See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joe Cocker, RIP

 “simply unique”




Song for this post Unchain My Heart.

Viva il Papa! The Holy Father speaks frankly on the reform of the Curia.



Avoiding sentimentality at Christmas ...

This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments. - Vatican Information Service

The Holy Father warns against the 'terrorism of gossip' ...

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider has the full list of 15 diseases Francis named. They’re also available, in Italian, on the Vatican’s press office site. Some of the highlights – or lowlights – depending on whether you are a member of the Curia or not: 
On feeling “immortal:” “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body’.” 
On what he means by “spiritual Alzheimers:” “A progressive decline of spiritual faculties’ which ’causes severe disadvantages to people’, making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’. We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory’ of their encounter with the Lord, in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions’.” 
On the disease of “existential schizophrenia:” this refers to “a double life, a result of the hypocrisy typical of mediocre people and of advancing spiritual emptiness, which degrees or academic titles cannot fill’.” Ouch. 
Some of his harshest words were reserved to sins related to gossiping, which, as shown above, the pope likened to the actions of Satan. Gossip, he said, will grip a person and transform him into one of the “sowers of discord.” which is a pretty direct reference to what Satan does. Francis called gossips “cold-blooded murderers” of reputations. “It is the disease of cowards, who do not have the courage to speak upfront and so talk behind one’s back… Watch out against the terrorism of gossip!” he said.  - Washington Post
An examen.

There are so many helpful points for our own personal examination of conscience in what the Holy Father notes.  He is like a good spiritual father, and kindly spiritual director pointing out the pitfalls of the spiritual life.  I especially like these:

“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.


“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”. - VIS

At the very end, the Holy Father asks everyone to pray for priests.  

The Christmas season is very difficult for priests - many penance services and confession, some priests have no assistants and offer all the Masses scheduled alone, and there is always a demand for their time.  Imagine a busy priest falling asleep in prayer.  Or a priest too busy to follow what the Pope really says and gets his information from crack pots  bloggers like us - imagine how discouraging that can be?
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”. - Pope Francis

Pray for priests.

At the end of the address some news reports said
the applause was 'tepid'.  My source told me
Monsignor Ganswein was heard to say:
"I was told this was supposed to be a party!"
What?

2 Days Away!

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem- Hugo van der Goes

Christmas Eve is only two days away!

All the kitschy, kitschy, ya, ya, build up will culminate in the Sacred Nativity of Our Lord ...  The pre-Christmas season, Advent, is filled with prayerful wonder and joy ... and sometimes, great saddness.

And then, and then, and then Christmas comes, Christmas begins!

Don't forget those who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed by weather, sickness, depression, poverty, homelessness, terror, and war.  How does the Birth of Jesus impact those who sorrow?   We can't forget or distance ourselves from that.  I wonder if that's one meaning one might take away from the Gospel passage, "keep salt in your hearts" [Mk. 9:50]?



The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
- Luke 2:10

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Travelers ...


Not wanted home for Christmas?  Go West young man.  Make your own traditions.


Christmas on the move.

I have friends heading for the slopes, Hawaii, Santa Fe, and Florida.  Holiday getaways.  Many Families duck out on Christmas Day, others leave early to spend the holidays elsewhere.  Personally, I'd love to spend Christmas in a forest wilderness, staying in a well appointed hermitage with electricity and all the provisions I needed.  On Christmas Eve, I'd be there waiting until all the little wild animals came along and gathered round, to peer into my windows, admiring the Christmas tree lights and the gas-powered fireplace all ablaze ... and then, and then, then I'd go outside and we'd all wrestle in the snow and play and decorate the forest with lights and berries and nuts ...


Just before nightfall, all the elves and animals
are getting ready for Mass at midnight
at Terry's hermitage in the forest.



Anyway.

Denver airport will be having Christmas Day Mass for all the travelers passing through, on their way to the ski lodges because their loved ones wouldn't invite them to Christmas dinner.  (It could happen.)   The Mass will be held on Thursday, Dec. 25, at 2p.m. in the interfaith chapel on level six of Jeppesen Terminal.  I like that.  I like chapels in airports.  Boston's Logan has one.  I think there is still a chapel in the Prudential as well.  I think chapels should be everywhere - in the heart of the city, in malls, airports, across the street from my house, and so on.

If one happens to be stuck in the wilderness and can't get to Mass, then I think St. Nicholas should fly in and celebrate it for me and the critters - I suppose I could settle for a bi-locating priest who liked to hand-feed peanuts to blue jays instead.  What?


St. Nicholas descending for Mass.





Aren't the holidays fun?





God comes to us - right where we are...

Avoiding rash judgment ...



Putative father.

St. Joseph was the putative father of Jesus.

St. Joseph was also the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Ever Virgin Mary - Who, was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, was found with child through the Holy Spirit ...

Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly... - Matthew 1:19


That worked out well. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Problems in the blogosphere some spiritual persons miss ...





Big mistake...

THE TENDENCY TO DERISION

Among the causes of tepidity in retarded souls, the tendency to derision should be particularly noted. St. Thomas speaks of the derider when he discusses the vices opposed to justice: insult, detraction, murmuring against the reputation of our neighbor. He points out that to deride or to ridicule someone, is to show that we do not esteem him; and derision, says the saint, may become a mortal sin if it affects persons or things that deserve high esteem. It is a grievous sin to ridicule the things of God, or our parents, or superiors, or good persons who lead a virtuous life. Derision may even become very grievous by reason of its consequences, for it may turn weak souls forever away from the practice of good. Job replied to his friends: "He that is mocked by his friends as I, shall call upon God; and He will hear him. For the simplicity of the just man is laughed to scorn."  But it is also said of deriders: "He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them."  The terrible irony of heaven will chastise that of earth. 
The derider is himself a retarded soul, holding others back and becoming, often without being aware of it, the instrument of the spirit of evil. His cast of soul, which is the direct opposite of evangelical simplicity, is the one most opposed to supernatural contemplation. The derider, who wishes "to play the rogue," ridicules the just man who tends truly to perfection; he emphasizes the latter's defects and depreciates his good qualities. Why is this? Because he feels that he himself has little virtue, and he is unwilling to admit his inferiority. Then, out of spite, he lessens the real and fundamental value of his neighbor and the necessity of virtue itself. He may greatly harm weak souls which he intimidates, and, while working his own ruin, he may labor at their perdition. - Three Ages of the Interior Life; Part II, Ch 37 

Austin Ruse Challenges the New Homophiles



Ed. note:  A reader asked me once who Austin Ruse is and what is interest in all things gay?  Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy.  Hence is personal views and concerns expressed in the articles he writes for Crisis.  

His latest essay challenges the New Homophiles (his term) and when I first read it I was slightly concerned the tone was off, but as Austin said in the article, "They have PhDs. They can take it."  My concern was perhaps unwarranted to the extent that we are all adults and therefore serious, frank conversation is especially necessary when discussing critical issues related to Catholic teaching and opposition to it.  Straightforward language is not necessarily mean-spirited or uncharitable. 

Though I perceived a scornful tone in Austin's article, I forgot that he has been disparaged by some 'gay-Catholics' for even questioning the novelties suggested by the more progressive elements within the so-called Spiritual Friendship movement.  I apologize for the misunderstanding on my part.  I reprint my comment here with strikethroughs:

I've read Eve's book, and though I disagree on some points I have to say she strikes me as very faithful to Catholic teaching and deeply devout. Her book is astonishing in it's honesty, and at the risk of being mocked here, I couldn't help but think of Dorothy Day and Madeleine Dubrel - as well as Teresa of Avila whose writings were similarly as honest and sincere. I know from people who write to me that they found her story encouraging as regards their own children who are actively gay.
Young people today, those alienated for whatever reason, simply want us to listen to their stories and recognize that they exist. They know what the Church teaches already and many just can't make it fit - yet. We all need to pray and be open to those trying to be faithful.
If the new homophiles seek to change Catholic teaching - they are mistaken - it can't change. I'm not sure they all agree with one another on that either. I don't read them very deeply and to be honest - their exchanges seem more academic/philosophical theoretical experiments than anything else. I know bishops and priests are listening - but Catholic teaching can't change. To be sure, their writings help people to examine their lives and grow in self-knowledge - that isn't narcissism since self knowledge is critical for any spiritual growth.
I'm definitely pro-Courage for ssa persons - but many people may not feel that type of program is designed for them, for whatever reason. Some are convinced that gay is their identity - precisely because they have been educated, formed to think that. Conversion from the 'lifestyle' takes time and is often confused, interrupted, sometimes because of critical posts such as this one. I always appreciate what you write, but this article seems just a tad sarcastic and/or scornful. Otherwise your points are well taken and I generally agree with you.
We need to have great charity - as well as patience. These people are some one's kids. The culture proclaims gay from the rooftops - as equal, as normative - that constant message pulls upon those trying to be faithful to a Church whose members often scoff and condemn - and as people who comment on my blog say - 'beat them over the head with doctrine.' Hopefully they can come to understand that gay is not the gift they were given, likewise, if they are to understand that friendship is not a vocation in itself - they can only do so if those outside their paradigm can befriend them. I often think of Vanier's book title "Befriending the stranger" in this regard.
My apologies for writing so much - I maybe should do a blog post on the subject, but I doubt it would affect any one's thinking on the subject.
God bless you and your readers. - My comment on Fifteen Minutes article.

Austin Ruse replied very graciously to my comment, which can be read at the end of the article.

I didn't finish Eve's book - with a close reading, that is.  I will probably return to it over the Christmas season.  As I mentioned in the comment, I very much admire Eve's candor about her life and spirituality, and what we commonly refer to as her 'journey'.

Gay people are not known for their honesty.  Eve is very honest.  It really struck a chord within me.  I regretted ever dismissing or treating Eve or the Spiritual Friendship group with scorn.  Eve's honesty caused me to examine my own life - how honest have I been with others, the heavy burden of shame and secrecy I carried for so many years - despite the fact people knew my story - and accepted me that way.  While others didn't know my past, and so on.  Yet I never wanted to be that way.  It's crazy - and too complicated to discuss here, and I may never discuss it - but I have to give Eve Tushnet so much credit for dealing with the reality of her life.  If I had never prayerfully read her, listened to what she said, I never would have understood how necessary it is to listen and really hear what individuals from this group are saying.

I've often remarked that things have changed and the experience and education of younger persons has been deeply affected by acceptance of homosexuality - like or not, that has to be understood as a major cultural shift.  Therefore one cannot simply shove a crucifix in their face and demand they accept Catholic teaching.  Considering the cultural climate, it strikes me as nearly miraculous that gay-Catholics are so accepting of chaste celibacy as necessary to remain a faithful Catholic - to continue in the state of grace.  That has to be Divine grace at work in their lives - in and through the sacraments.

The idea of a development of doctrine seems unlikely, as well as unnecessary to me.  Likewise, the Church can never approve same sex marriage or homosexual acts - even some form of 'foreplay' or 'spooning' between 'spiritual friends'.   That cannot happen.

That said, we need to respect those who disagree, and love them as our own brothers and sisters.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Many do the best they can at the stage they are at.  All of us need one another's prayer.

I'm sure I waste my time writing this because I'm not at all accepted by any group - which is best for me.  I'm just a Catholic man - that's my identity.

As Fr. Angelo Mary said in a post on blogging recently:
As I would guess, the vast majority of man-hours spent connected are purely elective and strictly speaking unnecessary. We really don’t even have a God-given right to all the information we have access to. Certainly, it is very rare animal indeed, that creature who quite literally must blog for his livelihood or wellbeing. No one’s blog, vlog, website, YouTube channel, Facebook page or Twitter feed is necessary for the perpetuation of life in our galaxy. And I seriously doubt that there are many, if any, Catholic bloggers whose work is necessary for the Church, or his diocese, parish or community. We have confused our pastimes with our duties, just as people have confused televised narcissism with reality. We have all become paparazzi. - The Creature Named Catholic Internet

I'm now trying to figure out why I blog or make comments elsewhere.

Anyway - be kind to one another.  Life hurts.


Friday, December 19, 2014

North Korea, The Interview, and Sony

The time has come.


Katherine Hepburn once said Hollywood people were pigs.  I wonder what she'd say about Sony executives and their emails dishing their employees and contractors?  Hollywood execs have the reputation for being pretty greedy and not too concerned about morality - in case you haven't noticed - so I don't feel bad about their loss.

As far as the film, The Interview, I suspect it would have been another lame attempt at gross comedy - so no loss for me.  The plot is offensive - no doubt about it.  Not just to N. Korea either, especially since every late night comedian makes fun of N. Korea's leader all of the time, so no big deal.  However, portraying 'journalists' or tabloid talk-show hosts as spies and assassins doesn't bode well for real journalists in the field, many of whom risk their lives to do real journalism in countries already hostile to American interests.  Our enemies will now have reason to be even more suspicious of journalists.

Liberty and freedom has been corrupted and misused in our country.  North Korea just gave us a 'warning'.  Someday it may be taken away completely.

Obviously there is cyber war and we lost this round - but that's another issue.  A film with an assassination plot doesn't give us much moral ground for us to stand on.  Just saying.

Just think: Worldwide Order of Franciscans - Friars Minor - in grave financial distress!



I wonder ... what would St. Francis say?
The minister general of the order, outlined “a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself.”
First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt. Second, the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management. We have initiated steps to address these concerns. Third, there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium. Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk. - Source

Just imagine that.  The poor brothers of St. Francis actually facing financial distress - just like real poor people.

The perfect joy of St. Francis.


Saint Francis’ spoliation tells us simply what the Gospel teaches us: 
to follow Jesus means to put Him in the first place, 
to despoil ourselves of the many things we have that suffocate our heart, 
to renounce ourselves, to take up the cross and carry it with Jesus. 
To despoil ourselves of the pride-filled “I” and detach ourselves from the desire to have,
 from money, which is an idol that possesses. - Address of Pope Francis




O Little King, attraction of all hearts, 
we hail that blessed hour and moment 
in which you were born of 
the most pure Virgin Mary 
in the poverty of Bethlehem.  
You did not need earthly pomp or riches, 
for they could add nothing to your Infinite Majesty. 
 Teach us that true riches are within 
and that it is not what we have 
but what we are that counts. Amen.


One thing I really like about Santa is this ...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Well this is earth shattering news: New Ways Ministry meets with Archbishop Cordileone - It's a gay Christmas miracle Mame Darlin'!

Gramick, Cordileone, DeBernardo


According to Sr. Jennine Gramick, she also had a nice meeting with Bishop Paprocki not too long ago - they disagreed on Church teaching though.

Michael Bayly?  Can you hear me now?

This is the type of dialogue gay and lesbian 'dissenting' Catholics have been waiting for.

Remember, I've maintained the New Ways Ministry approach has been the doctrinal slant in most dioceses and parochial schools - especially colleges and universities - since the 1980's.  Readers may disagree, but it's true - and now, today, with the new homophile gay Catholic movement, there is an opening to dialogue with the dissenting half.  I knew it would come to this - although I'm surprised how quickly these things have developed.  Gramick - though forbidden to  'teach' or work for New Ways has continued to do so while continuing to influence the clergy and hierarchy - behind the scenes?  Until today I wasn't aware of the latest encounters.

I definitely agree that such open dialogue is far better than 'shunning' - something the Amish do and some very traditionalist Catholics would like to do with these types.  Nevertheless, I have to agree with Fr. Martin who had this to say about the meeting with Cordileone:  This is a significant attempt at Catholic bridge building, and an "encounter" (to use a favorite word of Pope Francis) for which we can be grateful.

The Holy Father has helped us open our hearts - to listen to one another and not be afraid.  I disagree with the principles of New Ways Ministry, I'm not a 'new homophile', but there is a different reality today among younger people - to shun and condemn 'them' is difficult for contemporary gay persons to understand as charity in truth.  No.  I'm a die hard Courage type of guy - I'm convinced the Church is effective in bringing Christ to all people, straight or LBBTQIXYZ, in and through the ordinary form of things.  The sacraments, the Mass, prayer and self-denial, love of neighbor, and so on ... it works.  We encounter Christ in and through the Church.  We encounter one another on the way - and we befriend the stranger even when we don't understand everything.

That said, here are a couple 'takes' from New Ways blog on the meeting with the Archbishop of San Francisco:
Two groups took Cordileone up on his offer for a personal meeting: New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. Earlier this autumn, Cordileone met in San Francisco with representatives from Dignity. New Ways Ministry’s meeting occurred on December 15th at our offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, while the Archbishop was in the Washington, DC area on other church business. 
DeBernardo met Cordileone and drove him to our offices. Gramick introduced herself, while Matt Myers and Bob Shine, two New Ways Ministry staff members, were also on hand to greet the archbishop and serve a light lunch of sandwiches. After the archbishop opened with a prayer, Cordileone, DeBernardo, and Gramick shared some of their life stories and experiences. Both Cordileone and DeBernardo have similar backgrounds, sharing an Italian heritage, and having attended public schools while being very much involved with the Catholic Church. Gramick talked about her Polish roots as an only child in a non-practicing Catholic family, but surrounded by Catholics until graduate school when she was first introduced to the gay community. 
As the conversation progressed, they discussed how Catholic groups with opposing views on marriage can better understand and speak with one another. Cordileone mentioned Pope Francis’ idea of “encounter,” of meeting people where they are and beginning a dialogue with them. Cordileone stressed the importance of breaking down stereotypes on each side of the issue. He noted that both groups sometimes say things that cause harm to the other side, and that the harm is often not intended. 
New Ways Ministry asked for advice on how LGBT Catholics and their families can initiate dialogues with their local bishops. He noted that bishops often have many demands on their time and many requests for appointments. A more practical route may be for people to request meetings with directors of diocesan ministries, such as family life, or with other chancery officials. - Source

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

(Crap!  Now I have to be nice to Sr. Jeannine.  What?)

What?!

St. Joseph's Day in the Novena for Christmas



Do not be afraid ...

Can you feel the weight being lifted?  The fear leaving?  The joy that is coming?

It seems to me all the depression, the fear, the dissatisfaction, the dreariness is lifted - even if for a moment, with the angel's command to Joseph:  "Joseph, do not be afraid to take Our Lady St. Mary into your home, because she brings to you your God and Savior Jesus Christ ..."  St. Joseph was the husband of Our Lady, the foster father of Jesus.

The joy is so palpable.

I pray that all of those suffering may experience, may taste and see this joy in their hearts ... even amidst the terror - for a moment - to look up at the sky and to know behind the clouds, the Son of Justice shines and is near.

On the third day of the novena I pray with and for all of those who suffer, all those who are terrorized and afraid, all of those who have been massacred.

St. Joseph, protector of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, pray for us!

Ignore all the naysayers, the negative, toxic voices online, in the news - look up and believe.  The LORD is so near ... so close ... BELIEVE.

Ever hear of Tomte?



Tomten also bring gifts at Christmastime ...



Saint Birgitta of Sweden warned against Tomten because they originated in pagan mythology.  The mythological character persists to our day however, becoming the Swedish version of Santa.  Needless to say, the legendary tradition is just one more element in the observance of Christmas for fundamentalists to condemn.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Holy Father!

More photos here.


Song for this post here.

Cuba and Pope Francis and President Obama: It's A Christmas Miracle!

 Pope Francis played a "key role" in the historic normalization of relations, 
announced today, between the United States and Cuba. 
As the first Latin American pope, 
he had great credibility in the negotiations, 
said one official quoted in this story. 
As someone named after St. Francis of Assisi, 
he is also someone committed to working for peace. 
Blessed are the peacemakers. - Fr. Martin, SJ



Obama thanked Pope Francis on National TV.

Although negotiations had been brewing for some time, the first face-to-face meeting between Cuban and American officials took place in Canada in June 2013. Many of the ensuing meetings took place in Canada, but senior administration officials said that the Vatican played an important role in bringing the sides together as well. When Obama visited the Vatican in March, he and Pope Francis discussed the issue, and the Pope sent Obama and Castro personal letters to encourage them to press forward with negotiations. - Cuba Releases American Prisoner

There will be lots of press on this - lots!  I think it is wonderful news!

I wonder if the enemies of Francis will now begin to compare him to the Borgia Pope Alexander VI - the only other pope I can think of at the moment who effected any major change in the New World (Treaty of Tordesillas) - I may be wrong of course ...

"We drew the line between Spain and Portugal."
- Papa Alexander VI

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve is only a week away ...

Then shall all the trees of the forest exalt before the Lord,
for he comes: he comes to rule the earth! - 1 Chronicles


What was I thinking?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1st Day of the Novena for Christmas: Pakistan Taliban Massacre 141



Devastating news.

When I hear a child scream or cry at Mass ... I'm reminded of the suffering of children ... and now especially those massacred by ISIS and today, the Taliban ...

And I pray.

I pray today for the victims of the atrocious killing in  Pakistan.  On this, the first day of the novena for Christmas.

"A voice is heard in Ramah, 
weeping and great mourning, 
Rachel weeping for her children 
and refusing to be comforted, 
because they are no more."



Catholic Church-Lady Complaints Department


So, now you want to kick them out of church?


Crying babies, restless children at Mass?

The Pope says, "Let the children be."  I agree.
Calling children’s tears “the best sermon,” the Pope told parents of children baptized in the last year that “children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.” - Source
People complain about a lot of stuff at Mass - especially single people.  They claim they don't feel welcome.  They claim they don't fit in.  I've heard the very pious claim people are too noisy, kids uncontrolled, the sign of peace too much.  These are church-lady complaints.  These people have unreal expectations.

I love kids at Mass, babies who cry, developmentally disordered kids - and sometimes adults - whose presence is impossible to ignore.  Kids who escape the pew and run towards the altar - or do something else to embarrass their parents.  It is life.  Are we pro-life?  That is life.  We can still pray and worship - we have that freedom.

If single people feel unwelcome or find kids annoying - they may want to examine their conscience a bit more closely...

Crowded churches at Christmas - an irritation for the pious?

Ever hear of 'Submarine Catholics'?

A friend sent me an article from a Catholic website discussing those Catholics who return to Church for Christmas Mass yet never step inside the church throughout the year.  So she cleverly calls them 'submarine Catholics' because they surface once or twice a year.  Actually her article was a positive spin on how to evangelize them and make them feel welcome to come back regularly.  That's nice.

Imagine complaining that Mass is too crowded, no place to sit, and worse, no place to park.  Imagine complaining that people at Mass might sit where you normally do, or might ask what's going on, or dare to speak to the people they are with?  How very dare they.

Nice Christmas spirit, huh?  Yet despite the exclusive reputation church-people have, there is something about Christmas which attracts even the most secular, the most alienated ... the Infant Jesus wants his house to be full.  How can you complain?  Why would you jump in with your learned evangelization techniques and pamphlets, when these folks were never welcomed by you in the first place?  These souls were brought to Midnight Mass or Christmas Mass during the day by the Father - as Jesus said: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me."  Leave them alone.  Let them take in Christmas.  Smile, be kind, and let them receive Christ-Mass.

It should also be remembered that many people who crowd the churches are simply returning family members and friends - home for the holidays.  Are we pro-family?  That's life.

All are welcome?

Solemn Novena for Christmas begins today.



The most appropriate prayer for the novena is the prayer of the Church - the liturgical prayer of the Church:  Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.  Today the entire Church unites in prayerful preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.



Little Jesus, unto thee I flee,
through thy Mother praying thee
in my need to succor me.
Truly I believe of thee
God, thou art, with strength to shield me;
full of trust I hope of thee,
thou, thy grace, will give to me.
All my heart I give to thee,
therefore of my sins repent me;
from them breaking, I beseech thee,
Jesu! from their bonds to free me.
Firm my purpose is to mend me,
nevermore will I grieve thee;
wholly unto thee I give me,
patiently to suffer for thee,
thee to serve eternally;
and my neighbor like to me
I will love for love of thee.
Little Jesus I beseech thee,
in my need to succor me.
That one day I may enjoy thee,
safe with Joseph and with Mary,
and angels all, eternally. Amen.
(Prayer of Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The ... Pope ... of ...



All right ... I'll say it real quick:  CHRISTIAN UNITY!

What?  Seriously, all the popes have been popes of Christian unity - so one sees how such arbitrary titles are vain and obsequious, especially as they are applied by adoring fans to this or that pope.  Nevertheless I just can't help recalling how Pope Benedict XVI was so often hailed as the pope of Christian unity whenever he acknowledged other Christian leaders or made overtures of friendship, while poor Francis is so often disparaged.

Pope Francis follows in his predecessor's footsteps, yet apparently no one thinks it all that significant.  I do.

Just recently he met with the leader of the Salvation Army, welcoming him to the Vatican.  The meeting was in response to the request of  General AndrĂ© Cox, leader of the Salvation Army.  The story here.  It was another papal first ever-s.

Pope Francis shared a childhood memory with General Cox I found very touching - and which also clarifies very well the 'peripheries' the Holy Father regularly refers to.

Greeting warmly a delegation led by General AndrĂ© Cox, the Pope said Catholics and Salvationists, together with other Christians, recognise that those in need have a special place in God’s heart – so much so, that the Lord himself became poor for our sake. As a result, the Pope said, Catholics and Salvationists often meet at the same peripheries of society.
[...]
After the meeting ... Describing Pope Francis as “a peoples’ person”, the Salvation Army leader said the pontiff spoke off-the-cuff to describe his memory of walking, as a four-year old, with his grandmother in Argentina and seeing two Salvation Army ladies in their distinctive hats and uniforms. Despite the prevailing Catholic view that Protestants “were destined to Hell”, Bergoglio’s grandmother told him they were “Protestants, but good people”, awakening in the young boy an opening to ecumenical encounter. - Source
I like that.  The Salvation Army does much good.


Anyone remember the Friends episode when
Phoebe was a bell ringer for the SA?
"Watch out for that bitch!"

Msgr. Pope on the WAPO article covering Gay Christians who choose celibacy.



Monsignor Pope's commentary is excellent.

Things are getting better for Catholics who are same sex attracted.  There's honest recognition and understanding of the inclination itself, as well as increasing support for celibate and chaste 'gay' people to live faithful lives in accord with Catholic teaching - without pretending.

I like what Monsignor says about 'what the Church offers same sex attracted persons', and I will reprint that commentary here:

Of course the truth we offer in terms of human sexuality is out of favor among many today. But the truth, in accord with Scripture and natural law, is that human sexuality is ordered to the good of procreation, and by extension, to the good of the husband and wife so that they may be strengthened for their role as parents through the bonds of sexual intimacy and the stable love and loyalty cultivated there. This benefits not only them, but even more so their children, who need a loving and stable family in which to be best raised. It is to this that human sexuality is properly ordered and why its legitimate expression is only within the bonds of marriage. All other types of sexual expression are, in one degree or another, disordered (i.e., not properly ordered to the proper ends of sexuality). Thus sex as recreation, fornication (pre-marital sex), adultery, pornography, masturbation, and homosexual acts are disordered.
This is the truth that the Church offers to all who give us the gift of their attention. We affirm, as did St. Paul, that We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor 4:2). We do not discriminate or exempt anyone from this teaching. It is a teaching that applies equally to all and is the clear and consistent stance of Scripture and Church teaching extending all the way back into ancient Jewish times. Even if not all have lived it perfectly, it is what is taught and what is true from the Revelation of God and backed up by Natural Law. - Read the rest of his editorial here.

I'm not sure what seems to be so confusing for gay people in understanding, and or accepting what the Church, in the name of Jesus Christ calls us to.  Sometimes I get the impression people are trying to figure out just how far they can go and still be in the good graces of God.  In adolescence Catholic school boys used to discuss how far a kid could go with out committing full self-abuse.  Likewise, not a few gay people wonder about cuddling, kissing, hugging, and so on if they continue to live with a friend and want to stay chaste and celibate.  Mature men and women do not do that stuff.

What really does the Church call gay people to?

The Church calls us to sanctity - to holiness - that is our vocation.  He didn't make us gay or call us to be gay - gay is not a vocation.  Our sanctification is God's will for us.  It is so completely simple.  What does the Church offer gay people?  Salvation.  Eternal salvation.

The ordinary means are sufficient to attain this: The sacraments, Mass, prayer, instruction in the faith and spiritual life, love of God and neighbor - serving one's neighbor.  Fidelity to the duties of one's state in life - that is the sacrifice and penance God requires.  For celibate/single persons, that includes celibate chastity - loving God with our whole heart and soul, and our neighbor as our self.

That's pretty much it.

Tom Ford Jewelry - Should Christians be offended?


Nah!  I don't think so.


The designer, Tom Ford is not religious - he is spiritual.


In fact, there is no mention of his religion anywhere online - at least any that I could find. It doesn't matter however, since he has clearly made statements such as, "I am a spiritual person in an eastern religion kind of way."  And, "Nature is the closest thing to God and I don’t mean God by any sort of religion but by the connection to the universe, which I think we have lost."  Sounds clear to me - he's not interested in organized religion.

I would like to suggest he is neo-pagan - his religion is materialism, his spirituality is nature based.


I think many post-moderns are spiritual but not religious, in the same way. I'm not a philosopher - and I'm not an academic - but this type of neo-paganism seems to me to be rather pervasive among celebrities and people in the arts - and more pointedly, Tom Ford's spirituality seems typical for gay men. I'm speculating of course, but Ford's new jewelry line is more suggestive of ancient phallic cult symbolism than Christian iconography.


In the ancient religions, the phallic symbol represented fertility and "cultural implications with the male sexual organ". Today these cultural implications clearly represent male to male sexuality, as well as the pervasive influence of pornography, not to forget the popularity of erotic sexual aids, as well as all sorts of penis enhancement medications and or surgeries.


So - back on topic.  Should Christians be offended that Tom Ford made a phallic amulet in the form of a cross?


Why?  St. Paul tells us the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  What can one expect?


I'm not a Ford customer of course.  Just remember, fashion is fickle.  Like cosmetics, it is an industry which lies to those who consume it - and it is fleeting; like Tom Ford's youth.  Tom Ford is not very kind to his clients - and he also restricts his clientele.  He very famously said he doesn't design for fat people.  Hence, he doesn't have to try very hard to offend anyone outside his purview or interest.


I'm going with 'No' ... I doubt Tom Ford's phallic 'cross' is meant as an insult to Christians.  I'll bet he is not even interested in Christianity enough to harass religious people.  I would refer to his amulet as a fascinus instead of a cross.  Fascinating - comes from the Latin fascinus, BTW.


In Tom Ford's line, I'm guessing it's kind of gay.  Gay jewelry - with a hefty price tag.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The lack of joy among Catholics.

Divina Pastora - Cause of our joy!

Rejoice!

There seems to be a lack of joy among Catholics - which can suggest the absence of the Holy Spirit - because the signs of the Holy Spirit are love, joy and peace.

Those who foment dissension seem to lack that.

Lately I've been thinking of how the Israelites so often complained against Moses - even Aaron and Miriam complained, and the Lord punished them for it.

In Today's Gospel the Pharisees challenged St. John the Baptist - seeking to 'obstruct' his message.  I read today that Aquinas attributed their rebellion to envy, explaining "envious persons hinder the progress of souls."

Could it be there are those today, even in the Church, who are envious of Pope Francis?

Perhaps the invented, fanciful 'brouhaha' over something Pope Francis supposedly said to a little boy is an example?  It's a very simple story, which if it was true, little children - and those who are like them - can easily understand.  Do animals have a soul?  Do animals go to heaven?

I've said it before and I'll repeat it here:  It doesn't really matter and it is not for me to know if they go to heaven or not because as one of the psalms explains, 'such knowledge is too great for me' - I trust Jesus.  Yet if a little kid would ask me, I would say, "yes, I think they do."

Why? How can I steeped in sin at birth say such a thing?

Because, as another psalm says, God sent forth His spirit and the animals were created.  Hence, when he takes back his spirit - his life-breath - they die... returning to their dust.  

Once there was a fictional Little Prince who said something which may help us understand this better:  "The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen... What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Who in this life can see spirit or breath? Who knows the mind of God? Therefore I'm convinced, when God takes back His spirit, He takes his breath back - a little kid might say he takes it back in or inhales it, as it were. Deep breath. It's just a metaphor. Hence the life, the spirit, the breath of that little pet returns to God - and God is in heaven... Yep - so I'm convinced that is how we can say little kitties and dogs and rabbits and mouses go to heaven - without contradicting doctrine. 

Now remember this is not dogma or doctrine and no one has to believe it at all.  Even if the Pope said something to console a little boy who lost his dog.  It doesn't matter - because God is God ... and as St. John of the Cross wrote:  "Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me." 

A section of psalm 104 may help explain these things for little children much better than I can:

 You made the moon to mark the months;
the sun knows the time for its setting.
 When you spread the darkness it is night
and all the beasts of the forest creep forth.
 The young lions roar for their prey
and ask their food from God.

 At the rising of the sun they steal away
and go to rest in their dens.
 Man goes out to his work,
to labor till evening falls.

 How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.

 There is the sea, vast and wide,
with its moving swarms past counting,
living things great and small.
 The ships are moving there
and the monsters you made to play with.

 All of these look to you
to give them their food in due season.
 You give it, they gather it up:
you open your hand, they have their fill.

 You hide your face, they are dismayed;
you take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.
 You send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

 May the glory of the Lord last for ever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works! - Ps. 104

God made the monsters to play with ... he gave us pets to play with ... he takes back his spirit, and they die ... returning to the dust from which they came.

And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.
- Ecclesiastes 12:7

When the Son of Man arrives on Christmas, will he find any faith on Pewsitters?



Kat Christmas


Advent Saints ... for Guadete Sunday.

St. John of the Cross

"I find there are seven kinds of harm that can be incurred through vain joy in one's good works and customs, ... this harm is spiritual and is particularly ruinous ...
The first is vanity, pride, vainglory, and presumption. For one is unable to rejoice over his works without esteeming them. This gives rise to boasting, the critical spirit, etc., as is said of the pharisee in the Gospel: he prayed and sought friendship with God by boasting of his fasting and performance of other good works. [Lk. 18: 11-12]
The second is usually linked with the first. It is that a person judges others - comparatively speaking - to be evil and imperfect, supposing that their deeds and works are not as good as his own." - Ascent Bk III Ch 28, John of the Cross




Rejoice always! Rorate coeli ...


What?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yes Toonces, Poodles go to heaven too - but only if they're good.



The Pope didn't say that - but he could have.

He didn't say cats go to hell either.  That is so not funny.  Think of the St. Bernard Alpine Rescue Cats.  And don't forget - there are Dominicans* in heaven - some are canonized saints.


Alpine Rescue Cat.


Will there be animals in heaven?  If you want them there, of course.  Even Fr. James Martin, SJ agrees.  (Fr. Martin is kind of a poodle himself.)

That said, everything we need will be found in God - all our desires will be met.  Our Lord has promised a new heaven and new earth - all creation is renewed - nothing will be lacking in God.  Why is that so hard to get?  Why do people torment themselves with these questions?  Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.

A more pertinent question may well be:  "Do catty people go to heaven?"



What about Pitbulls?



*Dominicans - aka God's dogs.




What?



Song for this post here.