Friday, November 20, 2015

Listening to the Pope and reading what he actually said: There's a website for that.

The Holy See, Vatican News, Vatican Radio.

Whenever I read what the Pope actually said, within context - especially within official context - he is not preaching a new gospel as some allege.  Frequently he echoes Benedict, John Paul II, Paul VI - his predecessors.  I don't understand what people are talking about in their confusion, feeling they are beaten down, and so on.  Maybe it really is the way I was brought up that what the Holy Father says and how he says it doesn't feel like abuse to me?

As I've said time and again - or at least referenced, I come from a dysfunctional family - a lot of people do, I know that.  I come from a harsh and abusive background - a lot of people do, I know that as well.

As a little kid I loved Stanislaus Kostka because he once 'suffered' staying in a Lutheran household - today I can't recall the details - but it was a trial for him.  His older brother was also something of a bully.  There were other saints who came from abusive, faithless childhoods, or who were disowned by their families - Elizabeth of Hungary, for instance.  These saints gave me hope, enkindled devotion and sustained my faith.  Priests and school sisters suggested to me I was being escapist in my piety - that my piety was merely a coping mechanism, or an effort to gain approval and esteem.  Imagine that.

Some traditionalists think the Pope might be saying something similar to them.  Imagine that.

Stanislaus beaten by his brother.

Imagine that.

Growing up, my family did not practice the faith - I went to Mass and confession alone.  A little kid all alone at Mass.  No one talked to me, welcomed me, asked where my family was.  Imagine that.

My family made fun of me for being religious - they knew I was a bad kid - so they pointed out my hypocrisy - 'go to confession Saturday and act like a creep after Mass on Sunday'.  'Only sissies go to church anyway.'

For most of my life, almost all of my friends and family were apathetic about religion, and or, away from the Church.  Today, some may follow other denominations, others just do not 'speak' or 'understand' Catholic. They don't like church people, or religious people. I grew up like that.  A frequent comment over the years has been, "Well if the Church is so good - how come you're not any better."

Recently in an interview, actress Jennifer Lawrence said something to the effect, that she grew up around fundamentalist Christians, and therefore knows what they are like.  I know what she means - yet a Catholic blogger found what she said offensive and dismissed her for it.  Imagine that.

From my first confession and first communion on, I was the outsider. I too know what these people can be like. Faithful Catholics didn't know - although some did - what was going on in my childhood.  If they did, I carried the sins, the shame of my parents whenever and wherever I went.  I could explain in detail, but I would be accused of whining.  That's not my intention - in fact, I'm grateful for the experience, it toughened me up and helped me to recognize my own sins better.  The mercy of God is glorified.

I still have a couple of childhood friends who remain Catholic - a couple are very faithful, a couple of others may be more the CINO-type, the ones faithful Catholics tend to condemn because they are too liberal. I fell into that trap for awhile - I think I've left that behind now. No one wanted me telling them how or what to believe, what to think, or exactly how messed up their thinking was.

I started to take care of myself instead - to examine my own conscience - and I continue to always discover my need for repentance.

Now I'm glad that we have a Pope who speaks clearly - who speaks and understands the language of ordinary people, in ordinary time.

That's a long intro, to some recent quotes from the Holy Father which I want to highlight - demonstrating his sense of urgency for the time in which we live, and our need for mercy and love.

To the German Bishops:
He turned the bishops attention to the biblical figures of Priscilla and Aquila, the married couple who witnessed with their words and lives to the love of Christ.
“The example of these ‘volunteers’ can help us reflect, given the trend towards a growing institutionalization,” Pope Francis said.
“We always inaugurate new facilities, from which, in the end, the faithful are missing,” Pope Francis said.
“It is a sort of new Pelagianism, which puts its trust in administrative structures, in perfect organizations” – the Pope continued – “excessive centralization, rather than helping, complicates the life of the Church and her missionary dynamics.”
He told the bishops to give more attention to Confession during the Jubilee of Mercy, since “in Confession is the beginning of the transformation of each individual Christian and the reform of the Church.”
“It is also necessary to highlight the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood,” the Holy Father said.
“The precious collaboration of the laity, especially in those places where vocations are missing, cannot become a surrogate for the ministerial priesthood, or give it the semblance of being simply optional,” he said. “If there is no priest, there is no Eucharist.” - Source

I'm reminded of Pope Benedict XVI speaking about a smaller Church, the loss of institutions and so on - a simpler, poorer Church.  I think Francis and Benedict are very close.

For priests:

The Pope said a priest is “a man of peace” who surrounds himself with serenity, even during hardships.
“It is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous, or of a hard character; it is not good, and does no good, neither for the priest nor for his people,” he said.
Pope Francis said “our humanity is the ‘clay pot’ in which we guard the treasure of God,” and so care must be taken to protect it.
The Holy Father reminded priests they are called “to serve our brothers and sisters.”
“We are not priests for our own sake, and our sanctification is closely linked to that of our people, our anointing to their anointing,” he said, adding priests should be “authoritative, not authoritarian; firm, but not hard; joyful, but not superficial…in short, shepherds, not functionaries.” - Source

Christmas charade.

Pope Francis recalled, “Jesus is in heaven, watching us”, and “he will come to us here, on the altar”. But “today too, Jesus weeps, because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of hostility”. This is even more glaring now that “we are approaching Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, trees lit up, even nativity scenes... all decorated: the world continues to wage war, to wage wars. The world has not comprehended the way of peace”. - Source

Growing up, Christmas was always a charade at my house ... I know exactly what the Pope is saying.

I'm grateful I never had a comfortable life, a warm and cozy life - otherwise how would I know?

I may try to go to Rome to die next year.

Everybody wanna know ...

Just watch until 5:30 if that's all the time you have.  Notice that Etta James kind of looks like Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Men at church ...

Seemed like old times.

The first parish I ever registered at was St. Olaf in Downtown Minneapolis - that was in the 1980's.  I was able to make it to morning Mass there today - the first Mass at 7 AM.  Fr. Kennedy celebrated the Mass - seemed like old times because he was newly ordained when I first started going there way back when, for adoration on Thursdays.  That was the olden days in the early 1970's - shortly after mu conversion, when hardly any church still had exposition all day - which was usually on Fridays - as at Assumption in St. Paul.  Fr. Kennedy always had the reputation of a more 'liberal' priest but I always found him orthodox in homilies and confession.  This morning it could have been the Pope giving the homily ... it was excellent.

Notably, the chapel was fairly full for such an early Mass, mostly businessmen in their 30's or 40's, a few older guys, and what seemed to be downtowners - people who live someplace downtown.  Like I said - there were mostly men.  Everyone knelt for the Eucharistic prayer and at the Agnus Dei.  After communion I don't know what happened.   I mention this because there is a lot of talk that men don't go to Mass.  Just because men were at Mass this morning - and most likely every morning noon and evening at St. Olaf, doesn't mean that observation is wrong of course - but it does indicate to me that men really do go to Mass.

Mass this morning was not effeminate.  Fr. Kennedy is a 'manly man' and a serious minded priest and Mass was celebrated according to the rubrics.  The men at early Mass seemed like manly men as well.  I wasn't on watch there, but I took in the crowd.  I prayed and participated in Mass - I simply noticed who was there, what was going on, aware of my surroundings - not looking for errors or lack of formality.

St. Olaf

Here's the deal.

I think.

Men go to Mass when they believe, when their faith is living, when Mass is straight forward - and straight plays a big part in that - like honesty.

It seemed like old times to me - the daily Mass goers downtown have a living faith - they are not there because of an obligation, nor does their faith depend on the person of the priest - downtown churches get a variety of substitutes during the week.  Downtown parishes host a huge diversity of persons.  It's a microcosm of the Church I think.  It's as different from my rich parish in South Minneapolis, as my parish is to the FSSP parish in North Minneapolis, or the traditionalist 'Remnant' parish in South St. Paul.

There is a distinct freedom of spirit in a living body.

Love casts out all fear.

Years ago when I got caught up in the fear mongering which trails ultra conservative trad-minded Catholics, I ran into a priest at a store I worked at and he asked, "What the hell happened to you?"  He asked in passing because he was in a hurry to get out of the store we were in, and I laughed and said, "What?"  I just thought he meant I'd gotten a bit older or something.  But now I know what he meant.  He assumed I'd gone 'back' - that I was one of those people who wanted everything to go back to tradition.  I never had.  But I worked in a milieu he associated with the St. Agnes cult he had warned me years ago to avoid.  And there I was.

I haven't seen him since, but I'd like him to know nothing happened to me.  I'm just fine.  I never rejected Vatican II or the Ordinary Form of Mass.  This morning reminded me of all that.

I kind of think most men don't go to Mass because they don't like church-lady-talk, Mass chat, coffee and donuts gossip.  They're not into the Fellini ecclesiastical fashion show of vestments, and grand style.  Some may like it - some may not.

In my neighborhood, a lot of guys stopped going to church because of the bishop scandal - which included gay priests and teen boys, adulterous priests and parish secretaries and or female penitents, as well as billions of dollars of payouts in legal funds.  That erodes trust - one guy down the street will probably never step in a Catholic church again.  I also don't think most guys are all that interested in talk show apologists, dressed up in safari outfits, or talking like post-game wrap-up commentators.  Going after men doesn't need to involve chest bumps and back slapping stereotypical imitations of successful mainstream media pop-culture marketing.  I don't think you have to try to sell men on masculinity with another spokesman in lace and red satin talking about how feminized men have become.

I might be wrong - but I don't think evangelization is the same thing as marketing.

This anti-Pope thing is so not going to attract more men to Mass either.  Talking about the pope and the church in political terms doesn't work.  I think most ordinary guys think this pope is great.  I know non-religious people do.  I'm no expert - just speculating here.

I don't know.  Like I said, I'm probably wrong.

It was good to experience downtown again - I miss it in a way.  I realized something did happen to me - in some ways, I am different today.

BTW - I never resign St. Olaf's, just stopped going downtown, and they stopped sending me newsletters.  I was actually 'involved' with the parish - unusual for me because I don't usually get involved with church people.  The people I knew weren't there this morning, and so I expect everyone has moved on or away.  Nothing stays the same.  You can't go back.

I'm just a single Catholic man.

This may be the appropriate to replace a comment from an earlier post discussing Pope Francis.  Today I realized not everyone has a negative opinion of him - thanks be to God.

Yesterday I wrote: I must be an idiot - I just don't see Francis abandoning Catholic teaching. I see him as consistent with his predecessors - a lot more frank and talkative, to be sure, but I do not feel my faith is in the balance because of him. Actually when he calls out Pharisees and the hypocrites I've taken it to heart - I totally accuse myself. If it wasn't so indiscreet to do it, I would proclaim my sins online - just to prove it. Rather than feel put down by the Pope, I feel his call to repentance and reconciliation - to drink deeply at the font of Mercy. I'm not just saying that either.
"If a good man reproves me, it is kindness."
My first waking thought every day is prayer - it is hours later that I even check online - my spiritual life comes first.  Neither do I check what the pope has said every day.  It isn't my first priority. I avoid those who 'report' on what he said, or how he said it. I believe only what is confirmed by Vatican authority, and if I don't understand it, it isn't for me.
I understand that a priest or director may have need to know what he said, what he meant, to refute what gossip media reports, so I pray for priests.
Personally, I just keep thinking that finally I have a pope, a father who understands me - who understands the outsider - the freak. I don't have to try to fit in with any faction because he welcomes the stranger.
If I feel like that think, of all the people who feel excluded from the Church now feel. Think of all the ordinary people who don't identify with the liturgical class wars and politics. There is hope after all for all the prodigals - while our elder brothers grumble because they have always been good and never wasted their lives on prostitutes.

I can't make excuses for the pope or church people - so that is not my intention here.  

I've been steeped in sin since birth - so I dare not try to instruct anyone.  Pay no attention to me.

I've always taken my cues from the Church - especially the Pope - be it Francis, Benedict, JPI and II, Paul VI and so on.

It's none of my business who is or who is not in church, any more than it is my business or under my control, who goes to communion or who does not go to communion.

I only have to make sure I go to Mass and I'm able to receive.

Song for this post here.

A week from today is Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Something to think about for preppers and storm chasers ...

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

“If God has shown us bad times ahead, it's enough for me that He knows about them. That's why He sometimes shows us things, you know - to tell us that this too is in His hands.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

“And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

On forgiveness. 

“Didn't he and I stand together before an all seeing God convicted of the same murder? For I had murdered him with my heart and my tongue.” 
― Corrie ten BoomThe Hiding Place

And for those who want to leave the Church:

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” 
― Corrie ten Boom

Pornography a mortal sin now?

The Gaiety painting by Patrick Angus 

New Yorkers and tourists to Manhattan before 2005
 would remember this theater.

But Father!  But Father!  What about it's use as foreplay in marriage?

I always thought porn was a sin - a very grave sin - a mortal sin.

Good news, the US Bishop have issued a Pastoral  Letter on Pornography and the breaking news headline appears to be: US Bishops say pornography use is a mortal sin.  Hence my response, I always thought it was.  Despite the fact TOB formulators have sometimes suggested that it's okay as fore-play in marriage.  Which is creepy and ugly because pornography is not victim-less - the people who do porn - the 'actors' are dehumanized and exploited, and it also drives a burgeoning sex-slave business, not to mention sexual abuse of children.  There is a lot of crime associated with the porn business.  If anything is evil - it is the pornography industry.

The Bishops finally issue a statement on the evil business.
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a statement on pornography on the second day of their Nov. 16-19 fall general meeting in Baltimore.
"Producing or using pornography is a mortal sin that needs to be confessed in order for the person to receive God's forgiveness," says the draft version of "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography." "Those who produce and distribute pornography harm the common good by encouraging and even causing others to sin," it says.
The proposed statement, prepared by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, adds, "There are many victims of pornography. ... All child pornography is automatically trafficking and a crime, because it involves the sexual exploitation of a minor for commercial gain and it is against the child's will due to the inability to give consent."
It noted, "Many people struggle with pornography use, including faithful Catholics, people of faith, people of no faith, married and single people, fathers and mothers, the young and the old, clergy and those in consecrated life." - CNS


As noted, people who 'struggle' with this vice span all the labels and categories of sinners and sexualities, but on some level it seems to me they/we are just as sinful and perverted as the worst sinner who preferred physical contact instead of virtual reality - of any sort.  One could possibly even say we are all "Sodomites" if you will.  We are all part of this "adulterous generation" - we've all drunk of the cup of the Whore of Babylon to various degrees.

Link to the pastoral letter:

Create in me a Clean Heart - A Pastoral Response.  USCCB

+ + +

"Where does this poisonous harm fail to reach? And who fails to drink little or much from the golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? ...There is hardly anyone of high rank or low, saint or sinner, who does not drink of her wine, subjecting his heart somewhat. For as pointed out in Revelation 17:2-4, all the kings of the earth were inebriated with the wine of her prostitution. She reaches out to all states, even the supreme and illustrious state of the priesthood, bysetting her abominable cup in the holy place, as Daniel asserts [Dn. 9:27], and she hardly leaves a strong man who has not drunk a small or large quantity of wine from her chalice..." - John of the Cross, Ascent III, 22:4

Song for this post here

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What the Pope said.

From Fr. Z:
The Pope made a clear statement:
I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence.”Before anyone gets out onto the ledge outside the window, read that again and repeat it to yourself.  The Pope is not saying that Lutherans can go to Communion. - Fr. Z

Garabandal in the news again.

New restrictions imposed.

I left a comment on the post that reported the new development but the author neither answered or published my comment - which is fine, but I wonder if he thought I was challenging him for his belief in the events at Garabandal?

These are the recent developments:
Restrictions imposed by the new Bishop of Santander Msgr Monge, appointed by Pope Francis in May 2015, as below :
Prohibition of any Mass at the Pines or at the St Michael Chapel
Prohibition to talk about the Appartions of our Lady of Mount Carmel in the village of Garabandal
Prohibition to any Priests to come in Garabandal as a representative of the Church except privately
Prohibition in the village of Garabandal of any religious manifestation in connection with the Apparitions.
The New Bishop Msgr Monge refused also to bless the new center of the Apparitions, opened recently as he imposed a strict control on its website. - Source
My first impression after reading the post and comments was that the restrictions were regarded as an imposition with a negative jibe towards Francis - I'm not sure if Spanish Catholics have a negative impression of the Pope the way English speaking Catholics do.  I may have been reading all of that into the post.

What caught my attention was a claim in the com box that Bl. Paul VI 'believed' the apparitions were true.  I simply asked for documentation on that - I recall he responded favorably towards the seers, but never heard that he pronounced any belief in the authenticity of the events.  What has always impressed me most about Garabandal is the number of holy people who believed the events were authentic and the message worthy of belief. Among them, St. Padre Pio, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. Maravillas of Jesus, the great Carmelite restorer of the Teresian Carmel in post-revolutionary Spain.  Likewise, Carmelites I've known have always expressed their confidence in the events and the messages.

I mentioned in my comment that I spent some time at Garabandal as a pilgrim, though I never experienced any interior sense of the authenticity of the events, it was a peaceful, prayerful experience.  I also met one of the seers - can't recall who.  I was also impressed by the solitude and poverty of the village at that time.  While there, if I recall correctly - because it was in the early 1970's - I noted for the first time, restrictions posted in the parish church that nothing supernatural could be determined at that time - so there were restrictions which indicated the local ordinary didn't approve.  My Carmelite friend never told me that.

A few weeks later, I met Joey Lomangino in Fatima and talked to him.  It was common knowledge that his sight was to be restored when the promised miracle took place.  He died without gaining his sight and without boarding the plane he was said to be able to charter whenever the miracle would take place.  (The miracle hasn't taken place of course.)  Roughly - that was his role in the messages.  Today Garabandal adherents are saying that wasn't exactly what was promised him.  Perhaps my reminder of that fact is why my comment was not published.  It doesn't matter.

It is one of the more troubling aspects of alleged apparitions and locutions when things do not turn out as scheduled or predicted.  Naturally one is reminded of Jonah and the disappointment he suffered because Nineveh wasn't destroyed - but in the case of modern prophecies - entire regions or peoples do not show evidence of repentance or conversion - or even demonstrable penance to move God to mitigate the proposed chastisements.  I'm not saying Our Lord is not merciful, nor that Our Lady does not hold back divine retribution in some way - after all there is Biblical precedence for such things.  That said, I am concerned when the bishops and the pope are contradicted as regards judgement on the authenticity of private revelations - it is their responsibility to do that.

"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called private revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church." - CCC 67
"Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries." - CCC 66

That said, as with all such reports of apparitions and messages, details on the events and persons involved, as well as interpretations of what was said, can become confused over time - and their literal sense is not always what is meant. Which is another reason I try to remain aloof.  I'm not able to make these things the focus of my spiritual life, as it concerns a warning, or the illumination of conscience, or even a miracle and a permanent sign left in the pines or any other place.  When people of prayer, contemplative monks and nuns get caught up in such things, I always wonder why or how it concerns them?

We already have that sign in the Blessed Sacrament - in the Church.

We have been experiencing warnings since Fatima, wars, persecutions, the slaughter of the innocent unborn, moral collapse of entire nations, the incursion of paganism and idolatry, the Holy Father suffering greatly.

We now have a Pope illuminating the conscience of Catholics and others throughout the world and rather than repenting, Catholics revolt and accuse him of heresy and of being an anti-pope and so on.

We look for signs and miracles and yet our churches are empty.  Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is left alone.  

Priest and prophet forage in a land they know not ... a virtual world ... their so-called 'digital continent'.  What will happen when the powers of space will be averted, their radios jammed, no signal for their cell phones and tablets?

If they tell you he is here or there - don't believe them. 

The Church is the ark of salvation - wherein the deposit of faith is safeguarded.

NB: Many seem to ignore this fact, but an alleged series of apparitions in 1931 took place not far from San Sebastian, a city near Garabandal. The visionary was Ramona Olazábal and her visions began on the feast of Mt. Carmel, July 16, 1931 at Ezkioga, Spain. The visions became popular and attracted crowds, but it was said they became corrupted by opportunistic Freemasons and were subsequently politicized. The apparitions were later condemned. You can read about them here.

The popular support of the events was also linked to anti-clerical factions, used in an effort to discredit the bishops.  Not unlike today when we see the bishops and even the pope opposed in response to restrictions imposed upon claims of apparitions or private revelations.

Monday, November 16, 2015


How I knew who The Eagles of Death Metal were.

I saw them on Kimmel.


Don't read too much into the name of the group - they're pretty 'gay' as in, 'that's so gay' - in a way.  It doesn't mean they are gay gay - just in the fashionista rock-star sense - although ...  The name of the group is pretty much playful, as in 'what if the Eagles went Death Metal.'  That is totally not serious.

Actually, I kind of liked the group and thought Jesse Hughes was pretty cool in a weird way.  I can see why Parisians might like the group.

Anyway - continued prayers for the victims and survivors at Le Bataclan and the other attacks in Paris this past week end, and for those in the weeks to come.

*Nothing to do with 'cool' - I just thought I'd comment on the group since some people online are getting superstitious about their name.  Being an American group, and seeing that a concert is a fairly 'soft target' - that's probably what attracted the attention of terrorists.

I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On a lighter note ...

I watched the Democratic Debate last night.

I liked Bernie Sanders - I liked some of the stuff he had to say - no more American meddling in other countries for regime change, for instance.  I totally agree - remember when Bush did that?  Now look at the world.  I also like it that Sanders talks like Larry David.  If he gets the nod he really should have Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a running mate - she has that experience already.  I like her too.

Hillary is a tired old lady - I don't understand why she's even running.  Same old same old crap.  She seems to have a problem with honesty, sometimes I even think she lies.  They say she won the debate.  I don't think so.

I like O'Malley but I don't know if he could win.  If he gets the nod - he'd give Putin a run for his money.  He's the best looking - so that counts for something, right?

There is not one Republican I'm interested in.  If Trump get's in - that's it.  It's the end of time.  Or the chastisement.  No, it will be the end of days.