Friday, September 20, 2019

Bishops Being Bishops

See.  This is how it works.

Archbishop Chaput wrote a most charitable critique of Fr. James Martin's, S.J. book and apostolate to LGBTQ persons.  He even notified him first and Fr. Martin responded on Facebook.  The Archbishop began his column:

Father Martin has also, at times, been the target of bitter personal attacks. As I’ve said previously, such attacks are inexcusable and unChristian. 
In reality, Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations.
At the same time, a pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing. Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims. - Source

Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church.

One Bishop has affirmed the Archbishop's precautions regarding Fr. Martin's work.  Bishop Paprocki released a statement:

“Archbishop Chaput has provided a helpful caution to Catholics about Father James Martin. On the one hand, Father Martin correctly expresses God’s love for all people, while on the other, he either encourages or fails to correct behavior that separates a person from that very love. This is deeply scandalous in the sense of leading people to believe that wrongful behavior is not sinful.
“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law. People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church. But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity.
“This matter is not one of opinion, it is our Lord’s own teaching, as we hear in Luke’s Gospel: ‘Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.’” (Luke 17:3) - Source
So yeah, this is what Bishops do.

They have the authority to speak on behalf of the Church.  They have the authority and mission to shepherd their sheep.  Some may complain about the pope or upcoming synods, and all sorts of other stuff, yet all they have to do is stand up and speak - teach the Catholic faith.  No one is stopping them. 

I'm grateful when a Bishop speaks up and clarifies Catholic teaching - especially now when there is so much confusion circulating.  I for one have always faced criticism, which why I often say, damned if you do, damned if you don't.  On one hand, for supporting and adhering to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage, religious and non-religious have said I was too extreme.  On the other hand, some faithful Catholics have insisted I haven't done enough, that I should do this or that; I should say this or that, in fact I was told I needed to 'condemn' Fr. Martin's book, and so on.  Fortunately they do not speak with authority on behalf of the Church - be they followers of Fr. Martin, or authors representing Courage Apostolate, or columnists from Crisis.  At times, a few of them have reminded me of those St. Paul cautions Timothy about in Today's first reading:
If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. - 1 Timothy 6: 2-12
I'm grateful for the Pope and the Bishops in union with him.  I actually left a comment on Fr. Martin's page suggesting he crash the Holy Father's Mass, or his dinner at Santa Marta, to ask him what he thinks of his book.  Pretty much how St. Francis went to Rome for the Pope's approval of his rule.  Fr. Martin will be in Rome for official business the first week of October, so he may have the chance to speak personally with Francis.  He asks for our prayers.

As for Fr. Martin's book and work, he doesn't speak for me, nor do I accept his direction for LGBTQ persons.  I had a priest friend recently tell me maybe Fr. M was right about more liberal teaching on sexuality.  I disagree.  I could never reconcile that sort of compromise with my desire to live chastely and celibately.  I tire of having to explain that all of the time - especially to priests.

“Fr. Martin is a man of intellect and skill 
whose work I often admire. 
Like all of us as fellow Christians, 
he deserves to be treated with fraternal good will." 
Archbishop Chaput.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, developmental disorders, behavioral disorders, learning disorders...

I've been reading about fetal alcohol syndrome recently.  It's been discussed on news programs lately and piqued my interest.  I may have mentioned once or twice - or a million times - that my parents loved to drink.  If the example of my mother's drinking during her pregnancy with my little brother is any indication of her drinking when she was pregnant with me, it would be a miracle if my brother and I were not affected.  My mother always said she never drank as much as she did after she met my dad, so my older sister and brother may have been preserved from FAS.  Maybe.  My mother might have been mistaken about that claim.

My parents met at a bar in St. Paul, frequented by my mother's parents, in fact my dad knew her parents before he even met my mom.  The bar was called The Chatterbox, and that is where a fortune teller told her she was pregnant with me.  Not only was she drinking, but she was consulting a fortune teller.  So if you're superstitious - who knows?  Maybe I was cursed? LOL!

At any rate, reading about FAS, autism and even dyslexia, I discovered these are considered spectrum disorders.  There is a wide range of symptoms and effects which require professional analysis to discriminate from behavioral and learning disorders, but it is interesting to read about the symptoms.  I have no physical characteristics, except for a barely noticeable tremor, a symptom slightly more noticeable in my brother.  He BTW, was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, but it never seemed to be  an actual impairment.  He's my brother, so I shouldn't write about him without his permission.  I'm also just guessing here, regarding symptoms.  I may have ADHD as well as dyslexia?  I've never been diagnosed.  I'm fairly certain I'm dyslexic, especially when it comes to math.  I was never good at balancing my checkbook, and I'm always confused by numbers.  Although I'm really good at recalling dates.

Anyway - maybe there is a reason for my disordered life after all?  What?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

St. Joseph Cupertino and autism.

St. Joseph was called Brother Ass by his companions in the monastery.

In childhood he was made fun of and called the gaper - or 'open mouthed'.  He was unattractive - so not like the actor Maximilian Schell who portrayed the saint in the bio-pic, The Reluctant Saint.  In fact, he was pretty much considered good for nothing - yet he was favored with many mystical graces and rapt in 'the mystery of devotion' throughout his life.

I often think of him when recalling kids I knew in school, kids who were bullied because the were different, unattractive and slow.  I pray for them now, but as a kid I made fun of them at times as well.  We didn't know about autism as kids, but at least two classmates of mine demonstrated the same characteristics as St. Joseph Cupertino.  I found a piece written about him on Aleteia, which I'll share.

One of three saints who may have had autism.
Throughout his life, Joseph was highly misunderstood and ridiculed by everyone. His frequent visions and sudden outbursts of anger made him an object of mockery. Additionally, Joseph was very absent-minded, awkward and extremely sensitive to his surroundings. When the school bell rang, Joseph would jump and drop his books on the ground.
In school, Joseph earned the nickname “open-mouthed” because his mouth was always open. He could barely read or keep focus and often would forget to eat his meals. However, even though he barely progressed in education Joseph didn’t seem to mind or notice and sought to gain entrance into a monastery despite this deficiency. Joseph figured that at least he could beg for bread as a Franciscan.
This also did not go well for Joseph. The community did not understand him and his inability to complete simple tasks without breaking something, and the experiment proved too difficult to handle. He was expelled from the monastery, but with nowhere to turn, Joseph came back and begged the community to at least hire him as a servant. The Franciscans consented, enrolled him in the Third Order and assigned him the task of taking care of the monastery mule.
Joseph’s joyful demeanor was infectious and over time they gave him a second chance and allowed him into the community. Joseph was eventually ordained a priest and is most famous for his ability to levitate while saying Mass (they tied a rope around his leg so that he wouldn’t fly into the ceiling). Despite his lack of education, awkwardness in social situations and inability to complete basic tasks, Joseph was widely known for his extreme piety, simplicity and humility. - Aleteia

It was not 'his' ability to levitate while saying Mass.

I'd also like to include some solid mystical theology regarding supernatural graces such as levitation. It is a grace, a charism-gift, not an ability, the saints have no control over it.  Many people today discount these accounts, which were well documented by eye witnesses in the case of St. Joseph, and other saints such as the Discalced Carmelite, St. Mary of Jesus Crucified, The Little Arab.
By levitation is understood the phenomenon of the elevation of the human body above the ground without any apparent cause and in such a way that it remains in the air without any natural support. This phenomenon is also called ascensional ecstasy, ecstatic flight, or ecstatic walking when the body seems to run rapidly without touching the ground. 
The Bollandists relate numerous cases of levitation. They cite particularly those attested in the lives of St. Joseph of Cupertino (September 18), St. Philip Neri (May 26), St. Peter of Alcantara (OctoBer 19), St. Francis Xavier (December 3), St. Stephen of Hungary (September 2), St. Paul of the Cross (April 28), and others. It is related that St. Joseph of Cupertino, seeing some workmen having trouble in trying to put up a very heavy mission cross, took his aerial flight, seized the cross, and without effort placed it in the hole destined for it. 
In contradistinction to levitation, they cite cases of extraordinary weight of the bodies of certain saints: for example, when an attempt was made to violate and drag St. Lucy of Syracuse to a place of debauchery, her body remained fixed to the earth like the pillar of a church. 
Suggestion or autosuggestion of hysterical persons has never been able to provoke levitation. After an examination extending over several years, Professor Janet of Paris was able to establish that the body of the person was never raised, even a millimeter, even sufficiently to slip a cigarette paper between his feet and the ground.(21)
Rationalists have tried to explain naturally the levitation proved in the case of several saints by the deep breathing of air into the lungs; but, in the face of the manifest insufficiency of this reason, they have had to have recourse to an unknown psychic power ­ an explanation that is merely so many words. 
Benedict XIV states the traditional and reasonable explanation.(22) He requires first of all that the fact be well proved in order to avoid all trickery. Then he shows: (I) that because of the law of gravity, well-proved levitation cannot be naturally explained; (2) that it does not, however, exceed the powers of angels and the devil, who can lift bodies up; (3) that consequently the physical, moral, and religious circumstances of the fact must be carefully examined to see whether there is not diabolical intervention; and that, when the circumstances are favorable, one can and must see in it a divine or angelic intervention, which grants to the bodies of the saints an anticipation of the gift of agility which is proper to glorified bodies. - Garrigou-Lagrange

St. Joseph Cupertino, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Feast of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

Today's feast, once celebrated universally as an optional memorial, is now observed primarily by Franciscans. This feast had been permitted to enliven the hearts of men with the flame of love and devotion.
To enkindle love for Jesus crucified in the hearts of the faithful, Paul V extended the feast of the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi (September 17) to the universal Church. The prayer for the Mass is as follows: "Lord Jesus, who at a time when charity was growing cold in the world, to enkindle our hearts with the fire of Thy love, didst renew the sacred stigmata of Thy passion in the flesh of the Blessed Francis, grant us, in Thy goodness, that by his merits and prayers, we may continually bear the cross and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Thou who livest," and so on. In this prayer we see the great realism of the Church, which to the highest elevation of thought unites the effective practice of all the virtues. - Three Ages of the Interior Life

Sunday, September 15, 2019

"While he was still a long way off ..."

 Geliy Korzhev

"His father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion."

The prodigal son, while he was still a long way off - a long way from reconcilliation, a long way off from perfection - the Father caught sight of him, and was moved to compassion.  That is the meaning of mercy.  The Father runs to meet us - almost at the first thought of any movement towards him. 

Although many of us may be a long way off in understanding that, the Father does not fail to embrace and kiss us at the moment of repentance.  Again and again, that we might learn the meaning of mercy.

15 September and Our Lady of Sorrows

Evidence of the Madonna Dolorossa in modern times.

Today the feast of Our Lady is not observed liturgically because of Sunday, nevertheless, private devotion inclines many to seek to console the Sorrowful Mother through prayers of reparation.

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows never went away, it used to be very much part of the devotional life of many Catholics.  During the 1930's in the United States, the Servites initiated a perpetual novena to Our Lady of Sorrows which was immensely popular.  

Over the centuries many pious customs have been developed to enter more deeply into the sorrowful heart of Mary. One such custom was instituted by the Servite Order, a group founded by the “Seven Holy Founders” in 1233. From the very beginning they were devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows and passed on that tradition to subsequent generations of priests and religious.
The Servites eventually made their way to the United States and founded a parish in Chicago in 1874. Several decades later in 1937 Archbishop Mundelein approved a “Perpetual Novena in honor of Our Sorrowful Mother.” According to a pamphlet describing its history, “The first Novena services were held on Friday, January 8, 1937. They consisted of the Via Matris (stations of the Seven Sorrows of Mary), six prayers culled from the ancient Servite Manual, two hymns to Our Blessed Mother, the Memorare, and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
Furthermore, “One year after His Eminence granted the Imprimatur, 73,000 people were making the Novena at 38 services each Friday in Our Lady of Sorrows Church. - Aleteia

Unfortunately, the devotion more or less fell by the wayside after Vatican II.  The Passionists also promoted devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, exemplified by St. Gabriel of OL of Sorrows.  Of course the devotion lives on, yet there were times when it was far more popular and widespread.  In a sense, Catholics renewed the devotion as a result of Fatima, and the call to make reparation for offenses committed against the sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Our Lady revealed her heart, aflame, encircled by a crown of thorns, pierced by the sins of men and blasphemy.

I think of this frequently, remembering Our Lady's request for prayer and penance, as well as the Five First Saturday devotion of reparation, and the daily Rosary.  In the final apparition at Fatima, during the miracle, Our Lady showed herself as Our Lady of Sorrows - silently and without commentary.  Recently, I wondered about the prophetic character of that aspect of the apparition. 

Could it have been a sort of 'preview' of the Kibeho apparitions?

Seriously, I don't know, but since Kibeho has been approved, and apparently verified by the Rwandan* genocide, and so on, I'm inclined to believe so.  The apparitions and messages, as well as the call to renew devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, and the resulting genocide, places Kibeho among the most important revelations in the 20th century.  Our Lady called for repentance and conversion, just as at Fatima and Lourdes. 

On July 2, 2001, the Holy See released the declaration of Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, on the Apparitions that took place in 1982-83 in Kibeho. Here are some excerpts:
“Two study commissions, one of doctors and one of theologians, were immediately set up by the local Bishop; they have been at work since April 1982... The advanced state of the study commissions' work now offers sufficient elements to allow competent ecclesiastical authorities to pronounce definitively on this question.
“As a result, Bishop Augustin Misago of Gikongoro, who represents this authority, has published his declaration concerning the definitive judgement on the Apparitions of Kibeho, Rwanda. This important event in the history of the Diocese of Gikongoro, as in the life of the Church in Rwanda, took place on 29 June 2001, on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, during a solemn Mass concelebrated in the cathedral of Gikongoro. All the Catholic bishops of Rwanda, with the Apostolic Nuncio of Kigali, were present...
“The Bishop declared: Yes, the Virgin Mary appeared at Kibeho on November 28, 1981, and in the months that followed. There are more reasons to believe in the Apparitions than to deny them... The Apparitions of Kibeho are now officially recognized... The name given to the Marian sanctuary at Kibeho is "Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows".
“That Kibeho become a place of pilgrimage and of encounter for all who seek Christ and who come there to pray, a fundamental centre of conversion, of reparation for the sins of the world and of reconciliation, a point of meeting for all who were dispersed, as for those who aspire to the values of compassion and fraternity without borders, a fundamental centre that recalls the Gospel of the Cross.
“This Declaration makes it possible to respond to the expectations of the People of God and to bring new enthusiasm to the public devotion recognized already for 13 years”. (Taken from “L'Osservatore Romano”, weekly edition in English, July 11, 2001, page 8.)

"A brother asked a hermit, 'Is it good to be always repenting?' The hermit answered, 'We have seen Joshua the son of Nun; it was when he was lying prostrate on his face that God appeared to him.'"

I don't pretend to an authority, I'm just speculating on the connection to devotion to the Sorrowful Mother in modern times, and the appeals made by Our Lady.  Always calling for conversion, so often we fall back, fall into sin, and feel discouraged.  yet Our Lady never gives up, and supplies us with the means necessary to stay on the narrow way, despite how constricted the road.  

One of the three approved visionaries, Marie-Claire, who also died in the genocide, was told by the Blessed Virgin that people should pray the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows to obtain the favor of repentance:
“What I ask of you is repentance. If you recite this chaplet, while meditating on it, you will then have the strength to repent. Today, many people do not know any more how to ask forgiveness. They nail again the Son of God on the Cross. So I wanted to come and recall it to you, especially here in Rwanda, for here I have still found humble people, who are not attached to wealth nor money”. - OL of Sorrows
These requests are not unlike what Our Lady requested at Fatima, in the messages made public since 1917.  So many devotees, perhaps believing repentance and conversion is a one time event, directed their attention to the secrets, and the mysteries surrounding the Third Secret - which maybe even included a scenario not unlike Rwanda?  Interpreters of Fatima have distorted the message and muffled the actual call of Our Lady.  They've ignored the magisterium and accuse the popes of infidelity and ignoring Our Lady's requests.  They have even rejected the official interpretation of the Message of Fatima made by Cardinal Ratzinger while head of the CDF.

No wonder we go from bad to worse, no longer able to see our individual need to repent, do penance, and make reparation.  I hope to turn and beg the grace of repentance from Our Lady of Sorrows, the grace contrition, compunction, to repent every day.

*In the 100 days that followed the April 6, 1994 assassination of dictator and President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana, 800,000 to over a million Rwandans were slaughtered by their countrymen and, in some cases, their next-door-neighbors. The Genocide was the culmination of intensifying animosity between the two ethnic groups – the Hutus and Tutsis – and the civil war that had preceded it.[7] Kibeho itself was the site of two huge massacres: the first at the parish church in April 1994, and the second a year later where more than 5,000 refugees who had taken shelter there were shot by soldiers.[8] Marie Claire Mukangango and her husband were among those killed in the April 1995 massacre. - Wki