In a Word


I have been searching for a word the past few days that could appropriately express my gut level reaction to the consumerist frenzy that is taking place. If it were merely about the economy, I could live with that. If it were about families coming together in a simple exchange, I could live with that. But the ardent secularists have completely highjacked the Christian ethos and made it a purely consumerist endeavor. There is no longer a consideration of God in anything because God would take all the fun out of our consumerist lust. And the word that keeps returning to me is disgusting. It is especially disgusting to see Catholics betray their own tradition by subscribing to the new order as contrived by the secularists.

In the new order they have established, we have a great number of things to be grateful for but no one to whom we can be grateful. We have a great holiday season but no real holiday to be named. In fact, Christ is to be left out all together. Even in the mind of Catholics, Advent is no longer a recognized season but shopping is. N.B. This change in perspective of Advent and Christmas has occurred in less than a century. What is most disturbing is the number of Catholics who have fallen prey to this trend and have no problem with it at all. In large numbers, Catholics now believe that Christmas is about giving and getting presents and December is about shopping and parties. For most Catholics, the weeks of December are to be spent in malls or at parties and gatherings to celebrate the season (yes, even Catholics now avoid the word Christmas).

Although I have resisted the trend and tried to speak up, I am often labeled a scrooge. If I advocate for a return from the shopping frenzy to Advent and penitential practices, most Catholics tell me I am out of touch and have no idea what it is like today. If I even dare suggest December be a time of prayer and repentance, Catholics respond that Christmas has nothing to do with that and even express perturbation at the thought. Even though we are in Advent, Catholics are already in the “Holiday” mode and are hoping the emotive winter magic occur for them. Case in point - there are already many who have put up trees, lights, winter wonderland decorations on the lawn, and, because they are Catholic, a small Christmas Creche with the Baby Jesus already in it. Heaven forbid you suggest holding off on the decorations and practice self-denial, patience, or waiting in joyful expectation for the Coming of Christ. In this regard, it is the Holiday Season and they will not be deprived one moment of indulgence or winter magic.

Furthermore, in large numbers Catholics have been duped by the transformation of St. Nicholas to Santa Claus by famous artists, Coca Cola, Macy’s and other consumer organizations. In large numbers, Catholics celebrate the secular santa at this time of year because it is all about the jolly fat guy in red whose sole purpose in life is to have businesses get in the “black.” Sadly, even priests preach santa as the reason to be good. Forget about even discussing who the saint really is behind the legend. The real saint has been totally disconnected from history. The modern lie is so entrenched almost no one really knows the actual story of St. Nicholas anymore.

I sometimes wonder if I am the only person left who is distressed by the widespread lying that takes place. We are told to believe in Santa and, once we are old enough and know he is not the one who brings all those gifts, we are coerced by others to perpetuate the lie so as to not spoil it for the children. When I point out to Catholic parents that lying is a sin and they should be truthful with their children, they tell me that it isn’t really a lie, is it? It is just good fun, isn’t it? These same parents will insist they do emphasize the Christmas story, even though the lie is more interesting to children than the truth and the santa figure is going to give them every toy or electronic device imaginable, but Jesus only brings salvation. And then there is the day when the bubble bursts and the lie is found out. What is to stop a child from questioning the veracity of the Jesus story? After all, his or her parents were good liars. And everybody in society went along with the lie. They were all pretty good at it as well. So maybe the whole Jesus thing is a lie also?

Today more than ever Catholics must unite and reclaim the Truth. Christmas is about the first Coming of Jesus and His Own did not recognize Him. Our celebration of Advent is a call to prepare through penance and mortification because Christ will Come Again, not through human birth but as Judge of the living and the dead. The standard for that Judgment has been set by God, not Man. The celebration of Christmas is just a reminder of this extremely important Truth. For those who have forgotten, hear what Linus has to say:


Give Thanks to the Lord…

Today, more than ever, I encourage everyone to resist the temptation to shop or wait in lines for any “sale” that begins at a ridiculous hour. Today should be a day of gathering with Family to Thank God for his great Love. The more we give in to the consumerist attitude, the more the stores will tear families apart.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I wish you and your family a Blessed and Peaceful day!


Forgetting Destroys the Self

There have been a great many depictions in television and other works of a person who suffers from amnesia for one reason or another. While there may be different scenarios of what part of his or her memory was lost, the depiction always remains the same -- the person experiences a tremendous sense of loss without his or her memory. The portrayal always shows a level of frustration and struggle on the part of the person who cannot remember the people and events of his or her life. It is as if they had become a stranger to themselves. As a viewer, I could only imagine how debilitating and disillusioning it would be to feel as if I lost my identity.

Ironically, amnesia is the rule of the day. Too many Americans have forgotten their roots. Too many Catholics have broken from the Tradition of the Church in search of a different way. Too many educators have abandoned tried and true methods in favor of new and different ones. Skeptics and secularists have so demonized the past that no one would want to remember it. As science unfolds and the world seems to change constantly, all things of days bygone must be forgotten so that the new and different can take hold. Especially by the middle of the last century, such was being applied to moral principles and dogmas. It was an age in which the propagation of tolerance meant anything goes and the only intolerance was directed toward anything of the past. This method of forgetting the past should be seen as an induced form of amnesia, which can only result in disillusionment.

Unfortunately, Catholics followed this methodology and decided new must be better. This tendency toward Catholic amnesia could clearly be seen in the middle of last century, especially in the years following the Second Vatican Council. Yet in one of the first speeches he gave as pope, Pope Benedict spoke of a hermeneutic of reform, which really means we cannot forget who we are and cannot interpret the present without reconciling with the past. In anything we do today, we must be true to our history, memories, and ensure they are part of who and what we are today, especially corporately as Church. He pointed out that such is the case when speaking of the council.

Here then is the essence of what is meant by Truth, not that it is new information with each day but that the information of the day reconciles with all time. For the secularists to have their way, they must entice everyone to forget the past and remain focussed solely on the future, which will always be new, different, and an adventure. But to do so is like inducing corporate amnesia -- forget who you are and start with a blank slate and recreate things as we prefer them to be, not what they really are. As Bishop Fulton Sheen noted in his book Old Errors and New Labels (1931), “They are of the school that would deny the very nature of things: free the camel of his hump and call him a camel; shorten the neck of a giraffe and call him a giraffe; and never frame a picture, because a frame is a limitation and therefore a principle and a dogma.”

So is the rejection of the past, our forgetting who we are, the source of the widespread disillusionment so many experience today?

Pilgrim Statue

National Pilgrim Virgin Statue

The Church of the Blessed Sacrament was privileged to host the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima on Monday, November 12. This Statue is in the care of the World Apostolate of Fatima whose mission it is to remind everyone of the message given to the world in 1917. Here is the opening talk given by the Statue’s custodian, Mr. Bill Sockey:

Opening Talk from Fr. Peter Dugandzic on Vimeo.

There Is No Time Like the Present

Believe and Have Faith

We are in the midst of a great gift that Pope Benedict has given -- A Year of Faith. To effectively receive this gift, it is important for us to ask ourselves an important question, “What is Faith?” Living in a culture that was predominately formed by Protestantism, Faith has taken on a certain character in the minds of many. Take that same culture and overlay secular humanism and what Faith is and ought to be is even more obscured.

For Protestants, Faith is central and the way of salvation -- Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. As Catholics, we certainly agree that Faith is necessary for Salvation. However, Protestants tend to reject works and other pious actions by the believer. From their very foundation, they labor under the yoke of relativism because their very origins were relativistic. Faith is the only thing that crosses all of the different strains of Protestantism. However, depending on the strain one finds a variety of views to Faith, which leaves Faith as a view one can choose -- pick the strain of Faith that matches your view and make that your form of Christianity. If you find after some time that the view does not match your own, search for another one.

Secular humanism, with its worldly dependance on scientific demonstration and operational skepticism, characterizes Faith as irrelevant and only for the weak and feeble. Because Faith claims cannot be verified, they are roundly rejected in favor of the measurable. Although they often speak of those who have Faith as people to be tolerated, they are mostly intolerant toward believers. As their worldview is now a dominant force in Western Culture, the impact of their approach has left many confused or disenchanted with regard to Faith. Even believers have not been immune to their skeptical ways.

As Catholics, we have a long Tradition and understanding of what Faith is. Despite the impact suffered in recent decades, the Church still promotes Faith as a critical aspect of human existence in which we come before the Unfathomable Mystery of God and are not crushed by it. When we refer to Faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has great detail about what we mean. First and foremost, in paragraph 150 the Catechism states, “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says.” This statement is at the heart of why we have A Year of Faith. Throughout this year we are to be assenting to God and the Truth He reveals. Faith is what we give in return to God Who gives us Himself. Such cannot happen without the believer both praying and engaging in acts of charity and penance.

As we read further in the Catechism (166), “Faith is a personal act -- the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself.” Faith must first admit that we are more than the sum of our parts and certainly more than can be measured. We are not in the process of developing Truth but ordered to the Truth that already it. Faith begins and ends with Truth and is not relative in any way. As people of Faith we must not fall into the temptation of relativizing God or dismissing the fullness of our Faith because it does not fit with our own individual fallen experience. In this regard, we must remember that God created us and so we are responsible to do all for Him. As St. Cyril of Jerusalem reminds us, “Faith is rather like depositing in a bank the money entrusted to you, and God will surely demand an account of what you have deposited.” God has given us everything and all Truth -- what have we done with It and will we be able to give that accounting to God.

Religious Freedom

A New Day Begins

With the results of the election in, it appears the attacks on Religious Freedom will grow. Of course, such an assertion is based on the fact that past performance can be a predictor of future events. The United States Bishops have launched a new website to keep Catholics informed. For those interested, click here.


Will or Choice?

In speaking with a Catholic the other day about the upcoming elections, I reminded the person that one of the central factors for Catholics to consider when voting regards the candidate’s stance on life issues. I said that Catholics only vote for candidates who support limiting or eliminating abortion.

The response from this well educated Catholic was, “I do not believe in abortion and I would never have one myself. But it is not for me to choose that for another person. He or she should be able to choose on his or her own.”

In reply I asked, “Do you not agree that abortion is an intrinsic evil that can never be chosen?”

The reply was, “Yes, it is an evil but everyone should be free to make the choice on his or her own.”

This conversation reminded me of the grand error that has worked its way into the minds of so many today with regard to freedom. Under the dictatorship of relativism, we are all told that choice is an individual aspect of existence and every human being is free to choose, within certain limits. The effect has been a transfer of freedom from the will to choice. In our public dialogues today, the most oft cited freedom is free choice -- a woman should be free to choose what she wants to do with her body. But that is not freedom and in fact is just the opposite.

Choosing is part of a process called discernment. During this process we determine what is good and evil in our actions and seek to will only the good. Through this process, which is enlightened by the natural law, we are able to know what is truly good in the objective order. What is truly good must be freely willed and what is evil must be avoided. Any time someone wills an evil, it is a defective use of freedom.

In this light, what many Catholics have forgotten is that we are our brother’s keeper. We are certainly responsible for our own actions and must ensure through discernment that they remain good, but we are also to engage in fraternal correction when we see another willing something we know is an evil. As part of the mandate to help the other, we should make sure that evil is not even available to that person. If it is an intrinsic evil in the objective order, it is wrong for anyone to will it and we are responsible to ensure that others are made aware of that fact.

Yes, we are compelled to prevent horrific evils by force of law. Truth is immutable and that which in the objective order is an intrinsic evil is evil no matter what perspective the acting person takes. No circumstance or intention can change the act from being what it is - evil. Out of Charity for the other, it is our responsibility to instruct the ignorant and to safeguard the person from committing an abominable act before God. In this regard, we cannot wait until he or she “gets it.” We should keep instructing but while we are instructing we must keep the other free of sin. To do so is a virtuous and loving act.

Thus, ensuring abortion is outlawed is a loving and virtuous act. As Catholics who know the Truth, we must vote Pro-Life.


Just When I Thought I Had Seen Everything

For the most part, the local New York media has tended to be very liberal and supportive of progressive candidates for political office. Much to my surprise, two prominent and typically liberal newspapers endorsed Mitt Romney for president today. Both Newsday and The Daily News have endorsed him. In a state where polls indicate he will lose by a landslide, these popular daily papers have gone against the popular trend. For this to happen, there must be a tremendous discontent with the Obama administration by the New York media. If they felt the two candidates were even close, they would side with the popular choice.

Spread the word because they must know something that the majority of New Yorkers do not (but the rest of us have known all along)… another 4 years of the Obama administration would be leave us on the wrong course as a nation.

Hurricane Sandy

A Hurricane of Great Strength

This past week the Northeast was hit very hard by hurricane Sandy. The parish was without power and Internet access for several days. We were very fortunate but there are many in our area and across Long Island who have not been so fortunate. Please pray they are kept safe as the cold has become unbearable.