Living the Truth...

This week Bishop Murphy’s weekly article in the Long Island Catholic makes some very good points that all Catholics should seriously ponder. In it, he uses the expression “dictatorship of opinion” which is certainly a reference to Pope Benedict’s expression “dictatorship of relativism.” Both of these expressions identify the larger problem we face today and the reason the Truth is so misunderstood and rejected, even by the committed faithful.

It is not that the Truth has changed or can be lessened because one rejects it but rather it is the rejection that endangers the eternal soul of the one rejecting It. Shepherds committed to the Truth ought to recognize the rejection and work to correct it. Such correction is also rejected because the rejector has been mired in a relativism that obfuscates the vision of the Truth to which the shepherd is leading. And because even shepherds are sinners, the dictators have cultivated their subjects to confuse the message with the messenger so that if the messenger has made a mistake in his or her life, the message must be flawed as well and has to be treated with skepticism.

While the bishop rightly does not place the complete fault on the media for this state of affairs that has developed under the yoke of these dictators, he does point out that this situation is widespread and occurring within the ranks of the Church. It seems that what is really at issue is the cultivation and formation process that these dictators use each day and the fact that people across this nation are completely immersed in that process. It is not that someone knows it is happening to them... it is because they trust the formator who is steeped in this relativistic worldview.

Unfortunately, there is nothing currently in place to counter this pervasive process and so inevitably the methodology has and will continue to enter Catholic circles. Here is one of those areas where the Catholic Education system should be making countercultural strides but is failing. As long as those entrusted with the formation and education process in Catholic schools are themselves being formed by the minions of the dictators, the end result will be the same. Without a cultivation and formation process that is committed to the Truth and living the Truth, the dictators will control the direction and outcome of the discourse and its methodology.

Could it be that Bishop Murphy subconsciously realizes that the dictators are controlling the direction, which would allow him to conclude that, “The triumph of the dictatorship of opinion in the Catholic Church has not yet occurred?” Is his use of the word “yet” indicative that he believes the triumph is merely being delayed?

Life Changing

A Life Changed

There are reports circulating about a woman named Abby Johnson who formerly worked for Planned Parenthood and is now one of the more outspoken Pro-Life voices in our country. Here is one of those expose stories that will never be featured on a prime time news show but did make it to the CBN network:

She is also the subject of a commercial being played in Washington DC in the hope some politicians will see it and come to realize the evil being perpetrated by Planned Parenthood:

What if

What if??

In today’s Gospel Jesus exhorts us to forgive. In fact, he makes it clear that those who do not truly forgive the contrite will be liable to harsh judgment.

What if someone has made a grievous mistake and seeks forgiveness? What if that person sought forgiveness and truly repented? What if he or she was willing to reform after seeking forgiveness? Based on the way society condemns sinners today, the chance for forgiveness and repentance would never be offered.


The Call!

Getting the Message out there! Subscribe today...

We know the word “vocation” has Latin roots and simply means “call”. Today, many use the word “vocation” in the plural as if there are many different calls with all being equal. However, Catholics should know that there is really only one “call” and it is to holiness. How that vocation is lived out may take several different paths and those paths are not all the same and are not all equal. The “call” is always the same and for some it will follow the path of priesthood or consecrated life. This particular path is very different from the path of marriage and it should not be viewed as a “choice” between equals -- the two are not the same path and are not equal.

Maybe this is one of the areas in which we are missing the mark -- we are busy with “programs” that cater to the “choice” generation -- programs that focus on helping young men and women make choices about their “path” in life. Yet, such “choices” must flow out of a life of holiness, out of a life of prayer and discernment.

A prayerful young person being reared in a well formed domestic church does not feel the burden of making a life “choice” because a prayerful and holy person remains close to God and is capable of discerning God’s Will. To follow the path of religious life or priesthood will require a person to completely focus on God. To believe we can make such life “choices” on our own is part of the reason our seminaries and convents are now empty. Only God knows the future and ONLY He can guide a person along the right path. Only God provides the grace necessary to live the Spousal commitment a religious path demands.

There are many efforts and programs in place to help young people discern God’s will and to hopefully understand that the path of priesthood and religious life is one initiated and sustained by God. Our diocesan vocation office is putting together some videos which will hopefully answer some questions. Feel free to take a look or join the youtube channel they have established:

Catholic Convenience


It seems the remnant Catholics have come to expect schedules of convenience. Years ago, there were plenty of priests available to say Mass and hear Confessions. For the most part, parish schedules reflected that number. Going to Mass in the local Catholic Church was convenient as there were plenty of Masses scheduled each Sunday from which to choose.

Today, the number of priests continue to dwindle yet many expect the Sacramental schedules to remain the same. Has anyone noticed how empty the seminary is? In the Diocese of Rockville Centre, there are 1.5 million Catholics, 134 parishes, and currently only 12 seminarians. In a few short years, even our densely populated areas may have one “homegrown” priest serving two or three parishes. In addition, as the population continues to change, many who were born in this country may have to attend Mass in another language or accept having priests say Mass who are not native English speakers. This is simply the reality we currently face.

Heart and Soul

Catholic Anima...

The soul of Catholic Education has been on life support for some time as the “Heart” has been showing signs of failure. As we look around ourselves today, the distinctive Catholic difference has been all but eliminated. Catholics in general do not really understand what the Church Teaches and many disregard the Teaching Office of the Church, considering Her “view” out of touch. For some time, this has been developing due to the catechetical failure in many parishes and Catholic Institutions of learning. In reviewing the catechetical guidelines and textbooks, one often finds “Catholic Light” or some heavily watered down version thereof.

In the exodus of Catholic Doctrine from our schools and catechetical offices it was as if the soul of Catholicism was exhaled, which was like a “Heart” attack to the body. No longer are new generations of Catholics being catechized by those committed to the Good News, that is, those willing to bet their lives on the message of Christ, those whose obedience is certain. Instead, it has been handed over to the doubtful and skeptical, the modern day educators whose sole purpose is social engineering based on instrumentalist principles. No longer is faithfulness to Catholic Doctrine seen as the “Heart” of our existence.

While we have been able to keep the body alive on life support, the anima that is Catholicism and Her Teachings must be restored if a revival or resuscitation is to occur. The subtlety of this “heart” failure makes it hard to distinguish when and if a “heart” attack has occurred... but we must ask at what point we anoint?


The Modern Day Exodus...

During Lent the Office of Readings in the Breviary recalls the story of the Exodus. At this critical juncture of the Old Testament, God’s Chosen People are delivered from slavery and enter the desert for 40 years. Throughout the sojourn, God provided for His people and sustained them with the promised end of their pilgrimage -- entrance into the promised land.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was an exodus of a different type. Those in Catholic Schools in our diocese remember well the exodus of the religious. Within a few short years, many brothers and sisters left the schools and left their order. Following that exodus, many of the faithful have left the practice of the faith as well. The difference with this exodus from that of the Chosen People was that this one was not preceded with miracles from God and has not followed a vision or plan from God.

What we see in its wake could be considered the beginning of the end of Catholic Education and the practice of the Catholic Faith. Some 40-50 years later, the classrooms are empty, the pews are empty, the confessionals are empty, and the number of Baptisms and Weddings are falling rapidly.

At this critical juncture of Catholicism and Catholic Education, do we really believe that raising more money alone is the solution? Or could it be that many Catholics do not know what Catholicism is as we are coming out of the desert of Catechetical aridity?

Haves and Have Nots

The Haves and Have Nots...

An announcement has been made that a generous donation (as much as 10 million dollars) was made to St. Dominic’s Catholic schools in Oyster Bay. This is a great gift and will be tremendous help to the Catholic Schools in this very affluent parish in which billionaires live.

It just goes to show that, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 13:12, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Didn’t someone recently say that he does not want to see Catholic Schools only in rich neighborhoods?

Catechetical Failure

Defending the Faith...

There was a time when the discipline of apologetics was for the Church to offer non-believers an explanation for our Faith. Today it seems the discipline is for defending the Faith to Catholics. It is very disturbing how many Catholics who attend Catholic schools or universities are taught that, for the most part, the Catholic Faith is indefensible and therefore every aspect of Her Tradition must now be doubted. The same secular arguments against the Bible and many of the Teachings of the Catholic Church are being taught to our young people today -- in Catholic institutions.

The teachers and professors, many of whom were educated in secular institutes or progressive Catholic universities, do not accomplish this in an overt manner and may not intend to do it... but many young people in Catholic high schools and universities are being taught to doubt the Bible and reject the Teachings and Tradition of the Church -- in the name of education. The arguments and theories being taught follow the same line of thought the developed in the enlightenment and engages in the same heavy handed methodology that secularists use today in the public forum. It is distressing because it is happening in Catholic schools, even in subtle ways at the elementary level. Those who should be able to give reasons for our Hope are instead formed to give reasons for doubt.

Yes, there is a place for scholarly endeavors and those endeavors should remain in the advanced academic circles. Theories in the science of Theology need to be tested and measured against the Truth, which is ultimately under the dominion of God and entrusted to our Mother and Teacher. Sadly, there are many Catholic schools that have become bastions for the dictatorship of relativism and are making new subjects for its dominion each day. Quite often, parish priests have to spend great amounts of energy trying to undo and set straight what has been put in motion in these “institutions of learning.”

So why should a parish priest have to defend the Teachings of the Church to Catholic high school students or graduates of a supposed Catholic university who keep quoting their “theology” teacher or assigned text book? The catechetical failure keeps growing and it appears the powers to be are spending a great deal of time and effort rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Opportunity Missed...

One month ago a Canon Lawyer, Dr. Edward Peters, cited Canon 915 and section 2390 of the Catechism as to why Governor Andrew Cuomo should be denied Holy Communion. The new governor’s public persona has certainly tested the limits of what constitutes “manifest grave sin” and has made it very difficult to claim that his religion is a private matter. Interestingly, it is OK for the sin to be public but the challenges are to remain private. On this specific issue, there have been many who commented on it and made it clear that there are sufficient grounds to hold the governor accountable, as well as many other notorious Catholic figures whose public policies and lives make a mockery of the Church’s Teachings.

While issues of faith and morals are difficult in the public forum and need to be treated with proper sensitivity, the bishops of New York State were once again given an opportunity to teach the faithful and did not take it. Many of the faithful today have not been taught the sinful gravity of “public concubinage” and sexual relations outside of the Sacrament of Marriage. This is the result of decades of failed catechesis. Regardless of the specific circumstances regarding the new governor and the many reasons why he and other Catholic politicians should not receive Holy Communion, public situations like this one are prime opportunities for instructing the faithful.

Marriage is a primordial reality that was established by God at the very beginning of Human existence. Its permanence and indissolubility are part of the constant teaching of the Church. In an era where this teaching is being questioned daily and there are calls to “redefine” marriage, there has not been a clear statement by the bishops with regard to why these politicians are in violation of Church Teaching. As public as the sin should be the Teaching. The depth of the Church’s Teaching on Marriage is relatively unknown by many of the faithful and it is time to make this Teaching clear. Case in point, the new Governor has publicly declared his support of gay marriage, a stance that further betrays his Catholicity.

Strong statements on the gravity of acts that betray Marriage are needed now more than ever and the bishops should use these opportunities to instruct the faithful. Unfortunately the bishops often engage in the “numbers game” and fear a mass exodus if they were to challenge Catholics on issues that disparage Marriage. In this regard, however, there are many Catholics who are not living out the Faith in its fullness and have already objectively separated themselves from the Church.

Maybe it is time once again to recapture the spiritual work of mercy and begin instructing the ignorant.

St. Patrick

St. Patrick!

St. Patrick is certainly a very important figure in the history of Ireland. Aside from the various legends that surround his mystique, it is known that he was a Catholic Bishop in the fifth century. He worked diligently to bring the Catholic Faith to the people of Ireland. He certainly did his part in history and has garnered the respect of those of Irish heritage.

It is distressing to see how the secular media want to transform St. Patrick’s Day into an Irish heritage day only. Step dancing, bag pipes, and other aspects of Irish culture is not why the day exists. It is a Catholic Feast that has everything to do with Catholicism, especially regarding the Catholic heritage the Irish people hold proudly. The Irish immigrants who came to New York worked hard to bring the faith with them. They are so entwined in the history of New York that the Cathedral was named after their favorite saint. The joy of the day should be centered on being Catholic and the rest of the Irish trappings should remain secondary.

Prayer or Party

Prayer or Party?

Parishes should exist for the express purpose of prayer and adoration. The early martyrs risked their lives going to a central location for Mass and Prayer. Since the time of Constantine churches have been built to give the faithful a sacred space for worship.

For centuries, the central focus of Catholic churches has been the altar and tabernacle. Exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament would always precede any other parish activity, often drawing hundreds to a local church. Street processions with the Blessed Sacrament were normal and the whole town attended. There was never a question about what was a priority in Catholic life. The time before the Blessed Sacrament would be prayerful and sacred. The songs and hymns would draw everyone into the mystery they came to adore. Everyone in attendance knew all the songs and prayers by heart. All would leave reinvigorated ready to face life’s challenges.

Today parishes schedule adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a dedicated few come and adore. Pastors are happy when 20-30 participate, which is considered an excellent turnout. During extended periods of adoration, pastors hope that there are at least a few each hour. Those who do come are extremely devoted and remain committed to what is the center of Catholic existence.

In contrast, today parishioners plan dances or parties in the church basement. The pagan songs are played at deafening levels and parishioners contort their bodies to the rhythms. Aside from the location being church property, there is often very little, if anything at all, Catholic about the gathering. If one were to observe what occurs at these dances and what takes place in a secular dance hall, they would not be able to distinguish one from the other. The frolicking and unbridled passions continue well into the night and this is called a good time. And at such events hundreds attend, many of whom never attend Sunday Mass.

The Cure of Ars was known to be opposed to secular dances because they were occasions of sin. He once said in a sermon, “If people would do for God what they do for the world... what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven! But if you, dear children, had to pass three or four hours praying in a church, as you pass them at a dance or in a cabaret, how heavily the time would press upon you!”

A dozen before the Blessed Sacrament or hundreds at an occasion of sin... Is there something wrong here?


Church Chatter...

There are many documents that speak of our need for Sacred Silence and how such should be kept in church, especially before and after the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is wonderful to see those who come to the church to pray in silence... to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and focus completely on Christ.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a common practice these days that Catholics come to church to chat. There are some who come a half hour early for Mass and spend the time chatting with his or her neighbor. These chat-a-holics pay no attention whatsoever to the others in the church, especially those who are making an effort to pray. Even more disturbing is the total lack of respect paid to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as some completely turn their backs to Him!

In the parish here, chatting seems to be the established norm. As pastor, I have already been persecuted for asking parishioners to keep silence in the church. And so the idle chatter continues. In fact, the chatter was quite loud this morning. In the minutes before Mass began, the noise in the church was formidable.

Yet when the Mass began and the priest said, “The Lord be with you,” the response was nearly inaudible. Is there something wrong here?


Lent -- Here and in Rome

Lent has started and it seems that many remembered to receive their ashes. As so many priests note, Ash Wednesday is a curious day to say the least. It attracts those who are regular church goers as well as those who almost never come to church.

Lent is about conversion and all the faithful should take the opportunity of these days to grow closer to Christ. As anyone can figure out, the path to salvation is far more than just receiving ashes and palms. The beauty of this season here is the number who attend Mass, both on Sunday and during the week. Hopefully, those who are not practicing, that is, those who only come for ashes and palms, will start coming to Mass each week and maybe someday join the ranks of the daily communicants.

The hope and prayer in all cases is that those who consider themselves Catholic seek a true conversion.

One of the traditions I miss from living in Rome is the Station Churches. For those who have the opportunity, this particular tradition is a powerful way to journey through Lent. The most striking aspect of this time honored practice is the sense of connection to the long tradition that is the Catholic Church. Each day is a pilgrimage within the pilgrimage. The beauty of this pilgrimage is the depth of commitment and faith by all the participants. The hidden beauty is the abundance of Grace that participants receive.


Twitter, Facebook, Instant Messaging...

I have been around enough people who are addicted to these forms of communication to realize that there are other ways to share thoughts. For the most part, these services are an up-to-the-minute form of communication that requires constant updates in which people share great amounts of information about themselves. From what I can tell, as an outsider who is not a member of these services, most of the posts fall into the category of TMI -- too much information.

Based on my own self knowledge, maintaining a blog seems more sensible to me in that there are many things Catholic upon which I can comment. This blog will be the forum where I will share my thoughts -- from reflections on Scripture passages to comments on Catholic issues to reactions on things happening in the world today. The one thing I will try to maintain in them all is the Catholic perspective.

That being said, if you are reading this blog and looking for updates on me personally, you will be disappointed.