Saturday, April 08, 2017

Just something I saw on "The Catholic Ladies Home Journal": Aleteia

The Comte de Reynaud
The village mayor in the film Chocolat.

Katrina Fernandez has some suggestions to help make what's left of Lent feel fruitful ...

I love Kat and her advice column is well written.  Her latest post here is encouraging for anyone who feels they've 'failed' at Lent.  Failing at Lent really only happens when one fails to repent - or maybe fails to deepen their conversion and love of God ... but that's not what Catholics emphasize so much.  It's more about what you do, or did, gritting your teeth, and making it to Easter to pick up your Easter basket.  Like Christmas - you expect something in return for not eating chocolate.  What?

Seriously, the ideas Kat shares are wonderful, and the experts she links to on Aleteia offer a variety of suggestions for a fruitful Lent.  I was struck by the 'entertainment' possibilities that were suggested - to get a 'penitent' in the mood.  I had to leave my own suggestion ... the 2000 film Chocolat.  Pretty much on how not to do Lent... unless it ends in failure, as in the case of the Comte de Reynaud.  

Reynaud, played by Alfred Molina, is the the stern, traditionalist mayor of a very traditional French village which never let go of its Jansenist yoke.  Reynaud's wife has left him and he leads a very strict life.  Devout, pious, and impeccably observant, he is appalled a non-believer arrives in the quaint village and opens an exotic chocolatierie at the beginning of Lent.  (Because we all give up chocolate, of course.)  Reynaud denounces everything about it and those who are seduced by the charms of the mysterious woman who operates the shop. 

Reynaud's character reminds me of some Catholics online - you know, those feisty Catholic social media personalities who accuse and condemn all the heretics and leftist-neo-whatevers.  Similarly, the mayor meddles in the moral life of townsfolk, he proof reads the young priest's sermons, and instructs him on how and what to preach.  Convinced of his own self-righteousness, he pretty much looks down upon everyone else.  His words against the moral decay he fears will overtake the village even incites a man to arson - to burn out the 'heretics', as it were, because the poor man thought he would gain favor with the mayor that way.  Reynaud sends him into exile from the village, lest he himself be discovered to have had any influence in his act. 

Overcome with zeal, Reynaud seeks to 'cleanse' the village of the 'witchy' woman who opened the shop, and opened the hearts of the villagers.  One dark night, he attempts to destroy the shop, and accidentally tastes the magical confection  specially the scenes of the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.of Mme. Rocher.  He is seduced, and his passions overtake him, and he is found the next morning, asleep in the shop window, chocolate covering his face ...  his Lenten observance failed, Easter Mass soon to begin, he was ashamed, humiliated, and, so it seems to me, finally able to repent.the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.  

Lent isn't about what we give up, or how good we are at keeping the laws we make for ourselves, or even about how many devotions we perform or attend.  It's actually good to fail.  In the last weeks of our Lord's life, Passion Week/Holy Week, all of the disciples failed - they abandoned our Lord.


Song for this post here.

the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition. 

the very rigid, yet devout Jansenist Mayor who observes Lent impeccably until one night, no longer able to suppress his passions, he devours the chocolatier's display window.  I think of it now as a sort of Pope Francis type of admonition.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Another 'New' Carmelite Group of Hermits?

Hermits used to find caves
to live in and earned their living
by the work of their hands.

Donation alert.

Fr. Z posted on a new group near Asheville, North Carolina, looking for donations to purchase property to establish a hermitage dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, following the primitive rule of St. Albert.
By a gift of Divine Providence, we have been led to a 400-acre mountain retreat property in the Blue Ridge Mountains about one hour from Asheville, North Carolina. The owners have desired for 35 years that this place be consecrated to God and have been waiting for religious to realize that. Now, they desire our community of traditional hermits to make this another Mount Carmel for Our Lord and Our Lady. - Hermits
Neither Fr. Z nor the hermit's website identifies any contact person, they say they are Catholic laymen seeking to establish a traditional contemplative community of hermits, and they are asking for a great deal of money to purchase the property.

Untried, untested vocations?

Before you jump on board, I would suggest getting some details.  Is this an offshoot of an existing group?  Are these men all laymen?  Is their no priest?  Are they experienced in religious life?  More importantly, are they authorized by the diocese to ask for donations?  They say they are seeking canonical recognition - which means they do not have it right now.  Is this their own initiative?  Normally a diocesan bishop invites a community to make a foundation, and or, gives permission to establish a group - the website gives no indication of any such approval.

Fr. Z offers no clue as to the identity or the legitimacy of the group save for revealing he received the news in an email.  There is not even a link to the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

There are groups of traditional Carmelite Hermits in the U.S. already: Minnesota, Wyoming and Texas.  They all have diocesan approval, each is asking for donations to build, and at least one is safely under the umbrella of O. Carm. authority.  Which means, a new Bishop is less likely to dissolve a contemplative community/association of the faithful of diocesan right because they are too traditional.

I recall a friend of mine who established a monastic group for men.  He had years of experience as a monk.  He is a priest.  He was invited by the Bishop of the diocese to form a traditional community - and he did so publicly.  He had everything in place.  His community is doing well.  He asks for donations, but he does so transparently and with the approval of the local ordinary.  Everything is in order.

Make sure you know who and what you are supporting.  Before donating, I would suggest contacting the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.




Thursday, April 06, 2017

Reparative Therapy: A Catholic Perspective



Deacon Jim Russell has an excellent essay on the subject.

He explains the difference between the Catholic understanding of same sex attraction/homosexual inclination as simply a temptation to sin, as opposed to the more Protestant understanding that the inclination itself is sinful.  That's huge.
Here is the major distinction Catholics need to make between the Catholic understanding of reparative therapy and the understanding espoused by at least some Protestant Christian reparative therapy supporters: The competent and informed therapist will ground therapy in the understanding that the homosexual inclination itself is not an instance of personal sin but is a temptation to sin. As such, the Christian’s goal of therapy will be shifted—the goal will not be to completely eliminate the erroneously perceived personal “sin” of having the inclination, by stopping the inclinations altogether. Rather, it will be to move the person toward a less-difficult pursuit of chastity despite whatever may remain of the inclination itself after therapy. 
If a therapist misunderstands the fundamental truth that the objectively disordered homosexual inclination is not a form of personal sin, someone can indeed be harmed by such therapies, even in a Christian setting. - Finish reading here.
Deacon Russell also affirms the fact that reparative therapy may not be for everyone.  That too is huge.
Simply stated, reparative therapy—grounded in a Catholic understanding of the human being—is one vitally important tool in the toolbox for anyone seeking both healing and chastity from the inside out. It is important to note that the Church doesn’t see reparative therapy as a form of healing that every same-sex-attracted person should or must choose. But the Church’s view of the human person clearly reveals the potentially great value of reparative therapy for those who may choose it. - Deacon Russell

Sometimes Catholics criticize Deacon Russell and other Permanent Deacons.

Before closing, I just want to say I cannot say enough good about the Permanent Diaconate in the Church.  Deacon Russell and others are actually in Holy Orders.  Those like Deacon Russell as well as others I have met, are solid, well formed, Roman Catholic ministers who work tirelessly for the Church.  Usually married, with children, many have full time jobs and yet work in their dioceses, in chanceries, parishes or as chaplains elsewhere.  They have the authority to teach.  Which places them in the forefront of Evangelization.  They are a great gift to the Church.  Pray for them and support them, just as you do our priests.

Gänswein talks.



In a new interview, "Archbishop Georg Gänswein,  Prefect of the Papal Household and private secretary to Benedict XVI, denies all the rumors and recent interviews about alleged pressure that led Joseph Ratzinger to resign."

So.

1) On the rumors about alleged pressure from the US government under President Barack Obama to push for Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. Rumors and plots recently relaunched in some articles and interviews, from which Pope Ratzinger ended up emerging as someone weak.

G: “It’s not true, it is invented, it is a groundless statement- Don Georg said - I spoke to Pope Benedict after this interview, and these rumors, he said that it is not true. His renunciation was a free decision, well thought out, as well as prayed for. The things I have read recently are invented and not true. - Read more here.
Be certain to read the rest of the interview.  One Pope, one Church, happy, happy, happy.  Notice the word Gänswein repeats, 'invented'.  These stories are invented.  Their connections to spurious messages associated with apparitions and private revealtions regarding two popes does not fit with reality.

He also responded to the idea of a gay lobby.  Which pretty much accords with what I have often said.  The Archbishop says it better, and of course, knows what he is talking about:

The secretary of Benedict XVI also answered a question about the “gay lobby” in the Vatican. “I don’t think the gay lobby is a power lobby - he said – there was an attempt to put things right and to give the necessary response.” But “the importance of this group has been exaggerated; an answer and a solution were given at the time. Speaking of power lobby is not only exaggerated, but a hundred times exaggerated. “ - Vatican Insider
I've just about had it
with these stupid rumors!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The worst chemical attack in years in Syria ... and a post about a comment.

For how shall we hear unless someone cries out 
above the tumult and destruction and delusion? - Alfred Delp


We have in our day, no prince, prophet or leader ...

BEIRUT, Lebanon — One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone on Tuesday, inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war.
Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours. Some rescue workers grew ill and collapsed from proximity to the dead. - Source
It is absolutely appalling.  A horror.  The killing of civilians.  The destruction of cities, villages, communities, families, women and children.

I wasn't going to post on Steve Skojec, simply because his life and work is none of my business.  I reconsidered after reading more about the Syrian chemical attack, killing dozens of people, many of them children.  I was struck by something Skojec said in a comment, defending "the work we do here to defend the family and the institution of marriage."  That's his work?

So what follows is the post I was not going to post yet decided to do so because it is so damn ridiculous that an American Catholic husband and father can post the bullshit he does in the face of serious, real life, in your face, suffering and death.  People have to snap out of their delusion.

Are you driving your family nuts with your religious fanaticism?

Religious parents might do well to take a sort of moral inventory.  I thought of this after Steve Skojec posted something yesterday about how spiritually tried he has been:
I don’t know about all of you, but lately I’ve not been in a very good state of mind. Everything feels harder than it used to. The battle, which was always fought uphill, has begun to appear almost futile. Trials and difficulties have seeped into all the various facets of life — work, family, expenses, the lived experience of the faith — making each burden feel heavier than it would have felt alone. I have the sense — and I know that I am not alone — that chaos and discord are being intentionally sown right in the midst of the people I hold most dear, all while something cruel and defiant whispers in my ear that none of it matters. Nothing matters. Just give up.
I think he should listen to those voices in his head.  He goes on to describe his malaise:
The writing that once came almost effortlessly for me has turned into an elusive craft. If it isn’t interrupted by an unexpected phone call or email about some new, negative development, it’s thwarted by an oppressive feeling of near-total malaise. Anger. Frustration. Apathy. It alternates, but it’s rarely conducive. My spiritual life has taken a noticeable beating as well ...
Well of course it has Mr. Skojec.  What have you been dishing out?  What have you been doing on your website?

Later on, Skojec, responding to a sympathetic string of comments revealed something that may hold the key to a bigger problem ...
Steve Skojec Mod The Great Stalin • 12 hours ago I, too, have a wayward child. It has been...excruciating, this past year or two. A huge distraction from my work, and in many respects I see what has happened as a direct attack on the work we do here to defend the family and the institution of marriage.

To be sure, Skojec's private life is none of my business, yet he makes his personal life public when he posts stuff like this. So, even though it's none of my business, what I'd suggest to him is first and foremost - avoid those who praise you and donate to you and boost your stats.  Get the attention of your family instead.


Stop viewing unexpected demands as an interruption in your life. Start accepting God's providence and his will in your life. You are a husband and a father and that is your primary state in life. If the duties of your state in life seem to be an intrusion, an interruption, even a distraction - that's a bad sign. Something is wrong. If your 'wayward child' is a distraction and is causing problems for you - it will only get worse if you ignore it. To respond in anger only foments anger. Frustration does indeed lead to apathy. Apathy is a form of sloth. When we neglect the duties of our state, apathy in the spiritual life is the end result. If your family is a distraction, something may be missing. The family may need your love and attention more than you realize.

Religious fanatics blame the devil when things go wrong - more often than not, I think we can place the blame upon ourselves.

Just saying.




I may be wrong, and I may sound like Job's friends, but I think it is important to remember what Our Lord told Sr. Lucia of Fatima about what he expects of us:
 Our Lord explained to her: "The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. This is the penance that I now seek and require." - Sr. Lucia


Our Lady of Syria, pray for your people,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour
of our death.
Amen.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Online Hoaxes



Not just for April Fools Day either.

I think there are a few online hoaxes going around once again.  We know the Fatimist hoax, the Sr. Lucia double, the incomplete secret, and now more absurdly, the newly found addition to the secret stating Church authority will be transferred to Fatima.  (Here)  Then there are all the Masonic conspiracy theories which tend to indict the Popes and Vatican II and the Novus Ordo.  Many Catholics are deceived.

It reminds me of the Leo Taxil hoax, his fake conversion, as well as the Diana Vaughan hoax.  I've written about it before.  April Fools posts were unusual enough this year to suggest that some of the most faithful people online could maybe not be as faithful as we think.  Pope Francis talks a lot about corruption and corrupt people.  Leo Taxil was corrupt.  He even deceived Leo XXIII, and of course, the Carmelites of Lisieux.


"About 1894 there appeared in France a series of self-styled revelations of the secrets of Freemasonry, published by a certain Dr. Bataille (Leon Taxil) and a woman called Diana Vaughan. These accounts gripped the imagination of the French public for a while. Later they were found to be false. The Servant of God took a certain interest in them at first, but long before there was any official denial of them she told us that they were not to be believed. Her only reason for rejecting them was the fact that Diana Vaughan once spoke against episcopal authority. 'That kind of thing cannot come from God, ' she said." - St. Therese By Those Who Knew Her

Keep that in mind when vetting the more preposterous things you read online.  When Catholics speak against episcopal authority - especially and including the Pope - remember what St. Therese said about the Taxil hoax: 'That kind of thing cannot come from God.'

Monday, April 03, 2017

Cardinal Burke on irregular marriages.



The Church has always allowed that.

In an interview on "Church Chat" Cardinal Burke stated:

“In the whole history of the Church, it’s never been possible that someone who was living publicly in a state of sin, for example a person who is bound in matrimony to one person, is living in a marital way with another person, it has never been permitted that such a person could approach to receive Holy Communion,” the cardinal said in his latest interview. 
“Now, suddenly, there are those, who are saying, ‘Oh, yes, but it is possible in certain cases,’ and so forth - but if this is something that is always and everywhere wrong, how is it possible that someone who is living this way can receive the Sacraments?” 
Burke said couples in such situations - for a just reason - may receive the sacraments if they refrain from sexual situations.
“The Church has always helped such couples,” he said, “… the point is this: that the couple has the firm resolve to live chastely, and to take all measures to live chastely. If they fail, on one occasion or another, then they simply have to confess that, and renew their effort to live chastely.” - Source

A man commenting online about the situation Burke referred to, said that is like giving a kid an ice cream cone and telling him not to lick it.

That's not true.  People have done that, people do that, and people will continue to do so - with the help of God's grace.  Quite seriously, their love deepens - to love another is to desire what is best, what will make them happy, and to do all you can to do that.  Love of God and one's eternal salvation is the greatest good, to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest happiness on earth.  I know people who have respected one another so deeply, as to willingly consent to live in such continence.  Neither God, nor the Church and her ministers can condemn such devotion.

Disinterested, but loving.

Jacques Fesch, The Penitent


April 6, 1930-October 1, 1957

"It is only recently that I have come to understand the meaning of the cross. It is at once prodigious and atrocious: prodigious because it gives us life, and atrocious because if we do not accept to be crucified all life is denied us. This is a great mystery, and blessed are the persecuted." - Jacques Fesch

Thursday is his birthday.

He's a penitent.  He accidentally murdered a policeman.  He was near sighted and shot the policeman who was pursuing him - after a botched robbery.   I don't know if he had the intent to kill, but that's just my thought.
Jacques Fesch, a young French man, was a convicted murderer who was guillotined for his crime in 1957 at the age of twenty-seven. He killed a police officer while fleeing from the scene of an attempted armed robbery. He has left us a testimony in his letters, written while in prison, that can bring hope to even the most hardened of sinners. His letters show that he was successfully able to resist the terrible temptation of despair, and present a clear witness to the unconquerable strength of a God who is Love, and whose love no crime can overpower. The letters display a glowing testimony to the fact that Love is stronger than even the most horrible of deaths. On the last night of his life, Jacques Fesch, wrote, "I wait in the night and in peace... I wait for Love." - Read more at: Murderer, Convert, Contemplative, Mystic

Anyway, Father mentioned him in his homily yesterday.  I was happy he did so.   We have a really good priest for our pastor.  He loves being a priest.





Penitents.

Like Mary of Egypt - but not exactly - Jacques found a place to flee - although incarcerated and sentenced to death.  There, he experienced that profound sense of repentance and encounter with Christ's love.  If there was only a way for us to cut ourselves off from sin with such vehemence, and to truly encounter Christ in that exile.  To accept our lot as our penance, our participation in the saving passion of Christ.  The penitents demonstrate that Christ came to save sinners - even the most offensive and guilty.


"If we do not accept to be crucified all life is denied us."

St. Mary of Egypt




The Fifth Sunday of Lent.

The Orthodox celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent in honor of St. Mary of Egypt, the penitent. (Her actual feast day is kept elsewhere on April 1, 2 and 3.) For those who have been addicted to sexual promiscuity - of any kind - St. Mary is a powerful intercessor and edifying example of penitence.  If they take away the title of penitent for the Magdalen, they can never do so for Mary of Egypt.

I was thinking of Mary of Egypt after Communion Sunday.  Briefly, the story of her conversion informs us that she was a 'dancer' and a harlot, on a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.  She also plied her trade on the way, 'turning tricks' as one might say today.  Our Lady's icon paralyzed her, keeping her from entering the church to venerate the relics.  She begged Our Lady for help, repented of her sins, and was able to enter.  Shortly after, instructed by the Blessed Virgin, she left everything and fled into the desert to do penance.  Penance.  We don't even know what that means today.  We don't even know how to flee the occasion of sin.

Yet many of us judge and condemn one another.  We claim to love the sinner but hate the sin, insisting we are only concerned for the salvation of souls, only to neglect our own in the process.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

I will never make a judgment on Medjugorje before the Church does.



"We need an intervention from heaven!" - Papal envoy to Medjugorje

I've questioned the authenticity of the apparitions, I've wondered why they go on and on, and I wonder about the secrets.  I've noted the communications seemed banal and ordinary, and not 'like' other messages from Heaven.  I've also had fun with some of the repetitive sayings, as well as the seers' personalities, and so on.  More deeply, I've always listened with an open heart, respectfully observing, and pondering the events and messages.

I've heard from and followed the paper trail of well meaning people - priests, religious and laity - who condemn the seers and the events, while anticipating the judgment of the Church they judge the entire phenomenon to be a Satanic fraud.  Oftentimes with great vehemence, absent of respect, and devoid of charity.

There were many times I was convinced the apparitions were true simply because of the witness of those who have visited Medjugorje.  I've often been deeply impressed by their obvious faith and devotion, as well as the change in their lives once they returned from Medjugorje.  I've know people who have entered religious life and the priesthood, sensing a call to do so after their experience there.

Lately I like to say that 'I don't need to be right' and 'they don't need me to defend them'.  So that means I don't really care what those who oppose the events at Medjugorje have to say about it.  It's their problem, but it's also one reason I don't read people who dedicate their blogs to condemning Medjugorje - by whose authority do they speak?  In a sense, they are like the 'Fatimists' who reinterpret the Secret of Fatima, rejecting the Magisterial interpretation of the secret.  So many say their concern is for the salvation of souls, but it might well be that the people who follow Medjugorje are closer to heaven than the rest of us.  How much penance do I do?  How much prayer?  How many good works have I done?  How have I been an instrument of peace and reconciliation and healing?

Today the Church has taken 'custody' of the shrine.  That has never been more obvious than today, since Archbishop Henryk Hoser, special Papal envoy to Medjugorje, has arrived on the scene.  His concern is for the pastoral care of the pilgrims, not to discern the authenticity of the apparitions.  So far everything he has witnessed and experienced has been positive.  Today I came across the Archbishop's homily, which affirmed the good spirit he has encountered there.
“Let us pray for peace because the destructive forces are immense, the arms race is on the rise, people are torn apart, families are torn apart, societies are torn apart. We need an intervention from heaven! And the presence of the Blessed Virgin is this type of intervention. It is an initiative of God. And so, I would like to encourage and comfort you as a special envoy of the Pope.
“Protect the world with peace through conversion of the heart; the greatest miracle of Medjugorje is the confessions here.  The sacrament of forgiveness and mercy. It is a sacrament of the Resurrection. I thank all the priests who come to confess here, about fifty today, in the service of the people. - Finish reading here.

It seems to me, this is the essence of the message of Medjugorje: "peace through conversion of the heart." Morbid curiosity about the secrets and future calamities is not what Our Lady calls us to.  Again, I'll leave this quote from the Archbishop's homily:

“We are witnesses of what saves life. We are witnesses of what saves the world. The Franciscan friars said that there are pilgrims who come from more than 80 countries from around the world. This call can spread to the ends of the Earth as Christ said by sending his apostles.
“Mary is with us and shares in our suffering and pain. She helps us, helps to bring us to repentance and to feel its spiritual presence. We call her, especially here, the Queen of Peace and invoke this title when we pray the litany of the Blessed Mother." - Archbishop Hoser

Denver Bishop to Millennials: We can't have you living in your parent's basement ...



The Church is your home.


Just don't panhandle unless you turn it over to us when you return to the shelter at night.