Coming Soon...

If the Contemporary Liturgists had Their Way!

Here is one of those videos that has a sarcasm which captures the trend many think is the solution to empty pews. The scary thing is that this is what many contemporary liturgists would love to see. God willing those days are behind us in the Catholic Church and the Truth of the Liturgy will not fall prey to the contemporary music lovers and liturgists…

For Unto Us...

…A Savior is Born

In the stillness of the night our Savior was born. After these many centuries, it seems we no longer marvel at what happened those many years ago. Think about it, God became Man and was born of a Virgin. The Word that created the universe lay silently sleeping in a manger. God with us… The Prince of Peace in our midst.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

May the Truth of the Incarnation Fill You with Peace

Despite the degradation of Christmas by secular forces, this Feast is still uniquely Christian and it is our source of Hope and True Peace. May the Lord give you His Blessings and may your Christmas bring Peace and Joy to you and your Family!


Are All Welcome?

A permanent deacon from the diocese of Brooklyn has taken exception to one of the successors of the Apostles in a public forum. As a theologian, I must remind myself constantly that the goal of all communication in the Church is to communicate the Truth and, as a theologian, there is a hierarchical dimension to such communication. A theologian is under the magisterium and the role of the theologian is to assist the communication of the Truth as promulgated by the magisterium. In the world today, the internet has become an important tool for communication and we should utilize it for evangelization. In this regard, however, when we speak of communication and evangelization, we must work for the authentic teachers in the Church, not against them. At the heart of evangelization has always been faithfulness to the Truth. In this regard, the Message preached is not authored by the messenger, who must submit humbly to the Divine Author. Truth is never put to a vote or developed on the basis of a cross section of opinions, as we find in the American secular model that has been adopted by many American theologians and clergy members. The Church is not looking for personal opinion or conjecture in the realm of theology, Truth, and beauty.

In this regard, on October 20 of this year, Bishop Morlino made an excellent point about beauty having to be more than what we enjoy or what pleases us. True Beauty must always conform to the Truth, which it is meant to reveal. Truth is not relative and beauty is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder. This gauge should always be applied to the Divine Liturgy of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For many years now, the Latin Rite has been relativized to the point where parishes that border one with another celebrate the Holy Sacrifice radically different from each other. In some cases, the rite celebrated did not conform fully to the Truth and therefore, although the congregation may have enjoyed the performance, it cannot be said that it is was beautiful.

Unfortunately the Church has lived for decades with the rite of father so and so or parish such and such rather than the Rite of the Holy Roman Church. How often we hear that the parish of such and such does a much better Mass than its neighbor or that one prefers father so and sos Mass? Never mind that what is celebrated does not conform to the Truth or to the liturgical norms of the Holy Roman Church. The fact of the matter is that the entire Church is responsible to the Truth, which Beauty always conforms to, and the task of safeguarding of Truth falls to the magisterium.

With regard to the question at hand, we are still dealing with a period following the Second Vatican Council in which theologians, musicians, priests, deacons, and liturgists were steeped in an errant understanding of social justice. Yes, the Church does engage in a social outreach to the poor and lost. Yes, the Church does feed the hungry and house the homeless without judgment. Yes, if someone knocks on the Church’s door looking for bread, he or she will be fed regardless of what that person has done. Every missionary for the Church sent to any part of the world to help the poor has always done so willingly and without judgment. But every missionary also preached repentance and conversion, a dimension that was lost in the social justice of the aforementioned. While the Church gives every Man what is due him in Justice, no Man will be allowed to violate the Justice of God. Unconditional acceptance and tolerance of “all” is not at the heart of social justice. Those who bought into the post-Vatican II errant form of social justice have desired to form a Church that is reduced to the level of broken Man rather than raising broken Man to the level of Christ in His Church. This approach is formed on an inadequate anthropology and an errant ecclesiology.

This mistaken anthropology has been woven into musical and liturgical themes in the St. Louis Jesuit - Marty Haugen - David Haas genre of liturgical music. In this genre of music are sub-themes built on the Promethean American secularism that has made Man His own end and sees all the problems we face today in the hands of Man Himself. In fact, this mistaken humanism was identified in Pope Paul VI’s Christmas message in 1969. This error has lead some to dream dreams and imagine a world formed by John Lennon rather than God. In this secular driven model, if we all would just hold hands, tolerate one another, and accept each other’s faults the world would be a better place. Don’t talk of sin and error as we know that Man is broken. Yet the Church is the institution of Salvation established by Christ with Her members ordered to God as their end. Broken Man is restored only in Christ. The Teaching aspect of the Church has been entrusted by Christ to St. Peter, the other apostles, and their successors, an aspect that keeps the Salvation of the Soul as its primary focus. The ordinary universal magisterium, which is constituted by the bishops in union with the successor to St. Peter, is tasked with maintaining and teaching the Truth. At the heart of restoring Man’s brokenness is repentance of Sin and the Grace of the Sacraments.

Like it or not, Bishop Morlino, although he does not enjoy the charism of infallibility in himself, is an authentic teacher and legitimate authority in the Church. Great care should be taken when disagreeing with something a bishop presents, particularly when he is doing so as an authentic teacher of his flock. It is not the place of a deacon or a priest, within the bishop’s diocese or outside it, to use a public forum to express a personal opinion in opposition to any bishop’s statement. At best, such should be done in a private communication and, if it is agreed that a mistake was made, it is up to the bishop to make the correction public. In reading the bishop’s article, he was not being capricious in judgment or stating something he personally thought -- he was taking an opportunity to teach his flock about a particular Truth, especially with regard to that which is our source and summit. In this regard, there is a real difference between social outreach and worthiness of the Kingdom.

As for those whose ecclesiology is steeped in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s, an era in which public dissent in the Church became a badge of honor and individualist secular theologies were presented as authentic teaching, it is time to allow the authentic teaching of the Church to permeate Her members at all levels. The “Hermeneutic of Discontinuity” and rupture must end if a true reform is to occur in the Church today. This particularly applies to a deacon who has set himself over a bishop by publicly saying, “Sorry, bishop, but you are wrong.” Such a statement is prideful and divisive at best. This deacon continues his defense of “All are Welcome” by using a description of the Church as outlined in “The New Colossus” rather than the one contained in Scripture. Thus, his description and defense go against the words of Christ Himself. In this regard, a careful reading of the parable from Matthew 22:1-14, which was the Gospel reading the Sunday before the bishop wrote his column, indicates that all are invited but not all will come. And of those who come, not all are worthy to remain at the Feast and will be cast out. All are invited but all are not welcome due to Sin and the damage Man suffers in His brokenness.

As the bishop himself noted, “All are welcome at the liturgy who truly seek salvation in and through Jesus Christ, by following God’s Will, as spelled out through His Son’s very Body, the Church. People who have little interest in doing God’s Will don’t fit at the liturgy. And certainly, by their own choosing, the poor souls who suffer in Hell for all eternity are not welcome.” It is best that we all keep in mind the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim 4:3-4) which describe this generation:

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.”

How Easily We Forget

Holiday Season?

Every year the same tension runs through this country about the “reason for the season,” as if there were something to debate. The sad fact is that so many have forgotten that it is not about spending or gifts… we are preparing for the Coming of Christ! Here is a great reminder for us all!!

Come Lord Jesus, Come

The Passing of a Generation

There is a stark contrast at most funerals these days. So often the person who has died is in their 70s, 80s, or 90s and can easily be described as a “good Catholic,” i. e., one who believed in Jesus and the Blessed Mother and who went to church every week if not more often. The description of the deceased often includes his or her daily recitation of the rosary, that he or she was a member of the Rosary Society or Holy Name Society, and that he or she was devoted to his or her spouse for 40, 50, or 60 years of marriage. The deceased is further described as being a person of good character and, although stern, could not harm anyone. He or she is typically seen as someone who brought joy to the family and was the one who held the family together, the latter especially being applied to matriarchs.

Those who pass today at an advanced age are part of a generation that would have every reason to be a nihilist. These are people who lived through world wars and serious economic depressions. These are people who have watched the rapid changes of the world and seen many of its effects, good and bad. This is a generation that had few material possessions and yet were still tremendously generous in what they gave away. This is a generation that knew hunger and yet always makes sure others are fed first. This is a generation that walked to the local stores for their daily bread and was thankful for the one car that was used to get to work. This is a generation that wore their “best” to church and understood why modesty was important. This is a generation that never asked for anything in prayer for the self and yet was always praying for someone. This is a generation whose faith and love of church was never up for negotiation, whether in good or bad times.

Sadly, at their funerals one finds younger generations who come to mourn them. There are usually tell tale signs from these that their lives are steeped in hedonism and moral decadence. They come to the funeral dressed like forty-second street night workers or rap stars. Their bodies are scarred with tattoos and piercings. The bring their “significant other” who may or may not be of the opposite sex. They are not sure how to act or what to say while in a church building. They roll their eyes throughout the service and keep looking at their watches. Based on the dynamics, their family lives are steeped in brokenness through divorce and social upheaval. They all have the latest gadgets and leave individually in the top of the line cars. They are often described as a generation that is emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. They form a generation that willingly pays large sums of money for counselors and yet are never truly satisfied or happy. They see the answer to problems in chemicals and scoff at the possibility that prayer could be the real answer. Their very actions and lives were the biggest concern of the deceased. And ironically, this is a generation that is angry with God Whom they blame for all their troubles.

For sure, the deceased was most likely deeply concerned and prayed daily for those who come to mourn them in death. The deceased most likely spent sleepless nights knowing of the spiritual mess the lives of their children and grandchildren has become. At this point in history, much more needs to be done as this chasm has developed within a short period of time, only one to two generations, and it is widening at an astronomical rate. Those who come to mourn are the children and grandchildren of the deceased and yet based on an objective evaluation of the faith lives of all present, one would think that the mourners did not know the deceased at all.

Yes, the devil has been successful and moving at a very rapid rate. To those who have eyes to see, the Signs are all there… He will Come to Judge the living and the dead.


The Role of the Permanent Deacon

The Diocese of Rockville Centre has put the permanent diaconate formation program on hold for the time being in order to reevaluate it. As the seminary program is in transition, so too the other formation programs. As part of the process they are taking polls of the clergy, a method that is highly limited in its scope and will yield little data in response to the question at hand.

It is interesting after these many years of ordaining deacons in large numbers that there is still a lack of clarity regarding the permanent diaconate. This review is long overdue and hopefully there will provide greater clarity with regard to the theology of the order as it seems that this question remains open. Everyone is clear about saying what a deacon should do but few are saying what a deacon is. The latter needs to be addressed first.

When the whole process is complete, will the hard decisions be made and implemented? Time will tell...


The Dwindling State of Marriage

A recent survey has confirmed what many priests already know -- that young people are not getting married. Instead, many are now deciding to live in illicit situations. This trend only further confirms the disparagement of Marriage that has been taking place for many centuries and the desperate need the Church has to rekindle Her catechesis in this area. For centuries, the devil has been attacking this primordial Sacrament and seeking to destroy the family. Based on the current state of affairs, it seems that the effort are paying off. Fortunately, the USCCB has been responding even if most Catholics have not seen the fruit of their work.

Today more than ever the Church, especially in the United States, must begin putting a great deal of effort and resources into catechesis for the family and marriage. Here is the epicenter of the New Evangelization and it is in this area that the greatest hope will be produced.

Ad Hominem

The Man or the Message

Every now and then it is helpful to imagine an important historical figure in today’s world. For instance, St. Augustine is one of the most important figures in Church history. His writings clarified many of the doctrines of the Church and influence Her teachings even to this day. Yet if the great saint were to come preaching today, the media would have a field day because of his past. They would reject his preaching and teaching through an ad hominem attack and rally the masses to avoid his writings.

As case in point, there are many who are mocking the Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow simply because he is overtly Christian. Forget what he has done on the field or what he has proclaimed with his life. For all his accomplishments, he has been mocked by fellow players and told to keep quiet by the media. At the center of it, they are waiting for him to make a moral mistake or for something to surface so that they can finally discredit him and with him his message. Of course, because we all possess a corrupt nature, the vultures will probably find something to feast on. In the interim, notice how little time the media give to the message he delivers. Notice how little time they give discussing his ability as a quarterback. All are just waiting for him to stumble so they can write the fallen angel article and disparage Christianity once again.

As the Catholic Church knows well, we always need to focus on the message of Christ because the messengers are unworthy. So why does the secular world despise Christ and His followers so much?


A New Rector

As the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington and St. Joseph’s in Yonkers prepare to merge the seminary formation program, an announcement was made that the new rector of Immaculate Conception will be Msgr. Richard Henning. The seminary in Huntington will become an ongoing formation for clergy and the lay formation center for the downstate dioceses. Congratulations on a fine choice!

Time Flies

The Old Adage Applies

It is hard to believe it was three years ago already… Time truly flies!


Take Another Vote?

School Closings

Dioceses throughout the Northeast have all been announcing the need to close schools as part of addressing the serious reality they all face. While each diocese has different reasons, the one common theme for closing schools has been declining enrollment coupled with increased costs. It is very painful and difficult to make these decisions and, once made, those who made the decision do realize the tremendous impact the decisions will have in the lives of many students, parents, and teachers. It is terribly sad and distressing that the Church is in this position but it is reality that dictates in these cases.

Once again, the local media is making it seem that such decisions were born of capricious whim and would be better served through a democratic process. Lost in the report is the long and arduous process that has lead to the decision. Lost in the report is the role of legitimate authority. Lost in the report is all the trends that have made such decisions inevitable. The Church is at a crossroad and in order to remain true to itself the leadership will have to make some very difficult decisions that will not be popular but will be the best course of action for the future.

Weeds and Wheat

The Seeds Have Been Sown

Admittedly there has been great focus placed on Catholic schools every time we talk about Catholic Education. However, there is a danger of becoming myopic in regard to Catholic Education by believing that it is the sole responsibility of the schools. Indeed, the schools have become an icon of Catholic Education but we must take great care of limiting the discussion to schools alone. Often lost in the conversation is the fact that the parents are the primary educators and formators of their own children. Priests, religious, educators, and catechists must always accept their secondary status in the process. However, the latter are tasked with the preservation of the Truth in the overall education process, which requires an ownership of that Truth in daily life.

In the thirteenth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel we find a series of parables and Jesus’ explanation of them. This chapter marks a midpoint for the Gospel of Matthew. In this chapter are two parables regarding the sowing of seed. The first deals with the soil in which seed is sown and the second with an enemy who secretly sows weeds among the wheat. In the first parable, responsibility is placed upon the cultivator of the soil to ensure the soil is properly disposed to receive the seeds of Grace sown by Christ. In the second, the fruit of what is sown by Christ must be preserved amidst the deceptions of the enemy.

For many decades, the devil has been sowing weeds within the Church. Obviously when dealing with parables it is imperative that we keep in mind the Truth the story is communicating. Wheat and weeds are not interchangeable yet Jesus makes it clear that the good seed are the children of God and the weeds the children of the evil one. Those who get the point can easily see that the difference between the two has to do with morality and Truth -- virtue and vice. Anyone can be a child of God through Baptism. But to remain in that state requires a virtuous life that is frequently infused with Grace. What constitutes a virtuous life is not under the domain of Man as in the objective order its content has been established by God. The wheat is all who are in a state of Grace and remain committed to a life of virtue as established by God.

Anyone can be a child of the evil one by renouncing the Grace of God and rupturing the connection to Him through Sin. Only a repentant soul can receive Grace and bear fruit in virtue. The enemy sowing seeds does so by using deceit. In the field of the Church, the seeds of deceit have been sown and many even believe that the weeds are good. Yes, there are those who today point at weeds and call them wheat. As silly as that sounds, there are those who uphold sins that are clearly contrary to God’s Commands as something good. Easy examples today are abortion and contraception, sterilization and in vitro fertilization, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality and fornication, etc. All of these are contrary to the Law of God and yet many Catholics embrace them as normal and good.

Thus, it is not necessary to look beyond the walls of our own Church to see that such is the case and that it has been documented repeatedly over the last few decades. The doctrine of the evil one begins with the loss of a sense of Sin. But notice also how this loss is also connected to the loss of a sense of God and a later apathy toward the Church and Truth. Today, many Catholics simply do not care about what is True virtue and what is Sin. If seeds of deceit are to be sown, then it would require weeds to be convinced that they are wheat, even though they are not.

Today more than ever Catholics need to work on purging themselves of the doctrine of the evil one that has them convinced they do not sin and have no need for reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is central to providing wheat with what it needs to be wheat. Yet the evil one has even weekly churchgoers convinced that they do not need the Sacrament of Reconciliation as only about 12% go to confession more than once a year and only 2% monthly. It is not that this situation developed overnight or that it will disappear overnight. The seeds have been sown and have grown over time. But the first step to turning this trend around will have to come through the priests and religious who will have to regain control of the Catholic Education process by themselves becoming wheat. One cannot give what one does not have.

As noted previously, to get the education process on track, the messenger needs to own the message. Priests and religious must own the message of reconciliation and the only way to do so is to be regulars of the Sacrament themselves. Without frequenting the Sacrament themselves they fall prey to the doctrine of the evil one and may eventually become the weeds of deceit. From the priests and religious who own the message, then the educators, the primary ones being the parents, the catechists, and the faithful will also come to own the message. To own the message, priests, religious, educators, and the faithful must all be making a concerted effort to being wheat themselves, first and foremost. Without such a commitment, the spiral downward will continue.

Particularly in the post-scandal era of the Church, we must become more aware than ever of the need for repentance and the lingering effect that Sin can have on a community. It is not that priests sinned or broke the law that need to be highlighted any longer as that has been documented. It is the ensuing call to repentance and a return to Grace that should begin to form the message today. Without repentance and the Grace of Reconciliation the weeds will continue to strangle our Faith and impede the ability of the Church to bring souls to Christ, which is what must be at the heart of all Catholic Education. Those entrusted with the formation of souls to be wheat in the field -- priests, religious, parents, educators, and catechists -- must be wheat themselves. As Jesus tells us, “why worry about the speck when there is a plank of wood…”

And so we hear the Baptist’s cry from the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.” The message of repentance issued by John the Baptist is as imperative today as it was then! Before any reform of Catholic Education can take place, those tasked as leaders in the formation process must heed the call to removing the plank through the Grace of the Sacrament. And the key to the whole process is to remember that we are never done repenting…

Site Update

Article on Marriage

Earlier this year when the New York State senate was preparing to vote on the legalization of same-sex marriage, I wrote a series of articles for the parish bulletin on the Catholic Understanding of Marriage. I have finally had a few moments to compiled the series into a single document and updated it. It is now available on the Various Writings page of this site.

N.B. The last tab on the page contains a PDF of the entire article.


The Strategic Plan Implemented

On the Feast of St. Nicholas, the Diocese of Rockville Centre announced the next phase of its strategic plan for Catholic Education. In September of this year, the plan was first presented to pastors and school administrators in the summary report from the commission. Even then it was known that in the implementation phase there would be schools closed and/or consolidated. No one wants to see Catholic schools close but reality trumps desire in this case. The fact of the matter is that the population in the schools has dropped dramatically while the costs have risen dramatically.

With much sorrow, the announcement revealed that, in the implementation phase, six elementary schools would close at the end of the school year. These closures will directly affect the lives of many people, which made coming to the decision very difficult. Yes, it is very sad but no, it should not be surprising in the least. For decades, the catechetical failure of the 70s, 80s, and 90s has rendered generations of Catholics who know little about the Faith and it is Catholics from these generations that are now in charge of forming new generations. Even from these venerable institutions of Catholic Evangelization have come scores of Catholics who like the concept of church but are not well versed in the Teachings of Catholicism or striving to live these Teachings. Although no one wants to admit it, most Catholic schools today are nominally different from public schools. A few Catholic practices are maintained and occasional prayers are said but the reality of Catholicism is not lived out by most who are in the buildings.

Thus far, as plans come and go, it does not appear that the root problems are being addressed. Addressing demographic and economic downturns have obvious solutions which do not require extensive analysis. Rather, instilling what is missing in lost generations is far more difficult and to do so will require more than a mere program or reorganization. The problem at hand requires far more than shuttering a few buildings and reallocating resources. If anyone truly believes that doing the same thing on a smaller scale is the solution, then we are in for more of the same in the not too distant future.

Until Catholicism is the definitive way of Life for all involved with the schools and the standards of Catholic Teachings upheld, we will be hard pressed to provide rationale for investing tremendous resources in these institutions. The schools should be the avenue for evangelization but for evangelization to occur, the messenger must own and live the message. This includes all the Teachings that comprise the message. In this regard, it may well be time to regroup and flesh out the remnant faithful Catholics so that the process of Evangelization can truly begin.

Called to Evangelize

The New Evangelization

It seems with each passing day that the term “New Evangelization” is used more and more by the hierarchy of the Church. In times past, Evangelization meant the sending of missionaries to distant countries in search of peoples to whom they could share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Over the centuries, these missionaries brought the message of Salvation to the whole world. Although we speak of it in terms of “New”, missionary activity has been at the core of the Catholic faith from the time of the Resurrection until today.

Ironically, the call for a New Evangelization is not directed to missionaries or even to have missionary activity per se. It seems we have reached a point in which we must be evangelizing those closest to us, even those who have already accepted Baptism. The New Evangelization is directed toward our own who are very much in need of hearing the Gospel message anew. Based on the Pope’s recent remarks, the New Evangelization efforts should be directed primarily to families. As we all know, the family is the domestic church and if the Gospel message is to spread today, it will begin with families “becoming what they are.”

Too often today families are told to conform our their values to the spirit of the age. We are often told by the various secular authorities that we need to conform our understanding of “family” to the reality as we find it. Yet families are torn apart, marriage has been trivialized, and love has been reduced to mere physiological urges. Yet in the plan of God from the very beginning, the family was to be a Communion of Persons which was revealed in the Sacrament of Marriage. To evangelize today we need to understand the permanence of Marriage and Its place in the Communion of Persons that is the Family. The constant rupture of that Communion in the world today leaves in its wake a total obfuscation of the Good News and the Truth that is revealed in every age by God. Beyond a shadow of doubt, the message of the New Evangelization must be the stability of Marriage and Family.

Thus, if the New Evangelization is to take hold, it first needs a greater focus on what Marriage and Family are in themselves. We must resist the temptation of trying to conform the understanding of family to a fallen perception of them and help them to become conformed to what God intends for them. Ironically, it has been 30 years since Pope John Paul II offered tremendous insight into this mystery called Family and it is over the same period that the understanding of Marriage and Family has deteriorated precipitously. Thus, it should be clear that the first step of the New Evangelization should be directed toward the Family, which implicitly means that we must work toward a renewed sense of the permanence of Marriage. For this step to be successful, all will have to admit the catechetical failure and implement correctives to assist the family in coming to know what it is and working to conform itself to that reality as ordained by God.