Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Women They Don't Mention

A German Catholic Priest who has failed in keeping in vows has a bishop who can shepherd the fallen priest's soul back into the fold. The fold is where vows are kept. We all fail and have many virtues to try to build up in our souls, so we can't judge his failings, but we can judge the overall picture.


In the pictures of non-married Roman Catholic priests who break their vow of celibacy, there is a woman in the background. The solution that is decried by ecclesiastical activists, (those who want to reform traditional disciplines in the Church), and the secular media and by the priests who have broken the vows themselves, is that Church law and the discipline for celibacy must change. Because they weren't able to keep the vow and don't have the desire to be celibate in the future, Church law must bend to their prerogative. This is the exhortation on the world stage. But, my commentary is not to bring forth the arguments for the vow of celibacy; others more adept at presenting century old arguments have done that well, but to open up the view of the woman in the picture of the priest; the sexual partner. Where is her culpability?


Many feminists decry "equality". Where is the equal liability for the breaking of the vow? What kind of woman has sexual relations with a priest whom she must know has vows. If the women would adhere to the Sixth commandment and the new testament law against fornification, and in this instance, relations with a priest, it most likely rises to adultery since the priest is married to the Church, the men would not fall. The men need to stop using Church law and discipline as the problem. Millions of men through the centuries of been successful at keeping their vows, even when tempted by a woman. But, for those that don't, they can only blame themselves, but always with the help of a woman.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Fatima Centennial Reflection

When I was a child my parents had a little booklet about Our Lady of Fatima and her apparitions to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco. What stuck out for me in Our Lady’s message to the children was the need for the soul to be a member of the Blue Army. This was important so Russia would not spread Communism throughout the world and the nation would be converted to Christianity. To me, the conversion to Christianity was the most important part, because if that happened then it would follow that the nation would not spread Communism.

When the Berlin wall fell, I knew this was part of an answer to the prayers of the Blue Army who had prayed for the conversion of Russia. You did not hear very many people talk about it, then. I did have a friend who was there when the wall came down, and got to experience it, but I did not share with her the message of Fatima. For myself, I knew for sure that it happened because Russia had been consecrated to the world as requested by Our Lady. I used to think about it a lot, that the wall came down because of the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima.

In 2010, Newt Gingrich produced a documentary, “Nine Days that Changed the World” that pointed to the relationship between Our Lady of Fatima’s prophecy concerning obtaining peace in the world, then Pope John Paul II, and President Ronald Reagan as instruments of God for this purpose of bringing Communist Russia to an end. In the 1990s we saw Russia allow Christian worship, again. Orthodox Cathedrals began opening up in the 1990s with new religious liberty. What else could have affected that except the prayers of the Blue Army? We have not seen the spread of Communism. Even in China, Communism has not spread and North Korea does not want to spread it to other nations, they just want to make us end what we have.

This goal of atheist leaders to “end what we have” which is our relationship with Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life”, has never been promised in any Marian apparition to come to an end if we pray for peace.  The atheist’s goal to destroy the peace we have achieved through faith in Jesus Christ will always be there. We can admit that in the flesh, we are fearful of their goal and we often times struggle in spirit to carry its cross. But, the thing about the spirit is that it multi-tasks for us. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to struggle and have peace at the same time. The scriptures talk about this as “knowing”. St. Thomas Aquinas equates knowing to “believing.” We believe that Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph, we believe when the last trumpet sounds that the Church will have endured and been readied like a bride to greet her groom when He comes again. We believe, so we know, so we act with faith and persevere while the Holy Spirit keeps our fear at bay.


Fifty years later, I am still not a full-fledged member of the Blue Army. The criteria are the same, to pray the rosary everyday for peace and to make five consecutive First Saturdays. I may have completed the Five First Saturdays, but my daily rosary is most often not for peace, but for some other supplication.  But, with the Centennial of the First Fatima Apparition, I hope to make reparation going forward to any lack of participation I have had in the Blue Army. The Blue Army is still marching and like a good Soldier Confirmed in Christ, I want to be a part of Our Lady’s peace plan. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Magisterium is Merciful to the Desires of Feminist Women - But not in the way they want

      I had a helpful insight while I was preparing my presentation on why only men can be priests. I discovered that apologetics on the the question of whether the priesthood should be open to women can be addressed from the reality of mercy rather than from theology. The Church approaches the question very mercifully, but not in the way some women would like.

      The Church has a beautiful way of expressing the immense mercy she has for women. Many women are anxious about their "roles" in the world. Many feel the Church sees them not equal to take up the office of the priesthood. But, in reading up Guadium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, I found that the pastors seek to understand and empathize with the struggles of women. They are merciful, but, the truth about the institution of the priesthood for men only, is a truth that cannot change. Gaudium et Spes to speaks to the merciful voice of the Magisterium. Preface:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.

      They go on further with an empathetic voice:

Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man's religious life as well.

      These changes have affected women profoundly. Women have desires they haven’t had before, because scientific developments and technological advancements have created new opportunities. Some, of these opportunities have been explored and found to be detrimental rather than helpful, like, putting a career before children and the use of artificial birth control. Woman was created by God with a nature which creates a desire and want to have children. But, as the Council Fathers state, the “cultural and social transformations” has had “repercussions on man’s religious life as well” and so women responded to the feminist voice that said, “forget what your religion teaches, forget family life, go for the money and career. It is your turn to have what men have had.” Women who bring the struggle for a female priesthood to the Church and the culture are basing it on the desires of an earthly kingdom. The feminist movement is a struggle that is regressive toward women rather than progressive because it removes religion from the discussion.

      Gaudium et Spes speaks of man trying to live life without religion:

On the other hand, growing numbers of people are abandoning religion in practice. Unlike former days, the denial of God or of religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and individual occurrences. 

      The women’s liberation movement or feminism, which seeks happiness without religion and God has had a profound effect on Catholic women. A sense of a need for women to have “solidarity” against men who dominated the home and the workforce has infiltrated consecrated religious women and some lay women through its “goddess mentality” and false equality of “we can do anything man can do.”

      The pastors are aware of this and instead of being critical of their new mindset, they show understanding because they know that “it is only through the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (GS, 22). When expounding Christological truths, pastors can never criticize or berate. They always understand it is where the person is, coercion won’t win the women over to full assent to Church teaching regarding that the priesthood is reserved for men only. Only mercy shown through the pastoral insight found in Gaudium et Spes and other Magisterial documents.

      My prayer is that feminists do not continue to unjustly judge our pastors as unmerciful to their cause. It is my prayer that feminists realize the pastors do see the stresses of the world, but they articulate well, but that it is the transformation of society to a non-religious one that predates and initiated some women's rallying cry for a female priesthood. A sense of struggle is often brought on people by participating too closely in the culture. A more objective approach to the role of women in the Church and mercy on their side towards the Magisterium would alleviate much of their perceived "struggles."


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reflection on His Majesty as our "Beloved"

Jesus Christ has many names that you know of; Messiah, Savior, Lord. Saint Teresa of Avila speaks of Christ in two ways, as her Beloved and as His Majesty. What do we see from this?  Since, Christ is King and rules over all dominions, kingdoms and principalities (Eph. 1:21), and will one day unite them into one kingdom that we can see, how can a King who seems so far above us and distant from us be so close to us that Saint Teresa can call him "her Beloved." How can we each call Christ, His Majesty, as our Beloved, too?

There is one way. That is to enter our diamond castle and meet the Lord there, through prayer.  It is prayer that will unite us to the Lord. Whether, it is through the highest form of prayer, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or a simple gaze of desire for union when we venerate the cross, the prayer traditions of the Church guide us on prayers that help our small voices to feel adequate to address Him. It is our voices of prayer that He desires. Not for Himself, but for us. He is a generous God and wants us to have all that is good, and beautiful. He has ordained that we receive these aspects of his Divinity and Majesty through union with Him in prayer.  His love will warm our hearts to his Real Presence and then his Majesty will be our Beloved, too.

Beloved means or whole "being", body and soul are caught up with God's love. It is a presence, and by what is known as a "consolation" from God's favor and grace working in our soul, we feel God's love and the desire for Him as our Beloved.

The consolation or awareness of God's love that He gives us consoles us as we continue our journey through the diamond castle.  The vermin outside the castle are symbols of distractions and temptations that attempt to keep us from prayer, but we will not yield on our journey. We will be consoled that He is with us. Darkness, will not overcome the light of His Majesty.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Crux of the Matter: Pivoting Between the Suffering and Hope



When we see a crucifixion today, we can’t help but reflect on the most memorable crucifixion of all time. You would think that in these "progressive" times, mankind would be more at peace with each other and have progressed beyond torture. But, like our Lord, even today innocent people are being nailed and hung on a cross. They are not being hung just to be executed for their faith, but because they think that using the symbol of the cross will deter us from venerating the cross.    
God chose a time in history when the cruelest way to kill someone was used to sacrifice His son. To this day, it is the only way to execute in which there can be a sign to those who look upon it. To this day, the cross is still a sign of suffering and a sign of hope. Those who use it today think they devalue the cross. They don’t know, when they use it, they elevate its glory.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem expressed this thought in teaching that when the angel at the Christ’s tomb declared, “We know you seek Christ who was crucified”, the angel could have said, “I know you seek the Master”. But, instead he pointed to the cross as the symbol for Jesus rather than to a title for our Lord. This is because “the cross is a crown, not a dishonor”, Saint Cyril wrote.
Crux is Latin for the “cross”.  It has evolved in English to mean “to be at a pivotal point”.  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a pivotal point in history.  It put into proper context the suffering and hope of mankind. It exemplifies the worst suffering and the highest hope. They are intimately linked only because Christ rose from the dead.  Rising and death were incompatible actions of body and soul for God’s people until Christ showed us that death and rising are interdependent.
Human beings are always at a pivotal point, swaying between suffering and hope. We pivot daily. We venerate the cross and we talk about the crux of matters that can help us stop pivoting. We want to always be at the hope end of the matter. The crux is the only means to bring us to that end.
But, there is a process in the means. Our Church tells us we have to carry our crosses, to suffer first. There is always a passion before the resurrection. Our Church tells us to focus on the resurrection and the crux of the matter will not seem like such a cross. The crux of the matter will reveal the answer. We can stop pivoting for a little while, but the cross will always be with us in some way. If it is not our cross, it is our friends and family and the world at large. If we have empathy, we will help them carry their cross. Their cross will be our cross, too. We talk about our crosses. We look to teachers and pastors to help us find ways to carry them with peace of mind. We share our daily pivots of suffering and hope through news and books. We don’t need to progress beyond the sign of the cross because we’ve taken away the cross as a method for murder and we keep it as a sign. They can kill us on a cross, but they can’t take away its merit and meaning. When they do, they only make it shine.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the "Sleepwalker" Wakes Up

The "Sleepwalker" statue at the all girls Wellesley College in Massachusetts has brought forth varying opinions on its value to the landscape and to art. Some of the women are concerned for other women who may view the Sleepwalker and be reminded of sexual abuse. For me, that did not come to mind, but should we be concerned for modesty's sake, or for underage children who may be visiting students at the campus? We need others to wear clothes, even statues.


I could now talk about "the fall" and how we only came to wear clothes after our eyes were opened to or nakedness as Genesis explains, and how this relates to our fallen nature. However, the sculpture beckons a different analogy for me that springs from the fall, but more importantly moves us from focusing on that loss and looking to the fulfillment of ourselves found only through Christ's redemption of mankind.


Not being a sleepwalker is a good thing, medically, for safety's sake and for a night of respite. More importantly, it is important for our spiritual lives. When we are spiritually unaware of the transcendent, who He is and what He has done for us, it makes us in effect walking in kind of a sleep.


The spiritual masters have called this phase of the spiritual life, "purgation". Just as sleepwalker's bodies are suffering by being physically tasked while asleep, subsequently our bodies occur a loss of rest. In comparison, the soul occurs a loss when the body is awake but unaware of its own capacity. It can be a "loss" in the sense of having had something good and then noticing that it is gone, or it can be a loss in the saddest sense; that one doesn't realize what was had or in its grasp because one's eyes were closed.


It is the duty of the Catholic Church, as Mother, to alert us through the teachings of the saints, to the good that can be had. It is her duty to alert us when we are losing what we had. The spiritual life can be a receiving and a loss, a back and forth of sleeping and awaking. Of eyes shut or eyes open. Just as the sleepwalker may need to be jarred awake, our souls while in the purgation phase of the spiritual life are being jarred awake. Our sufferings wake us to search for something other than ourselves to give us peace. Sometimes we go to the doctor. Sometimes we pray.


The "Sleepwalker" art is a metaphor for the soul asleep. Arms outstretched, this sleeping man is searching. Sleep scientists express this disorder in such a way. We know a jolt of some kind will eventually awaken the man. Will the "jarr" or jolt that awakens him be more suffering or will it be, like some saints have expressed, "like a flash"- painless, peaceful and beautiful. Will the eyes see the landscape with a new clarity, as expressed by the Apostle Paul when the "scales fell from his eyes" (Acts 9:18)? Will his soul be filled with the awareness of who has awoken him?
Most often once God is ready to move a soul from purgation to awareness, the gift is not more suffering, it is peace and joy. One knows it when one has experienced it. Some souls for whatever God's reason, are given the grace of knowing this peace and joy throughout their lives. But, for most of us, if we have our arms outstretched seeking the true and the good, we will receive the jolt or grace of an awakening from a sleep that is, through him, with him and in him - our Savior Jesus Christ. And, what the eyes of our soul will see is only love, peace and joy. Our souls realize they have a capacity to be filled with love to the brim. Our original loss now becomes our gain.


As the Church has expressed in her liturgy, it is better to have been born and lost, then to never have been born and never to have experienced the gain that comes out of loss. For those who have experienced the "awakening" to a new life in Christ, the suffering and loss are replaced with the good, so we can move on to experience what is only beautiful and true.


As the seasons change, so do we. Maybe the artist of the Sleepwalker will replace him in the spring with a new piece that has a man eyes wide open to the newness of life around him and in him; the divine life that is evidenced by "the things that are made" (Rom. 1:19-20).

Friday, September 09, 2011

When progress is good.

I remember on 9/11 I was employed as an Account Executive with Careerbuilder.com. In 2001, we still had to convince many companies that online ads were something they needed to use to recruit new employees.  At that time many of the 150 diocesan newspapers did not have websites and the popular blogs and daily checking of Catholic news sites wasn't part of a Catholic's day.

We can see how the use of the Internet by Catholic media has progressed to have networked, though not through a platform, to a real "industry" or to softly say, a community of sites. This is when progress is good.  Not only do we have favorite Catholic news sites to check each day, but the sites alert us to their new news postings through email sends. We have the opportunity to read and know and take to heart the exhortations and reflections of our bishops and the Magisterium very easily.  In their pastoral role they lift us on Church memorials and feasts and with the upcoming ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and our nation, our bishops help us cope with the memorials of profane history in this earthly city.

Zenit news has posted 9/11 reflections by Archbishop Dolan. These reflections matter.  They matter to us as a community of believers because of our coming together via the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we are united in heart when tragedies are remembered. Most important, as part of the community of saints our prayers build up the Church militant. Let us remember the communion among believers that would not exist without the Eucharist. We thank the Lord for the Church whom in her pastoral care establishes law to claim Sundays as a time to worship as one.

Here is the text of Archbishop Dolan's reflections:

Archbishop Dolan: Let 9/11 Legacy Be One of Hope
Says 10-Year Anniversary a Time to Remember, Go Forward
WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, is a moment to not only remember, but also to go forward, says the president of the U.S. bishops' conference.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York wrote this in a statement released days ahead of the anniversary that marks a decade since four hijacked planes crashed in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In total, some 3,000 died as a result of the attacks, including 19 hijackers.

"We reverently recall those who were most directly affected by this tragedy -- those who died, were injured or lost loved ones," Archbishop Dolan wrote. "In a special way we recall the selfless first responders -- firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons -- who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others."

It is estimated that more than 400 first responders, including 343 members of the New York City Fire Department, died in New York on 9/11. Most died when the north and south towers collapsed.

The archbishop said that it's important to not only to remember the attacks, but also the response: "We turned to prayer, and then turned to one another to offer help and support. Hands were folded in prayer and opened in service to those who had lost so much."

Going forward, Archbishop Dolan said that as a country "we remain resolved to reject extreme ideologies that perversely misuse religion to justify indefensible attacks on innocent civilians."

"This tenth anniversary of 9/11 can be a time of renewal," he added. "Ten years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism.

"As we face today's challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges. Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope for a world renewed."

9/12

In a column published Wednesday on the Web site of Catholic New York, Archbishop Dolan reflected that in addition to what took place on 9/11, there was a lot to be learned from 9/12.

He recounted how the parish priest of St. Peter's, located near Ground Zero, told him: "We New Yorkers don’t just remember the horrors and sorrows of 9/11; we also celebrate 9/12."

"It took me awhile to get the insight of his statement," the archbishop admitted. But then he explained: "New Yorkers were shocked, scared, angry, saddened and shaken by the unforgettable death and destruction of 9/11, true; but, New Yorkers were not paralyzed or defeated!

"They immediately rallied, becoming people of intense faith, prayer, hope, and love, as the rescue, renewal, resilience, rebuilding, and outreach began. And it has not stopped since."

"9/11 could have turned us into petrified, paranoid, vicious animals, and our demented attackers would thus have won," Archbishop Dolan continued, "or, it could bring out what is most noble in the human soul, such as heroic sacrifice, solidarity in service, non-stop rescue efforts, communities bonding, prayer for those perished and families mourning, healing and renewal."

"9/11 did not have the last word," he added. "9/12 did."

--- --- ---

On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text of statement: www.zenit.org/article-33379?l=english

The Women They Don't Mention

A German Catholic Priest who has failed in keeping in vows has a bishop who can shepherd the fallen priest's soul back into the fold. Th...