Cross and Resurrection

Easter Joy?

Some time ago, secularists began leading many to a more horizontal understanding of human existence. Their widespread philosophical and educational efforts have caused a shift to occur in the appreciation of what human existence is about. The root question has shifted from, “What does it mean to be human and to exist as a human?”, to a question such as, “What is the meaning of Life?” The latter question is a subset of the former question and anyone who really wishes to find meaning must work toward comprehending the former over the latter. Anyone who only examines human existence from a study of “this worldly” perspectives of life will inevitably descend toward nihilism. Anyone who studies human existence through Christian Revelation will come to see that human existence is truly “other worldly,” truly about the Easter Proclamation.

Unfortunately, as this shift occurred, the same secular error entered into Christian thought. With this error came a move toward over emphasizing the Resurrection and downplaying the Cross. To this end, there are many believers today that believe the resurrection is experienced in “this” life and that the rewards are part of this worldly existence. They have come to believe that the “good life” is one that is filled with many pleasures and the more pleasures experienced the more likely one will receive eternal life. Through this school of thought, many have come to believe that there will be no judgment at all. Nothing could be further from the Truth. The error is rooted in a misunderstanding of the word “good” as a modifier for “life.”

Since Christ is the ideal and the answer to all questions, the Cross must be preached before the Resurrection and the “good life” is one bound to the Cross. One does not exist without the other. One cannot get to the Resurrection without going through the Cross. When Christians in general understood and accepted this to be so, everyone accepted the place of penance and penitential practices; everyone embraced life’s suffering as the locus of the “Good.” There was a clear connection in the mind of believers between the suffering one experienced and the Resurrection hoped for.

With the shift in thought, many moved to pleasure as the gauge of existence and pleasurable “happiness” became the the sole measure of human existence. Yet true happiness has always been linked to Joy, not pleasure. Thus the Joy one saw in the eyes of someone like Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II during their lifetimes. Both endured suffering in this life yet never lost site of True Joy, which is bound up in the hope one finds in embracing the Cross. This is the true meaning of Easter!

On Good Friday we heard of the suffering the Blessed Virgin went through with Her Son. During the First Week of Easter, all of the stories we hear from the Acts of the Apostles are about persecution and suffering. One apostle after another embraced the persecutions and sufferings with Joy. The martyrs of the early Church all embraced his or her suffering as a cause for Joy. Great Saints like Dominic, Francis, Clare, John of the Cross, Therese, Bernadette, Lucia, etc. all eschewed pleasure in this life knowing that suffering was the way of Resurrection.

The Easter Season is not and cannot be reduced to a “feel good” season. Anyone who is honest about life knows there are trials and tribulations. These will always be. It is not that they will happen, as we know they will, but what the believer does with them. The traditional practice still remains and all should offer up the sufferings of this life so that good may come of it.

Today, there is a great deal of effort put into developing “feel good” psychologies, products, treatments, and situations. These false promises leave the modern person wondering about the place suffering holds in this life. The pursuit many engage in is to avoid suffering at all costs, to do whatever it takes to not suffer. Christians who are mislead by this approach usually crash hard when trials come because their expectation is that Jesus would preserve them from such difficulties. Yet Jesus Himself went through a most horrific suffering to come to the Resurrection.

Why do so many today believe they will be spared what the Savior Himself embraced? Why do so many today think the “good life” is one that was filled with material pleasures and encounters rather than the Cross? Without the Cross there can be no Resurrection!

For those interested, read Spe Salvi.

Blessed John Paul II

Can we just celebrate?

This weekend the Church will make the Venerable John Paul II Blessed. This is an important step along the path to sainthood and a truly joyous occasion for the Church. The life of this holy man will soon be recognized as worthy of Eternal Life in Heaven.

So why are there detractors who question the decision? Why is the Church seemingly placed on the defensive once again? In times past this would simply be a joyous occasion in which the whole Church could celebrate. Just a few years ago the whole world watched the great events that marked the end of his earthly life and desired to see this day come quickly. Now that it has arrived there are those who want to taint it.

This could be because today every voice has to be heard and all are given equal weight. The media seem to prefer having “other opinions” as part of every event so as to keep the level of skepticism high. In a world that is spiraling into nihilism due to modern skepticism, it would seem better to celebrate a holy person rather than look for questions.

At the heart of this questioning process is our Fallen Nature. The life of every human being can leave questions that raise doubts. But holiness is not about past mistakes or human shortsightedness, which all have due to our corrupt condition. Holiness is about responding to God’s call over and over throughout one’s life and never losing focus along the way. Even a holy person might fall along the journey. Holiness flows from picking oneself up, refocusing on the goal, and, through it all, seeking God’s Grace to avoid such falls again.

This weekend is an opportunity to stress the holiness of a man who spent his life in service of God and others. This weekend is one of those rare opportunities to rejoice and such should be the only focus for people of True Faith!

Blessed Pasch

Easter Joy!

Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen!! As we begin the Easter Season once again, may all praised the Lamb Who was slain and know the great Love God has for Man. THe Holy Father has offered a wonderful Easter Message! May the Peace and Joy of the Risen Lord be yours today and always.

Confiteor Iterum

I Confess Again...

The contest has some very interesting twists. The first mistake is that the winner of the scholarship will be the video with the most hits. Doing so means that it is a popularity contest and not necessarily the one that gives the correct teaching on Confession. In addition, it is possible to “cheat” by having the number of hits inflate artificially. It would be a real irony if the winner of the I Confess contest did so by cheating.

The second mistake is that anyone can upload a video with any content whatsoever. This is very problematic because some of the videos are not accurate with regard to Church Teaching on the sacrament. Since there is no one correcting the errors, the errors will continue to spread. It is good that many are involved in the process of spreading the word but such assumes that all approaches are equal. For future reference, there should be some controls exercised over the process as to how the entry is submitted and how the winner will be chosen -- a process that allows greater accuracy.


I Confess!

As is the case each year, the Monday of Holy Week has become Reconciliation Monday in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This particular tradition began several years ago and is now a mainstay of Holy Week preparations. The beauty in this tradition is that every Catholic Parish in the region has priests available for Confessions from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM on the same day at the same time. Any Catholic can walk into any parish church during that time and go to Confession.

This year, as Bishop Murphy notes, there have been some changes. Now, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn have joined in the tradition. In addition, a contest was put together to promote the opportunity. This contest is called “I Confess” and was open to anyone who wants to submit a video promoting the day. For amateurs, there are some very interesting videos. Feel free to take a look but keep in mind they are amateurs:

Hopping Along II

To Hop or to Hope II

A clarification is needed with regard to responding to movies and other events that are in some way opposed to an accurate spreading of the Gospel. Feasts such as Easter are important and anything that trivializes it should be addressed by the powers to be. However, such must be done in a teaching manner, not in a condemnatory or derogatory way. The goal of any statement or call for boycott must not become a form of free advertising or controversy that will only draw attention to the movie or event but one that succeeds in correcting the error.

As we have learned from the past, some movies that would never have made a profit did so after comments were released that condemned it. Movies such as Hop are not offensive per se but propagate the wrong message. At the heart of the issue is the power of the media to condition and form attitudes across a large cross section of society. Taking the most important of Christian holidays and overlaying them with an other signification causes confusion. Such moments can be teachable and Christians should be made aware of the process thrust upon them. The reality is that a persistent stream of error filled images and messages do influence even the most aware individuals. As case in point, one need only read the many studies that have been conducted regarding the influence of television.

What makes this situation worse is that there are no messages in the mainstream that correctly present the Christian Tradition and the secularists do all in their power to marginalize any attempt to spread the message accurately. More must be done with the opportunities given to spread the message, including offering coherent reasons for our belief. The only way to counteract the popular images thrust upon society is to make sure the producers know that such images are not acceptable. But to boycott alone is insufficient, especially in this current era of failed catechesis. Alternatives need to be offered, alternatives that properly present the Truth and will aid in forming future generations appropriately.

So when was the last Easter Movie produced that was actually about the Resurrection of Christ?

Hopping Along

To Hop or to Hope?

It is interesting how the latest in secular assaults on the Christian Faith is under way and Catholics have no problem with it. Years ago, Hollywood highjacked St. Nicholas and Christmas with movies like Miracle on 34th Street, which effectively reduced Christmas into a consumer holiday that is all about Santa who does not know anything of the birth of Christ. For decades now, even good Catholic parents have been pressured to maintain the lie, and have given in to that pressure, so as to not spoil it for the children who still “believe.” And once the lie is exposed, children are left to doubt other beliefs, such as the whole Christ Event!

Obviously, this is a simplistic explanation of a much larger process in which a widespread lie that overlays the Christian Tradition is propagated through secular myth and propaganda. Unfortunately, the lie has become a staple in the Catholic Household each year and those who attempt to point out the lie are labeled “Scrooge.” Yes, the lie is entrenched in many Catholic households and more energy is spent maintaining the lie than on Catholic practices and devotions.

A similar process has been surrounding Easter for some time. Although the egg and bunny overlay has been kept in check, recent years have seen it expand through secular propagation, especially through the consumerist channels. Like St. Nicholas, there is a move to strip the Christian roots from the stories and symbols. This process usually occurs through the media. This year there is a new movie that is blatantly attempting to highjack Easter. That movie is Hop and everyone, including Catholics, thinks it is good and “cute.” So grab the kids and run to the movies! Even the USCCB review points out its lack of Christianity and obvious omission of the real meaning of Easter but does not recommend that Catholics avoid the movie and send a message to Hollywood.

As the largest money making movie for the last couple of weeks, that means that Catholics and Christians are lining up and supporting this subversion of the most important feast of the year -- Easter! Although the movie has warranted a secular PG rating and an A II rating from the USCCB, many Catholics will take their children to this movie and thus leave them vulnerable to believe yet another lie -- that Easter is about the bunny who will hook you up with all sorts of sweets.

In addition, many Catholics have already lost the sense of Advent as most believe the “Christmas Season” begins on Thanksgiving. This latest movie was released during Lent and billed as an “Easter Classic.” As a Church, we have already seen a degradation of the Lenten Season by those who are putting up their bunny displays and Happy Easter signs -- and this is happening within Catholic institutions. The timing of the release of this movie will only further confuse these already misguided Catholics. With such mistaken thoughts permeating our own walls, how long before Ash Wednesday will be referred to as the First Day of Easter?

Time to Embrace It

As if it were up for a vote...

The New York Times has decided to weigh in on the New Translation of the Roman Missal. It is interesting how the modern mind works. The liberal media thinks that there is something left to debate and that, because there are dissenting voices, there must be controversy. That is not the case.

For those priests who have expressed some doubts or concerns and given the media what they want, recall once again that day when you knelt before the bishop and promised obedience. Fortunately the article states that only about 10% (in Ireland no less) have expressed doubt. Could the article have been any less fair to the 90% who are OK with it? Could the article have done anything more to make it seem that using it will be optional?

At the heart of the article’s argument is the question of people’s intelligence and ability. While the wording of the new translation will be less familiar, the people and the priests are more than capable of understanding it and following it. With a minimal amount of effort, everyone will be comfortable with the wording in a very short period of time. Case in point, the wording is very similar to the English used in the interim missal in the 1960s. The people then did not have a problem nor will they come next Advent.

To all the naysayers I say -- rather than fight the inevitable and turn the implementation into a problem that the rest of us will have to mop up, how about embracing and loving it as the Sacred Liturgy demands? Rather than resist, it is time to welcome...


The Council of Trent...

For some reason when the Sacramentary was translated into English and promulgated in the United States a decision was made to add a “rubric” regarding the distribution of the Precious Blood. Anyone who spends a few moments and actually reads the section of the General Instruction referred to in this added “rubric” will find that there was no intention to have the Precious Blood made available to every congregant at every Mass. In fact, the General Instruction refers the reader to the Church Teaching handed down at the Council of Trent with regard to Concomitance and charges the pastor with the responsibility of making sure the faithful are well instructed in this regard. This Teaching clearly states that anyone who receives one of the species has received the fullness of the Body and Blood of Christ. They are in no way deprived of any of the graces necessary for salvation.

Our catechesis and liturgical practice has been off base for so long that there is an “anonymous person” who claims he or she is being “denied” something when the Precious Blood is not distributed to the congregation at Mass. In fact, the person continues by suggesting we can use “disposable cups or cups that are washable” which would be “a great idea.” There are just too many errors present to even begin to list them and refute them.

Even now the bishops of the United States would prefer to raise this error to the level of norm. While there is a value to be discussed in the distribution of both species, there is a greater question involving the hermeneutic of continuity and the precision of Eucharistic Theology. If a “sign” is what it is in itself and the fullness of Body and Blood is contained under one or the other, it cannot be the “sign” itself that is any fuller under the distribution of both. Why not just spend more time teaching rather than changing?

However, we should ask the all important question, “Is this anonymous person an icon of a lost generation?”

A Gift Rejected

To Fear or not to Fear?

A Catholic school student and candidate for Confirmation listed the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit calling the last one “wonder and awe.” When politely corrected and told it is “fear of the LORD,” he quickly responded that the teacher told him that there are some old timers who say that but they are out of date. He was told the new list was “better and more accurate.” He was told to always say wonder and awe.

It is so good that we have these new and improved teachings that have revised the errors of all those centuries. Such revisionism of Church Teaching and Scripture should be questioned... and the question would be, “Why do you fear the Fear of the LORD?” Or better yet, “Why not just teach what the Scriptures say and the Church teaches?”

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1831) - The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the LORD.

Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise.

Sirach 1:12 - The beginning of wisdom is Fear of the LORD...

Isaiah 11:2-3 - The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

Liturgical Mania

Is it working?

For some time factions within the Catholic Church have been experimenting with the Sacred Liturgy and have promoted an error that the vernacular is the norm and that Vatican II taught that more experimentation in the liturgy was needed. Yet all of the gimmicks and adaptations have only succeeded in making the Sacred Liturgy confusing at best.

While Vatican II made it clear that Latin is to remain the normative language of the Liturgy and is to be preserved in the Latin Rites, there are those who completely reject its use and even reject using the approved translations. Those who argue for a lessening of liturgical rubrics and have continually engaged in open abuse of the Divine Liturgy claim that they do so because it is best way to keep people connected to the Church. In fact, one recently argued that reintroducing some Latin in the Mass would only succeed in alienating people and would definitely cause the numbers would drop. It is ironic that since the vernacular has been used, the attendance rates at Sunday Mass have gone from over 80% to 20%.

If only these progressive and well intentioned factions would step back for a moment and ask themselves the all important question, “Is it working?” they would come to realize that they should have actually followed the teaching of Vatican II rather than the whim of “open minded” liturgists.


Messages and Messengers!

As was recently reported, Fr. Corapi has been suspended pending an investigation into an accusation made against him about inappropriate conduct. The majority of comments being made either vilify or vindicate him, as if public opinion were the judge and jury. The reality is that opinions mean very little at this point and all should refrain from judgment one way or another in order to let those who have the facts, which should remain private, help all those concerned.

What is missing at this point are discussions about the message he preached, that is, discussions on whether or not his message is consistent with the Gospel and Church Teaching. His programs, homilies, and writings together constitute a message and the veracity of that message should remain the key focus of all public discussions. Thus, we need to ask, did he preach the Truth or not? His conduct and evidence of holiness of life can certainly support that message but the message is not dependent upon it. Such discussions can further the Gospel message, which was the focus of his preaching and teaching.

As Jesus reminds us of the religious leaders of His time, “Do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” This is not a statement about whether Fr. Corapi has done anything inappropriate at all but one that reminds us that ALL preachers are sinners. All of us have a fallen nature and all need to repent. Even so, we are responsible to the Truth. With regard to the Gospel, the message is not dependent on the messenger as its Truth exists apart from the messenger. If such were the case, the Church would not be here today.

Unfortunately today, especially in America, we are led to believe that message and messenger are mutually intertwined. Too often in discussions, attacks are made on one’s character in order to discredit his or her message. Some attacks are justified and some are not but in all cases the messenger’s character is not the gauge of veracity. In times past, academic pursuits where just that -- a pursuit of Truth. It is only in modern times where winning at all costs has supplanted honest academic pursuits. Thus, it is time we return to the pursuit of Truth in all our discussions, which exists despite our fallen nature.