Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The World economy ... a war-based economy indeed.

"The world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations." - Pope Francis

I thought of that as I watched BBC Nightly News last evening.   They ran a piece on how France is going through with the sale and shipment of one of two warships made for Russia - despite sanctions imposed upon Russia in the form of an arms embargo.  The French defend the transactions, insisting the warship will not be armed, and Russia has already paid.
France says it will go ahead with the sale of a warship to Russia despite calls for an arms embargo against the country, highlighting how Europe's strong business ties are hindering its ability to punish Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.
Western powers say Russia is supporting the insurgents in eastern Ukraine who allegedly shot down a Malaysian Airliner last week, killing all 298 people on board.
European Union foreign ministers met Tuesday to consider more sanctions against Russia but agreed only to impose more asset freezes on individuals, leaving economic relations untouched.
Some countries, like Britain, argue the plane crash has raised the stakes and Europe should not go soft on Russia.
But other countries are more cautious, mindful of the potential costs of harming business relations. Among other things, Germany imports a third of its oil and natural gas from Russia. France's commercial deals include the delivery of two warships, the biggest ever sale by a NATO country of military equipment to Moscow.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said an arms embargo on Russia was discussed Tuesday, pushed for by the UK and others, but that EU members only agreed to restrictions on "future contracts" — meaning France would get to go ahead with its sales of warships. - AP

The story reminded me of how some Catholics have been upset over Pope Francis speaking out about a world economy kept afloat by arms trade and war:   "Pope Francis said the world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations."

"We are in a world economic system that is not good," Pope Francis said. "A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black." - CNW

Some Catholics didn't like that - and they still don't like it.  However, if we pay attention to how Europe has responded to the Ukraine airline tragedy, as well as how most of the world seems to ignore the persecution and expulsion of Christians from Iraq and the Syrian conflict, we may understand what the Holy Father has been saying is exactly right.

Another favorable review of "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" by Anthony Esolen.

Our hearts are restless ...

I'm happy this film is being so well received.  It is more important than ever to speak clearly on that "particular form of sexual sin to which these three people fell prey was homosexual in nature."  Those three people are the two men and one woman whose stories are featured in the film.  One of the men's story featured reminded me a little bit of someone I know very well ... "One of the men has now lived chastely with his friend since his conversion." 

See.  I'm not the only one.

Read Anthony Esolen's review here.

Carmelite Feast of Our Mother of Divine Grace

Eight days after the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Carmelites celebrate the feast of Our Mother of Divine Grace.

That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. - Garrigou-Lagrange

In thanksgiving for every grace!

Here's another thought on visions ...

 "One should never order one's life according to visions, especially according to the visions of others. In material things we must use common sense, too. We must be careful of mysticism. The devil stands behind the Mother of God: If you let her pass by you will find the devil."Pere Lamy

First Friday, August 1 - A day of prayer, adoration and solidarity for the persecuted Christians in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.

"N"--for "Nazarene," as in Jesus of Nazareth

Initiated by the FSSP.

This was the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.  - Details here.

An appeal from Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul
(Vatican Radio) “We need more than words now, we need concrete actions, we need the solidarity of Christians worldwide, not to be afraid to talk about this tragedy”, says Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul speaking to Vatican Radio over the phone from Nineveh province, Northern Iraq. - Read more here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Penitent: Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine at St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume & Sanary-sur-Mer

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with reliquary of the head
of St. Mary Magdalene in background.

Skull of St. Mary Magdalene.

Grotto of St. Mary Magdalen, Sainte Baume.
EWTN offers a brief history here.

St. Mary Magdalen in ecstasy.

I prefer the traditional stories about the Magdalene.  She is a patron saint of mine because of her penitence - or great love.  Years ago I visited Ste. Baume as a pilgrim and wished I might have stayed there as a hermit.  At the time the Dominicans who had custody of the sanctuary were not very hospitable and snickered at the pious belief that the Magdalene took refuge there.  One can actually grow accustomed to mockery and prefer it to praise.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us that we may love Jesus more than we loved sin in the past.

History of St, Maximin here.

More on private revelation and prophecy.

Believe it or not?

Patrick Archbold asks why bother with it if it is not binding to believe it in the first place?

He makes an excellent point.

He also cites the message of Fatima - a message which has been approved, and one that has been interpreted by the Holy See, with commentary from then Cardinal Ratzinger on the contents of the secret, or message given by the Blessed Virgin:

A careful reading of the text of the so-called third “secret” of Fatima, published here in its entirety long after the fact and by decision of the Holy Father, will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled. We see the Church of the martyrs of the century which has just passed represented in a scene described in a language which is symbolic and not easy to decipher. Is this what the Mother of the Lord wished to communicate to Christianity and to humanity at a time of great difficulty and distress? Is it of any help to us at the beginning of the new millennium? Or are these only projections of the inner world of children, brought up in a climate of profound piety but shaken at the same time by the tempests which threatened their own time? How should we understand the vision? What are we to make of it?  - Vatican 

The document may be found on the Vatican website.  The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope St. John Paul II, published the theological interpretation of the 'secret', explaining the theological significance of private revelation in the section following the above quote.  I urge everyone to read it.  It is what the faithful wait for when it comes to private revelations and messages.

Prudence suggests we should pay attention to prophecy and private revelations, though one is not bound by it.

Private revelation is a help to this faith, and shows its credibility precisely by leading me back to the definitive public Revelation. In this regard, Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, the future Pope Benedict XIV, says in his classic treatise, which later became normative for beatifications and canonizations: “An assent of Catholic faith is not due to revelations approved in this way; it is not even possible. These revelations seek rather an assent of human faith in keeping with the requirements of prudence, which puts them before us as probable and credible to piety”. The Flemish theologian E. Dhanis, an eminent scholar in this field, states succinctly that ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation has three elements: the message contains nothing contrary to faith or morals; it is lawful to make it public; and the faithful are authorized to accept it with prudence (E. Dhanis,Sguardo su Fatima e bilancio di una discussione, in La Civiltà Cattolica 104 [1953], II, 392-406, in particular 397). Such a message can be a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to use. - Vatican

As I noted, Pat Archbold correctly points this out.  I would also add that it may be helpful for the reader to read the Vatican documents on Fatima more closely, so that any remaining confusion on the role of private revelation may be cleared up.  The Catechism explains private revelations as well.

I do not suggest that we ignore possible mystical revelations or purported apparitions or locutions, rather we ought to be careful and discerning, guided by the Church.

While alive, St. John Paul II has been quoted saying the message of Fatima is still relevant today as it was when Our Lady revealed it in 1917, and Pope Benedict XVI has alluded to the same.  I happen to believe it is too, and the Vatican Document on the secret and the apparitions at Fatima allows such an understanding, at least in so far as the essential aspect of the message remains, as it always was, repent and believe in the Gospel, pray and amend our lives - do penance and make reparation.  The essential part of the message has yet to be implemented by the faithful.  Additional conjectures about the secrets are additions by men, not from heaven.  As St. John of the Cross points out, the consequences of sin can be known naturally, through natural law as well as divine Revelation completed in Christ.

Pat Archbold goes on to cite the revelations of Our Lady of Good Success, a devotion connected to 
Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres.  As far as I know, only one scholar has published any sizable research on the alleged messages for 'our times' - and the translations available are attributed to her.  It is claimed these all have imprimatur's and the approval of the local bishop - 400 years ago - however I believe it is the devotion to Our lady under this title that was approved, I'm not sure the messages have been.  Be that as it may, one one level they curiously correspond to the writings attributed to Bl. Katherine Emmerich.  Not a few traditional Catholics who study such things have suggested these messages may comprise at least part of the third secret of Fatima, which they claim points to the current crisis in the Church.  This is conjecture and added on to what is already approved.

Likewise, as St. John points out,
 "not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning."  It is extremely important to understand this when dealing with such messages.  It is also important to understand that sometimes, spiritual directors have been equally mistaken when approving the messages related from their penitents.

"God desires not that we should wish for such visions, since He makes it possible for us to be deceived by them in so many ways." - St. John of the Cross

That is where I become skeptical and fall back on the writings of mystical theologians such as John of the Cross.  It is also at this point that I get the sense some people who follow such things do so more literally than they do the Gospel or accept the teaching authority of the Magisterium - the Pope and Bishops and priests in union with him.  Especially when one reads devout people claiming Vatican II was evil, The Novus Ordo is illicit, and the Holy Father is an anti-pope or a heretic.

Devotees of Fatima and other apparitions take the messages and add to them - suggesting the Holy See is hiding the full message.  (The essentials of the message can be found here.)  They put words on Our Lady's lips, they add to what she said, extrapolating from the revealed text an extended text either taken from other dubious messages attributed to Our Lady, or those which mystics have dictated to scribes.  The messages themselves become idols, taking on greater importance than Church authority.

Even Sr. Lucia of Fatima said that the 'secret' was for the Church to discern and interpret. In response, the purveyors of dissent and division claimed the real visionary had been replaced by an impostor.  People will believe fantasies such as that rather than accept the Church's theological interpretation of the secret of Fatima.  
By all means, we should heed those apparitions and private revelations that carry Church approval, but we need to do so with great humility and detachment, avoiding all curiosity and anxiety, always subject to the discernment of the Church.  

Remember even saints have been deceived false mystics and false holy men:  St. John Paul II believed Fr. Maciel was a holy founder.  Fr. Robert Fox was convinced Fr. Gino was an authentic mystic and stigmatist.  St. Therese of Lisieux and her entire Carmel were convinced the conversion story of Diana Vaughan perpetrated by the con-man Leo Taxil was authentic.

I just wrote a post on this topic for the feast of St. Elijah:
I think private revelations such as those attributed to Bl. Anna Katherine Emmerich, as well as the revelations attributed to Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, and even the dubious message of La Salette, may have influenced much of the resistance we see today from traditionalists to Pope Francis as well as just about everything written by the Council Fathers at Vatican II. 
One reads direct quotations from spurious apparitions and private revelation in the com boxes of blogs which 'shun' anyone with a contrary opinion to their decoding of the Great Apostasy, while even the posts on such blogs suggest Francis is an anti-Pope, and false prophet, based on the same spurious prophecies. As if God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, is going to trick Christians with a false Pope. - Prophet of the end times.
For years Joey Lomangino believed Our Lady would heal his blindness and he would see the promised miracle at Garabandal - of which he was assured he would be informed of beforehand so he could get to Garabandal to witness it.  I know monks and nuns and priests and lay people who wait every spring for the warning, which was foretold to occur sometime between March and June.  I also know a guy who has devoted his entire life to Necedah, convinced it is true.  Some people let these things take over and direct their lives - think of Fr. Gruner and his group and their criticism of the popes.  Think of the Baysiders and the crazy signs and myths told about Paul VI.

I can't imagine God is pleased or served by those who rely on, or use prophecies to condemn or attack the hierarchy, the papacy, or the liturgical rites of the Church.  Some of these folks will even question the authenticity of canonization, yet follow dubious revelations on the state of the Church in our time.

Visions and locutions, even though from God, can mislead us. 

St. John of the Cross in Chapter 19 of the Ascent lays out proof from Scripture on how this can be, for the sake of brevity, I will only high light a few passages to help explain the dangers and misunderstandings locutions can and do generate.

"We mentioned the two reason why, although God's visions and locutions are true and certain in themselves, they are not always so for us.  The first reason is because of our defective manner of understanding them, and the second because their basic causes are sometimes variable.

Clearly in regard to the first, not all revelations turn out according to the literal meaning.  The cause is that, since God is immense and profound, he usually embodies in his prophecies, locutions, and revelations other ways, concepts, and ideas remarkably different from the meaning we generally find in them.  And the surer and more truthful they are, the less they seem so to us.

We behold this frequently in Scripture.  With a number of the ancients, many of God's prophecies and locutions did not turn out as they had expected, because they interpreted them with their own different and extremely literal method."
The Letter kills, the spirit gives life.
John goes on to cite several passages from Scripture, explaining why and how the recipients got it wrong and events turned out not as human nature expected. John then explains:

"[...] Souls are misled by imparting to God's locutions and revelations a literal interpretation, and interpretation according to the outer rind.  As has been explained, God's chief objective in conferring these revelations is to express and impart the elusive, spiritual meaning contained in the words.  This spiritual meaning is richer and more plentiful than the literal meaning and transcends those limits."

[...] "Anyone bound to the letter, locution, form, or apprehensible figure cannot avoid serious error and will later become confused for having been led by the literal sense and not having allowed for the spiritual meaning which is divested of the literal sense.  ('The letter kills, the spirit gives life' - 2 Cor. 3:6)" - Read St. John of the Cross, The Ascent, Bk II, Chapter 18 and 19

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. / R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

Sister Magdalena of the Cross, once esteemed by many in Spain, 
confessed, one day, that the Devil had been visiting her in her cell.

Monday, July 21, 2014

For an increase in vocations to the monastic life.

Mont des Cats.
It's Trappist.

Here's a thought.

If more monasteries concentrated on making beer and ale, maybe they would attract more vocations?

Save the ale, save the world!

As I was going to Mont des Cats 
I met a man with seven bottles
And every bottle was empty 
And I said, "you sir are drunk!"
And I continued on my way .... 
Kits, cats, sacks, bottles, drunks,
How many were going to Mont des Cats? 


YES! On Curiosity.

Art: Jeff Faust

From Monsignor Pope on Sinful Curiosity:
Curiosity is one of those qualities of the human person that are double-edged swords. It can cut a path to glory or it can be like a dagger of sin that cuts deep into the soul. 
Of itself, curiosity can be a magnificent quality, rooted in the gifts of wonder and awe as well as in the deeply profound gift of man’s intellect or rational nature. 
However, as a double-edged sword, curiosity can also wound us very deeply and mire us in serious sin. Indeed, it can be a very sinful drive within us. Eve grew curious of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus Satan was easily able to turn her curiosity into a deep dagger that has reached every human heart. 
Understood this way (as a sinful drive), curiosity is a desire to gain knowledge of things we have no right to know. A more mitigated form of sinful curiosity is the desire to know things that are in no way useful to us. In this sense, curiosity is a form of spiritual gluttony that exposes us to innumerable tricks of the evil one. 
Sinful curiosity causes us to meddle in the lives of others, to pry. This can then lead us to gossip, potentially defaming others and ruining reputations in the process. Nothing is a bigger invitation to sin and gossip than the phrase “Have you heard the latest news about so-and-so?” Heads turn, ears perk up, and meddlesome curiosity is immediately incited. 
Almost never is the news that follows such a question positive or even edifying. Sinful curiosity is at the root of almost all gossip, defamation, slander, and even calumny. 
Ninety percent of what we hear through gossip is none of our business. And yet, through sinful curiosity, somehow we feel that we have the right to this information. 
There is a whole branch of news, barely distinguishable from gossip columns and scandal sheets, that has emerged based on the people’s “right to know.” Too much secrecy can be unhealthy but that is hardly the problem in this day and age. Today, too many people know too many things about too many people. Even what is reported (most of it unnecessary) about so-called public figures is not really helpful for us to know. This is not to say we should have no concerns whatsoever about what is happening in the world or about the character of our leaders; rather, it is an invitation to distinguish between what is truly useful and necessary for us to know and that which is simply rooted in sinful curiosity. - Monsignor Pope
I'm convinced this is a huge part of the problem with social media users and the tendency to obsess over the lives and sayings of others, adding to the confusion generated by some lay Catholics online.

People who search and search other's blog archives to find something on them ... when they Google another blogger's name, search for photos, work experience, where they live, who they know, who they link to in an effort to discredit them or expose them.  Ever heard of people doing that?  The guy who wrote about me did that - and he wrote about me and discussed me with others in emails and on forums.  He did it with other bloggers as well.  A lot of social media users do the same thing.  How do I know this?  I've done it too.

Très curieux, eh?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Anniversary of the Moon Landing and Walk on the Moon

June 20, 1969

H/T Sadie Vacantanista

St. Elijah, The Prophet of the End Times

Prophet Elijah, "Behold a little cloud rising from the sea."

Now I am sending to you Elijah the prophet, Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day ... Malachi 3: 23

Today Carmelites celebrate the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah, as do the Orthodox.  I've always been fascinated with the figure of Elijah whom God raised up amidst great apostasy, and whom tradition holds beheld the coming of the Messiah upon Mt. Carmel.  It is all there, hidden in Sacred Scripture, explained to us by the Fathers of the Church, ancient and new.

"Do not love the world or the things which are in the world, for the boasting of the world and its destruction belong to the devil." Apocalypse of Elijah

July 20 is the feast of St. Elijah.

From the 11th century, Carmelites have claimed Elijah as their founder; John and Teresa* arrived much later as the reformers of the order, yet they also pointed to Elijah as their Father.  For centuries, the Carmelites of the Primitive Observance literally traced their foundation to the followers of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, today I believe all Carmelites simply venerate him as Prototype and Patron.  Likewise, Elijah is venerated by both the East and the West as a monastic archetype.

In the 19th century a Coptic manuscript was found, known as the Apocalypse of Elijah.  Elijah is of course associated with the coming of the Messiah - for Jews and Christians - Muslims as well.  Christ attested to his coming in the Gospel - in regard to John the Baptist.  Jews still set a place at table for Elijah, and the Book of Revelation speaks of his return at the end times.  Occasionally I wonder if the current resurgence of Carmelite spirituality and attempts at reform, is somehow a 'sign' of Elijah's presence?  Just wondering of course ...

Elijah passes on the prophetic mantel to Elisha.

"No one is able to enter the holy place if he is double minded.  The one who is double minded in his prayer is darkness to himself. And even the angels do not trust him." - Apocalypse

Anyway - I'll post excerpts of the Apocalypse of Elijah below:
 1.The word of YHWH came to me saying, "Son of man, say to his people, 'why do you add sin to your sins and anger the Lord God who created you ?' " 2.Don't love the world or the things which are in the world, for the boasting of the world and its destruction belong to the devil.

13.Hear, O wise men of the land, concerning the deceivers who will multiply in the last times so that they will set down for themselves doctrines which do not belong to God, setting aside the Law of God, those who have made their belly their God, saying, "The fast does not exist, nor did God create it," making themselves strangers to the covenant of God and robbing themselves of the glorious promises. 14.Now these are not ever correctly established in the firm faith. Therefore don't let those people lead you astray.

25.Likewise no one is able to enter the holy place if he is double minded. 26.The one who is double minded in his prayer is darkness to himself. And even the angels do not trust him. 27.Therefore be single-minded in the Lord at all times so that you might know every moment. - Apocalypse of Elijah

Evidence of apostasy in our day?

I think many problems arise when well meaning people attempt to find meaning and understand the confusion of our times by relying on private revelations which relate to apocalyptic literature and Biblical prophecy, often adhering to literal interpretations of events that may or may not have taken place so far, or as regards events still to come.  Frequently these interpretations are founded upon hearsay of what this pope or that priest or some mystic may have said, or something a locutionist published.  Confusion is inevitable when we rely on such prophecies and warnings - more or less trusting these sources more than what the Church has always taught.

I think private revelations such as those attributed to Bl. Anna Katherine Emmerich, as well as the revelations attributed to Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, and even the dubious message of La Salette, may have influenced much of the resistance we see today from traditionalists to Pope Francis as well as just about everything written by the Council Fathers at Vatican II.

One reads direct quotations from spurious apparitions and private revelation in the com boxes of blogs which 'shun' anyone with a contrary opinion to their decoding of the Great Apostasy, while even the posts on such blogs suggest Francis is an anti-Pope, and false prophet, based on the same spurious prophecies.  As if God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, is going to trick Christians with a false Pope.

They will follow visionaries but ignore the Gospel.

I often quote St. John of the Cross on the dangers of private revelations and locutions and how our ways are not God's ways.  That we interpret things according to our bias and fears.  It amazes me that people will be online 24 hours a day yet miss the stories of media manipulation and dissimulation.  Recently news revealed Google was doing scientific testing, researching the reactions of users to particular stories and headlines intended to incite emotions in the reader.  The advertising industry uses similar information and tactics, and don't ignore what Snowden has been telling us about the NSA.  Likewise, do you think schismatics would be above publishing anything and everything coming from the post-conciliar Church in the most negative way possible, inciting further division among faithful Catholics?

The gates of hell will not prevail - Jesus Christ will not abandon the faithful.  The Church is the ark ...

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Do not be double minded, do not put your faith in private revelations, private opinion, or schismatic fear-mongers - read the catechism, meditate the Gospel, avoid satisfying curiosity, frequent the sacraments and Mass, and pray, pray, pray.   The Pope is Christ's vicar on earth.

St. Elijah, pray for us.

The Ethiopians are back ...

The Bride and Groom leaving at 11:30 AM.
The limo pulled up after this shot*

A wedding.

At 6:30 AM they were outside the church with torches and chanting and singing and drumming - when a stretch limo dropped off the bridegroom ...  They processed into the church with lighted torches.  It was so Biblical.  It is almost 11:00 AM and they are still there.

The wedding was part of the Liturgy.  The community celebrated the wedding.  It. Is. So. Scriptural!

The chant this morning was awesome - it reminded me of the Carthusian chant - solemn, low, monotone.

The Ethiopians even 'dance' a little.  They sing and chant.  They applaud.  But their reverence and adoration is awesome.  Talk about 'active participation'.  I mentioned before they wear coverings over their clothes - white, the women often wear traditional Ethiopian clothes and veil.  At first glance they all look like Missionaries of Charity in white saris.

Google photo.

Catholic liturgists could learn so much - especially about restoring the traditional solemnity of the  Roman Rite.  No need to add modern fluff to an already magnificent liturgy.

As for the wedding - I didn't see any special 'bridal touches' by the 'bridal party' - if you know what I mean.  No special environmental touches or romantic decor added to the liturgical celebration.  They may do such things in larger churches or other places, I just didn't see anything like that today.

The Apostle St. Philip and the Ethiopian.

*I cropped the photo since the church is on the alley and all you see is a row of garages.  We've had so many storms - most of the boulevard trees are gone - so it looks unlandscaped.

Art Made By Saints ...

Drawing of the Holy Family of Nazareth
by B. Charles de Foucauld

Painting of Child Jesus
by St. Therese of Lisieux

by St. Louis-Marie de Monfort

To be continued...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On presumption, ambition, and vainglory.

Madonna by St. Catherine of Bologna

Looking at roots of the problem of spiritual pride and egotism.

How good people online can become angry, though it may not always be righteous anger ...
Among these spiritual persons there are also those who fall into another kind of spiritual anger.  Through a certain indiscreet zeal they become angry over the sins of others, they reprove these others, and sometimes even feel the impulse to do so angrily, which in fact they occasionally do, setting themselves up as lords of virtue.  All such conduct is contrary to spiritual meekness. - Dark Night, Bk. I, 5:2
On presumption, ambition, and vainglory. 

The principal defects springing from pride are presumption, ambition, and vainglory.
Presumption is the desire and inordinate hope of doing what is above one's power. The presumptuous man believes himself capable of studying and solving the most difficult questions; he settles the most abstruse problems with rash haste. He fancies that he has sufficient light to guide himself without consulting a director. Instead of building his interior life on humility, renunciation, fidelity to the duty of the present moment even in little things, he speaks particularly of magnanimity, of apostolic zeal, or indeed aspires to the immediate attainment of the high degrees of prayer without passing through the various stages, forgetting that he is still only a beginner, whose will is still weak and full of egoism. He is still full of self; a great void must be created in him in order that his soul may some day be filled with God and able to give Him to others.
 The ambition of self-appointed online evangelists and apologists.
From presumption springs ambition, under one form or another. Because a man presumes too greatly on his powers and judges himself superior to others, he wishes to dominate them, to impose on them his ideas in matters of doctrine, or to govern them. St. Thomas says that a man manifests ambition when he seeks offices carrying with them honor which he does not merit; when he seeks honors for himself and not for the glory of God or the profit of others. How many schemes, secret solicitations, and intrigues ambition inspires in all walks of life! 
The quest for affirmation and esteem ... and profit.
Pride leads also to vainglory, that is, the wish to be esteemed for oneself, without referring this honor to God, the source of all good, and often a wish to be esteemed for vain things. This is the case of the pedant who loves to display his knowledge, binding himself and wishing to bind others to trifles. 
Many defects spring from vainglory: boasting, which easily makes a person ridiculous; hypocrisy, which under the appearances of virtue, hides vices; stubbornness, contention or asperity in defending one's opinion, which engenders discord; and also disobedience, sharp criticisms of superiors. 
There were scribes and Pharisees ...

We always point out the Pharisees to condemn online, but we forget Jesus also condemned the hypocrisy of the scribes.
Thus we see that pride which is not repressed sometimes produces disastrous effects. How many discords, hatreds, and wars are born of pride! It has been justly said that pride is the great enemy of perfection because it is the source of numerous sins and deprives us of many graces and merits. Scripture says: "God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble."  And Christ says of the Pharisees, who pray and give alms in order to be seen by men: "They have received their reward";  they cannot expect that of our heavenly Father, since they have acted for themselves and not for Him. Lastly, a life dominated by pride is grievously sterile and presages perdition unless a remedy is promptly applied. - Three Ages of the Interior Life

I have to go to confession now.

Drawing by St. Alphonsus Ligouri

I like this.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto), 
The Vision of Saint Bernard, 17th century

Divine Love, A Gift of the Heart of Jesus.
The infusion of this divine charity also has its origin in the Heart of the Savior, 'in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.'  For this charity is the gift of Jesus Christ and of His spirit; for he is indeed the spirit of the Father and the Son from whom the origin of the Church and its marvelous extension is revealed to all the pagan races which have been defiled by idolatry, family hatred, corrupt morals, and violence.
Divine Love, the Source of All Graces.
This divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit:  It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood.  [...]  This finally, moved the virgins to a free and joyful withdrawal from the pleasures of the senses and to the complete dedication of themselves to the love of their heavenly Spouse." - Pius XII: Haurietis Aquas

Friday, July 18, 2014

Social media users more likely to divorce.

Why am I not surprised?
Social media websites in general and Facebook in particular may be linked to an increased likelihood of divorce, claims a recently released study.
"Results show that using social networking sites negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce."
"It's hard to know what comes first: Divorce or obsessing about the lives of others on Facebook." - Christian Post

I wonder how many have lost jobs as well?  Or worse - quit their jobs to write a blog and collect donations, hoping for a book deal and speaking engagements?  

Were people this nuts before social media?

A sampling of nearly unbelievable comments from the Unam Sanctam Catholic blogosterium.

I see the pope his sacred trust betray,
For while the rich his grace can gain alway,
His favors from the poor are aye withholden...

Catholic blogs sounding a bit like Novus Ordo Watch.
"We have a duty to preserve the vocation of a Pope, most especially when a current occupant wants to turn it into the adventures of Forest Gump."
Advising the pope.
"He’s (Francis) got a priority problem.
And we the Church have a pope problem.
Some people don’t want to say what needs saying, but it’s the truth. We have a pope problem.
It’s an easy fix, just STOP giving off the cuff interviews/non-interviews. Stick to pre-written statements that the Vatican has looked over to make sure there will be NO chaos or confusion. That way we won't have to wait days for the Vatican to explain what the pope MEANT rather than what he said."

From a combox:
 "I do not think that you all understand that YOUR RESPONSIBILITY NOW IS TO PROTECT THE TRUTH OF TEACHING OF JESUS.... You you, lay bloggers give up, what poor Christians are going to do ? Priest are too afraid... ONLY YOU HAVE POWER TO STAND UP AND SPEAK THE TRUTH !!!! You are needed even MORE THAN BEFORE... Courage!"
"he is, sorry to say, an anti-pope. The true pope was cleverly removed from his rightful THRONE... Benedict XVI still wears white... it speaks VOLUMES... It is better to know the horrible truth, than be constantly frustrated. Get ready for a very bumpy ride.. "

Burt and Marge have been shaken by it all.
"We dropped out of RCIA."

A word of advice: Do not ignore what the Pope says.

Ignore Catholic bloggers who take his words in vain.  Catholics have no need whatever to pay the slightest attention to Online Catholic pundits.

Decimating Gaza

Stop.  Pray.  Fast.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Cornioli said that Pope Francis’s message had given Christians in Gaza fresh courage and hope.  At the same time he said the casualties are mounting as a result of the ground and air offensive with many wounded arriving in Gaza’s hospitals and the medical staff are struggling to cope with the influx.  The priest urged the international community to do all in their power to help stop “this massacre.” - Vatican Radio

At what point do we call it genocide?

The origins of traumatic stress disorder.
Meanwhile, for several days now, the Sisters of Mother Teresa and the 28 disabled children and 9 elderly people in their care have taken refuge in the parish. It is expected that they will remain in Gaza together with the parish priest Father Jorge Hernandez. 
Father Jorge reports that the “crimes are multiplying. The smaller children are beginning to get sick from fear, stress, the blasts, the continuous din. The parents are going to incredible lengths to distract them so that the violence does not overwhelm them, like playing and jumping every time they hear an explosion, dancing or simply hugging them and holding their hands over their ears.” - CNEWA

Courage members who are willing to give their testimony in a public forum.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
have mercy on us.

A new documentary film:  The Everlasting Hills

The film debuts this weekend at the Courage Conference.  You can view the trailer here.  I look forward to viewing the entire film when it is released.

Fr. Check comments on the film:
I admire the three people whom you will see in this movie—Rilene, Dan and Paul. I admire them because of their humility and courage. I realize—and more important, they realize—that some viewers may be troubled, offended, or even angered by their stories. No one involved in making this film wishes to cause anyone distress. On the contrary. But if we are free to design our lives, then each of us will have a story, and whether or not this story is welcome, it deserves respect. It deserves respect not only for the unique mind and heart the story reveals, but also for what it may contain for others. 
Rilene, Dan and Paul do not claim that their stories are just like the stories of all other people – or even of any other people. Yet do their stories share unifying themes? Yes, they do. So has this film been made for a purpose? Yes, it has. Indeed, it has been made for a dual purpose, because the film takes up not just one of the questions I mentioned, but both of them: What it means to design one’s life well, and how to know when we have really found peace and fulfillment. For in the end, finding peace and fulfillment are what the precious gift of freedom is for. –Fr. Paul N. Check, Executive Director, Courage, Int.

I like how Fr. Check acknowledges that their stories are NOT just like the stories of all other people, or even of any other people.  Indeed, their stories share unifying themes - some people's stories are darker, others more benign - what telling one's story demonstrates however is that one can move beyond 'gay', beyond the limitations imposed by LGBTQ theory and culture.  Unchallenged, the 'identity' tends to block natural joy, peace and that freedom of spirit so essential to authentic spiritual development.  "Blessed are the pure of heart - for they shall see God."  That intention, or disposition, is essential to the interior life and growth in virtue.

One major reason I support Courage Apostolate is that one can be sure one is receiving authentic Catholic teaching, spiritual guidance, support and formation.  It is Catholic spirituality supported by the sacramental life of the Church, it is a means to sanctify one's life.  It is solidly Catholic.

I congratulate all those who have made this film, for their courage and humility.  When we tell our conversion stories - to be of any value at all - it is not so much about ourselves and the things we did - rather it is about what God has done, in Christ:  It is about the mercy of God - his overwhelming love - which is in fact, the very source of our desire for 'the everlasting hills'.  As the famous saints who were once sinners have said - "forever I will sing of the mercies of the Lord!"   That is the big difference in profiting from conversion stories online - there are those who celebrate themselves, yet the authentic stories are those which glorify the mercy of God.

I think the people in this film do that.

I just have to say - the growth of Courage Apostolate is truly edifying and encouraging for the entire Church.  Praise God!  It wasn't always so well supported - believe me.  Even if you are not part of a group, or you don't like groups, whatever - you can benefit from the research and writing generated by those associated with Courage since its founding - Fr. Harvey's works are still available and relevant to our needs today.  Do not be afraid!

And never let anyone tell you that the Church does not care about you.  The Church loves us.

H/T Austin Ruse, Crisis

Courage Apostolate

Fr. Paul Check

Catholic ministry to those with same sex attractions.

Courage Conference began Thursday July 17.  Details here.

Fr. Paul Check has a great interview here.

With priests like Fr. Check and other Courage chaplains around the country, the Church is in good hands.  With membership in Courage growing, the witness of men and women living in fidelity to Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage prevails.

A couple of quotes from the Fr. Check interview.

Within the apostolate, we’ve grown considerably, and I think that’s a testimony to the veracity of the Church’s teaching. Many people have lived one way and discovered through experience that the promise [of happiness] was not fulfilled, and they’ve had a change of heart. They have looked to the Church to assist in confirming what they’ve experienced interiorly. 
And then the other thing is that we have Courage members who are willing to give their testimony in a public forum. Many members have a sense that now is the time to give witness, and at no small cost or sacrifice, by going public. - NCRegister
Going public is a huge sacrifice.  People who do so in support of Courage Apostolate need our prayer.

Contraception, the original sin of the sexual revolution.

And then, of course, there’s the whole contraception question, which has made this all the more difficult, because so many Catholics, including, sadly, many priests, have it settled in their minds that deliberately sterile sex promotes the human good. But it doesn’t. We know through Revelation, reason and lived experience. 
Once we have the idea that deliberately sterile sex within marriage is good, then it’s a very short step to same-sex union. What contraception does is remove the distinctively male and female aspect, the complementarity, of sex. Once you give up that ground philosophically, you wind up where we are culturally. Some of that has seeped into the minds and hearts of Catholics. - NCR

On the language used in the Catechism.
Hypothetically, if you could revise the Catechism, would you replace the phrase “objectively disordered,” and if so, with what? 
I know that phrase falls very hard on the ears, and not just on the ears of people who are dissenting from the Church’s teaching or inclined to dissent. There are many good people who say that this phrase is difficult. Of course, it is not a moral judgment, but an anthropological judgment meaning the erotic attraction to a person of the same sex can never be fulfilled in a way consistent without nature. That’s what it means: that people are out of harmony with their nature. 
But the good in the phrase is that it’s very clear, and while it can be hard on ears, its clarity has brought to many people a deeper or more thoughtful reflection on what the Church teaches and why. 
As long as we are careful to make the three-part distinction that the Catechism does make [person, inclination and action], then I think we can use that phrase. Now, that doesn’t mean it needs to be used all the time or from the pulpit on Sunday, but certainly in a Christian anthropology or ethics classes it has its place. - NCR
Read the entire interview - it should answer many of your questions on same sex attraction and the Catholic Church.

If you never hear another word from me or read another post on this blog, please remember that Courage Apostolate is the best ministry available for same sex attracted persons in the Catholic Church.

I'll be praying in union with those at the conference this weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Feast of St. Alexis

Story of St. Alexis.

St. Alexius the only son of Euphemianus, a wealthy Christian Roman of the senatorial class, fled his arranged marriage to follow his mysterious holy vocation. Disguised as a beggar, he lived near Edessa in Syria, accepting alms even from his own household slaves, who had been sent to look for him but did not recognize him, until a miraculous vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary singled him out as a "Man of God." Fleeing the resultant notoriety, he returned to Rome, so changed that his parents did not recognize him, but as good Christians took him in and sheltered him for seventeen years, which he spent in a dark cubbyhole beneath the stairs, praying and teaching catechism to children. After his death, his family found writings on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding, for the love of God. (Source)


Art:  Terry Nelson
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Screenshots: Pewsnipper's War

Shea: A clearinghouse for contempt for much of the Church’s magisterial teaching and this pope in particular. Take the log out of your own eyes, anonymous Pewsitter cowards! 
... more
Fr. Longenecker: PewSitter negative, sour, cynical, misleading 

It's no longer funny.

If there was ever an atmosphere of hate and derision - you will find it on the Pewsitter web page.  Talk about American Catholic Tabloid News.  Yesterday it struck me as LOL funny - if not seriously insane - today it is just plain scandalous.  The site presents as a legitimate source of Catholic news and they resort to tabloid tactics insulting their critics with the most unflattering photos and salacious headlines they can concoct.  (That's my job, BTW.)

I'm blown away by Catholics online.

I got an email from some guy with a website, calling me out for leaving up a post I wrote in self-defense of falsehoods he wrote about me on his blog a few months ago.  He said that my post - which was in response to his poorly researched post - (which I had totally forgotten about BTW) - is  "slanderous, name calling, inaccurate, and mean spirited."  Holy crap!  The pot calling the kettle black I'd say.  All he had to do was ask me - instead he insults me again by calling my post "your little victim rant about me."  Huh?  Who was ranting?  This guy is supposed to be a professional Catholic apologist, evangelist, radio host, and writer - yet off screen he resorts to the exact same type of behavior he accused me of.

Sound familiar?

Amazing that any of us dare call ourselves Christians and go on to cite others for heresy and error and all sorts of infidelities. (Yep!  I'm guilty too!)  Calling others out like this discredits the Catholic online presence completely.  It demonstrates outright hypocrisy, envy, greed, ambition and false religion.  Everyone can mouth Catholic teaching - even go so far as to correct the bishops and the Holy Father himself - but they only have the outward show of religion.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world. - James 1