ABC News posted this:
I left the following comment:
"She is the most annoying woman in the US. I wish someone would shoot her into space."
ABC News posted this:
I left the following comment:
LifeSiteNews interviewed Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg, an expert on Opus Dei and homosexuality, to discuss Bishop Bonnemain, Father Jesusmary, Opus Dei and the homosexual problem. Dr. Van den Aardweg described how the recognition of homosexual relationships 'erodes and coarsens the natural perception of the unique ideal of marriage and of the intimate link between sexuality and procreation.' - Continue reading here.
Social Giant Wiped From Web
Big headlines on Drudge - and all the chatter on Twitter. It's pretty amazing.
We are all online and dependent upon the Web. What will happen when the powers in space are averted? Wiped out? When you can't even make a phone call, receive an email or access your bank account because of an internet glitch or the Domain Name Server collapsed? Or a massive solar event?
Anyway - FB is back after approx. 6 hours down. Just a test.
Transgender men unknowingly admitted to seminary and religious life?
To be honest, I had always been suspicious of one of the novices in my novitiate. He bore a striking resemblance to Romy Schneider. What?
Trans men... unknowingly...
A leader of the U.S. bishops' conference has written to Catholic prelates throughout the country, alleging that an unspecified number of transgender men have been "unknowingly admitted" to diocesan seminaries and houses of formation for religious orders.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, who serves as the chairman of the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, told the nation's bishops in a Sept. 22 memo that they might consider "various options" to ensure that only people assigned male at birth are ordained to the Catholic priesthood.
Among the recommendations are DNA testing and certification from a medical expert of the bishop's choosing.
Rocco Palmo, who writes the blog Whispers in the Loggia, first reported the memo, titled "Transgenderism and Seminary Formation," via Twitter on Sept. 23. Palmo's initial tweet sparked a range of incredulous replies, with some people comparing the memo to medieval practices that involved physically checking priesthood candidates. - NCR
Asking pardon and praying for his intentions. May Our Lady Undoer of Knots undo every problem and difficulty. May Our Lord Jesus take care of everything, repairing every slander, calumny and detraction.
Is particularly detestable.
Ever since the article concerning Fr. Benedict's version of the visitation at Silverstream, involving the former prior Fr. Mark, I have been pondering the story and why I involved myself. I never had to offer information regarding my association or correspondence with those involved. I suppose I thought I was lending support in the 'private investigations' conducted by others - first involving the book, In Sinu Jesu, and second, the troubling relationship experienced by Fr. Benedict with Fr. Mark. Having been 'unfriended' by Fr. Mark, along with the sense of being 'scorned' maybe that influenced my decision - or maybe the developments revealed by news stories simply confirmed my sense that something was off, that I called it way back when, and desired to have my insights validated? So what?
What is it to me?
Perhaps My insights into dissimulation, lies and cover-up is because I know how to do the same things? Perhaps my skepticism regarding private revelations and ostentatious piety is because over the years, I had adopted an external show of piety and fidelity to safeguard my reputation and find acceptance in the Church. Although I found out that doesn't work at all - there are always those who speculate and investigate to find out if you are gay or ssa? If you live with a man - you must be active sexually? If you say gay or use LGBTQ you must be gay, and so on. Likewise, when they got you pegged, it makes no difference if you are living in accord with Catholic teaching or not. You're gay - even though they insist on SSA, or ex-gay - you are still branded. It is what it is - disagree all you want - it is what it is.
Formalism and Decorum.
Pope Francis has consistently taught against that formalism and concern for honor and reputation which infects religious people and dictates decorum. It is why he upsets so many in the church. It is also why his precautions cause me to examine my conscience in ways I was never able to do before.
The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians and focused on the dangers of the law by looking at the apostle Peter's "inconsistency" at Antioch."Watch out. The mistake was paying more attention to the criticism, to make a good impression than the reality of the relationships," the pope said.
Gentile Christians were free from the Jewish law, but there was pressure from people from Jerusalem that caused Sts. Peter and Barnabas to draw back from what the Gospel said.
That is why, in his letter, St. Paul condemns St. Peter "to his face because he clearly was wrong" by trying to appease critics who still observed Mosaic law and to justify his hypocritical behavior.
"Peter had been eating with the Christians of pagan origin without any difficulty; however, when some circumcised Christians from Jerusalem arrived in the city, he then no longer did so, because he did not want to incur their criticism," Pope Francis said. - Hypocrisy in the Church.
"Hypocrisy can be seen as a "fear of the truth. It is better to pretend rather than be yourself," he said.
Wherever people are living "under the banner of formalism, the virus of hypocrisy easily spreads," he said, mimicking the kind of strained, forced smile one might see — a smile "that doesn't come from the heart," but comes from a person "who tries to get along with everyone," but, in the end, gets along with no one.
"Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth," he said. "For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving" because they are limited by their ego and cannot "show their hearts transparently."
Hypocrisy can be hidden at a workplace "where someone appears to be friends with their colleagues while, at the same time, they stab them behind the back due to competition," he said." - Hypocrisy
As for Silverstream - the ultimate decision as a result of the Visitation, is up to the Church to decide. Sadly, the actors have all defamed themselves - reputations ruined, perhaps vocations lost. That really is regrettable.
""To act other than truthfully means jeopardizing the unity of the church, that unity for which the Lord himself prayed," the pope said." - ibid
I changed my mind.
I don't know enough to discern whether or not the stories emerging from Silverstream Priory, concerning Fr. Mark Kirby, are all that serious as I once thought they were. (Including my skepticism regarding In Sinu Jesu.) So far there appears to be no canonical or civil crime as a result of the 'whistleblower' complaint. The most serious repercussion seems to be Fr. Mark being replaced as prior - while he remains part of the community. As one friend on FB told me: "I read the whole thing. Lots of accusations but none of them appear nuclear. He hugged too much, etc. Why would he want to send them to prison for financial oversights? Lots of accusations."
After some correspondence with others, it appears the scandal didn't rise to any sort of cult activity, much less anything decadently sexual. Boundary issues are real, as are inordinate attachments and affections. It's obvious a negative culture developed, perhaps a co-dependent toxicity tainted the pastoral atmosphere, not to overlook issues related to religious governance and the duties of the Cellarer - which were perhaps not well managed. Therefore the monk who called for a visitation, was not wrong in doing so.
After reading The Pillar piece several times, I have to say the article was rather objective. I first read the piece persuaded by my own bias and suspicions regarding Fr. Mark. There are things about Kirby I find very strange, some of Fr. Benedict's narrative confirmed many of my own misgivings, the relationship between the two also reminded me of my own experiences with other religious superiors, novice masters and even a couple friends of Fr. Mark. So I assumed there was more to the stories - some sort of smoking gun of decadence and corruption. I realize that is not the case.
Therefore, as I responded to my FB friend: "I think you are right that it all seems pretty minor. The financial oversights can most likely be accounted for. I knew one of the owners at Loome's (A theological bookstore) and mentioned Fr. Mark once. They loved him because he placed huge orders for books as soon as he began the house in Tulsa. Thus it appears, all the extravagant spending was to build and furnish a suitable priory. It's not a crime. I think Fr. Mark's main fault would have to be he's a bit eccentric and a bit grandiose. Otherwise the community seems to be doing well. Much ado about nothing."
I was wondering how something like this would have gone down in an established abbey. What would the abbot do? How would this be handled? Yet that's part of the problem, Fr. Benedict had no one to go to save the bishop and the request for a visitation. If the visitation is concluded, the known results are not sensational, and the community remains. If it is ongoing, I do not believe a public disclosure such as The Pillar article will, be all that helpful. I read a comment online from another monk who simply said, 'the whole thing is a mess.' Or something to that effect.
It's best left up to the Church to sort out. I believe Fr. Benedict, BTW. I hope he comes through this and no harm is done to him. I also hope, if it is God's will, Silverstream survives. Another monk-friend reminded me that God writes straight on crooked lines. I hope Fr. Mark comes through this unscathed as well. I apologize for budding in, trying to say 'I told you so'.* I lose more than I could possibly gain when I do such things. I repent.
"All are made drunk from the cup of the whore of Babylon."
"Where does this poisonous harm fail to reach? And who fails to drink little or much from the golden chalice of the Babylonian woman of the Apocalypse? ...There is hardly anyone of high rank or low, saint or sinner, who does not drink of her wine, subjecting his heart somewhat. For as pointed out in Revelation 17:2-4, all the kings of the earth were inebriated with the wine of her prostitution. She reaches out to all states, even the supreme and illustrious state of the priesthood, by setting her abominable cup in the holy place, as Daniel asserts [Dn. 9:27], and she hardly leaves a strong man who has not drunk a small or large quantity of wine from her chalice..." - John of the Cross, Ascent III, 22:4
The miseries of the Church.
As a sort of follow up to my post yesterday, and as a kind of contradiction to those online opposed to exposing the latest priest and bishop using social media to hook up for sex, I want to share a 2010 Christmas address by Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia. In his extensive greeting, the Holy Father laments that amongst the great tribulations of that year, the worst seems to have been how the priestly sexual abuse scandal went global - right in the middle of the Year of the Priest. (I wonder what he thinks today?)
The torn garment..
The Holy Father likens the Church to a vision of St. Hildegarde, wherein she saw the garment of the Church torn and her feet all muddied by the crimes of her ministers. Pope Benedict asks where these sins came from, and what must be done to avoid them. He cites the decadence of culture saying:
We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.
"In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.
... trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities...
We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity.
The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.
Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.
In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today." - Source
What is happening cannot be dismissed as homophobia just because vocal elements on Catholic social media are engaged in creating a sort of moral panic over every revelation of sexual activity or misconduct. It is much deeper than all of that. I've been so perplexed by how otherwise holy men and religious personages could engage in habitual sinful behavior, as well as somehow justify the behavior, while living what we've all considered an exemplary life. I'm thinking of Jean Vanier, his spiritual directors, and even McCarrick and others. What kind of spirituality admits sexual affections within a celibate, chaste life?
It may be too simple, yet it seems to me, a key to understanding it may be Pope Benedict's conclusion: "Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today."
They may have something to hide. (Updated 7 September 2021)
Pope Francis famously said the very rigid have something to hide - I agree. It's not just trads however. In the news this week, Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva, 60, of São José do Rio Preto, Brazil, resigned over explicit images of him masturbating in a hook-up conversation with another man on his cell phone. I wondered if he knows Monsignor Jeff Burrill - or is this just SOP among gay clergy? Yet that's not what this post is about.
When they say you're being uncharitable...
They probably have something to hide. That happened with a priest I knew. (Actually, it happened with many priests who read my blog when I used to write critically on the subject of gay priests. Who are not gay BTW, but same sex attracted.) Sometimes my posts would be facetious and I'd get called out, other times I would be reminded of my own past, asked how I'd like it if it was exposed? It had been, so been there, done that. It wasn't until I began pointing out a few indiscreet conversations made by my priest friend, that I began to get these rebukes to shut-up, as well as corrections in the form of reprimands, accusations of being holier than thou, and eventually the silent treatment until finally complete 'unfriending' in the social media sense.
Naturally, I felt I was the bad guy - his manipulative, shaming technique worked. I shut up, stayed away and second guessed every gut feeling I had. I felt I was going against a holy priest, a mystic, a founder - one whose vocation it was to establish a safe place for priests. He wanted to help priests who suffered with same sex issues and associated behaviors. It was a magnanimous undertaking and well funded, backed by bishops, who was I to question? It wasn't my place to do that. Case closed.
A monk who alleges abuse came along.
I don't know the monk. His name is Fr. Benedict Andersen. His story reminded me of my own experiences. I never lived with the priest I was referring to above, but Fr. Andersen's story is somewhat relatable, as well as convincing, based upon my limited impressions. Yet one must remember, Andersen's story is one sided - and although he made it a matter of public discourse, the findings of the visitation are not public. I'll link to the story immediately below, and then editorialize a bit afterwards.
"Almost nothing about Fr. Benedict Andersen’s experience of the Catholic Church has been typical.
He was baptized a Catholic, but raised in evangelical communities, and spent most of his twenties in the Orthodox Church. He became a priest in 2014, but was never formally a Catholic seminarian, and was not yet a solemnly professed member of his monastery when he was ordained.
And all of his experience as an adult Catholic coincides with his time at Silverstream Priory, a well-known Benedictine monastery, of which Andersen was a founding member.
Unusually, he took the habit at the same time he returned to the full communion of the Catholic Church — he “went to confession, made a profession of faith, and a couple minutes later I was clothed in the habit,” he recalls.
Some of that is unusual enough to raise the eyebrows of canon lawyers. “As I’m learning, a lot of things were not done in the right way...at Silverstream Priory,” Andersen told The Pillar.
Andersen now says he is in another unusual situation: he is out of ministry and without priestly faculties, living thousands of miles from his monastery, and accused of a canonical crime he insists he didn’t commit.
The priest claims that since he spoke out about years of troubling behavior within his monastic community, he has been ostracized, accused of violating the confessional seal, and been left without a ministry, a home, or a way forward.
That’s another unusual thing about Andersen: While his monastery, Silverstream Priory, is frequently praised by Catholics as an example of thriving Benedictine religious life, the priest says it was for him also a place of harassment and manipulation, which he reported to his bishop in April 2020, and to official visitors soon after that." - The Pillar
What do I think?
First, there is so much wrong with this story. When M. Teresa sought permission to found the Missionaries of Charity, her bishop grilled her on the responsibility she would have for the souls of those who would sign on. She was responsible for their welfare, for their vocations - for their souls. Thus I cannot understand Fr. Mark. The editors of The Pillar article seem to express a level of skepticism over the formation and what I at first thought was a rush to ordain Fr. Benedict. Although I understand his seminary formation was in an Orthodox setting, I wondered about his formation as a Roman Catholic seminarian, especially regarding moral theology. That said, the Bishop of the place accepted him and validly ordained him.
Fr. Kirby was a Cistercian monk at the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, shortly before the community was suppressed. Before that, he was living in a Cistercian monastery in Canada. I first met him at the Sisters of Jesus Crucified when he and another fellow were seeking to establish their own Benedictine community in the mid-1970's. He was not ordained as yet, but later, he and his friend were ordained. The story by Fr. Benedict led me to speculate on several points, which I have since removed simply because the subject objected to what I had written. I apologize.
"A person's reputation may be injured in various ways, notably by detraction and calumny or slander. Detraction is the unjust violation of the good reputation of another by revealing something true about him." - Fr. Hardon
The Pillar article speaks for itself and encapsulates nearly every detail of Benedict's complaint against Fr. Kirby and his foundation. He expressed hope that Kirby could be replaced.
"Andersen said he hoped Kirby would be removed or resign, and that the Silverstream Benedictines would be encouraged or directed to join a federation of Benedictine monasteries, for the sake of some stability as they grew, and to provide temporary leadership for the young, small, and — in his view — dysfunctional Silverstream Priory." - The Pillar
That's rather devastating, coming from a co-founder of a community. It's one thing to reveal all of this to the Visitors and the diocesan authorities, it's quite another to do so publicly. This is far more damaging than anything I could ever have said, even my writing about it here.
I think, seeing the visitation appears to be open ended, enough damage may have been done that the community will be suppressed. The irony in not lost on me, since the former Prior set out to found a refuge for priests suffering crisis - at least that was his intent in Tulsa. Like I said, there is so much wrong with this story.
Is the truth is coming out?In my experience, I sometimes thought some religious people leave established monasteries to make their own foundations, just because they want to do their own thing, adding in all the trappings of tradition and sacred atmosphere they prefer, to make them feel more religious. Surrounding themselves with like minded people, if they can recruit them and form them into their own image of what they believe monastic life should be.
For me, this story is similar to the McCarrick scandal - except it doesn't involve minors. As General Secretary, Burrill had a great deal of influence at the USCCB. He was the man in charge of sexual abuse policy.
"In 2018, the priest was a member of the USCCB’s executive staff and charged with oversight of the conference’s pastoral departments. He and several senior USCCB officials met with Pope Francis Oct. 8, 2018, to discuss how the conference was responding to ecclesiastical scandals related to sexual misconduct, duplicity, and clerical cover-ups.
Burrill, then second-in-command at the conference, is widely reported to have played a central role in coordinating conference and diocesan responses to the scandals, and coordinating between the conference and the Vatican.
Data app signals suggest he was at the same time engaged in serial and illicit sexual activity.
On June 20, 2018, the day the McCarrick revelations became public, the mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted hookup app signals at the USCCB staff residence, and from a street in a residential Washington neighborhood. He traveled to Las Vegas shortly thereafter, data records show.
On June 22, the mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted signals from Entourage, which bills itself as Las Vegas’ “gay bathhouse.”" - The Pillar
Burrill's use of Grindr, visits to baths and bars, is pretty gay.
It's not like a sort of accidental fall from grace, or a 'slip up' in behavior. It signals a kind of hardcore activity involving gay encounters and familiarity with the active, gay social milieu. From what I've read, Grindr is comprised of sexually explicit material. Years ago, gay newspapers used to have personals columns, along with ads for bars and bathhouse, as well as massage, to facilitate hookups. Today there is social media. It takes guts to get involved with people for sex in that way. The first time one does stuff like that is a bit intimidating. After practise it gets easier, if you will. If the app evidence is true, Burrill was seasoned and well practised.
Having said that, what I'm suggesting is that The Pillar story did not out Burrill, since he is obviously gay. What the article did do is reveal what is essentially public behavior, albeit clandestine. Burrill is a public figure, morally compromised and corrupt. He's a high ranking official in the American Church, responsible for how the Church handle sexual abuse cases and discipline for offender. It wouldn't be a stretch to bring into question his attitude towards gays in the priesthood, his influence over seminarians and any cover up of a homosexual culture in the priesthood.
So many questions pop up - for instance, we still have never received the full report on McCarrick.
Lulled to believe gay is a neutral condition.
Or a third way, which 'if one seeks God' one should not judge. If we are 'building a bridge' to LGBTQ persons estranged from the Church, those offended that the Church teaches the inclination itself is towards an objective disorder, one ought to let go of any attitude which can be interpreted as homophobic. Hence, many ordinary Catholics, especially those who embrace Catholic teaching and strive to live chaste, celibate lives, are very careful not to judge, much less identify persons by their sexual preference or proclivities. Bishops and priests, in a position of power and influence - even at the Vatican - can offer an impression of pastoral care and accompaniment, while privately, that accompaniment entails evangelizing on Grindr, at bathhouses in Vegas, and gay bars around town.
Upon hearing the news of Burrill's resignation, I too jumped to the conclusion that he was unfairly outed and he lost his job due to this invasion of his privacy. Gradually - I woke up. The influence this particular monsignor had warranted the report. He chose to resign and so far hasn't been heard from. The greatest danger his active homosexuality posed is how he may have influenced the Catholic response to gay issues within the clergy and how gay people are treated in the Church. Is it because of influencers like Burrill that Courage Apostolate is often ignored and bishops prefer Fr. Martin's way of evangelizing?
As a gay Catholic - living in accord with Catholic teaching - I get it that gay people are protective of one another. I respect a lot of gay Catholics who oppose the language in Catholic teaching. I am sympathetic to their claims of homophobia, despite the fact they can look down on people who promote Courage, including those who accept, defend and witness to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage. Yet, that's not called homophobia in their literature. My point is, gay priests and bishops, just like all of us, protect their confreres. They protest when their secrets are found out. They cover for them and frequently demonize the messengers.
I have maintained that The Pillar did nothing wrong.
They alerted the USCCB about their findings and then they published. It happens all of the time in politics and Church news sources. If not there - on social media. There are private citizens, parishioners, coworkers who research the moral lives of bishops, priests and laity. I've had people search my records, I know people checked public records to see if I was married. It was only a matter of time that Msgr. Burrill's activity was revealed. I'm sure a Catholic tabloid like Church Militant is pissed they didn't break the story. The truth does come out - 'nothing is hidden that will not be revealed.' To be morally outraged that two guys with a news site published the story is in itself an extension of the same mindset which guided the bishops to cover up the abuse scandal.
The fact the Burrill's private life never included sex with minors, but was consensual between adults, means he didn't commit a crime. He failed to remain chaste and sinned. We all sin. Therefore it will probably get swept under the rug - which is unfortunate, because it is immoral behavior and an indication of deeper corruption. Catholic teaching is compromised.
I think defunding the USCCB might help.
It seems to me that Job's friends are among the commentators and critics of Traditiones custodes, as well as those who support Pope Francis' initiative. There is so much one could say for and against - for many, the big focus has been upon the Traditionalists who voiced the initial outcry, condemning the 'mean ol' pope' as hating the Latin Mass and being a modernist, heretical, anti-pope. Pretty much everything they thought of him since his election. Likewise, so-called liberals cite the trad hostile reactions as proof against them, that they brought it upon themselves. I tend to agree with that - but after several posts on FB, my opinion doesn't matter on any of it, despite the fact I've witnessed traditionalist hostilities since the early '70's and did my best to navigate through that narrow channel which divided the 'Spirit of VII' crowd and the 'Trad-Remnant-CUFF' zealots.
As I always say, I love Pope Francis and have no problem with what he says or does - even if I don't quite understand how it is reported some of the time. I trust God. Jesus I surrender myself to you, take care of everything.Son, when thou comest to the service of God... prepare thy soul for temptation.
That said, I can't help ponder how all of this is permitted by God. I trust in Divine Providence, I trust in the Divine Mercy. These intense reactions, from all sides, certainly remind me of the Prophet Job and the testing he went through, the sufferings he endured, the shame before his friends, who afflicted him even more. St. Therese understood it well, when she applied the Prophet's words to her own suffering, proclaiming, 'even if he should kill me I will trust him.' Therese at the time, was going through her trial of faith sharing the lot of unbelievers who have no faith, no life, as it were - and certainly no light. Pious platitudes did nothing to help - the only thing she could do is make acts of faith - unfelt. Her senses and faculties darkened, accusing her, mocking her, blaming her - like Job's friends.
So the commentary flying around online regarding the Pope's provisions for the TLM is only natural, the criticisms - more accurately, condemnations and calumnies against the Holy Father - are another matter. God cannot be pleased by them. Just as God was not pleased with Job's friends. So that is what I'm thinking about now, along with the scandal of Msgr. Burrill of the USCCB and all the debate that has aroused, along with attacks against Fr. James Martin and those who object to the buying of datamined information used to out him. I commented on that as well - but it doesn't matter what I think, and I'm better off imitating Job's silence.
That said, I'd like to share a short excerpt on Job from Garrigou-Lagrange, Providence:The trials of the just serve a higher purpose
chap. 42) Job makes his humble confession: "I know that Thou canst do all things.... I have spoken unwisely, and things that above measure exceed my knowledge." He thus acknowledges that his complaining was excessive and his words sometimes unconsidered. Nevertheless the Lord tells Eliphaz: "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends, because you have not spoken the thing that is right before Me, as My servant Job hath.... Offer for yourselves a holocaust. And My servant Job shall pray for you. His face I will accept, that folly may not be imputed to you." And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job with even greater blessings than before, and he died in peace very advanced in years.
The clue to the whole book is to be found in the first chapter, where we are told how the Lord permitted the devil to try His servant Job. The conclusion, then, is obvious: If men are visited by God with tribulation, He does so not exclusively as a chastisement for their sins, but to prove them as gold is proved in the furnace and make them advance in virtue. It is the purification of love, as the great Christian mystics call it. In the prologue Satan asked (1:9) : "Doth Job fear God in vain?... His possessions have increased on the earth." Now we see how even in the greatest adversity Job still remained faithful to God. That this is the meaning of the trials sent upon the just is shown in many other passages of the Old Testament. - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
Let’s play the mind exercise out a little more and hack through some of the issues which I have heard raised by, for example, Ann Barnhardt, who is without question of the mind that Benedict is still Pope and Francis is a usurper antipope. Along with Ann is a smart fellow with well-articulated arguments, Edward Mazza.
I’ll try to spin out what they have been discussing. I hope I don’t put my foot wrong and mischaracterize their positions. I’m happy to be corrected. - Fr. Z
Corrected by whom?
I've come a long way, yet I have not veered off the narrow way of Catholic teaching - which BTW, can be manipulated and used to drive people away from the Church. To understand what I mean by that, one needs to listen to and read what Pope Francis has taught since he became Pope. His cautions against rigidity and ideologues, and so on.
Years ago I was caught up in some of the interpreters of Catholic teaching as concerned gay-ssa Catholics, and I attempted to make sure I conformed perfectly to what they told me. I had already adopted the Courage model of life, thinking I was just fine. Except I couldn't say gay, wasn't supposed to live with a male friend with whom I had been sexually active, until we agreed - mutually - to live a chaste and celibate lifestyle in accord with Catholic teaching. Our friendship only deepened. I've written about it openly since my friend died. He never wanted me to discuss our friendship publicly while he was alive, and especially when he was still employed. (He was a designer, working in an industry populated with gay coworkers and friends. The Catholic stuff isn't appreciated in that milieu.)
Long story short, I regret taking sides in the debates and infighting between gay-Catholics and SSA-Catholics, Spiritual Friendship advocates, including Eve Tushnet's work in the field and those who think they are trying to undermine Catholic teaching. All along, I could have been 'friends' with most of them - their POV is Catholic - in fact, probably more Catholic than what Fr. James Martin, SJ sometimes seems to be saying. (He's Catholic.)
That said, America published a decent interview with Tushnet, which people still struggling with Catholic teaching and the dreaded idea of 'conversion therapy' really must read. The title of the article is: "The church has models of non-sexual same-sex love. Why don’t more gay Catholics know about them?"
I'll highlight a couple things, with or without commentary, pretty much stuff I've discerned for myself. One needs to remember that 'everything is grace' we have only to cooperate with it. When we fall or fail, we get up and keep going. To get old and look back - I'm stunned what the Lord has done in my life, even though I always got in the way, or was misled by a few fanatical voices from time to time.
On Conversion Therapy
One of the things that I realized as I began talking to people who had had this experience of formal therapy to change their orientation was how much of it resonated with stuff I and other gay Catholics who had never tried therapy or counseling of any kind has heard. The underlying assumptions are pretty widespread in Catholic circles. And they include things like the idea that people become gay because of negative experiences, especially in childhood. So, if you didn’t get along with other boys or other girls that may have alienated you from them, and later you become gay, or you have a bad relationship with your parent of the same sex. There’s a bunch of different theories that people put forward.
I think that idea of the origin story is one of the biggest ones because it gives an explanation of how therapy could help, how the fixing might work.
But there’s a deeper underlying assumption, which is that the experience of being gay is purely negative and that there’s nothing that experience can teach you about yourself. There’s no gift that it can offer to you or to the church. If you do therapy and it works for you, you will kind of dissolve into the straight majority. And any gay feelings or experiences you had before, that can be sort of pushed to one side, leaving no trace in what it means for you to be Catholic or your experience of God.
When a gay Catholic goes through conversion therapy, what are they being told about themselves and what are kind of the dangerous effects that that can have on their self-worth?
One of the things that several of my interviewees said was that part of the power of the conversion therapy narrative is that it often it draws on real experiences that lots of people have had. [But] not everybody. I would not say that I felt particularly in conflict with other girls. I have a good relationship with my parents, but as it happens, lots of people of all sexual orientations have troubled relationship with their parents or with their same-sex peers.
People are told some stuff that often can resonate because it’s drawing on common experiences and one interviewee even pointed out that you can argue that for some people, it’s the timeline that is backward. You began to realize that you’re different from other boys or that you’re different from the model that your parents want for you, and that is what causes the conflict. But the conversion therapy model explains that the conflict is what causes the gayness. And so people hear that and they’re like, well, I do have both of those things. That kind of reinforces an idea of themselves as essentially lacking and the conflicts that they have are unique to them because they’re part of this stigmatized group, which they’re often pressured by their therapist to keep secret. It becomes a focus of a deep feeling of inadequacy.
What happens then? So you’ve done all these things and you’re still “broken.” Where does that leave a person?
Several people said basically the same thing, which was: “I tried all these things. I went to therapy. I dated somebody of the opposite sex. I pursued a religious vocation. I tried developing stronger bonds with people of the same sex, maybe that would help. And like, none of it made me any different in my sexual orientation. I’ve tried everything.” And at that point, people either fall into complete despair and contemplate suicide often, or they kind of give up in the other direction. They’re like, well, whatever is right for me, it’s not going to be what these people are telling me. - Eve Tushnet
The entire article is well worth the read. One must remain open and in conversation with those who may have different approaches to following Christ, striving to live in accord with the Gospel and Catholic teaching. Never sell yourself short or allow others shame you.
One Mass, two forms.
Mark Shea published an excellent bit of advice from Tolkien for Traditionalist Mass goers - and of course, Ordinary Form Mass goers. [BTW, I consider myself a traditional Catholic, as if you didn't know. I attend the Ordinary Form of Mass - which is the ordinary norm of the Latin rite. I also deeply respect the Pope and Magisterium and strive to adhere to Catholic teaching. I frequent the sacraments, especially the sacrament of penance, when I fail.]
"Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children - from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn - open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand - after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come."
This really works. Especially if one can acquire the habit of recollection. Tolkien still comes off a little condescending when he says 'go to communion with them - and pray for them.' I would just say, 'pray with them' and leave it at that. It's what I've done for years, since no longer going to St. Agnes in St. Paul - which I believed for a time, was the superior parish for celebrating the NO according to rubrics. There is a snobbism which creeps in - no matter what, if one approaches Mass with that attitude. When I first left the monastery years ago, I couldn't stand parish celebrations of Sunday Mass. I got over it.They who truly adore God must adore Him in spirit and in truth.
To really prepare for Mass, to assist at Mass, to focus on Christ, the Holy Sacrifice, to adore and worship, while at the end, spending time in thanksgiving, everything is holy. Even during the chatter after Mass, one can remain recollected and at peace. Frequently it all becomes white noise, or during Mass, the sounds of children warms the heart. You no longer pay attention to how others dress or behave, much less attempt to consider who is worthy - or not - to receive the Eucharist. All of that is out of place for the worshipper. I've never felt the holiness of Mass more than after the long draught of not having Mass publicly, when we were able to go back, in smaller numbers. How holy and beautiful were the simplest Masses.There is one Mass in two forms, or uses. It is one Mass - the same Mass. We have one Faith, one Baptism, one Mass, one, holy, Catholic Church, and one reigning Pontiff as Vicar of Christ. That is not exaggerating his importance, nor is it papalatrous to believe that.
As regards exterior things, he (Editor: one who is attached to the grandeur and pomp of the EF) will become unable to dispose himself for prayer in all places, but will be confined to places that are to his taste; and thus he will often fail in prayer, because, as the saying goes, he can understand no other book than his own village. - S. John, Ascent
Steve Skojec of OnePeter5 has encountered a bit of opposition, or friendly fire, if you will, in the form of a rebuke/snub from his FSSP pastor. Ostensibly for not showing up for Mass during the pandemic, despite the dispensation. As a result, his son's 1st Communion is postponed, and his soon to be born child may have been refused Baptism. From Catholic Herald:
The last straw for Steve Skojec was an FSSP priest telling him that his son couldn’t make his first communion, and his soon-to-be-born son would not be baptized, because their family hadn’t been to Mass enough during the pandemic.
The founder of the traditionalist site OnePeter5 was outraged and heartbroken — but even more, he writes in a blog post titled Against Crippled Religion, he was profoundly disillusioned. (He wrote a follow-up post two days later titled An Epidemic of Brokenness.) - Steve Greydanus
This story is worthy of note since Skojec has a long history of calling out the pope, bishops, priests and laity, as well as institutions for their failures and lack of orthodoxy. Greydanus offers the job description like this, "For seventeen years, he had been a gung-ho apologist for traditionalist Catholicism..." I've written about Skojec many times here, so this commentary isn't out of place. I posted some comments on FB which are more suited in the context of this blog, so I've reposted those here.When your secrets all found out...
"When the doctor failed to heal youWhen no medicine chest can make you wellWhen no counsel leads to comfortWhen there are no more lies they can tellNo more useless information and the compass spinsThe compass spins between heaven and hell." - Sting
"In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds in himself anything that might cause him to look down on others." - Science of the Cross
"Therese believed that God frequently allows us to experience in ourselves the same weaknesses which we deplore in others,,, [Thus] when we see ourselves fallen into those faults we are then more prompt to excuse them in others." - My Sister St. Therese, Sr. Genevieve
I keep thinking of ending the blog - which almost seems I have, as well as getting off social media entirely. I would be a better hermit for it, I imagine.
This past year I've written too much about grief and regret and sorrow - and I always end up removing the posts, especially if they are too sentimental. I don't know how to do this, if you will.
even darkness is not dark to you,
Happy Easter to all my friends who have come so close to me in and through this blog.
Let us say to Him, 'stay with us'!