bishops have invited the faithful to exercise “prudence and discernment” so as not to be “troubled or frightened during this time of Lent, which is a time of trial, where all sorts of temptations may present themselves to lead us away from God.” - Source

The Bishops also "instructed the faithful to “be careful” about everything they read and listen to and “to follow” only that which is issued officially by the Catholic Church."

Excellent advice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This is creepy: “Karadima’s Forest”

James Hamilton, Juan Carlos Cruz y José Andrés Murillo, 
víctimas de los abusos sexuales cometidos por Fernando Karadima.

El Bosque (The Forest)

Once upon a time in a charming forest in Chile, a priest named Karadima seduced and abused some boys - young men - and got away with it.  Until a major scandal broke - then the holy priest was sent away to do penance.  In the meantime, his defenders who refused to listen and do anything to help the boys the saint molested, were promoted to higher positions in the Church and so the boys made a film about it and the good people of Chile rioted.  

I just made that up - but it kind of follows the real story.

What's so creepy about the story is the priest - Karadima - was regarded as a saint - not unlike Maciel.  He led a double life.  He was corrupt and took advantage of his position and exploited the young people in his charge.  

I may have some of the details wrong, but a film on what happened will be released in April this year.

That story here:

SANTIAGO, Mar 20 2015 (IPS) - Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Latin America are taking the first steps towards grouping together in order to bolster their search for justice – a struggle where they have found a new ally: filmmaking.
“Besides entertaining us, movies urge people not to forget, to memorise what is happening to us as a society,” Chilean filmmaker Matías Lira told IPS. 
He added that, with respect to the sexual abuse committed within the Catholic Church, “the media has a pending task, and society has a duty.”
Based on this premise, Lira directed “Karadima’s Forest”, based on real events. The film, which comes out in Chile in April, tells the story of a priest who sexually and psychologically abused dozens of boys and young men, and who was one of the country’s most influential priests thanks to his enormous charisma and his reputation as a “saint” – which was even his nickname. 
There is great expectation surrounding Lira’s film in Chile, a country with a highly conservative society where 67 percent of the population of 16.7 million identifies as Catholic. 
The film comes after “The Club”, by Pablo Larraín, winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in February, which also tackles the question of pedophile priests in Chile. 
The case of Fernando Karadima is emblematic. As the parish priest of El Bosque (“the forest”), in the wealthy Santiago neighbourhood of Providencia, the priest forged an empire with the backing of high-level church authorities from the early 1980s until his retirement from his post in 2006. - Finish reading here.

Riot in the Cathedral. (LOL)
Supporters of Bishop Barros tried to stop the protest.
Story here.

Active participation.

Perhaps the bigger story, up here in the U.S, and especially among Catholic bloggers, is the protests by Chilean Catholics over the consecration of  Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno.  I haven't followed the story closely, aside from being slightly amused by the 'riot in the Cathedral' which occurred in response to the installation of Barros.  Supposedly Barros knew about the abuse - perhaps even witnessed it, but remained silent.  Today he denies any involvement.  Nevertheless, the outcry is so incessant at this point, the protests so loud, I'm confident there will be some response from the Pope and the Vatican.

I hope I can see the film when it's released.

Fernando Botero, Promenade

Prayers for the victims and that justice and peace will ensue.

UPDATE: Catholic news Agency has a good synopsis here.

Fr. Check: Courage has “no interest” in trying to redirect someone’s sexual attractions.

"Despite claims to the contrary, Courage has 'no interest' in trying to redirect someone’s sexual attractions, he said. 'What we do have an interest in [is] helping people to live all the virtues well.'” - Fr. Check

Get that?

I get it.  And Catholics have to hear it and understand it.  In my opinion Courage is the right apostolate for gay Catholics who wish to live in fidelity to Catholic teaching.  As the article I link to states, Fr. Check 'is preparing to join “useful” conversations about homosexuality' at the upcoming Synod on the Family.
Homosexuality will be a major topic in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, which will be held in Vatican City Oct. 4-25. Bishops will seek answers to questions about family issues such as cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, and how to give pastoral attention to people with homosexual tendencies.
“We are interested in and hopeful that we can provide some thoughtful reflection on two things,” Father Check said.
The first goal is to reflect on “the consistent teaching of the Church on sexual ethics and, in particular, on homosexuality over 2,000 years,” he said. The other is to begin “a useful conversation, a calm conversation” about “the lived experience” of many Catholics.
“We think that perspective, that voice — the Catholic with homosexual inclinations or same-sex attraction — is a valuable voice on this topic and deserves to be heard,” said Father Check, who has led Courage for 12 years.
Courage’s efforts were once praised by Pope John Paul II as “doing the work of God.”
“What makes this group interesting is that, quite counterculturally, they do believe that the Church’s teaching is what’s best and true, and leads to fulfillment even though the problem — let’s call it from their point of view homosexuality — remains,” Father Check said.  - Read more here.

There are a lot of voices out there - people worried about the upcoming synod - speculating, predicting schism and error will triumph, and so on.  I have the greatest peace because of priests and leaders such as Fr. Check.  And.  I trust in Jesus.

Not to worry.

Mercy and truth have embraced,
Justice and peace have kissed. - Ps. 85 

The abuse and exploitation of children.

Did anyone happen to see "Girl Model"?

It is a 2011 documentary film following a fashion-model scout working in Siberia, recruiting very young girls for the Japanese fashion market.  The scout, Ashley Arbaugh, is a former model herself and though highly successful, her story turns out to be a somewhat nihilistic view into the sad loneliness which seems to haunt the fashion industry, despite individual success stories.  The story bleakly portrays the decidedly non-glamorous side of the industry.

I watched the film well into the night this past weekend.  What struck me the most was the creepy undertone of sexual objectification and exploitation youth are subjected to by contemporary consumerist culture, the market which feeds upon the youth and beauty of the very young.   Though the models are 'paid' and are 'protected' and provided 'housing', their plight is reminiscent of the less benevolent situation of victims of human trafficking and white slavery, the specter of which never seemed far away in this film.  The following expresses my thoughts perfectly.
"This video gives one a very distributing insight into how wealthy nations prey upon the poor in other countries. It’s just a small slice of the exploitation that goes on. This “meat” market, a prelude to sex trafficking, is creepy and ugly, and shocking, and we must do our best to stop it from happening. The fashion industry may look glamorous from the outside, and it’s deceiving." Matan Uziel of The Fashion Corruption
The film was especially disturbing for me as I understand - to a lesser extent of course - what that is like.  Poor kids, sexually exploited.  Oftentimes the kids may not even realize to what extent - especially when it comes to so called 'consensual' relationships between adults and underage lovers - even when well taken care of.  (Perhaps off topic, but this is a reminder that any legal effort to lower the age of consent should be firmly opposed.)

Vain rejoicing in natural goods: Youth and beauty and perversion.

This past weekend a friend sent an informative article from Vatican Insider by Domenico Agasso titled, Paedophilia: The hit parade of shame.  It was extremely disturbing in as much as it revealed the sexual abuse of infants.  Infants?!

The sharp increase in the number of infants (600 approx.) abused by women (70%) is one of the findings of the “2014 Annual Report – Paedophilia – Crimes against Children” put together by the Meter association, a non-profit organisation in defence of children, founded by Fr. Fortunato Di Noto.

In one year, 574.116 child pornography images featuring children between the ages of 3 and 13 were discovered, plus 95,882 child pornography videos (3-13 years) and 621 paedophilic photos and videos featuring newborn babies. “Behind the figures are children that have been raped and in many cases sodomised and tortured,” Meter says. These numbers “are just a sample of the cruelty they are subjected to.” What emerges is a dramatic picture of violence perpetrated against children between the ages of 0 and 13 years old who are raped by paedophiles and the images then published and exchanged on the web.”

Furthermore, the internet is a useful tool for paedophiles as “it allows them to use soft forms of verbal molestation or to prepare the ground for a real life encounter.”

Meter lists three types of paedophiles: “the seducer, who is very affectionate and gives the child a lot of presents, obtaining the little one’s silence through manipulation; the introvert, who communicates very little with children and very rarely seduces and the sadist, the most dangerous kind of paedophile, who gains pleasure out of seeing children suffer, physically and mentally: this paedophile lays traps and uses their strength to kidnap and kill the victim in the most extreme cases.” Then there is the “paedophilia voyeur who doesn’t abuse children but uses the child pornography material obtained via the web or through the underground market of photos and videos.”

Finally, Meter warns: “Paedophiles do not look like monsters. They often look like ordinary people you would come across everyday. They are often males with sick and uncontrollable fantasies.” - Vatican Insider

This is absolutely diabolic.

I pray and feel completely powerless - but I continue to pray - for kids, infants, sexually abused, enslaved, tortured and murdered.

From the bondage of the children of Adam, Graciously hear us, O Infant Jesus.
From the slavery of the devil, Infant Jesus, deliver us. 
From the corruption of the world, Infant Jesus, deliver us. 
From the lust of the flesh, Infant Jesus, deliver us. 
From the pride of life, Infant Jesus, deliver us. 

H/T pml

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I think some writers online may write too much.

Art: Agnes Boulloche - L'Education

Confusion ensues.

I just read the most astonishing post on why the Church teaches against IVF technologies, or 'test tube' babies.

I don't know, but Church documents are offered in the vernacular these days and are widely available to lay people.  Church teaching couldn't be more clear - I should think.  Of course it is correct for a priest to teach on Catholic teaching and to instruct those who may not understand, or rather, accept Catholic teaching as it is presented.  I'm not sure some of the things I read today make a lot of sense to anyone interested in the subject, and for those who may have been conceived in a petri dish, it might just add to whatever natural uncertainty concerning their existence they may already have.

I may be wrong, but some of the things Fr. L. wrote in the essay seem a bit far-fetched.
What’s wrong with artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood? That the child is deprived of a mother’s love at the most basic level of his existence.
Let’s take it a step further and consider the church’s teaching that conception is best realized within the “marital embrace.” I believe not only are the months of gestation a time for emotional, mental and spiritual influence of the parents to the child, but that the moment of conception is important. 
Here’s why. I once counseled a fifteen year old kid I’ll call Jimmy who suddenly went haywire. He had been a nice, sweet, smart boy–very obedient and loving. Then at fifteen he went Gothic. Dressed in black, became super rebellious and inexplicably began to steal cars. We asked Jimmy why he stole cars. He didn’t know. We said he would go to jail if he kept stealing cars. He knew that. He kept stealing cars as if there was some dark rebellious compulsion to his behavior. So we began to probe a bit further into his background. 
Jimmy didn’t know this, but his mother told me that he was adopted and that he was conceived in the back seat of a car as an act of rebellion when his mother was fifteen years old. 
It was as if fifteen year old rebellion and cars was written into Jimmy’s personality in a weird and disturbing way. Of course there was nothing genetic about it. There was nothing that could be proven scientifically. 
However, we can extrapolate a theory from this experience.

The moment the egg and sperm meet is the beginning of a person’s life. It is a foundational moment. Just as the foundation of the person’s physical body begins, so at that moment (because the person is a body, mind, spirit unity) we must affirm that the foundation of the person’s mind, spirit and emotions are also established. If that moment of meeting was between two physically healthy people we hope that the physical aspect of the child is healthy. We would continue to hope that the emotional, spiritual and mental circumstances of the moment of conception were also healthy.
So, for example, if a child is conceived in a moment of drunken rage the foundation of his or her personality might be tainted with addiction and rage. If the child is conceived in a moment or irresponsible lust he or she may have irresponsible lust as a foundation element of their personality. If the child is conceived in rape and terror he or she may have rape, violence and terror at the root of their personality. Likewise, if the child is conceived in a moment of total, self giving, joy and ecstasy within the supernatural blessings of a sacramental marriage he or she will have joy, confidence, faith and love at the root of his or her personality.
When the church teaches that a child has the right to be conceived in “the marital embrace” therefore she is affirming much more than a sentimental attachment to marriage. Instead it is affirming a deep wisdom about the very best origin of the human person.  Read the full essay here.

Scared straight.

No offense, but the essay reminds me of some of the stuff people say about homosexuality and homosexual acts, as if Catholic moral teaching is indiscernible, or isn't enough, very often scary health stories are told, stats offered for early death rates, accelerated suicide rates and so on, are repeated as a deterrent - to scare people straight - or just encourage chastity. Those folks who reject Catholic teaching on sexual ethics and marriage pretty much ignore such warnings anyway.  Catholic teaching is sufficient in itself.

I know young people who were conceived outside the womb.  They are completely normal, healthy individuals, now adults, married with children and faithful Catholics.  They accept Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual ethics.  [Some have wondered however, if in the eyes of the Church, they "have been steeped in sin since birth" - like the Gospel story of the man born blind.] For every negative anecdotal situation, usually a positive story can be offered to refute it. 

Fr. L. is a good man, a good priest, sometimes I just disagree with him.  He writes a lot.  He also no longer has an open combox, and when people don't leave that opportunity for readers open, I'll often post my comments on my blog.  (Often, when they do leave their combox open, and I comment, they don't publish it anyway.  That's why I have my own blog.)

The stories we could tell instead.

St. John of the Cross mentions something about the extreme desires some have for children.  It might be good for Catholic teachers to use the quote to remind people who wish to go to extremes to have children by artificial means, and or same-sex adoption, that the raising of children involves so much more than fulfilling material needs, doting affection, and great education.  It's about salvation.
"It is also vain to desire children, as some do in upsetting the whole world with their longing for them. For they do not know whether their children will be good and serve God, or whether the expected happiness will instead be sorrow, or the rest and comfort, trial and grief, or the honor, dishonor. And because of the children they might, as many do, offend God more. Christ says of these people, that they circle the earth and the sea in order to enrich their children, and they make them children of perdition twofold more than they themselves are. [Mt. 23:15] - Ascent, Bk. III, Ch. 17:4
I have a couple friends who were high school sweethearts, they married and never had children - no one ever asked why, assumptions were made that they were unable to.  They have been devout Catholics all their married life.  Since they had no children, they were able to care for a younger sister with Downs Syndrome until she died last week in her late 50's.  I think God gave them special graces and great consolation, and their marital love lacked nothing.  God's grace was sufficient for them.

I think I post too much too.

Now what went wrong when this little girl was conceived?

Remembering Venerable Nicolo di'Onofrio

Nicola D'Onofrio, Born March 24, 1943.

From his writings.

"...I am in love with Christ Crucified. Far from me every other joy, every other liking that is not for my beloved Crucified Bridegroom. I desperately want to own your torn Heart completely, to be inside it, incarnated into one reality: I want to renounce myself completely, to completely be You, my Love. I want to renounce myself always, even in the most hard way, not me anymore, but You, You, Crucified Love." - Nicolo D'Onofrio


Good and merciful God, who called your servant Nicola D'Onofrio to follow Jesus Christ by offering the riches of his young spirit and his burning heart in the service of your Son in the person of the sick: Glorify your faithful servant and grant that the young people of our days recognize in him a model of life in the way of love and sacrifice, to bring all souls to you, who lives and reigns with the Son and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of your children. Amen.

Ven. Nicolo died June 12, 1964 at the age of 21.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What I like about Pewsitters.

Their sense of equality.

I credit my blog posts for that.  I've often called them out, posting screenshots of their anti-papist headlines, their uncharitable bylines and selective pull quotes which foment division and hostility in the Catholic blogosphere, as well as critiquing many of their other tabloid-style bait and click tricks.  But I see they have come around, and rather quickly at that.

They now feature Patheos bloggers as well as other bloggers who may be critical of traditionalists and other favored headliners such as Michael Voris.  Here are a few screenshots to prove my point.

  • Fr. Longenecker: Martin O'Malley is a dishonest creepy sleazebag snake ... more
  • Tushnet: I disagree with most participants in "Owning Our Faith", but I try to always say yes when asked to appear ... more
  • Democrat Martin O'Malley on being Catholic and supporting gay marriage ... more
  • Anchoress on Chilean Barros Appt.: If it was appropriate for a Cardinal Archbishop to resign for his sexual activity with grown men, how can it be appropriate for a priest named as an accessory to the abuse of minors to be made bishop?... more
  • Deacon Kandra: Shouldn't the Vatican say something about this, Pope Francis? ... more

Truth in charity at work!

(Last week it was Larry at Acts of the Apostasy with his post praising the journalism skills and business sense of the editorial staff at Pewsitters.  That post also may have played a role in their change of heart and elevating the editorial standards to the level we've seen the past few day.  I think it's beautiful.)

Kudos Pewsitters!  You have risen to the top of the Catholic News network.


And then! And then! Chic is back! "I'll be there!"

It's another miracle!


Stuff I like.

I haven't painted since before eye surgery last December.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Passion Sunday or the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Fr. Z has a poll up ...

Fr. Z is asking if your church covered statues today.  My answer: No.

If he asked about organ and instrumental music during Lent, and now in Passiontide, my answer would be: Yes.

I read in Magnificat last Sunday that instrumental music is permitted for Laetare Sunday - that's how I knew things were done differently at my parish.

I don't want to complain - it's not my call.  I'm so grateful for Mass and the Blessed Sacrament and the availability of the Sacrament of Penance.  So many people do not have that.

I won't complain either.  Although we have ugly statues, an ugly worn out tabernacle-box off to the side - but I try not to look.  We do have a huge hot-tub type Baptismal pool which one can't avoid seeing though.  The church could be beautiful - but it's not.

The bright side is that it can be an aid to deeper recollection - keeping one's eyes closed when praying, focusing upon the readings and the Mass.  It allows for a deeper poverty of spirit, as well as a sense of unity with those who pray in exile, in makeshift churches or dangerous circumstances - those whose churches have been destroyed or taken away.  The 'privations' at my parish are nothing in comparison and really are a blessing and a reminder to pray with greater fervor - especially for those most in need of mercy.