Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A thought ...

I have heard people slandering, and I have rebuked them. And these doers of evil replied in self-defence that they were doing so out of love and care for the person whom they were slandering. I said to them: ‘Stop that kind of love, otherwise you will be condemning as a liar him who said: “Him that privily talked against his neighbor, did I drive away” (Psalm 100:5, LXX). If you say you love, then pray secretly, and do not mock the man. For this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord.’ But I will not hide this from you… Judas was in the company of Christ’s disciples, and the thief was in the company of murderers. Yet it is a wondrous thing, how in a single instant, they exchanged places.  - (St. John Climacus)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Social Media: Anti-Catholic Propaganda

Photo: Roger-Viollet. Pose d'un échafaudage sur la cathédrale Notre-Dame. 
Paris, février. 1952

On Notre Dame.

The people of France own the Cathedral - the French Government gives it to the Church to use and maintain.* The will to rebuild a national, indeed a world heritage site comes from the people - Christian and secularists alike. Enemies of the Church accuse the Church of hypocrisy, of exploiting the faithful, raising money to rebuild while ignoring the poor and the immigrants. That is just not true.

This is the meme posted by an online gay-friend
which occasioned my post.  Gay Pride Month
brings out many anti-Catholic memes.

The Church is the major voice in the world today speaking out against injustice and the exploitation of peoples. The Church is the one supporting the cause of immigrants and refugees seeking asylum. The Church is the one who has always reached out to the poor and the marginalized - since the time of Christ. Catholics provided schools, education and welfare, hospitals - religious pretty much invented hospitals and hospice, religious organized nursing, established orphanages - providing every charity one can think of. (Except killing people through abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.) The Vatican itself has free clinics and facilities to care for the homeless. Mother Teresa is famous for caring for the poor, the dying, being one of the first to open a hospice for AIDS patients in NYC when the epidemic first started. Her order does no fundraising.

Many Gay people angry at the Church because the Church can't change her teaching on life, gender, sexuality and marriage. For all of their education, they should know better than to spread false information about the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris.

Not a few former Catholics share a similar attitude, "that of the wronged, rejected, 'poor me'" and they blame the institutional Church for all that is wrong in the world. To quote a psychoanalyst writing about a specific group of chronically disgruntled people, I will repeat his analysis here:

"They are therefore easily insulted; they 'collect injustice', as psychiatrist Berger has so well put it, and are liable to see themselves as victims. [...] Attached to self-pity, they are inner (or manifest) complainers, often chronic complainers. Self pity and protest are not far apart. A certain inner (or overt) rebelliousness and hostility to others who do them wrong and to 'society' and a determinate cynicism, are typical of many" of these types. - dr.vda

Of course I could be wrong about the analysis 'of these types' - but not about Notre Dame and the Church.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A priest forever.

From the NCRegister:

PRAYERS for Father Michael Los who died this morning! 
The Polish seminarian suffering w/ terminal cancer was ordained in his hospital bed in May. 
On the day he was ordained, he said: “Praised be Jesus Christ! Thank you for all your prayers, and I hope you continue praying. I bless all of you in the name of the Father & the Son & the Holy Spirit." 
—Father Michael Los. Requiescat in pace

In thanksgiving for the sacred ministry and holy priesthood of Fr. Michael.   Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Photoshop and Cheapfake to Deepfake

"The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command." — George Orwell, "1984"

There has been a photoshopped image of Italian nuns taking a selfie in front of the David in Florence going around for a year or more on social media.  It's fake, but people keep posting it anyway, and many believe it's real.  Especially old people - people my age.  That's unfortunate, because they keep posting it and one day it could be used to suggest old nuns are sexually repressed or just silly old women.  I post that the image is photoshopped with a link to the real photo of the nuns taking their selfie in St. Peter's Square.  I explain that this is a hit on women, women religious have a particular dignity.  I am always surprised when women post the meme.

Friends my age love to post gifs and memes mocking Trump and Sarah Sanders and anyone associated with this administration.  Likewise, conservatives post fake photos of Pelosi and Obama, and now cheapfake videos are spreading, altering faces and voices, to sound drunk, and so on.  All of this is getting more and more problematic with the popularization of deepfake technology.

I'm especially surprised when those who post such things, also tend to rage about bullying and discrimination, or even sometimes lament that they themselves were bullied or abused as kids, on the playground or in school.  Not only that, most everyone decries 'fake news' and yet many disseminate fake memes and gifs without realizing how much they are contributing to the problem. Oddly enough, most of these same people are retired college educated professionals who evidently do not recognize their active participation in spreading disinformation and in some cases, hate.

Of course, I use gifs and memes, but I've made it my practice to avoid the types which smear or shame others.  I also try not to post the trash memes and gifs which take down public figures and groups.  There is of course a place for legitimate parody or satirical art, which I've done, but there is no mistaking that for the deepfake technology intended to influence politically or divide and 'conquer' public opinion.

Manipulating the truth.

The word deepfake has been around only for a couple years. It is a combination of “deep learning” – which is a subset of AI that uses neural networks – and “fake.” The result is that it's possible to manipulate videos that still look authentic.
During the past couple weeks, we have seen high-profile examples of this. There was a deepfake of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who seemed to be talking about world domination. Then there was another one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in which it appeared she was slurring her speech (this actually used less sophisticated technology known as “cheapfake”).
Congress is getting concerned, especially in light of the upcoming 2020 election. This week the House Intelligence Committee had a hearing on deepfake. Although, it does look remote that much will be done.
“The rise of deepfakes on social media is a series of cascading issues that will have real consequences around our concept of freedom of speech,” said Joseph Anthony, who is the CEO of Hero Group. “It’s extremely dangerous to manipulate the truth when important decisions weigh in the balance, and the stakes are high across the board. Viral deepfake videos don’t just damage the credibility of influential people like politicians, brands and celebrities; they could potentially cause harm to our society by affecting stock prices or global policy efforts. Though some people are creating them for good fun and humor, experimenting with this technology is like awakening a sleeping giant. It goes beyond goofing off, into manipulative and malicious territory.” - Tom Taulli, Forbes

As a group, we baby-boomers seem to be enthusiastically embracing the technology that may someday be used against us.

In my neighborhood everyone seems to have
home security cameras, ring camera,
their phones, GPS, and smart everything.
We're beyond 1984.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli

Prayers for the repose of his soul.

Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli

Saints of God, come to his aid!

Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!

R. Receive his soul and present him to God, the Most High.
May Christ, who called you, take you to himself;
may angels lead you to Abraham's side. R.
Give him eternal rest, O Lord,
and may your light shine on him for ever. R.

Let us pray.
All-powerful and merciful God,
we commend to you 
Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli, your servant.

In your mercy and love,
blot out the sins he has committed
through human weakness.
In this world he has died:
let him live with you forever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

R. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
V. May he rest in peace.

R. Amen.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Some days the news is too sad to read.

Embedded video

Obianuju Ekeocha
This PBS documentary airbrushes abortion to make it look like some healthy new age practice.

The women in blue is pregnant with twins and she is filmed here taking the abortion pill to kill them. You witness their killing😢
And her statement at the end is chilling.

Killing me softly! 

How deluded we are today. How stone-hearted and cold. I came across an article on a Frontline documentary on the abortion divide in the U.S., wherein a woman takes the abortion pill and aborts her twins in real time.  One activist said that PBS “airbrushes abortion to make it look like some healthy new age practice.”  I call it white-washing an atrocity. Legitimizing evil.

Some days the evils of the day are overwhelmingly sad. This morning I also read about the Lesbian couple who tried to perform transgender surgery on their 9-Year-old son and stabbed him to death after they botched it.  Story here.  WTH?  Did they have a kid to have a pet?  Only to arbitrarily try to make him a girl - to their liking?  It's a hideous disregard for human life, disordered and complicated further by the new age cult of gender theory.  

On another FB post, I read that the little baby taken from his murdered mother's womb has died. The baby boy cut from his murdered mother's womb in Chicago died - in his father's arms.  That story here.

The grief is heart-rending. 

Why do we kill one another? Why do we do this stuff? Over and over. Why do we lie and call evil good? Why do we pretend we are civilized and intelligent and good?  Why do we hate? How can we justify supporting claiming it is a human right to choose?

As a culture, we are here ... and we party on.

I should post something here ...

I post everything on FB now.

So I'll take something from there and post it here then.

Gender ideology and the dictatorship of relativism.
"The New Age which is dawning will be peopled by perfect, androgynous beings who are totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature. In this scenario, Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion and a new world order. —Jesus Christ, The Bearer of the Water of Life, n. 4, Pontifical Councils for Culture and Inter-religious Dialogue"

Sunday, June 09, 2019

A meditation from St. Catherine

When we look into ourselves and see there such a marvelous strength as is this fire, the Holy Spirit, we become so drunk with love for our Creator that we completely lose ourselves. We live as if we were dead, feeling within ourselves no creaturely love or pleasure, since our memory is already filled with love for our Creator. Our understanding does not reach out to see or grasp at any created thing apart from God, but sees and understands only our own nothingness and God’s goodness to us. And we see that this infinite goodness wants nothing but what is good for us. Now our love for God has become perfect, since we no longer hold or understand anything but God. And now there is no holding back the swift course of desire. We run untrammeled and unbound, for we have cut off and thrown aside every weight that might have impeded our running. And we are so yoked with Christ that we love ourselves for God, and God for God, and our neighbors for God.

It is to this perfection…that you have been invited. You have been drawn by the Holy Spirit from a worldly life, bound with the cord of holy true obedience, and led to eat honeycombs in the garden of holy Church. - Saint Catherine of Siena

This is such an important Solemnity - the 'last and greatest day of the feast' - of Paschaltide.  The fire of Divine Love rushes upon the Church ... the garden of Holy Church.  

 A garden enclosed, my sister, my bride,
a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed!

Your branches are a grove of pomegranates,
with fruits of choicest yield:
Henna with spikenard,

spikenard and saffron,
Sweet cane and cinnamon,
with all kinds of frankincense;
Myrrh and aloes,
with all the finest spices;*

A garden fountain, a well of living water,
streams flowing from Lebanon.

Awake,* north wind!
Come, south wind!
Blow upon my garden
that its perfumes may spread abroad.
Let my lover come to his garden
and eat its fruits of choicest yield. - Song of Songs

Friday, June 07, 2019

Ninety-four years ago today ... Trinity Sunday ...

Matt Talbot died on this date, June 7, 1925.

Ven. Matt Talbot. (Bio) Matt Talbot exemplified the heroic virtue of temperance. He practiced the Christian life more or less as a solitary, although he was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. The spiritual combat Talbot engaged in was associated with alcoholism, which in his case demanded the renunciation of a behavior, as well as an adjustment in lifestyle.

Talbot overcame his attachment to the disorder through the practice of the virtues, prayer and fidelity to the duties of his state in life, and mortification. He found support in the sacraments, spiritual direction and spiritual reading. Although he 'took the pledge' to abstain from alcohol, he did not have a support group such as AA to aid in his recovery. I especially admire Talbot's fortitude and perseverance, demonstrating that with God all things can be overcome... "In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." - Taken from another site no longer active.

"Somewhere along the path of life of every human being there comes a dread moment when he suddenly sees himself for what he is."

Today is a good day to share something I posted some years ago.  I was able to cut and paste a post from Ros, aka Shadowlands, before she took one of her blogs down, and before she died of course. It's a treasure.
Shadowlands posted something about a priest Fr Ralph Pfau, known as the "Prodigal Shepherd" from the title of his book by the same name.  Fr. Pfau declared of himself,  "All my life, I will carry three indelible marks. I am a Roman Catholic priest. I am an alcoholic. And I am a neurotic."  Shadowlands says of him,  "He suffered much, but he kept trying."   I think that is key to conversion and the way to sanctity - 'saints are sinners who kept trying'.  I'm reprinting her post here:
Excerpt from the chapter, The Dawn of Truth ( from his book Sobriety and Beyond) by Father Ralph Pfau. (Imprimatur Paul C Shulte D.D Archbishop of Indianapolis March 1955).

"Somewhere along the path of life of every human being there comes a dread moment when he suddenly sees himself for what he is. Minus all the sham, the surface and the show, he then stands face to face with truth. Minus the deception of his own self seeking and selfishness, he sees himself clearly outlined in the aura of God's grace as it tears away all the foolish self deceptions and shows a man for what he really is- selfish, deceitful, full of excuses, dishonest, even to himself and full of faults and failings............conts: To most of us, this moment comes at a time when many of life's battles and years have passed, but at a time when there still remains sufficient years, vigor and initiative to "seek truth and pursue it,".in order to make it the motive of our living, the motive of our struggles and the security of our declining years..

This moment may be brought about by the death of a loved one, the loss of worldly goods, or it may be directly occasioned within by the grace of God speaking to the depth of our soul. To most alcoholics it comes at that instant when they face the inevitable choice: death, insanity or absolute sobriety. It often comes with a blinding flash that seems to tear away the very foundations of life and whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, layman or professional, young or old, there arises from the very innermost sanctuary of the soul and heart the cry "My God, what a mess I have made of things! How pitiful is the good done, how sparing my help to others, how innumerable my mistakes, the wrongs-how all pervading my self seeking, how dishonest my every motive! How seamy the finished, but now battered product!"
This "moment" may last for an hour, a day, a month, a year or for years. But whenever, however it comes- it is a dread and fearful moment, because UPON THAT MOMENT AND THE DECISIONS OF THAT MOMENT MAY DEPEND OUR VERY LIFE AND OUR ETERNITY. And from that time on, one can never be the same again.....................conts: It is then that life's greatest decision must be made and then it seems that an angel has him by the hands and a devil by the foot...............he can do one of three things:
First, rush in confusion back to the old surface view of self and try by a thousand and one half remedies to dress up the haunting vision, to explain away the stubborn reality. TO EXCUSE and to attempt forgetfulness by courting the sham fancies of the night and by rushing headlong through the chores of the day. THIS IS THE CHOICE OF THE VAIN MAN.
Second, the shock may be so great, the failure so undeniably real, the disillusionment so crushing that he despairs and in one way or another he seeks to destroy himself- either factually or by the bottle. THIS IS THE PROUD MAN.

Third, this is the way of the Prodigal Son, who dropped on his knees in the swine pen and cried: "Father, I have sinned" or with it's echo "I am powerless... my life is unmanageable"- and perhaps for the first time in his life that man REALLY prays and begins to MEDITATE, THIS IS THE HUMBLE MAN. And day by day he prays and he MEDITATES on TRUTH lest again he fall back into his former life-long HABIT OF EXCUSES. For the LIFE OF ALL IS LOADED WITH EXCUSES-AND SYSTEMATIC, PERSISTENT AND CONSISTENT MEDITATION ALONE WILL DISSIPATE THEM. "With desolation is the land made desolate because there are none who thinketh in their hearts." - Fr. Pfau

Monday, June 03, 2019

The Backlash against Bishop Tobin ...

I thought Tobin quit Twitter?

As most people know, this past weekend, Bishop Tobin made a statement warning Catholics not to support Pride events, calling them immoral and contrary to Catholic teaching.

"A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ 'Pride Month' events held in June," Tobin tweeted on Saturday. "They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children." - Source
Nothing wrong with that, right?

Nuh-uh.  The culture has changed completely, and rejects Catholic teaching on homosexuality and marriage - completely.  Just ask Catholics in the public square.
"This practicing Catholic will be supporting and attending LGBTQ Pride events," tweeted The View co-host Sunny Hostin. "And so will my Catholic children. You should be ashamed @ThomasJTobin1." 
Actress Mia Farrow also had a lot to say in response to Tobin, remarking that "kids are in far more danger at a catholic church than at a gay pride gathering." - Source
Yup.  The backlash is picking up on the sexual abuse crisis to make a point - the safety of children.  According to most of the research, safety was negligible in rectories and sacristies throughout the United States.  Archbishops like Nienstedt may have deflected accusations against him by calling for a boycott of a gay themed film, Brokeback Mountain, and claimed accusations of homosexual activity were in retaliation for speaking out on faith and morals.  That didn't work out too well.   In retrospect, I think the backlash against Nienstedt was about hypocrisy.  Transference will take place onto any bishop who protests too much.  Hence the contempt for Tobin - but don't blame the laity - though Bishop Tobin was only doing his duty as a pastor, his brother bishops have provided the ammunition used against him, and any other Catholic who lives in accord and witnesses to Catholic teaching.

Pride events are frequently indecent.  

The impression I got from what the Bishop said was that he most likely have based his warning upon the fact Pride events are frequently indecent.  Depending on the city, parades and gatherings are peppered with exhibitionists, fetishism, drag, and sometimes testicles hanging out of ripped jeans.  In the 1980's I went with a friend downtown and saw enough.  I'm not a prude, but it certainly isn't family entertainment, if you ask me.  I've never been a fan of drag, BTW.  Likewise, I've never been a fan of Pride.

Last week, I came across something online which was LGBTQ sponsored warning people about Pride events, if they do not know what they are in for, or they may not like what they might see, to stay away.  I also saw a meme on a friend's site explaining that Pride is about recognizing the dignity of the LGBTQ person rather than a celebration sexual activity and behavior.  Sorry, I didn't save the meme or the links, but they are out there someplace.  The fact is, Pride, for many gay people is a safe-place where they can express themselves and feel accepted and affirmed, without fear of being shamed or attacked.  No one who disagrees with the LGBTQ life needs to attend the celebrations.

"Twitter has become a major distraction for me..." - Bishop Tobin
What can I say?  Bishop Tobin expressed his concern for Catholics and warned against the moral and cultural changes which have impacted contemporary life.  When the backlash came - almost immediately - he retracted and rephrased his statement.  But it wasn't enough - Tweets are 'captured' and never go away.  LGBTQ people and supporters want him to approve homosexual behavior.  People want him to recognize that gay people have families of their own, with children.  It's a different world - the West has pretty much recognized the equality of LGBTQ persons.

We have a homosexual running for the presidential nomination of the United States.  He's a nice guy.  Maybe too nice for a lot of gay people who would prefer he and his husband were less Stepford - but he's a candidate.

There is a need to recognize the dignity of the person in our day.  As Pope Francis stated recently:

“Giving more importance to the adjective rather than the noun, this is not good. We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity. There are people that prefer to select or discard people because of the adjective - these people don’t have a human heart,” Francis told Stephen K. Amos 

I don't think that means a bishop or priest cannot caution faithful Catholics against participating in Pride events.  (I wouldn't do it on Twitter though.)  Bishop Tobin attempted to make his position more agreeable and more understandable, but it looks like it remains unaccepted by gay people, as well as some Catholics who appreciated and supported his first comments.  Bishop Tobin was more conciliatory in his formal response.  Nothing wrong with that - it demonstrates he's not out to hurt people, or condemn them.
Tobin said that the Catholic Church has "respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I ... As a Catholic bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues." - Source

Providentially, today is the feast day of Blessed Charles and Companion Martyrs of Uganda.  The king who had the martyrs slaughtered - burnt alive, for refusing to go along with his fetishist-homosexual predation, had absolute power.  Our government is governed by elected politicians and laws - it's unlikely Christians will be burned alive for witnessing to their faith - unless the burning of churches continues, this time, with people in them.  Although it is clear you'll be burned online, by critics on both sides of the issue.  If you support Bishop Tobin in his first statement, then you need to support him in his second, more conciliatory statement as well.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Vigil of the Ascension

Come Holy Spirit!

I'm happy Ascension is moved to Sunday - the Paschal Season is extended - while the novena to the Holy Spirit begins nine days before Pentecost either way.  Everything is a grace.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Figueiredo Report

Follow the path of truth wherever it may lead...

Someone needs to get film rights for this.

I guess the news broke today, and so far, the only place I noticed anyone writing about it was on Facebook.  Today the shit hits the fan, once everyone reads Monsignor Anthony J. A. Figueiredo's report.  Figueiredo was Cardinal McCarrick's secretary, so I think he's rather credible.  I respect his intentions as he expressed them in his introcuctory notes:
It is my firm hope that this information will help the Church as she further endeavors to create a culture of transparency. This report, which may form the first of others, is a contribution to the wish of Pope Francis and the Holy See “to follow the path of truth wherever it may lead” in terms of the ongoing McCarrick investigation (Pope Francis, Philadelphia, USA, September 27, 2015; Press Statement of the Holy See, October 6, 2018). It aims to help the US Bishops in their promise last August to “pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct … we are determined to find the truth in this matter” (Statement of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President, USCCB, August 1, 2018). - The Figueiredo Report
As I wrote on FB, one quote from McCarrick, more or less defending his conduct (inviting or choosing a seminarian or young priest to share his bed) echoed the claims by Michael Jackson, defending similar conduct. The quote from McCarrick is very much like Michael Jackson's denial of wrong doing when he said, "The most loving thing to do, is to share your bed with someone."
McCarrick: "“I do recognize that in one particular [case] I had been at fault in an unfortunate lack of judgment. I have always considered my priests and seminarians as part of my family, and just as I have shared a bed with my cousins and uncles and other relatives without thinking of it being wrong, I had done this on occasion when the Diocesan Summer House was overcrowded. In no case were there minors involved, but men in their twenties and thirties.” - The Figueiredo Report
What could be more wholesome or natural?

"I have always considered my priests and seminarians as part of my family..."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

This is important ...

"When I am so convinced about some negative aspect of my life, I sometimes sink into despair. I must put my trust in your love and abandon myself to you.
When I am so convinced about some negative aspect of another’s life, I am sometimes inclined to detest them and to stay away from them.

Then I must stop to contemplate your love for me. Why do you love me, Lord, when I feel disdain and disgust for my brothers and sisters?

Give me the courage to see things as you see them, Lord, and to love unconditionally. Only then will true communion be realized.

Often, behind a facade of courtesy and attentiveness there exists a hidden dissension, which weakens communion and renders it insincere.

Lord, you are infinite patience.

You are limitless understanding.

Your love is eternal." Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuân

I think it is true that saints find us, and choose us, or at least are sent to us by Divine Providence.  I was looking through my book shelves for something when I noticed Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan's book The Road to Hope.  I have had it for at least 12 years and never read it, when I saw it, I thought I should read it.  Then on Friday the above meditation from Magnificat popped up, and really spoke to my heart.  Last night I retrieved the book, remembering how I used to buy every new book someone recommended or I thought would be a good guide for the spiritual life.  I'd read them and go on to the next book, only for the books to land on a shelf.  This is why now, at my age, I usually ignore recommendations about this new author whose insights are a sort of cure-all for what bothers me, or can shed light on the evil in the Church.  After all, how many books can one read?  I did that years ago with St. Therese, I collected and read everything that she ever wrote, as well as so many authors who wrote about her, but I found out that her simple writing - all by itself - was enough to know her and understand her.

I keep the Imitation close, and the Bible closer, and reference my Carmelite Doctors when necessary, but that's about it.  Although it looks as if Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan will be close to me for awhile  now as well.  His love of the Church is deeply encouraging.  He could never find it in himself to attack the Holy Father in the way critics do today.  Never.

"An apostle respects higher authority even when he or she could show the authority that a mandate is unsuitable.  In the presence of others, an apostle always treats a superior with respect.  Disobedience and duplicity are inexcusable." - Francis Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuân


Friday, May 24, 2019

Gay or SSA - they're both queer.

Truth be told.

Everyone who knows me or reads me know I say 'gay'.  The Pope says gay.  It's common parlance.  Can you imagine me telling my gay married friends and relatives, "You are not gay - you suffer from same sex attraction?"  I've struggled with the terminology myself, and I find it an unproductive struggle.  Outsiders, that is, straight people think it's a crazy distinction as well, unless they are in the business of conversion therapy or use the battle for normalcy as another way to shame and alienate gay people.

I'm known for claiming same sex attraction as a good thing.  That is the basis for same sex friendships.  Normal friendship is normally chaste friendship.  In junior high, sometimes same sex friends do things together, but they usually move on from that behavior.  It's not a sexual friendship.  Believe me, people are attracted to people because they are attractive - physically, morally, intellectually, or emotionally.  When they are of the same sex, it is same sex attraction.  Nothing wrong with that.

Ron Belgau of Spiritual Friendship wrote a good essay on this very subject.  Belgau and companions have received a lot of negative feed back for their scholarship in exploring the homosexual condition and the necessity for spiritual friendship.  They've been criticized for their differences with the Courage format, or way of life for those who wish to live in accord with Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage.  I was more or less conditioned by a certain type of parochialism to be suspicious of the Spiritual Friendship movement as well.  Thank God for Pope Francis whose example has opened hearts to be respectful of one another's differences.

Ron Belgau takes a fresh look at the debate on why some people no longer call themselves gay.  Once again, as in man cases with documents and statement coming from Rome, Ron notes a problem in translation.
Part of the problem is an issue with the English translation of the 1986 Letter. An important section of the paragraph (which Fr. Harvey partially omits) would have been better translated: 
'Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person only as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.'
Adding “only” to the translation agrees with the Latin original, as well as the German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese translations. Only the French translation agrees with the English in omitting “only” from the paragraph above. In terms of authority, the Latin text is the official text promulgated by the Church. German is the native language of Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time the Letter was drafted and promulgated. And Italian is the most commonly used working language in the Vatican. So the agreement of these three languages is strong evidence that the revised translation better reflects the intended meaning of the document. 
Had the English version of the Letter been clear—as the Latin, German, Spanish, and Portuguese versions were—that the Church does not consider the person only as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual,” it might have been clearer that this paragraph should not be taken as a prohibition on referring to “homosexual persons,” but only to doing so in a reductive way. - A Note on Courage and Language
I made a comment on his FB post, thanking him for the article.  Repeating once again how the  insistence on prohibiting the word 'gay' has always annoyed me and strikes me as disengenuous, as well as a bit tainted by self-righteous BS, especially when the chaste SSA guy keeps his foot in the lgbtq milieu - in an 'in and out' way.  Even if there is no acting out sexually, there is frequently something which keeps the connection alive.  There are numerous examples one could cite, but I don't want people to think I'm picking on them.  I've also written about this enough in the past, so no need to repeat myself.  The 'homosexual network' has many levels of social interactions as well as distinct units or classifications.  Language sometimes just creates another closet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

St. Rita

Today is the feast of the great Italian wife, mother and nun, St. Rita of Cascia (Margherita). Patron saint of impossible cases. She, St. Anthony and St. Joseph, Jude and others are wonder workers who can undo the most impossible situations - especially when it come to reconcilling one to the Church and the Sacraments. If you are like me, life is a mess - and Rita can fix it. Saints like Rita show us that 'nothing is impossible for God.' Nothing. Then of course, when things get really messed up, we have recourse to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. I go to her everyday because every day I screw up. Yay! It's all good! Go out and make a mess! (I know a guy in Rome who says that!)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cardinal Burke is not helping.

What Burke said now.
Opposition to "large-scale Muslim immigration is a responsible exercise of one's patriotism," Cdl. Raymond Burke told an international conference in Rome Friday. 
Responding to a question on the morality of resisting Islamic mass migration at the Rome Life Forum, Burke warned the West of "immigrants who are opportunists, in particular in the case of Islam, which by its definition believes itself to be destined to rule the world, coming in large numbers to countries."
I read his statements yesterday and found them very disturbing and immediately open to the worst interpretation, playing into the hands of the 'alt-right'. This is not his first public statement which contradicts the Church - he is on record stating that Catholics and Muslims do not worship the same God. As far as I know, that contradicts Vatican II.

“To say that we worship the same God as stated in Nostra Aetate, which is not a dogmatic document, I think is highly questionable … How can the God that we know, a God fundamentally of love, St. John says `God is love,’ be the same God that commands and demands of Muslims to slaughter infidels and to establish their rule by violence.” - Source

Undoubtedly some conservatives will regard the Cardinal as a sort of prophet, but many more will view his rhetoric in contradiction to Catholic teaching on religious liberty, which feeds into the sort of ideology Henry Karlson identifies with alt-right nationalism.  

Alt-right nationalism which confuses patriotism for nationalism denies true patriotism, for it only supports and promotes a select group within America, rejecting and denigrating everyone else, while patriotism works to build up the common good. - Source

Something seems to be wrong with Burke. Something seems to be off in his association with Bannon and the right-wing Catholic Dignitatis Humanae Institute.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading Vatican conservative who is president of the Institute’s board of advisers, said Bannon would be playing a leading role there. 
Burke told Reuters he looked forward to working with Harnwell and Bannon “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defense of what used to be called Christendom”. - Source

Something is wrong with his his resistance to the Pope, citing errors committed by the Holy Father while he himself contradicts Nostra Aetate.  I find him to be unsettling.  I'm just an ignorant layman, but Cardinal Burke clarifies nothing for me and he so not the pope.  The cardinal has made errors of judgment in his past, and he is not infallible now.

Cardinal Burke claims 
many Muslim migrants are opportunists. 
He seems to be afraid because 
"Christians are not reproducing themselves." 
Does he know what this sounds like?

"Muslims have said that they are able today to accomplish what they were not able to accomplish in the past with armaments because Christians no longer are ready to defend their faith, what they believe; they are no longer ready to defend the moral law," the cardinal said.
Another reason for the demographic shift, the cardinal said, is that "Christians are not reproducing themselves," referring to the widespread use of contraceptives. - Source

While there is an element of truth in these statements, I think it feeds into a climate of fear and a resurgent racist antisemitism.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Stigma of Disorder

Mental or Moral.

Gay people do not want to have their sexuality identified as objectively disordered.  That's a moral judgment.  Truth be told, a man doesn't want to admit to any disorder - be it moral or mental.  Before getting into this subject, I needed to make that connection, because in my case it has always been very much related, and maybe my commentary will make that clear. 

Today, I came across an article on Facebook from Men's Health magazine titled, Not Talking About Mental Health is Literally Killing Men.  The magazine will be devoting future articles on the subject.

Men who are vocal about any kind of mental issues can be dismissed as weak. As inferior. As flawed, broken guys who are more likely to be ostracized for their honesty, instead of rewarded for their bravery. Instead of affording a fellow man compassion, we mock, belittle, and turn a blind eye. We freely spit the phrase, “Man up,” as though your gender alone should suffice to guide you through your darkest times.
What’s real is the fact that 9 percent of men experience depression on a daily basis. That’s more than 6 million men. Even if we understand what depression feels like, we rarely admit that’s the culprit. We lie and say we’re tired or just cranky. More than 3 million men struggle with anxiety daily. Of the 3.5 million people diagnosed as schizophrenic by the age of 30, more than 90 percent are men. An estimated 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. (Our own Style and Grooming Editor Louis Baragona eloquently and touchingly shared his battle with bulimia.) We retreat from friends and instead drown sorrows in numbing substances. One out of every five men will develop an alcohol dependency during his life. - Men's Health

Sometimes articles like these are enough for guys.  Sometimes not.

This issue has been my own most closely guarded secret.  In the 1980's I went through therapy - no one knew about it.  I didn't seek insurance coverage, but paid for it myself.  I didn't want employers or friends to know I struggled with depression and panic attacks.  The therapist was amazed when I told him what it was like and he immediately offered me medication - which I declined because I felt I was able to handle panic episodes.  (I blamed it on existential anxiety.)  When asked what I did during panic attacks, I said I just faced them.  If I was sure I was dying, I'd pray an act of contrition and go through it.

I also desired to get over sexual issues - so I considered 'conversion therapy' - which wasn't for me.  The therapist I had told me my main problem was being Catholic.  So, as I mentioned before, I found an excellent spiritual director, who helped me.  I recognized at the time that sexually acting out was my way to assuage the panic and pain of depression.

It's okay not to have it together or try to fix it.

All of my life I have coped with my problems and family problems which affected me, and more or less alienated me.  In fact, keeping a distance seemed to keep me sane.  Looking back, I'm not sure my 'silence' and 'solitude' was especially helpful.  I lied a lot.  Cancelled social events, family get togethers, and so on.  I called in sick a lot.  Avoided close relationships.  I claimed it was my 'contemplative life', a hermit life I needed to safeguard, and as an artist I needed my 'time'.  On some level, that was my life - it is what it is - a strange, eccentric eremetical life.  (Not at all holy, mind you.)  Even in the monastery, I hid my obsession with weight and suffered a great deal of pain from not eating any more than what would stay on the serving spoon, as we served ourselves at dinner.  I realized later I was anorexic.

I'm not always sure about 'medications' made available to those who have depression.  I have taken them for years, unknown to even close friends, which I suppose helped me to cope.  Lately SSRIs have come under suspicion as being responsible for suicides and violence - a possible culprit in school shootings, and so on.  I haven't read a great deal about that, but from my own experience I have encountered some difficulties which may have been related to SSRI use.  It involved my employment experience.  When I resigned a position, I simply left.  I just up and left.

Kind of nuts.

I usually had no explanation per se, and blamed the employer.  Later I went through waves of guilt and recrimination for being so irresponsible.  It was completely precipitous.  I look back upon the experiences as possibly related to SSRI use, although I never spoke to a doctor about it.

Anyway.  I thought I should share my up-until-now personal and private experience, just in case anyone reading this may have similar issues.  The biggest problem I have had with SSRI use is that there is no real monitoring of the usage.  It is prescribed by my doctor and then one is on their own.  Unfortunately, long term use makes it extremely difficult to stop taking it - therefore one is usually on it for life.  I'm not sure the professionals know what to do about that, or what the long term effects may be.

That's all.

(I might remove this post tomorrow.)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Memorial of St. Paschal Baylon

Lay-brother saint.*

A special patron.

May 17 is the memorial of St. Paschal Baylon. A Spanish Franciscan lay-brother devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. A short biography here.

The lovely thing about St. Paschal is the grace of infused recollection which often absorbed him as he went about his duties. Deeply united to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, he was on occasion favored with the grace of seeing the Holy Eucharist when unable to be present in church.  It is this devotion which so attracted me to him when I was little.

On infused recollection:
I still want to describe this prayer of quiet to you in the way that I have heard it explained and as the Lord has been pleased to teach it to me. . . . This is a supernatural state and however hard we try, we cannot acquire it by ourselves. . . . The faculties are stilled and have no wish to move, for any movement they make seems to hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however, since two of them are free and they can realize in whose presence they are. It is the will that is captive now. . . . The intellect tries to occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy itself with more. They both see that this is the one thing necessary; anything else will cause them to be disturbed (Teresa of Jesus, chap. 31).
The predominant characteristics of the prayer of quiet are peace and joy, for the will is totally captivated by divine love. The faculties of intellect and memory are still free and may wander, but the soul should pay no attention to the operations of these faculties. To do so would cause distraction and anxiety. Later on, in the prayer of union, it will be impossible for the intellect and memory to operate independently, because all the faculties will be centered on God.  Jordan Aumann OP

Religious Brothers Conference 2018

*After Vatican II, the status of lay brother in most monasteries and religious orders changed, there remained little distinction between choir religious and lay religious, most became brothers of more or less equal status, save for those in Holy Orders. Brothers enjoyed a new prestige and ministry, especially in the mendicant orders. Many pursued higher education if they did not already have it. They were more likely to teach or have some form of apostolate.  I had a Discalced Carmelite friend who told me they were no longer treated like servants and second class citizens after VII.  That was disappointing to hear because I didn't realize there had been that type of attitude.

Unfortunately, the vocation of the simple lay brother, who was responsible for the more menial tasks of the monasteries, more or less fell by the wayside. As I indicated, I've known brothers who insist that the idea of the lay brother as a servant in the community is insulting to their status as a religious. As a result, some monasteries hire people to do the menial work, including the cooking and cleaning. This may also be due to a lack of vocations. Although one wonders if the lack of vocations might also be the result of discouraging this humble vocation, as well as placing so much emphasis on advanced education, degrees, professional services, and so on.