Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Solemnity of St. Joseph

San José, refugio de pecadores
San José, refugio de pecadores, grabado, siglo XVIII. 
Archivo General de la Nación, México.

Monday, March 18, 2019

I want to go home ...

Recovering from the flu. 

I finally made it to Mass and confession yesterday.  I was able to spend time in adoration but had to leave because my cough, which sounds bad, was scaring other adorers.  I had to leave Mass early as well.

I just want to mention a couple of things I think need to change at Mass - especially in flue season.  Stop holding hands and giving the sign of peace.  Just stop it.  I have a feeling that could be how I got sick in the first place.  Not sure.

Now that I'm old, I have difficulty kneeling, so I have to go to confession face to face, because I can sit.  Face to face confession is distracting.  I don't know where to look, and I forget that I'm confessing to Christ and I get caught up in the personality of the priest, and sometimes get confused.  I'm not looking for approval or anything like that, but it sometimes breaks down to a more natural exchange - I'm not sure how well I expressed that.

In the Mass and contemporary homiletics, as well as face to face confession, there can be a self-conscious concern for 'performance' and an expectation of reward or at least approval and affirmation.  I wouldn't mind some reform of the Mass and the sacraments more in line with the traditional rites.

Just saying.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life complaining or arguing about stuff like this, it's just that I kind of get why younger people are attracted to the traditional rite.  There is something banal about the ordinary form as it is celebrated in parish communities.

The announcements before the final blessing along with some of the fund raising presentation performances,  strike me as especially disconcerting.  It's usually all in the bulletin or online.   What a huge distraction from any recollection attained in Holy Communion, despite the constant singing throughout the thanksgiving.  (If I remember correctly there was very little musical accompaniment during Lent - not now of course.)  No wonder a huge cacophony of greetings and conversation erupts immediately after Mass.

Looks like I'm whining again.  My apologies.  I'm just an ordinary layman, steeped in sin since birth.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Something I discovered about St. John of God

Something hardly ever noted in popular accounts of his life.

He was abducted as a child.
John of God was born João Duarte Cidade (Portuguese form, the Spanish form is João Cidade Duarte) in Montemor-o-Novo, now in the District of Évora, Kingdom of Portugal, the son of André Cidade and Teresa Duarte, a once-prominent family that was impoverished but had great religious faith. One day, when John was eight years of age, he disappeared. Whether he had been deliberately kidnapped, or whether he had been seduced from his home by a cleric who had been given hospitality in the home, is not clear. According to his original biography, his mother died from grief soon after this and his father joined the Franciscan Order. 
The young Cidade soon found himself a homeless orphan in the streets of Oropesa, near Toledo, Spain. There, in a foreign land, he had no one to care for him, nothing on which to live and he had to be content with whatever food he could find. He was eventually taken in by a man called Francisco Mayoral and the boy settled down as a shepherd caring for his sheep in the countryside. - Wikipedia
"Seduced from his home by a cleric..."

I never noticed that before, nor do I recall coming across it in any biography of the saint.  As I noted on Facebook, St. John of God suddenly becomes an even more interesting saint, deserving of our notice in these days of child sexual abuse scandals by clergy, as well as the problem of human trafficking - especially as it involves children.

The abduction question seems to me to be more credible since it arose with his original biographer, Francisco de Castro.
Francisco de Castro was the chaplain at John of God’s hospital at Granada. As a youth he knew the Saint and he used material gathered from eyewitnesses and contemporaries of his subject. It was published at the express wish of the Archbishop of Granada who gave financial backing to its publication. Castro began writing in 1579, twenty-nine years after John of God’s death, but he did not see it published for he died soon after completing the work. His mother, Catalina de Castro, had the book published in 1585. - source
The suspicion he was taken by a cleric who might have seduced him is startling, and relates so well to our times.  Clerical seduction and abuse, albeit seemingly pervasive in the 20th century, is obviously not endemic just to our epoch.

How did John deal with it?

Obviously in his days complaints of abuse and ill treatment were not dealt with in the same manner we do today.  John didn't file lawsuits or claim PTSD, much less write a book on what he suffered as a child.  There's no evidence he complained of parental neglect or blamed any of his failings on the abuse he suffered.  He joined the military and had a string of occupations, even accused of theft and dereliction of duty.  Military life wasn't exactly virtuous, so I suspect - I may be wrong - that the saint has some moral problems as well.

After many travels and troubles, the saint had a vision of the Infant Jesus who instructed him to go to Granada, and gave him his name, John of God.  There he became a bookseller of devotional works.

Mental illness and sanctity. 

Later, after an intense conversion experience following a sermon by S. John of Avila, the saint encountered mental difficulties.  Some biographers suggested he feigned mental illness as a sort of 'fool for Christ', I wonder if it wasn't more a sort of purification, mixed with a sort of mystical grace which Teresa of Avila mentions when discussing the foolishness for Christ St. Francis of Assisi experienced.  I don't know what the Church says in that regard however.
"At the age of 42, he had what was perceived at the time as an acute mental breakdown. Moved by the sermon, he soon engaged in a public beating of himself, begging mercy and wildly repenting for his past life. He was incarcerated in the area of the Royal Hospital reserved for the mentally ill and received the treatment of the day, which was to be segregated, chained, flogged, and starved. John of God was later visited by John of Avila, who advised him to be more actively involved in tending to the needs of others rather than in enduring personal hardships. John gained peace of heart, and shortly after left the hospital to begin work among the poor." - Wikipedia
John of God was instructed in a vision of Our Lady to work with the poor, which he did, while many continued to suspect he was mentally ill.  Eventually the Bishop helped him and others came to assist him in his work, leading to the establishment of the Brothers Hospitaller.

Abducted, abused, orphaned, inconstant, eccentric, and no support group or therapy save the Love of God - Caritas.

He's a wonderful model for losers.

 Sancta dels Folls Dona Nostra i Desamparats Innocents 

Monday, March 04, 2019

What to give up for Lent?

I'm not sure that is the right focus.

Give something up and give alms.  It's classic, but it is only a pious practice without love.  The older I get, the more I understand giving up candy and cartoons really isn't what it's all about.  Giving up sin, yes.  Giving up things that lead to sin, yes.  Giving up legitimate joys and pleasures, yes indeed.  But why?

For love.

To love God - and our neighbor as ourselves, but most importantly, to fulfill the will of God:  You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. [Dt. 6:5].  In and through this supreme act of charity, we accomplish the other, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

I like to approach Lent in this way:  Meditating on the counsels of John of the Cross, noting especially his teaching on the purification of the will through charity.  For me, it lends a more profound meaning and purpose to the observance of Lent.

For a treatise on the active night and denudation of this faculty, with the aim of forming and perfecting it in this virtue of the charity of God, I have found no more appropriate passage than the one in chapter 6 of Deuteronomy, where Moses commands: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength [Dt. 6:5]. This passage contains all that spiritual persons must do and all I must teach them here if they are to reach God by union of the will through charity. In it human beings receive the command to employ all the faculties, appetites, operations, and emotions of their soul in God so that they will use all this ability and strength for nothing else, in accord with David's words: Fortitudinem meam ad te custodiam (I will keep my strength for you) [Ps. 59:10].
The strength of the soul comprises the faculties, passions, and appetites. All this strength is ruled by the will. When the will directs these faculties, passions, and appetites toward God, turning away from all that is not God, the soul preserves its strength for God, and comes to love him with all its might. - Ascent Bk III, Ch. 16

Talk about what to give up and give alms - all must be an exercise in charity, a response of love, since as St. John notes, Without works of charity, faith is dead [Jas. 2:20].

Works for me.  I still need to pray for the grace to do it.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

What predatory homosexuality looks like.

Last year Fr. Altier spoke about the origins of the 'crisis'.

I took some time to digest it, and despite his inclusion of the Bella Dodd communist plants conspiracy theory - which seems to have some foundation in truth - especially in Europe - I believe Fr. Altier's version of things.  Especially since he had to face a great deal of difficulties in his seminary experience.  He knows what he is talking about. 

We need a priest like him to affirm Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage, and especially to recognize what homosexual abuse is and how it works.  Hence the title for this post.  One can't wave this off.  Predatory homosexuality is an inconvenient truth.  Especially in an all boys to men situation as in seminaries, high schools, Boy Scouts, sports, locker rooms, and so on.  Such environments can be opportune for predatory behavior - as everyone knows.  A friend on Facebook posted a link to Fr. Altier's homilyalong with his personal experience of seminary life in the late '90's.  His comments prompted me to post Altier's homily in order to save it in my archives. 

Where is the doctrinal integrity? Where is the moral teaching? Someone that is not living it is not going to teach it.

Now if we just use the McCarrick situation, since that’s been in the news, everyone is disgusted with what this man did to boys and to young men, and rightly so. But anybody, by the way, who thinks that all of this is just great – they’re such nice people and they’re no different – look at what McCarrick did: that is what predatory homosexuality looks like. 
These are not nice people who are just like everybody else. But as disgusting as all that is, think about the fact that this man was in the pulpit for 50 years, he sat in the confessional, he was in the bishop’s office making decisions about priests’ lives, about diocesan finances, about the direction of the diocese and so on. He served on Vatican commissions, he was a consultant to the Vatican, he made lots of bishops. What kind of advice do you think somebody struggling with some sexual problem in the confessional would have gotten from somebody like this? 
What kind of men do you think might have been elevated to be bishops by somebody like this? - Fr. Altier

Monday, February 25, 2019

I'm tired of this ...

I'll post from time to time, but I've said what I needed to say, and a bit too much more.  I appreciate those friends who found me interesting.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Bella Dodd Conspiracies are back.

I noted that McCarrick is now thought to be a Bella Dodd plant.  

Beyond his horrendous evil of homosexual predation for decades, Church Militant has learned exclusively that McCarrick may also have been clandestinely trained by Soviet Communists here in Europe during his younger years, making him effectively a Communist plant in the heart of the Church. 
Through a back channel, Church Militant has obtained information from former Communist personnel who were instrumental in setting up a secret network of indoctrination and training centers throughout Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and their information directly implicates the involvement of Theodore McCarrick. 
A little history to set the stage first: When Stalin gained control of the former Soviet Union in the early 1920s, he set about plans to cripple the influence of the Catholic Church in the West, if not completely destroy the Church — all part of communism's plan for world domination and warned about by Our Lady in Fatima in 1917. 
A key component of the plans involved infiltrating seminaries with young men who would work to undermine the Church's teaching in the area of morality. 
This was testified to on multiple occasions by Bella Dodd, a high-ranking member of the U.S. Communist Party. She herself claims to have orchestrated the placement of 1,100 men into U.S. seminaries. - CM

I've read a couple of posts by a priest or two elsewhere agreeing with this theory.

Everything is based on hearsay and gossip, no proof such as names are ever provided to back up these claims.

I have no doubt Communist ideology has greatly influenced academia and culture, and even infiltrated the Church, but the Bella Dodd claims have always troubled me.  The reason being, if the claims are true, more people other than Bella Dodd would have known.  How is it that Dodd is the only defector?  No matter how secret, who were all of the agents who infiltrated?  Where are they now? 

Bella Dodd Seminary

Thursday, February 21, 2019

St. Peter Damian

 I hope he influences the Sexual Abuse of Minors Summit in the Vatican.

“Just as Saint Basil establishes that those who incur sins [against nature] … should be subjected not only to a hard penance but a public one, and Pope Siricius prohibits penitents from entering clerical orders, one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” - St. Peter Damian

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Just as in the days of Noah.

Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven...

Just a thought.

This morning's reading at Mass reminded me of those photos of the dove being attacked by a crow or raven in St. Peter's Square after the Pope would release them from the papal apartment window.  It always seemed like an omen.
At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark,
and he sent out a raven,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth.
Then he sent out a dove,
to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
But the dove could find no place to alight and perch,
and it returned to him in the ark,
for there was water all over the earth.
Putting out his hand, he caught the dove
and drew it back to him inside the ark.
He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark.
In the evening the dove came back to him,
and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf!
So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth.
He waited still another seven days
and then released the dove once more;
and this time it did not come back. - GN 8:6-13
It's probably just me.

Today is the feast of St.s Jacinta and Francisco Marto as well.  I'm praying they will guide the Holy Father and bishops assembled for summit on sexual abuse this weekend.   Pope Francis noted how those who are actively criticizing and hurling accusations may be guided by a bad spirit.
One cannot live a whole life accusing, accusing, accusing the Church. 
Whom does the office of the accuser belong to? Who is he that the Bible calls the great accuser - the devil! And those who spend their lives accusing are - I won't say children, because the devil doesn't have any - but they the friends, cousins and relatives of the devil. 
Well, when things are not right, one has to report the defects to correct, but when you report the defects, you make known the defects, you love the Church. Without love is something from the devil. - VR
St. Jacinta devoted herself to prayer and suffering for the Pope, may she intercede for him in these times of crisis.  St. Francisco was deeply contemplative and hidden, praying to console the 'Hidden Jesus' and making reparation for sins.  Both Jacinta and Francisco prayed earnestly and constantly for the conversion of sinners.  May these little saints, who have now reached full stature and maturity in Christ, intercede for all of us.

Monday, February 18, 2019

After the Fall.

McCarrick with young clerics.

Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. - CCC

I've wasted hours on Facebook posting stupid commentary and emotional soundbites while trying to avoid the reality of former Cardinal McCarrick's fall from grace and final laicization.  Why should it bother me?  What difference does it make to me?  He's so far removed from my way of life.  He's a retired, former prelate and we would never have anything in common.

Except I've been a Catholic all of my life, dependent upon the Church and her ministers.  The sense of betrayal, the temptation to skepticism and cynicism, assails my spirit.  It's a struggle many Catholics may be contending with.

Yesterday at Mass I couldn't even look at the priest.  I could barely stand his homiletic performance - which is what it seemed like.  In an older interview, Cardinal Muller described the sexual abuse by clergy as an anti-clerical act in itself.  I felt the temptation to anti-clericalism.  The only way I could deal with it was to recollect myself as best I could, and not look at anyone.

It is part of the crisis that one does not wish to see the true causes and covers them up with the help of propaganda phrases of the homosexual lobby. Fornication with teenagers and adults is a mortal sin which no power on earth can declare to be morally neutral. That is the work of the devil – against whom Pope Francis often warns – that he declares sin to be good. “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared.” (1 Tim 4:1f) It is indeed absurd that, suddenly, ecclesial authorities utilize the Jacobin, Nazi, and Communist anti-Church combat slogans against sacramentally ordained priests. The priests have the authority to proclaim the Gospels and to administer the Sacraments of Grace. If someone abuses his jurisdiction in order to reach selfish goals, he himself is not clerical in an exaggerated form, but, rather, he himself is anti-clerical, because he denies Christ Who wishes to work through him. Sexual abuse by clergymen is then, at most, to be called anti-clerical. But it is obvious – and can only be denied by someone who wishes to be blind – that sins against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue stem from disordered inclinations and thus are sins of fornication which exclude one from the Kingdom of God, at least as long as one has not repented and made atonement, and as long as there does not exist the firm resolve to avoid such sin in the future. This whole attempt at obfuscating things is a bad sign of the secularization of the Church. One thinks like the world, but not as God wills it. - Muller, Lifesite Interview Nov. 21, 2018
In the '70's while in Italy I ran into
cinema posters very much like this one,
but for x-rated films about priests, monks and nuns.
I was horrified by it and prayed
in reparation.  Now, today ...

Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!

 It's striking that Muller says: "ecclesial authorities utilize the Jacobin, Nazi, and Communist anti-Church combat slogans against sacramentally ordained priests."  Since I have often thought the chatter online from Catholic sources pretty much emulates the Jacobin-Nazi-Communist anti-clerical propaganda of an earlier age.  It also echoes the Protestant anti clericalism of the early 20th century and before, in colonial times and England.

What has happened today - so it seems - the terrible anti-clerical propaganda has become a reality.  Priests raping nuns, nuns raping novices, priests sleeping with seminarian, molesting altar boys.  All of that used to be anti-Catholic propaganda, and now it is being revealed as true, scandal after scandal coming to light.

I couldn't locate the quote, but elsewhere Cardinal Muller mentioned something to the effect that because of guys like McCarrick instituting policy, this may explain why prohibitions against admitting gay men to seminaries were ignored.  Likewise, he points to the general accpetance of LGBTQ ideology as a worldliness infecting the Church and her ministers.

So.  Be on guard.  Be humble.  Pray for the Pope and especially the conference this week in Rome on sexual abuse.

Pope Francis has asked Catholics to pray for the upcoming anti-abuse summit at the Vatican.

I'm praying. Significantly the conference begins on the feast of S. Peter Damian, the great reformer saint who knew all about these things way back when. The eve of the conference is the feast of St. Jacinta Marto, whose devotion to the Pope was well known, and as a child saint, along with her brother St. Francisco, they are perhaps great intercessors for those who were abused. Then the conference takes place during the monthly novena to the Infant Jesus, which I do in union with the Carmelites, and my intentions are for the conference and the Holy Father. 

Prayer is good, but suffering is better. A saintly Carmelite once said that, so I am offering what little I have - otherwise life makes no sense.

I will also remember what St. John of the Cross taught: "Never take a man for your example - however holy he may be - for the devil will show you his faults."

France Anticlerical caricature at the time of the 
separation of church and state. 1905

Those who want the state to conduct investigations
into Church records, as well as laity
to oversee these matters, ought to 
be careful what they wish for.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Prayers for former Cardinal McCarrick

Banished, expelled.

Today's First reading alerted me to the sad fact McCarrick's canonical punishment would be announced today.

The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,to till the ground from which he had been taken.When he expelled the man,he settled him east of the garden of Eden;and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,to guard the way to the tree of life. - GN 3:9-24

Expelled from the clerical state.

“On 11 January 2019, the Congresso of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the conclusion of a penal process, issued a decree finding Theodore Edgar McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., guilty of the following delicts while a cleric: solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power. The Congresso imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state,” the statement form the congregation explained.

The ex-cardinal then appealed this decision but was told on the 15 February that the decision to laicise him was definitive.

“The Holy Father has recognised the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse).” - source

Today I pray for McCarrick.  Imagine such a fall from grace, to have gained the whole world, to have your reputation and honor stripped from you.  Imagine those who supported and protected and covered for him - how shameful.  Sharing the lies, participating in the charade. How infinitely sad.

I pray for McCarrick.

Adam: Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. 
Masaccio, Brancacci Chapel.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!


OMG!  Trump declares a National Emergency!

President declares National Emergency because of the invasion. "We're talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs."  Thousands of them!

The Mexicans are coming! Crap! 

Why aren't there Civil Defense Directions? Do I need to evacuate? 

Gabby, get the bug-out bag, we're leaving!

They're taking over pharmacies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Blessed Cardinal Newman to be canonized.

Good news.

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2019 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Wednesday approved the canonization of Bl. John Henry Newman, a Roman Catholic cardinal, scholar, and founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England. 
Following a Feb. 12 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope signed off on a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, England on Sept. 19, 2010.

Everyone is posting on the announcement.

I know many people will take another look at Newman, and like I'm doing here, repeat a few things about his life and friendship with Fr. Ambrose St. John.  Gay Catholics like to claim Newman because of that close friendship.  I have lost count of the priests I have known who have speculated upon the subject of sexual orientation and these priests.  The best of them always held up their example as a model for chaste-celibate, same sex disinterested friendship.  Others were less discerning and along with some lay-gay-Catholics, were quite sure their friendship must have been romantic in nature. 

I don't believe that of course.

As I noted several years ago, controversy has swirled around Newman's close friendship with St. John, especially in the past couple of decades, since religious activists in the gay rights movement have searched Martyrologies looking for saints who showed signs of homosexuality. (Queering the Church)  The trouble with that revisionist thinking is that in just about every epoch, homosexual behavior has always been considered a perverted, disgraceful act - and in Newman's time it was a vice never even to be mentioned and punishable by law. Therefore it is very difficult for contemporary notions of same-sex, homoerotic, romantic love to be imposed upon earlier 'couple saints' - try as they might. (Jonathan and David, Sergius and Bacchus, and so on.) Nevertheless, such distortions have gained a foothold in contemporary culture, and are promulgated by not a few gay-Catholics

I won't devote much time to this subject, been there, done that in the past.  Check my archives here.

Disinterested friendship - it's a good thing.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Keep the faith ...

If you really seek God, don't go to strangers.  Go to Christ, to the Church.  He is living and present in the sacraments, touchable in the Eucharist.  Peter points the way for the Catholic.  The Pope is Christ's vicar on earth.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Catholic teaching cannot change.  God's mercy is inexhaustible.  If on your way you see it differently, keep praying, keep trying, keep seeking, the Holy Spirit will correct you.  Be close to the Blessed Virgin and trust in the Divine Mercy. 

"What the devil can't do himself he does by using other people. He takes up his position on the tongues and in the hearts of his servants and before their mind's eye. He makes them see what doesn't exist. So they conceive within their hearts all sorts of evil thoughts and resentments regarding their neighbors - often regarding those they most love." - S. Catherine of Siena

Read the Scriptures, the New Testament.  Go to adoration - it doesn't matter if the Sacrament is exposed - Christ is in the tabernacle.  Visit him.  Pray deeply, hidden with Christ in God.

It is the will of God, even if you were living among devils, you should so live as not to turn back in thought to consider what they are doing, but forget them utterly. You are to keep your soul wholly to God, and not to suffer the thought of this or that to disturb you. - John of the Cross

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What Cardinal Mueller said...

His teaching on the Faith is more important than gossip and speculation and accusation.
Manifesto of Faith

In a four-page public testimony (see below) released in multiple languages Feb. 8, and whose title is taken from the Gospel of John “Let not your heart be troubled!”, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reasserts many key teachings of the faith, reminding clergy and laity it is up to “shepherds” to “guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation.”

“Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith,” the German cardinal laments, “so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life.”

Written in response to requests from “many bishops, priests, religious and lay people,” the cardinal’s testimony comes as the Church awaits the Feb. 21-24 Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse, and following statements and documents from the Pope down that many practicing faithful have, at times, found confusing, disorienting and inconsistent with the Church’s teaching.

Cardinal Müller recalls that the “very purpose” of the Church is to lead humanity to Jesus Christ and underlines the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” that was written to counter a “dictatorship of relativism.”
He then proceeds to quote copiously from the Catechism, interspersing passages with uncompromising commentary on what he sees as a crisis of confusion and disorientation in the Church.

The German cardinal urges the faithful to “resist” with “clear resolve” a “relapse into ancient heresies,” which view Jesus Christ as “only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist.”

He stresses that the Church, founded by Christ as a “visible sign and tool of salvation,” does not “reflect herself but the light of Christ which shines on her face.” - Read more here.

The Cardinal speaks with wonderful clarity, the truth of our Faith.  It is a sorely needed document by a good prelate.  He removes any doubt some may have regarding Catholic teaching, without hurling accusations or condemnations against any particular person.  His 'Manifesto' doesn't ask questions, rather it answers any question one might have regarding the faith and morals.

Let's pray for an ever deepening love of the truth and the constant guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit, to remain faithful during the troubles which are coming.

“He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice,” Cardinal Müller adds, quoting from St. Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, “for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved.”

He closes his testimony by reminding that all the faithful must “recall these fundamental truths by clinging to what we ourselves have received.” - NCRegister

Why this is important for me to highlight Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto and fidelity to the Church. 

Many of my friends and relatives and some who read me are not always faithful Catholics, some have fallen away, others simply reject Catholic teaching as BS.  They look at the hierarchy and priests as hypocrites and fund-raising scam artists.  They are deterred from approaching the Church because of the sins of her members and ministers, who teach that you can't get married outside the Church, can't divorce, can't contracept, can't be gay, much less say gay, and definitely no ss marriage or adoption for gay couples.  Yet not a few who call out others  as heretics for this or that doctrinal issue may have lived double lives themselves - not at all practicing what they preach.  Deflecting attention away from their own corruption.

That is why the Manifesto by Mueller is welcome affirmation of what the Catechism teaches, and he does this without making any sort of attack upon this bishop, that cardinal, nor our Holy Father.  Pundits, commentators, journalists will use this against the Pope - and they will continue to dig up scandals and name names and describe in detail sins committed by closeted gay prelates, further scandalizing the faithful and those who have fallen away due to injustice and scandal.  Pray for those who doubt, our brothers and sisters who are lost or away from the Church and the sacraments, and let the dead bury their dead. 

Friday, February 08, 2019

On the sexual abuse of nuns ...

"Don't ever think for an instant, Sister, that your habit will protect you." 
- Mother Mathilde’s warning to Sr. Luke - The Nun’s Story 

RIP Albert Finney 1936-2019

Thursday, February 07, 2019

St. Francis and the Sultan ... How it wasn't the exact same situation with Pope Francis, and that's fine.

How some are dubious when the comfortably affluent 'Franciscans' and cultural Catholic clerics profess to know so much about our holy father, St. Francis of Assisi.

Not that I know any more than anyone else, but little kids know, unlettered 'peasants' know, and many, many ordinary people know.  They don't have to be told that Francesco Bernardone was not a-sissy.  They don't have to be disparaged by the message that  he wasn't a 'bunny-hugging bird kisser'.  Manly men who carry guns and are on constant awareness of their surroundings, ready to shoot anyone who seems threatening do not impress me as the type of guy who can explain the manliness of St. Francis to me.

That said, ordinary people, even little Cord-bearers of St. Francis, recognized something deeply moving and edifying - not to mention hope-filled - about the visit of Pope Francis to the UAE this past week.  Along with the Pope, we also see, or recognize a reminder of  the “visit of St Francis Assisi to Sultan al-Malik al’Kamil”.  There is a significant spiritual connection to that episode in the life of St. Francis.

The legenda or details of the life of St. Francis was carefully recorded by his contemporaries; Thomas of Celano was one of the first biographers not long after the canonization, which took place only two years after the Saint's death.  (Commissioned by Pope Gregory IX in 1228)  Celano records the meeting with the Sultan, which differs slightly from other accounts: "Francis would have liked to suffer martyrdom at the hand of the Moslems. He attempted a voyage to Morocco, but became ill in Spain and had to turn back. In 1219 he went to Syria where a crusade was in progress, and enjoyed the following experience, according to Celano."

In the thirteenth year of his conversion, Francis proceeded to Syria, for great and deadly battles between Christians and pagans were going on there every day. Francis, who was traveling with a companion, was not afraid to present himself before the sultan of the Saracens. But who can say with what constancy of mind he stood before him, with what strength of spirit he spoke, with what eloquence and assurance he answered those who insulted the Christian law? Before he was brought before the sultan he was captured by soldiers, insulted, and beaten with a lash; yet he was not afraid, was not terrified by the threats of torture, and did not grow pale when threatened with death. And though he was reproached by many who were opposed in mind and hostile in spirit, he was very honorably received by the sultan. Trying to bend Francis' spirit toward the wealth of this world, he honored him as much as he could and gave him many presents; yet when he saw that Francis despised such things as if they were dung, he was filled with the greatest admiration and regarded Francis as different from all others. He was moved by Francis' words and listened to him willingly. In all these things the Lord did not fulfill Francis' desire for martyrdom, since he was reserving for him the prerogative of a singular grace.  - source

"[T]he unarmed Francis and his companion left the Crusader camp, crossed the Nile, and approached the Muslim fortifications." - Thompson, Augustine. Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

So you see class, accounts of the mission of St. Francis differ - to some extent, even in his lifetime, and as time went on.  A century or so later when other biographers gathered the oral and written legends together, stories were embellished.  Much later 'cultural Catholics' adapted these stories to edify modern ears.  Today, hagiographers adapt their stories to dismiss an earlier piety. A piety which edified and encouraged believers, sparking the spiritual imagination of the young, who accounted for numerous vocations over the centuries, and so on.  Alas, the Friars Minor have been depleted, and aside from a few fervent new groups, they seem almost unrecognizable as Friars Minor, having more clothes than just one tunic, more shoes than sandals, and luxurious friaries instead of poor houses.  But I digress.

Some Catholic critics spend their time online criticizing and condemning the Pope's pilgrimage to the UAE, dismissing any symbolic connection with the visit of St. Francis.  Perhaps they hoped the Pope would be martyred, yet God willed that neither one of the poor men, St. Francis or Pope Francis would face martyrdom.  One may hope the effects of their pilgrimage would be similar, that peace takes a step forward, and the reconciliation of peoples may be possible in the long term.

In the Fioretti, we have a charmingly pious account of the visit of our holy father St. Francis to the Sultan.  Do remember that these things are also visually recorded in early Tuscan-Umbrian iconography and numerous illuminations.  The visual record, frequently based upon oral tradition, can be as informative as the written accounts.

At length St Francis, seeing he could do no more good in those parts, was warned by God to return with his brethren to the land of the faithful. Having assembled his companions, they went together to the Sultan to take leave of him. The Sultan said to him: "Brother Francis, most willingly would I be converted to the faith of Christ; but I fear to do so now, for if the people knew it, they would kill both me and thee and all thy companions. As thou mayest still do much good, and I have certain affairs of great importance to conclude, I will not at present be the cause of thy death and of mine. But teach me how I can be saved, and I am ready to do as thou shalt order." On this St Francis made answer: "My lord, I will take leave of thee for the present; but after I have returned to my own country, when I shall be dead and gone to heaven, by the grace of God, I will send thee two of my friars, who will administer to thee the holy baptism of Christ, and thou shalt be saved, as the Lord Jesus has revealed to me; and thou in the meantime shalt free thyself from every hindrance, so that, when the grace of God arrives, thou mayest be found well disposed to faith and devotion." The Sultan promised so to do; and did as he had promised. Then St Francis returned with his company of venerable and saintly brethren, and after a few years ending his mortal life, he gave up his soul to God. The Sultan, having fallen ill, awaited the fulfillment of the promise of St Francis, and placed guards in all the passes, ordering them if they met two brothers in the habit of St Francis to conduct them immediately to him. At the same time St Francis appeared to two of his friars, and ordered them without delay to go to the Sultan and save his soul, according to the promise he had made him. The two set out, and having crossed the sea, were conducted to the Sultan by the guards he had sent out to meet them. The Sultan, when he saw them arrive, rejoiced greatly, and exclaimed: "Now I know of a truth that God has sent his servants to save my soul, according to the promise which St Francis made me through divine revelation." Having received the faith of Christ and holy baptism from the said friars, he was regenerated in the Lord Jesus Christ; and having died of his disease, his soul was saved, through the merits and prayers of St . - Fioretti, Part 1, Chp. 24

So you see Phyllissyfussi...

You see how the accounts vary.  Amazingly many, many vocations to the Friars Minor followed Francis upon his return to Italy after his visit to the Sultan.  In those days, life in the OFM was very difficult, very, very poor, something many of those who like to set the record straight on the manliness of the skinny little Francesco di Bernardone refuse to admit - or at least attempt to explain away in some symbolic interpretation for today's taste.

To be sure, Francis was not a sissy or a romantic - though entirely in love with Jesus Crucified, he and his first followers went about as the fathers of old, and the words of St. Paul certainly apply to them: "The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth."  The authentic reformers in the history of the Friars Minor certainly recognized that primitive fervor, and tried to emulate it.  They would see the similarities in the visit of Pope Francis to the expedition of St. Francis.

St. Francis had great love and respect for priests, and especially the Pope.  As Benedict XVI noted:
Pope Innocent III's dream. In it, he saw the Basilica of St John Lateran, the mother of all churches, collapsing and one small and insignificant religious brother supporting the church on his shoulders to prevent it from falling. On the one hand, it is interesting to note that it is not the Pope who was helping to prevent the church from collapsing but rather a small and insignificant brother, whom the Pope recognized in Francis when he later came to visit. Innocent III was a powerful Pope who had a great theological formation and great political influence; nevertheless he was not the one to renew the Church but the small, insignificant religious. It was St Francis, called by God. On the other hand, however, it is important to note that St Francis does not renew the Church without or in opposition to the Pope, but only in communion with him. The two realities go together: the Successor of Peter, the Bishops, the Church founded on the succession of the Apostles and the new charism that the Holy Spirit brought to life at that time for the Church's renewal. Authentic renewal grew from these together. - P. Benedict
Pope Benedict also left a beautiful commentary on the mission of St. Francis to the Sultan and its effect upon the Church and the Holy Land.  He ties it to Nostra Aetate, something P. Francis clearly had in mind as well:
Innocent III's Successor, Pope Honorius III, with his Bull Cum Dilecti in 1218 supported the unique development of the first Friars Minor, who started missions in different European countries, and even in Morocco. In 1219 Francis obtained permission to visit and speak to the Muslim sultan Malik al-Klmil, to preach the Gospel of Jesus there too. I would like to highlight this episode in St Francis' life, which is very timely. In an age when there was a conflict underway between Christianity and Islam, Francis, intentionally armed only with his faith and personal humility, travelled the path of dialogue effectively. The chronicles tell us that he was given a benevolent welcome and a cordial reception by the Muslim Sultan. It provides a model which should inspire today's relations between Christians and Muslims: to promote a sincere dialogue, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding (cf. Nostra Aetate, 3). It appears that later, in 1220, Francis visited the Holy Land, thus sowing a seed that would bear much fruit: his spiritual sons would in fact make of the Sites where Jesus lived a privileged space for their mission. It is with gratitude that I think today of the great merits of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. - Benedict, General Audience 27 January 2010
Works for me.

For a good bibliography on the Life of St. Francis, go here, The Internet Guide to St. Francis.  Then read modern biographers if you like.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Losers in love ...

Margaret Cortona
Loser saint.

Some advice about losing I try to follow.

"Let the dead bury their dead."

From Mother Elvira Petrozzi, foundress of Comunita Cenacolo, on the subject of losing:

"... Someone will have to 'lose' so that peace can reign. Yes, peace is more important than anything, and to know how to 'lose' is our security."

"Let the dead bury their dead."

Christians are not approved by the world - indeed, Christians often do not approve of one another - all the snark online verifies that much. But how does that concern me when my job is to follow Christ? St. Seraphim Sarovsky assures us, "Keep yourself in peace and thousands around you will be saved." So there you have it - that is what I understand by the words, let the dead bury their dead. It is in reality a going out of sorts - outside the city gates, bearing the insult Christ bore. For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come. Through him let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is the fruit of lips which acknowledge his name. Our life is hidden with Christ in God and I need to fix my eyes on him, who inspires and perfects my faith.

"To lose always and let everyone else win is a trait of valiant souls..." - Maxim 58, St. John of the Cross

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Pope Francis walks in peace among the 'Mohammedans'.

Blessed or the peacemakers.

Seek Christ and his humble love, Pope Francis exhorts Catholics in UAE: Preaching on the Beatitudes during his visit to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, Pope Francis called on those present to seek communion with Christ before all else.
“Let us together ask here today for the grace of rediscovering the attraction of following Jesus, of imitating him, of not seeking anyone else but him and his humble love,” the pope said Feb. 5 during Mass at Zayed Sports City, a stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“For here is the meaning of our life: in communion with him and in our love for others,” he added. - CNA
I wrote the following on Facebook:
This is amazing. As an American Catholic I am always tempted to be self-reverential regarding the Church and the faith, completely forgetting that there is an entire world of Roman Catholics from many disparate nations for whom the Holy Father is a sign of unity. These events help us step out of our narrow understanding of the faith. The joy of the Catholics living and working on the Arabian Peninsula, far away from their homelands is truly edifying, if not humbling. Viva il papa! - TN

I got a little flack, some Catholics are upset about the Pope signing a document on “Fratellanza Umana per la Pace Mondiale e la convivenza comune… Human Fraternity for world peace and living together” with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahamad al-Tayyib.  A dispute has once again arisen over something the document says: "The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom."

Not a problem for me.  As I replied to a priest who commented on my post: 
I didn't need a footnote for that statement, I'm not highly educated but I do appreciate Thomist thought on the will of God - such a complex, mystery. The whole teaching on 'the distinction of antecedent (inefficacious) will from consequent (efficacious) will' seems to me to help our understanding; but like I said, I'm not well educated. Nevertheless, I at the very least see the good in this, and if I had a shred of doubt, I would in charity at least understand the statement in the sense of God's 'permissive will'. Humanity is in the hand of God, in Him we live and move and have our being. Nothing exists outside His will. The beauty of the Holy Father's pilgrimage is to strengthen our brother and sister Catholics in Muslim territory. To read their comments and joy is a consolation for all Catholics. TN

Fr. responded saying that the problem was he didn't say 'permissive will'.

Looks like people will add this to the dubia, or list of questions they want the Pope to answer or clarify.


Another FB friend, Fr. Stephanos Pedrano posted something I would have thought most people understood by now:
On God's will and plan of salvation for those who are not Christian

"But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved."

[From paragraph 16 of the dogmatic constitution "Lumen gentium"]

Of course, many now doubt Vatican II as much as they doubt Pope Francis.

I am with the Pope and with the thousands who welcomed him in the UAE, especially those Christians who joyfully are quoted in the news:
“The pope has made pleas for ending the Yemen war, greater tolerance and more,” said Lina Ghattas, a 48-year-old Egyptian who had traveled from Bahrain.
“I am not sure what will change: time will tell - hope, hope,” she said. - Reuters
I'm just an ordinary Catholic like those people who welcomed the Holy Father, I'm not a theologian or a scholar, I believe in God - I hope in God.  I'm older now, I see myself very close to the end - I'm in my 'end times' and I rejoice to see the Pope walking in peace among the 'Mohammedans'.  The Holy Father brought Christ to the UAE, to strengthen the faith of believers, in peace.  He walked in peace through the midst of them.  God's wonders never cease. Viva il papa!

"Neither arguments or disagreements."

“We Christians try to implement the order Saint Francis gave at his time to his brothers and to 'live spiritually among the Muslims ... not to engage in arguments and (simply) to acknowledge that (we) are Christians.'” - Bishop Hinder

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Here's a few things I have been working on ...

St. Nunzio Sulprizio
Acrylic on paper
T. Nelson

First edition.

I've been painting steadily, but fail to photograph it and post it.  I need to do that.

Background for Nativity
Acrylic on canvas.
I did about 25 panels to form a continuous
impressionist landscape.  It was fun.
(My apologies for lack of styling in the photo.  LOL!)

Saturday, February 02, 2019

N.S. de Candelaria

Happy Candlemas!

Unmasking ...

I would steal Monsignor Pope's title, but decided against it.

Nevertheless his recent post, The Masks Are Coming Off is right on target.  Nothing hidden that will not be exposed - so it seems to me the real face of evil is emerging.  Heretofore, many of us were persuaded to see the best intentions in every thing, every one, every movement - even when they directly opposed us for believing in Christ and what the Church teaches regarding faith and morals.

The veil is torn in two.

I have been thinking of this passage from the Passion of Christ,  “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

I know there are many levels of meaning in that event, but today, when it seems the Church is in the throes of scandal - the scandal of the cross exposes the truth in a startling way, so it seems to me.  We've seen scandal after scandal exposed, one after another.  Now we see the world we live in, society, culture, politics exposed for what it is, being unmasked, to use Monsignor's analogy.

An abortion bill, similar in many respects to the horrifying bill recently passed in New York, was recently tabled by the Virginia General Assembly. It would have eliminated many of the requirements already in state law for third-trimester abortions. That it was tabled is the only good news.
Most of you have already heard the exchange between Virginia state delegate Todd Gilbert and the bill’s sponsor, delegate Kathy Tran. He asked Tran if her bill would allow a woman who is in labor to request an abortion if a physician certified that the pregnancy would impair her mental health; Tran replied that it would.
About this truly shocking (but honest) admission, delegate Tran afterwards lamented, “I was caught off guard and probably wasn’t as artful in the moment as I could have been,”
“Artful”—In other words, she couldn’t wordsmith quickly enough to cloak the shocking truth that if this bill became law, a woman already in labor could legally have her child killed (with a physician’s approval). - Finish reading here.
The slippery slope.

That term has become cliche, but it is so true.  How does one excuse the lie pro-choice people use when they assure us they want abortions to be 'safe and rare' and only want women to have the 'choice' available to them?  Tran truly exposes the craft of wordsmithing to make something so heinous palatable and acceptable to those who refuse to accept the reality of infanticide.

Since the McCarrick scandal my POV has changed.  How much I felt I could excuse on account of human weakness, or the excuse, that's what gay people do - even when the actions of some, if true, may have actually been criminal.  How easily one can be mislead in this culture, even deceived by evil masquerading as good, or the means to a greater good.  It is mind blowing.  I keep thinking of what our Lord said in the Gospel, "because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold."  Warning, "False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect."

Do not be amazed, [then,] brothers, if the world hates you.
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. - 1 John

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.” - Attributed to St. John Paul II

Friday, February 01, 2019

Yeah, so ...

I've been a bit under the weather, but I'll be seen by the doctor sooner than later.  If you can, please say a prayer for me.  My sick friend and my cat depend upon me, so I can't become incapacitated.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Morning Prayer and recollection

How to begin a day.

I've trained myself - or better - God has given me a grace to remember him throughout the day and night.  Whenever I awaken, I say a prayer and throughout the day I pray and make spiritual communions, to help me remain in his presence.

Before doing anything, each day I begin with morning prayer - devotions.  I re-collect everything, as it were.  We are accustomed to think of recollection as gathering the senses and entering into interior prayer, we all know how to do that from our thanksgiving after Holy Communion.  Each day, I re-collect my intentions, my sins, my weaknesses and failures - like Job, I'm easily reminded of that by my 'friends' - those attachments that show me my wicked inclinations.  I also re-collect my 'people' friends and family, and especially my enemies, to commend them to God - and of course, today I prayed so much for those suffering from the cold - people and critters.  Then I use words - the psalms, devotional prayers, and the readings from Mass.

Each morning I pray the Holy Spirit to pray in me, and I have found so much consolation, in the following prayer.  So much peace.  I especially love this plea, which sums up every intention:  "Aspiration of love, proceeding from the Father and the Son, alert me to be ever aware of Thy indwelling; stimulate the eyesight of my soul to discern the unfailing light of divine grace. Adorable Holy Spirit, have compassion on the dullness of my mind and the weakness of my will. Illuminate and strengthen me to trample on temptation."

The full prayer...
O Divine Redeemer, Who said: "I will ask the Father, and He will grant you another Advocate to be with you for all time, the Spirit of Truth" (1 John 14:16) I consecrate myself to the eternal Spirit of God.
Aspiration of love, proceeding from the Father and the Son, alert me to be ever aware of Thy indwelling; stimulate the eyesight of my soul to discern the unfailing light of divine grace. Adorable Holy Spirit, have compassion on the dullness of my mind and the weakness of my will. Illuminate and strengthen me to trample on temptation. 
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom, the prevision to look to my last end by cooperating now with Thy holy inspirations - all for the greater honor and glory of God; the Spirit of Understanding to deepen my grasp of eternal truths; the Spirit of Counsel to prudently choose the best way of pleasing God; the Spirit of Fortitude to stand up fearlessly in opposition to evil; the Spirit of Knowledge - self-Inspection regarding my fidelity to God's laws and the duties of my state in life; the Spirit of Piety to enable me to prefer my Divine Lover and His Will to earthly creatures; the Spirit of Fear of the Lord to realize the folly and ingratitude of defying my Lord and my God. 
Kneeling before Thee, O Divine Consoler, let me press to my heart the pierced feet of Jesus, look into His open side and trust in His Precious Blood channeled to my soul through the Sacraments. 
O Holy Spirit enfold all mankind with Thy Sevenfold Gifts. Keep me faithful unto death that I may win the crown of life. Amen.
Illuminate and strengthen me to trample on temptation. 

Even if we are so broken, so afflicted, so confused - like Job - we have our confidence and love burning deep within our soul.  We are never outside alone and cold when we have the Living Flame of Love within our souls.  Recollection is prayer, recollection is living in the presence of God.

This may sound especially pious, even presumptuous, but it seems to me it is a necessary reminder, a great help to remain faithful, especially now, when everything seems so uncertain and confused.

Pray for your friends and especially those who oppose you.

Remember ...

"If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today... The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone... we must be compassionate." - St. Josephine Bakhita